Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment

Of all the predictions I made for the new year in my post two weeks ago, the one that seems to have stirred up the most distress and derision is my suggestion that the most likely person to be standing up there with his hand on a Bible next January, taking the oath of office as the next president of the United States, is Donald Trump. That prediction wasn’t made to annoy people, entertaining as that can be from time to time; nor is it merely a reaction to Trump’s meteoric rise in the polls and the abject failure of any of his forgettable Republican rivals even to slow him down.

The rise of Donald Trump, rather, marks the arrival of a turning point I’ve discussed more than once in these essays already. Like the other turning points whose impending appearance on the stage of the future has been outlined here, it’s not the end of the world; it’s thus a source of amusement to me to recall all those Republicans who insisted they were going to flee the country if Obama won reelection, and are still here, when I hear Democrats saying they’ll do the same thing if Trump wins. Still, there’s a difference of some importance between the two, because in terms of the historical trajectory of the United States, Trump is a far more significant figure than Barack Obama will ever be.

Despite the empty rhetoric about hope and change that surrounded his 2008 campaign, after all, Obama continued the policies of his predecessor George W. Bush so unswervingly that we may as well call those policies—the conventional wisdom or, rather, the conventional folly of early 21st-century American politics—the Dubyobama consensus. Trump’s candidacy, and in some ways that of his Democratic rival Bernard Sanders as well, marks the point at which the blowback from those policies has become a massive political fact. That this blowback isn’t taking the form desired by many people on the leftward end of things is hardly surprising; it was never going to do so, because the things about the Dubyobama consensus that made blowback inevitable are not the things to which the left objects.

To understand what follows, it’s going to be necessary to ask my readers—especially, though not only, those who consider themselves liberals, or see themselves inhabiting some other position left of center in the convoluted landscape of today’s American politics—to set aside two common habits. The first is the reflexive resort to sneering mockery that so often makes up for the absence of meaningful political thought in the US—again, especially but by no means only on the left. The dreary insults that have been flung so repetitively at Donald Trump over the course of his campaign are fine examples of the species: “deranged Cheeto,” “tomato-headed moron,” “delusional cheese creature,” and so on.

The centerpiece of most of these insults, when they’re not simply petulant schoolboy taunts aimed at Trump’s physical appearance, is the claim that he’s stupid. This is hardly surprising, as a lot of people on the leftward end of American culture love to use the kind of demeaning language that attributes idiocy to those who disagree with them. Thus it probably needs to be pointed out here that Trump is anything but stupid. He’s extraordinarily clever, and one measure of his cleverness is the way that he’s been able to lure so many of his opponents into behaving in ways that strengthen his appeal to the voters that matter most to his campaign. In case you’re wondering if you belong to that latter category, dear reader, if you like to send out tweets comparing Trump’s hair to Cheese Whiz, no, you’re not.

So that’s the first thing that has to be set aside to make sense of the Trump phenomenon. The second is going to be rather more challenging for many of my readers: the notion that the only divisions in American society that matter are those that have some basis in biology. Skin color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability—these are the lines of division in society that Americans like to talk about, whatever their attitudes to the people who fall on one side or another of those lines. (Please note, by the way, the four words above: “some basis in biology.” I’m not saying that these categories are purely biological in nature; every one of them is defined in practice by a galaxy of cultural constructs and presuppositions, and the link to biology is an ostensive category marker rather than a definition. I insert this caveat because I’ve noticed that a great many people go out of their way to misunderstand the point I’m trying to make here.)

Are the lines of division just named important? Of course they are. Discriminatory treatment on the basis of those factors is a pervasive presence in American life today. The facts remain that there are other lines of division in American society that lack that anchor in biology, that some of these are at least as pervasive in American life as those listed above—and that some of the most important of these are taboo topics, subjects that most people in the US today will not talk about.

Here’s a relevant example. It so happens that you can determine a huge amount about the economic and social prospects of people in America today by asking one remarkably simple question: how do they get most of their income? Broadly speaking—there are exceptions, which I’ll get to in a moment—it’s from one of four sources: returns on investment, a monthly salary, an hourly wage, or a government welfare check. People who get most of their income from one of those four things have a great many interests in common, so much so that it’s meaningful to speak of the American people as divided into an investment class, a salary class, a wage class, and a welfare class.

It’s probably necessary to point out explicitly here that these classes aren’t identical to the divisions that Americans like to talk about. That is, there are plenty of people with light-colored skin in the welfare class, and plenty of people with darker skin in the wage class.  Things tend to become a good deal more lily-white in the two wealthier classes, though even there you do find people of color. In the same way, women, gay people, disabled people, and so on are found in all four classes, and how they’re treated depends a great deal on which of these classes they’re in. If you’re a disabled person, for example, your chances of getting meaningful accommodations to help you deal with your disability are by and large considerably higher if you bring home a salary than they are if you work for a wage.

As noted above, there are people who don’t fall into those divisions. I’m one of them; as a writer, I get most of my income from royalties on book sales, which means that a dollar or so from every book of mine that sells via most channels, and rather less than that if it’s sold by Amazon—those big discounts come straight out of your favorite authors’ pockets—gets mailed to me twice a year. There are so few people who make their living this way that the royalty classlet isn’t a significant factor in American society. The same is true of most of the other ways of making a living in the US today. Even the once-mighty profit class, the people who get their income from the profit they make on their own business activities, is small enough these days that it lacks a significant collective presence.

There’s a vast amount that could be said about the four major classes just outlined, but I want to focus on the political dimension, because that’s where they take on overwhelming relevance as the 2016 presidential campaign lurches on its way. Just as the four classes can be identified by way of a very simple question, the political dynamite that’s driving the blowback mentioned earlier can be seen by way of another simple question: over the last half century or so, how have the four classes fared?

The answer, of course, is that three of the four have remained roughly where they were. The investment class has actually had a bit of a rough time, as many of the investment vehicles that used to provide it with stable incomes—certificates of deposit, government bonds, and so on—have seen interest rates drop through the floor.  Still, alternative investments and frantic government manipulations of stock market prices have allowed most people in the investment class to keep up their accustomed lifestyles.

The salary class, similarly, has maintained its familiar privileges and perks through a half century of convulsive change. Outside of a few coastal urban areas currently in the grip of speculative bubbles, people whose income comes mostly from salaries can generally afford to own their homes, buy new cars every few years, leave town for annual vacations, and so on. On the other end of the spectrum, the welfare class has continued to scrape by pretty much as before, dealing with the same bleak realities of grinding poverty, intrusive government bureacracy, and a galaxy of direct and indirect barriers to full participation in the national life, as their equivalents did back in 1966.

And the wage class? Over the last half century, the wage class has been destroyed.

In 1966 an American family with one breadwinner working full time at an hourly wage could count on having a home, a car, three square meals a day, and the other ordinary necessities of life, with some left over for the occasional luxury. In 2016, an American family with one breadwinner working full time at an hourly wage is as likely as not to end up living on the street, and a vast number of people who would happily work full time even under those conditions can find only part-time or temporary work when they can find any jobs at all. The catastrophic impoverishment and immiseration of the American wage class is one of the most massive political facts of our time—and it’s also one of the most unmentionable. Next to nobody is willing to talk about it, or even admit that it happened.

The destruction of the wage class was largely accomplished by way of two major shifts in American economic life. The first was the dismantling of the American industrial economy and its replacement by  Third World sweatshops; the second was mass immigration from Third World countries. Both of these measures are ways of driving down wages—not, please note, salaries, returns on investment, or welfare payments—by slashing the number of wage-paying jobs, on the one hand, while boosting the number of people competing for them on the other. Both, in turn, were actively encouraged by government policies and, despite plenty of empty rhetoric on one or the other side of the Congressional aisle, both of them had, for all practical purposes, bipartisan support from the political establishment. 

It’s probably going to be necessary to talk a bit about that last point. Both parties, despite occasional bursts of crocodile tears for American workers and their families, have backed the offshoring of jobs to the hilt. Immigration is a slightly more complex matter; the Democrats claim to be in favor of it, the Republicans now and then claim to oppose it, but what this means in practice is that legal immigration is difficult but illegal immigration is easy. The result was the creation of an immense work force of noncitizens who have no economic or political rights they have any hope of enforcing, which could then be used—and has been used, over and over again—to drive down wages, degrade working conditions, and advance the interests of employers over those of wage-earning employees.

The next point that needs to be discussed here—and it’s the one at which a very large number of my readers are going to balk—is who benefited from the destruction of the American wage class. It’s long been fashionable in what passes for American conservatism to insist that everyone benefits from the changes just outlined, or to claim that if anybody doesn’t, it’s their own fault. It’s been equally popular in what passes for American liberalism to insist that the only people who benefit from those changes are the villainous uber-capitalists who belong to the 1%. Both these are evasions, because the destruction of the wage class has disproportionately benefited one of the four classes I sketched out above: the salary class.

Here’s how that works. Since the 1970s, the salary class lifestyle sketched out above—suburban homeownership, a new car every couple of years, vacations in Mazatlan, and so on—has been an anachronism: in James Howard Kunstler’s useful phrase, an arrangement without a future. It was wholly a product of the global economic dominance the United States wielded in the wake of the Second World War, when every other major industrial nation on the planet had its factories pounded to rubble by the bomber fleets of the warring powers, and the oil wells of Pennsylvania, Texas, and California pumped more oil than the rest of the planet put together.  That dominance went away in a hurry, though, when US conventional petroleum production peaked in 1970, and the factories of Europe and Asia began to outcompete America’s industrial heartland.

The only way for the salary class to maintain its lifestyle in the teeth of those transformations was to force down the cost of goods and services relative to the average buying power of the salary class.  Because the salary class exercised (and still exercises) a degree of economic and political influence disproportionate to its size, this became the order of the day in the 1970s, and it remains the locked-in political consensus in American public life to this day. The destruction of the wage class was only one consequence of that project—the spectacular decline in quality of the whole range of manufactured goods for sale in America, and the wholesale gutting of the national infrastructure, are other results—but it’s the consequence that matters in terms of today’s politics.

It’s worth noting, along these same lines, that every remedy that’s been offered to the wage class by the salary class has benefited the salary class at the expense of the wage class. Consider the loud claims of the last couple of decades that people left unemployed by the disappearance of wage-paying jobs could get back on board the bandwagon of prosperity by going to college and getting job training. That didn’t work out well for the people who signed up for the student loans and took the classes—getting job training, after all, isn’t particularly helpful if the jobs for which you’re being trained don’t exist, and so a great many former wage earners finished their college careers with no better job prospects than they had before, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt burdening them into the bargain. For the banks and colleges that pushed the loans and taught the classes, though, these programs were a cash cow of impressive scale, and the people who work for banks and colleges are mostly salary class.

Attempts by people in the wage class to mount any kind of effective challenge to the changes that have gutted their economic prospects and consigned them to a third-rate future have done very little so far. To some extent, that’s a function of the GOP’s sustained effort to lure wage class voters into backing Republican candidates on religious and moral grounds. It’s the mirror image of the ruse that’s been used by the Democratic party on a galaxy of interests on the leftward end of things—granted, the Democrats aren’t doing a thing about the issues that matter most to you, but neither are the Republicans, so you vote for the party that offends you least. Right? Sure, if you want to guarantee that the interests that matter most to you never get addressed at all.

There’s a further barrier, though, and that’s the response of the salary class across the board—left, right, middle, you name it—to any attempt by the wage class to bring up the issues that matter to it. On the rare occasions when this happens in the public sphere, the spokespeople of the wage class get shouted down with a double helping of the sneering mockery I discussed toward the beginning of this post. The same thing happens on a different scale on those occasions when the same thing happens in private. If you doubt this—and you probably do, if you belong to the salary class—try this experiment: get a bunch of your salary class friends together in some casual context and get them talking about ordinary American working guys. What you’ll hear will range from crude caricatures and one-dimensional stereotypes right on up to bona fide hate speech. People in the wage class are aware of this; they’ve heard it all; they’ve been called stupid, ignorant, etc., ad nauseam for failing to agree with whatever bit of self-serving dogma some representative of the salary class tried to push on them.

And that, dear reader, is where Donald Trump comes in.

The man is brilliant. I mean that without the smallest trace of mockery. He’s figured out that the most effective way to get the wage class to rally to his banner is to get himself attacked, with the usual sort of shrill mockery, by the salary class. The man’s worth several billion dollars—do you really think he can’t afford to get the kind of hairstyle that the salary class finds acceptable? Of course he can; he’s deliberately chosen otherwise, because he knows that every time some privileged buffoon in the media or on the internet trots out another round of insults directed at his failure to conform to salary class ideas of fashion, another hundred thousand wage class voters recall the endless sneering putdowns they’ve experienced from the salary class and think, “Trump’s one of us.”

The identical logic governs his deliberate flouting of the current rules of acceptable political discourse. Have you noticed that every time Trump says something that sends the pundits into a swivet, and the media starts trying to convince itself and its listeners that this time he’s gone too far and his campaign will surely collapse in humiliation, his poll numbers go up?  What he’s saying is exactly the sort of thing that you’ll hear people say in working class taverns and bowling alleys when subjects such as illegal immigration and Muslim jihadi terrorism come up for discussion. The shrieks of the media simply confirm, in the minds of the wage class voters to whom his appeal is aimed, that he’s one of them, an ordinary Joe with sensible ideas who’s being dissed by the suits.

Notice also how many of Trump’s unacceptable-to-the-pundits comments have focused with laser precision on the issue of immigration. That’s a well-chosen opening wedge, as cutting off illegal immigration is something that the GOP has claimed to support for a while now. As Trump broadens his lead, in turn, he’s started to talk about the other side of the equation—the offshoring of jobs—as his recent jab at Apple’s overseas sweatshops shows. The mainstream media’s response to that jab does a fine job of proving the case argued above: “If smartphones were made in the US, we’d have to pay more for them!” And of course that’s true: the salary class will have to pay more for its toys if the wage class is going to have decent jobs that pay enough to support a family. That this is unthinkable for so many people in the salary class—that they’re perfectly happy allowing their electronics to be made for starvation wages in an assortment of overseas hellholes, so long as this keeps the price down—may help explain the boiling cauldron of resentment into which Trump is so efficiently tapping.

It’s by no means certain that Trump will ride that resentment straight to the White House, though at this moment it does seem like the most likely outcome. Still, I trust none of my readers are naive enough to think that a Trump defeat will mean the end of the phenomenon that’s lifted him to front runner status in the teeth of everything the political establishment can throw at him. I see the Trump candidacy as a major watershed in American political life, the point at which the wage class—the largest class of American voters, please note—has begun to wake up to its potential power and begin pushing back against the ascendancy of the salary class.

Whether he wins or loses, that pushback is going to be a defining force in American politics for decades to come. Nor is a Trump candidacy anything approaching the worst form that could take. If Trump gets defeated, especially if it’s done by obviously dishonest means, the next leader to take up the cause of the wage class could very well be fond of armbands or, for that matter, of roadside bombs. Once the politics of resentment come into the open, anything can happen—and this is particularly true, it probably needs to be said, when the resentment in question is richly justified by the behavior of many of those against whom it’s directed.

531 comments:

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look sie said...

I have been reading the comments regarding the use of the term Social Justice Warrior (SJW) and how some feel it is somehow demeaning. A couple of posters have suggested using the term "The Professionally Offended" (TPO). Sorry, I really have to disagree. TPO is too mild a term and suggests that somehow these people are merely a nuisance that can be easily dismissed. These people are DANGEROUS. They have (despite their small numbers), with the contrivance of the media throughout the Western world, become a malevolent force that is doing a great deal of harm and poisoning every serious debate. Anyone that truly cares about "social justice" should be finding common ground not building barriers and stirring up even more resentment. These idiots can have people at each other's throats inside of 30 seconds.

