Summary: To help get ready for the Hillary administration, let’s look at its philosophical roots — multiculturalism and human rights. Individually, each is a noble principal. Combined, they are nonsensical propaganda. That we fall for such things shows our weakness. When we begin to laugh at them, we will have taken a step toward self-governance. To understand this, we turn to one of the great books about America of the past generation.
“Here again we live with two contradictory understandings of what counts for man. One tells us that what is important is what all men have in common; the other that what men have in common is low, while what they have from separate cultures gives them their depth and their interest.
“Both agree that life, liberty, and the pursuit of property, i.e., the interests of health and preservation, are what men share. The difference between them is the weight they give to being French or Chinese, Jewish or Catholic, or the rank order of these particular cultures in relation to the natural needs of the body. One is cosmopolitan, the other is particularistic. Human rights are connected with one school, respect for cultures with the other.
“Sometimes the United States is attacked for failing to promote human rights; sometimes for wanting to impose “the American way of life” on all people without respect for their cultures. To the extent that it does the latter, the United States does so in the name of self-evident truths that apply to the good of all men. But its critics argue that there are no such truths, that they are prejudices of American culture.
Summary: Sunday’s post asked if America is like the late Roman Empire. The good news is that it’s not. The bad news is that in an important sense we’re like the last generations of the Roman Republic. Rome’s people grew weary of carrying the burden of self-government, just as we have. But we can change.
The original Star Trek taught us that humanity was not meant for slavery; we always rise up and fight for freedom. Unfortunately, history shows that rebellions against internal elites are rare. Successful revolutions are still more so (even partial successes, such as France in 1789, are rare). In fact subjects in well-managed societies (e.g., tyrannies, oligarchies) wear the yoke comfortably.
Although democracies (i.e., self-government) are rare, sadly common is evolution in the other direction, the bitter one from citizen to subject. The most famous example is the fall of the Roman Republic, a history familiar to our Founders — who built America on lessons learned from it.
If lose sight of that history America might suffer the same fate. The Roman people grew weary of self-government, of carrying its burden of responsibility and self-discipline. Civil wars determined who would place the bridle on Rome’s people and rule. Christian Meier’s Caesar: A Biography vividly tells the story of the Republic’s last days (I strongly recommend it).
We are following that path.
Summary: We would understand this election better by consulting a wider range of experts than the usual journalists (experts on the election steeplechase) and political gurus (experts on the electoral games). This post looks at the psychology of the manipulator and the victim, which nicely describes the roles of elite and voter in America today.
Why do we fall for their lies and manipulations again and again?
Essential reading for voters in Campaign 2016
by Támara Hill (MS, Licensed Professional Counselor) at PsychCentral
“Do you know someone who engages in telling multiple lies, even when you or someone else has caught them? Do you know someone who seems to manipulate others with his or her lies? If so, this article is for you.
“…Sadly, mental health professionals are largely uninformed about this insidious and evil behavior. We lack research and knowledge about pathological lying and have been unable, for centuries, to explain why it happens and how it develops. As a result, society remains very uninformed about pathological lying and is often shocked when someone close begins sharing their lies and untruths.
“…Triangulation can be defined as any behavior that misleads, confuses, or damages the relationship between the communicator and more than one other person. In other words, triangulation is a tactic someone may use to control, manipulate, misinform, or deceive.”
This is interesting and well-written. Perhaps most interesting is that the author gives no sign that the subjects of manipulation have agency — a sense of control over their actions. Why do people so often respond so well to manipulators? As the adage goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me a thousand times, shame on me.” The victim shares responsibility with the manipulator.
Summary: Yesterday’s post examined widely believed reasons that America will fall, and debunked them. This post discusses why such doomster narratives have become so popular and widely believed. The answer explains much about Campaign 2016.
This is follow-up to follow-up to The big list of reasons why America will fall (with rebuttals). It examined “The US Position is Untenable” by Karsten Riise, an unusually comprehensive doomster rant. The rising US public debt will crush the US dollar! The US is not competitive! The US has a weak education system! The US middle class is dying! We can’t raise taxes on the rich! America’s poor at risk of starvation; they just need more education! America’s military grows weaker! The US economy is unsustainable!
A few of these are partially correct. Most are exaggerated, or describe global problems (hence not a cause of relative decline). Some are outright wrong. But all of these are popular complaints, as it the overall doomster narrative.
Yesterday’s post discussed the objective accuracy of these claims. Today’s looks at their subjective truth, asking why these — and the overall doomster narrative of national decline — are so popular. The answer explains the unexpected strength of the Trump and Sanders insurgencies (see their overlapping views).
The first subjective truth: life at home
Many Americans feel the national doomster narrative is true because they see it in their own communities and in their own lives. America is filled with ruined communities and families with broken hopes, despite the nation’s fantastic growth in wealth since 1971.
Summary: Here is a compendium of gloomy news about America, the news that drives political campaigns, fear-mongering op-eds, and advertisements for guns and gold. These stories cloud our minds with misinformation and dampen our spirits. Why are they taken seriously by so many people? Debunkings like this are the only antidote. Pass it on! Tomorrow’s post will discuss why doomsterism is so popular in America today.
Continuing our series about doomster forecasts, today’s post examines an unusually detailed prediction of doom for America. Like most doomster writing, the content is almost entirely exaggerated or wrong, but it shows us people’s fears and ignorance — both largely fed by propaganda. The author’s key points are given in quotes.
(1) The rising US public debt will crush the US dollar
“The CBO analysis shows that Federal debt is on path to increase from 75% of GDP to 146% of GDP in 2046. …such high public debt figures are bound to lead to a fundamental crisis of non-confidence in the US dollar.”
Riise starts with the usual doomster favorite (as it has been since the New Deal): the US fiscal deficit. The wolf will always be at the door in 30 years! This is from the CBO’s 2016 Long-Term Budget Outlet. Also see the CBO’s slide deck.
These long-term predictions are useful planning tools, but range from unreliable to quite wrong. To treat them as indicators of certain doom is absurd. The many variables create a wide range of possible futures. In brief, the US government’s liabilities are among the easiest solved of America’s major problems (details here).