We gave our rulers the greatest gift that we can give

Summary: We gave our elites the greatest gift that America can give. Understanding this, we can make a powerful resolution for the New Year – and change the course of history.

The Greatest Gift - Dreamstime-34282591
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It’s a Christmas gift to our ruling elites!

The difference between ordinary epidemics and horrific pandemics is in their frequency, duration, and size. This applies to social ills as well as diseases. For example, America has been wracked for generations by an extraordinary series of moral panics. These are an ordinary illness of societies, as described by the Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences.

“A panic or overreaction to forms of deviance or wrongdoing believed to be threats to a society. Moral panics are usually fanned by the media and led by community leaders or groups intent on changing laws or practices. …Moral panics gather converts because they touch on people’s fears and because they also use specific events or problems as symbols of what many feel to represent ‘all that is wrong with the nation’.”

Stephen Davies explains in more detail at the American Institute for Economic Research.

Folk Devils and Moral Panics
Available at Amazon.

“The concept of a moral panic was first explicitly formulated and given that name in a book by the British sociologist Stanley Cohen, published in 1972 under the title Folk Devils and Moral Panics. The book used one particular panic …to illustrate a more general thesis. This was that societies periodically suffer from episodes of panic and anxiety of a particular kind.

“In these episodes, there is a widespread fear and anxiety over a perceived threat to society and order. The fear and anxiety are excessive and unreasonable (hence ‘panic’). This is because either the threat or problem is completely imaginary or its extent and severity is seriously exaggerated even when there is a real phenomenon. The threat is often associated with a specific deviant group or identity. These are the ‘folk devils’ of Cohen’s title. The group may be a real, actually existing one that is demonized and caricatured, or it may again be completely imaginary, with no actual existence.”

For more information, see the Wikipedia entry. It shows that, like most social science concepts, it gets wildly overused. Mostly for threats where there is little or no moral component (e.g., epidemics).

America has an amazing number of moral panics of extreme size and duration. In the 1980s and 1990s we had the Satanic Abuse hysteria and Day Care Child Abuse hysteria. Both were huge and long. These put people in jail after trials that made those of the Salem witches look like models of rationality (they also helped make Janet Reno Attorney General of the USA). There were also a host of smaller moral panics during that period and afterwards. Our institutions seemed unable to respond to these, no matter how absurd they are.

Now we are in the midst of two moral panics that made those before look penny-ante: RussiaGate and the Climate Emergency. Although neither has much factual foundation, both continue to burn today, with no end in sight.

RussiaGate

We do not know the origins of RussiaGate. We might never know its origins. It lies somewhere inside the military-industrial-complex’s programs to incite Cold War II, creating a foe that can justify our continued insane level of military spending. This was attractive since it meshed with another major goal of US foreign policy: the destruction of all non-allied major oil producers (e.g., Iraq, Libya, Iran, Russia). We moved US power ever-closer to Russia’s borders (breaking the tacit agreement ending the Cold War that allowed Russia to have neutral buffer states). We imposed brutal sanctions. Any response by Russia other than surrender was a sign of aggression, warranting further attacks.

This allowed anyone making commercial contacts with Russia to be painted as an enemy agent, muzzling voices that might otherwise declare that the Emperor was butt-naked.

Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency
Available at Amazon.

From this toxic stew came the spark of RussiaGate. The original spark was a conversation of former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos with professor Joseph Mifsud (who has been missing or dead since October 2017, per the Italian newspaper il Giornale).

It became a wildfire when fed the opposition research report known as the Steele Dossier. From the first, it was obviously preposterous. Turning a leading candidate for the US president into a Russian asset would be the intel operation of the millenium. Christopher Steele said that Russian officials gave him information that blew the operation. He never said why they did so or what he offered them in exchange. If true, the best they could hope for was a quick death. The story made sense only as disinformation from Russia intel agencies directed at the US and laundered through Steele.