Quercus said...

SJW

YCS said...

Hi JMG,
A very concise post and I have used your talking points already in response to some shrill disgusted mockery of Trump.
Some thoughts on this country/continent from an outsider, which I will collate into a post as you requested last week.

In the US, and Canada (and increasingly so in Oceania), the left is completely detached from actually advocating for... well, working class people. At the University of Toronto, where I was on exchange for 6 months last year, there were at least over a dozen social justice groups, but not a single one that actually talked about economic equality as a thing. No wonder most folks scoff at their intentions. Every single perceived biological category seemed to be up for some special preference, apart from actual debt-ridden and poor people who didn't fall into these categories. Instead of engaging with these issues, most modern leftists just dismiss you as a racist and bigot. They won't even write petitions, let alone do things like donate time for assistance or make changes in their lives to help wage earners.

The other, is how detached American salary-class people are from the wage class. I'll go back to Tocqueville, who commented in the early 19th century that it was myriads of associations where people of different backgrounds mixed with common interest that kept America together as a country. Well, that foundation died a long time ago. The way salary earners refuse to even engage with wage workers as more than automatons, and that's when they aren't actively destroying their livelihoods by replacing them with actual automatons. The sort of class distinction I see here is the same as the attitudes in old societies like India, and that's saying something.

There's a lot more I can say, but I'll write that in a post instead of rambling here.

YCS

YCS said...

Also, I wrote a quick post on the coming depression: reader's thoughts are much appreciated!

The Great Depression II: Bigger and better than the last one!

dltrammel said...

@Patrica Mathews: the lower end of the investment class isn't the corporate class, it's retirees with a patchwork income - survivors of the last days of pensions from work, or with 401(k)'s or small inheritances.

---

I unfortunately count them among the poor. They defintely don't make or promote policy like the ultra rich.

My argument for a "corporate" class, is that many people who 30-40 years ago would have been high end wage earners, are now getting salaries. Why? Because of overtime and the fact that the law about who gets it and who doesn't hasn't been up dated in decades. A co-worker took over as our supervisor on our shift, he was put on salary and while his base pay went up (not much) he now doesn't get paid for any overtime. They still expect him to work it, just not get paid for it.

He isn't one of the people who makes the decision to close a plant and move it to a foreign country to take advantage of cheap labor. Often those people that do make that decision aren't one of the 1% but instead are people who make small figure million dollar salaries. And get bonuses doing the very thing that kills the wage and lower salary classes.

They may make some of their money off of stock options and investment portfolios but their primary means of money is still their salaries. It's the difference between someone who can fire you (your supervisor) and who can close your plant (corporate CEOs).

Andy said...

Heartbreaking post from Dr. Longcore, an ecologist and professor at USC. Linda Beck is a biologist at Malheur in Oregon. The insurrectionists have released a video that includes Bundy rifling through her desk and ridiculing the research conducted at the refuge.

https://medium.com/@travislongcore/i-stand-with-linda-sue-beck-a651895b71ce#.f3kkyvkh4

"The armed takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is, therefore, not just an attack on a federal property. It cuts deeper than that. It is an attack on the modern science-based approach to land management and it is an attack on the value and worth of science and scientists in the United States. This should not come as a surprise. The armed occupiers are extremist Mormons — one of them identified himself as “Captain Moroni” (a figure from the Book of Mormon) and Ammon Bundy describes his actions as the result of consultation with “the Lord.” The occupiers are photographed kneeling in prayer at the refuge. In Linda Sue Beck’s office. Attacks on science from those with extremist religious views are now an unfortunate part of the American political landscape."

"So I stand with Linda Sue Beck and all of the federal scientists who serve to research, protect, and manage our federal lands. I stand with the scientists, who are under siege, by anti-intellectual know-nothings in the halls of Congress, by vapid inciters on talk radio, and now by armed religious extremists in their very offices. It is time for America to stand up as well."

Shane W said...
"@JMG,
so right regarding different groups treatment. I've been watching the coverage of Flint, and for the life of me, I don't get what those poor people expect to accomplish waving posterboard around. I mean, really, do they think anyone who has the power to do anything is really listening? It just seems so clueless to me--I'd love to see them take up arms and storm city hall in Flint or the capital in Lansing..."
Shane, I'm from Michigan, son of a GM union weldor, and grew up one mile north of the city limits of Flint until leaving for the USAF in early '83. I still have family in the area and hoped to move back to the UP. Once GM pulled out (Ross Perot was right - you could hear the sucking sound happening in real time), the biggest thing happening in Flint was Habitat for Humanity. Most of Flint's residents are African-American. You know what happens in the US when a brown-skinned person is seen in public with a gun, right - even if the person is 12 and carrying a pellet pistol? (RIP Tamir Rice. I'm sorry that the Grand Jury decided that your death was 'justified'.) I think clean water's lower on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs that physical security - maybe that's why they're in the streets with posterboard and not AR-15s. That's my guess, anyway.

Andy said...

Bill Pulliam said... "OK, I will be more direct this time, addrssing the entire audience here:

PC SJWs, Man-hating Feminists, Right-wing Gun nuts, Redneck bigots...

These terms are ALL primarily ways to take a whole lot of people, roll them into a category that YOU have devised, and dismiss them all out-of-hand without addressing any detail, depth, substance,or individuality in what they might have to say.

This is not Talk Radio, folks."
Bless you, sir - you've got my vote.

Instead of calling them names, maybe more white folks should bring the protesters water and stand with them. They've got more than enough reason to be in the "mad as he** and not going to take it anymore" category.

James M. Jensen II said...

Bill Pulliam,

PC SJWs, Man-hating Feminists, Right-wing Gun nuts, Redneck bigots...

These terms are ALL primarily ways to take a whole lot of people, roll them into a category that YOU have devised, and dismiss them all out-of-hand without addressing any detail, depth, substance,or individuality in what they might have to say.


I agree, but in the case of the SJWs, I'm not sure what a better way to discuss them would be. They really do seem to me to be describable as "the extremist wing of the cultural left." They seem to cluster around roughly the same issues.

What matters even more is how they behave: work themselves into a fury over ever-more-trivial things (ex: microaggressions), call for ever-more-radical solutions (ex: making universities "safe spaces"), dismiss any information contrary to their views (ex: their numbers on sexual assaults on college campuses are inflated), and generally bully anybody who doesn't get with the program.

Certainly none of this is unique to SJWs. They're simply the latest incarnation of an age-old phenomenon. I know first-hand how similar the far-right can be. What makes SJWs scary is that they actually have some power right now: people are losing their jobs or being bullied into suicide, and some schools are giving in to their demands.

Phil Knight said...

Bill Pulliam said...

OK, I will be more direct this time, addrssing the entire audience here:

PC SJWs, Man-hating Feminists, Right-wing Gun nuts, Redneck bigots...

These terms are ALL primarily ways to take a whole lot of people, roll them into a category that YOU have devised, and dismiss them all out-of-hand without addressing any detail, depth, substance,or individuality in what they might have to say.

This is not Talk Radio, folks.


Thank you for patriarchally mansplaining that to us, Bill.

Phil Knight said...

Anyway, back to the subject of this post, Trump's supporters are non-literate believers in political homeopathy:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430227/donald-trump-supporters-establishment-books

temporaryreality said...

My teenaged daughter, who has made the mistake of writing about her personal experience of being a minority ethnicity in the US on a public internet forum (instagram) has found that she now qualifies for having SJW hurled at her. First it was used in snotty ways, dismissing her expressions of solidarity (in the sense of understanding and commiserating) with others' experiences of bigotry. Then, the other day, a well-spoken individual commented, very skillfully arguing that my daughter was referring to other posts that were SJW-esque and that this made her position suspect if not tainted and basically that she was being insensitive to everyone else.

I watched my kind-hearted, compassionate child become angry, righteous, gleeful in her ability to "roast" that person in writing, When I overheard her talking to her sister about it, she filled me in, briefly and was offended when I suggested that her response was inappropriate. She couldn't hear that she had filled the shoes of the stereotyped SJW, had deprived another person of the chance to learn something through civil discourse (as, in her anger, she hadn't let me read the full post by the other person, I cannot judge if the comment was as underhanded as she insists or if the person really was trying to suggest she not identify with SJW politics by re-posting such things - so perhaps there was room for civil discourse).

The SJW appellation is being applied rather liberally and it's demeaning and divisive and will only serve to make it (more of?) a social crime, if not an outright one, to be different or support difference in our society. Sadly, my family cannot help but be different. The future is marching loudly toward our front door - with jackboots or pitchforks, I can't tell yet.

I would have preferred being able to directly comment on the actual subject of this week's post - I found it insightful and helpful in understanding other kinds of divisions in US society. On the ground, I don't know any Trump supporters (I'm an introverted, unemployed housewife/caregiver and my husband, who hasn't been able to find work in the US, now works overseas. I just don't get out much), so can't test the argument presented or gauge the degree of my acquaintances' resentment, but maybe the bubbling-over-in-the-comments topics reflect it well enough.

peacegarden said...

This has been an especially vigorous discussion.

My take is this: those losing their jobs or being penalized in some other way by some indiscreet twitter or Facebook comment are dealing with the consequences of twitter and Facebook overexposure. We don’t have to make comments about every blessed thing in life…the feelings of frustration could be shared with only trusted friends (real friends) instead of being put out there for the world to see…and be responded to with venom. Why not avoid the venomous snake all together.

As Bill Pullium said, “This isn’t talk radio, folks”!

Peace,

Gail

Shane W said...

Off topic, but this was just in my inbox on peak oil review--it must be bad if even the establishment economic organizations are talking this way...
"The situation is worse than it was in 2007. Our macroeconomic ammunition to fight downturns is essentially all used up. Debts have continued to build up over the last eight years and they have reached such levels in every part of the world that they have become a potent cause for mischief. It will become obvious in the next recession that many of these debts will never be serviced or repaid, and this will be uncomfortable for a lot of people who think they own assets that are worth something. The only question is whether we are able to look reality in the eye and face what is coming in an orderly fashion, or whether it will be disorderly. Debt jubilees have been going on for 5,000 years, as far back as the Sumerians."

William White, chairman, OECD's review committee; former chief economist,

peacegarden said...

And another thing…the behaviors of the SJW in power in government and particularly academia are perfect examples of the senility of the elites that JMG has written about. The real concerns and hard work that made some inroads in social justice (not a dirty concept) have devolved to knee jerk binary name calling/witch hunting.

Peace,

Gail

Jon from Virginia said...

This is more for last week's post on education than this one. It does tie into the politics of resentment- we hated the time wasted as kids, and the money wasted as adults.
"Does this 81 year old hold the key to teaching kids how to understand math?" my local paper asks. Once more, separate paths lead to a common truth-- Careful work finds a few key assessment questions that don't waste teachers and students time. She calls her technique the "Success in Learning Math approach". The story is at https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/does-this-81-year-old-hold-the-key-to-teaching-kids-how-to-understand-math/2016/01/24/534f6116-c12e-11e5-9443-7074c3645405_story.html
I found the idea initially in Public Schools Should Learn to Ski, which is about the New Canaan Center School.

Varun Bhaskar said...

Everyone,

I've been quietly reading comments for the past week, trying to take in everything that is being said. It seems like the only generalization that can really be made is that the wage class, where ever in the world they are, have been thrown under the bus. Specific grievances seem to vary from region to region, for example we don't really have an illegal immigration problem here in the northern Midwest, or a problem with rancher militias, or an influx of unadjusted refugees.

I would suggest to all of you, mostly because I have this problem too, find a common language to define who is part of your community and who isn't. What behaviour is acceptable for someone part of your community and what isn't? What makes someone an ally, a friend, competitor, or threat?

Ultimately, if you're going to label people, that's what you should be trying to establish. Don't base your ideas on someone else's definitions. Do as druids do, use your senses and ability to reason.

Regards,

Varun

Dammerung said...

oh good, Andy... a "science-based" approach to land management. Those have turned out so well in the past, from Las Vegas' inevitable death by dehydration to the great Yellowstone Fire. "Science" is just code for the privileged to use State violence to shift resources from the working class to the salary class. Scientific land management is a vast experiment being performed on flora; fauna; and humankind alike without bothering with such antiquated notions as methodological ethics or consent of the governed.

onething said...

In reading over some comments, it occurs to me that the SJW phenomenon may be an example of the highjacking of the left from standing up to power in a meaningful way, to distracting trivialities. Which is itself a hallmark of a disengaged elite who are playing at life. I don't mean the really high elite, but a salaried class academic one.

Also, as a more-or-less leftie, I am now seeing the reality of certain complaints against the left, specifically, how they can be just as intolerant and oppressive as the right. Like Columbus sailing around the world, east meets west.

Nestorian said...

I very much appreciate the generally agreed-upon theme in this post and thread that the "Identity Politics" of the mainstream Democratic leftward tilt of the US body politic is morally and ideologically bankrupt - and narcissistic, to boot - and that it serves a propagandistically useful function of suppressing any serious class analysis from US political discourse.

May I recommend, to those who share this sensibility, that they check out the World Socialist Web Site (www.wsws.org)? They offer daily global news from a classical Trotskyite perspective, and their vehement rejection of leftist Identity Politics is one of their major editorial emphases.

Unfortunately, being true heirs to the Marxist worship of the religion of progress, they reject Peak Oil and the dawning of hard ecological limits.

It's still a very worthwhile daily news source, though.

111DFC said...

Instead of road bombs and warbands, IMHO first what we would see is the ascent of the spenglerian “Caesarism” or any other kind of “Diocletian’s reaction” (Oswald Spengler wrote about caesarism in 1920, well before Hitler takeover, in “The Decadence of Occident” book)

Diocletian embarqued on a long series of prosecutions against dissidents (in those times manichaeans and, above all, christians) labeled as internal enemies of the roman civilization and greatness, and also in foreign wars and increase bureaucracy to collect taxes; but at the same time trying to win the “hearts and minds” of the poors through “artifacts” like the “Edict Of Maximum Prices” (301 a.d.), which was a disaster because change nothing in the land property or debt dynamics, and for this reason only make things worse (Diocletian was, at the end, only a “tool” of the patrician class)

I see in the webs of the right (libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, far right collapsists, preppers, etc.., and even in the left’s webs), a lot people issuing comments with large amounts of admiration for Vladimir Putin, as a kind of White Christian Knight that represents some of the value required for a true “Caesar”: clean white, christian, physically strong, determined, intelligent, military trained, alpha-male behaviored, relentless, fearless, powerful, really “in charge” (not a puppet of the wealthy), unconstrained by political correctness…, in short a real leader. This is a symptom of an unsatisfied “thirst” in a significant part of the population (proto-fascism?)

