The Boomers see the ruin of their dreams

Summary: We have so much power, knowledge, and ideology. We lack only perspective on our situation. But that is something we can gain from the past – such as seen here. For the Boomers, the lessons are sad – but perhaps useful for their children.

“Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur.” (The name has been changed but the story is about you.)
— Book I of Horace’s Satires.

Fruits of the Boomers’ dreams.

Dead desert landscape - AdobeStock - 246846880
Dead Vlei, Namibia. By Nicholas. AdobeStock – 246846880.

The Boomers are one of the pivotal generations in American history. We inherited America at its high tide. We grew up with the landings on the moon, the Great Society (which ended the South’s successful post-Civil War insurgency), the great alliances that maintained world peace among the major powers, and the massive expansion of higher education to all classes. Both Left and Right had high ideals and a glorious vision of the future. These were epitomized in Robert Heinlein’s 1950’s science fiction novels that we read when young and the Star Trek (the original ones) that we watched as adults. They were a future of growing order, peace, and prosperity.

All of this has collapsed into rubble. Worst of all, our children and grandchildren totally repudiate our values. Marriage is increasingly obsolete. The Left despises our liberal values, with racism and sexism their new lodestars. Meritocracy is evil, allocations by race and sex are the future. Individualism is evil, group identify is everything. Capitalism is evil. Democracy is valid only when it produces the proper outcomes. America is widely seen as illegitimate, belief in our core rights (such as freedom of speech and religion) is weak or broken.

On the right, the ancient evils of racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism are resurgent. Confidence in the wisdom of the people is rare; confidence in guns is growing. They remain loyalists of the old pieties – such as Christianity and the Constitution. I wonder how long that will continue if we encounter difficult times. Works such as William Lind’s Victoria (2015) show the bankruptcy of the Boomers’ vision, even to Boomers on the Right.

A sad aspect of the Boomers’ legacy is that so many of our descendants consider us the Worst Generation. The worst is that future historians might agree with them.

“The health of a people comes only from its inner life – from the life of its soul and its spirit.”
— Words on a granite memorial stone in Berlin marking where Walther Rathenau “fell on this spot by the hand of a murderer.”

See our future in the ruins of the past

“{History repeats itself} the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
— By Karl Marx in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

The World of Yesterday
Available at Amazon.

The excerpts below from Stefan Zweig’s autobiography The World of Yesterday (1941) give us some perspective on our time. He grew up and lived in late 19th century Vienna during the Habsburg monarchy, and lived to see it all burn away. He saw the new world, and committed suicide in February 1942. It eerily describes our time.

“In the collapse of all values a kind of madness gained hold particularly in the bourgeois circles which until then had been unshakable in their probity.”

Chapter 1: the world of security.

When I attempt to find a simple formula for the period in which I grew up, prior to the First World War, I hope that I convey its fulness by calling it the Golden Age of Security. Everything in our almost thousand-year-old Austrian monarchy seemed based on permanency, and the State itself was the chief guarantor of this stability. The rights which it granted to its citizens were duly confirmed by parliament, the freely elected representative of the people, and every duty was exactly prescribed. Our currency, the Austrian crown, circulated in bright gold pieces, an assurance of its immutability. …

In this vast empire everything stood firmly and immovably in its appointed place, and at its head was the aged emperor; and were he to die, one knew (or believed) another would come to take his place, and nothing would change in the well-regulated order. No one thought of revolutions or revolts. …One’s house was insured against fire and theft, one’s field against hail and storm, one’s person against accident and sickness. …

Despite the propriety and the modesty of this view of life, there was a grave and dangerous arrogance in this touching confidence that we had barricaded ourselves to the last loophole against any possible invasion of fate. In its liberal idealism, the 19th century was honestly convinced that it was on the straight and unfailing path toward being the best of all worlds. Earlier eras, with their wars, famines, and revolts, were deprecated as times when mankind was still immature and unenlightened. But now it was merely a matter of decades until the last vestige of evil and violence would finally be conquered, and this faith in an uninterrupted and irresistible “progress” truly had the force of a religion for that generation. One began to believe more in this “progress” than in the Bible, and its gospel appeared ultimate because of the daily new wonders of science and technology. In fact, at the end of this peaceful century, a general advance became more marked, more rapid, more varied. …