It ignited a firestorm that still burns in America. Wild claims were made by leading figures in all segments of American society. Trump was Putin’s puppet. Trump would establish death camps and begin the genocide of America’s minorities. Trump would ignore the 2020 election results, overthrow the regime and stay in office. Analysis showing the empty nature of these claims were ignored. The White House was largely paralyzed. Critical problems were ignored as increasingly bogus headlines occupied the attention of our elites in Washington.

Investigations have shown that there is no basis for RussiaGate. Former Federal attorney Andrew McCarthy’s book, Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency, is the best public analysis. Internal government investigations have found little basis for the RussiaGate narrative, other than misconduct by government employees: the report by the Office of the FBI Inspector General on the Crossfire Hurricane investigation (aka the Horowitz Report) and the report of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. Like almost all such reports, both are whitewashes of the government’s actions – but their significance lies in the lack of evidence for the years of hysterical claims.

The Climate Emergency

In 1988, climate scientist James Hansen warned about the effect on the climate of our emissions of greenhouse gases – and proposed additional research. During the next quarter-century, five major reports by the IPCC documented the findings of the resulting scattershot research. Since this was science, each was evaluated and given one of five confidence levels (the average was “medium”). Scenarios were created to help communicate our possible futures, with RCP8.5 the worst-case (if things went wrong, with adverse changes in long-standing trends).

Somehow this became a classic moral panic. Science was pushed to the side as “too conservative”; those with the most vivid nightmares became sages in the headlines. Normal weather became pathological. Weather records were ignored, instead declaring normal weather to be “the worst.” Warnings proliferated of doom for civilization, for humanity, and for life on Earth. The most recent IPCC report warned of possible dangers ahead. This became a warning that we were doomed in 12 years.

Unrealistic forecasts of greenhouse gases became certainties. Uncertainties about key factors were ignored. For example, how much the planet will warm in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide – ‘equilibrium climate sensitivity’ (ECS)? The IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR5, 2013) provided a range between 1 and 6oC, with a ‘likely’ range between 1.5 and 4.5oC. Combine those two unknowns, and a wide range of futures become possible. But to the increasing numbers of panicking people, only the extreme forecasts are real.

Those that spoke about science and its uncertainties are demonized as deniers. Those so labeled are deemed not just illegitimate but evil voices – to be banned from public spaces and their work defunded. No rational debate is possible. Attempts to do so are like spitting into the wind, or talking sense to a stampeding mob.

The resulting political gridlock prevents not only preparation for climate change but also for the inevitable repeat of past extreme weather. I believe that we are worse off after 30 years of panic than if Hansen had not begun this project.

Why? It’s the crazy years!

“When I was sixteen, I went to work for a newspaper in Hong Kong. It was a rag, but the editor taught me one important lesson. The key to a great story is not who, or what, or when, but why.”
— Elliot Carver, in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).

Each of moral panics has obvious roots. America’s politics and society are changing at an incredible rate. We feel anxiety about these changes and their mysterious and many causes. RussiaGate gives us clear enemies to blame: Putin and Trump. It gives us heroes to cheer: the intel agencies and The Resistance.

The Past through Tomorrow: Future History Stories
Available at Amazon.

Ditto for the Climate Emergency. We are changing the world at an incredible rate. Strange chemicals pour into the environment. We are reshaping the biosphere, casually and thoughtlessly. More ugly changes lie ahead as Earth’s population grows to ten or twelve billion. The Climate Emergency compresses this complexity into a simple story (ignoring all the key details) and gives us demons to blame: the deniers.

Both are crusades for virtue that anyone can join by adopting the right politics. Unfortunately, these are irrationality given form, making rational government impossible. This chaos was predicted long ago by science fiction author Robert Heinlein. His date for the madness was 50 years early, but nailed the details. Let’s worry that he as accurately predicted its conclusion.

