Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Outside the Hall of Mirrors

The outcome of last week’s vote concerning Britain’s membership in the European Union has set off  anguished cries and handwaving across much of the internet and the mass media. The unexpected defeat of the pro-EU camp, though, has important lessons to offer, and not just for those of my readers who live in Britain; the core issues underlying the Brexit referendum are also massive realities in many other countries right now, and will likely play a very large role—quite probably a decisive one—in this year’s presidential race here in the United States.

Now of course part of the outcome has to be put down to the really quite impressive incompetence of the Remain campaign. The first rule of political campaigning is that if something isn’t working, it’s time to try something else, but apparently that never occurred to anybody on the pro-EU side. From the beginning of the campaign to its end, very nearly the only coherent arguments that came out the mouths of Remain supporters were threats about this or that awful thing that was going to happen if Britain left the EU. Weeks before the election, as a result, faux headlines yelling BREXIT WILL GIVE YOU CANCER, EXPERTS WARN and the like had already become a common topic of internet humor.

That was bad enough—when the central theme of your campaign becomes a punch line, you’re doing something wrong—but there was another point that everyone in the pro-EU camp seems to have missed. Soon-to-be-former Prime Minister David Cameron spent much of the campaign insisting that if Britain left the EU, there would be harsh budget cuts in the National Health Service and other programs that benefit ordinary Britons. The difficulty here was of course that Cameron’s government had already inflicted harsh budget cuts in the National Health Service and other programs that benefit ordinary Britons, and showed every sign of doing more of the same—and “Brexit Will Do What We’re Doing Anyway” somehow didn’t have the clout that Cameron apparently expected it to have.

More generally, Remain supporters never got around to offering positive reasons for Britain’s EU membership that would convince those who weren’t already on their side. Instead, they simply insisted that “any thinking person” would vote Remain, and anyone who disagreed had to be a xenophobic Nazi moron. Their behavior in the wake of defeat has by and large been the same, alternating between furious statements that the 52% of Britons who voted to leave the EU must all be drooling fascist bigots, and the plaintive insistence that people couldn’t possibly have intended to vote the way they did, and can we please have the vote all over again?

Absent from the entire Remain repertory, before as well as after the vote, was any sense that the question of continued EU membership for Britain involved substantive issues about which it was possible to have reasoned disagreement. It should have been obvious that telling people that their concerns don’t matter, and berating them with schoolyard insults when they demur, was not going to convince them to change their vote. That this was not obvious to the pro-EU camp, and shows little evidence of becoming any more obvious even in the wake of defeat, hints that the issues in question are things that the pro-EU camp is utterly unwilling to see discussed at all.

I suggest that this is exactly what’s going on, and a glance back across the last century or so of British political history may help point out the unspoken realities behind the shouting.

A hundred years ago, two parties dominated the British political landscape: the Conservatives (aka Tories) and the Liberals. Both parties were run by and for the affluent. While a series of electoral reform bills over the course of the nineteenth century brought more and more British men into the electorate—British women got the vote in two stages, with wealthy women over 30 admitted to the electorate in 1918 and all adult women in 1929—both parties readily learned the trick of dangling meaningless favors in front of the poor to get them to vote in the interest of their soi-disant betters.

The rise of the Independent Labour Movement, the forerunner of the Labour Party, was a masterly counterstroke to this kind of political gamesmanship. Instead of letting themselves be led about by the nose for the benefit of the affluent minority, the ILM and then the Labour Party put the interests of working people and the poor at the forefront of their agenda, and refused to be bought off with scraps from the tables of the rich. By 1945, as a direct result, the Liberal party had been reduced to irrelevance and the Labour Party became one of the two major parties in British politics.

In Britain as well as America, the pendulum started swinging the other way in the last quarter of the century. The triumph of Margaret Thatcher in the 1978 general election had the same role there as Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 did over here: a new, more aggressive conservatism took up the Left’s rhetoric of class warfare with a vengeance and inverted it, ushering in an era in which the rich rebelled against the poor. The Labour Party under Tony Blair, in turn, responded to that shift the same way that the Democrats did under Bill Clinton: both parties quietly dropped their previous commitments to the working class and the poor, and focused instead on issues that appealed to affluent liberals.  They gambled that the working class and the poor would keep voting for them out of habit and misplaced loyalty—and over the short term, that gamble paid off.

The result in both countries was a political climate in which the only policies up for discussion were those that favored the interests of the affluent at the expense of the working classes and the poor. That point has been muddied so often, and in so many highly imaginative ways, that it’s probably necessary to detail it here. Rising real estate prices, for example, benefit those who own real estate, since their properties end up worth more, but it penalizes those who must rent their homes, since they have to pay more of their income for rent. Similarly, cutting social-welfare benefits for the disabled favors those who pay taxes at the expense of those who need those benefits to survive.

In the same way, encouraging unrestricted immigration into a country that already has millions of people permanently out of work, and encouraging the offshoring of industrial jobs so that the jobless are left to compete for an ever-shrinking pool of jobs, benefit the affluent at the expense of everyone else. The law of supply and demand applies to labor just as it does to everything else:  increase the supply of workers and decrease the demand for their services, and wages will be driven down. The affluent benefit from this, since they pay less for the services they want, but the working poor and the jobless are harmed by it, since they receive less income if they can find jobs at all. It’s standard for this straightforward logic to be obfuscated by claims that immigration benefits the economy as a whole—but who receives the bulk of the benefits, and who carries most of the costs?  That’s not something anybody in British or American public life has been willing to discuss for the last thirty years.

The problem with this kind of government of the affluent, by the affluent, and for the affluent was outlined in uncompromising detail many years ago in the pages of Arnold Toynbee’s monumental A Study of History. Societies in decline, he pointed out, schism into two unequal parts: a dominant minority that monopolizes the political system and its payoffs, and an internal proletariat that carries most of the costs of the existing order of things and is denied access to most of its benefits. As the schism develops, the dominant minority loses track of the fundamental law of politics—the masses will only remain loyal to their leaders if the leaders remain loyal to them—and the internal proletariat responds by rejecting not only the dominant minority’s leadership but its values and ideals as well.

The enduring symbol of the resulting disconnect is the famous Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, where the last three French kings before the Revolution secluded themselves from an increasingly troubled and impoverished nation in order to gaze admiringly at their own resplendent reflections. While Marie Antoinette apparently never said the famous sentence attributed to her—“Let them eat cake”—the cluelessness about the realities of life outside the Hall of Mirrors that utterance suggests was certainly present as France stumbled toward ruin, and a growing number of ordinary Frenchmen and Frenchwomen turned their backs on their supposed leaders and went looking for new options.

That’s what has happened in Britain in recent decades, and the last few elections show it. In the general election of 2010, voters blindsided pollsters and pundits alike by flocking to the Liberal Democratic party, until then a fringe party. That was an obvious demand for change, and if the Lib-Dems had stuck to their guns, it might have resulted in the eclipse of the Labour party within a few more years, but the Lib-Dems chose instead to cash in their ideals and form a coalition with the Tories. In the 2015 general election, as a direct result, the Lib-Dems were flung back out onto the fringes.

2015 had an even more significant result, though. In an attempt to head off the UK Independence Party (UKIP), another fringe party showing worrisome gains, Tory PM David Cameron pledged that if his party won, the UK would hold a referendum on EU membership. Polls claimed that Parliament would again be split three ways between Conservatives, Lib-Dems, and Labour. The pollsters and the pundits were blindsided again; apparently a good many people who claimed they were going to vote for Labour or the Lib-Dems got into the privacy of the voting booth and cast their vote for their local Tory instead. Why? Thursday’s vote suggests that it was precisely because they wanted a chance to say no to the EU.

Fast forward to the Brexit campaign. In polite society in today’s Britain, any attempt to point out the massive problems with allowing unrestricted immigration onto an already overcrowded island, which can’t provide adequate jobs, housing, or social services for the people it’s got already, is dismissed out of hand as racism. Thus it’s not surprising that quite a few Britons, many of them nominally Labour voters, mumbled the approved sound bites in public and voted for Brexit in private—and again, the pollsters and the pundits were blindsided. That’s one of the downsides of the schism between the dominant minority and the internal proletariat; once the dominant minority loses the loyalty of the masses by failing to deal with the needs of those outside the circles of affluence and privilege, sullen outward conformity and secret revolt replace the mutual trust that’s needed to make a society function.

The EU, in turn, made a perfect target for disaffected voters among the working class and the poor because it’s entirely a creature of the same consensus of the affluent as the Labour party after Tony Blair and the Democratic Party after Bill Clinton. Its economic policies are guided from top to bottom by the neoliberal economics that came into power with Thatcher and Reagan; its unwavering support of unrestricted immigration and capital movement is calculated to force down wages and move jobs away from countries such as Britain; its subsidies inevitably end up in the pockets of big corporations and the well-to-do, while its regulatory burdens land heaviest on small businesses and local economies.

This isn’t particularly hard find out—in fact, it takes an effort to avoid noticing it.  Listen to people bemoaning the consequences of Brexit in the latest reports from the British media, and you’ll hear a long list of privileges mostly relevant to the affluent that the speakers worry will be taken from them.  Aside from a few fringe figures, those who voted for it generally aren’t talking, since they’ve learned from bitter experience that they’ll simply be shouted down with the usual shopworn accusations of racism et al..  If they were willing to talk, though, I suspect you’d hear a long list of burdens that have mostly landed on the ordinary working people so many of the affluent so obviously despise.

It’s probably necessary to note here that of course there are racists and xenophobes who voted for Brexit. Equally, there are people who have copulated with dead pigs who voted for Remain—I’m sure my British readers can name at least one—but that doesn’t mean that everyone who voted for Remain has copulated with a dead pig.  Nor, crucially, does it prove that necrosuophiliac cravings are the only possible reason to vote for Remain. One common way to define hate speech is “the use of a demeaning and derogatory stereotype to describe every member of a group.” By that definition, the people who insist that everyone who voted for Brexit is a bigoted moron are engaged in hate speech—and it’s a source of bleak amusement to watch people who are normally quick to denounce hate speech indulging in it to their heart’s desire in this one case. 

Let’s look deeper, though. There are, in fact, a significant number of poor and working-class Britons who hold deeply prejudiced attitudes toward foreign immigrants. Why? A large part of the reason is the fact that the affluent, for decades now, have equated racial tolerance with exactly those policies of unrestricted immigration that have plunged millions of the British working class into destitution and misery. In the same way, a great many poor and working class Britons couldn’t care less about the environment, and a large part of the reason is that the terms of debate about environmental issues have been defined so that the lifestyles of the affluent are never open to discussion, and the costs of environmental protection cascade down the social ladder while the benefits flow up. As Toynbee noted, when society splits into a dominant minority and an internal proletariat, the masses reject not only the leadership but also the ideals and values of their self-proclaimed betters.  It happens tolerably often that some of those ideals and values really are important, but when they’ve been used over and over again to justify the policies of the privileged, the masses can’t afford to care.

Those Britons who are insisting that the majority doesn’t matter, and their country must stay in the EU no matter what the voters think, have clearly not thought through the implications of last Thursday’s election. Party loyalties have become very fluid just now, and the same 52% of British voters that passed the Brexit referendum could quite readily, with equal disdain for the tender sensibilities of the privileged minority, put a UKIP majority into the House of Commons and send Nigel Farage straight to 10 Downing Stree. If the British establishment succeeds in convincing the working classes and the poor that voting for UKIP is the only way they can make their voices heard, that’s what will happen. It’s a very unwise move, after all, to antagonize people who have nothing to lose.

Meanwhile, a very similar revolt is under way in the United States, with Donald Trump as the beneficiary. As I noted in an earlier post here, Trump’s meteoric rise from long-shot fringe candidate to Republican nominee was fueled entirely by his willingness to put himself in opposition to the consensus of the affluent described earlier. Where all the acceptable candidates were on board with the neoliberal economics and neoconservative politics of the last thirty years—lavish handouts for the rich, punitive austerity for the poor, malign neglect of our infrastructure at home and a monomaniacal pursuit of military confrontation overseas—he broke with that, and the more stridently the pundits and politicians denounced him, the more states he won and the faster his poll numbers rose.

At this point he’s doing the sensible thing, biding his time, preparing for the general election, and floating the occasional trial balloon to see how various arguments against Hillary Clinton will be received. I expect the kind of all-out war that flattened his Republican rivals to begin around the first of September. Nor is Hillary Clinton particularly well positioned to face such an onslaught. It’s not merely that she’s dogged by embarrassingly detailed allegations of corruption on a scale that would be considered unusually florid in a Third World kleptocracy, nor is it simply that her career as Secretary of State was notable mostly for a cascade of foreign policy disasters from which she seems to have learned nothing. It’s not even that on most economic, political, and military issues, Hillary Clinton is well to the right of Donald Trump, advocating positions indistinguishable from those of George W. Bush—you know, the guy the Democrats claimed to hate not too many years back.

No, what makes a Trump victory in November considerably more likely than not is that Clinton has cast herself as the candidate of the status quo. All the positions she’s taken amount to the continued pursuit of policies that, in the United States as in Britain, have benefited the affluent at the expense of everyone else. That was a safe choice back when her husband was President, and both parties were competing mostly over which one could do a better job of comforting the comfortable and afflicting the already afflicted. It’s not a safe choice now, when Trump has thrown away the covert rulebook of modern American politics, and is offering, to people who’ve gotten the short end of the stick for more than thirty years, a set of policy changes that could actually improve their lives.

Now of course that’s not what the politicians, the pundits, and the officially respectable thinkers of today’s consensus of the affluent are willing to talk about. The same dreary rhetoric applied to the pro-Brexit majority in Britain is thus being applied to Trump voters here in the United States. “Racist,” “fascist,” “moron”—all the shopworn, sneering tropes that the privileged use to dismiss the concerns of the rest of the population of today’s America are present and accounted for.

The passion with which these words are being flung about just now should not be underestimated. I had an old friend hang up on me in midsentence because I expressed a lack of enthusiasm for Clinton; we haven’t spoken since, and I have no idea if we ever will. Other people I know have had comparable experiences when they tried to discuss the upcoming election in terms more nuanced than today’s conventional wisdom is willing to permit. One of the most powerful and most unmentionable forces in American public life—class prejudice—pervades the shouting matches that result. To side with Clinton is to identify yourself with the privileged, the “good people,” the affluent circles gazing admiringly at themselves in the Hall of Mirrors. To speak of Trump in any terms other than cheap schoolboy insults, or even to hint that Trump’s supporters might be motivated by concerns other than racism and sheer stupidity, is to be flung unceremoniously outside the gates where the canaille are beginning to gather.

It has apparently not occurred to those who parade up and down the Hall of Mirrors that there are many more people outside those gates than there are within. It has seemingly not entered their darkest dreams that shouting down an inconvenient point of view, and flinging insults at anyone who pauses to consider it, is not an effective way of convincing anyone not already on their side. Maybe the outcome of the Brexit vote will be enough to jar America’s chattering classes out of their stupor, and force them to notice that the people who’ve been hurt by the policies they prefer have finally lost patience with the endless droning insistence that no other policies are thinkable.  Maybe—but I doubt it.

Outside the Hall of Mirrors, the sky is black with birds coming home to roost. Some of them have already settled on the rooftops of London. More of them are hovering above an assortment of European capitals, and many more are wheeling above the marble domes and pediments of Washington DC. When they land, their impact will shake the world.


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Bruno Bolzon said...

JMG, brilliant as always. By the way, have you seen this?

Does it looks like a textbook example of elite's senility for you? It sure does to me! It's as if the author is begging the masses to hang him on a lamppost.

Justin said...

Regarding the upper middle class (and upwards) and environmentalism:

One aspect of the money economy that I find troubling is the absurd values assigned to desirable patches of urban or suburban real estate. If you do the math, the prices and rents that these places command (and I'm not talking about places like London, San Francisco, Vancouver, DC, I just mean any semi-prosperous coastal town) could be used to purchase absurd amounts of real things. For instance, an average Canadian uses about $1200 worth of oil a year (at present prices), which in any of the cities one can expect to find a job in, is at best two months rent and often closer to one. If you make the assumption that most of us in the LTG community make that oil is a master resource, you see both the absurdity and the importance of oil - Canada has a GDP of $52000 based on a consumption of $2000-2500 (natgas, ore, oil, coal) worth of primary resources.

If you believe the generally accepted narrative that renewables will let us keep on going the way we have been, but energy will become more expensive as a result, then it stands to reason that a person who can afford to live in a desirable suburb or urban center will be relatively less affected by energy prices as a result (or food prices or what have you). I'm a good example of this, I spend far more on rent than I do on energy, whereas the opposite is true for people living in more rural parts of the same province. I can see the lack of concern for the notion that a carbon tax or whatever - after all, if you pay $1000 in rent and $40 for power and $0 for gas (directly), what do price increases mean for you?

I also notice that on my facebook, which is mostly populated by educated late-20s/early 30's types, the ones who are doing really well for themselves almost always work for the government. Having had some contact with that world, it's not one you'll be accepted into without the usual mannerisms, shibboleths and family backgrounds - in other words, immigrants not welcome. In a certain sense, I can imagine them as the courtiers at Versailles - the complex is the size it is for a reason after all.

Up here in Canada, the government is spending a fortune on climate change - if they burnt the money on an altar int might work by slowing down the economy - but instead it goes to fund the lifestyles of those in academia and industry that are smart and connected enough to capture it.

JacGolf said...

JMG- thank you for continuing to encourage actual thinking and not just knee jerking. Watching the results last week was enjoyable because of the rejection of the globalism of the elites and the open immigration that floods the lower end of the labor force. It is unfortunate that it gets framed as racism, as I believe people should be free to move. Unfortunately, the lack of movement from the affluent countries to the third world does not level out those moving from third world to the affluent and the fact that there are only so many jobs in a culture. Britain did what it needed to do to remain in some semblance Britain. Hopefully, the US will have a similar result, though the ride will be extremely uncomfortable whichever way November turns.

David, by the lake said...

The conversations I've had with others show a desire for something different but an unwillingness to act, or a believe that acting is futile. 3rd parties are "a waste" of a vote, for example. Perhaps the people in the US will yet truly speak, given enough provocation. Imagining myself a delegate at a hypothetical constitutional convention, I offer the following for consideration (including one amendment inspired by our favorite author):

Proposed Amendment #1 (Unfunded Mandates)
Congress shall pass no law imposing a mandate upon the several States in absence of such appropriations necessary to fulfill the obligations imposed.

Proposed Amendment #2 (Congressional Term Limits)
No person who is or has been a member of the current Congress shall be eligible for election or appointment as a member of Congress if that person has been a member of the previous four Congresses.

Proposed Amendment #3 (State Selection of Senators)
Article 1. The seventeenth amendment to the Constitution is hereby repealed.
Article 2. Each State shall establish the method by which the Senators from that State are appointed or elected to their offices.

Proposed Amendment #4 (Proportional Election of Representatives)
Article 1. Seats of a State’s delegation to the House of Representatives shall be allocated proportionally among the political parties registering in that State for the election, according to the proportion of the total vote within that State for that party.
Article 2. Each political party shall be awarded a number of seats equal to the whole number of its proportion of the total vote. Any remaining seats shall be awarded singly, beginning with the party with the highest proportion of the total vote and proceeding to the next-highest, until all remaining seats have been awarded.
Article 3. Each political party shall publicly register a slate of candidates with the State, with the awarded seats being allocated according to the ranking of the candidates within that slate.

Proposed Amendment #5 (Secession)
Article 1. A State may elect to secede from the Union established by this Constitution.
Article 2. A State shall affect its secession by a resolution of a two-thirds majority of its legislature, subsequently ratified by a two thirds majority of a State referendum.
Article 3. Any former State, upon seceding, that desires to reinstate its membership in this Union must request admission as a State by Congress.

RepubAnon said...

One would hope that the Democrats learned from the double-whammy of Bernie's highly successful campaign and the Brexit results that it's time to return to their New Deal roots. They missed the populist boat in 2008, and failed to punish the bankers - thus ceding these voters to the Tea Party.

Now, they've seen a man who called himself a Socialist come very close to defeating the Democratic Party's ordained choice. They've seen a campaign based on warning people of disaster if they vote the wrong way - the one they were planning to run against Mr. Trump - fail. Hopefully, even the Democratic campaign consultants who have been losing elections for years now by mouthing DC insider memes at the general population caught a clue.

Because the other lesson of the Brexit campaign is that the folks making those big, populist promises about, say, massively funding the NHS, were lying through their teeth. It was all a con job run on desperate people who knew that King Stork was at least addressing their concerns, while King Log was merely telling them the same recycled lies they'd heard so many times in previous campaigns. Given the choice between a continued march toward the poorhouse and someone promising to change things - and they'll go for change.

Hopefully, the Democrats have woken up and will tack back to the left. If Donald Trump wins, we could see "Twilight's Last Gleaming - the South China Sea edition" on TV screens in about 2 years. Nothing like a good war to win elections.

Pantagruel7 said...

I liked your mention of the phase "capital movement." There isn't much discussion of this, especially of how it affects David Ricardo's so-called theory of comparative advantage upon which so much of current free trade theory is based.

tokyo damage said...

thanks for taking the time to spell out specifically the class dimension of policies that isn't usually talked about: real estate, immigration, etc.
Speaking of things we're not talking about: outside of some real tiny lefty blogs, Trump was the only guy to tell a big audience the obvious implication of HRC's email scandal: whoever she sent the 'deleted' emails to STILL HAS THEM, and we could be looking at a POTUS who is being blackmailed by all sorts of goofball dictators - in short someone accountable to everyone BUT the voters. Even your Max Blumenthals and Chomskys haven't touched that one, although if you ask any adult how email works, they'll tell you both parties get copies. If I'm wrong and someone else has been saying 'blackmail, I tell you!' to an audience of a million, please let me know. Because I can't stand for Trump to be the 'go-to' guy for anything truthful.

kayr said...

Dear JMG,

I have been taking the time to read transcripts of Trump's speeches and policy positions and they sound good like all politician's speeches sound. However, I can't see that Trump will follow through with any of his promises as it would hurt his own little empire. He is after all part of the privileged class. He just seems to be successfully pandering to disaffected voters. In fact it gives me the creeps when I think about it. Voting for the status quo isn't appealing either so as far as I can tell, there is no presidential candidate that stands a chance of winning worth voting for.

peacegarden said...

Oh, the pure fun of discovering necrosuophiliac in this week’s essay…I’ll have to remember to use it when I find another application of that particular logical fallacy.

“But wait, there’s more!” The repeated racist labeling and haughty expressions on the faces of the talking heads and comedians are making me feel nauseated.

They don’t get it, but they will.
Pass the popcorn, please…this is going to be verrry interesting!


disposium said...

You know, I'm sure you didn't intend to produce a post that reminded me, somehow, of last week's reference to Lovecraft... but the white Anglo sentiment, the fears of the privileged as they confront the roiling, turbulent masses just outside the City gates, the brewing anger expressing itself in inexplicably unnatural voting patterns... it's just me, I guess. I'm sure Lovecraft would have been opposed to all this immigration too, but I can't help seeing a parallel between his fear and loathing of the Other, and the disdain the educated, civilized well-meaning show for the rest of us poor slobs. Thank you for provoking these thoughts.

disposium said...

I should hasten to add that I think immigration is awesome, especially when driven by authentic humanitarian concerns, and not used as a ploy to get cheap labor...

Leo Knight said...

Thank you for this. I've had similar feelings about the neo-liberal agenda for quite some time, but had trouble articulating it. I've shared this on Facebook. I anticipate outraged howls. Ah, well, interesting times.

Paul said...

As someone on the internet pointed out, (I think it was either Craig Murray or Billy Bragg), all bigots will vote leave. Not all those that vote leave are bigots. Whichever of them that said that was campaigning for a Remain vote, so to characterise all those that voted for remain as you have done here is inaccurate. It seems to me that regardless of which side of the debate you're on, how you put your arguments is more about personal maturity than of your political persuasion.