Progress was also made in social matters; year after year new rights were accorded to the individual, justice was administered more benignly and humanely, and even the problem of problems, the poverty of the great masses, no longer seemed insurmountable. The right to vote was being accorded to wider circles, and with it the possibility of legally protecting their interests. Sociologists and professors competed with one another to create healthier and happier living conditions for the proletariat. Small wonder, then, that this century sunned itself in its own accomplishments and looked upon each completed decade as the prelude to a better one. …Our fathers were comfortably saturated with confidence in the unfading and binding power of tolerance and conciliation. …

Even in the abyss of despair in which today, half-blinded, we grope about with distorted and broken souls, I look up again and again to those old star-patterns that shone over my childhood, and comfort myself with the inherited confidence that this collapse will appear, in days to come, as a mere interval in the eternal rhythm of the onward and onward.

Today, now that the great storm has long since smashed it, we finally know that that world of security was naught but a castle of dreams; my parents lived in it as if it had been a house of stone.

——————– End excerpt. ——————–

What comes next

America had so much, including the priceless gifts of stability, security, and progress. But we did not realize how quickly these things could be lost, or we would have protected them – and experimented on ourselves less recklessly. We saw only the potential gains from social engineering, but not the risks.

These days are the messy transitional period. Eventually, a new regime will arise on the ruins of the Republic. It is an old story. The Romans responded to the death of their Republic with resignation. The popular philosophies during the Empire were Stoicism, Hedonism (including Epicureanism), and Christianity. How will Americans react when they realize that the Constitution has died? Reform or resignation?

If you choose reform, there’s time to think and plan – but there is no time to waste. How should you respond to this milestone in American history? My recommendations: anger and resolution – but only thoughtfully, least we become emotional and easily manipulated pawns. When enough of us are angry, then we can consider next steps. We can learn from the failure of the Second Republic and build a Third Republic better than the Second. But the price for regaining self-government might be our lives, fortunes, and honor.

As Lawrence of Arabia said in his film, “Nothing is written.”

Walking into the Future - AdobeStock-178077499
By Jürgen Fälchle. AdobeStock-178077499.

Contest

I will send a copy of Rome’s Last Citizen (see below) to those who post the best comments to this series of posts. I have ten copies. Only one book per winner. Decisions are purely subjective by the judges, based on the originality and quality of insights, plus supporting facts and analysis, of the comment.

A copy also goes to whoever suggests a new masthead for this website. “Helping to reignite the spirit of a nation grown cold” shows a hopeful spirit I no longer have.

For More Information

Ideas! See my recommended books and films at Amazon. For something different, see “The Swallow – a story of the WWII Night Witches.”

I highly recommend Martin van Creveld’s new book, Seeing into the Future: A Short History of Prediction. “From the ancients watching the flight of birds to the murky activities of Google and Facebook today, Seeing into the Future provides vital insight into the past, present, and – of course – future of prediction.” Our media overflow with predictions. This will help you sort the useful ones from the chaff, and so better see our futures.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information about this vital issue see my posts about fear, about the Constitution, and especially these posts …

  1. The danger facing America, the names of the guilty, and our best hope for reform.
  2. Our institutions are hollow because we don’t love them.
  3. We have become cowards. We can become brave again.
  4. We gave our rulers the greatest gift that we can give.
  5. The Founders’ error dooms our Republic, but not the next.
  6. This post changed everything: A new, dark picture of America’s future.
  7. Asking what caused our decline and how to fix it.
  8. A new beginning for America and this website.

Look to the past to see our future

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.,

Rome’s Last Citizen by Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni – The life and legacy of Cato, the mortal enemy of Caesar.

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

 

28 thoughts on “The Boomers see the ruin of their dreams”

  1. John F Pittman

    In the 5th paragraph “might agree with us.” Should “us” be “them” to refer back to descendants and not Boomers?

    To your comment “My recommendations: anger and resolution”, I would add perseverance. Your comment implies commitment. However, in life I have found that for the long haul, perseverance in the face of opposition is necessary for success, not just commitment. Commitment and resolution are a necessary qualities, but not sufficient for what I anticipate will be battle of tug war with foul shots coming from all sides. My example is the one you choose at the beginning of this post: the South’s successful post-Civil War insurgency. IMO, the USA won the war, but lost at the generational bargaining table from a lack of perseverance.

    YMMV

  2. Excellent post, Larry.

    I have not commented lately because I’ve recently had a similar path of discovery to your own. I had a set of theories as to how we could navigate through the current turbulent times but COVID-19 showed me how false they were. As you know, that is a painful experience.