“The Crazy Years:  Considerable technical advance during this period, accompanied by a gradual deterioration of mores, orientation, and social institutions, terminating in mass psychoses in the sixth decade, and the interregnum.”
— From Robert Heinlein’s timeline of his future history stories; first published in Astounding Science Fiction, May 1940. This series was published as The Past through Tomorrow.

The Greatest Gift

While causes are useful to know, only results matter. These massive moral panics show that Americans are no longer capable of self-government. We lack the rationality, balance, and self-discipline necessary for this most difficult and rare of tasks.

We have given our elites the greatest gift we can bestow: proof that we are unfit for democracy. America is theirs now, until we prove that we can retake control of our affairs – and our destiny.

“Every nation has the government it deserves.”
— Dark words said by Joseph de Maistre (lawyer, diplomat, philosopher) in a letter dated 13 August 1811, published in Lettres et Opuscules.

What comes next?

Revival of the spirit is the core of humanity. We can become better than we were and are. It begins with the decision of individuals to work for change. This can spread like a clensing fire though a people. You can help start this process. Make that your top New Year’s resolution. Here are a few score specific ways to take action.

For more information

Ideas! See my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: “Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

Another perspective on this: “2019 – The Year of Manufactured Hysteria” by CJ Hopkins at Off-Guardian.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the constitution, about reforming America: steps to political change, and especially these…

  1. ImportantA 4th of July reminder that America is ours to keep – or to lose!
  2. A third American regime will arise from the ashes of the present one.
  3. Origins of what may become the 3rd American Republic (a plutocracy).
  4. Our institutions are hollow because we don’t love them.
  5. We have forgotten who we are. Let’s remember, and win.
  6. We must understand our peril: A new, dark picture of America’s future.
  7. We have been blind, but can learn to see.
  8. Sources of inspiration to survive the coming bad times.

Inspirational reading to prepare for 2020

The Founders looked to the Roman Republic for ideas and inspiration. In this time of peril, we too can do so. See two books about the people who were the poles of the forces that could have saved the Republic, but instead destroyed it.

Caesar – a biography by Christian Meier. He tried to build a new regime for Rome, but failed.

Rome’s Last Citizen by Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni – The life and legacy of Cato, the mortal enemy of Caesar. He tried to save the Republic, but instead helped destroy it.

"Caesar" by Christian Meier
Available at Amazon.
Rome's Last Citizen
Available at Amazon.

27 thoughts on “We gave our rulers the greatest gift that we can give”

      1. “God helps those who help themselves” Greek source. The god indicated is pagan.

        “The phrase is often mistaken as a scriptural quote, though it is not stated verbatim in the Bible. Some Christians have criticized the expression as being contrary to the Bible’s message of God’s grace.[1] A variant of the phrase can also be found in the Quran (13:”

        My point is we should expect retribution from God due to modern man’s failure to obey His will. The modern world, having little use for God, has become suicidal and without much hope. Evidence: World Wars, millions of abortions, suicides, massive depriving workers of a just wage, divorce, contraception, etc.. Modern Man has a death wish. This is the reason God will enter the picture. To reset the game.

      2. “A great many Christians believe that adage. It’s circulated in the West for two thousand years.” Yes, that’s for sure, to the point they leave God out of the picture entirely.

        But back to my point. Our Democracy rests on a strong moral foundation. This foundation has been significantly eroded since WW II. A good book on this subject is Charles Murray’s ‘Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010’ The books demonstrate that it mainly the working class that has suffered.

  1. Very good post, Larry. Especially all the links to your other articles. There’s a lot there for people to mine for ideas.

  2. I wonder if “socialism” is not also a moral panic. Also the welfare state and the deep state come to mind. I guess we need enemies.

    1. Doug,

      “I wonder if “socialism” is not also a moral panic. Also the welfare state and the deep state”

      That’s what I meant about over-extending the concept. All of those are real phenomena about which there is ample evidence for debate. Declaring the disputes you don’t like to be “moral panics” does not clarify the debate. It’s analytically similar to name-calling – such as “racist”, “sexist”, “commie”, “denier” – as a means to declare opponents’ arguments to be illegitimate.