Children are emotional. Adults are rational. There is a child within us all. Thus we can be manipulated.

Cold pricklies from the Bremainers. Rack and ruin! And in the early days, billions were wiped from the paper value of the UK economy. A week later, the FTSE has regained and surpassed it's pre vote level.

Warm Fuzzies from the Brexiteers. The summers will now be longer. The NHS will now issue everyone with their own personal hospital. Oh, hang on... We will take back power from the unelected eurocrats and give it to...? Well who exactly? The People?

So we throw off our shackles, and get to vote out the politicians that blight our lives, and replace them with...?

It's both interesting and depressing to see how the Brexit vote has affected the Labour Party. The establishment left have been tugging at their leashes to depose the upstart Corbyn. I wonder if he can weather the storm?

TJ said...

While I agree with much of what you have said, I don't think Mr. Trump is the antithesis of Secretary Clinton. He is, so far as I can tell, openly racists, remarkably uniformed, and utterly in love with his own version of the universe; a universe in which he reigns as the smartest, strongest, and bestest. Secretary Clinton is clearly committed to supporting the policies that enrich her class, but Mr. Trump seems equally committed to supporting the policies that enrich himself.

To me this election isn't so much about a class war between the privileged and the proletariat. It is, given that the only two options being offered by the ruling class are two world class thieves who have spent their
entire professional lives deeply embedded in the corruption of the US's political / military / capitalist system, simply the election one would expect in a society that is far, far down the road of decline. The only real debate is which of the two, Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump, will accelerate that decline the most.

The cry of Mr. Trump's proletariat isn't “WE WANT FAIRNESS”, or “JUSTICE”, or “LIBERTY”. It is “WE WANT OURS”. They call out for the open oppression of the “others”, of marginalizing anyone who isn't “US”, for cranking up Jim Crow, beating back the rights of women, and forcing “God's rules” on the ungodly. The privileged have betrayed western society, but those who have been betrayed don't seem to have much to offer as an alternative.

Mr. Trump, after all, didn't hijack the Republican party. He simply pulled the cover off of the policies and attitudes the Republicans have pursued and displayed since Ronald Reagan conned his way into the White House. More likely western society with its pretend-democracy, bankrupted fundamentalist “morality”, and dedication to nothing but greed, has simply run its course. The chaos surrounding the British vote to leave the UN, (though I think the vote itself, and the outcome, was completely justified) and that surrounding the circus that has become the hallmark of all US “elections”, are symptoms; the convulsions of a fatally ill patient in the final hours.

Mister Roboto said...

I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton and never will be, but after reading about the mentality present at a probably typical Donald Trump rally and about what ensued from the publication of the first linked article, I can no longer regard what Donald Trump represents in this election as benign. That our choices this November will be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump illustrates the extent to which imperial excess has turned our society into the equivalent of a toxic-waste dump.

zach bender said...

i want to make clear i am carrying no brief for the neoliberal consensus. however i do have difficulty with trump, and i think it is fair to say he does intentionally pander to a racist and xenophobic base. i have spent more than a little time on his campaign website, and i am not seeing the policies that "could actually improve [the] lives" of "people who've gotten the short end of the stick," etc. his tax plan skews heavily to those in higher income and accumulated wealth ranges. his healthcare alternative still relies on the invisible hand of the private insurance market. and so on. it may very well be that we should admit a great many fewer immigrants and so on, but the language in which trump frames this discussion suggests he has no understanding at all of the pressures the american empire has placed on mexico and central america, creating the chaos from which these people want desperately to flee.

John Michael Greer said...

Bruno, I saw it this morning and was literally speechless. Then I started laughing. It'll get a response here in due time -- and yes, you're quite correct; James Traub has just nominated himself as the poster child for elite senility.

Justin, that's a good point. I'll be talking in a future post about the ways that the environmental movement has committed suicide, and the transformation of global climate change into an excuse for government and academic featherbedding will be part (though only one part) of that discussion.

JacGolf, oh, no question -- a Trump presidency is nothing to look forward to, though it would probably be better than a Clinton presidency. One way or another, it's going to be a mess.

David, interesting. I have some amendments of my own to propose, but that's raw material for a future post.

RepubAnon, given Hillary Clinton's track record in the State Department and her continued cheerleading for neocon regime change schemes, it seems to me that a Clinton presidency would be even more likely than a Trump presidency to end in Twilight's Last Gleaming territory.

Pantagruel7, bingo!

Tokyo Damage, I haven't heard anyone else mention that, so I'm sorry to say you're stuck with the Donald.

Kayr, understood. The thing I'd point out is that the longer the current conventional wisdom remains welded in place, the more destructive the final explosion will be. Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable...

Peacegarden, it's definitely in the extra-large-popcorn-and-tall-soft-drink category of spectacle!

Disposium, excellent! On the level of humor, I imagine a new Cthulhu-for-president slogan: "Vote Cthulhu 2016 -- He'll Devour The Rich First!" On a more serious level, you're quite right, and the hint of hysteria in current rantings on the part of the privileged really does echo Lovecraft's own frantic terrors. As for immigration, I'm in favor of it as well; I'd be perfectly willing for the US to admit any number of Syrian refugees, say, on condition that an equal number of those who are currently advocating for unrestricted immigration volunteer to move to Syria to offset the population gain.

Leo, if a post of mine doesn't generate at least a few outraged howls, I hang my head in disappointment. ;-)

Peter Parpan said...

JMG I've been waiting days for your take on the referendum. The outcome and your insights support your prediction of Trump as winner. The elites may be grossly underestimating how many voters, once in the privacy of the booth, will opt to stick a spoke in the wheel of power. Of course Bernie Sanders would've been a more respectable stick, and still many will write him in or stay home, further strengthening your argument. I think Trump and Hillary will both be disastrous for our declining civilization, the question is, how do you like it, fast or slow? I wonder if you might elaborate on the ways Trump may improve working class lives? I assume you're mostly referring to trade policy, what else?

"When a political system becomes completely non-functional people will accept tyranny rather than anarchy, they will accept a government that functions brutally rather than a government that doesn't function at all. And so we face a situation where charismatic demagogues who can promise to make change happen can get a mass following."
-John Michael Greer 2013

Don Plummer said...

Well, I don't know about anyone else, but it seems to me that it's been Donald Trump himself who has issued most of the cheap schoolboy insults. His juvenile unwillingness to suffer criticism from others without lashing back at them, along with both his inability to formulate a coherent set of policies and plans to run a campaign on, and the apparent incompetent and ill-funded nature of his campaign itself, may just doom him this time around, despite the nature of the opposition. It may require another election cycle to get a competent candidate that a majority of the disaffected proletariat will actually want to vote for.

I read this in a comment from a British resident on social media, but I don't know whether it's fact or not; perhaps some of the British readers here can verify it (or not): I was told that the UK's leaving the EU will have little immediate effect on the UK's immigration policies.

John Michael Greer said...

Paul, I didn't claim that everyone who voted Remain had the attitudes toward hoi polloi I traced out here. I suggest that a significant number do, and the frantic hate speech currently being directed at those who voted against the EU is some evidence of that.

TJ, it would probably be fair to characterize Trump's supporters as saying "We Want Ours," and Clinton's as saying "We've Got Ours." Other than that, you're taking a small subset of Trump's supporters and using them to denigrate the lot, which isn't exactly impressive for someone who wants to talk about fairness, justice, and liberty, you know.

Mister R., and the same thing could be said, on similar grounds, for Clinton and her supporters.

Zach, the policies I have in mind are enforcing the immigration laws, pulling out of trade treaties, and putting obstacles in the way of offshoring jobs. Those would indeed improve the lives of people who've gotten the short end of the stick, by increasing the number of jobs in the US and decreasing the use of mass illegal immigration to drive down wages. It interests me that no matter how many times I specify which policies I'm talking about, people like you keep on trying to avoid discussing them...

John Michael Greer said...

Peter, I'm referring entirely to trade and immigration policy.

Don, the schoolyard insults I was referencing, as I think you know perfectly well, are those that insist that anybody who votes for Trump is by definition a racist moron. As for his electoral chances, yes, and people have been saying that since he entered the contest for the Republican nomination; none of that slowed him down, and it won't slow him down against the frankly incompetent campaign Clinton's running, either. I bet she spends most of the time between now and November claiming that voting for Trump will give you cancer or something!

Grebulocities said...

The outcome I fear most about the 2016 election is Hillary Clinton winning narrowly - within the margin of fraud, selective voter suppression, etc. I'm afraid that this would set us a significant part of the way down the path to a rural insurgency, if not all the way there. Of course we're probably going to end up with that anyway if the elites of both parties do manage to fend off the populists and keep doing what they're doing for another decade or so...

Cortes said...

The elite's senility obviously impacts on its memory. The following is excerpted from the Wikipedia entry on the Mongols' siege of Baghdad, when the rulers had been so dissociated from the ruled that the inevitable occurred:

The caliph Al-Musta'sim was captured and forced to watch as his citizens were murdered and his treasury plundered. According to most accounts, the caliph was killed by trampling. The Mongols rolled the caliph up in a rug, and rode their horses over him, as they believed that the earth would be offended if it were touched by royal blood. But the Venetian traveller Marco Polo claimed that Al-Musta'sim was locked in a tower with nothing to eat but gold and “died like a dog

aunteater said...

On the plus side, this election cycle may finally tell us how corruptible the Diebold vote-counting systems really are. For anyone still curious.

Mark Luterra said...

I'm all in favor of shaking up the status quo, and I don't have much enthusiasm for Clinton, but...

I simply cannot stand to listen to Donald Trump speak. He is not truly a representative of the internal proletariat (he is wealthy, famous, and has never personally struggled with any of the concerns of the lower classes), and the fact that he has managed to cast himself in that role so successfully exposes his true identity as a master strategist. He is following the reality TV rulebook, saying exactly what he needs to say to get the most votes while defying the predictions and projections of those who claim to know what's going one.

I don't for one minute believe that Trump really cares about any of the ideals he claims to espouse. He wants one thing - to WIN - to add to his narcissistic resume of self-aggrandizing life accomplishments. He is a master of language as meaningless emotional utterance, and he has managed to successfully unite most of the angry people in the US by claiming he will do something - NOW, FAST, GREAT - about whatever it is they are angry at.

Anger, in the absence of a real plan or set of principles, is not a recipe for good governance or problem-solving but instead for descent into xenophobia, violence, and hatred.

It is my perspective that Donald Trump has managed to use his knack for psychological strategy to ferret out the internal proletariat vote a few years before the wave would break on its own. It is my hope that Hillary will win this fall - four more years of the same is not too much to bear with unpredictable anger as the alternative. In that case the effect of this election will be to alert the internal proletariat that it is possible for their candidate to win - and four years from now we will then have a better selection of anti-status quo candidates to choose from: candidates who are not simply master strategists but representatives of the voting majority.

Justin said...

JMG/Don ...

It's worth noting that viewership for CNN et. al. is well into the low millions or high fractions of millions - Fox is doing a bit better with at least 5 million or so watching. Alex Jones of Infowars fame is supposedly out performing CNN (although his audience is more international).

The Conservative Party of Canada recently tweeted "because it's the current year" - not just an attack on something Trudeau and his cronies like to say, but at least in my mind an attack on progressivism - the notion that we're on some upwards-sloped curve to some glorious future forever, amen.

Sci-fi writer and culture critic Vox Day had this to say about Trump (I paraphrase): "My father was on Tarawa beach. He told me that if everyone is frozen up under fire and isn't sure what do do, if they look to you for guidance, you have to do or say something or it'll go to hell. He told me about a lieutenant who found himself in such a situation and decided to bumrush the Japanese position - and when he got to the top of the hill he found the division behind him. I would say that Trump is doing something similar - I'm not optimistic about his motives, I don't think he's going to fix much, but he's taking charge at a time when there is no apparent leadership and things are clearly going wrong, but at least he's charging the hill, and if we get up there, at least we can shoot back".

Paul said...

John, I agree with you. The dualist narrative I've encountered over the last decade or so since I first got online has forced me to discard behaviour I recognised in myself, once I saw it in others.

I think of it as The Three 'A's. Aspergers, Alcohol and Anger management. The people yelling "Moron" are afflicted by one or more of these.

I managed to discard one of the three. It wasn't alcohol :)

Anyway, Corbyn is an interesting case. He wasn't calling for a straightforward acceptance of the EU. The EU has had some benefits too, such as the Human Rights Act, and the Working Time Directive, which limited the number of hours workers could be forced to work. It has also functioned reasonably effectively as a means of redirecting wealth towards poorer areas of Europe. I live in Merseyside, England, which benefitted from EU grants far more than it's citizens gave through their taxes. Corbyn's stance was that the EU wasn't perfect, that ordinary working people were right to have a grievence, and that the best way to reform it was from within. He's far from a fringe figure. Yet his nuance was interpreted as ambivalence, and used to reassert establishment control.

Dau Branchazel said...

While I agree that there has been a much more complex set of circumstances leading tho this Brexit result and Trump's rise than many talk about, I do think racism has played a major role. Using generalities and insults will never be a good substitute for actual policy critique, but I think we have to look at what immigration means, not only as a policy, but as a buzzword in people's minds.

Two nights ago, a car in front of a mosque was firebombed in Perth, Western Australia, where I live and the fire-bombers spray-painted F*** ISLAM on the wall. Are they representative of Australian society? Not totally, but yet this sums up to my mind, a sentiment that is strong here, and has it's biggest outlet in the debate around immigration. There is a selective blindness to many people's view of what immigration means. A colour blindness. The majority of immigrants to Perth are from the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. It is a rare thing that anyone complains about these predominantly white people coming and taking our jobs. That ire is focused on people from the Middle east and Africa. I think it is undeniable that this has played a part in the Brexit campaign. Not just a small one either.

And as for Trump, I personally do not think he is a moron, but I do think he is racist. He may be offering a change of pace, but his remarks about the "Mexican" judge, and Mexicans in general are telling. Yet he has a lot of support from the Hispanic community probably because it seems like they've been shafted for years by the establishment and here is this pseudo-straight talker offering a a new vision (and who, I think, would turn his back on any promises he makes the second it is in his interest to do so). I also think, that if it weren't for the potential of government checks and balances, he could well grow into a fascist ruler. Sealing off borders on religious grounds and monitoring Islamic people internally would be a good start. This mixed with the run-of-the-mill American exceptionalism that always pervades American politics, and his extremely high opinion of himself could be disastrous. Which is not to say that the previous years have been better, but I think if you want a man to bring the dissolution of the union that you have mentioned so frequently, he may be your man.

I appreciate your attempt to flesh out these debates and infuse them with actual facts, but I just can't look at Brexit or Donald Trump without seeing the tide of racism being on the rise. And my fear also is that it will now affect how Europeans view each other again. Even in the eighties and nineties, French and English still had this old rivalry and tossed bitter stereotypes at each other. With so many of Europe's youth mingling and working and playing together I really think this has done wonders for creating international friendship and removing the animosity. It would be a shame for this trend to go backwards on account of Europe splitting.

John N. said...

I shouldn't be surprised after reading this blog for three years, but I'm amazed that we have several comments already to the effect of "No Mr. Greer, you're wrong. Trump and his followers really are racist."

It's been said elsewhere that 'racist' has been bleached of its former meaning and is becoming a term of hate-speech against those of European decent. I can't say I disagree vigorously.

On a lighter note, may I present your readers with Nigel Farage's gloat-session in the EU parliament. You can tell he's relishing rubbing his victory in his opposition's faces.

Jason B said...


Bravo on a good argument. I think ANY characterization of Trump as wanting to implement policy "enforcing the immigration laws, pulling out of trade treaties, and putting obstacles in the way of offshoring jobs," is incomplete. Trump is a metaphor. He MIGHT (if elected) enforce immigration laws, pull out of trade agreements, put obstacles in the way of offshoring jobs. He might not (if elected). More likely, he'd make some symbolic moves (try to pass legslation to build a bigger wall between the USA and Mexico etc).

But, who really knows? As it stands, based on who he was before now, he certainly does't seem to stand for much.

Reading my twitter feed today, I note an article that points out that Trump's campaign includes pro-trade lobbyists.


If this fact is in fact a fact it could only be bolstered by the writer's claim that Trump has a history of saying whatever the hell he wants to say with no regard to whether he believes what he's saying or not: Trump, the writer asserts, "has a very long history of changing his positions, including taking diametrically opposing views on abortion, immigration, Israel policy, and the minimum wage."

The upshot? Trump plays the game better than any of the others. No doubt in my mind. He knows how to win this and he might just...and, maybe that should be the discussion, since no one, as far as I can see, seems to be making any headway towards dealing with trade, immigration and global markets.

I think what we are faced with is a world in which these things might be out of our control. In which those who control technology are the ones who control everybody else. It should go without saying that those, in this argument, are the ones who control the levers of the media. That, in a nutshell, is what drives the frustration people feel (myself included) with the "status quo."

Thus, I don't know that there could possibly be a coherent meaning to attribute to the why of people voting for Brexit or Trump, other than frustration (real or perceived) at being rendered invisible and powerless. Those things stand for something else. They are ephemeral. They barely have any meaning at all!

Bill said...

Japan where I live is often criticized in the English language media for its restrictive immigration policies and shrinking population with headlines like Japan’s Demographic Disaster, but I think Japan is being really smart. (I just got my Permanent Resident visa and to get one you have to have lived in Japan for at least 20 years, have had no legal problems and contribute to society by working and paying taxes.)
Japan is wise because, like Great Britain, it is also a group of small crowded islands. Japan has only a third more land area than Oregon State. If Japan had the same population density as Oregon, Japan would only have about 6 million people. Japan imports over 60% of its food, but pro-growth English language media never consider what will happen when the food ships quit coming. When that disaster does strike, having a cohesive and declining population that values group cooperation is going to be a definite plus for Japan. On the other hand, not being a real member of that society will be a minus for me, but I’m already old so it doesn’t matter.

Rich_P said...

JMG - I'm replying whilst on the train from my job at a large corporation. The response to the Brexit vote from members of the salary class is predictably mercenary and self-absorbed: how will it impact my equities portfolio, dalliances across the eurozone, or chances of being stationed overseas? The tone from the executives is a mixture of "How dare they" and "that was extremely ill-advised."

I don't think they're intentionally malicious or conspiratorial -- just utterly clueless as to what's going on outside of their Hall of Mirrors.

For what it's worth, I supported the "leave" camp for complex reasons related to my political philosophy and inherent distrust of centralization. But I can't really discuss this with my "liberal" colleagues: they're extremely tolerant and multicultural, but only within a very small and clearly demarcated circle. By supporting "leave" (or restoring strong federalism in the U.S.), I must be some sort of closeted bigot or rube.

One final point: the emergence of an angry internal proletariat precludes discretion, nuance, and moderation. This is one of the more interesting plot points in A Canticle for Leibowitz: after the nuclear holocaust of the 20th century, the survivors, incensed with the arrogance of the scientists who built the bombs and the politicians who advocated MAD, took out their rage on all books and educated people, leading to another Dark Age.

Allexis Weetman said...

Thankyou for articulating for me why I did what I did in that voting booth... I knew I didn't do it because of racism or stupidity. I've been hiding my vote from my own family and friends, the affluent ones anyway, but sharing it quite happily with those in my own socioeconomic class (I have suffered downward mobility, but the working class caught me and gave me a job before I could slip through into the underclass). I noticed the anti-democratic screeds in the previously left-wing papers the next day calling for elites to overturn the will of the people and I have been told I should regret my vote because of (unspecified) suffering it has apparently caused. I'm resigned to the inevitability of it all now and I'm just waiting for my chance to vote for comrade corbyn. If the Labour party insist on taking away my comrade because he is too socialist for them then I will push that ukip button for better or worse and laugh my head right off at the ensuing manure-storm.

Yellow Submarine said...

I have been working my way through "A Study of History". I am currently about a third of the way through Volume IV, which was written in the late 1930's right before the British and the French went to war with Nazi Germany.

It's rather disconcerting to see Toynbee pitching precisely the same policies that affluent liberals have been promoting; policies that you have pointed out have done immense damage to nations like the US and UK, especially to the wage class, including globalization, the abolition of tariffs and other trade barriers to protect national economies, the diminishing and abolishing of nation-states in favor of large scale entities like the EU and UN, and the free movement of peoples without respect for national borders or identity. He defends these policies in the name of "Democracy" and "Free Trade", just like our senile elites do and he has a very condescending attitude towards what he calls "parochial sovereignty", just like present day liberals do.

Toynbee was very much a part of the liberal establishment of his day and its very interesting to see what the practical results of the policies he was promoting have been nearly a century later. I must admit that while I find many of Toynbee's insights to be invaluable, my opinion of him has been diminishing recently as I have been reading through this particular section since he was one of the people in the Western political and academic establishment who was pushing for the sorts of policies that led to the establishment of the EU, trade treaties like NAFTA, TPP and TTIP, and the mass immigration that has been used to screw over the wage class.

Again, I don't doubt that Toynbee has some brilliant insights and is well-worth reading, but my sympathies are very much with Oswald Spengler and ultimately, I find his worldview to be much more convincing.

Toro Loki said...

410 A.D. Rome leaves Britain.
2016 A.D. Britain leaves Rome.
Outrageous levels of immigration from third world countries= barbarians invasions.
Hope all my fellow pagans are busy getting ready for the Dark Ages.

John Roth said...

JMG, things are a bit more complicated than you make out. Trump is basically a facade of a self-made billionare. What's been coming out about his finances shows he's inflated his net worth tremendously. He still hasn't released his tax returns, and WaPo thinks that one reason is that all the charitable contributions he's said he's made over the years don't exist. If he gets into the White House, either he's going to be a loose canon or the bureaucracy will run him around.

I see Clinton as a one-term president, for the simple reason that if Sanders has the brains God gave a rutabaga, he'll be building a grass-roots organization that will be able to make some realistic proposals for the way forward. Hopefully, he'll listen to the pain points that Trump has his thumb on and do something about it - as of right now he's talking to a completely different demographic about completely different issues.

Clinton doesn't have to run a competent campaign, whatever that means. All she has to do is allow Trump to alienate enough of the electorate, and she's in. He's well on the way to doing exactly that.

Bill Pulliam said...

The farther I get into this election year, the more I think that your model, and the conventional media model, of who the Trump voter is and why is kind of misconceived. I live in deep Trump country, "Make America Great Again" signs have been appearing on roadsides for months. One candidate for the State house in an extremely white and conservative corner of the state actually translated this into the words everyone really hear in their heads, and put up campaign billboards for himself with happy caucasian faces that said "Make America White Again." But the strongest Trump supporters are NOT the poor around here. They are the rural middle class, the old families, the landlords and slumlords, the business owners, those who live comfortably on their government and pension payments here in the "Check Republic" (that's a pun, note the spelling).

So all these statistics showing that Trump's voters are less well educated and less affluent I think are ignoring important covariation. Trump's voters are the same people the Republicans have been courting with their "Southern Strategy" for decades. They are the same people who would have been Dixiecrats in the 1950s and 1960s. These voters occur nationwide, of course, as the Republicans have discovered to their everlasting glee. They are NOT the disaffected former wage class. They are the same old small town and rural conservatives they have always been. Again, they are the rural middle class.

But here is the thing: The rural middle class is less well educated than the urban middle class. And they make less money than the urban middle class. It's cheaper to live out here, $50K is a quite comfortable middle class household income, but would leave you in a squalid hovel in most urban areas. And since you don't neek $100K to survive, you don't need advanced degrees to make a living wage. Really, when I say "rural," I actually mean the exurbs and outer newer suburbs, the formerly rural areas that are now feeders and bedrooms for urban areas, and retirement places for those who despise Florida and Arizona (i.e. sensible people). So if you take the average middle class person in Trump country, they are less well educated and lower income than the average middle class person in Hillary/Bernie country. But they are NOT "poorer."