    I agree with John Pittman’s comment about perseverance. Our political future is not predictable, but it is not likely to come quickly (especially when measured in subjective time) and perseverance will be necessary.

    1. Pluto,

      “but it is not likely to come quickly”

      I have often said that in the past. But social evolution is slow until it is rapid, then conditions change in an eyeblink. Foundations wash away bit by bit, then the stucture topples fast.

      “There are decades when weeks happen, and weeks when decades happen.”
      — Fake but true quote attributed to Lenin.

      “Innovation of new forms of society and technology. It is the key to our progress. It has allowed us to evolve from naked hunter-gatherers to the dominant species on this planet. This process is slow, normally taking hundreds or even thousands of years. But occasionally evolution leaps forward.”
      — A slight tweak of Professor Xavier’s words from the title sequence of the movie “X-men”. These events are called “singularities”. Or revolutions.

      1. Stephanie B Doolan

        Let me start by stating I’m a cusper, somewhere between boomer and genx. I disagree with your statement “Meritocracy is evil, allocations by race and sex are the future. Individualism is evil, group identify is everything. Capitalism is evil. Democracy is valid only when it produces the proper outcomes.” I grew up believing in meritocracy, I worked hard, I got a good education, etc. It was a great boomer lie. Yes, I’m better off economically than my parents, but not much. What I’ve seen in my 56 years is that true wealth is still only for those who were born into the “right” family, belong to those social circles, made the right friends in college. The game is rigged and it always was. To top things off, I’m a woman. I believed that I had the same rights as any man. I didn’t. I’ve been demeaned, handled and groped, mansplained and relegated to my seat along the outside of the conference room, away from the table. Capitalism without sufficient guardrails is what we have now, the wealthy have backed up the trucks to the US Treasury and have looted our government. Shame on you boomers, you had so much and took so much. You were greedy and you stole from your grandchilren and beyond. You squandered your legacy such that all I can see that remains is your self-righteousness and desire to “make America Great Again.” Your nostalgia for your unsustainable past has goven us scenes like that last week from the Villages in Florida where a bunch of old white people drove golf carts through your retirement community shouting about white power. The US isn’t white anymore, that train has left a long time ago when we decided to build our nation on the backs of the labor of others. You are too arrogant to accept that your way of life has irreparably changed. Now the rest of us are left trying to coddle you into the last days of your lives and pick up the pieces after you’re gone, including how to pay the tab that you’ve left for us. Meritocracy and capitalism are good ideas but only when tempered with humanity and understanding that we all matter, that health care, education, clean air and water are basic human rights that should be prioritized in a nation as wealthy as we were. Boomers have squandered the legacy of WW II and travel to the moon with their greed and intolerance. You all may step aside now while the rest of us figure out how to save our democracy from the authoritarian that you’ve elected and indulged who has nearly destroyed us. Ironic that the largest numbers of people he’s murdered, yes, murdered, are boomers, his voting base.

  3. A lot of writers started questioning the World right before WWII. Many referenced that it was all “a dream within a dream.”

    One that I’ve found interesting is C.S. Lewis’s “The Abolition of Man” (1943).

    In the third section of the book, he predicts how we will regress in our humanity due to technology and our own hubris. (Both he and Tolkien saw the evils of technology particularly played out in the new powers of war machines in WWI and WWII).

    1. Mike,

      I don’t believe this is a problem with modernity or humanity.

      I don’t know enough to say if this is just America, or some of the West, or all of it. But most of the rest of the world seems to be stumbling along just fine.

      1. Larry- I don’t think Lewis would disagree with you. That was just one small highlight from what he was writing about. I found the book useful.

      2. Not sure about Australia, NZ, but otherwise there is something that seems to be a mainly UK-US phenomenon. It doesn’t seem to have much traction in Continental Europe, and none in the Far East.

        The phenomenon is the general acceptance of politically correct attitudes and policies on a range of ‘woke’ topics by the establishment, and the existence of a moral panic in which a restless mob directs its attention to one or other topic or individual, following which there is a media outcry and an individual is targeted and sanctioned, or a large corporation apologizes profusely and changes something.

        This seems to have reached a point of real craziness in the US, but its found in the UK to a real but less feverish pitch. It seems to be totally absent from the Far East or Continental Europe.