As Norman Cohn wrote in “The Pursuit of the Millenium” in the middle age, there were a lot of movements that believed in the inminent arrival of the “Last Days Emperor” (resurrected Frederick I “Barbarossa”), that will conquer the Holy Sepulcre and prepare the way for the “Second Coming” and the “Millennium” (and of course for some good progroms in the meanwhile), and choose some guy for this role. This was the hope of a lot of revolts of the poorest people in the nascent textile “factories” in Flanders, Hainaut, Hanseatic cities or Lombardy (the mediaeval lumpen proletariat lost all the social safety nets of the rural communities after moving to the cities). In fact I think Hitler saw himself as a kind of “last days emperor” called to set-up the “Millennium” (the thousand year Reich), following the same eschatologic tradition

The isolation of the man, the destruction of his blood bonds, his communities, make him embrace consumerism (reinforcing in a positive feedback loop) as an addiction; but when consumerism fails, destroyed isolated people return to the abstract notions of “tradition” or “nation”, in fact looking for another gravity center, for safety, meaning and rage. I think “Cesarism” is the next stop, won’t work also, but in the mean time the rage, and the blood, will flow

Joe Roberts said...

David Axelrod's op-ed in the NY today, about Trump's appeal as the antithesis of Obama, with many historical examples, explains one part of Trump's popularity very well, I think.

Nestorian said...

To Bill Pulliam (and everyone else too):

Some of us didn't even know what an "SJW" is.

Even after I looked up the acronym on google, I only became fully certain that it stands for "Social Justice Warrior" after I came back to the thread and read some posts where it came up.

Nastarana said...

Dear LewisLucanBooks, Should Sen. sanders become the Democratic nominee, he will need to look to the Midwest or Far West for a running mate. Because of Sanders' age, voters will be looking closely at the presumptive VP. Sanders would, IMHO, be well advised to look for someone who combines good campaigning skills with administrative experience. For example, former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer comes readily to mind. The two men could have some fun with a two old guys from Northern rural states theme. If he thinks he needs to appeal to Hispanics, there is a choice of Bill Richardson with his gold plated foreign policy experience, and former senator Ken Salazar, probably not the best choice, because of having been Sec. of the Interior during the Gulf of Mexico underwater oil spill incident, but a possibility. I had rather not see him mine the Senate of Democrats, one of Obama's worst mistakes, IMHO, but if he does, the best choice there might be Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minn. Iron Lady Sen. Claire McKaskill, America's answer to Maggie Thatcher, seems to have ruined a promising career with her very ill judged outspoken support for Mme. Clinton. A pity.

I am also a fan of Senator Warren, but one of the underlying dynamics of this race is that Democrats who live outside Wash, NY and Berkley are fed up with being ignored by the national party.

Bill Pulliam said...

Phil Knight -- You are welcome. As a white male over 50 isn't that my duty? But of course by using the words "patriarchal" and "mansplaining" don't you now qualify as SJW?

Bill Pulliam said...

Actually I just realized that by virtue of being queer and 1.2% native American I qualify for not one but two oppressed minorities, so you are not allowed to tag me with patriarchal. Sorry but those are the rules!

Patricia Mathews said...

Could you please explain why everyone is pouring oil into an apparently over- saturated market, and driving prices lower and lower? Especially if oil is becoming harder and more expensive to extract? Are they crazy, am I, or is there something I'm missing here?

Patricia Mathews said...

No, Phil - let me womansplain it to you matriarchally - as a longtime feminist, I have to say that Bill Pulliam is absolutely correct. Categories put a stop to thinking and lead to bad manners. Bad manners is what the Social Justice Warriors - a term I learned only on this blog - are protesting. And apparently exhibiting. And by my standards, bad manners are starting to prevail whenever the subject is being brought up. By either side.

Let me add that bad manners has nothing to do with what fork you use and everything to do with exhibiting kindness, decency, and granting the other person the same human status as you claim for yourself.

There has been enough class-bashing, age-bashing, and every other kind of bashing around. Far too much.

earthworm said...

Phil Knight said:
"Thank you for patriarchally mansplaining that to us, Bill".

I didn't take it that way. The point seemed worth thinking about.

Bill Pulliam:
"These terms are ALL primarily ways to take a whole lot of people, roll them into a category that YOU have devised, and dismiss them all out-of-hand without addressing any detail, depth, substance,or individuality in what they might have to say."

Mansplaining seems like a different thing, but then maybe I am incorrect.

Bill Pulliam said...

Dammerung -- what do you propose as an alternative? In the U.S. the alternative has generally been a market-based approach to land management, privatization of resources and maximizing short-term revenue. Got another suggestion?

Ozark Chinquapin said...

Thinking back to some of your earlier writings on technological, economic, and moral progress, I'm wondering if the Trump/Sanders phenomena signals a turning point in belief in economic progress specifically. Even though as you've stated, America has been in decline in many ways for decades, belief in the myth of progress has led many to ignore those signs, until now. It's clear that lots of people are fed up with the status quo, but it's unclear to me how many Americans still believe that progress will get back on track if we just change some things around and how many have grasped the reality of limits. I'm wondering if the stirrings of nationalism/isolationism in America and in Europe mean that many have accepted on some level that there's no way that 7 billion people can ever live a modern western lifestyle. Globalization was accepted by so many on the premise of economic progress, that someday everyone would live like western countries. Dwindling belief in economic progress (along with moral progress, which also has fewer true believers), will lead to very different attitudes as people adjust to thinking of the pie as shrinking rather than expanding. Belief in technological progress seems to be pretty much as strong as ever, but technological progress without economic or moral progress isn't a very happy concept, it shows in the dystopias seen more and more in popular fiction.

James M. Jensen II said...

As I suspect our host is getting somewhat tired of talking about SJWs, may I suggest we patronize him another way? I propose we guess what the next post will be about. I'll start:

The next part in Retrotopia. We'll finally go to the Atheist Assembly, and the methane leak in California will get a passing mention.

Alternatively, JMG will get confused owing to an excess of divine wisdom, and will accidentally post "The Scope of Occultism, Part Three: Why Crowley Was Wrong About Everything" here. ;-)

dltrammel said...

Bill Pulliam said: "OK, I will be more direct this time, addressing the entire audience here:

PC SJWs, Man-hating Feminists, Right-wing Gun nuts, Redneck bigots...

These terms are ALL primarily ways to take a whole lot of people, roll them into a category that YOU have devised, and dismiss them all out-of-hand without addressing any detail, depth, substance,or individuality in what they might have to say.

This is not Talk Radio, folks.

---

Phil Knight said: Thank you for patriarchally mansplaining that to us, Bill.

Clearly Phil you haven't been reading JMG and the ADR for long. You and others that havent' might want to go back and read this post:

"Fascism and the Future, Part One: Up From Newspeak

Where Greer introduced the term "snarl word":

"These days, to be more precise, the word “fascism” mostly functions as what S.I. Hayakawa used to call a snarl word—a content-free verbal noise that expresses angry emotions and nothing else. One of my readers last week commented that for all practical purposes, the word “fascism” could be replaced in everyday use with “Oogyboogymanism,” and of course he’s quite correct; Aldous Huxley pointed out many years ago that already in his time, the word “fascism” meant no more than “something of which one ought to disapprove.” When activists on the leftward end of today’s political spectrum insist that the current US government is a fascist regime, they thus mean exactly what their equivalents on the rightward end of the same spectrum mean when they call the current US government a socialist regime: “I hate you.” It’s a fine example of the way that political discourse nowadays has largely collapsed into verbal noises linked to heated emotional states that drowns out any more useful form of communication."

What Bill, and others like myself recognize is that the use of the term SJW has become just such a snarl word, without any meaning other than to put down and marginalize the people you disagree with.

Now I have read some on the whole academia stuff on "Trigger words" and "micro aggressions" and find the majority of it to be complete BS. I am willing to argue my point without treating those that disagree with me like "non-literate believers in political homeopathy", something you do in your very next post. If your take from the original post by Greer is that the people that support Trump are unread and stupid, you need to reread the post.

I'm not even going to comment on "patriarchal mansplaining".

The readers here expect more than sound bits Phil.

Justin said...

I apologize for having used the 'SJW' phrase. It is a snarl word and is not really useful in describing the two main groups that it represents. I would say there are two groups, the members of internet lynch mobs and the professionally offended.

The professionally offended really bother me (and many others). They typically are people who are privileged by the standards of the West who are very good at making divisive arguments. They take advantage of the real hardship that disadvantaged groups experience to advance their careers. I'm pretty sure some version of them is a normal feature of the cycle of elite decadence and cluelessness, so I won't pretend that this is a modern problem even though social media, etc likely add new dimensions to it. I also have to think that whether planned or not, the whole 'SJW' thing is being used as kind of a reverse Jim Crow to keep the wage class split along racial lines and even to a certain extent gender lines.

Who wants to bet that JMG will hit 600 comments by 2016?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Bill,

I thought SJW meant Silly Jerky Wa*kers. Just sayin... :-)!

I'm personally a little bit in awe at how the discussion has degenerated from the topic at hand into some sort of strange side debate about a non-issue.

In case people aren't aware, the term warrior is defined as: a brave or experienced soldier or fighter. Can people really hold their heads up in the face of that definition and honestly say that they are not borrowing the emotive aspect of that word when they talk about SJW? Seriously people get a grip.

But then the dirty little secret is that there is no justice to be found because people pursue self-interest and that pursuit usually comes at the expense of others.

Which brings the discussion back around to Trump. I gave a coherent analysis of his possible motives and few seem willing to engage with that analysis because it is an emotionally painful understanding. But that doesn't change the fact that Trump is pursuing self-interest. Nuff said really, we should really stick to the topic at hand.

Cheers

Chris

Bill Pulliam said...

Interesting analysis of polling results from about a month ago:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/upshot/donald-trumps-strongest-supporters-a-certain-kind-of-democrat.html

Trump's strongest support comes from these groups:

Self-identified Republicans who are not registered
Self-identified Republicans who are registered as Democrats (the strongest group)
Self-identified Republicans who are rated as least likely to turn out in the General election

Members of the second group cannot vote in Republican primaries in many states.

There a lot of inertia working against Trump's being able to convert his poll support into votes at the polls. Sure people often hope for a mass turnout of the formerly disenfranchized to elect a non-mainstream candidate... but they are often disappointed. Obama's big wave in 2008 was brought about by Democratic party machinery working within the existing Democratic base. Trump does not have this advantage.

BoysMom said...

So back awhile ago, when I first saw some folks calling themselves Social Justice Warriors or SJW, I found this: http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/aspa/unpan000572.pdf given as the origin of the term. That's from 2001.

As SJW first appeared in use on line, what I saw was that it was a self-description, people posting proudly that they were SJWs and they were going to make someone lose their job for saying something they didn't like, donating to a political cause they didn't like, or for wearing a shirt they didn't like, to pick some fairly famous examples. I've watched people who found themselves on the opposing side of things turn SJW into a sneer, but . . . well, when the self-proclaimed SJWs are the first to scream racist/sexist/nazi when someone disagrees with them, or does something they don't like, often directly in the face of evidence to the contrary, I don't feel any sympathy now that they've, some of them, decided they don't like the title they picked. Some of them still like being called SJWs and are proud of their title.

Bill Pulliam, that's their category. They named it, they proclaimed they belong in it. Read the originating document I linked: it's only sixteen pages long. If it's turned from complimentary to derogatory, perhaps that's a result of the behaviors of those using the name?

Ray Wharton said...

Wow the sub topic of SJW hit a nerve like a hammer to the funny bone it looks like. Some thing to try to think very coolly about since it seems to spark passions! Bill Pullman's call for caution about thinking about people with categories is very apt.

That disclaimer being said though, I can say that I have felt the tension myself. It was a very strong contributing factor to my choice to leave the Fort Collin's region last fall in retrospect. I didn't have that category in my thinking at the time, but certain pervasive attitudes in that university town were very wearing to be around. Many attempts to start appropriate lifestyle coalitions in Fort Collins became absorbed in those dramas, to the detriment of constructive effects.

There is one anecdote about that which is worth mentioning, this far down the comments at any rate. In December I spent some time in the Dineta (Navajo Lands), herding sheep and building corrals. Good times. But while out there I got into some heated conversations about my white male privileged coming from some of my white male friends who were out there. My friend J. was sharing an anecdote about an older fellow he met at a Rainbow gathering who frequented that scene because of enjoyment of seeing hippy women in various states of undress. While J. was sharing this anecdote he used a slang, but by no means vulgar, expression for breasts; 'tits'. At this point he was verbally berated for the use of the expression, an otherwise nice young man T. saying he could not be friends with a person who would use such a demeaning word. A few day's earlier the expression 'die cis scum' was quoted with soft amusement, along side a story about a protest gay orgy in a conservative church mid service; real knee slapper, no? When this even was shared with another fellow sheppard N. further heated talk followed. I don't claim that J. and I were being at out most tender in our speech, but we were powerfully attacked for ignoring our white privileged by trying to bring up that non politically correct attitudes about gender and race have their own standing and need not be based from hate or oppression. The issue that I received the most heat on was my venting about the difficulty from my College days in addressing the gender perspectives in non western philosophy with out the conversation being beaten into our eras particular gender issues.It was very frustrating, but T. and N. are both great guys who work hard and concretely for more resource appropriate lifestyles, I hoped to convey that making enemies through social values decreased the reach of making friends for appropriate livelihood matters. It was very strange, and for days I was deeply bothered by these exchanges, still good with N. and T. but it has left me very concerned.

Ray Wharton said...

http://sinfest.net/view.php?date=2016-01-18

Stumbled over this seconds after finishing the previous post. One of the first times I have encountered the term 'SJW' off of this blog or a link from these discussions. We live in interesting times.

Greenie said...

"(Oswald Spengler wrote about caesarism in 1920, well before Hitler takeover, in “The Decadence of Occident” book)"

Even more impressive, he wrote in before WW I started.

Shane W said...

@Andy,
I think you're missing the point, protest doesn't accomplish anything anymore but annoy people, and it certainly doesn't put money in politicians' PACs. Regarding taking up arms, people need to be so fed up with things and so hopeless with the situation that they're willing to die for the cause, it's gonna take some martyrs/deaths for people to take notice.
@temporaryreality,
you should try to make your daughter understand that the internet, and social media in particular, is particularly effective in distilling pure nastiness and hate out of people, as JMG has said, due to its anonymity. You should try to get her to realize that nothing on the internet is real, and point out the serious side effects of social media, and try to get her to avoid it, or, if that's not possible, to seriously limit her exposure/time on social media.

Nestorian said...

I should perhaps add that, in the Roman Catholic tradition (into which I was born, before I became Nestorian), "social justice" has a strictly socio-economic sphere of application.

This sense of the phrase applies in Christianity at large, I believe. Thus, "Social Justice" in its traditional Christian denotation is in an important sense the opposite of what an "SJW" cares about.

Apart from sheer ignorance, this is part of the reason why I was confused by how the acronym is understood in non-Christian settings.

latheChuck said...

On a couple of occasions, I have heard political analysts (probably on US National Public Radio) ponder this mystery: why does the working class support Republicans, instead of their economic interests (as represented by the Democrats)? It is simply unfathomable, in the reporting I've heard. Now, I think I've come up with several reasons:

1. Some things are worth more than mere money (as in, social conservatism (as in, pro-life, anti-gay, racism)). [This is the favorite explanation, implying that rural Republicans are small-minded and evil.]

2. The working class might be mindful of the axiom that "a government powerful enough to provide everything you need must also be powerful enough to take everything you have". The "providing more" part is a possibility; the "taking more" part is well-established.

3. Since when has either party actually supported the economic well-being of the working class? [Obviously, the theme of this week's post.]

Let me hasten to add that I am not advocating these three ideas! But how can we understand the world if we can't discuss what might go on in the minds of others?

onething said...