Again, I live in deep Trump Country in a truly rural area beyond the exurbs. Trump's base here is not people who lost their jobs to globalization. It is the same old same old of conservative middle aged and older folks as has always been the "Republican Base," the same people who got Reagan elected (demographically, not literally, of course). Trump just has them motivated with his code words and dog whistles, and their voter turnout and enthusiasm have skyrocketed.

There's also not yet much evidence that Trump is going anywhere farther than where he already is. I just checked the most recent 17 polls on the national election on RealClearPolitics, every single one shows Clinton leading by between 1 and 12%, a margin that has increased in recent months. There's no evidence yet that he is catching on beyond the base.

Though he doesn't necessarily agree entirely with my thesis, here's another voice from Tennessee about Trump (abundant profanity, because that is the way we talk around here):

Christophe said...

Don Plumer wrote "It may require another election cycle to get a competent candidate that a majority of the disaffected proletariat will actually want to vote for."

What on earth makes you think we are going to get a competent candidate? This is what decline looks like. Many voters are far more worried that the next time around we won't even have candidates as competent as this time (I know that is rather hard to picture, but it is fully within the realm of possibility.) Consider how rapidly our options have deteriorated over the past few decades, and take history as the best predictor of the future.

Many see any candidate despised by the establishment as a dream come true, and the Democrats' ability to smash their anti-establishment candidate only serves as clear warning that such rare opportunities must be seized or lost. The disaffected proletariat is being squeezed so hard it doesn't have the luxury of waiting for another election cycle.

I seriously doubt that the disenfranchised portion of the electorate will take a 4-year time-out in making its opinions on its progressing enslavement known. We choose among the options available, not the ones we wholeheartedly wish were available.

Rita said...

I just read an article in _US Today_ about Switzerland's immigration policies. Apparently they have extremely high standards for naturalization. Two girls were turned down for refusing to participate in a required swimming class because it was coed. A young man was turned down for refusing to shake hands with a female teacher; others for not greeting passersby on the street. While it is certainly possible that the standards are applied unfairly, (and it is pretty clear that these cases probably involve Muslims) an issue the article did not address, the overall message seems to be "if you want to be Swiss, you must act Swiss."

Before immigration from the EU became an issue the UK had been absorbing large numbers of immigrants from former colonies--Pakistanis and Indians, Jamaicans, Africans, Hong Kong Chinese and so forth. Of course these immigrants came with the advantage of having learned some English and of being familiar with British customs, holidays, sports, literature and so forth. There is still resentment, but I think it is of a different quality than being asked to accept Poles, Ukrainians, etc.

Quantities matter also. The US has about 11% immigrant population (not sure if that includes estimates of illegal immigrants) The UK also has about 11%, but the population and land area is so much less that the impact is obviously heavier.

Ben Johnson said...

JMG - I had an awkward conversation with my own family about this exact topic. I suggested that Trump has a far better chance of winning than the punditocracy suggest, mostly because he and Clinton run neck and neck in terms of unfavorably with the general electorate. I only briefly mentioned that maybe the disaffected might have legit grievances, then dropped that line of reasoning.
I then suggested that since I live in a deep 'red' state, and have no interest if voting for Hillary, I would cast my presidential vote for the Gary Johnson. I don't really buy most of what his party sells, but i'm not interested in the corporate sponsored parties at all after seeing the Democratic Party establishment sell Bernie down the river.
Their response revealed much. I got to hear all about how no one will vote for Trump because he's racist. Then I got to hear about how Hillary's scandals are unimportant compared to the scandals of the Trump family. Finally, I was told that a vote for the third party meant I obviously wanted to waster my vote. (I was told the same thing in 2012 when I voted for Jill Stein. Alas, the Green party will not be on the ballot in Oklahoma). My parents wall into that exact category of Democrats who hissed at George W but whose eyes glaze over when you mention that Obama orders the drone killing of American citizens without trial.

Kevin Patrick Beckett said...

Another excellent post! I've long argued to my friends and co-workers that there is a sea-change coming and that we may already be at a tipping point. The disconnect between what is seen on the elite controlled main stream media and reality on the streets of the western world is getting greater and greater and soon we may see more that "fringe" blogs crying out that not only the emperor but all of his court have no clothes.

Keep plugging/chipping away at the edifice of ignorance - your column is a bright spot in the week.

pygmycory said...

Do you have any hard data that supports mass immigration being a major cause of lower wages and unemployment for non-elite workers? I've taken a look around, and what I can find in terms of studies on the subject seems to range from 'minor impact' to 'no impact'. I understand your argument that supply and demand should lead to lower wages and unemployment, and I agree it makes intuitive sense. But sometimes things that make sense don't work that way in the real world, and for that reason I'm looking for some empirical data and analysis.

The trouble with comparing today to 1970, is that all those free trade agreements, technological change and outsourcing are confounding factors.

Jes Gallagher said...

I'm fairly certain that it's a grave mistake to consider either the Brexit "vote" or the upcoming US presidential "election" to be anything resembling acts of democracy; the will of the people has been irrelevant since there has been a "people." If you'd like to argue that the political theater has hired a new scriptwriter or two, I can't help but agree, but the story ends as it always does, clever plot devices notwithstanding. That said, with black birds playing a symbolic role in your essay's closing, our usual murder of cacophonous, hatchling-stealing crows has been notably absent this spring and early summer. Where year after year more than a dozen enormous crows terrorized our songbirds and dug up our lawn and garden, we have none. In their place, quite literally, we have a nesting pair of northern Ravens--magnificent creatures with a pair of fledglings of their own--and our neighborhood is transformed. The change, day-to-day and overall, has really been quite remarkable.

W. B. Jorgenson said...

Well, this about matches my experiences of this. I personally supported the EU, but I would've liked to see it reformed quite a bit. However, I respect those who want to leave, and understood where they came from. This was my position until after the news began to lose it.

In other words, in about thirty seconds they turned an EU supporter into an EU hater. All I've been saying since it started, and I'm amazed how often it's shouted down, is "It's not all racism." I find it hard to believe the majority of British adults are so racist they would vote against their own interests merely to spite brown people. I also doubt they don't know what they're voting for, and am confident many have good reasons. So I expect to see the British who voted leave double down on it, especially if they end up staying in the EU.

Also, if the EU is really this unstable, such that one country leaving brings it to the brink of collapse, leaving asap is a very good idea, in my opinion at least.

fedd2746-3e6c-11e6-a08e-9f05e63eae82 said...

I feel like we haven't dealt with the word dichotomy. What I mean is that by polarizing everything into a linear political spectrum, we can't have dichotomies, or hold a point of view that conflicts with itself. It's either one sphere or the other. If we contradict ourselves in anyway we are automatically labeled as hypocrites. It has occurred to me self contradiction is essential to philosophy and to spiritual growth, the places we cover ourselves- Where we can peel the layers back and discover something new. Maybe a dichotomy is a better mirror than a mirror; our glass mirrors only show us as we are. Then are prone to shatter. Dichotomies at least have a second set of wings to try. You might say these are the birds who now are coming home to roost.

It seems to me the election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is to abstract a thing to grasp in daily life. It's like a time sync that keeps us from living and the hour glass doesn't have to return the sand when the vote is done. I'm not saying be disinterested in it; I'm saying don't obsess about politics. It's like political discussion itself has become a vice as much as political parties have- There must be tactile things in life and not endless philosophy without metaphor or story at least. If I see fine print that doesn't paint a picture, rather describing a machine, I run away.

Just putting this out there for people to think about.

Dale NorthwestExpeditions said...

Mr Greer,

I return to your blog every week because of the clarity of your thoughts, and the fact they typically align with mine. Tongue in cheek as I write this. I am also astonished by the input and comments of your readers. You have this incredible skill, shown again in this weeks presentation, to take today's issues and clarify them in a way that our main stream media appears totally incapable of doing. Please keep up the good work!

Nastarana said...

For those American voters who, like me, cannot stomach either presumed presidential nominee there do exist at least three other choices, besides stay home.

Write in someone else. I think quite a few disgruntled Bernie supporters will be writing in his name.

The Green Party and its' probable nominee, Dr. Jill Stein. She might want to consider offering the VP slot to soon to be former Congresswoman and leftist heroine Donna Edwards. The Greens would be, I think, well advised to emphasize Dr. Stein's experience as a physician in private practice, and downplay her academic credentials.

The Libertarian Party and its' nominees, former NM Governor Gary Johnson and his running mate, former Mass. Governor William Weld. Johnson is now at about 10% in at least some polls; 5 percentage points more and he gets to be in debates.

I don't see Clinton carrying any western state except possibly CA and HA. If Johnson, appealing to western voters as "one of us", can successfully portray Trump as a spoiled brat Richie from NYC without in the process offending Trump's voters, I think he might carry some western states, and if this goes to the House, which I think is a very real possibility, he could be elected by Republican house members who have been insulted one too many times by Trump.

I also think it at least possible that Stein and the Greens could carry one or two New England states, especially if Stein has the wit to go after Clinton for her unwavering support for, and acceptance of largesse from, the world's most hated corporation, Monsanto. Tell me who your friends are and...

W. B. Jorgenson said...

On a different topic, but still related to the core theme of this blog, I'm beginning a key step in my collapsing now process: I'm discontinuing home internet beginning in September. I'm moving out, and I have other ways to do most of what I use the internet for, and can go to any of the insane number of public places with wifi when I need to, but I will be eliminating home internet from my life.

I figure if I work at it I can eliminate Internet use completely as soon as you get a print version of the Archdruid Report going (Which I will happily pay quite a bit of money for), but I really hope to get a head start on learning to live without it since I expect it to fail in the near future, or at least get far to expensive for the average person.

This has proven quite unpopular with so many people.... I've even gotten people who think it's because I can't afford it who offered to pay for me, when I could easily afford it, but I just don't want it. I'll see how things go once I discontinue it, but I feel it's likely my limited social media will vanish too, once it becomes so inconvenient to use.

I've already tried getting rid of it before but social pressures made me get it again. I associate with different people now, am prepared for the social pressures, and have a vision of the future and what I want, so I think I'm more prepared. But in any case, this is still a ways down the road: I see no point in making too many changes all at once. I'll learn the skills needed for this one step at a time, taking my time and learning as I go. That's the point of collapsing now, right?

If anyone has advice on how to collapse now, I'd love to hear it, and thank you in advance to those who offer me advice on this journey I have set off on.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

"Zach, the policies I have in mind are enforcing the immigration laws, pulling out of trade treaties, and putting obstacles in the way of offshoring jobs."

Presidential candidates do make promises they have neither the ability nor the intention to fulfill. President Trump will have the ability to enforce existing immigration laws. If he wants new laws, the Republicans in Congress may oblige him.

The Trump administration will be able to negotiate new trade agreements, but treaties require Senate approval. The national security and big business factions in both parties are opposed to protectionist legislation and I don't think Trump can overcome their opposition. Both NAFTA and TPP are driven by national security concerns as the elites understand national security.

Square that opposition to any legislation impeding the offshoring of jobs, though there may be executive actions Trump could take about that.

John the Peregrine said...


I expect you're going to anger a lot of your readers on the "social justice" end of the left with this post, which is a good thing. If there's one group that's allergic to having their views held up to any scrutiny, it's definitely the affluent part of the left. Upper class liberals have their views reinforced day in and day out by every pundit and celebrity, who are in lockstep agreement with the same set of policies as they are. The affluent left faces so little substantive criticism, especially in mainstream venues, that it's like an animal kept in sanitary conditions for too long, to the point where the most common infections or diseases can trigger a fatal immune system overreaction. Conservatives and right-wingers seem to have a thicker skin, if only because they face orders of magnitude more abuse. It's nice to see the narrative finally slipping from upper class liberals, after all these decades.

John Crawford said...

A remarkably insightful writing. Consistent with your previous posts within the same vein.

I have experienced a similar reaction when attempting to address the issues with Hillary Clinton and have likewise been ostracized at the fellowship hour after church. I am not a Trump supporter but, addressing the issues he is exploiting are critical to extending the arc of collapse and thus allowing at least a bit more time to adapt to the consequences of the ongoing economic and social disintegration.

gwizard43 said...

JMG, thanks as always for a cogent and incisive analysis.

What troubles me is the fact that while these movements may be rooted in working class dissatisfaction, but are ripe for hijacking by the same forces that those affluent elites insist must be behind it all in the first place.

After all, I'm sure there was a wide spread sense of satisfaction following the French Revolution at the comeuppance of the elites - until it became clear that the guillotines didn't stop there. So while the Brexit vote feels eminently satisfying to many of us as a well earned comedown for global elites, schadenfreude at it's finest, what ensues could easily turn out to be an even more pernicious system. A point you've often made in the past.

And just as Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage aren't likely to turn out to be truly uplifting and empowering the poor and downtrodden, the same seems to me likely to apply to Trump.

That is, in both cases, it's not at all clear that those poor and downtrodden masses, of whose plight Joe Bageant spoke so passionately and eloquently, will be better off as a result of these forces that have been loosed.

BTW, I don't know if you follow Chris Smaje's blog, but he's waxed passionate about this issue in a couple of recent posts, including his most recent. There's no doubt some daylight between your political position and his, but that's all the more reason to ingest both!

Jon Rudd said...

it seems to me that a Clinton presidency would be even more likely than a Trump presidency to end in Twilight's Last Gleaming territory.
With Victoria Nuland as the hawkish National Security Advisor goading Hillary into something brilliant like an invasion of Russia.

Abelardsnazz said...

I found it informative looking through various comments made by UK friends, relatives, friends-of-friends and complete strangers on Facebook over the last few days, regarding the Brexit vote. Mostly, like me, they are from middle class comfortable backgrounds and some of what they said was quite telling. One conversation ran along the lines of "I didn't vote to leave and I don't know anyone who did" , "how did the leave vote win?", "what happened!!", "I don't know anyone who voted leave either", and finally there was a chink of light "perhaps we all live in a self-referential bubble?"

Other friends seemed more concerned about overseas holidays, visas and paying for overseas university tuition, now that the pound has fallen.

Many friends and family are in Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. This was mostly taken to be a sign of the Scots' sanity, lack of racism and internationalist ideals. Personally I saw it as a sign that the disaffected unhappy masses have bought into the idea of an independent Scotland as being their preferred vehicle of radical change.

Greenish said...

I find myself much in the same place as the Retrotopia protagonist. I agree with most of your premises, I understand your arguments, but I cannot accept your conclusion (i.e. prefer Trump) as the logical outcome. Perhaps I cannot yet distinguish the lesser of two evils as readily as in the past.

I presume this is not unrelated to my membership in most all of the privileged categories, despite being strongly aware of the cognitive dissonances present for many years, and having at least mentally -if not culturally or practically- separated my worldview from the neoliberal techno-utopian consumerist one.

Stephen Heyer said...

Dear John,

Do you have to cover everything about an issue so completely and well? Some of us like having a few holes left in an argument so that we can at least bicker a bit.

It’s not that I think you are always right (just mostly) but rather that everything you present is plausible, credible and coherent. And, for reasons I’ll present next time discussion on this blog makes it vaguely relevant, I think plausible, credible and coherent is about as close as we can expect to get to anything about the near future.

That’s one of the main features of event horizons.

Stephen Heyer

Jason B said...

Am I allowed, also, to say that the way you minimize pro-Brexit xenophobia by comparing it to Cameron's youthful sexual behavior is twisted?

Myriad said...

Earlier today I wrote two sarcastic "campaign slogans" for the U.S. Presidential election. One of them anticipated a phrase in tonight's essay, and both of them together sum up one of its theses pretty well, in my humble opinion. The first one should appeal to all those defecting establishment Republicans too!

Clinton 2016: Don't Rock the Handbasket!

Trump 2016: Bad Idea, But What Have You Got to Lose?

However, it appears to me that Trump has so far been erring in a way you've been warning us about since 2008: relying too much on abstractions, the more abstract elements of a campaign (specifically, media news coverage and social media), while neglecting the physical components (such as offices containing lists of supporters and people who can get those supporters to knock on doors and drive seniors to polling places). On that level, Clinton has been out-building Trump organizationally by orders of magnitude. Maybe that's a temporary condition, or maybe that old fashioned stuff is irrelevant given the political landscape you've laid out. But unless Trump's present "biding his time" includes an awful lot of very fast work in that area, and without expecting much help from the experienced establishment Republican minions who are best at it, I have to see it as a huge (or "yuuge") and potentially crippling disadvantage. People can believe what they believe in whatever numbers, but in the end they have to pull the levers or push the buttons.

Sure, if all those Clinton phone bankers and door knockers were only saying things that infuriate a majority of Americans they'd be worse than useless. But they're not; they're adapting. They've co-opted Sanders talking points about student loan debt, stronger labor unions, and a higher minimum wage, among other things. Now that both presumptive nominees are promising things the working class wants (even though no one believes they will happen), status quo party demographics (which favor Clinton) loom larger.

Bootstrapper said...

Hi John,

Something very similar is happening here. In the run-up to the Australian Federal Election, there has been an unusually frequent number of comments about the "inadvisability" of voting for minor parties and independent candidates, from both the major parties and media commentators alike. The campaign to 'vote small party and independent' is all over the social media. And, it's only gotten more intense since the Brexit result. The only response to this, that the major party candidates seem capable of, is to mouth the timeworn meme that a vote for anyone but them, is "wasted" and that a 'hung-parliament' will result in "chaos". That and the usual "sledging" of non-major-party candidates and independents (particularly Nick Xenophon), who look like doing well. The feeling is one of a groundswell of disappointment and anger just waiting for a chance to express itself, this Saturday.

Cheers! Paul

John Michael Greer said...

Grebulocities, yes, and that's a major worry of mine, too.

Cortes, exactly. When the dominant elite succeeds in alienating the internal proletariat completely, something like that's the usual result.

Aunteater, and which party has more of them in its pocket.

Mark, what makes you think that the next round of candidates will be any better? For all you or I know, if Trump is defeated this time around, the next guy to succeed in rallying the masses will be fond of armbands and jackboots.

Justin, I think I know the guy the Onion interviewed!

Paul, er, the EU is effective at redirecting wealth toward the poor parts of Europe? In what alternate universe is this? The Eurozone is a wealth pump that benefits Germany and a few other northern countries at the expense of the Mediterranean countries -- Greece, Italy, and Spain in particular have been bled dry.

Dau, I think you're missing my point. The fact that some opponents of mass immigration are racists does not mean that racism is the only reason why people might be concerned about mass immigration -- and in Britain in particular, huge numbers of people have solid economic reasons to object to a process that drives down wages.

John, of course. "But Trump's a racist!" serves the same role in this discussion that all the handwaving about the benefits of the internet did when I pointed out that the survival of the internet depends on its ability to pay its own costs -- a way of dodging an acutely uncomfortable issue.

Jason, obviously I disagree. Whether or not Trump's statements mean anything, the way that voters have ignored the pundits and flocked to him means a great deal, as I've tried to point out.

Bill, Japan's policies are extremely sensible. The faster they get their population down, the more likely something more or less like Japan is to survive into the next century.

Rich_P, true enough. The desperate are rarely if ever interested in nuances.

Allexis, I've heard the same thing from a number of British readers of mine who vote Labour. If the politicians and pundits want to see Mr. Farage become Prime Minister, they're going about it the right way.

Submarine, good. Toynbee was a member of the Royal Institute for International Affairs, the British affiliate of the Council on Foreign Relations; his ideas have in large part guided the Anglo-American establishment for three quarters of a century -- and I think it's crucial to see his book as a reaction against Spengler, an attempt to defend the plutocratic-democratic state against Spengler's criticism. That's one of the reasons I find both men useful.

Toro Loki, I've been getting ready for them for all my adult life.

Cherokee Organics said...


Thanks for the new word: canaille. Nice one.

The other interesting thing going on I reckon is that income for most people is earned in tokens and over the years I have noticed that an increasing amount of those tokens are being funnelled into the murky world of high tokens! (Hope you like that term, I just made it up?) All the while this has been sold to the population as a welfare safety net, but what most people don't tend to realise is that the fat cats who eat the tokens, want 2% of the balance every year and they don't tend to realise that there may be a slight difference between hedge funds and pension funds. The other thing is that this has allowed for the slow unravelling of the welfare safety net. And nobody seems to notice.

Hey, we have a federal election down here this weekend for both houses of Parliament. Should be fun, and even little old me has a role to play. ;-)!

I agree with your analysis. Although the essay forced me to go and grab a Camomile tea.

Incidentally it is raining down here and what is unusual about the rain is that rather than being a gentle winter rain, it is torrential. It is a real shame that people don't seem to understand that this is Spring and Summer rainfall.



Wendy Crim said...

Excellent post as always.
I remember when GWBush won in 2000- we were all told, by liberals, it was the end of the world and he'd lose in 2004. In 2004, same. In 2008, all the conservatives lost their collective minds. In 2012 when Obama won again, they all said "the country is screwed".
You know what has changed for me and my friends and family? Not much. We certainly have less money with each passing administration, but we all still go to work and the store and watch our kids grow up and eat dinner together. We still laugh and cry and just get on with it. Hillary and Trump are both horrible. One of them will win. And I'll make dinner and take my daughter to practice and walk the dog. And most likely our family will get poorer, because that's what's happening in the world now. But, there are worse things than being poor.
Thanks for the blog I enjoy it so much.

Ursachi Alexandru said...


There are poor areas in my country that have benefitted from infrastructure projects financed by EU funds. And in my city, many historic buildings have been renovated and consolidated also with EU funds. But it's a double-edged sword. Our forests are being decimated right now, and much of Romania's lumber is exported to Austria and Germany. We don't have any viable populist-nationalist political forces just yet, but those who exist on the fringes are already trying to exploit this.

I still think that the EU should be reformed, but not dismantled. There are too many demons that can be unleashed if that happens.

Sheila Grace said...

JMG, straight up, I want to thank you. I grew up in the Liberal Bastions of East Coast cities, The truth is I am a recovering Libtard having spent my entire life wrapped in the warmth of Liberal thoughts and ideals. In the last few years, to be specific since the crash of 2008, I have chosen to place learning before my own cherished opinions. That may be the reason I can understand the implications of the Brexit and the confusion surrounding the rise of Donald Trump. I watched Seattle get chewed up and spit out, while attending multiple functions with the usual Wine charms, which in hind-site should be Whine charms, as the attending salaried guests threw their wage earning neighbors under the bus. Now I think of Seattle as the Disneyland of the NW. You, above everyone else, have shown me how to think and think clearly, to always question and never hold onto beliefs just because they're comfortable.

Wendy Crim said...

I said the same thing awhile back. Where I live, the publicly Trump supporters are rich white folks.

Jason B said...

JMG: Maybe what Trump "means" is that fascism is already here and the elites need a candidate to point to to say, look at him! he's a fascist. If you vote for him we'll have a fascist president! He provides convenient cover for the pundits to perpetuate the way things are. Maybe, by ignoring the pundits, people are supporting more of the same.

roland said...

"Das Volk hat das Vertrauen der Regierung verscherzt. Wäre es da nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung löste das Volk auf und wählte ein anderes"

roughly translated:

"the people have lost the trust of the government. Would it not be for the best, if the government would dissolve the people and elect a new one?"

Berthold Brecht, 1953 i think.

the german president joachim gauck would agree enthusiastically, although the sarcasm might be lost on him.
This is what he said a few days ago:
"Die Eliten sind gar nicht das Problem, die Bevölkerungen sind im Moment das Problem"
another rough translation:
"not the elites are the problem, at the moment the people are the problem."

joachim gauck, 2016

here's the source for those who can and want to read it (no i'm not going to translate it for you. My german is not as good as it used to be anyway)

there is indeed nothing new under the sun.

patriciaormsby said...

@Bill, congratulations on getting your permanent residency!!! I still have the receipt for the stamp affixed on the final documents for mine, framed and fading. It is like the finish line of an ultra- marathon. One of the most significant achievements of my life.