        This is the social dimension. There is also a political dimension which would cover a range of things from the BLM and Antifa demonstrations to voter engagement and behavior. The phenomenon is two things at the same time. One is the adoption of a common set of attitudes on a range of the politically inflamed issues of the day. Gender, climate change, race. This has happened in the UK in some quarters, you can see it daily in the pages of the Guardian or on the BBC.

        The other is voter disengagement or skepticism about the democratic institutions of the country. My perception is that this is a fairly minor issue in the UK, not at all an issue on the Continent, but a huge one in the US. At the election last December, and during the EU referendum the electorate seemed to think their choices would make a difference, took it seriously, and voted accordingly. To the dismay of the commentariat!

        People move much more in the US than in the UK and Europe, so there is much more opportunity for self-segregation into enclaves of ‘people like us’, whether this is alike in religion, political party, attitudes to gender and climate. In the UK the segregation has already happened and has been in place for generations, but the attitudes don’t seem to be as hardened or extreme. At the December elections there were large scale swings from Labour to Conservative in previously die-hard Labour constituencies. This was voters changing their allegiance in a way that doesn’t seem to happen to the same extent in the US.

        The US seems to be different in being far more religious than any other Western country, and religious in a different way – its not that a particular church has institutional power, its also a fragmented collection of different churches. It seems to be less pragmatic and more liable to very intense moral panics. And of course there are more guns! A lot more.

        The party system in the US seems dysfunctional in a way that the UK one is not. The UK system has actually generated properly compos mentis party leaders who have electoral appeal. And its ejected ones who don’t make the grade. Its inconceivable that a UK electorate would be faced with a choice between two men in their seventies, both of doubtful intellectual competence, one in disturbingly visible decline. There’s a rough and tumble system of debate that any UK party leader has to be able to find his way through, and neither Trump nor Biden would have the shadow of a chance with the UK system.

        Bottom line to your speculation: its basically a US issue. There has been some spillover into the UK. In other countries it doesn’t seem to be happening at all.

      3. henrik,

        “It doesn’t seem to have much traction in Continental Europe,”

        I’m always astonished at the degree to which people get their beliefs from reading the narrow and curated “news” from the major press. That statement is bizarrely false. The developments in Europe are just as serious, but in somewhat different forms. Free speech is being eliminated across much of Europe, as non-PC views are silenced – to far greater extent than in the US.

        More broadly, western Europe has brought in – without any public discussion, let alone votes – a massive underclass that won’t assimilate (why should they? nor does Europe’s official multiculturalism require them to do so). Violence is already rising – riots in France, rapes and grenade attacks in Sweden, etc. Typically, more serious problems arise with the second generation. Something for Europe to look forward to!

        I doubt that Europe has anything like America’s ability to assimilate foreigners (see the history of the Jews in Europe, and France’s post-WWII immigrants). If that’s true, they face hard times ahead. Combine with these immigrants’ formation as an underclass, the result might be far more difficult to cope with than America’s underclass.

        I’ve written much about this. But just rely on the major media. That will maximize your astonishment when they discover the story!

      4. Larry, I think its different.

        I agree that there is a crisis with migrant populations in Europe, and that its not getting solved and is getting worse, particularly in France.

        I also agree that there are threats to speech – in both France and Germany.

        What I think is different is the level of moral panic in the population as a whole about political correctness. The striking thing in the US is the way that a case gets started, turns into a media storm, and results in a firing or action by an institution.

        Also the penetration of woke ideology into the education system. There is some of this in the UK, but its by no means as dominant, and (my perception, but open to correction) very little of it in the education systems in France, Germany, Holland. I cannot offer an opinion on the other countries, particularly the Eastern ones.

        Also, the degree of disaffection from the political process (if we leave aside the alienated minorities) is to my perception much lower than in the US.

        The political systems seem to me to be functioning better. In neither France, Germany nor the UK nor the Netherlands will you find the electorate being asked to choose between a Trump and a Biden. Or between a Trump and a Clinton. Italy of course is and always has been a law to itself, but even there, the political system is responsive and selects competent candidates.

        And I don’t think you are getting the clustering of people into like minded enclaves. And in addition, in both France and the UK, you have seen a willingness of the electorate to change voting habits to change policies. Don’t underestimate that. In the UK December elections you had seats which had been Labour for nearly 100 years voting Conservative.

        And it wasn’t because of people moving. It was the same people voting differently this time.

        I agree, of course, that the US has historically and probably still at present is doing far better at integrating migrants from different cultures. No dispute there.