      The phenomena described in this post are exaggerations that are clearly without much evidentiary support – and were clearly so from the beginning.

    1. priffe,

      Thanks for providing that good news!

      The possibility I fear is that we are tracking the fall of the Roman Republic. Their society decayed, but the Empire took Roman to greater prosperity during the next two centuries. It is a reminder that money isn’t everything. We can lose more important things.

      1. The Republic was resillient enough to come back from Hannibals rampage and King Pyrrus.

        But the Roman Empire could only decline after defeat.

      2. @Larry Kummer, Editor

        Darn. You are right. Its only after the 4th Crusade that the Roman Empire actually was doomed.

      3. @Larry Kummer

        I probably had in mind the loss of the Legions at Teutoberg Forest. Which seemed to have halted Imperial Expansion in Germany permanently.

        It seems that Rome didn’t somehow raise legions in the same manner when Pyrrus invaded to come back to Germany.

        Showing the loss of some of the Imperial strength.

      4. info,

        “Showing the loss of some of the Imperial strength.”

        Not really. Rome’s maximum borders were largely geographical. It expanded along rivers and seas, with limited ability to penetrate long distances over land – and even less over land with difficult geography. The further from the heartland in terms of travel time, the most difficult were their logistical problems — and so the costs rose and the profits fell.

        Germania Magna was bounded by the Rhine, Danube, and Main rivers. It was just too far away for Rome to economically hold. Hence Augustus’ decision to abandon it after only 3 years.

      5. @Larry Kummer

        “Not really. Rome’s maximum borders were largely geographical. It expanded along rivers and seas, with limited ability to penetrate long distances over land – and even less over land with difficult geography. The further from the heartland in terms of travel time, the most difficult were their logistical problems — and so the costs rose and the profits fell.

        Germania Magna was bounded by the Rhine, Danube, and Main rivers. It was just too far away for Rome to economically hold. Hence Augustus’ decision to abandon it after only 3 years.”

        Would additional economic development, and infrastructure development closer to the frontier regions make a difference?

        It would seem that that they would have to recruit more locally too.

    1. Today’s nitpick

      untill in

      We have given our elites the greatest gift we can bestow: proof that we are unfit for democracy. America is theirs now, untill we prove that we can retake control of our affairs – and our destiny.

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  6. Larry, you refer to the Off-Guardian piece.

    He is plain wrong about Corbyn in the UK. This was not and is not a moral panic, any more than alarm about Hitler in 1933 would have been. Anti-semitism in the British Labour Party has, under Corbyn and McDonnell, become vicious, commonplace, and almost universal. There is a mass of evidence and experience and first hand testimonies. The associations with terrorists of all kinds is a matter of record. Their own statements are on record. The sharing of platforms with Holocaust deniers are a matter of record.

    No, this was not moral panic. This in the recent election result was a narrow escape. Thank goodness for the hard headed common sense and decency of the Northern working class voters who told Corbyn, Militant, Momentum, Socialist Worker where to get off.

    And if you don’t know who Militant and Socialist Worker were and are, hold fire on commenting until you do.

    Not a moral panic at all. This was the real thing, and its not just people in the UK that should be glad it was shown the door.

    As always, it only got as far as it did because of the silence of the moderates in the Labour Party who condoned it, some out of cowardice, some out of tribalism, some out of wishful blindness. But the voters were not fooled.

    1. Henrik,

      That article mentions scores of events. That you disagree with one of them does not invalidate the others.

      “And if you don’t know who Militant and Socialist Worker were and are, hold fire on commenting until you do.”

      Since I didn’t mention those things, your comment is pretty silly.