@ Damerung and Andy,

I've been wracking my brains all day trying to remember where I read about the management of some of the national state parks, and the many boondoggles that resulted. I was shocked and amazed at the interference that they did, and the assumption that they knew what they were doing, and of course the inevitable "oops" when they see what they have wrought. It brings to mind a Ted talk of a repentant (white) guy about the way that they shot and killed thousands of elephants in Africa because they came up with the ridiculous idea that it would improve the soil.

There's a place for scientific management, but that place should be a very small one. I would have thought the whole point of a national park is to leave it alone.

pentronicus said...

A most excellent post Mr. Greer!

Although I identify mostly with the wage class, I don't blame the investment and salary classes for the sacrifice of the wage class. I see the destruction mostly as a side effect of the unfolding flower of technology. Once it became technologically possible to liquidate the working class, it had to be done. There was little choice in the matter.

Here is a partial list of the prerequisite technologies:

- Nearly instantaneous communication
- Jet air-travel and shipping
- Energy delivery infrastructure with cheap energy
- Scale-able raw materials infrastructure.
- Containerized shipping with deep-water ports and scale-able fleets of ships, trucks and rail cars
- Standardization of business information data and protocols (such as Electronic Data Interchange)
- Fiat currency and reserve banking, tying money to limitless promises instead of limited metals
- Development of high-volume machine-based manufacturing technologies
- Development of propaganda techniques (advertising) that ensured huge markets.
- Financial techniques of the World Bank and IMF

Meanwhile, in the US, as all this 'progress' was happening, labor and manufacturing was becoming expensive, largely due to our own successes. Some of the cost drivers:
- Union activities and practices
- Labor laws and OSHA
- Pollution control laws and regulations
- Tax increases
- Direct government interference
- NIMBYism (not in my back yard)

Now suppose you are a business owner or an investor, and you want to grow your capital. What are you going to do? You might choose not to manufacture anything, and invest in financial vehicles. You could cheat and hire some illegal aliens. You might invest in machinery, and hire very few people. Or you might pressure the government to remove any restrictions to your moving your manufacturing operations to cheaper places overseas. Once that happened you would have the means, the motive and the opportunity to move it. If your competitors took this approach, you had to do it too. Nobody sat down in a board meeting and said “Hey, lets bury the workers.” They just did what they had to do.

If anyone thinks this is unfair, take heart: Someday the tables will turn against the elites, and if history is any indication, this won't be a very pleasant experience for them.

Andy said...

Dammerung said... "oh good, Andy... a "science-based" approach to land management. Those have turned out so well in the past, from Las Vegas' inevitable death by dehydration to the great Yellowstone Fire. "Science" is just code for the privileged to use State violence to shift resources from the working class to the salary class. Scientific land management is a vast experiment being performed on flora; fauna; and humankind alike without bothering with such antiquated notions as methodological ethics or consent of the governed."
Please tell me this is satire, sarcasm, or some other method chosen to highlight the insanity of the groups that prefer to govern by temporary dictatorship in order to profit from poisoning a city, or that sentence hundreds of thousands to death by continuing to suggest that climate scientists reading thermometers are owned by the Illuminati.

In the off chance you're serious (I hate to think that to be the case, but one never knows), I offer this: In spite of the things that didn't work, science provided the tools used to accomplish my premature Cesarean birth and live to talk with you remotely via widely scattered packets of data that sometimes travel by laser or via satellite so that we can enjoy the community that formed in the virtual home of our favorite Archdruid. If that doesn't make you like science I don't know what will. Just because a method developed to allow methodical examination of the world in which we live is sometimes used by less-than-sane people, corrupt capitalists, or political hacks, doesn't mean that the system is broken or that we should stop trusting the things we know to be correct. I guess that means that if you're serious, and you actually intended that amazingly broad yet twisted brushstroke, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Bill Pulliam said...

Wow, folks, I really think Phil was joking. In fact, I thought the term "mansplaining" was kind of always used somewhat humorously, even when about serious issues. And even if that was not his intent, I certainly can choose to take it that way. After all, I AM a middle-aged white American male, and that breed DOES like to espouse its views on everything to everyone, and it DOES often come across as patronizing. No point in denying that!

First time I heard "PC" being used in general discourse, it was being used as a joke by leftists about themsleves. I realize that it has older and more nefarious origins, but American feminists calling each other PC in the 1980s was light-hearted needling with only a slightly serious undertone of "really, you might think about lightening up a little." But then the mainstream media grabbed hold of it and it became a snarl word against the people who used to use it humorously among themselves. Looks like SJW is working its way along the same trajectory. It also seems to have already lost any real meaning if it is being used simultaneously to describe the lynch mob that drove the CEO of Mozilla out, and the protestors in Flint upset that their municipal government knowingly allowed them to be poisoned.

As for the anonymity of the internet, a number us here do post under our own names and some even show our smiling faces right up there too... If I would not express an opinion at a dinner party (we have really lively dinner parties) I wouldn't express it here, either.

Bill Pulliam said...

Onething -- Since national parks etc. are relatively small and discrete things surrounded by vast areas of human activities, "leaving them alone" does not insure that things will be hunky dory. Invasive species move in, fire regimes are changed even in the absence of active fire suppression, top predators are missing, on and on. The notion that there is a "wild" state of nature that it will return to in the absence of human interference is a fallacy. It also somehow seems to think that humans stand apart from nature, which if one believes in biological evolution is also fallacious (where else did we come from?). The human impacts in the past and in the present are ubiquitous. The fact that there have been some (very) bad choices in the past does not mean that we should just make no choices at all in the future.

Patricia Mathews said...

Trump - too *liberal*? From David Brin's blog:


"As for Trump? While most of the world piles onto him as “fascist” (an accusation I tend not to believe), National Review and Fox are trying a new tactic: accusing the Donald of being “too moderate!”"

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

And a whole lot more.

Nastarana said...

Justin,, Such people taking advantage etc., as you put it, used to be known as poverty pimps.

The Kunstler blog this morning was...strange. JHK, reporting from, I gather, Michael Bloomberg's drawing room, informs us that Bloomberg will be running for President as an independent. I cannot confirm this anywhere else on the internet. The article is strange, dripping with vitriol in places, and, I have to say, not really coherent. As near as I can figure, a certain group, for which the esteemed Mr. Kunstler is serving as mouthpiece, have decided that the election of Mr. Trump would be bad for Israel, and Something Must Be Done. Sen. Sanders is not mentioned at all, which is also a bit strange as Mr. Kunstler goes out of his way to inform us that both he and Mr. Bloomberg are Jews. (I wonder which .0001% of Kunstler's readership did not already know that?) If this is going where I greatly fear it might be going, it sounds to me like Mr. Trump can start writing, or commissioning, his inaugural address.

Andy said...

Blogger Shane W said... "Andy,
I think you're missing the point, protest doesn't accomplish anything anymore but annoy people, and it certainly doesn't put money in politicians' PACs."

Sorry, I'm not sure how I'm missing the point. The status quo exists because it's the most comfortable habit - and most comfortable habits deliver blinders and/or blindness to those entranced. The point of many of the protests is for groups to see 'in the flesh' that they're not alone, and to cause enough discomfort to the temporarily blind that they wake up, at least a little bit, to what's happening around them. The protests I've monitored or participated in had nothing to do with anyone's PAC, but admittedly that's a small sample size.

Shane W said... "Regarding taking up arms, people need to be so fed up with things and so hopeless with the situation that they're willing to die for the cause, it's gonna take some martyrs/deaths for people to take notice."

Speaking from the perspective of a retired AF guy still on call to 'grab a gun and go' should the need arise, the purpose of taking up arms is to "kill people and break things". Taking up arms means all other more useful paths have failed. I like to think that the Founders put the 1st Amendment before the 2nd as a reminder, but then I also smile when I see a Hello Kitty, so there you go. ;) As for martyrs, it appears that at least the Black Lives Matter folks have had more than their share, as have other groups. More than enough to galvanize their communities, at least, which is sad in itself. Taking up arms, though, feeds straight into the stereotype most white Americans keep that includes using words like 'thug'. Normally, as I said earlier, that results in a rapid silencing of the protest rather than a useful resolution.

More directly - openly carrying long guns is legal in most US states. The right is being examined by various activist groups. Here's an exemple from Oregon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvW_zBvJlsA

These are examples of the types of deeply-ingrained racism 'buttons' that Trump pushes when activating his base. [Just for you, Chris. :) ]

Shane W said...

I'm wondering if part of the relaxation of attitudes about sexuality in the age of limits is that sex is a relatively ecologically friendly, non-consumptive way to provide pleasure, and ways of preventing pregnancy & STDs are relatively low tech. That is, that people increasingly over time are willing to cast an indifferent and even understanding eye towards those who want to enjoy themselves sexually, however that may be?
Regarding the whole SJW thing, most of the people promoting such ideas are diehard cornucopians--really, issues of equality and getting a bigger piece of the pie, not getting screwed out of your fair share, etc. all depend on the idea of an expanding pie. In an age of limits, whereby the pie is shrinking, it takes on a whole different meaning, and quickly descends into increasingly violent, divisive conflict over an ever shrinking pie. I don't see any "collapse now & avoid the rush" thinking in the whole SJW movement, it's all about "where's mine" and "don't screw me(us)"

Andy said...

onething said...
@ Damerung and Andy,

I've been wracking my brains all day trying to remember where I read about the management of some of the national state parks, and the many boondoggles that resulted. I was shocked and amazed at the interference that they did, and the assumption that they knew what they were doing, and of course the inevitable "oops" when they see what they have wrought. It brings to mind a Ted talk of a repentant (white) guy about the way that they shot and killed thousands of elephants in Africa because they came up with the ridiculous idea that it would improve the soil.

There's a place for scientific management, but that place should be a very small one. I would have thought the whole point of a national park is to leave it alone."
The Malheur was a logged, overgrazed, desert when Roosevelt signed it into being in 1908. Now it's a refuge with restored water, trees, and a varied ecology. I can't see a thing wrong with that.

I recall the video you mention - a TED talk by Alan Savory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTHi7O66pI

I don't disagree that plenty of folks have made mistakes. Science is a process that aids exploration and helps confirm the knowns and toss the junk. The assumptions and foibles of the humans at the helm can still result in a mess. And heaven knows, so does a profit motive...

If you like Savory (and the benefits of the type of cell grazing used by many permaculturists rather than the horribly destructive grazing styles of US ranchers), you may like Janine Benyus (biomimicry), Dr. Elain Ingham (soil microbiologist), and some of the work of regenerative ranchers. Science is our friend. :)

http://www.ted.com/talks/janine_benyus_biomimicry_in_action
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2H60ritjag
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFE3-7bibhs

Raymond Duckling said...

@Patriacia,

The way it was explained to me is that most of the cost (in $$$, if not in EROEI) related to exploiting an oil well comes from setting up the infrastructure to perform the exploitation, and you only add a marginal extra cost for the operation of the well itself.

So, today, it is all sunk costs. Petroleum companies have the two unwanted options of pumping out at full capacity, at a loss, or waiting for the market to depress even further, and pump out later at a bigger loss. Also, for what I have read in this blog (but have no outside confirmation) fraking is special in the sense that the window of opportunity to extract oil closes over time as the very liquids that were used for hydrofracturing get mixed up with the oil underneth, so the question is wether to pump out today at a loss or not at all and going bankrupt.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

@dltrammel--I think the "mansplaining" comment was a joke. I certainly took it that way.

John Michael Greer said...

Thought I'd mention that this post now not only has the largest number of comments ever for an Archdruid Report post, it's also -- after less than a week -- the fifth most read Archdruid Report post of all time. I'm sorry to say that, between other commitments and the sheer volume of comments, I'm not going to be able to follow my usual custom and respond personally to this post's comments. I'll have to be content, this time, with thanking you all for your comments and encouragement, for keeping it civil even when the discussion touched on some very heated subjects, and for your continued interest in, and support of, this project!

Tidlösa said...

@ James M Jensen

You may be right. I was going to post my famous three-part analysis of all things SJW here (blaming former British PM Tony Blair for the lot), but I´ll think I pass... ;-)

Let me just say that to me, "SJW" doesn´t refer to leftists or liberals as a whole (I´m pretty "liberal" myself on many issues), but to the subset you called "the extremist wing of the cultural left", who has a strange way of turning pseudo-issues into the main thing, and almost never talk about class. Sanders or the Flint protesters are therefore not SJWs.

Our host, Archdruid Emeritus JMG, have indicated that he will write about the following in the near future: the American education industry, the current stagflationary world crisis (the one I´m waiting for - the article I mean, not the crisis!), and (perhaps) an analysis of Bernie Sanders´ supporters. And, of course, Retrotopia. I may have missed something.

Posting something about Platonic abstractions or Golden Dawn ritual magick here by mistake would be great fun, I wonder how The American Conservative will react?

Of course, when JMG finally gets around to The Bernie, he *must* "patriarchally mansplain" the SJWs, and then Tidlösa´s gonna bite! He he he...

Phil Knight said...

I'm glad you got it Bill.

Hope it gave you a chuckle.

;)

Phil Knight said...

Note to self: do not attempt any more humorous one-liners on the ADR.

Grandmom said...

@peacegarden - (clapping) Yes, I totally agree about the commenting. People have a need to comment and critique everything they see. Social Media will never go out of business because of all the commenting! I'll drop this quote from a John Taylor Gatto speech right here. Kinda explains Trump too.

"We are a land of talkers, we pay talkers the most and admire talkers the most, and so our children talk constantly, following the public models of television and schoolteachers. It is very difficult to teach the "basics" anymore because they really aren't basic to the society we've made." - John Taylor Gatto

Bill Pulliam said...

Shane W -- "Regarding the whole SJW thing, most of the people promoting such ideas are diehard cornucopians--really, issues of equality and getting a bigger piece of the pie, not getting screwed out of your fair share, etc. all depend on the idea of an expanding pie. "

That really applies to nearly all prevailing political and social ideologies out there in the world, left, right, center, sideways, and twisted. The economy will continue growing until it either reaches techno-utopia or it blows up. Sanders' mainstream Euro-style Dem-Socialist policies are not long-term sustainable either though we might be able to prop them up for a while. Our current corporate welfare oligarchic capitalist system is not sustainable either.

Evidence that we are in the midst of catabolic collapse (JMG: is there a live link to your original paper presenting the model anywhere?) is abundant. The Flint water crisis is right out of the textbook - corner cutting by a cash-strapped municipal government leads to degradation of a service that was considered inviolable. Look at the global macroeconomy: The supply of oil spikes and the cost of oil crashes, and in response the economy sputters instead of booming. Use the car metaphor: if you press the accelerator and the motor sputters rather than revving, there is something wrong.

Again, the mainstream in all directions, and most alternatives, don't have this conceptual model within their thinking. And it's going to be a source of increasing strife as long as people think the pie isn't shrinking, it is obviously still growing but Other People are just stealing more and more of it.

Judy Van Acker said...

Long time lurker and avid fan of both the blog and the comments section, I have to thank you and other commentators for opening my eyes to Trump. I think I "get it" now. My question is -what will the U.S. look like when the privileged salary class and the investment class folks lose their pensions/investments due to a financial crash? Will the four class structures break down and coalesce? Historically speaking has this ever happened before and whom do they fight when the majority of people are suffering losses? I suppose there will be individuals who come out of the mess unscathed, which always seems to happen when a blow-out occurs. Whatever the outcome it sure will be interesting.

Grandmom said...