        But I think that in some respects of the present crisis it is a case on its own. With the UK having a milder form of the illness, and not showing some of the most important symptoms of the US case.

  4. When Stefan Zweig states that ” in the collapse of all values a kind of madness took hold…” he appears to be pinpointing a type of cultural collapse.

    It seems to be the case that every culture must narrow the range of our choices in some way, however arbitrary they seem.

    But the Boomer New Left never understood that when they chose the cultural message that it is “forbidden to forbid” such a choice leads directly, in 2020, to autonomous zones in Seattle where anything goes–and that such a trajectory reinforces the sense that behind the hippie always stood the thug.

    We may now be in the process of learning once again that in all functioning cultures there are some actions one would dread to perform and that when everything appears to be permitted a cultural collapse may be upon us.

    It may also be that the increasing fear and anxiety many of us are experiencing is because of an anticipatory dread of what may be coming next.

    1. Gerald,

      I have a different perspective on this article. It’s a typical product of the decayed right. Money money money money. That’s their measure of all things. That’s their god. It’s why that part of the Right is dying, becoming irrelevant.

  5. Branden Conrad

    The product Boomers sold themselves was a Victorian Romanticism constantly reinforced by a lack of relative suffering and ignorance to the work of Empire that made it possible. When they had created an nonfunctional society they went about the task that many mammals do in the wild, they began to devour their young whom they perceived as weak. Now as their world collapses they find themselves unable to cope and dismissive of younger people who have perceived a different world and feel the need to eat their elders to ensure survival themselves.

  6. Another John

    “On the right, the ancient evils of racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism are resurgent.”
    This is completely wrong. It is the left who are doing, the ancient evils of racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism are resurgent. When the left doesn’t even know what its deeds are they are a lost people.
    Didn’t read the rest of the article. What’s the point when they messed up so at the beginning?

    1. John,

      I don’t know who you are, but I know many on the far right. Met at my many years selling gold at gun shows. At my gun club. Those associated with my son’s armed self-defense course (the instructors are hard core and awesome). My contacts in the military, vet and active duty.

      And most important, among the young men I led as Scouts (now in their late 20s and early 30s). They are the future of the Right – and (logically, I hate to say) turned their backs to many of the Boomers’ values.

      “Didn’t read the rest of the article. What’s the point when they messed up so at the beginning?”

      Wow, that is pitiful. Anyone who stops reading at the thing he disagrees with can learn nothing. This isn’t the website for you, because it is all about news from the edge of the known.

      1. John,

        I suggest that you look at websites and such frequented by men in the teens and 20s. You might be astonished at what you find. One indicator of how different are their values from the Boomers’ is their reaction to the Star Wars sage – a pure expression of the Boomers’ vision. Look for posts and memes about how the Emperor was right and the Empire was good. It’s a subculture of considerable size, founded on rejection of the Boomers’ liberal views.

        Also note the frequent use of Nazi symbols. Such as this reaction to GamerGate (followed by the Left’s reformation of much of the gaming industry):

        Pepe reacts to GamerGate

  7. Excellent – and well thought through. I hope for reform – however the anger, which is thoroughly justified on many current protesting tongues – well “emotional constipation” and it exploded – well timed!
    If we can come together for reform – meaning “Listening” to all conversations – arguments – opinions and experiences – we form communities and expand our knowledge base to potential infinite horizons.
    Are humans capable of such admission of our own guile and guilt, then change!! Truly a larger task than the constitution itself.
    Many of us have done or taken these scenarios into action through our lives in our own neighborhoods – however, some of us move around and the energy and grounding disposition falters back to all the faults you have stated: racism – bigotry – ageism – sexizm and izm you wish – there are plenty………also there are Violence Interrupters as on TedTalks 2013 – and many have been the Boomers and generation X
    We crapple with today’s’ none logic and izms…and many of us do our share of work.
    Can one or two persons change the horizon – will others see that we look and seek a better today and tomorrow for all………….We must get beyond the oppressed and anger of these decades – admittedly say we are honestly SORRY for the heinous enslavement of our white forefathers and the opprobrium of their deeds. Admit it – we are shamed… allow the anger and listen… allow the emotions to vent — suggest to be not of violence and ruin one’s own hood – but anger can take on its own life of destruction OR… will it’s way into a constructive milieu and change the world and continue to change as necessary – for it is necessary
    Thank you!