In what region are you located? Quite a number of participants in the comments here live in Japan. Some are in Kyoto, others clearly in Tokyo. I'm at the foot of Mt. Fuji. (Maybe we ought to try getting together like many others here are doing.)

I share your impression that Japan is at least heading in a better direction than most places, but has a very long way to go. Also, their reasons for rejecting massive immigration and reducing their population have little if anything to do with rational future planning. Raising kids takes loads of money, so they just can't afford them, but even more than Americans, they believe in technology. As times get more and more desperate, I think they are likely to ignore the problems technology has created and turn to it as a last hope. Farmland is being lost at a terrible rate, and there are all kinds of structural impediments to participation in agriculture. If they continue in their current direction, they are likely to turn to someone like Monsanto for solutions and really screw up their remaining farmland. And for us? Well, I guess it will be pass the popcorn, Bill. It would be a shame to waste such a spectacular without any good friends around to share it with!

I also get the impression that 99% of the Japanese have no idea what the significance of the Brexit vote really was, even the international and relatively socially aware.

Wendy Crim said...

I second a print version of Archdruid Report. I would pay for it!
We haven't had home internet for almost two years- no cable, no Netflix, no computer. We are super unpopular with lots of people :-) Our kids thought they would die, but amazingly they survived. We all spend a lot more time outside now, year round. The public library is our go-to for Internet. Next year our oldest will be 18 and our youngest 12. At that point oldest moves out, we will be moving into a much smaller place with no tv at all and no more cell phones- except the one my husband needs for work. Kids and I will have a landline. I'm looking so forward to it. Good luck collapsing now and avoiding the rush!

David Carter said...


An insightful article as always, I will be spreading it among my many confused and hurting friends (especially long-time UK residents who are citizens of other EU countries) here in Britain. We are seeing some very nasty outbreaks of racism which in the eyes of some have apparently been legitimized by the referendum outcome.

Just a point of information: 52% of Britons did not vote for Brexit. It was 37% of those eligible to vote, or about 27% of the whole population. Of course I know what you meant, but I think it's worth making the point that this was hardly a ringing mandate for such a radical change.

Thanks for the heads-up on the dead pig, by the way. I had no idea until I Googled it after you tipped me off.

Unknown said...

JMG , it's hard to have hope when even the progressives who read your blog can't think about politics without their crutches. As far as I can tell progressives only really know two political stories: Hitler and the Civil Rights Movement. Talk to them about how Trump is more comparable to Andrew Jackson and they will just talk about how AJ owned slaves. This is the self-professed urban intellectual class as well, just full of cookie cutter narratives that fit worse every day.

The biggest irony of the past few years politically is that progressives want to wage ideological war on rural white men, while inviting over people whose cultures are openly intolerant and hostile to democracy, secularism and progressivism itself.

For context, I was Nader voter only a decade ago. Most of the people I talked to disagreed with me but it was a low hostility conversation. Now I can't have an honest conversation with almost all of my friends - once any of my ideas resemble thought crime... it's the same reaction I see from a lot of the normally thoughtful people on this blog. "Dog-whistling", "purposefully inciting bigots", "xenophobic", "misogynist", the words have lost almost all semantic content beyond "he hurts people's feelings".

Dau Branchazel said...

JMG, No, I think I get your point, but I feel the fear and scapegoating of outsiders is playing a more central role than you're suggesting. Like I said, I agree there is a lot more to this than racism, and calling all the "leavers" racists is wrong. And unhelpful. But there is a growing fear in Europe of what is happening, and a lot of the blame is being passed to the outsiders, the "new Europeans." I actually agree with everything you said, the "left" is no better and in the US, there are few Democrats as hawkish as Hillary and in a position to act on her hwkish desires, and there is no denying that there are economic factors, and sovereignty issues at play in the Brexit decision, when it comes to being a part of a trading bloc like the EU. It's just that unfortunately, I feel much of it is framed in terms of us versus them, with the "them" very much being poor, eastern Europeans, Africans or folks from the Middle East. It is the degree to which racism is a part of it all that we don't agree on. Other than that, it is as usual a great synopsis of current events.

Ien in the Kootenays said...

This was a joy to read. It has been hard to find reasonable, nuanced comments on the topic. Thank you for expressing what I have been sensing.

Stuart Jeffery said...

Hi JMG, "Thursday’s vote suggests that it was precisely because they wanted a chance to say no to the EU." This certainly contributed to their win but increasingly it looks like they ran a detailed and targeted campaign which focused only on winnable marginal seats. This is demonstrated by the police investigations into the sums spent in 30 seats by the Tories (we have spending limits in the UK). Safe Tory seats were pretty much ignored by the Tory campaign machine.

I think that the failure of the remain camp was threefold. Firstly as you point out we were fighting an uphill struggle against a disaffected working class who wanted to stick two fingers up at Westminster - a standard protest vote and one that a lot of people are regretting (nose bitten clean off).

Secondly, the only offering from the elite classes to the working classes is an aspiration to become middle class, i.e. not to be who they are any more. This also translates to: if you are working class, you are worthless.

Finally, there is a lot to be said about the magic in the campaigns. The ritualistic mantra of 'taking control' from the leave campaign was far more powerful than any intellectual argument the remainers had.

Gottfried Wilhelm Melvin Hicks-Leibniz said...

John and fellow TAR readers, a political economy professor, who carries a Scottish accent, at Brown University (of all places!) has captured the essence of Brexit -- global Trumpism -- and its implications for Europe and the US elections.

A 30 minutes well invested.


(And these are only a few of the points much better articulated during the interview)

1. The political elite (not even Farage and other leading Brexiters) have a real plan for leading Britain out of the EU.

2. The referendum was advisory and not legally binding, only advisory. Parliamentary sovereignty is paramount, and Parliament still needs to endorse the "will of the people" before invoking Article 50 to formally start the process of leaving the EU.

3. The political elite's current plan seems to invoke "buyer's remorse" and dragging out the period of uncertainty of a formal Brexit. This will have unexpected consequences for the 52% (or some fraction thereof) who feel their vote has been hijacked.

4. The same phenomenon happening in the UK is the same across other European countries and the US, i.e. "global Trumpism".

5. Clinton's campaign website of the "issues" she's running on are listed in alphabetical order. Unfortunately, there's no other leader with a positive equivalent to "Make America Great Again", besides Sanders who has a slim chance of becoming the next US president. In other words, Trump will probably win.

koen said...

I'm reading Toynbee, and there are a few things which struck me.

When you look at the references you realize Toynbee has been reading books in English, French and German - the languages of the main powers of his age. Today's books are merely an Anglo-Saxon echo chamber. Today, you would be hard pushed to find thinkers fluent in English, Russian and Chinese - the languages of the main powers of this age.

Also, when you read Toynbee you have to let the words sink in. We are conditioned by the tools we use - Powerpoint and 140-character Tweets. Skimming hundreds of short messages is no problem to us, but we can no longer cope with a chapter of hefty sentences.

Chloe said...

I'm glad to see some of your readers are enjoying the Brexit show; I'm certainly not. If this can't shake the elites out of their senility, nothing can. Instead they've gone for doubling down and playing a blame game which is liable to tear the current parliament apart and leave UKIP thinking all their Christmases have come at once. (The most likely mechanism at this point is that, with the parliamentary Labour party doing its best to oust a leader strongly supported by the *actual* Labour party, the Tories will force a general election on the assumption that this will gift them the election and provide a mandate for their new leader. If that leader is pro-Brexit, they might just get away with it.) At this point, I'm not even sure which is worse.

I voted Leave, basically on the principle that the dynamics you've sketched out above will have a worse fallout the longer they're left to fester, and despite being very tempted to spoil the ballot. Since I run in today's elite circles it's fair to say I haven't been very open about this fact - it's fair to say I'd be willing to spend the ten hours on explanation if I thought any of my peers would understand at the end of it, but instead I find myself walking the line of how far I can criticise the EU without starting a full-blown feud. Fun times.

For anybody wondering: if Britain joins the European Economic Area, the migration laws will be pretty much exactly as they are now. If it doesn't, the government will still be hard-pressed to limit immigration; it's important to remember that migration may be encouraged for elitist reasons but it's also part of a typical periphery-core direction of movement in declining civilisations. If Britain becomes an authoritarian isolationist state, yeah, that might make some difference, because nobody will want to live here.

Yahoo2 said...

I am perplexed by this focus on federal politics, isn't it just an indicator of what has already been decided?
In my head I see the levers and buttons of political influence are in the fiscal/business and the social/community areas.
Surely that is where our various countries policy and attitude are actually molded?

MawKernewek said...

"In the general election of 2010, voters blindsided pollsters and pundits alike by flocking to the Liberal Democratic party, until then a fringe party."

This isn't entirely true. In the 2005 general election, 5,985,454 votes were cast for the Liberal Democrats, 22% of the national vote, and the party won 62 seats. In the 2010 general election, 6,836,248 votes went to the Liberal Democrats, which was 23% of the national vote. An increase, but nothing spectacular. In fact the party won fewer seats, 57, since the first past the post system requires to win in constituencies, and perhaps the new Liberal Democrat voters were too diffusely spread to make that happen.

John Michael Greer said...

John, people have been saying that Trump was going to alienate the electorate since he started his campaign. That didn't stop him from racking up one victory after another. The point that's been missed is that he's only alienating the affluent electorate, and that's not ultimately a big enough sector of the voting public to matter.

Bill, here in Cumberland, the Trump campaign headquarters is in the poor part of town, and Trump yard signs are all over the neighborhoods where the poor live. The South may be atypical -- here in the rust belt, Trump has a great deal of support from the poor, and not just the white poor, by the way.

Rita, and you'll notice the Swiss seem to be doing tolerably well these days...

Ben, yes, I've heard all the same things. Gah.

Kevin, thank you. I'm trying to point and laugh at our current crop of underdressed emperors as loudly as I can!

Pygmycory, nope. As far as I know, no study exploring that possibility has been able to get funding, and I suspect none ever will. Lacking that, we have to go by historical experience and those rules of political economy that seem to work more often than not, such as the law of supply and demand.

Jes, I disagree. It's very easy to apply that kind of cynicism to democratic systems, but I'd argue that it's simplistic. Of course democracies are corrupt and subject to manipulation -- they always have been and always will be -- but they can, as in this case, reflect the opinions of that fraction of the people who take an interest in politics, and doing so is a good way to have a slightly less abusive kind of government than the alternatives. I'm with Winston Churchill on this one: "Democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the others."

W.B., no argument there. The spit-slinging frenzy on the part of the pundits and the privileged that followed the Brexit vote was the closest political equivalent to a two-year-old's tantrum I've seen in a tolerably long time.

Fedd27, I don't disagree. You'll notice that I put maybe one post a month into politics, and the others head in different directions.

Dale, thank you!

Nastarana, I'm definitely considering a Bernie write-in or a Green Party vote this year. I consider Trump a less disastrous choice than Clinton, but you'll notice that this is very lukewarm praise -- and since I expect him to win at a walk, I might as well put my vote to use helping to boost one of the alternatives.

W.B., congratulations! That's a big step -- a declaration of independence from one of the great time-wasters of our era. I'm sorry to say that at the moment my livelihood depends on having more access than I can get from the local library system, or I'd never have gotten home internet service in the first place. (I was a very late adopter, and not an enthusiastic one.)

Unknown Deborah, of course. Enforcing the immigration laws and using executive orders to, say, penalize companies that offshore jobs in terms of access to government contracts, would be a good start, though.

John the P., I ain't arguing!

John C., I'm not surprised you got that kind of reaction. Class prejudice runs very deep in American public life.

Gwizard43, of course things could go messily wrong -- and in fact they probably will. The point I want to make is that the affluent classes can no longer count on being able to get whatever they want at the expense of everyone else, and the sooner that's grasped, the better.

William Hays said...

JMG, once again you have offered original and insightful commentary. This is indeed a generational crisis election, and the reactions from the elites are truly textbook in form and character.

Unknown said...

Dau Branchazel , don't know how long you have been living in OZ, or how much attention you pay to waht our govt has been doing, but my take on it is that the anti Muslim sentiment is more a result of endless fear mongering by a bunch of psychotic morons like Abbot, Dutton, Abetz and the like.

If it was about jobs being stolen it would not be a Mosque being attacked. it would be a Chinese food stall.

David from Normandy said...

Good morning.

About Brexit, please don't underestimate the possibility that, though voted, it never happens.
For outing, the Brits executive has to ask it formally. And it is already sure that it won't be the case until next prime minister, that is to say at least three months from now.
So many things can happen in three months...

Of course, even if it never happens, business as usual is probably a thing of the past.
Storm is rising ever more, and I have not a clue about what might happen precisely after the current squall.

Jason Heppenstall said...

JMG – thank you for your cogent analysis, which I have been awaiting for some days. I regret to inform you that my country has gone stark raving mad in the wake of this referendum. Yesterday I saw images of young people marching around outside the houses of parliament demanding their right to demand their rights be curtailed. I’ve heard spluttering attacks on the idea of democracy, calls to charge with treason those who want to retain sovereignty and – my favourite – a narrow-shouldered and bespectacled university student calling for ‘pre-emptive’ attacks on working class white males (one can only imagine the carnage).

I wrote a blog post a few days before the referendum was held outlining why I considered voting Leave would be an ethical choice – the one that held out the possibility for doing the least damage in a bad situation. I made sure to be very careful with how I framed my argument, because Project Fear was in full swing and people in the Remain camp were calling anyone who disagreed with them a racist or a bigot. Before I put it out to the world I dithered for a moment – slightly fearful of the consequences. But then I reminded myself that we live in a democracy where free speech is valued, and so I pressed it. The screen button on Blogger that reads ‘Publish’ in this case might as well have read ‘Commit Social Suicide and Run For Cover’.

In the days that followed I got a few good and thoughtful comments from regular readers (many of whom will be present here) but it wasn’t until it ended up being shared of social media that the haters started coming forth. And boy did they come forth. I can confirm that all the regular bulling names have been hurled my way, and then some. Of course this is all water off a duck’s back when it’s anonymous people that you don’t know, but when long-term friends and even relatives started using them I began to feel taken aback. “Democracy wasn’t invented so that people like you could abuse it,” snarled someone whose funeral I shall now probably not attend. “You have no empathy for the little people like me,” wailed a boutique-owner who enjoys several exotic holidays every year. I tried to repel their accusation but they just hammered on with the same illogic and it wasn’t long before I realised I was dealing with straw zombies. You can hit ‘em and destroy ‘em but they just keep coming.

At the same time I got a couple of private messages from grateful people who said I had influenced the way they had voted but begged me not to let on to anyone.

End of Part 1

Jason Heppenstall said...

Part 2 cont.

And so it seems the mass of those whose lifestyles have not yet been (noticeably) shafted by neoliberalism will do whatever it takes to repel the black swans circling in the skies above. At least one of my eyebrows was raised to see people from the Transition Network movement (“Local, self-sufficient, optimistic”) sharing the same basic position as Goldman Sachs and billionaire vulture fund financier George Soros (who now writes for The Guardian). And it was a masterstroke of foot-shootery on the part of the Remain campaign to wheel out multi-millionaire footballer David Beckham the day before the polls opened in the hope of trying to persuade the ‘little people’ to vote against their natural instincts – certainly an own goal in this case.

In the aftermath, apart from all the groupthink and the two minutes’ hating going on, there’s the emergent phenomenon of conspicuous grieving. I know of people who held a ‘grief party’ where they held hands and shed tears over the fact that a giant and undemocratic neoliberal superstate will no longer have so much influence over their lives. “Who will care for the planet now?” wailed a Greenpeace poster. Others are wearing safety pins in their lapels to ‘reassure’ immigrants that they personally are not racists (which is an unexamined narrative: 2/3 of Leave voters cited constitutional and democratic considerations to have been more important than immigration, and many naturalised immigrants voted Leave too).

Another narrative that is being heavily promoted at present is that older voters have ‘stolen the future’ of younger ones. This despite the fact that only about 3 in every 10 people under 25 actually bothered to cast their vote, contrasted with a much higher turnout for older voters (who, one might argue, have lived long enough to realise Project Fear was just that). Many over 50 said they would ‘crawl through minefields’ to get a chance to throw a rotten tomato at David Cameron and the EU. Young voters in London (who were being counted on to swing it), by contrast, didn’t want to go out in the rain. It is the latter group who are now demanding a second referendum.

My takeaway from this is that people don’t like to have a mirror held up to them. I have always been concerned that one of the main unknowns in any collapse situation is the way our fellow citizens will behave. If this Brexit vote is anything to go by we should probably be more worried about this point. I’m grateful at least to know whom I can trust not to freak out at the drop of a pin. That, at least, is something positive that has come of this.

DiSc said...

Dear JMG, your analysis of the attitudes towards Brexit is spot on.

I work in the Netherlands, and of course Europeans are all abuzz with the referendum results.

I was listening to colleagues talking about the topic yesterday. My colleagues are well-educated young engineers used to travelling every month, who never have to worry about unemployment, lead the metropolitan hipster lifestyle, have generous pension benefits, and are all married to foreigners. While they are not exactly part of the elite, they definitely profit from the current arrangements. And they could not fathom the referendum results.

They of course said the predictable things: that such a small majority should not be enough for such an important decision, that since the Leavers were mostly uneducated, and the Remainers well-educated, education level should somehow be taken into account. That the Leave arguments were all lies (on which I do not really disagree, but that is not really the point).

And that now most people have regretted their vote anyway, so Britain should have a new referendum and forget about the whole thing once Remain wins.

As an uneducated immigrant son of uneducated parents who have seen their meager prospects worsen substantially over the past 20 years or so, it all sounded very arrogant and blindsided indeed.

And as you write, I kept my mouth shut. I had no intention of defending Brexit against 10 people who are, in citizenship rights, salary and hierarchy my betters.

But you f***ers just wait until a new referendum pops up in mainland Europe - and sooner or later it is bound to.

Kevin Warner said...

I haven't seen anything like the outrage at the Brexit result since Romney lost to Obama ( - 18 pages) but I would like add a thought.
In a novel of the Mau-Mau rebellion I read as a teenager - "Something of Value" - the author, Robert Ruark, quoted an old Basuto proverb: "If a man does away with his traditional way of living and throws away his good customs, he had better first make certain that he has something of value to replace them."
And there we have it. For three quarters of a century we have been seeking to re-order our society according to commercial precepts. And now we can see the results as they come in. Consider.
We no longer have citizens but consumers. Our spirituality (not to be confused with religion) has been replaced with materialism. We no longer seek community fellowships but fill them with commercially-packaged games which often come down to watching a bunch of millionaires play a ball-game between themselves.
Regular full-time jobs with future prospects has been replaced with zero-hour contracts and ad-hoc worker placements. This ranges from near the top to all the way down deep into the labour pool. Know another name for contract workers? Mercenaries.
Communities have been shredded with no thought as to the implications for the people there. Margaret Thatcher herself insisted that there was no such thing as society. It has become a sort of Social Darwinism with those left out abandoned but still watched - and policed!
In summation, all those bonds that gave our life meaning have been cut and what we have in place has not proven worthwhile. Not even close.
All the experts that came out for Remain - the economist, the politicians, the soldiers - had all proven themselves highly flawed in both their thinking and their judgment over the years but had not realised it themselves. What is worse, many of them were either responsible for how our society is being shaped or demanding an intensification of it.
People like Obama thought that they could directly threaten the British people thug-life style with dire retaliation. It did not work in 1940 and it sure as hell did not work in 2016.
It may be that we are in for dark times but as they say - it is only in the dark of night that you can see the stars.

John Michael Greer said...

Jon, exactly. My guess as to the most likely cause of catastrophe, though, is that Clinton orders air strikes on Syrian government targets, and Russian antiaircraft systems respond by shooting down US planes. Clinton throws a tantrum and orders an all-out air assault on Russian assets in Syria, and the Russians respond by scrambling scores of fighters to take on the US planes, and targeting the US carrier group(s) in the eastern Mediterranean with hypersonic missiles. Thirty minutes later, the bubble of American military invincibility has been popped, and away we go. It could happen somewhere else, but Clinton's cheerleading for regime change in Syria makes that look like the most likely place for conflict.

Abelardsnazz, "maybe we live in a self-referential bubble..." Oh, if only their equivalents in the US could have that moment of insight!

Greenish, it might just be that you put different weights on the variables. As with the issue of Brexit, the US election is one in which it's possible to have reasoned disagreement as to the best choice -- though you'll find few people who will admit that!

Stephen, I know, I know, it's a dreadful habit of mine. ;-)

Jason B, you say that like it's a bad thing.

Myriad, Trump didn't have much of a ground game in the run for the nomination, and he still swept past vastly better funded and organized candidates. My guess is that he's counting on the same effect this time, and I don't think he's mistaken to do so. The ground game matters most in a contest between candidates who don't actually differ that much on the issues; when the voters are worked up about issues that are central to the campaign, campaign organization is a lot less important. What Trump needs to do to win this election is to convince the wage class in the flyover states that he can do something about the malign neglect that's been inflicted on them for the last forty years. That won't take organization -- it'll take stump speeches and viral publicity, which he's extremely good at. But we'll see...

Bootstrapper, hmm! I hope the third parties and the independent candidates do well. Anything that'll shake the grip of the consensus of the affluent is a good thing.

Cherokee, I hope the cup of tea helped. Not surprised that you're getting weird weather -- for the first time ever recorded, the northern hemisphere's jet stream crossed the equator and fed into a jet stream in your hemisphere. That's dramatic, and if it keeps happening, it will send global climate into completely unfamiliar territory.

Wendy, that's a useful attitude to have.

Ursachi, you're in a very different situation from Britain's, of course, and I can well see that the EU would make a lot more sense from where you stand. If it can be reformed in some way that would deal with its cascading problems, that would be welcome -- but it doesn't exactly give me hope to watch so many EU officials insisting that change is not an option.

Sheila, you're welcome and thank you. I grew up in the south Seattle suburbs and lived in Seattle until I couldn't stand it any longer; "chewed up and spit out" is an understatement. The city I knew and loved is a festering corpse, with an assortment of overpaid tech flacks as maggots-in-chief.

Jason, you might consider learning what the word "fascist" means, as you're misusing it. This post might be a good place to start.

Roland, yes, I saw that. My guess is that we're going to hear a lot of self-serving tosh from various rich and influential people about how stupid democracy is, since people just won't do as they're told! All of it will just bring the tumbrils closer.

Hugo Costa said...

One things that I like to do from time to time is visit the twitter feed of Steven Pinker. It's a great source of information about how the socially liberal part of the elite thinks. Of course, during these elections, he's all in for Hillary Clinton. Example :"Why isn't more fuss being made over the milestone of the 1st woman major party nominee?" - as if it was a great thing to have a female Bush. Or "Bernie bros don't signal a leftward shift: Political affiliations are tribal, not policy-based." I guess that this kind of thought is what is driving Clinton to appeal to young voters by looking 'cool' and hipster. But the best one was when he shared an article ( that argued that, since everything is going fine in America and in the world, the rise of candidates that say that it isn't is not understandable. It essentially said that people feel bad about the current situation because mindless pessimism has become the mainstream, not because people are really in a bad situation.

Mean Mr Mustard said...


For those still accustomed to thinking in traditional left-right political dimensions, the political compass suggests a more complex pattern.

In both cases, the battleground is within the Authoritarian Right quadrant.

The factions against Cameron (who lazily assumed an easy win) are a banker never elected to Westminster (Farage) fellow Old Etonian Boris, and two of his journalist friends (Gove and Vine) who are closely linked to newspaper owners wielding their influence. Meanwhile the Neoliberal Blair faction of the Labour Party are using the crisis as cover to oust the populist Corbyn, who claims to represent the traditional working class.