      1. We can judge the quality of the author’s intelligence and integrity by the way he handles this particular episode.

        He thinks there was such a thing as ‘the global capitalist ruling classes and the corporate media’s methodical crushing of Jeremy Corbyn’

        He provides as further information a link to a site which claims among other things:

        With just days remaining before UK’s national election on December 12, British intelligence agencies and US government-backed organizations have escalated their attacks on Corbyn, borrowing tactics from America’s Russiagate hysteria and going to great efforts to portray him — without any substantive evidence — as a supposed puppet of the dastardly Kremlin.

        These government-sponsored attacks on Corbyn, a lifelong anti-imperialist and former chair of the Stop the War Coalition, are far from new. In December, The Grayzone reported on the Integrity Initiative, a UK government-funded secret network of spies, journalists, and think tanks that rehabilitated Cold War-era information warfare to demonize Corbyn and smear anti-war leftists as Vladimir Putin’s unwitting foot soldiers.

        But as polls show more and more popular enthusiasm for Labour and its socialist program on the eve of the vote, and as the prospects of a Corbyn-led government become increasingly plausible, Western government spooks have rapidly laundered avalanches of disinformation through the press, desperately trying to undermine the party’s electoral efforts.

        The writer himself says that no one is rounding up and murdering the Jews, or the Mexicans, or anyone else for that matter….. watch as the Labour “anti-Semitism crisis” evaporates into thin air, as the War on Terror did in 2016, once it no longer served a useful purpose.

        This is, as the English say, barking-mad. No-one ever said, of Corbyn and his associates, that people in the UK were rounding up and murdering. The Labour anti-Semitism crisis has actually been minimized by the UK media, including to its shame the Guardian, and has not featured as prominently as it deserves on the BBC or other channels.

        And it is not going away. Corbyn’s Labour Party is now the subject of a formal investigation by the Equalities Commission, which will report in the New Year. At least one submission to it, from the Jewish Labour Movement, has been leaked, and it makes very disturbing reading. Although it only confirms and gives instances and detail on what has been widely reported to have been occurring in the Party.

        No, they are not rounding up and murdering. They are writing thousands of abusive messages to Jews and Jewish Labour members. There are physical attacks and intimidation. They are indulging in traditional anti-Semitic abuse in constituency meetings. They are indulging in the wildest kinds of anti-Semitic paranoia, including sharing platforms with Holocaust deniers and blaming the Israeli Embassy for their own missteps. There is now a move (from Ken Livingstone) to try to blame their election disaster on Jews.

        But, it all went down in flames in the election. The recent UK election should be an example of great encouragement to Larry and to those who have deep concerns about the health of US democracy. Ordinary people can see to the essence and can take action, and they did in this case.

        What happened was that the old loyal Labour voters of the industrial Midlands and North, people who often had voted Labour all their lives, and their parents too, as a sort of tribal reflex, decided that they could not stomach a leadership which consists of fiscally irresponsible, anti-Semitic, terrorist associates, and deniers of the Soviet Holocaust.

        They just said no. And if you listen to the accounts of conversations with the voters in the decisive regions, this is what you hear. They were saying no to Corbyn. Not because of smears or intelligence agency planted stories, not because they thought Corbyn was Putin’s agent, not because of a mass media campaign by ‘capitalist press’. But because there is a public record for Corbyn and his associates, and once it was generally out, they knew that no decent person could vote for a party they controlled.

        Take cheer and encouragement. On three occasions in the last 70 years ordinary Britons have just said no. Once to Mosely and the Blackshirts, once to Powell, and now to Corbyn. Its a sign we can cautiously trust their instincts.

        This was not a moral panic, or intelligence manipulation, this was on the contrary ordinary people saying no, we are not having this crap.

        Hopkins attempts to pretend otherwise destroy all his credibility.

      2. Henrik,

        “We can judge the quality of the author’s intelligence and integrity by the way he handles this particular episode.”

        I suggest you leave such definitive judgments to god (or God, or gods). It smacks of hubris to speak as if disagreement was impossible with your verdict.

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