  8. Interesting piece in the UK Telegraph, referring to lots of independent well placed sources (though mostly not personally identified). The suggestion was that serious senior people in the political establishment are worried enough to be actively making plans for the case where there is either a knife edge election with postponed result announcement, or one sufficiently clear for the present administration to attempt to refuse to accept it.

    Short clips:

    <

    blockquote>With just four months to go until voting day, a question once considered unthinkable is now being asked: What if the US president does not accept election defeat?

    To understand how seriously the concerns are being taken, and how widespread they are shared, The Telegraph talked to close to 20 well-placed individuals, including members of Mr Trump’s Republican party.

    Among them were current and former US congressmen, former senior figures in the Pentagon, intelligence agencies and past US administrations as well as academics working on mapping out worst-case scenarios.

    What emerged was a deeply felt worry – some said without modern comparison – that the president could pull legal, governmental and political levers to remain in power if Mr Biden fell short of a blowout victory

    […………….]

    “There were four big takeaways from me from the games,” said Mr Gilman, who discussed broad learnings but declined to talk publicly about the details of the exercises.

    “First, unless Biden wins by a landslide there’s going to be a constitutional crisis and likely political violence. Second, if it is at all close Trump has perfectly legal ways to challenge the election if he and the Republican Party choose to.

    “Third, the Biden campaign needs to understand that election day is not the finish line, the inauguration is. And fourth, neither the Supreme Court nor the military wants to touch any of this with a 10-foot pole.”

    <

    blockquote>

    1. Henrik,

      First, here is the link.

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/07/revealed-republicans-dc-veterans-fear-donald-trump-wont-accept/

      Second, this is total nonsense.

      First, they said that Trump wouldn’t accept the results if he lost in 2016. In fact, it was the Dems and Deep State that didn’t accept the result – and has worked since then to either overturn it or cripple Trump. They have lied and committed vast crimes to do so.

      Then we were told that Trump would govern as a tyrant. As his term comes to an end, he didn’t. He did nothing remotely like the Constitutional violations of Obama (which I and others have written about at length).

      Now we’re told by these people that Trump won’t accept the results of 2020.

      The common element of these claims is their total lack of factual support. But people like to be lied to – given lies that please their biases. It’s an easy way to manipulate people, so our elites do it.

      Have fun with your latest hysteria.

      1. Larry, I think you are probably right. I certainly hope so. But I think the Telegraph probably really has talked to who it claims to have, and that these conversations are going on is a quite interesting phenomenon.

        I quoted rather than just give the link, because its usually behind a paywall, unless you take obscure measures to bypass it.

      2. Henrik,

        “But I think the Telegraph probably really has talked to who it claims to have,”

        I suggest you read my reply to your comment. It just more of what we have seen from these people for the past FOUR years.

        “that these conversations are going on is a quite interesting phenomenon.”

        Nope. What’s interesting is that your take this stuff seriously in the absence of evidence after four years of these stories.

        At what point will you become suitably skeptical, to not find round one million “interesting”?

  9. As I read more and more material on the social and cultural changes in America, I start to understand better the underlying facts of the situation, but the thing I get no confident intuition about is where its going to end up.

    Larry, when you speculate about the fall of the Republic and its replacement by something else, do you have specific institutional milestones in mind?

    Do you have in mind some point at which elections will cease? Or at which the role of state governors will change? Maybe a large constitutional amendment of some sort? A change in the court system, perhaps all the way up to the Supreme Court?

    What happened in Rome was that Caesar became Emperor in a coup. Do you imagine something similar to that, perhaps with a family oligarchy?

    I have been thinking about the historical models. The fall of democracies in Italy and Germany in the last century. The fall of the Ancien Regime in France. The collapse of the Soviet Union. These last two were falls of autocracies of course. I’m not finding all that many compelling parallels – maybe am missing some. I do see some important cultural similarities of attitudes between Ancien Regime France and the US today, but of course the political structures have almost nothing in common.

    And if it does fall, what do you think will replace it?

    1. In our discussions we often mush together cultural and political/economic issues.

      I would argue that at the deepest level we are now experiencing a cultural collapse, which accelerated during the 1960s and has now reached a breaking point where the most powerful cultural dynamic has become to demand less of all of us and permit more.

      The particulars of how such a cultural collapse then shifts into our social/political structure and the consequences of such a shift for the distribution of goods, and statuses and is now another factor playing out directly in front us.