The troubling thing is that judging by their immediate demeanour, these hard-right conspirators - who instantly jettisoned all their promises, and apparently weren't expecting or didn't want to actually win this - 'you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off' according to 'Lady Macbeth's' allegedly leaked email. And they have no plan - anymore than Bush and Blair had for 'liberated' Iraq. Certainly they weren't expecting Cameron to immediately resign - but without pulling the Article 50 trigger.

While these people in the Westminster and media bubble treat this as a jolly parlour power trip, both the minimum wage and salary class will be made to suffer the consequences. Nobody in the political arena has emerged with credit - apart from the savagely murdered Jo Cox MP.



John Michael Greer said...

Wendy, glad to hear it! The print version is in process -- the publisher and I have settled contract terms and the signed contract will be in the mail shortly -- and I'll post detailed info here once it's available.

David, 52% of those who cared enough to vote voted for Brexit, and as I recall, quite a few more people voted in this election than in the last general election, so as mandates go, it's considerable.

Unknown, I know. I've noted here more than once that what passes for thinking in today's America amounts to verbal noises expressing vague emotional states, and very little else.

Dau, duly noted. As I suggested in the post, though, I tend to think that the framing is an effect rather than a cause.

Ien, thank you.

Stuart, certainly those were important. I also think that the incompetence of the Remain campaign was a huge factor. When British humor websites are giggling hysterically about the core strategy of the pro-EU camp, that's a bit telling, wouldn't you say?

Gottfried, thanks for the link, and many thanks for the summary.

Koen, excellent! One of the advantages of older books is that they show you what language is capable of doing and being when it's not being debased into 140-character twits -- er, tweets.

Chloe, I'm enjoying it only because I've acquired a taste for political gallows humor. It's a real mess, and none of the likely outcomes are particularly pleasant. Still, keep in mind that independent nations can, and many do, pass laws limiting immigration, and those laws work. Did you see the discussions earlier about Swiss and Japanese immigration policy? Neither of those nations are authoritarian isolationist states, and neither one admits many immigrants.

Yahoo2, to my mind that's an overly simplistic view. The relations between economics, society and politics are complex -- far too complex to model using simple mechanical metaphors such as levers!

Mawkernewek, thanks for the correction.

William, thank you.

David, that's true, but as I noted in the post, the most likely result if the British government refuses to act on Brexit is that Nigel Farage will become Prime Minister in 2020. A storm is rising, and he's tolerably well positioned to ride it.

Jason, I'm sorry to hear you had so much hate speech flung at you. Stick to your guns -- I'm coming to think that people defending the consensus of the affluent these days are so frantic and angry because they themselves no longer quite believe in the slogans they're mouthing. We're approaching an inflection point of quite some importance, when old narratives get tossed aside because the gap between the world they imagine and the one we actually inhabit has gotten too wide; on the far side, things will look very different indeed.

DiSc, and it may happen in the Netherlands, or so I hear.

Kevin, thanks for that final image! More generally, what you're describing is a reality here, too, and it's just as completely ignored by the chattering classes. They may not be able to ignore it for much longer.

John Michael Greer said...

Hugo, Pinker's really useful in that way -- if you want to know how people in the affluent classes are deluding themselves, he's the go-to guy. I bet there were people just like him at Versailles in the years just before the Revolution...

Mustard, no question, it's a mess, and going to get messier!

Mikep said...

Hi John, as an Englishman I can't disagree with any of your assessment of the Brexit campaign. You along with virtually every other commentator you take it for granted that the vote was actually carried out in an entirely free and fair way and I would agree that this is almost certainly the case. With the exception of some Ethno-Religious minorities' "well dodgy" use of proxy votes deliberate fraud in elections in Britain is almost unknown. Under the current paper and pencil voting system rigging an election would require the complicity of thousands of volunteer vote counters and hundreds of election officers. One likely result of the Brexit vote will probably be calls for a "more modern" electronic voting system. After all, "It's the Current Year!" Why are we even using such a last century, old fashioned and inefficient technology as hopelessly out dated paper and pencils. Just imagine, without all that wasteful counting by hand we could have the result Much more quickly, possibly before the vote has even happened.
Perhaps you will be able to throw some light on the voting systems employed in your fictional Lakeland and Atlantic Republics over the coming weeks.


DiSc said...

JMG, sorry for abusing your blog forum again.

No, I do not think a referendum will come to the Netherlands next. The undoing of the EU will proceed from the periphery, not the core.

Maybe non-Euro countries like Denmark and Sweden, or UK clients like Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic will turn increasingly anti-European and have their own referendums.

That will increase the relative power of Germany (that has already happened with Brexit, and will continue). As the center collapses in Italy and France, no-one will be able to keep the Germans at bay, who will exact increasingly sadistic sacrifices from the other countries.

Eventually the French will retreat from Europe under a strong man (woman?), or Italy will have a civil war or secession and default on the huge public debt, taking down the rest of the Euro banking system and the Euro itself.

But the Netherlands will not play a significant role: they will just sit there, between too large neighbors, awaiting the events like in WWI & II.

Scotlyn said...

I'm sorry I can't find a link to the NY Times where Nate Cohn is widely being quoted as saying "Sanders preaches to a choir that has not yet learned to sing the song of progress"...
An evocative phrase that, like myself, will resonate with readers of this blog differently than he, perhaps, may have intended.
We have, for the most part, been innoculated against the lure of the harpies singing that song along the cliffs...

Robert Honeybourne said...


People in the home counties looked at the GDP and people in the inner cities couldn't see a GP (general practitioner); that's the difference!

The thing I can't see is whether overall, those of the exiters who had seen for many years that the status quo didn't work for them, will be better off or not
It is not possible to foresee, whether the UK will do better or worse out of the EU. If it does better, who will get the share

There is a real danger that rather than getting a bad share of the wealth of what is a very large economy, the divide will grow
If the economy shrinks. There will be some very disgruntled people out there

A point I would make, is that the whole country has been turned upside down because Boris Johnson wanted to be PM. He knew confidently that we would remain ('I'm a winner Cameron said). He would then gain favour of the Europhobes in the Tory party while the Europhiles would just be happy we remained. It's truly shocking that this can happen

To a degree, the UK threw out Europe because we didn't have a UK party that could change the status quo AND get elected

So here we are. Maybe you could choose Sanders before it's too late?

SumErgoSum said...

Dear Mr Greer.

Thank you for your post outlining what most media refuses to even play lip service to - the class struggle between rich and poor, and the way that the rich have managed to move the narrative for the past generation.

I am one of the many who have seen the malign neglect first hand, and saw how argument from those who were being constantly disadvantaged has been sidelined and sneered at. While the propaganda of the affluent and the language of division ruled the waves.

You are right that what a lot of the politicians and affluent class say; alongside those who have been indoctrinated in to their viewpoint is bigotry and hate speech, but as always, they get to define what that is.

You can't try to argue that large areas are impoverished without being shut down with spurious arguments about the so called wealth of the country and insistence that things will get better for us eventually using the same policies that have failed us. You can't point to the grossly inflated profits of the banks and the multinationals and wealth of the cities without being accused of being anti business and progress. You can't mention the anti-democratic nature of the European state without being called paranoid and ironically accused of wanting totalitarianism.

We cannot have our say, our arguments are ignored or outright shouted down. Disbelieved and unexamined, subverted and misquoted. A captive media and an endless parade of talking heads that will only argue for more neolibralism and more wealth redistribution to those the powers favor.

And the immigration debate has been so shot down that no moderate voices can be heard. I would love to be able to point out the good points of immigration, alongside the bad points, in a way to improve it for everybody. But you can't even try to start a conversation that mentions the bad points without having to declare you are not a racist. And you know you will still be accused of it nevertheless, for having the temerity to speak up. So many of us do not. Leaving only the extremes to argue their minority viewpoints.

This is the true danger of the situation. The only parties that are willing to address the concerns of the majority are ones on the extreme. We have seen over so many years that our politicians are not representing anyone but the ones who are neglecting us, and we are now seeing the disintegration of those parties now we finally managed to speak our mind.

Politics has failed in Britain, along many other countries that have followed the same path. It would be nice if they could learn from this defeat, but I do not hold out much hope. The optimism in politics to actually reform has been beaten out of us for a long time, and I fear that extremism may rise again as a result.

Scotlyn said...

In Ireland, Brexit will mean UK's only land border (about 10 miles from where I write this) and possibly upheavals over how tightly it should be guarded, or whether it should be allowed to exist at all. Yet many of us are far more in sympathy with the "Leave" side.

I've been pondering how to explain that neither the Left nor the Right appear to be attending to business, and how there seems to be a different set of cardinal points lining up as a faultline - "inside" and "outside". One might say inside the Global Technocracy Machine, things work a bit like the Federation depicted in Star Trek. All-inclusive, open to committed technocrats from any planet, there is never any voting or apparent need to decide contentious issues in a democratically accountable way, and everyone's skills locate them in a place where they are valued, and also sustained without having to argue terms and conditions. Then "outside" there are all the different planets, local, diverse, but hopelessly parochial and backward, continually needing to be rescued... or so it looks from "inside"...

From outside, that spaceship looks odd, dangerous, dependent on an ability to exploit every planet to keep its crew so invisibly sustained...

I've decided that, my personal stance vis-a-vis the Global Technocracy is... barbarian.

Sébastien Louchart said...

Hello JMG

I must once again congratulate you for your insightful prose. Each week since 2008, I've been looking forward for my weekly dose of wit, clear thought and humour. Thank you!

Besides the style, your blog and its commenters has now become my major source of information of the US presidential campaign and I hope it'll remain so for the general election.

I'm looking forward to grab a copy of Twilight's Last Gleaming as I've been reading the short stories on the blog over and over. I loathe at ordering it from a-zon, do you know by chance if your publisher has a relay in continental Europe? Or whether or not a translation in french is planned?

Yossi said...

The EU had high aims, ambitions and idealistic intentions at one stage but slowly sank into a club for the elite . Many remainers don’t yet realise that when a marriage hasn’t been working for years it is best to divorce. Your post is an excellent summary of how Britain ended up in this state. Here in UK none of this was debated properly. Most people seem to make decisions emotionally. So it became a hostile argument between “immigrant haters” and “toffs”.
Now that remain has lost many of them spew out ageist diatribes about the old betraying the young, not seeming to realise that they are “using just the same kind of demeaning and derogatory stereotype to describe every member of a group.” that they accuse the leavers of using against immigrants.

Matt said...


I have no disagreement with you about the incompetence of the Remain campaign, and you have been a trailblazer (as with Trump) in understanding the context.

I think, though, that there is one thing you are underplaying in the recent political context that leads you to a view of Remainers that is a bit of a caricature. Of course there are some strong reactions - many Remainers think there will be numerous and severe consequences to Brexit, a view I don't particularly share. And those who call for a second referendum can justifiably be accused of being sore losers, as long as we recognise that the Brexit campaign would (and DID, when Farage thought he was going lose) make the same demand if the boot was on the other foot.

The fact is there are many Remainers, affluent and otherwise, who would agree with you 100% about the way the working classes have suffered under globalisation, and who have fought (or at least voted against) the succession of right-wing governments that attacked the labour movement, privatised the NHS, cut benefits for disabled people, dismantled social housing and so on.

And here's the context I think you are missing (although it may be implicit in your Whigs and Tories review): Euroscepticism isn't something new - it's been grinding on as an issue for decades now, and through that whole time its chief proponents have been those who are most enthusiastic about attacking the labour movement, privatising the NHS etc. etc.

The upshot is that, for the Remainers I have spoken to, the response is much more nuanced, despite the disappointment and anger they feel. They are more likely to see many Brexit voters as duped or conned, rather than moronic. It may be patronising but, given the charlatans running the Brexit campaign (and their actions since the vote) it's hardly irrational, and it doesn't constitute class hatred.

This may be a key difference with Trump, by the way. Politically he is something of an unknown quantity. That can't be said of the leaders of Brexit in the UK.


Ursachi Alexandru said...


Yes, it frustrates me to see that the pro-EU camp keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. This whole "it's going to be the end of the world if you don't choose the EU" approach is extremely counter-productive.

Don Plummer said...

John, the general election is a much different affair than the primaries. Trump steamrolled over his Republican opposition in narrowly focused, highly partisan affairs that attracted rather few voters, even from within party ranks. Trump is going to have to sell his immature personality, his cluelessness regarding the demands of the office he seeks, and his toxic messages (no, not everyone who supports him is racist, but his rhetoric is dripping with racist messages that are surely being picked up by those who are), such as those are, to large numbers of independent voters, not to mention at least to some Democrats, and he needs to hold onto his Republican base, in order to win. Many Republicans are deserting him; I know some who will be voting for Clinton. Many Sanders supporters who won't vote for Clinton may stay home and not vote for anyone. It is by no means a foregone conclusion that he can win more than a handful of deeply red states.

Trump is highly unpopular--more so than even Hillary Clinton.

One thing you haven't mentioned: Trump is very likely, if he is elected, to make Supreme Court nominations that will strengthen the stranglehold of rapacious corporations on our economy. At least Hillary Clinton isn't likely to do that. For that reason alone, I cannot cast my vote for Trump.

Andy Palmer said...

Excellent analysis. One small correction though. Thatcher came to power in 1979. Not 1978.

Bryan Hemming said...

The problem with the British referendum for me was that the unelected elite running the EU would've seen a vote to Remain as a vote of support for the undemocratic corporatist policies they are imposing on all Europeans.

I'm sure there were many voters who would've been quite happy to vote for a more democratic European Union that represented the interests of all Europeans rather than the interests of a tiny elite of globalists, many of whom don't pay taxes in Europe, or have any interests in Europe, apart from financial ones. Unfortunately, a third option wasn't on offer, precisely because the army of fat cats running Europe are more than happy with things the way they are. And also because, in their supreme arrogance, they thought they were bound to win in the end.

As a Englishman born of a Norwegian mother living in Spain with a German partner, I am about as European as you can get. At the moment I'm thinking of taking up the option of my birthright to Norwegian citizenship. Out of all the options I might have, it's the one that fits my 'sitting on the fence' attitude towards the Europe we have best.

MigrantWorker said...

Good morning mr Greer,

I am Polish but have lived in the UK for the past ten years, so the Brexit conversation is very close to my heart indeed. Not being a British citizen I was not able to vote, but would have voted to Leave given the opportunity.

Both Leave and Remain slogans had no effect on me. I had my answer long before the campaigning even started. I saw how Greece was treated a year ago, and to me it showed that EU is a dangerous company to hang out with. Thinking of it now, I don't recall this particular point ever being made in media of record; I wonder how many people think along similar lines, unnoticed.

The idea of a second referendum is beyond ridiculous. For the 43 years that the UK was part of the EU it has managed to negotiate for itself a number of exceptions, preferential treatments etc. on a thinly veiled threat (i.e. promise) that if you impose yourselves too much on us, then we may leave. Now it has an opportunity to keep that promise - and it wants to say instead that no, it's just us talking. Then why would it still keep the special treatments? Again, I do not recall a similar line of reasoning mentioned in the media.

The Scottish politicians are now making noises about a second Scottish independence referendum, pointing out that Scotland has voted almost 2 to 1 in favor of Remaining. I say let them vote, and let them leave if that's how the vote turns out. I'd rather have a friendly neighbor that a housemate with a grudge.

And on a more personal level, Poles are now being harassed. Slogans to the effect that Poles are unwelcome were painted on a Polish shop and a Polish community centre, and also printed on a homemade leaflet which was then distributed in a certain village. Now this is reported widely by the media. Funny how similar things were not newsworthy before the referendum. Frankly, they shouldn't be newsworthy at all - when a native population of 60+ million and an immigrant group of 1 million interact, there's bound to be some friction somewhere sometime. That does not make us victims, and we don't like being portrayed as such.


ed boyle said...

I have a clear warning from bitter experience. Revolution eats its children. I saw the news of ceaucescu's impromptu execution shortly beforely leaving the USA permanently in late 1989. I got to Germany 14 months later, using England as a between stop to get an EU passport.

Two famous songs by German bands reflected zeitgeist, wind of change(film gorkypark) and freiheit(freedom, freedom it's the only thing that counts). Decades later former Eastern Europe is an economic, political, military colony of Germany with mass emigration. Nato expansion, risnig nationalism, dictatorial regimes show a phase of democracy reached by weimar Germany. Ukraine is way past that phase, a central african basket case. The ideals in video for wind of change, 'we could be all brothers', were misused by the elites to push their profit agenda as far as it could go geographically. Various articles now ask what will result out of this. Could the wealthy manipulate the agenda somehow to gain the upper hand even when EU disintegrates? Perhaps we could get a trade breakdown and severe recession in even core countries like germany, france, holland, england, scandinavia leading to extremist takeovers, nazi type purges, civil war in europe. Freedom is a coin with two sides. Free to do what? New car with a roadmap to nwhere. Sociopaths have a tendency to grab stearing wheel. Ideology of monied elites, racist crazies are both unwelcome. Golden rule has few adherents during a revolution. Where does one stop. After nazi takeover revenge was taken and blood flowed. Hitler finally put out the word to stop. Pol Pot was more thorough, permanent revolution. Robespierre lost own head. Of course in the end hitler only stopped internal murders as they were germans. Foreign killings had yet to start. Left wingers like mao, pol pot, lenin , stalin based killings on ideology, not blood lines. Everyone has their own mentl illness. Unleashing a flood dam washes away good with bad all at once. Civil war atmosphere building up the more change is blocked. If Trump wins lots will happen. If he loses the dam will burst more violently later. Europe luckily can break apart in pieces gradually. This should hinder cold war with Russia at least and TTIP. American revolution helped french revolution. Now maybe Europeans help Americans revolt. Let us hope it turns out peaceful, is not hijacked by all too extreme elements.

Matthew Griffiths said...

Politics downunder is no less amusing, frustrating and useless. Australia votes on 2 July and could end up with its 6th Prime minister in about 7 years. Or something. I've lost count.

My entry for your latest 'space bats' short story competition:
The Island
The unexpected discovery of an artifact from the past brings back old memories and stirs up new tensions on a Hawaiian island...


patriciaormsby said...

JMG, I share your view that Clinton would be likely to lead America into a military disaster, in rather short order. In fact, it might even occur before she is sworn in or even elected if the people itching for a military confrontation in Syria (including the 51 so-called "diplomats") think she might lose the election. I think the scenario you describe is quite plausible. America's puffery over Russia severely underestimates the true capacities of that country and its peoples.

What I am curious about is what do you think happens after "the bubble of American military invincibility has been popped"?

My main reason for opposing a Clinton presidency is I fear what might happen on the mainland in an all-out war since some of the elites seem to think they are invincible. On the other hand, if America's ability to throw its weight around were curtailed without invoking MAD, it might ironically provide a real reason to vote the old harpy in.

So sad, BTW, to hear of Seattle's fate! I will always remember it as the most beautiful little city I ever saw, with its fish market and abundant blackberries. The Vladivostok of America! (Which in turn prides itself on being "the San Francisco of Russia").

Tony f. whelKs said...

In the run-up to the referundum here, I had to keep my opinions to myself for the simple reason that I was a poll clerk on the day, and was legally obliged to show no preference and refrain from any campaigning. I hear many 'Brexiteers' saying how they felt they couldn't speak out for fear of ridicule, but the reverse was also true. Certainly my local pub had so many loud 'Brexiteers' that it was the 'Remainians' who were quietly huddled in the corner to avoid having to wipe the saliva-spray from their foreheads.

I thought the campaigning was pretty atrocious on both sides - I was convinced by the end that Cameron must have been a closet Brexiteer, his performance was so lacklustre.

Anyway, I had a lot of people explaining why they were voting whichever way they did, whilst nodding sagely and saying that I 'couldn't possibly comment'. Most of the Outers who I spoke too will be disappointed, because their reasons for voting as they did will not be met. In fact, both sides are going to be disappointed by the outcome in the long run.

From my small, unscientific sample of the voters, I could discern a few strands of support for Brexit. Some clearly were concerned about issues of 'sovereignty' and red tape and the democratic deficit. Some just wanted to 'stick it to the establishment'. Some felt pushed out of economic chances by EU migration. And some, frankly, were just out and out racists, xenophobes, and misanthropes.

Some I've spoken to since have said they voted 'leave' to register a protest, because they thought Brexit would never win, and that they are now horrified at what they had done.

I was particularly disturbed on the day, because a lot of people came to the polling station saying 'I want to vote with a pen because it says on Facebook that the polling booths only have pencils because our votes will be rubbed out if we vote to leave'. Such uncritical acceptance of that sort of conspiracy theory betrays not only flawed analytical skills, but a profound ignorance of how the whole system is staffed, organised and policed. So much for informed decision-making.

This latest wave of violence against minorities is also a worrying sign. It's as though the old far-right groups have been emboldened by the vote, taking it as 'permission' to return to their street-fighting ways. To hear of schools being leafletted with 'kick out the Polish vermin' bills, attacks on mosques and community centres etc is worrying. And the rhetoric going with it: 'We won the vote, so **** off back home now'. My first thoughts were 'Merry Krystalnacht, Nigel'.

So, all round, bit of a humpty-dumpty watershed. The parliamentary Labour party isn't helping either, leaving the only alternative rallying point for the working classes out of commission for the duration, but that's their own mess to sort out, now.

But anyone thinking they've 'stuck it to the establishment' will be sorely disappointed. Boris may be a shoe-in, or maybe not, but don't imagine this Anglo-Saxon, middle-aged, Eton-educated male is anything but the establishment having a bad-hair day. I never thought the day would arrive when I'd have to utter the words 'I think I prefer Theresa May'!

And talking of Borises, I can imagine who else is rubbing his hands with glee....

John Iceville said...

Madness is when one does the same thing over and over and expects different results. The EU did exactly the same things in the case of both the last Greek elections and 2015 OXI Referendum (it launched a terror campaign against austerity policy opposition - the OXI crowd, a smear campaign and character assassination attempts against everyone denying austerity or promoting GRexit and followed a similar campaign with the BRemain people, which utterly failed to transmit a pro EU message).

If PM Tsipras didn't ignore the astounding Referendum result of 62% against austerity measures (a political coup by the EU and Germany), by totally disregarding the result and betraying the Greek People and his supposed Left principals, the EU would have been in a lot of trouble already.

Now, a year later, the dam has cracked visibly and water leaks through tiny holes that become bigger and bigger and bigger. Want proof? Check this great research out:

It tells us that the Greeks are already out of the EU, spiritually and ideologically at least. Hungarians, Polish, Italians and French, follow suit. So the only question remaining, contrary to Herr Schauble's recent declarations that Germany is the almighty leader of the rest of the inferior puny Europeans and calls for a Euroarmy to command, to suppress all Resistance, is this one: will EUexit (all out) be really, really bloody or a peaceful event?

Jason Heppenstall said...

"Jason, I'm sorry to hear you had so much hate speech flung at you."

Oh, that's quite alright. I hope I didn't come across as complaining - I was just trying to illustrate the point that there is likely to be trade-off between attempting to fit into a community and the possibility of there being fallout when hot-button issues get discussed. Writing about these things could be seen as an occupational hazard of the regular civilization dysfunction analyst (CDA). We should perhaps be supplied with plexiglass screens, like bus drivers or social security clerks.

BTW - I forgot to post a link to the blog entry I was referring to in my comment. Here it is.

Hereward said...


With apologies to Lewis Carroll

`Twas Draghi, and the eurorogues
Did game and gamble with your wage:
All wimpy were the Borisgoves,
But for the meme’s wraith Farage.

Beware the Junckerwock, my son!
The jaws that drink, the hands that slap!
Beware the Merkel bird, and shun
The fulminous Verhofstadt!"

He took his votal sword in hand:
Long time the Euro foe he sought --
So rested he by the referendum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in offish thought he stood,
The Junckerwock, with eyes of flame,
Came minging through the Belgian wood,
And farted as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The votal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went Gallupping back.