It's not just the SJW on the left shutting down the our conversations, its also the evangelicals on the right. I'm sure by now you've seen that the grand jury in TX indicted the film makers who framed Planned Parenthood in the selling of fetal tissue, framed on the right as "selling baby body parts." The Republicans in Congress held up numerous pieces of legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and stood on soap boxes denouncing Planned Parenthood.

If you live in an evangelical area like I do - so evangelical that many neighbors had remade McCain/Palin election signs in 2008 so they said "Palin 2016" - there are many "no go" areas for conversation and its not uncommon for people to shout each other down and state that they will end up in Hell. The devil is running around poisoning the unsaved and tempting the saved and Obama is the AntiChrist. With that perspective, finding common ground can be challenging.

YVRinhabitant said...

Great discussion, folks. I really enjoy reading the thought-provoking comments.

Financial Post says Vancouver has the third most expensive housing in the world, even more expensive than New York and London (and our incomes and job opportunities in Vancouver aren't anywhere near what they are in New York or London). From the article:

"According to U.S. group Demographia, Vancouver is the third-least affordable city in the world for a home, and construction constraints are to blame for rising home prices there and in other Canadian cities."

I can think of a lot of reasons why housing is so expensive here and construction costs wouldn't make my top 10.

"Cox goes one step further and suggests the fertility rate will be impacted in the future in some Canadian cities. “A lot of people don’t want to raise children on the tenth floor of a condominium,” he said."

Let me tell you: This is already affecting fertility. And it's not because people don't want to raise kids on the 10th floor of a condo, although that is a factor for middle class fertility rates. No, it's because the working people who built this city and built this country simply cannot afford to reproduce. And so, they say we need immigrants otherwise our population will decline. I've got an idea--why doesn't the government implement policies that help the working class and then maybe the local people will start reproducing.

"The study looked at the median cost of a home in each of the markets studied and then divided by the median income to produce a multiple. In Vancouver that $756,200 median-priced house produced a multiple of 10.8 when divided by the median household income of $69,700.
Topping the list was Hong Kong, where residents need 19 times the median income to buy the median-priced house; Syndey, Australia, was second, at 12.2 times. The second-least affordable city in Canada was Victoria, with a multiple of 6.9, followed by Toronto, at 6.7.

...

“If there is a bias in income in a place, it’s definitely Vancouver, where a lot of this money is coming from outside the country,” Tal said . “We are not just talking about foreign investors, we are talking about new immigrants. We might have the wife here and the husband over there. She might have income of zero and be living in a $5-million house. There’s a lot happening and that’s not foreign investment because she’s Canadian.”

http://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/mortgages-real-estate/vancouver-ranked-third-most-unaffordable-housing-market-in-world-worse-than-new-york-and-london

Dammerung said...

@Andy

Is that so? Well, I've had almost entirely healthy family members go to science-focused doctors with a minor medical concern and end up dead a month later thanks to drug "complications." Nor is it any secret at all that the science that allows us to communicate in this manner is also the science of spewing Fukushima radiation; the science of rare earth pit mines in Africa; the science of e-waste leeching heavy metals into the groundwater; and the science of ocean acidification from CO2 pollution. I'm part of a growing number of people for whom merely stamping something with the approval of institutional science is not enough to convince us to support it blindly and wholeheartedly.

The ecclesiarchs of science are losing an increasing number of the faithful amid a field of broken promises and unintended consequences.

Shane W said...

"Taking up arms means all other more useful paths have failed." DING! DING! DING DING! Bingo! Hit the nail on the head there. Not sure if you've read JMG's post, Suicide of the American Left and some of his other posts going way back, but it explains why the same tired old tactics of the American Left stopped working a long time ago. Protest basically empowers your opponent because it recognizes that they're the only ones with the power to change the situation. By waving your posterboard, you're implicitly saying that you need them to act, it's a disempowering act. Yes, all the other more useful paths have failed, and the inability to recognize that is sheer cluelessness. Yes, unarmed black men, particularly youth, get shot unprovoked all the time. This creates no more reaction than, "ho, hum" in the population at large. However, a black group armed to the teeth, under siege, that gets ruthlessly mowed down in Branch Davidian style: game changer! People will take notice then. Also, "we" (most of the readers here) do not worship at the altar of Progress and it's lab coated priests. Since you're a new reader here, I'd recommend going back and reading JMG's posts on the backlash against science, particularly the science of global warming, the corruption of science, the internet and the death of the internet, and the posts on Progress. You could also purchase After Progress as well, where those posts got distilled into book form.
@Nastarana,
It was on the nightly news on TV, and I think a google search revealed it (Bloomberg's 3rd pty run). I read the same article, and, to me, Kunstler seemed very dismissive of Bloomberg as a creature of Wall Street who presided over the financialization of America, which resulted in lots of wealth leaving flyover country and getting concentrated in NYC.

Grandmom said...

And in Day 25 of the Oregon nature reserve occupation.....one of the militants is dressed as sumo wrestler challenging Chris Christie to a match. The sight of this almost naked man slapping his thighs and playing tough is really something. http://www.oregonlive.com/geek/2016/01/watch_oregon_militant_challeng.html#incart_big-photo

How again are these people like John Brown sparking the Civil War?

Bill Pulliam said...

Unfortunately I know JMG won't have time to respond to this, but maybe some others will have thoughts about this in the remaining 36 hours before the next post comes out...

In reference to the idea that "If not Trump in 2016, then Haliot in 2020" I'm not sure I see how Trump heads that scenario off. If elected he will likely not be very effective. He'll have the mainstream of both parties as well as the courts against him. When he does not accomplish his stated nationalist populist agenda (for which people elected him), is there any reason to think that his base won't shift even more strongly to someone who is even more nationalist and populist? As I have heard commentors left right and center discussing, the problem with the Republicans and their wage-class base is that they wooed them away from the Democrats with social issues, but those voters really don't like the mainstream Republican economic policies. Drawing them away from the Republicans too leaves them as a huge pool of free agents (free radicals? With their unbound electrons just dangling out there?) looking for someone to react to.

Jeffrey Pikul said...

@JMG
A note to your comment to Edde.
I'm taking a course on external auditing for accountants, and this exact issue came up in a disguised form.

The story goes that the Enron/Arthur Anderson disaster was made possible because boards of directors--the representatives of the rentier class--often chose their finance and audit subcommittees arbitrarily. If these board members did not have competence in analyzing financial statements they would at the mercy of MBA executives and corporate comptrollers. These committees could then be "guided" into hiring Big Five accounting firms to simultaneously perform accounting, consulting, and audit services--not illegal at the time, but creating inherent conflicts of interest.

These accounting firms are structured as legal partnerships, staffed by profit class partners and salary class juniors. Consulting services became a lucrative source of revenue by the 1980's, while audit services were, and still are, given to low cost bidders. These firms found their consulting contracts could be held to ransom if they gave qualified opinions during corporate financial audits.

The current narrative is that Enron's demise led to Sabarnes-Oxley regulation of corporate boards, FASB/IASB professional guidance, and IFRS/ASPE financial statement standards, allowing Progress to continue.

In the lens of your analysis, the salary class coup was complete before and contributed to the Clinton stock market bull, and only came undone when Enron and Worldcom convinced the rentiers legal reforms were needed before the populace started asking questions about the governance and viability of large public corporations.

Except...except the widespread use of debt to buy back shares--that is, taking shares out of the market for cash payment--can be seen by rentiers as a sign that salaried management is taking control back again. At the same time, offshored wage-class production has never been the panacea that salary-class executives and consultants had promised it would be. What if the rentiers could get one of their own to offer an olive branch to the wage class, and give them a free hand to whip the salary-class back into line...

The other Tom said...

@ petronicus. "I see the destruction mostly as a side effect of the unfolding flower of technology. Once it becomes technologically possible to liquidate the working class, it had to be done."
Your analysis leaves out the countervailing pressures of laws, regulations, and organizations that ameliorate these economic forces. Individual choices play a role here too. If technology and economic trends are an immutable force then we are foolish not to shop at Walmart and passively accept our downward trajectory.
Over the last 30 years or so the Republicans have sidestepped this disaster by distracting us with hot button social issues, while the Democrats are too bogged down in identity politics to think of the big picture. In this political vacuum the technology you described has enabled the elites to almost eliminate the middle class.
We never would have had much of a middle class if technology and the behaviour of the elites had been allowed to run its course. It's not carved in stone that service workers have to be low paid, or that minimum wage must be much lower than in 1970, adjusted for inflation, any more than it was preordained that auto workers or steelworkers had to be low paid 100 years ago.
I realize that this is all temporary, until limits really slam us, but while we still live in this global economy why should the working class unilaterally disarm?
I agree that all factors you described combined to overturn the old order, but I think it's important to remember that this is a system designed by humans and it can be altered by humans.

Robert Mathiesen said...

@Shane W

The North wasn't all the same in how they treated their Black populations, whether free or newly freed. Here in Rhode Island there are Black families with centuries-old roots in the state, and there was always some Black-White intermarriage among the poorer strata of society (domestics, chauffeurs and hired farm-hands, for example) in the state. As for Vermont, it was mostly poor farmers on poorer soil, and there was a huge out-migration from Vermont throughout the 1800s, White as well as Black. (But I haven't looked into the history of Vermont laws on the subject.) In Maine, which is huge and very thinly settled in its more northern parts, laws were hard to enforce throughout the state at all times. I expect the pattern would vary from one New England state to the next; they hardly ever did (or do) anything alike.

Mark said...

To Bill, regarding what happens when Trump (most likely in my view) disappoints. We seem to be entering uncharted territory now, so it's really hard to predict. Fwiw I see the Haliot 2020 option as one end of the spectrum of possibilities, possible but unlikely. On the other end the Trumpets go back to the old Republican game of voting on cultural issues after a "see, we told you he'd be a disaster" period. I don't think that's likely either. Somewhere in the middle we adjust to a new period of amped up populism, with gestures to the wage class and continued divide and conquer around cultural issues. I think that's most likely, and Trump himself could make that work, essentially keeping the current system together while shifting the balance internally towards the wage class and away from the more liberal end of the salary class, without upsetting the big wigs. But I don't really know, it's wait and see time, I think.

Phil Harris said...

Bill
Well said on all points. Only a few hours left on this weeks commentary, but just to say that its looking that way to me as well peering at the sputtering global economy from Britland. I wonder how long the strife will hide the main trend?

Bill wrote
"Evidence that we are in the midst of catabolic collapse ... Again, the mainstream in all directions, and most alternatives, don't have this conceptual model within their thinking. And it's going to be a source of increasing strife as long as people think the pie isn't shrinking,..."
best
Phil

onething said...

Andy,

You misunderstand me, and probably Dammerung also. It is possible to have science as a kind of substitute religion. I think it is fair to say that I have never met or heard of anyone in my life who is against science. That there are such people is really a misconception. But 80% of "science" is interpretation and premature implementation. I am weary of the long chain of events in which persons with some humility and common sense would have not interfered in the first place, not experimented, not implemented this and that before the whole system is understood.

It's not that mistakes are made that bothers me, it is that most of them ought reasonably not to have been made; either there was sufficient reason to be cautious or it violated common sense.

Here is a tiny example, which I could multiply all day long, just about having an attitude of knowledge when one is in fact almost totally ignorant: In 1952 when my mother was pregnant with my sister, my dear grandfather nearly cried when she told him she was going to breastfeed. Why was he so upset, she asked? Because bottle feeding was more scientific! Look at what has been found out about the value of breast milk in the intervening decades. What he and the whole scientific world knew about the components of breast milk and how it affects growth, health and brain development was unknown and unstudied and not even considered. This is not what I would call a mistake of science; it is what I would call a foolish attitude lacking common sense. Whether you think physiology was created 6,000 years ago by God or the product of a half billion years of evolution, the likelihood that we can improve upon nature is so slim. Ever looked at a map of the Krebs cycle? That should give you pause. But no, the minute they could make a formula on which babies could make it at all, it became "better." Better how? They would not be able to tell you because they knew so little of any of the pertinent questions on the matter. But they knew enough that common sense should have urged caution.

Andy said...

Dammerung said... "@Andy

Is that so? Well, I've had almost entirely healthy family members go to science-focused doctors with a minor medical concern and end up dead a month later thanks to drug "complications." Nor is it any secret at all that the science that allows us to communicate in this manner is also the science of spewing Fukushima radiation; the science of rare earth pit mines in Africa; the science of e-waste leeching heavy metals into the groundwater; and the science of ocean acidification from CO2 pollution. I'm part of a growing number of people for whom merely stamping something with the approval of institutional science is not enough to convince us to support it blindly and wholeheartedly.

The ecclesiarchs of science are losing an increasing number of the faithful amid a field of broken promises and unintended consequences."

Whoa there, Pilgrim. :) I do hear what you're saying. Let's make very, very clear, though: Science is a process of exploration. It's a tool. Nothing more, nothing less. I agree - it can be used to make bombs or incubators. How it's used and/or misused is the human element. I lost my mom to medical malpractice - so I really do understand what you're saying here - but I don't blame "science" for that because the meds that four doctors misapplied at the same time continue to help save the lives of many millions around the world.

Sorry for your losses.

Shane W said...

C'mon, guys and gals, let's push for a 4 page record this week!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Andy,

I don't believe that he cares one iota about racism; he's probably more interested in sustaining his wealth and social status because those can evaporate or be taken away. The economic methods used to ward off the worst of the Great Recession that we are currently in are nearing the end of their usefulness before the law of diminishing returns swoops in. It is not a pretty sight.

Hi Judy,

Thank you for the thoughtful question. My take on that world is that it will look pretty much like a third world country. I've travelled in quite a few third world countries and it isn't the end of the world for the inhabitants, and in some ways they have more effective social structures, but getting access to energy, industrial products and food for individuals living in them is not easy either.

Cheers

Chris

dltrammel said...

Phil Knight said: Note to self: do not attempt any more humorous one-liners on the ADR.

No harm, no fowl Phil.

(the secret word for today is duck)

Bill Pulliam said: Evidence that we are in the midst of catabolic collapse (JMG: is there a live link to your original paper presenting the model anywhere?) is abundant.

I was going to wait a few more weeks until I get to the theory in my blog posts, and had a chance to run my thoughts by JMG before I made it public but the hard link to the original paper is

"How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse"

Moshe Braner said...

I keep alert for any hints on Trump's intentions, other than his usual stump speech / antics. Another such hint showed up today, but leaves more questions than answers:

"Trump, casting doubt on the nation's economic health, said on Tuesday the U.S. economy is in a bubble he fears will burst and he does not want to deal with a financial collapse if he is elected to the White House."

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSKCN0V423H

He "does not want to deal with it", but wants to be president?! Yeah, that's the big unknown about where this election season is going: if the financial crash 2.0 happens in the next few months, which seems quite possible, how would that affect the race? And how will the next president, whoever (s)he ends up being, be impacted in office?

Andy said...

Shane W said...
"Bingo! Hit the nail on the head there... However, a black group armed to the teeth, under siege, that gets ruthlessly mowed down in Branch Davidian style: game changer! People will take notice then."

Shane - thanks for helping me understand a bit better how you see the problem and likely how a lot of others see it as well - and for that I'm grateful.

I've been reading here for years and have learned from the comments at least as much as from JMG. Thanks.

Yes, protesters are saying others 'need' to act or find another job. I strongly disagree with your assertion (and frankly JMG's) that protest is a tool for the 'left'. It's a tool protected by our Constitution in the 1st Amendment and is in current use by people all over the political spectrum - not just the 'left'. I think it's unfortunate that some of my fellow conservatives appear to believe otherwise.