      On a cultural level I have argued that the New Left boomers of the 1960s had extremely naive views about human nature and what goes into the formation of human character but unfortunately their naive outlook has been adapted by
      most of the key contemporary political and economic players and their respective organizations.

      What do the Fabius Maximus site participants have to say about the nature of human nature and what goes into the formation of character structure within our society.

      Can a culture exist without authority?

      Can genuine authority exist without fear?

      Can a democratic society flourish without individual internal constraints embedded deep within us?

      1. Worm Wood,

        “Can a culture exist without authority? Can genuine authority exist without fear?”

        Good questions, ones I too have wondered about. I predict the new regime which replaces theSecond Republic will provide an abundance of authority – and fear.

        “Can a democratic society flourish without individual internal constraints embedded deep within us?”

        That’s a more specific version of the question, and quite important in an abstract sense. But I doubt it’s something Americans need worry about for a long time.

  10. A brand new commenter here, with the perspective of a Gen Z, and whose parents are Boomers. 😊

    A lot of people in comments section in your recent posts have discussed the various reasons for failures in America today, from the loss of core cultural, social, and societal values to dishonest, power-hungry, self-serving officials with agendas. I may be just generalizing, but I think the root cause (if one really exists) may be much more simple, and can be summed up by one word, hubris – that we know better and are still great, despite our repeated failure. As the saying goes, “pride comes before a fall”. Common examples of this include our nationalism that is disguised under the term ‘American Exceptionalism’ (our supposed superior morals, values, structures, institutions, and political system), our interventions overseas that all too often involve our country trying to foist such systems on other people at gunpoint, and more recently, our response to the coronavirus crisis where Americans casually, callously and blithely disregard even the most basic precautions such as wearing masks, seriously limiting unnecessary activities and social distancing. People going out on holidays, and many states not instituting the basic policy of mask wearing. Even in my own town, Menlo Park, CA (at the center of Silicon Valley, also one of the early hotspots that was managed reasonably well in my opinion), one of the most educated towns (in terms of higher education degrees) in the country, a Stanford doctor with three kids (and whose husband is an advanced surgeon at Stanford as well), started a petition on the local neighborhood blog to reopen schools shortly because of ‘children’s mental well-being’ while a lethal pandemic is killing 1000s and 1000s and potentially permanently injuring countless more. This was just a couple of weeks ago. Today, cases in California are again rapidly on the rise.

    My point is not to be critical for the sake of being critical, or to debate specifics of COVID-19 policy (which I am not an expert by any means on, although I do have a degree in Neurobiology, volunteered and participated in one of the earliest COVID-19 public health testing studies, and am working in a small med-tech company whose products that are being used right now to help treat seizures in COVID-19 patients). My point is two-fold:

    1) As a society, we have not fully recognized (or tried to recognize) the roots of our problems, something this website actively tries to do. Currently, we see the public rapidly coming to terms with who Trump truly is, but on the flip side, also somewhat going along with the narrative that he is the boogey-man who is the sole cause of all these problems exposed during his 3+ years.

    2) We don’t want to make sacrifices to solve the problems that we are a part of, regardless of whose ‘fault’ it is – we want to have our cake and eat it too – in other words, we don’t want to take responsibility for our failures and their consequences like the doctor I mentioned earlier. Maybe this is just life trying to teach us a tragic, sorely-needed lesson.

    That said, I still am an optimist about America, and that while we often harshly criticize ourselves like I hypocritically just did, the winner is the one who makes the least mistakes, not necessarily the one who is perfect. In that regard, I would argue that in general, despite our shortcomings, we still are far, far better off than most of the world today, aside from maybe arguably a few advanced Western European nations and a couple of the wealthier Asians in certain aspects.

    Hopefully if we are honest, we will have enough humility to appreciate that there are other people and societies in the world that may be doing things better than we are, and that we in fact have something to learn, not just in public health or how to response to the coronavirus, but also in many other fields, from politics to education (something I think FM has briefly discussed before in various posts on specific issues I think).

    Going forward, it would be interesting if FM took a break from purely examining the increasingly depressing domestic developments and news, and instead specifically looked at other countries and their approaches and policies, including not just what failed, but what succeeded, and compared them to what is currently being done in the US, and whether such models could replicated here at home. Thanks.

    1. Or this could just be an extreme string of bad luck. :)

      Also, correcting my typo:
      “wealthier Asian ones” instead of “wealthier Asians” in the last line of the 6th paragraph

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