"And, hast thou slain the Junckerwock?
Come to my arms, my Brexit boy!
O fabulous day! Hurrah! UK!'
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brilliant, as the slimy toads
Did groan and grumble in their grave:
All mumsy were the Borisgoves,
As they waved goodbye to Dave.

Bill Pulliam said...

JMG: "Trump has a great deal of support from the poor, and not just the white poor, by the way." Nationwide, polling demographics disagree. They find Trump's support strongly skewed white nationwide. Of course there are alway individuals who go against the demographics. Republicans have lost 4 of the last 6 presidential elections because of their inability to appeal outside the base, and so far Trump is not changing this pattern. And statewide (where the races are decided) in Maryland, by the way, in the polls Clinton is beating Trump by a 2:1 margin.

I honestly don't know which is a bigger disaster, four years of Clinton followed by a backlash giving us someone who makes Trump look like MLK, or four years of Trump trying to actually do the things he proposes. Neither scenario is inevitable, but both are possible...

averagejoe said...

Excellent post as usual JMG. I think for me the most interesting aspect is the mutiny that has happened in the Labour Party against its (left wing) leader Jeremy Corbyn. 200 odd members of the parliamentary labour party have voted in a vote of no confidence. Only 40 odd didn’t. These represent the ‘blarites’ or right wing element of the Labour party. They didn’t have to do this to launch a leadership campaign against him. They did it for maximum damage. The need Corbyn to resign, or he will be a contender in the contest that undoubtedly he will win. It should be remembered that he was voted in by the party membership with a majority that even Tony Blair couldn’t muster. He wasn’t elected on image, but on policies. He alone stood in front of members and offered an anti neoliberalism option. All the other contenders avoided commitment to answers or offered more of the status quo. If any one of them had mirrored his policies they would have been elected more than likely. If he wins, it will give him the chance to overhaul rules on selection of labour candidates for constituencies, allowing them to be deselected, which is not permitted at present. Either that, or they will have to resign on mass. Furthermore, the current leadership contender Angela Eagle, voted in favour of the Iraq war and bombing Syria recently. The Blairites couldn’t find a single candidate who didn’t vote in favour of the war. The only MPs that voted against the war are now within his shadow cabinet!

Alex Blaidd said...

Thank you as ever for providing some clarity during such a storm as we're experiencing on these islands. I think now that a week has past - and I've been able to get back to a more normal life, and away from the news and Facebook, I too am now finding my peace of mind return, and with that clarity.

Firstly though I'm sorry that you voicing a different opinion on Clinton has potentially led to the loss of an old friend, that's very sad. I'm hoping that your old friend will regain his/her maturity. Though from the Brexit I'm now fully aware of how divided and bitter people - including families and old friendships - can become as a result of politics. That's been a stark realisation which has and will take some time to process. This is the biggest political event of my life so far and I have much to reflect upon - in order to learn before the next Big One.

I wouldn't disagree with a single point above in your post. 100% agreement from me. My take on all this can be summed up as, round one to UKIP. As you say the Remain campaign was beyond dire and entirely reminiscent of the Scotland ref. - surely that should've taught them that fear, fear, fear alongside promising more of the same, doesn't work anymore? You've highlighted on this blog however more than a few times the senility of our ruling elites. And as someone highlights above - Scotland voting to leave, doesn't make them any more internationalist than the rest of the country - it just spells the end of the UK the coming future.

Have you seen the news today that Boris is not going to run and Michael Gove is? I think that Boris is keeping himself for later down the line, and perhaps has realised that whoever does exercise article 50, may well realise that it's a 'poisoned chalice' as it's being called.

My opinion is that UKIP are the real winners here and I expect them to be making a serious case for government in 5 years time. I think in the election this year, if there is one, they will gain a serious amount of votes, largely from Labour, but not enough yet to make much impact. What happens if they could get a referendum on Proportional Representation - that would lead to the perfect situation for them to take office in 5 years time. I expect to see a PM Farage in the future. Labour, with their coup against Corbyn seem destined to go back to being New Labour, and that will be the end of them. They'll never win like that again. Corbyn is sufficiently anti-establishment and anti-EU that he could still work out, if they gave him some proper media training and a better campaign manager.

What Brexit has shown to me is that there is a lot of finger pointing going on by all aspects of society, the privileged and the non-priveleged. But then when a civilisation is slowly collapsing, I guess it's to be expected, as no-one wants to point their finger at the real 'enemy.' My only concern about Brexit is that I think it will speed up the hollowing out of our economy and infrastructure, now that the Tories will have even more allowance to push their neo-lib/neo-con agenda. For all its ills, the EU did protect against some of the measures that the British gov want to take. I'm expecting more fracking, more nuclear power plants, more GM, the end of the NHS, higher unemployment etc. Now for those working class who are already suffering, then they'll justifiably say it was all going to happen anyway. Though those leavers who now think that everything is going to get better I can't see that as being likely. It even looks like immigration won't change much...

Dr. Mark Woodworth said...

I'll be voting for Libertarian party, but I am amused by those who think Trump is racist. He is not. These claims are nothing but the usual Progressive spin. And if you think Trump is rude, corrupt, or egotistical, how can you ignore Hillary's ego, corruption (Clinton Foundation, email scandals, and pyscohpathology? Geez! And the media ignores it. If Mexicans voted Republican would the Obama Administration open the floodgates? Nope. It is all about political power at the expense of the people. Similarly with Republican elitists: they support H1B immigration due to business profits. The result is a quid pro quo real politik. Ordinary people, on the other hand, are losing middle class jobs, having been exported or being impacted by too much supply of labor, suffering and dying from imported diseases, and being taxed to pay for immigrant welfare services. It just happens that Mexicans provide the bulk of illegal immigrants. Democrats have violated the rule of law, as even the USSC has noted, letting illegals camp out in sanctuary cities and commit crimes. How many times have we read of an illegal, tenth time caught, who was let go and murdered or raped someone? Legal immigrants that fail to assimilate? Again, for politics, not the good of the USA. One the other hand, it is arrogant, isn't it, that progressives do not see that we are burning the last economic fumes, thinking we can have it all, and that there is plenty of resources to deal with the 'plight' of immigrants.

Proud to see that the Brits actually voted Brexit. Horrified to hear of EU elite wanting to create an Army, belittle the thinking of ordinary people, and seek to install a tecnocracy. All whilst their central banks prop up their fading economy.

Unknown said...

I greatly appreciate these entries on the current political climate. In my personal experience I've seen with my own eyes the "class prejudice" you're talking about and it's very real. In my own life I seem to have taken a few steps down the status ladder by choice of occupations and a difference in labor and pay rate is expected and tolerable, but to feel the contempt in the eyes of the technocrats, cubical dwellers or whoever they are at the sight of my stained hands and blue "Dickies" is actually very disturbing. Then after some Gojo, some manscaping and crisp, sharp change of clothes I'm "one of them" again.

Andrew said...

JMG. For the first time I wasn't looking forward to reading The Archdruid Report today, because I knew it would make me feel uncomfortable. That's why I read it anyway. I've read your work for many years and following that have read Toynbee (lots) and Spengler (a little).I agree with the thrust of their ideas and your ideas of a long, ragged descent, but it feels very strange when history sharpens to a focus and you realise that /you/ are a member of the dominant minority, and it is /your/ values that are being rejected by the internal proletariat. I find myself watching with awe and thinking 'so this is how it actually feels.' I guess this is a feeling I'm going to get used too.

As other commentators have mentioned, what happens next is chilling. Either Brexit never happens or is watered down to the point of irrelevance, which will lead to a ferocious outpouring of anger, or the economic consequences will be significant leading to hardship across society, with a following outpouring of anger. The stage is set for a genuine demagogue, either Farage or someone else. Brexit was a blank screen upon which people could project their fear, their rage, their hopes. It is almost impossible to meet those demands.

Our political class has fallen to bits. Senility and denial rule the airwaves. It is not a pleasant feeling.

Finally Toynbee said this: "the true hall-mark of the proletarian is neither poverty nor humble birth, but a consciousness - and the resentment that this consciousness inspires - of being disinherited from his ancestral place in society." We are all proletarians now.

latheChuck said...

Regarding Trump's "program": If all he were able to do, as Chief Executive, is arrange for the enforcement of existing immigration laws, what would be the result? If undocumented immigrants were suddenly unable to find jobs here, and unable to collect government benefits, they would have little choice but to "self deport". Whether or not their US Citizen children remain in the US would be a family decision; the risk of "breaking up families" was one which was cast when they crossed the border illegally. (Does no one lament the "breaking up of families" when a man just trying to meet supply with demand goes to jail for selling a little weed? Broken families are an occupational hazard for all illegal enterprises, as well as military service.)

Without an easily exploited undocumented work force, employers would not be forced to choose between providing illegal employment and corporate survival. Their goods, whether lettuce, landscaping, or bricklaying, would rise in cost, either assuming a larger share of the economy, or declining in consumption. We can adjust. At some point, young US citizens may learn the virtue of uncomfortable labor. (In the 1970s, I stooped (literally) to pick cucumbers as a teenager, and I was proud of my sweat.) And, not seeing that as a good long-term career, I mastered electrical engineering. (Even then, it seemed like a strategy to make the Dark Ages just a little less dark for myself and my friends. As JMG said up the comments a bit, I've been expecting this crisis for all of my adult life.)

Putin promised/threatened to restore Russia to "the Dictatorship of the Law".

I'm not saying that I'd vote for Putin, or even that he's lived up to his promises of 4 years ago, but as campaign slogans go, I like THAT one!

As we've seen over the last week, "uncertainty" is bad for business. The Rule of Law creates certainty (unless the law can be changed overnight, by a Congress thrown into panic by threats of a Treasury Secretary).

David, by the lake said...

I, too, will be voting Green this year. This cycle actually moved me to formally join the party, my first time doing such a thing. In one exchange I had recently, the other party pointed out that with the current dynamics of our two-party system, it is never a good time to make the leap to a third-party alternative, to which I responded that in that case we might as do it now, as there isn't a worse time either. I will be interested to see if the Libertarians and Greens poll significantly higher than their historical numbers as the season progresses. Perhaps even take an electoral vote or two (possibly in one of the states which allocate by district).

And that Trump for President sign is still along the roadside on my drive into work. I believe the polls have Clinton leading in WI, but I am not so sure that her hold is all that solid outside of the deep blue of Dane County (i.e. Madison) and perhaps Milwaukee. We shall see. I must admit that I fear the foreign policy implications of a Clinton presidency and the very possible TLG-like results. Better to climb down the cliff with some amount of control than to leap and/or be pushed off it.

Alex Blaidd said...

...But if all this means we embrace decline more gradually, then I suppose longer term it's a good thing. It's not like those previous things I mentioned weren't already going that way anyway (other than perhaps the environmental stuff, though if this puts a nail in TTIP then it would have saved us massively). There's going to be many re-vitalisation movements springing up and some will do some good, even if they will ultimately fail in their vision of 'saving' us.

Jason B said...

My partner wrote her dissertation on fascism--actually, on the Italian colonial project in the Dodecanese Islands between WWI and WW II--so I readily acknowledge the way I am using the term fascism doesn't follow convention. You can replace it with Oogyboogymanism.

Because, what do you call it when: the planet continues to be denuded of its natural resources; global population continues to rise along with sea level; global temperatures spikes;

And, on the domestic front: police continue to terrorize mainly poor people and people of color; the populace grows increasingly dissatisfied; the government spies on those people; unemployment numbers skyrocket; and all the while neither of the primary political parties presidential candidates see any of this as their problem.

Instead, they are concerned with a) immigrants from our neighboring country b) terrorists from their cousin religion six thousand miles away c) trade agreements that benefit or harm big business d) laws that protect the smattering few American workers who remain (I am so far from convinced that Trump gives a crap about American workers).

It seems to me we are at the tipping point of global catastrophe and of world war. Trump and Clinton are two sides of the same coin. I called that coin fascism, but is there any need to define it? It just is! I claim the candidacies are meaningless because neither has any intention of dealing with the problems laid out in your blog, or those I mention above. They are too busy fomenting war...trying to win at all costs.. I cannot imagine seeing either candidate any other way.

The idea that Trump supporters are ignoring the pundits seems off, too. I imagine on Fox News, it's beat HRC at all costs, while on CNN, it's that evil Trump and maybe HRC IS a bit slimy. He gets a lot of airtime. He's bashed in the newspapers nonstop. So, while I hear what you're saying about Trumpees ignoring what the consensus tells them to do, they are also paying heed and playing along.

They have chosen to vote for the boogy man because, well, I'm still not quite convinced its for any other reason than they are frustrated with the status quo and really xenophobic. It seems you are underestimating this last fact. Is any of it really that significant?

The North Coast said...

Trump's message would resonate better with me if he had not himself, for decades past, been a major beneficiary of the policies he purports to oppose. Call me cynical, but I have a difficult time believing that someone whose enterprises have largely been financial failures, and who has been the beneficiary of massive tax breaks, direct subsidies, offshore manufacturing of his junk products in slave labor havens, and cheap immigrant labor at home, will make any significant change in business as usual. But I do believe he will massively increase our national deficit while steeply reducing taxes on the affluent- after all, he has stated that he "loves debt: (!!)and will somehow find a way to borrow more money while "hair-cutting" our extant government debt.

The only reason to support this man at all, is because the alternative is so loathsome, and is a proven supporter of the policies that have destroyed the population of this country. I really don't believe he will be the least bit disruptive, but will fall right into line behind his Wall Street paymasters, to whom he is already signalling fealty.

Whoever prevails, this country probably too far along the road it set out on in the early 70s, when we ended the gold standard so we could more easily tell ourselves lies about our money and our true financial condition by inflation and debt creation. We know where that road ends.

Martin Larner said...

Hi John

Good article, although I'd hoped to hear your views on the attack on Jeremy Corbyn, particularly from within his own party and the elite media and PR firms that many "Blairite" Neoliberal MPs are connected to.

Since he first stood for the Opposition Party Leadership, the combined efforts of the Establishment Consensus has done everything within their power to ridicule, misrepresent and undermine him.

The reason seems to me is that they're all terrified of a Leader which might actually act in the interests of the public and economy in general rather than a handful of affluent vested interests. They are literally terrified and in contempt of real democracy, hence all the immediate calls to throw the Referendum result under the bus along with the large population they've already chucked there.

I have these discussions on Facebook with well meaning people who are so brainwashed by the tactics of the Media and PR industry, that they mistake a sustained and organised smear campaign for an accurate portrayal of Corbyn and what he has done in the past year or so and what he represents. It's quite frightening to see this machine in action, yet Corbyn continues to evoke spontaneous rallies of 1000s of people in support of his leadership, while the Parliamentary Party, most of whom voted in favour of large scale cuts and austerity, insist he must go.

Unlike Trump, whom I would never vote for, and unlike even Sanders, who had no intention of reigning in US Global Militarism, Corbyn has an unimpeachable 30 year track record of principled fighting for the interests of ordinary citizens in the UK. Not a surprise that the Establishment despises such an incorruptible man.

latheChuck said...

Re: jet stream crossing the equator... if you want to look at the data for yourself, try this link: Click on "earth" to pop up the control panel (it's not obvious), and to make it disappear. The "250 hPa" wind option was used for the jet stream video.

. said...

Great post. I had an idea about what I think is a missing part of the explanation for the emotiveness of the racism charge. It comes from the myth of progress. The past is seen as the dark place where people were limited in where they lived, who they met, what ideas they encountered - where everything was mono cultural, mono religious and so people were xenophobic and closed minded.

So, for example, those voting leave were often accused of nostalgia – of wanting to go back to a rose-tinted past that was less open to the world. So the ‘racists’ are seen as sinning against Progress, not just some rational system of ethics.

And xenophobia is seen as the instinctive condition of humanity and instincts are highly suspect because they belong to our caveman past (they just ignore xenophilia for this purpose) and our sort of biological selves.

Those shouting racism indiscriminately also often reject the idea of resource limits. So they’ll say that Britain can support any number of people if only technology was used better, or if only the economic and political system were different. So for them the idea of limiting freedom of movement is part of a bigger rejection of the value of limits. History is seen as moving in the direction of ever fewer limits and more freedom.

And, part of it might be to do with identity. In The Past people are seen as having narrow parochial senses of identity. All of history is conflated into a kind of Dark Age/Middle Ages feudalism. So the direction of history is seen as being towards an ever expanding sense of identity.

New Age ideas of identifying with all of humanity, or all of life on earth, above all other identities, often come in here. This kind of constant expansion and removal of barriers/ boundaries to one’s identity is understood to be Love. It’s kind of a mix up of what might be spiritual realities with material and social realities. An imposition of heaven onto earth. So anyone who limits their sense of identity, even only in certain contexts, is seen as representing Hate.

I often see the idea that difference must not become division. Ostensibly this is for the rational reason that division weakens the working class. But the emotions of it tell me it goes deeper than that. It’s like a theological monotheistic thing – God as One, reality seen as a Unity, is heaven, and God as multiplicity, division, limit, is hell, is a prison. Like Carcer. Although it’s odd that the allegedly unified past is seen as hell. I’m not sure I’ve quite worked this out!

On the bright side, some respected people within the relatively small Left Leave campaign in the UK are coming out to say basically that the wage class were right all this time, we were wrong, they’re owed an apology. Some are even producing nice statistical evidence and graphs to prove it. They’re still largely saying that the solution is to create a strong trade union movement rather than put limits on immigration but it’s a good sign.

I’m considering stepping right out of political involvement. I’ve been denounced and placed in the Farage camp. Given that people are openly speculating about whether killing Farage would be like going back in time to kill baby Hitler, I really think it’s headed for violence at some scale out there. At the least, there are those who would take it upon themselves to make sure I lost my job. I’d blame it on my inability to be Gandhi-like in changing the political narrative, and that’s certainly something I haven’t got yet, but I’m watching far more politically skilled people being lined up for the firing squad so it may be only partly that. Getting out of the way of what’s coming might be the only sensible thing to do right now. Sorry for the long post!


Robert Honeybourne said...


I think this video summarises the situation in comedic form. There have been a series of these ever since Boris compared the EU domination of Europe to Hitlers plans


Ivan Lukic said...


I think this post proves your point:

Nancy Sutton said...

And more explication from the 'economic' perspective..

234567 said...

Been at the farm building woodshop, but...

I don't think it matters much who is driving the bus of the elites, and Trump, Clinto, Farage, Cameron, Corbyn... they are all of the elite. At this juncture, the only people who can invest in stocks are the elites due to currency arbitrage and HFT - they have everyone's pensions and will use them. This is likely to be the straw that breaks the camels back for the upper middle classes, specifically the Boomers.

The thing is, collapse is baked into the cake at this point - stocks, bonds, hedge funds etc along with massive government debt have pretty well been in the cake pan and risen quite high at this point. Looking at the energy industry, we are seeing the crushing of the infrastructure in oil, coal and mining in general due to the masses being unable to buy anything other than necessities - when mortgages begin to be walked away from due to no work the ranks of 'nothing to lose' will balloon.

The truth is, that the .01% live in enclaves already, insulated from us commoners. These enclaves abound in the Beltway and around London, and California and Seattle and many other places. They aren't in Wales or in Scotland or in Nebraska or Oklahoma - there are areas around these .01% enclaves where the .5% supporters live as well, along with large numbers of the 99% who are on the dole. It is a volatile mix.

Even rural has it's obvious issues. My taxes went from $80/yr to $400/yr since I built a permanent dwelling on the property. If I had purchased two RV's then they could not tax me for them, other than registration for the vehicles. Thus government has mandated (intentionally of not) what will happen at the farm. You can see this in the burgeoning RV park industry here in Texas, where they fill-up as fast as you build them due to the excessively high property taxes in this state. Why pay mortgage of $100/mn and taxes of $600-800/mn when you can rent a space in a VERY NICE RV park for $350/mn and no taxes?

There are now over 15 of these RV parks on the route to my farm, and there were 3 of them 5 years ago...

My QUESTION IS: How can one ferret out the psychopaths and sociopaths (the 'empathy-free' that comprise the political class) in order for things to function without eventually breaking down in this same fashion? Disputes will still happen, even little wars - but how do you reign in the aberrations who seem to always lead us into foolishness?

Balkanization would seem to be preferable and doable for most large nations (China excepted, as they are on a different historical path). Democracy that is small enough to hold governance accountable (minimizing bureaucrats and maximizing self-reliance) may be able to function. Our experiment with democracy is young yet.

Thoughts welcome, as I am popping corn, watching the show and not voting. I have no candidates AT ANY LEVEL that are anything but professional-grade and thus pre-corrupt or massively compromised. It is my right NOT to vote, for now...

Friction Shift said...

Thanks again for an insightful commentary that has inspired equally insightful discussion in the comments section.

If I may be permitted a prediction, the sclerotic elites in the UK will probably maneuver around the Leave vote and figure out a way to ignore the referendum, keeping Britain in the EU. Or at least they'll try.

I am reminded of the huge protests that occurred worldwide in the leadup to the United States' invasion of Iraq. The Bush-Cheney neocons watched, and their reaction was "Yeah, whatever."

Paulo said...

Wow,I just forwarded this article to several friends and family members. As far as I am concerned this is the most insightful analysis I have read on Brexit and current trends.

So true. The article and referenced austerity measures reminded me of a past workplace. I was a pilot/manager for a speciality air service. My boss (owner) felt we should be getting more 'happy efforts' from the pilots. We were all paid salary which remained the same year round, despite drop off in revenues during the winter. We had benefits, profit sharing, and a method for pension investments. It provided stability for all, we had no turnover in staff, and the customers appreciated seeing the same faces. We were very succesful and profitable. Profitable!! Anyway, one day he gave everyone a letter stating how he was contemplating base pay and mileage for our pay structure, (piece work). It was a return to the past, big time. Now, I always liked incentive pay because it rewarded the go-getters, which I was proudly one. However, it also promoted pushing weather, risky decision making, and more work for fewer people. Crashes. I remember wincing when I read the letter, knowing full well what would happen.

Only one pilot went to the owner and complained personally...spoke his objections. (He was a long-time friend) He was pissed. Several contacted me with a request to intercede on their behalf, (which I did). But instead of lighting a fire of motivation to keep mileage pay just on paper, it had the opposite effect. The 'little things' stopped being done. When the weather turned tough pilots just turned around to base. If they were asked to divert and pick up additional passengers at another location, suddenly the weather was dodgy, or the water was too rough to land, etc. In short, it simply had the opposite effect in all ways. What was most pervasive was the silence. In the past there would be open discussion and constructive ideas shared about daily operations and future plans. There was engagement. When trust was broken everyone retreated to their own agenda. When before we had almost no staff turnover, over the next few years all pilots except one left and moved on. The company is now a hollow shell of its former past, (20 years later). The owner is the only pilot left, with one part-timer. His family works in the office and the hangar. One bookkeeper remains from a once vibrant office staff. When the exodus started we had 30+ staff. Now, there are just 3 working, with one being part-time. They no longer receive applications or resumes from pilots. (We used to get hundreds per year). A few years after I left damage was done to an aircraft through hard landings. The owner decided the best way to find out what happened was administering a 'lie detector test' to find the culprit. (Honest to God). It got worse from then on. (Yes, pilots actually took the test, but they quit soon after). They never did find out 'who' damaged the aircraft, because there wasn't one person to find. It was simply the result of using the wrong machine for the job, which the owner would not admit. As he was never wrong, staff no longer bothered trying to contribute insights about daily operations. They just went through the motions, and eventually gave up.

The main result has been that after moving on everyone has done better over the long term. Everyone. Occasionally we get together over coffee or drinks and share some laughs about the owner. I'm sure it is similar in the political arena with political insiders. Afterall, google 'Sarah Palin Jokes' and you are informed there are 450,000 results.

Dandy said...