To the point: I was stationed in the St Louis metro area for about 8 years. I've lived or spent time in six US states, England, Germany, and Korea. I grew up in Flint during the period of 'white flight' when southern blacks came up to get good union jobs at GM and the white folks that thought Archie Bunker was a role model rather than a caricature were moving out of town as quickly as they could. The STL area is absolutely the most racist area I've ever experienced. I suspect that's why the uprising in Ferguson caught me as it did and why I took time to connect with local folks to find out what was actually happening - I knew (as much as a Caucasian could 'know') that it was bad, but didn't know it was that bad. Fast forward - they PROTESTED peacefully. They demanded their rights. They stood up to armored vehicles, LRAD, teargas and pepper spray. The local police gassed children and shot members of clergy! Many were arrested, but they were being arrested and/or shot anyway. They shut down interstate highways for symbolic 6 minutes the way police left Michael Brown on the road for more than 60. They got the attention of the city, the surrounding metro area, their state and federal reps, and the governor. They recalled officials, ran for office, and are still fighting. Without guns. They're some of the bravest Americans I've yet seen - in or out of uniform.

Here's another contrast for you. You mentioned Waco. You probably know there's a small group of armed insurrectionists holding a National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon - there's about 20 adults, including a couple of women, and at least two 8 to 9 year old children on the grounds. Law enforcement officials, not willing to catalyze another Waco or Ruby Ridge and turn these criminals into martyrs, are standing way way back. In 1985, a group of African-Americans with beliefs somewhat similar to today's 'sovereign citizen' movement were living in a a building in Philadelphia. They were tear gassed, shot, firebombed, and ultimately police dropped a bomb out of a helicopter on the building, set the neighborhood on fire, and ordered the fire department NOT to respond.
http://www.democracynow.org/2015/5/13/move_bombing_at_30_barbaric_1985

Shane W said: "However, a black group armed to the teeth, under siege, that gets ruthlessly mowed down in Branch Davidian style: game changer! People will take notice then."

Did you notice? Did the incineration of men, women, and children at the hands of police that swore to 'serve and protect' them get your attention? I know it didn't get mine - I was in uniform in England at the time - I had no idea this even happened.

I'm not sure that we white folks are in the best position to judge or to suggest 'proper' courses of action for groups of people that have been mistreated in this country for hundreds of years.

Have a good week everyone - you're an amazing group - thanks for that!
Andy

Dave Ross said...

Wow, this is really impressive. 469 comments at last count.

As an aside, I notice that Rod Dreher isn't the only one taking notice of your analysis of the Donald Trump phenomenon.

Alexander Dugin or one of his followers also posted a comment here derived from an essay on Trump that appeared on one of Dugin's websites, The Fourth Revolutionary War.

Dugin is a prominent Russian political philosopher and is a well-known figure in extremist Russian politics. His philosophy is an interesting mixture of far right and radical leftist ideas. Here is the link to the article if anyone is interested.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

Bill Pulliam writes, "Sanders' mainstream Euro-style Dem-Socialist policies are not long-term sustainable either though we might be able to prop them up for a while."

I agree completely. But the other part of Sanders' platform is reversing the ongoing concentration of wealth, power and political influence in fewer and fewer hands. If he were to succeed even partially at this, it would be beneficial. It would free some resources for ordinary people to make adjustments to economic contraction, as well as to take collective actions of a more or less constructive nature.

I don't think there is much chance of the "political revolution" Sanders claims to favor; he seems to be a mild reformer without much of a following. Obama could have done it if he had wanted to, but he abandoned grassroots and community organizing the moment he was inaugurated in favor of a mythical common national interest and the actual interests of the financiers who bankrolled his campaign.

If current trends continue, the violent revolution FDR staved off will arrive a century later. When I look at how Washington, Lincoln, and the two Roosevelts became President at times when the United States faced existential threats, I could believe as some of the founding fathers did that Divine Providence watches over our nation. It won't be a long wait to find out whether the Mandate of Heaven has been withdrawn.

Hubertus Hauger said...

My summarization is; Collapse is unavoidable. Therefore the repercussions are plenty; Annoyance, violence and dying. The simplification of society is compulsory. While the establised leaders are only fit for the actually imperial structure, so is the population less than willing to simplyfy voluntarilly. Their annoyance is already showing and will be growing. Yet all trials to avoid the collapse will just further it more. All I see we can do is prepare, by simplyfying our material life and enlarge our social networks (plus, as JMG often says, our practical survival skills).

Justin said...

The is quite late, but may I ask how many readers you typically get, JMG?

Dave Ross said...

Rod Dreher has had a lot of good commentary on the Trump phenomenon. Another interesting comment I found was this:

"...For a generation, the ruling elites — the Clinton Democrats and the Republicans — have presided over the systematic destruction of the working class and its culture for the sake of making very rich people even richer. The Democrats today care more about making it safe for women with penises to change in your high school daughter’s locker room and to empower liberal activists to destroy your small business and your institutions if you object to their cultural agenda. And the Republicans don’t care — they pander to religious conservatives, but the truth is otherwise, as I learned from GOP Congressional sources last fall, who told me there is zero chance that the Republican Congress will do a thing to protect religious institutions in the post-Obergefell legal environment. They are too afraid of being called bigots, and besides, big business is now on the other side. What really matters is that the world stays safe for tax cuts, free trade, and foreign wars."

TJ said...

Shane,

I certainly hope you are correct and I am way off. But given the tilt toward violence that is already a part of Trump's rallies, and the fact that white hate groups are openly endorsing him while he has yet to denounce them, and that he is now boasting of being able to shoot someone without it costing him any votes? I have little faith in Trump much caring about the rule of law.

As for him being the least right wing, not sure that is very hopeful given the right wing in question.

Andy said...

Shane W said: "Also, "we" (most of the readers here) do not worship at the altar of Progress and it's lab coated priests. Since you're a new reader here, I'd recommend going back and reading JMG's posts on the backlash against science, particularly the science of global warming, the corruption of science, the internet and the death of the internet, and the posts on Progress"

Shane - with respect, I'm well aware of what some here have said about science. I'm also aware of JMG's take on "progress" as stated here and in his books. What I'd be interested in hearing is your take on why you felt it necessary to add this subject to a comment about protest, and what you think about the science of global warming and the corruption of science.

I'd be interested in hearing from others as well if they care to take the time, either here (JMG permitting) or via email at alpha whiskey hotel ecker at gmail

In case it matters, science is a process, it's not a person. I'm well aware that oil companies have paid for 'research' that sends their message about both climate and biofuels, or how corporations like Monsanto have funded research that benefits them while attacking the EPA or FDA, while simultaneously lobbying congress to change laws to their benefit. I want to make clear - this isn't about science - this is about criminals.

I'm a marksman - I enjoy using a scientifically-developed tool to expand my skills and enjoy the zen-like work of mind/body mastery. I can also use that tool to provide food. I can also break the law with it. If I do any of that, 'science' isn't the one putting ham on the table - nothing about 'science' made me assemble the firearm or to use it for any purpose. I can use it for 'progress' (whatever that is) or chaos. I think that's what some here have confused.

JMG has also written extensively about false end-times prophecy. While I appreciate that the internet 'might' die at some point, I plan to keep using it - and frankly don't expect it to go anywhere until well past the end of my life (I'm 53). If I'm wrong, I'll subscribe to the ADR magazine and relay it via packet radio if necessary. No worries.

You'll please note that even the Ruinmen rely on science - keeps 'em from being electrocuted if nothing else! ;)

Thanks in advance.
Andy

Mystic Maverick said...

My sister sent me the link to this blog which I had never heard of before. I found the post by JMG to be thought-provoking as were the comments. The salaried and wage classes were more commonly known in the past as white collar and blue collar workers. As a lifelong independent, I've always been drawn to the mavericks in these presidential races. I saw back in the '90s that Jerry Brown and Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader all agreed on how NAFTA, the WTO and GATT would hurt working Americans. I look forward to reading more from this blog.

Anthony Romano said...

A bit of news, apologies if this was already posted.

The Oregon militia occupation is over. They got the martyr they wanted, with 1 dead. The Bundy's and several others have been arrested. The shootout occurred during a vehicle stop 15 miles outside of Burns. Details are still scarce.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jan/26/oregon-militia-standoff-ammon-bundy-arrested-and-one-confirmed-dead-after-shootout

Greenie said...

and the John Brown moment arrives -

[check the comments]

https://www.oathkeepers.org/breaking-ammon-bundy-taken-into-fbi-custody/

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

It appears that New Jersey has an emergency city manager law similar to the one in Michigan, and the state of New Jersey is in the process of taking over Atlantic City, which is a company town of casinos that aren't doing well.

According to a Reuters story linked to The Daily Beast:

"The state already controls the city's budget, hiring and other finances, but previous legislation Sweeney introduced this month proposed a more complete takeover of operations.
Christie's joint plan on Tuesday, which he said he wants to get cleared by the end of February, would allow the state to restructure city debt and terminate municipal contracts, including with labor unions. Control would last for five years instead of the previously proposed 15 years.
It would allow the state to dissolve city departments, consolidate and privatize municipal services and sell city assets, which were all proposals included in a recent report by the city's emergency manager Kevin Lavin about how to turn around the failing city."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2016/01/26/christie-orders-nj-takeover-of-atlantic-city.html

I'm going on about these emergency manager laws because if your state has one, democracy and local control in the town or city you live in can be abolished for years at a time at the whim of the governor or state legislature, and its assets sold off in sweetheart deals to pay the town's debts. Any organized efforts your community makes to meet its needs can be overruled by outsiders who answer to your town's creditors, not to you. These arrangements are more draconian than municipal bankruptcy. As economic contraction continues, more municipalities are having difficulty making payments on bond issues, benefits for retired workers, and other obligations taken on in more prosperous times.

I haven't researched which states have these laws. I don't think they are widespread.

Andy said...

Greenie said...
and the John Brown moment arrives -

[check the comments]

https://www.oathkeepers.org/breaking-ammon-bundy-taken-into-fbi-custody/"

Thanks for the link, Greenie.

FBI reports:
https://www.fbi.gov/portland/press-releases/2016/joint-statement-by-the-fbi-and-oregon-state-police-on-law-enforcement-activity-near-burns-oregon
https://www.fbi.gov/portland/press-releases/2016/additional-arrest-made-in-arizona-related-to-the-occupation-of-the-malheur-national-wildlife-refuge

Law Enforcement press conference scheduled on 27th Jan at 10:30 PST (about 1830 GMT)
https://flashalert.net/news.html?id=3585&alert=1

I watched multiple feeds from the are overnight and it appears that the police set up a roadblock between the Refuge and a local town that was the venue for last evening's meeting to convince ranchers to stop paying their grazing fees. When Bundy and the main insurrectionists arrived at the roadblock, at least one of them thought it would be a good idea to pull a firearm. The man that was killed was the Nevada rancher that wrote a book about how a small band of 'patriots' try to reclaim their country and die in firefight. RIP. As you think so shall it be.

Caryn said...

I just wanted to say Thank You to all of the commenters for one of the best discussions I've seen here or elsewhere on the internet.
And a special Thank You to Andy. Very concise insightful comments and replies. I agree with much of what you've said on these pages. I'm glad you're here.

Grandmom said...

@Greenie Read the comments on the Oathkeepers site and read the comments on Oregon Live site (local paper who has been covering daily), and I'm still not getting the John Brown moment. Many of the comments talk about tyranny and needing to make a stand, but they are all so vague and seemingly scripted for all I know people are logging out of one online identity and logging back in under another. The state police shot a man who ran the blockade with his truck and then tried to escape on foot. I guess he doesn't follow the news enough to know that the police shoot people in the back who run away from them? Or maybe he does know that and made himself a martyr?

Ammon Bundy has been in talks with the FBI for a way to surrender starting two weeks ago. So maybe this was his surrender plan?

I also saw the call for people who made a pledge for the people to come join them in Oregon, and if they didn't come then their pledge wasn't worth anything and they might as well leave the movement. Now this statement within the militia's of them challenging one another, that is more notable in my mind.

Grandmom said...

@Andy I wanted to provide some support to your statement about how racist the St. Louis area is. There was a story a few month ago on This American Life about debt collection in black neighborhoods focusing on Jennings outside of St. Louis. Their story was based on this article on Propublica https://www.propublica.org/article/debt-collection-lawsuits-squeeze-black-neighborhoods The shock of people in this community could be heard in the radio story. Also the resignation that they felt there was nothing they could do about it.

Now if the armed militia in Oregon were taking a stand on debt collection, or high property taxes or something similar, they might get more support.

YVRinhabitant said...

Interesting discussion on science. I have a few thoughts on science and environmentalism I would like to share.

When I was in university, I found it was dominated with post-modern thought and a rejection of positivism and science. I sat through many lectures that extolled the sins of science--it's a racist and sexist field of study that objectifies the world, studies the world from a God's Eye View and is not reflexive on the subjectivity of the researchers and how the researchers' positionality leads to biased questions and biased results. It's what I was saying how academia these days emphasizes subjectivity over objectivity. The objectivity and positivism of science is criticized by these postmodern academics.

But there was a noticeable shift in attitude some time around 2006 or 2007. I remember it was around the time the Al Gore movie came out on climate change. All of a sudden, these people who rejected science as racist and sexist positivism, were now embracing science. Those who were skeptical of climate change or who wanted to question the dogma of climate change and what needs to be done about it were dismissed as anti-science idiots. Why did the left all of a sudden find some new love for science, the very field that they had criticized for years? Because anything being said by a white wage class member must be stupid--I guess that's they're thinking. I mean left wing post-modernists at Canadian universities can't be seen to be in agreement with red necks from Alberta and Texas.

YVRinhabitant said...

I have no doubt that human beings have affected climate. As someone said in one of the comments above, there is no 'wild' state of nature that we can go back to. Human beings have been affecting the environment and the climate since we were cave dwellers. You take a poo in the forest, that impacts the environment.

What I do doubt is that, at this point in time in 2016, we can do anything about anthropogenic climate change. We've been emitting carbon and other greenhouse gases on a large scale for hundreds of years now since the industrial revolution. We always have to remember lag times when talking about environmental impacts. You can often pollute for a long time without much affect to the quality of the environment because there is a lag time, it takes time for changes to take affect. We're just now (possibly maybe) beginning to see the effects of hundreds of years of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions at this point in time, at the 11th hour of climate change, is not going to have much impact on preventing or reducing climate change in our lifetimes. That's because the carbon is already out there in the atmosphere doing its work and we can't take what we've released out of the atmosphere. Any reductions in emissions will have an incredibly long lag time before we seen any effects in climate change.

I would like to see a cost benefit analysis of any and all climate change measures such as carbon taxes and cap and trade that takes into consideration the lag time and also takes into consideration the differential impacts such policies have on people of different socioeconomic classes.

YVRinhabitant said...

In BC, we have a neoliberal government that loves to look like an environmental leader.Vancouver appearing like a green, progressive, environmentally friendly city is a big part of who we attract international capital into our real estate and ironically make the city unlivable for locals. We've got carbon taxes and gas taxes and eco-fees up the ying yang. All this really has been has been a way to shift the tax burden off of corporations towards the working wage class members. Every time the carbon taxes go up, it just means working people who are trying to get to work have to pay more at the pump to fuel up their car. Gas taxes and carbon taxes have literally taken food of my poor family's dinner table!!! Think about that, so-called progressives!!! Why do the poor have to pay the price for climate change? Why is it always us who have to pay these higher taxes? Also tolls on bridges and now road-pricing. They are actually talking about installing a transmitter in every car in Metro Vancouver that keeps track of how much you drive on the roads and you will be sent a monthly bill for how much mileage you drove. This is called road pricing. They haven't done it yet because they know there are limits to what people in this province will put up with and that will bankrupt the last of us who are holding on.