I fear that the boat has already sailed for Clinton. Only the smallest percentage of my Progressive friends have any respect for Clinton and no trust at all. Of course a label like 'Progressive" is not simple or black & white. Everybody has their list of priorities and level of devotion to them. Many will vote for Clinton out of fear of Trump. Some are desperately trying to convince themselves that she is not that bad. the level of shrillness from that corner grows louder everyday. Just for example, she negotiated the TPP, but now she says she doesn't know what says(?!), ergo "Look! It's ok!She's come out against it! Trump moved her left!" The rest know a calculating,lying, criminal when they see one. Even if she had a sincere epiphany, few people would believe her. This election will come down to individual balances between fear and hope (cutting both directions.) I fear that if Trump can act halfway sane, or yet another brush fire starts that Clinton can't ignore, we get Trump. If Trump grossly insults enough people we get Clinton. Hard to say if Trump would really be the worst candidate, though. He's an idiot and a buffoon. People say "Clinton can get things done," maybe Trump's saving grace is that he wont be able to. I'm voting Green. If I can't save the nation I can at least preserve my own sense of integrity.

Bill Pulliam said...

Kevin, JMG, about dark times... The generation born with Pluto in Scorpio sextile to Neptune in Capricorn has begun turning 30. In the coming decades they will be assuming power in society. That combo is so potent and mysterious it is downright scary. Who knows what might happens?

Spanish fly said...

I was going to write about Sade's book that I've read this last week, but instead "The 120 days of Sodom" it would be better to think about the "120 days of EU". It's a bad joke comparing Bureaucratic Leviathan with a orgiastic whorehouse and slaughterhouse.
Maybe I must be less pedantic.
Remainers campaign has been a continuous emotional blackmail, errr,just blackmail. Same day that we woke up with Brexit win news, I watched in TV a bad TV film. The stroyline was: A low-middle class man in his 40s needs easy money and starts working for a gang. when he realizes that he is putting at risk his family and own life, he tries to resign his job, but...As one of his pals says: "You can't simply renounce to this job. They use you until you are worn out"

Another cliché in film noir is the stereotypical "advice" (=threat) from gangster boss to bad minions or extorted victims: "If you keep on misbeheaving...your children/wife/store would be in trouble?
I don't believe so much in synchronicity, buy maye there is a joking goblin within TV programming.
EUrocrats has been beheaving in Brexit matter as have been doing it previously: bullying, scaring and contempting their rivals.
Oh, what a pity! This time gangster strategies have not worked. I a am in SCHADENFREUDE mood...I like that german word, and I like more even to use it when I think in Mrs. Merkel and german banksters gang.
From my position as citizen of a "brusselissed" country as one of the members of PIGS, I envy that damn Brits. I dislike Farage's anglo-British chauvinism (I symphatize quite more with Scottish patriots...) but UKIP jingoism is the lesser of two evils.
No one represesntative party in my country has proposed a referendum as happened in UK. It's sacrilege even to the "communist" Podemos party (they are too busy proposing subsidies for everybody and PC hysteria these leftists for worrying about low and middle class economic decay, thanks to Brussels imperative welfare cuttings).).
Yesterday I heard on radio that our sleepy prime minister or "president" had adviced british brexiters that they must be shoulder to shoulder within EU, following Spain's example. "through good times and bad times".
Yeah! Nice shot, Mr. Rajoy!
What a joke! Our neocon version of politics are a tireless source of deadpan jokes.
UK and Spain dismantled their big factories a long time ago, but british have a good portion of financial banking cake. Oh, UK also is a bigger militar power than pathetic spanish Army, a nuclear power by itself. If drunkards and hooligans are scared by Brexit or by "advices"(threats) to UK sovreignty...they should easily find another beach cleaner and cheaper that spanish ones.
Oh, oh, I'm afraid that after second elections in 6 months, there won't be a new and strong government in the short term, so we are seeing Marmot Day repetition. And Merkel's minions at Brussels maybe are losing their patience with all this silly and futile negotiation for making a new government (slavish to Brussels, aka German banksters, of course).
In another sample of humour festival a talking head commentig all this in a TV pundits program said that "Now, UK is weak, so we can claim the Gibraltar's return to Spain". I heard some canned laughing voices, so I'm afraid I should report that strange matter with my psychiatric. Or maybe is that pundit who should go to the madhouse, who nows?

Oh, by the way, I empathyzed a bit with Donatien Alphonse (marquis de Sade) in his less disgusting tastes, enjoying the great fall of Remainers leaders, Humpty Dumpty style. Frack off preposterous fool Cameron and old-fashioned leftie Corbyn.

Rebecca Brown said...

Hey JMG,
Thanks for another cogent post. The response among my "liberal" friends has been just as you described, and I've lost a few for remarking that categorizing half the voters of a country as racist and stupid is short-sighted and wrong.

I had the dubious pleasure of watching a few minutes of CNN this morning and getting to hear Obama describe Trump and all of his supporters as xenophobic and nativist. They then cut to clips of Trump's recent economic speech, and you know what? As much as I hate to admit it because I detest the man, he's the only politician I've heard talking about the economy in years who made any sense.

Regarding the poster above who asked about proof jobs have been lost and wages have declined, even without the impact of outsourcing, many businesses in Alabama where I'm from have hired illegal labor at just above slave wages for years instead of employees. These businesses range from cleaning services to restaurants to agricultural processors and farmers. One occasionally gets busted and gets slapped on the wrist and goes right back to it. Many companies that hire U.S. workers now only take on "independent contractors" so they don't have to pay benefits or taxes and pay lower salaries to boot.

Eric S. said...

One of the things that’s been most confusing to me about the reaction to the referendum is the fact that the same people who are shouting about fascism, xenophobia, the beginning of the end of (I’m not sure exactly what), and so on are also the same people who will usually nod their heads in agreement when we discuss things like… the problems with globalism, runaway free trade, neoliberalism, and so on. Before the referendum happened, I could express my frustrations with multinational governments like the EU, and my hopes that Greece, Britain, or someone would make the first move and step away, and that viewpoint would be met with either agreement or indifference. Now, I’m afraid that if I say how I REALLY feel to anyone but a few close friends, It’ll be like I got caught goose-stepping down main street. (And yet, those same people who are talking about how terrible it is that this happened… are still talking about the problems of neoliberalism, etcetera… despite condemning one of the first concrete attempts at dismantling it…). It’s been absolutely perplexing to watch, and it’s also made it very difficult to know how to talk to people who I’ve agreed with on most political issues for decades. You’ve pointed out the possibilities of a complete repolarization in global politics, and it looks like it’s happening... and this time I’m finally learning what it feels like to be firmly on the “wrong” side of a political hot-button issue within a community of people I usually agree with… and zipping my mouth shut at the cries of “selfish gits,” “I hope they burn,” and so on… The cognitive dissonance really confuses me, I’m guessing that it’s entirely because the proposal came from the conservative parties, and so it turned into a left/right issue… or something. I really hope I can make it through this crazy year without finally losing close, long-standing friendships (as seems to have happened with you recently) but it’s definitely required mastering the art of biting my tongue…

One other aspect of the conversation worth brief comment: I’ve been noticing the initial stirrings of the backlash against the environmental movement that you hinted at here. If that becomes mainstream, it would be huge… Despite all the problems with environmentalism as it currently exists, it has had a history of producing some things that have made our predicament slightly less bad than it could be… While CO2 is still wreaking havoc on our atmosphere, emissions regulations have at least made air breathable and taken us away from the days when pollution was so rampant that it gave us the peppered moth story that graces science textbooks to this day, and innovations such as the public lands system of national parks and forests have made small steps towards keeping at least some landmass safe from exploitation and development (and of course even that led to a militia occupation that ended in a shootout earlier last year). None of that is enough to keep civilization toppling consequences from coming about, but a public opinion backlash that not only barred further work towards sustainability (as happened in the 1980s) but rolled back on the modest regulations and protections that survived the ‘80s at a crucial time like the one we’re living in now seems like it would be a huge development… one that would make an already bleak situation even worse. How long could something like that last, and how much more damage could it do than what’s already being done? Would it be one last hurrah for the ethos of industrialism? Or would it be something more complete and long lasting, of the sort that would prevent the emergence of a more sustainable society to emerge in some future time, and force a reassessment of our species’ chances? Scary thought…

Matt said...

JMG: "Did you see the discussions earlier about Swiss and Japanese immigration policy? Neither of those nations are authoritarian isolationist states, and neither one admits many immigrants. "

Re: Switzerland, that statement seems to be the diametric opposite of the truth:

I'm not saying that Switzerland is anything to emulate, by the way. It is likely to face an intensely rough ride, isn't it, when the financialisation bubble bursts?

Spanish fly said...

Now, the true EU hymn, suitabily singed by a German rock band.

Disclaimer: I am not mocking to every German people, I bet that low and middle class working people are not "enjoying" at all Merkels politics: Wellcome refugees, wellcome cheaper workforce!
However, here in the South we are eating more poo than Northern EU people.

"I like Germany, Angie".
"I'm glad to see you. Please, sit down".

Matt said...

A previous commenter was asking about research on the impacts of immigration on the economy and wages. Here's a couple of sources I managed to find. No affiliation to either.

Peter VE said...

Another excellent post, and reason enough to have internet access at home.
In my state of Rhode Island, a Democrat named Gina Raimondo was elected Governor in 2014. Her main qualification was overseeing, as Treasurer, the shift of millions of dollars in state pension funds from retirees (in the form of COLAs) to Wall Street (in the form of Hedge Fund fees). The State is run by politicians who have a (D) after their name, but have progressed further down the road to "necrosuophiliac cravings" than most. The entire state Democratic Party apparatus lined up solidly for Ms. Clinton, but Sanders won 54-46. More tellingly, the late Robert Healey got 22% of the vote for Governor in 2014. He'd been a longtime gadfly, and previously nearly won the Lt. Governorship on a platform of eliminating the office. In his race for Governor, he spent a grand total of $37. Meanwhile, our legislature just passed a budget with per capita spending of $8,900. Next door Massachusetts, which has better public services and better schools, spends $5,400 per capita.
I'm trying to figure a path to collapse to Lakeland, where I grew up. I would still need to make an income at my profession (architecture), where I have built up a local practice that isn't likely to follow me. The most important part is that I'm already making friends in the old Rust Belt town I have in mind.

Bob said...

JMG, another thoughtful and sophisticated analysis of current events (though I do miss my opportunity to escape to Retrotopia sometimes). I am certainly not a fan of either candidate, and have entertained the arguments of my "Bernie or Bust" friends with an open mind, but I am actually pretty lost here. While I would never ask you (or anyone else) to tell me how (or if) to vote, I am curious about your claim that "on most economic, political, and military issues, Hillary Clinton is well to the right of Donald Trump." Can you be a little more specific? I am not challenging your accuracy, just hoping to be further educated by another point of view. I realize Clinton is no FDR, and that the Democratic party is mostly a twisted parody of what it once was (or tried to be), but Trump has expressed some pretty far-right foreign policy ideas, seems to have some genuine objections to the First Amendment as it is currently written and enforced, and seems to truly dislike people who are not white males (I would argue that someone willing to pretend to hold these values is, to some extent, indistinguishable fro the real deal). Thanks

Donald Hargraves said...

If you don't mind me wondering: What would you make of the seemingly unified stand of artists for the Remain side? From the elder statesmen (Pet Shop Boys, J. K. Rowling) to the mid-levelers (Viv Albertine, Ladytron) to barely on the radar (Not Right, a record label that sells less than 20 copies per release on Bandcamp), all of the came out in favor of Remain.

Lee said...

JMG - Thanks for mentioning the vulnerability of our carrier fleet. They look like floating targets to me. The Russians undoubtedly know the whereabouts of every single one of them in real time.

Don't poke the bear. (See Dmitri Orlov's take on this.)

I also have concerns about corruption in the US military. I got out 50 years ago and it was corrupt and incredibly inefficient then. I doubt that it has gotten any better.

No reply required and thanks again.

mgalimba said...

@Bill Pulliam

Thanks for the link to the Liberal Redneck, love it! And for your always insightful counterpoint!

JimBobRazrBk said...

Thanks for this great post, and for the courage to break with the conventional soundbites. I have a theory about why there is a temporary spike in people who think they identify with the elites inside the palace: the "education" system. I've noticed that in the Brexit vote, a huge number of young voters decided to remain, probably because they are in some way connected to the education system, and therefore consider themselves part of the "educated" elite above the ignorant masses, not knowing that their very participation in the education system is an act of exploitation by the elites toward them (or at least that's what it is in the USA.) I underwent this shift myself to a certain extent. The young who are still in school fancy themselves part of the educated elites on the path to "good jobs", until they get out and find themselves competing for the lowest wage jobs but somehow still accountable to pay back six figures of debt; it is only then that those with enough sense to see what is gong on realize that they were never part of the liberal elite but were really just taken for a ride by them and their entire education experience was one huge financial transaction, the cost of which could have gotten them a house or something else more useful. I think that this shift in consciousness has started for a few of us but will take a lot longer, since the first reaction for people emerging on the other end of this is still to blame the evil Republicans. Give it ten, twenty years though, and I think the vast majority of today's young trendies and social justice warriors will transform into the very same angry, populist, anti-education blue collar workers they despise so much today, once they realize that the entire basis for their identification with the elites was one big scam.

Joe Roberts said...

[I hope you won't mind a small factual correction, since I know you strive for exactitude. The general election that made Thatcher the PM was in 1979 (in early May), not in 1978.]

Great analysis. There's something so deeply, fundamentally depressing to me abut the idea of a Britain gone off the rails. To me it's akin to finding out that your practical and dependable father has, in late middle age, started abusing heroin or is keeping teenagers tied up in his basement. Like most Americans, I think, I have a primarily subconscious belief that Britain will always be the wise parent. The trains may not always run on time; the sun may have set on the empire; but the Brits, I think we generally believed, would stay basically sober and sane (even when frequently drunk).

Perhaps it's all an exaggeration (certainly it's idealization) -- there's no objective truth about what "going of the rails" means, after all -- but I feel a bit like a wayward twenty-something who thought he could at least always depend on his parents for structure and sanity as a last resort, and has now found out that even they have gone mad.

Ramaraj said...

Dear JMG,

I read in the news that many in the younger affluent urban class are blaming the older generation for voting for Brexit. They are being mocked for 'not liking the new, modern multicultural world and wanting to retreat into their stupid, racist, bigoted '. The elderly were being insulted for being 'ignorant, stupid and selfish.' One person said, "Perhaps there should be a maximum voting age".

I have noticed that this ageism is widely prevalent among the young urban class. I have had several elderly relatives lament to me that their children don't really listen to any advice. What's more, the elderly people feel that they are completely useless for the society despite having years of hard earned experience and wisdom. The retort to any advice is usually like, "My life, my choice, so you don't interfere." or, "I am educated, so I don't need any advice.".

Of course there is the typical teenage rebellion, but this one seems to continue well past the late 20s. The young generation

i personally feel that they have a lot to contribute to pulling us through the hard times ahead, simply because they have lived through it already (In most of the third world, I won't know about America and the west.)

Is this part of the fatal disconnect with the past and reality that affects civilizations in the late stage? Is it just individualism?


onething said...

How about some discussion of the uncanny resemblance between politics and trends in the U.S. and Britain, as well as Europe for these last decades and increasingly so.

If the internal proletariat are about to reject the values of the elite that could be very good, as the main value that runs this Babylon called America is money, with nothing in second place. As to the environment, I'm skeptical that the real elites care much. The real value is trashing the environment, so perhaps we can reject that as well. Also, exploiting the environment and exploiting the masses are just two facets of the same value, which is greed for... money.

Now I'm reading Cosmos and Psyche, and it makes a rather airtight case for astrological influences upon the world, so I'd be interested to know where we are in the cycle of Uranus / Pluto. That's as far as I've gotten in the book and this particular pair are relevant to times like these, but no doubt there are others as well.

Ramaraj said...

In the last year or so, corporations in the third world countries have been frantically accelerating the pace of automating their factories, assembly lines and warehouses. Thousands of workers are being laid off to be replaced with Robots, Computers and other 'Smart' devices. Looks like a desperate attempt to hold on to profits (or break even, though one can hardly tell through the fog of accounting).

Robots don't consume any goods or services, so demand will fall, which will lead to another round of job cuts and automations, and so on. This may be the start of a death spiral of negative feedback between demand destruction and economic output that you have covered in this blog.

The establishmnt elites are insisting that progress of technology is inevitable, and people losing jobs to technology will just find other jobs. As you have said earlier, this is of course not what actually happens. And the clueless are repeating the same things that caused the problem. It is certainly going to explode messily soon, particularly in India, China and the other countries that supply goods and services to most of the west.

My question is, do you foresee the political upheaval currently happening doing anything to interfere with this downward spiral? How far do you think we are from the Mikkelson manufacturing plants of Atlantic Republic? Do we have to go further downward in the Hubbert's energy curve for the idea to get serious consideration in mainstream thought?

LewisLucanBooks said...

As far as Hilary's chances go ... bumper sticker seen yesterday. "Keep Bill Out of the White House!" People have long memories, for that sort of thing. I've been saying all along that she might be unelectable, as she has just too much baggage. Not only her own, but her extended families. Lew

Brian Kaller said...


Thank you -- I've been saying some of the same things, and wrote a piece about it in the American Conservative. The good news is this vote has set off a storm of serious soul-searching among the politically active set here; I hope they will learn some lessons from this.

You'll also be interested to know that articles are already appearing about the USA de-centralising:

Cynically, I expect some business elites would propose that just to have less regulation, of course, but the fact that so many people are taking such suggestions seriously means we could be getting closer to your Twilight's Last Gleaming scenario. I hope we can avoid it.

Troy Jones said...

To go along with the theme of the elites rising up because the unwashed masses refuse to do as they demand, yesterday Neil DeGrasse Tyson floated the idea of replacing democracy with a one-world government whose sole mandate would be "all policy shall be based on the weight of evidence". The practical questions of who exactly has the final say in interpreting this evidence and to whom would these leaders be accountable (if anyone) if they fail to weigh the evidence correctly is not addressed by him nor by anyone jumping on that bandwagon.

Also, quite apart from that, "evidence" alone is not enough to guide the direction of government: for example, should government try to pursue "income equality" as a policy or not, and if so, to what degree? Evidence can answer the question of whether particular government policies are effective in that regard, but the answer to the question of whether to pursue such policies in the first place can only come from values and opinion, not objective evidence.

I don't know if the Brexit vote specifically is what occasioned Tyson to join the chorus of wealthy elites calling for an end to democracy, but it seems likely.

Golocyte Golo said...

Mr Greer has warned of a fascist-style "taking of the unoccupied middle ground" in electoral politics, but I would like to point out that it is conceivable (though less and less likely) for a moderate, sensible party to take this ground as well.

I'd like to point out Peter Hitchens----whom many British readers will have an opinion on, but who is almost unknown to American readers (as opposed to his late brother Christopher Hitchens). He describes himself as "Right-Wing Labor," which he says hasn't existed in his country since the 50's (at the latest) in any organized fashion. Basic policy proscriptions would be social conservatism, "Little England" non-interventionist nationalism, and basic left-wing economic policy (strong NHS and labor laws, nationalization of transportation services).

Here is his blog, and here is an interview transcript and here is a very amusing video interview.

In the USA, a home-grown, All-American model would be the Teddy Roosevelt wing of the Republican party, which no longer exists. This wing of the party (and the Bull Moose splitoff) espoused strong workers rights, universal health care, environmental conservation, Trust-Busting and anti-money regulation, strict regulation of money in politics (including registration of lobbyists), universal education, a muscular small-voice-big-stick foreign policy, privileging of conservative & traditional family forms, and an unwavering espousal of American Exceptionalism.

If I may impose modern engrams onto old style politics, I'd throw in border protection (yes a wall), strong anti-drug laws along with legalization of marijuana, and devoted work-training programs for ghettoized youth and anti-urban-blight construction programs (maybe something like the "Free Trade Zones" of east Asia).

This may all sound like a horrible chimera to modern ears, but I'd point out that the current American party platforms would sound like horrible chimeras to most people from 70 or 100 years ago.

I think a Right-Wing Progressive platform like this would be immensely popular today and would sweep away most serious opposition.

Lucretia Heart said...

Hey, John!

Have you seen this?

It seems that there is a LITTLE scrutiny put on elites by a few. Someone may have already pointed this out to you, but if you haven't seen it, its worth a look.

Chloe said...


I did miss the discussions about Switzerland and Japan (I was in a bit of a hurry earlier) and I do agree that it's possible to limit immigration without becoming an authoritarian state (there's a case to be made that both Switzerland and Japan are relatively isolationist, though not to the extent that it's necessarily a bad thing) and was perhaps being a bit facetious… But there's a difference between keeping immigration levels low/slowly tapering them off and slashing them sharply, not so much for political reasons but because many economic systems and networks are set up to assume high levels of immigration in lieu of a growing population (or, y'know, a no-growth model) - the NHS and the universities in particular rely heavily on incoming staff and students. The politicians we've got at the moment might not worry too much about *their* opinions, but they will still listen to the pet economists who tell them that cutting immigration is a bad thing, and I'd be surprised to see the Tories or Labour make more than friendly noises towards it while they still, clearly, fail to recognise the threat that UKIP poses - regardless of whatever deal is made with the EU, since a good chunk of migrants to the UK comes from outside it. I'm also taking into account things like the Syrian refugee crisis; such situations are liable to become more common and it's very difficult to keep people out if they're desperate and determined enough.

For immigration to drop sharply would take at the least a very determined government, in opposition to the entirety of the media, about half the population and almost the entirety of the current elite which, senile it may be, isn't quite doddery enough to give up power yet. The EU referendum was only a very narrow win for Brexit which may yet be reversed or, more likely, reversed in all but name if we join the EEA, and I don't think the disillusioned half of the population - lacking any advantage *but* numbers - is in a position to enact any kind of popular revolution; the details of the UK voting system would make it very difficult for UKIP to sweep the board even with a relative landslide, given the remaining entrenchment of Labour in some areas and - more so - the Tories in others. The Tories might actually have more luck cutting immigration sharply if they really tried, but in any case I think it's unlikely. A slow drop over the next couple of decades? Perhaps. A dramatic cut within the next five years? Not so much.

I'd be very surprised to see a true authoritarian regime come to power in the near future. It's not that we aren't in a bad enough state - we're not in the right *kind* of bad state (though I may be speaking from my own privileged position of life in Scotland). I really hope it's not one of those jokes that comes back to bite me…

Andrew Roth said...

JMG, your comment about having a friend hang up on you for not supporting Clinton strikes a chord for me. I'm afraid that I'm about to lose a longtime friend for a similar reason, namely, that he's a yuppie social climber and I'm too poor for his narrow, precious tastes. Last weekend I had to skip a bachelor party that he was hosting for a friend of ours on the gentrified Baltimore waterfront, in part because I wasn't sure I could afford the travel expenses on top of the bills I have coming due. He didn't seem to take it too well, and I don't know how many clashes over my relative poverty and his flashy affluence we can sustain. I'm actually extremely fortunate compared to many of the homeless and unemployed (I'm often one or both), so if I can't keep up with these people to their satisfaction, I hate to think of how hopeless, say, the generationally poor are before them.

This fellow inadvertently offered a neat vignette of his own sheltered, clueless privilege over the weekend when he posted a series of photos on Facebook under the hashtag #yachtlife. He probably assumes that he's safely surrounded by other affluent people, or maybe that the objections of the poors don't count. He knows full well that my own circumstances have deteriorated quite badly since graduation, so there's definitely some arrogance at play. If he talked to the people I've met on farm crews in the Willamette Valley (in towns roughly as poor as Cumberland), he'd be floored by how poor and backwards they are. Cottage Grove and McMinnville are not towns where a prep can expect to get his way by strutting around like he owns the place. Their citizens would admire him for having rented a yacht. It's different around Philadelphia, and that's one of the things about Philly that I miss least.

The yuppie project needs to be brought to an end and its vectors bodily driven into the forested shadows, as they were during the Great Depression. In other words, it's time to make American tactful again.

bicosse said...