The condo towers and the gentrification I have been posting about are also part of this environmentalism that harms the poor. The left wing city council says we need condo towers springing up everywhere because this is part of eco-density. If we don't have towers, then the city will grow outwards and take up farmland and we will have urban sprawl just like those evil cities down in the USA--that is how the thinking goes. We need these towers in order to have a compact urban region and reduce our carbon footprint--so we are told. Nevermind that the towers are marketted offshore and are largely empty with no one living in them. There was a report that showed there is the equivalent of 20 towers in Downtown Vancouver just sitting empty because the owners live overseas. Meanwhile the high cost of housing, ironically forces people to move to the suburbs, which actually creates more urban sprawl.

In BC, the working class people, are absolutely sick of environmentalism and carbon taxes and ecodensity. We know that it's all lies to undermine our quality of life and take away what remaining scraps of quality of life we still have. I'll get on board with carbon taxes and policies that combat climate change as soon as it's the rich who have to pay the price, but not as long as it is only the poor who pay the price.

YVRinhabitant said...

There is an absolute must-read article on Donald Trump on Zero Hedge. It's almost as good as JMG's article that has generated all this thoughtful commentary.:) I said that my one fear of Trump is he might be trigger happy with the nukes. This article points out that it is the other Republican candidates who would be more provocative with Russia and more likely to draw the world into WWIII. Here is an excerpt:

"The meaning of Trumpism is that Americans want to rid themselves of the burden of empire: Wright is right about that. Trump’s rise augurs a seismic shift in the foreign policy debate in this country, marking the end of the interventionist consensus that dominates both parties. And it certainly means the final defeat and humiliation of the neoconservatives, who are busy spewing vitriol at him and his “plebeian” supporters. And that alone is worth whatever price we have to pay for the triumph of Trump. For the neocons are the very core of the War Party: their demise as a politically effective force inside the GOP is an event that every person who wants a more peaceful world has been longing for and should celebrate."

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-26/nationalism-its-discontents-deep-rumination-meaning-trump

Shane W said...

@Andy,
we've already discussed on here the difference between the worship of Science via Progress as civil religion vs. the more mundane, practical, and ever useful scientific method. I see no need to rehash those discussions. It's already been discussed, and put into bound & printed form...

Patricia Mathews said...

I can't help but see the Oregon occupiers as a collection of half-baked nutcases.

Yet, there was an opinion piece online that condescendingly 'explained' to the ranchers and protesters that, essentially, they shouldn't feel the public lands didn't belong to them, because "the public lands belong to all of us!" Even I could see through that one, and if ever anyone was throwing gasoline on the flames, that would do it.

Pat, shaking head.

Shane W said...

I know this is way down the comments list, but, JMG, if you become a political figure, I'd like to offer my services as loudmouthed, lightning rod, martyr to the cause. :)

Kendo Von Beerdrinker said...

I commented last week about Trump & Sanders and have been thinking about their successes in the polls being two sides to the same coin – that is, Trump riling up the wage-earning class with his “common sense,” “yell it like it is,” “not PC” attacks on the “stupid” political elites while Bernie similarly speaks to the wage earners with the message that, in effect, those political elites have been corrupted by JMG’s investor class.

I keep coming back to the Orwell line from 1984: “If there is hope it is with the Proles.” Recall that in 1984, Winston was hopeful that a political revolution would come from the proletariat. I see JMG’s wage earners as being the equivalent of that class in modern America and both Trump and Sanders speaking to them – or at least attempting to. However – as I alluded to in my original comment, and as the Republican/Democrat divide between Trump and Sanders shows – I would posit that the wage earners don’t view themselves as a unified class, for many reasons. And as a result, the likelihood that the wage earners would lead a successful political revolt in modern America is about the same as the likelihood that the proles would successfully overthrow the Party in Orwell’s Oceania.

Much has been made by liberals of the tendency of America’s wage earners to vote Republican, against their perceived economic self-interest. Liberals, not without plenty of justification, conclude that the GOP has been successful in using a “divide and conquer” strategy to convince white wage earners to vote for GOP candidates - who then espouse policies of lowering taxes on corporations and the wealthy - helping the investor and salaried classes - while cutting the social programs that help the welfare class (and wage earners as well). The “push button” issues are both cultural – e.g., guns, gays and God – and racial – e.g., the focus on “those people” (Reagan’s welfare or “quota” queens, illegal immigrants) who (undeservedly) receive government largesse, paid for by hardworking taxpayers. Trump clearly plays – brilliantly – to those emotions and perceived grievances, which is probably why he can so readily expect support from about one-third of the Republican Party.

But that one-third of the GOP does not reflect the entirety of the wage earning class. It also includes plenty of African-Americans and Latinos struggling both economically and with racial disparities – issues that push them towards a Democratic Party more inclined to support policies that help them, such as affirmative action, tougher enforcement of civil and voting rights laws and social safety net programs that help when the wage earners are having trouble getting by. White women in the wage earning class can go either way – following their social and cultural conservatism towards the Republicans or their pocketbooks towards the Democrats. Inasmuch as the wage earners are not a monolithic class when it comes to politics, their power is both diffuse and easily susceptible to being co-opted and absorbed by both political parties - which then serve up relatively minor policies to placate those voters (for the GOP, it's legislation on abortion, focusing on gun rights, gays and perceived religious discrimination, while for the Dems it's increases to social programs like Obamacare), all while they continue fiscal and monetary policies that benefit their corporate masters of the investor class.

[Part 1/2]

Kendo Von Beerdrinker said...

[Part 2/2]

Another point I mentioned in my first comment also poses a problem with class-based political appeals in our nation, at least in recent generations – that is, the tendency for Americans not to view themselves in a class-conscious manner. I recall an op-ed in the NY Times from years ago that summarized a survey of Americans in which they were asked to place themselves in one of 5 classes, based on income. Many more labeled themselves “middle class” than a pure quintile approach would warrant. (If the “middle class” is the quintile of Americans earning in the 40% to 60% range, you’d expect about 20% of those polled to identify as middle class. But the figure was higher – much higher, if I recall correctly.) In many ways, that is the glory of the post-WWII economy in America: it created a fairly large, stable middle class, and much of the country (understandably) aspired to attain that status, and could reasonably expect to get there.

But from that article I recall another telling result: when asked which class they expected to be in in 20 years, a significant number labeled themselves as expecting to be better off than would realistically be the case (unlike the children of Lake Wobegon, not everyone can be economically above average, and while many folks do often move up the class ladder as they get older and their earning power increases, class mobility in America is greatly exaggerated). That likely stems from the historic American optimism that things will get better, that our children will be better off than we were, etc. If 60% of the nation believes it will be middle or upper middle class shortly, it’s reasonable that this will have an effect on voters’ policy preferences(“tax the rich” doesn’t sound as appealing to someone who expects to be rich soon enough, and “tax more so we can provide social programs to help the poor” doesn’t sound quite so appealing to someone who doesn’t expect to be poor for long), thus further serving to dampen any appeal to class-conscious politics.

However: if that American Dream appears to be nothing more than a pipe dream for an increasing portion of the electorate (say, for instance, that large portion that has seen its wages flat for some 30 or 40 years now), then look out. I suspect that the support of Trump and Sanders signals early grumblings from those who have felt left out of our modern economy. They're stirring, expressing anger and rage in different ways, perhaps, but it's stemming from that same economic unease, and we've got two candidates who, in different ways, have tapped into that unease. Given our two-party system, however, and the limits of class consciousness that I've pointed out above, I tend to think that very little will change with the 2016 election.

I'm not so certain about the future, however. In Orwell’s Oceania, the proles made up 85% of the population but remained compliant as a result of Big Brother’s authoritarianism. If JMG’s welfare and wage earning classes start to realize they have more in common than their identity-politics differences that have been exploited by both major political parties for their own benefits, and if the salary class continues to feel pressured by economic uncertainty, then there is the possibility that a majority of the electorate will push for real change. Don't expect the investor class to sit by idly and give up its privileges so easily. It is that moment when push may very well come to shove, leading to a serious political crisis - with no guarantees that the outcome, and the upheaval on the way there, will be pleasant.

Grandmom said...

Interesting day of following events in Oregon.....according to this Facebook page the remaining militia are expecting Navy Seals to parachute in and help them fight back the Feds. https://www.facebook.com/CitizensForConstitutionalFreedom.NEWS/posts/1655588731381823 Now that would be a history maker! Another possible history maker, the use of drones. There are also drones flying overhead, but no mention if they are just camera equipped or the armed military-type. A military drone used against US citizens on US soil would cause a huge backlash, no doubt.

FiftyNiner said...

@ All New Readers,
HINT: If you click on the "time" rather than the "number of comments" in the green bar at the end of each of JMG's posts, you will be able to read all the comments in the same eye-easy green format that the original post is in, rather then the stark black on white that you get when you click on the number of comments. It may just be my aging eyes that makes it easier for me!

FiftyNiner said...

@ Andy,
Your comments about SL are confirmed by my brother who was a truck driver for almost 20 years.
He went to all the lower 48 except for Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. He said that he hated going to SL, mostly because of the attitude of the police. He was not always treated courteously by them, but he was aware that it was much worse for black truckers.

As to the "problems" with science, my full reassessment began with mistakes made by doctors in the treatment of mother many years ago. She was given a prescription for 320 mg of lasix per day, by an internist, and I was not told that that was the maximum dose for anyone on that drug. The lasix leached all the potassium out of her body and when I found her one morning she could neither move nor speak. She spent 8 days in the ICU and was only ever able to move about some on a walker after then. Finally, for about the last seven years of her life she was mostly chair bound. I have decided that I will never be a victim of medical malpractice. I do so wish that this had never happened to her, but she was only one of millions with similar stories.

I will be eligible for Medicare in 17 months and I am leaning very much toward telling Uncle Sam that he can just keep it. If I am not going to use the system, why be on it?

4threvolutionarywar said...

In the end you get the radical subject you deserve...

Oh, America, this will be an entertaining apocalypse!

Unknown said...

ArchDruid Greer, thank you for this incredibly intelligent and observant article. The article and the comments kept me busy after work for a few days!!

Your observations about the class divides are spot-on. I've been in the wage class all my life (from age 8 to 35, I started working young). I find it telling that many of your early commenters are from the salary class and found it difficult to understand. Naturally, the edges of each of the classes will blur together, but ultimately each class has its own interests precisely because its survival depends on different mechanisms. When encountering lower level salary class, I do see the sneering attitude, but more commonly there's a total blindness to the realities of living in the wage class. I will be turning in 5 w2's this year, balancing multiple part time jobs throughout the year (most are seasonal, taking advantage where the money flows as the seasons change in the Midwest). I usually work one full time job and a part time job, or 3 part time jobs at a time. When you approach the bottom of the salary class from the wage class, the first few steps are definitely designed to stop paying overtime, but you also get access to benefits. If the salary is high enough, it can be your only job, year round. That in itself is a huge improvement for some people (including those of us with bachelors degrees from expensive universities who may or not be defaulting on their student loans). In one of my waitressing jobs, as a Tulane graduate, I found out another waitress was a graduate of Vanderbilt. I was qualified to waitress before I went to school. I was bartending in high school. I didn't need a degree to do that. My degree has earned me one extra dollar above minimum wage at one job in my life (which is significantly less than I make waitressing, by the way). That's it. I honestly don't understand how the working class could afford to have kids, I can barely support myself. There are higher paying wage jobs in the trades, and they do begin to have some benefits the salary class usually enjoys, but for all, the trajectory is downhill. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of unity between classes because salaried worker tends to feel that they have earned their position with hard work, while the wage worker feels that they have worked hard and earned nothing to show for it. There is little solidarity with the class relying on government payments because wage workers see their money go toward taxes that provide services which they can not receive. Salaried workers feel the same way on this.

Unfortunately, because civilization is approaching hard limits, I do not foresee improvement. The salary class is next. Every time you see some ridiculous statistic, like 1,000 people showing up to apply for 12 salaried positions, that means about 900 people are willing to do that exact same job for a slightly higher wage than they currently have and not require benefits, they're already used to that kind of life. Corporations see those numbers. They don't want the best candidate for the job, they want the cheapest canditate that requires a minimum of training. Don't make the mistake of thinking the wage class can't do salaried jobs.

(1/2)

Unknown said...



The current state of the economy is not because of evil people making cruel decisions. It is a result of the unintended consequences of thousands of tiny profit-maximizing or cost saving decisions every day, by people in every class. It is also a result of this approach of limits, as population grows and the pie shrinks.

The uppity attitude of the salaried class is largely unconscious and unintentional as well. We are still primates, and we naturally seek status within our groups. We use social cues to define our groups and we symbolically define status as access to wealth in our society. Most of these mechanisms are subconscious. The most emphatic denouncers of the status of others merely do so because on some level, they feel their own status is insecure. This partly explains the stereotype of "new money" being more snobbish than "old money" and it's rooted in simple primate behavior. We, as thinking readers of the ArchDruid Report can rise above our mammalian tendencies merely by being aware that they exist.

Finally, wage earners, take note. We ARE collapsing before the rush, and as a class we have the most important skills as individuals or within our social circles. Here we have the mechanics and gardeners and cooks and plumbers, and our services will always be needed, for as long as there is electricity to power our tools. Do as the ones who collapsed before us, and build our social circles. Also, start thinking about what to do if the electricity goes out. It might.

Side note: I haven't been following the election much (I'm voting for Jill Stein again, she's that green party candidate that got arrested for showing up at the presidential debate and expecting to participate... THAT's what I like to see in a president), but I would guess the Democratic Establishment hates Bernie Sanders because they're afraid he might attempt some of that Vermont-style campaign finance reform.

(2/2)

Andy said...

Caryn said...
I just wanted to say Thank You to all of the commenters for one of the best discussions I've seen here or elsewhere on the internet.
And a special Thank You to Andy. Very concise insightful comments and replies. I agree with much of what you've said on these pages. I'm glad you're here."
(blushes)
Thanks, Ma'am. I've been reading here since some time in 2010 and am very happy that you and the others are here as well. Glad y'all are here...wait, not inclusive enough...I'm glad ALL y'all are here. ;)

Hat's off, JMG - you've done yourself proud. What an essay and what a family.

John Michael Greer said...

Andy, thank you -- and what an astonishing response to what I thought was going to be a very straightforward post. 511 comments and over 25,000 page views -- and that's not counting the people who just went to the blog's main page and read it there. Thank you, everyone, for reading, and for keeping the conversation civil, thoughtful, and more or less on topic!

Dave Ross said...

Fourth Revolutionary War said:

"In the end you get the radical subject you deserve...
Oh, America, this will be an entertaining apocalypse!"

Indeed it will be! Time to grab some popcorn, it's gonna be a Hell of a show! Love your website.

From a Conservative Revolutionary.

Degringolade said...

John Michael:

I realize that you are probably getting a little tired of responding to the comments on this post, but next time don't write so darned well.

You comments have spent a week now and they have been tickling something in the back of my brain. Tonight I realized what it reminded me of.

From the introduction to Barbara Tuchman's "The Proud Tower".

During the fateful quarter century leading up to World War I, the climax of a century of rapid, unprecedented change, a privileged few enjoyed Olympian luxury as the underclass was “heaving in its pain, its power, and its hate.”

And I like the new Retrotopia Post. Something is tickling my brain about that project, but it hasn't gelled yet.

Thank you

John

Mikep said...

There was an interesting example of how Trump has started to change the political landscape just this week. David Cameron was answering questions in the House of Commons when he "accidentally" used the phrase "bunch of migrants", naturally everyone's favorite PC Maiden Aunts in the media began fluttering their fans, fainting and generally being being scandalized by the use of such intemperate and racist language, at the same time the usual suspects on the opposition benches demanded an immediate retraction and grovelling apology. Cameron's response was nothing, he simply ignored the matter entirely. This would not in my view have been possible before Trump demonstrated how little the public care about this sort of nonsense. Now I must be off to Tesco's to purchase a desperate huddle of bananas.

Soulipsis said...

I call our President Obusha.

Bob Patterson said...

I agree with most of what you wrote. However, I would split the salary class into two parts. An "upper part" of senior managers, consultants, finance and legal "experts" making $150k or more a year. The second part would be line managers, production managers, staff engineers and programmers, technical and lab assistants, financial and legal assistants, and other managerial assistants. They make less than $150,000 a year. I would say the second category is now extremely in danger of following the "wage class" into penury. Their salaries have been cut, their benefits cut (remember when GM severely cut their engineers benefits to be much less than management?). And it is easy to play them off against each other and the smartest of the "wage class" to decrease their salaries or outsource their duties overseas. We are now talking about the next step in globalization.

Steve Hague said...

I found this a very interesting read, the creation of each class and putting a label on them as such, the investment class, salary class, wage class; government welfare class. This is not new by any stretch as history would show. What is interesting are the commonalities between what happening now in the States and what occurred in Russia at the turn of the 20th century. Russia had its "Elite class", the bourgeoisie class, labor class, and the poor.
The trouble with blaming the salary class (bourgeoisie) is short sighted in my estimation. Let me explain, in any corporation you have the owners, upper management, lower management, and so called labors. Each is intrinsically linked to the other up the chain with each beholden to the one above it for it welfare. Thus there would be no salary/bourgeoisie/upper management without the owners. Let's put things in a little different perspective no mob boss does his own dirty work, he has his "Patsy" do it, so to speak. Thus blaming them, (salary class) blames the boss. Regardless of the confusing labels ultimately the boss is always responsible for all actions within his or her company. Don’t be fooled into thinking anything different.
Differences in the working world have always been around, and this won’t change any time soon. Believing anything else would distort the truth. Without delving to the use of mockery or other reasons which may add to flowering up the reasons why one candidate or another might be a reason for their position in the presidential race lets’ look at why a “Capitalist” isn’t a good choice for president.
Slice it like you want bologna is bologna, a capitalist president isn’t going to be concerned about the welfare of the people. At this point the definition of a Capitalist should be looked at – a person who has capital, especially extensive capital, invested in business enterprises, and advocate of capitalism, a very wealthy person. What does it mean to be an advocate of capitalism?
It is an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.
Read this again really slowly and you will see the truth. The money stays in the hands of the elites. Nothing changes!
We are in an era of globalization, which if the American people aren’t careful it could lead to a “New” world order. This is the real danger!
The founding of America wasn’t based on what president was elected to office; it was based on the guiding principles of the Constitution. The people of America must make the stance of passive resistance and look for a leader that will take them in that direction. Making decisions based on class distinction is pure fantasy and nothing more. It will incite rioting and dissonance which will lead to a battle of words without action. True leadership brings harmony not disharmony.

SumErgoSum said...

@Steve Hague
I think the point of this piece is that the wage class (poletariat) is already acutely aware of the divide in society and blaming the bourgeoisie aka salary class. It's not short sighted only simplifiying things to explain the situation with the resentment at the establishment. Naming and renaming the classes for clarity is ofc not new.

The situation is we are in is not new either. JMG has helped reframe it for a modern audience who through cultural ignorance and class blindness hadn't realised the true situation. I can easily understand that in America with the way the narritive has been shaped and propagandised for a long time.

Hell even as a UK citizan steeped in our class structure it was hard for me to fully realise that the Yanks had one just as refined as well, I sort of knew it before this but this post clarified for me.

You are correct that the pass the buck mentality and unwillingness to take the blame means that true culpabiity is harder to determine. Every one has their own interests and motivations. Maybe this post lacks the nuance you wish but it is hard to give it a full treatment and keep it simple.

You also are correct that the money ends up in the hands of the elite. Who are their willing stooges though? who is more willing to throw the other under a bus for their own gain, and has enough power and influence compared to the rest to have a chance to do so? (Not to mention a deep sense of insecurity about if they are going to be next)

These are the questions this blog post is asking. And it offers some answers, even if they are painted in more strokes than you may like.

stravinsky7 said...

*pictures Babe Ruth, with skinny legs, druid's robe, and Duck Dynasty-trumping beard, stepping up to the plate and hitting it out of the park*

Marty said...

JMG

I just got around to this, and it is spot on, just one point, the working class has been destroyed by free trade. Free trade such as NAFTA was pushed as being good for American industry, while it benefited tech companies like Microsoft (a salary class employer) by providing them with protection for their intellectual property, it hollowed out industry, companies like Maytag, Hoover, Huffy (I could go on and on) off shored jobs, which is an euphemism for hiring low wage foreign workers, now those same companies are trying to sell their products made in China et al, to workers in the USA who have decreased buying power as a result of decades of exporting manufacturing jobs, combined with importing low wage overseas workers to fill service jobs (i. e. Disney).

The problem with all this is when the former skilled wage worker who was laid off at Hoover in Youngstown, Ohio can no longer afford to buy a Huffy bike, formerly made in Medina, Ohio, now made in China. And the former skilled wage worker at Huffy bike can no longer afford to buy a made in China Hoover vacuum.

Multiply this by hundreds of plants and millions of workers, then push forward a few decades as the wage clause's embedded wealth and credit are eviscerated what we have is a Baltic Dry Index under 300, from over 14000; which means goods are not being shipped to the USA, the land of the big PX.

Corporate decisions made sense in a micro economic world, the macroeconomic out come of all this is what we have now, a industrial country transferred by these trade pacts into a consumer society.

The economic engine of the US has gone from manufacturing to borrowing a Trillion $ a year, that is spending now the economic life of the future. Now borrowing makes economic sense if it increases future economic activity, such as borrowing money to build a factory that will turn trees into bedposts, the added value of the end product, resulting in increased wealth which can then be used to pay back the loan.

What is happening now, that is running up debt to continue economic "growth" i.e consumerism and non value added borrowing, is going to reduce future growth, because the borrowed money will be paid back by the trick of inflation, and (the end result will be a currency reset that will result in the US Dollar up being worthless, economic activity will stop, that that remains will be face to face, barter, what re emerges as economic activity in the US will resemble a flea market.

You said a while back that where we are is where we will be as the collapse is on. I think that the final phase of the reset could happen so quickly, that a person on a vacation or a business trip, and even beyond the range of the gas in their car could find themselves stranded at that location. It could happen that quick.

Marty said...

JMG

The point you made about the quality of products made is also quite important. In the past while things may have cost more in dollar terms, they lasted much longer. My mom still has her sewing machine that she bought in July 1962 for $400 (about a months pay back then) at the Singer Sewing Center in Bangor, Maine. Compared to wages, prices were high on many things relative to today, but you received quality products that lasted.

The problem for the corporations was that if someone bought a product and was happy with it, it hurt sales. Automobiles, because even then (although possible) it was hard to keep an old car running for ever, the car companies always had some built in obsolescence,combined with clever marketing, suburbanization and annual "improvements" they became economic powerhouses. Other companies took note of this and began to build in obsolescence "time bombs".

In the case of Singer, in the late 60s they started to use nylon gears in their machines to make them "quieter", it was just a "coincidence" that those gears, (unlike their metal predecessors), would make it through the warranty period, but eventually get brittle and break, requiring an expensive out of warranty repair, one that with parts added could cost close to the price of a new "improved" machine.

(It is no coincidence that when they had to deal with low cost foreign labor that the "Big Three" went into decline that US manufacturers began to off shore jobs).

What they have given us are products that cost more to repair than to buy new. Long gone are the days of places like the "Fix it Shop" in Mayberry.

The repair cost of labor is the same on a $1000 vacuum as it is on a $100 one, but will you pay a 100 bucks to repair a $1000 Kirby Vacuum, sure, but will you pay that same 100 bucks to fix a plastic Hoover that coast that new. Probably not; in addition, because this plethora of low quality product has created a throw away society mindset, quality appliances that while broken, but would be worth fixing, or while not broken are simply outdated in appearance are discarded as well. Thus land fill full of broken (but fixable) and outdated appliances.

thymia10 said...

Thank you for this post - I've not read all the comments, so apologies for repetition. My favorite part is about the "biology" divisions - exactly what I've wanted to say to my Dem Party friends. I am one of those who was formerly wage class and have become a member of the benefits class only because older wage class workers whose jobs were destroyed do not get hired for other wage class jobs (and I have part of a master's degree, so lack of education is not the problem - I'd say it was lack of will on the part of investment/salaried class in my town to give up any of their increased discretionary income to provide jobs for jobless people. Have enjoyed reading the Report off and on over several years. Looking forward to what you have to say about the Clinton campaign, which dovetails nicely with the "biology" points. I'm one of the women who Madeleine Albright says will go to a "special place in hell" - I'd warn her, I still remember "we think the price is worth it". I did not and think there's a special place in hell for people who authorize bombing other people.

Bob Lienhart said...

Worth mentioning here is that throughout the 2000s a good portion of the salaried class found themselves as part of the wage class. Most notably engineers of various types who were replaced by their salaried managers with independent contractors and who in turn became independent contractors themselves, i.e. wage earners.

Frosty said...

Well done! It's such a relief to read a serious, in-depth analysis of Trump's appeal. As someone who's been watching Trump since the late 70s, all I can say is, his love of eminent domain will be key to his presidency, if he makes it. If he can find some way to finagle it, I would fully expect him to try to heave public lands onto the open international market. And all the loud mouthing about illegal immigrants is hot air, he has a history of exploiting illegals for his own gain. Some of the usual GOP touchstones I doubt he'll act on, he's not interested in abortion and he's totally secular. His gift is connecting with his followers emotionally, encouraging them to project their own values onto him; mouthing off, while keeping his real cards close to his vest.

Silverseale said...

JMG, your post helped me to understand something important about my own experiences of late. Between 1994 - 2010, I was an engineering secretary with only two years of college (not an associates degree). Good job, great pay, and I had the respect of my coworkers; I was considered a member of the "salary" class. In summer 2010, I moved from SC to northern VA and got a rude shock: employers in my field here require the "pink collars" (meaning, the pink-collar jobs that pay well) to have bachelor's degrees. Those young women with college degrees (referenced by Patricia Mathews somewhere on the comment thread) aren't just flipping burgers and turning tricks: they *are*, in droves, getting hired for the higher-level (especially) administrative jobs, which pushes those of us without degrees but lots of experience out of the salary class and into the wage class. I'm training for a new career now, but I am pissed as hell and bitter about it, too. Anyway, thank you for the insights you offered in this post.

Big Picture said...

I'm so happy that I found your site. JohnVK linked it on the Scott Adams blog about Trump's persuasion skills.

Your analysis is spot on. I used to work in the building trades. Nowadays, if you don't speak Spanish, you can't communicate with your crew or your subcontractors. Those used to be good paying jobs. We had unemployment insurance that helped us through the off season, and Worker's Comp if we got hurt on the job. It was physically demanding work, but you could drive by one of your old construction sites and tell your kid, "I built that."

I left construction, got a useful degree, and moved into high tech. The pay was much better and we were always inside air-conditioned buildings with nice break rooms. But little by little, the jobs began moving to India, the Philippines, and Taiwan. And engineers and programmers from Japan and Taiwan started moving into our cubicle farms for Joint Ventures. Then the H1B visas became all the rage, and a new class of indentured servant (mostly from India) showed up. Those poor H1B drones are totally exploited. They get paid far less than an American STEM graduate; they are totally dependent on their boss for getting their visa renewed; and they (probably) have to give a cut of their pay to the middleman back home and their hiring manager here in America. I've recently read that the Silicon Valley workforce is now 75% foreign born.

The 1% of the 1%, the people who own the banks that own the Federal Reserve, want higher profits and net worth. So lower wages, whether through outsourcing, illegal immigration, or H1B visas, are exactly what they want. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum tried to galvanize these voters, but it took Trump, a man who understands the TV ratings game, a well-educated man who speaks in incomplete sentences at a fourth-grade level, who is beholding to no one, afraid of no one, and happy to break every PC taboo he finds, to start a movement.

Now that Bernie Sanders has demonstrated how easy it is for a committed reformer to crowd fund a campaign in this day of social media and blogs like this one, I predict that we will see dozens of new leaders emerge to challenge the plutocrats and create an American Renaissance.

Ben Garrido said...

The biggest problem with Trumpism and, frankly, any sort of arrangement that results in power falling to the slaves/poor/wage class is that resentment is a reactionary thing. Resentment is simply a reversal of the strong/master/salary class' morality, an inversion, a negative image. That makes it fundamentally unprincipled and incapable of creativity.

Trump and his supporters could very easily destroy a lot of things and take vengeance against a great many injustices - though I should point out that I pretty much despise the concept of justice - but I'm hugely skeptical they would have anything to replace those destroyed institutions with.

I wrote at length on this, if you're interested. https://bengarrido.com/donald-trump-and-resentment/

SamuraiArtGuy said...

This was a hell of a post, but it may be indicative of the rising awareness of the forces potentially leading to chaos when even the establishment bastion, The New York Times, begins to contemplate the economic injustice leading to the fracturing of our society.

"The lack of leverage of those on the bottom rungs can be seen in Pew survey in which dealing with the problems of the poor and needy ranked 10th on a list of public priorities, well behind terrorism, education, Social Security and the deficit. This 10th place ranking is likely to drop further as the gap widens between the bottom and the top fifth of voters in the country.

"It turns out that the United States has a double-edged problem — the parallel isolation of the top and bottom fifths of its population. For the top, the separation from the middle and lower classes means less understanding and sympathy for the majority of the electorate, combined with the comfort of living in a cocoon.

"For those at the bottom, especially the families who are concentrated in extremely high poverty neighborhoods, isolation means bad schools, high crime, high unemployment and high government dependency."


How the Other Fifth Lives
Thomas B. Edsall, NY Times, April 27, 2016
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/27/opinion/campaign-stops/how-the-other-fifth-lives.html

ThisOldMan said...

The first thing I did after exercise this morning was to reread this post, and send the link to everyone I know who might read it. Pity I don't know Bill, Hillary and the rest of the political elite as well as Trump does.

Shanti said...

I don't think that there is such a clear line between the wage class and the salary class. After the financial downturn in 2007/8, many salaried workers lost their jobs and became the wage class.

And Trump did win - so your insight is amazing! But alas, I doubt anyone (even among the Republicans) think that Trump is going to do something for the wage class.
Think about it. He has exploited the wage class as much as he can, using undocumented workers and paying low wages (and it seems NO wages at all sometimes). Considering that the wage class has a large proportion of minority workers, I cannot see how you can get away from splitting that racially as well. How many blacks and Hispanic wage class members voted for Trump?

Kirk Sheckler said...

Interestly Obama put in place a rule to make employers compensate for this situation that Trump is now overturning.

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