Well, John, I voted to Remain, though with a heavy heart. Though I'm not one of the elite - indeed I've been busy collapsing early to avoid the rush, partly on your good advice, mainly though out of necessity - I have long believed that European unity was the best guard against the teetering balance of power between nation states which led to the European catastrophe of 1914-89, two world wars, genocide and the division of the continent between rival outside powers, one totalitarian.

Now I see that the neoliberal, debt-deflationary policies of the EU are actually stoking conflict, but I had hoped that the coming crisis might just possibly lead to reform and that Britain might be part of that process. Perhaps Brexit will now shock the senile Euro-elites to their senses - but I rather doubt it.

With regard to immigration control and racism, it seems to me that the left equates the two because border control privileges 'old-stock' citizens over newcomers. Clearly this is true, but it ignores the extent to which moral concepts such as anti-racism and human rights have purchase only insofar as there is an effective state committed to enforcing some kind of justice, however imperfect. No use protesting that my human rights are being abused if I live in Syria or Somalia. Yet for a state to be effective it must control its borders, or else it risks being overrun by invaders or repudiated by its own people(s) - which seems to be happening now to the European superstate.

Personally I like multicultural city life, I married an African migrant, my daughter is mixed-race. I volunteer at a night shelter for destitute refugees and migrants. But I do this because I see hospitality to the stranger and the destitute as a moral obligation, a Christian work of mercy, not because I believe that the state can realistically abolish borders.

Thank you for your perceptive American comment on UK/European affairs. We certainly live in interesting times!

onething said...

I think that when it comes to enacting changes that will benefit people, the current state of scammery in medicine is bigger than people seem to want to admit. From the Trump campaign website, the following points are, um, yuuge:

2. Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state. By allowing full competition in this market, insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up.

5. Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.

7. Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products. Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America. Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.

Ricardo Rolo said...

Well, TBH and being in one of those countries of Europe the northerners call not affectionally of PIIGS, my first reaction in the morning when someone told me of the UK referendum result ( among other news like, the election grilock results in Spain ) was literally " Good. Now we can stop paying the Queen of England subsidies because of her farms " ( for those that ,like the person I was talking to, don't get what I'm saying, the Queen of England is the biggest landowner of the European Union and thus , it receives the biggest individual share of the European Agricultural Policy subsidies. A fact I keep in the pocket for the inevitable times some German comes to acuse the southern peoples of Europe of being lazy and of being leeching the other Europeans ... ;) ), so you can see I do not have much of love for the EU. But, regardless of my leanings and of agreeing with your reading of the events, I wanted to focus on the reactions of the oficial pundits ( and not only ) around UK and Europe, that have been frankly pathetic and something between a child's tantrum and a "burn the heretic" cry ... ( I have even heard someone saying that this was 1649 and Cromwell all over again and that we would have a Charles II in some years in the future . I assume British readers will understand quite well what is the threat here )

While I can't talk exactly about how stuff is in the UK, that got in the EEC in 1973, I am old enough to have witnessed my own country entry in the then EEC in 1986 and I have seen with my own eyes the not so subtle changes that were introduced in the education of toddlers. First of all , it was stated in no uncertain terms that history before the EEC was to be taught in very broad ( and IMHO completely wrong ) brushes to general students and second, and most importantly, the story of the EEC/EC/EU was to be taught in terms that can only be called a theogony:

In the beggining, the peoples of Europe lived in primitive political arragements called nations and warred incessantly against each other. Then after a particularly destructive war, there were some iluminated souls that decided that the only way of stopping this was to make a border free commercial union. That union, because it was all good and nice, atracted more members and then the obvious next step would be ( or ended up being, depending of this being before or after 1992 ) a political union to end all wars. And obviously, because the EEC/EC/EU is a good thing, it obviously had to grow up and get even more integrated...

( Continues ... )

Ricardo Rolo said...

( ... Continued )

I'm pretty sure that, for readers of this blog, is quite clear what they did here: they present the history of the EEC/EC/EU as Progress and as you know Progress is God ( and Bill Gates/Elon Musk/Idiot of the week is his prophet, I guess ), so you can't fight it ... and let's not let little facts like people leaving the EEC ( like Greenland did in 1985 ), people refusing by referendum to enter the EC ( like Norway did in 1991 IIRC and Switzerland has done not that long ago ) or the fact that the EEC/EC/EU has been leaving some countries on the door because "they are too big , too strong and too Muslim "( Turkey , if you haven't guessed already ) get in the way of the narrative of EU. EU is Progress , Progress is God and denying the EU evergrowth is denying God, and we know what in this corner of the world they like to do to people that deny the oficial religion ...

And that probably explains the reactions of most people around the EU talking heads: most of them are young enough to have been indoctrinated fully in this idea of the growth of EU being something akin to the laws of nature and they are genuinely shocked to see something that for them is akin to see water flowing up and can only see the people that are against it as residues of the brutish old peoples of Europe that lived in primitive nations and warred incessantly against each other ( hence the ubiquous "racist", "nazi" and "fascist" insults being thrown around: because only a pre WW II jerk could want not not be in the EU ) and that alone is probably enough to explain the rather inflamed tones that, say, Juncker has been adressing the British since Sunday ( or the rather infatile proposal to remove English as a official language of the EU, like if English was not a official language of other EU member... )

Note, I'm not telling that there are not some cold calculating heads behind all of this ( I , for myself, fully expect that the UK elite will try to stall things for some years and call other referendum when enough old people dies to turn the result around ), but I think this is a good example of what the well born people do when their Progress idol gets slapped in the face by the unwashed. Expect more of this in the future, unfortunately ...

susan said...

Bravo! I've been reading your posts regularly for at least eight years but rarely comment. A few days ago I watched a wonderful short video interview with Brown U's Professor Mark Blyth. My favorite of his comments was at the end when he said: 'As I tell my American friends, the Hamptons is not a defensible position. The Hamptons is a very rich area on Long Island that lie along a low-lying beach. It's very hard to defend a low-lying beach. Eventually people will come for you'.

Thank you so much for continuing to write such astute and well-informed articles. I'll continue sending new readers your way.

Gottfried Wilhelm Melvin Hicks-Leibniz said...

John, I have to point out an error in your assumptions regarding immigration in Switzerland.

In 2014, 35.4% of the permanent resident population aged 15 or over in Switzerland, i.e. 2,445,000 persons, had a migration background. A third of this population (855,000) have Swiss citizenship. Four fifths of persons with a migration background are themselves immigrants (first generation foreigners and native-born and naturalised Swiss citizens), whereas one fifth were born in Switzerland (second generation foreigners, Swiss citizens since birth and naturalised Swiss citizens). [Source;]

In German, but a nice pie chart at the bottom of page comparing second generation foreigners to rest of Europe. With more than 60%, Switzerland has the most relative to others. [Source;]

It is precisely because of such facts, that the SVP (Swiss People's Party) has increased its appeal amongst the rural and working class - which is another example of global Trumpism. In comparison to Trump, the father of this party (Blocher) is also a billionaire industrialist who also owns a major media outlet.

Even HuffPo (sorry no other good english sources) did a piece comparing Blocher to Trump -

Both Blocher and the SVP have long complained that the political class does not heed the will of the people and that said will (via referenda) should be the first and last arbiter of legislation. Switzerland’s political system allows for anyone to bring an issue to referendum if they garner 100,000 signatures within 18 months.

The SVP has used this to repeatedly launch divisive initiatives capitalizing on fear. Alongside the SVP’s platform points, domestic and international critics have in particular noted the explosive campaign material used by the SVP to stoke voter fears.

Gottfried Wilhelm Melvin Hicks-Leibniz said...

I see that Mark Blyth is going viral here ;-)

Here's a short lecture he gave earlier this month (under 11 minutes):

Mark Blyth--Are the Populists Threatening Democracy?


see: Betteridge's law of headlines

Gottfried Wilhelm Melvin Hicks-Leibniz said...

John, apparently WaPo has fact-checked the jet stream claim :

Sam Lillo, who is working on his PhD in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, said the cross-equator flow evolved from twin areas of high pressure on either side of the equator while a parade of atmospheric waves in the Southern Hemisphere had pushed the subtropical (which is distinct from the mid-latitude or polar jet stream that Scribbler and Beckwith are discussing) jet stream northward, allowing the link to occur. “None of this is unusual,” he said. “There isn’t a wall at the equator separating the two hemispheres, and air is free to flow from one side to the other.”

Scribbler had cited a tweet from Lillo to support his argument of a strengthened equator-to-pole connection, but Lillo countered that the tweet referred to some unusual behavior of a phenomenon known as the QBO or Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, which is “a separate story” from the cross-equator flow. The QBO, he said, is an oscillation in equatorial stratospheric winds, which has been “out of phase.” He chalked up the weird QBO behavior to natural variability “even though I’m an advocate for identifying connections to human-caused climate change.”

Unfortunately, the thoroughly specious claims of Scribbler and Beckwith have gone viral, getting picked up Raw Story, Reddit and Inhabitat.

Such information viewed through the lens of a non-specialist may come across as both credible and alarming but damages the reputation of the science when ultimately shown to be flawed.

Christophe said...

Hereward, your "Junckerwocky" was a definite highlight in my day. Many, many thnaks.

Bill Pulliam said...

Clinton not win any western state? Nate Silver who has done pretty well recently has Clinton winning WA, CA, HI, and NM for sure, OR probably, and NV and CO leaning. Trump only for sure has ID and WY and probably UT, AK, and MT. AZ is up for grabs. The fact that UT is not a dead certainty and AZ is up for grabs speaks very poorly of the strength of Mr. Trump. Nationally he has the odds at 80:20 for Clinton:Trump. Sure, it may be different this time, but it is different EVERY time. And yet it is not really that different.

Silver doesn't have Johnson or Stein with any significant chance of winning any state.

alex carter said...

I registered to vote online last night as I was not *allowed* to vote for any Presidential candidate in the primary, it being decided by the State of California that I was some kind of unaffiliated voter. Apparently this has happened to a large number of people, largely those of low income so you can draw your conclusions from there. I am not affiliated with a party so maybe I'll get to vote for a presidential candidate in the general election.

And, also, surprise surprise, I had to fill in the "race box" just like on any official form.

We'll be very lucky if all JMG's theoretical Fascist party shows itself by neat, young, cheerful people in green shirts and black work pants cleaning up the parks. I'm thinking more in the line of demonstrations where the participants not only are prepared for the possibility of violence but count on it because they plan to perpetuate it.

And I think it will be because of a large number of people, from the various levels of the working class, will have become Fed Up. The lack of jobs, the having to fill in a Race Box, having it decided for you how you can vote and whether you can vote, these things all add in with a large number of others.

Clay Dennis said...

My discovery on peoples view on Trump or Br-exit has a lot to do with their view of the future, in addition to Class. Obviously these two are intertwined, but it seems likely that in addition to the wounds that the working class has suffered under neoliberalism they have also subconsciously absorbed a stunted doomer worldview. Even though they are spoon-fed 24-7 that the sparkly future is coming and will make them all as rich and glamorous as the Kardashians or Lebron James they are beginning to realize that it is a downhill road and they are being rolled down the hill first. This is why the two very different groups that are against both "Remain" and Hillary are the downtrodden working class and the intellectual doomer/revolutionary crowd. Both groups believe that the civilization they know is on a downhill slide and big change is good, or kicking the elites down the hill first to create a softer landing is also good. This is what is striking about people that I know without exception, those who believe the status quo can continue are aghast at Trump or Bernie or Brexit and those who think the world is going to heck in a hand-basket are glad for anything that upsets the dominant paradigm.

John Roth said...


Keep your eye pealed. Clinton has just appeared with Elizabeth Warren, According to one source, she’s been told, in no uncertain terms by the Wall Street people who’ve been funding her election, “Us or Warren.” Wall Street will not back her if she picks Warren as her running mate. See

@David Carter

It doesn’t matter that only 27% of the people who live in the British Isles voted for BrExit. The null hypothesis is that the ones that did not vote would have voted in the same proportion as the ones that did. That’s not necessarily the case, but the reason it’s called a null hypothesis is that you need actual data to support a different reading.

@Mean Mr. Mustard

A minor nit: While I don’t know about Blair, Bush had a plan for Iraq once he’d liberated it from Hussain. It wouldn’t have worked, but he didn’t know that. It got blocked with all the foreign fighters who immediately arrived with “kick the Americans out” in mind.


When you say “she negotiated the TPP” you’re making a classic mistake. The TPP was negotiated by a number of bureaucrats in the Office of the US Trade Representative. She was undoubtedly in on a number of high level talks, but then so were a number of other politicians whose hands are equally dirty. In any case, a lot of the negotiations happened after she left office.

The last president who had the intellectual horsepower to actually read and understand most of what went on was probably Jimmy Carter. He supposedly acted as his own Chief of Staff.


I heard about that speech. I’m not sure how his staff managed to get him to read off the teleprompter without extemporizing, but by all accounts he had a great speechwriter. The “transcript” had over a hundred footnotes. That’s Trump? Not.


You’re looking at a specific part of the 80-year historical cycle. In the US, the two generations at issue are called the Boomers (old) and the Millenials (young); I don’t know what the names are in Britain, although I’ve heard the same labels. It’s a four generation cycle, and what’s happened in the past turns of the cycle is that the elder generation (the Boomers, etc.) wind up with an impoverished old age while their children reject everything they stood for.


There are … reasons … why the 80-year historical cycle is synchronizing across much of the world. The exoteric reason is WW II, which reset the clock for a lot of the countries that were most impacted by it.

The Uranus cycle is 84 years, and it crossed the Vernal Equinox a few years ago beginning a new change cycle. Pluto is presently in the middle of Capricorn. The US will have its Pluto return sometime in the mid 20s.

A number of years ago I did a workup of Pluto against the 80-year cycle as presented in Strauss and Howe’s Generations. It was interesting, but I decided not to publish it. It involved three different national charts, one of which is highly speculative (the one for Great Britain back in medieval times).

Unknown said...

I want to participate in discussion this week, I hope.

Last night I walked out of a poetry reading that was taking place in an art museum. The speaker started a clapping sing along, which included great lines like "F*** America in the a**" and so on. I cursed and left. These were primarily students, and I've long been stunned at how eagerly liberals are at playing into Trump's strengths. I.e. calling him "Voldemort" as non-ironical attempt at disparaging him. Hmm, why would they refer to a children's book, willingly making themselves the children in the room when discussing Trump??

Anyway, I have had to think long and hard. fwiw, I intend to support Trump candidacy for the sole reason that I think he is the only candidate for miles around that has any likelihood of reversing and maybe even improving relations with Russia. Everyone else seems to want to relive the 1980 Olympic Hockey games/Rocky's triumph over Ivan Drago. My opinion is that this is the most important issue for the next 10-20 years. It is an admittedly nakedly political decision, no morality, as there is no candidate preaching a platform of retropia and willing drawdown as a global power, this is the lesser of evils in my view.

Thanks. said...

Great post John.

the brexit result has truly shaken the British and European elites.

Influenced by your writings over the last few years, I predicted a Leave victory in early January 2016 in my blog (see link) as the working and middle classes have taken a beating from the Great Recession and the impact of mass immigration on public services, jobs and housing.

Like you, I think that Trump should be able to win the presidency on this wave of anger which is impacting the world.

We live in interesting times...

TJ said...

John, you must know a different "subset" of Trump supporters than the ones I meet here in Central Floida's Gulf Coast. They are openly and proudly racist, homophobic, America Firsters who are also vehimately pro-capitalism. None has ever said a word about equal or civil rights except in the most negative of ways. Nor have I read anything written by a supporter of Mr. Trump who is any different. This is not what other people say about Trump and his supporters, it is what they proudly proclaim. Am I supposed to believe that they don't mean what they say? And why would I do that?

Yellow Submarine said...

Speaking of the Brexit vote and the clueless, pampered fools who refuse to accept the democratically expressed will of the British people, have any of you seen this one yet? I think he makes some very good points.

Mark Northfield said...


Apologies for the length of this. There is just so much to say here. I hope you don't mind me doing so. I'll post it in two parts.

You make some good points (as ever) about the dangers of a divided society, but it is always difficult trying to understand another culture from the outside. This is one of the main reasons I like reading your blog: it helps me understand the US beyond the mainstream headlines we see. As a UK resident, I do feel you've used too many broad brush strokes in this latest article. There are some important nuances missed and also some outright omissions in your narrative which are essential to understanding the situation.

First off, I would urge you to read this:

The leave vote was won not only by poorer, ex-industrial, Labour voting areas, but also by large swathes of non-metropolitan Tory voting England, some of which are pretty affluent on the whole. What unites these very different groups is a push-back against the economic AND social changes of the past 30-40 years. The pithy slogan 'take back control' held an emotional appeal to turn the clock back that the Remain camp couldn't counter effectively, however implausible it might be to implement in the manner that the Leave campaign suggested would be possible, and without perhaps breaking up the UK in the process.

Stirring this emotional soup is an overwhelmingly (sometimes viciously) right-wing press, perfectly able to promote snobbery and consumerism, while also demonising 'the other' (whoever that might be, but frequently immigrants) and hating anything at all to do with Europe. UK governments tremble at their malign power in a way that the EU simply didn't, as Rupert Murdoch succinctly pointed out in an oft repeated quote.

Immigration simply wasn't a major issue in the UK pre-2004. What changed was the expansion of the EU eastward that year to take in former Soviet bloc countries, and the decision of the New Labour government not to put in temporary restrictions on migration from these countries as most others in the EU did. The result was a massive net influx over the following years, mainly Polish, who had very limited options of where else to go. This was a terrible error of judgement on the part of the UK government. (But it's worth noting that approximately half of our net immigration is non-EU; we already have 'control' which we choose not to apply.)

This influx exacerbated what was already an old problem: lack of affordable housing. The early 80s saw council housing sold off and not replaced, because government decided the market would see to it. The market didn't, because there was more profit in not doing so. Similarly, public services struggled post 2008 when austerity politics decided it was only the financial system that could be rescued, despite us having our own currency and central bank.

But I think it is doubtful the Leave vote have won without the intervention of ex-mayor of London, Boris Johnson. He is the only UK politician referred to on first name terms by the media, and is disarmingly charismatic in a buffoonish fashion. His decision to support Leave was crucial in its appeal to voters who find other politicians a turn off.

That said, it has long been known that he covets the job of prime minister and some suspected that his conversion might not be altogether genuine. With his usual rhetorical flourish in the final TV debate he declared last Thursday would be 'independence day'. A week later, his prime ministerial ambitions lie in tatters at the hands of fellow campaigner Michael Gove, but the suspicion remains that he never really wanted to win, that he never wanted the poisoned chalice that a Leave victory has now ensured the job will be. Theresa May at least stands half a chance of sailing those choppy waters, having quietly been in the Remain camp.

(continues in next comment)

Yellow Submarine said...

Susan wrote

My favorite of his comments was at the end when he said: 'As I tell my American friends, the Hamptons is not a defensible position. The Hamptons is a very rich area on Long Island that lie along a low-lying beach. It's very hard to defend a low-lying beach. Eventually people will come for you'.

The Hamptons are what the Sea Peoples, the Vikings and the Elizabethan Sea Dogs would have called a "target rich environment"!

Mark Northfield said...


The Lib Dems didn't surge in the 2010 election. They gained a small amount of vote share and lost five MPs, but they happened to find themselves holding the balance of power. The parliamentary arithmetic only worked for coalition with the Tories, and combining that with a longing for office, their fate was sealed. But in the current scenario with Labour in existential crisis, who knows what the future holds. They may yet rise again.

They were plenty on the Remain side (such as the Greens) who campaigned on a 'remain and reform' platform, recognising that serious problems within the EU need addressing. This was the Labour leader's position also, if not many of his mutinous Blair-era MPs. Certainly my vote was not on the basis of contentment with the status quo - far from it - but because I figure that trade and close cooperation in the single market are surer ways to preserve peace and stability in Europe than the alternative. The history of Europe is a very bloody one.

I get frustrated with heated and unjustified rhetoric, whichever side it comes from. There has been far too much all round, and the atmosphere feels hideously toxic. I know a few people who voted Leave and while we don't agree on that, they are still very much my friends.

However, I must say that UKIP's leader positively revels in toxicity for political ends: proud to be openly insulting of others (as in the EU parliament this week), happy to rubbish climate science, shameless in his use of an image of Syrian refugees to stoke fear in people. He is a national embarrassment, in my opinion. Their one MP (an ex Tory, Douglas Carswell) is much more considered and has openly criticised Farage several times. But now having achieved their raison d'etre, it remains to be seen if the party continues to receive electoral support in future. I'm not convinced they will.

Right now, nothing feels solid. But the Tories will regroup as long as the wealthy are with us; that is primarily why they exist. Who will oppose them in future remains to be seen.

Yellow Submarine said...

Couple of great speeches by Nigel Farage.

I think this man has a great future ahead of him...

Grebulocities said...

Just a correction: the claim that the Northern and Southern Hemisphere jet streams have linked up in an unprecedented way is incorrect. There are two significant jet streams in each hemisphere: the stronger polar jet, which meanders through temperate latitudes and is what we usually think of as the jet stream, and the weaker subtropical jet, which goes through tropical and subtropical latitudes. The subtropical jets can be pushed all the way to the equator by tropical high pressure systems. If this happened in both hemispheres simultaneously at the same longitude, both subtropical jets can temporarily link up, and this is a mechanism for air exchange between the hemispheres.

What happened is that two of the more alarmist bloggers misidentified the subtropical jets as the polar jets, and thought that the polar jets had merged, which would be truly insane. One of them is actually a grad student and should have known better, but then again I'm an atmospheric science grad student who just barely scraped through the relevant meteorology class this past semester. The reason I barely passed is that my research is on aerosols and atmospheric chemistry, and like all fields these days we're balkanized, so that aerosol people rarely know much about meteorology. Sometimes even the climatologists and the meteorologists don't know enough about each other's respective fields and make embarrassing errors like this one. I can see myself making that mistake and can imagine my meteorology prof's reaction if I were to blog about it and it made the rounds on the internet!

Here's a Washington Post article. I can vouch that their information is real: it's not just some attempt to pave over something the mainstream doesn't want to address.

pygmycory said...

JMG and Matt

Matt, thanks for the info.

It roughly agrees with what I had already found. Namely, there appears to be a small negative impact on lower-skilled native workers, though usually not a non-measureable effect on the average wage. Some studies find this effect, others don't. There also appears to be upward pressure on housing prices that puts pressure on local people for quite a while after an immigration boom. However, that aspect is poorly studied if at all.

This suggests to me that

a)it is possible JMG may be overstating his case somewhat

b)confounding factors are confusing matters

c)conventional pundits are ignoring the evidence for an effect because they don't care about low-wage workers

d)most of these studies were done in decent economic times. There may be a larger effect during depressions. This is becoming less of a factor now than it was, just because anything done using data post 2008 was done in less-than ideal times.

e)rises in housing costs may be a significant way in which immigration affects less-wealthy people. This also matches my personal experience growing up in and leaving Vancouver.

My best guess is that there is a small effect on low wage workers that is hard to detect due to confounding factors such as automation and offshoring of jobs that are causing major worsening of the labor market for non-elite workers. Rising housing costs are usually ignored in these studies. If they are factored in, you might get a much more obvious impact.

Here's the best article I found:

One of the articles Matt pointed to is very relevant.

Clay Dennis said...


With regard to your comment above about Hillary ending up in a short dogfight with Putin. I was aghast at the report put out last week that 50 or more mid-level staffers in the state department had signed a letter encouraging Obama to use air power to bomb Assad and his forces and force regime change. Not much surprises me any more, but if this was true ( and not just a gimmick to appease the Saudi's) than we are further down the path of elite senility than I thought. I am not sure if these people are so clueless that they don't know the Russians are parked in Syria with a small air force and several Battalions of S-400 anti-aircraft missile batteries. Do they think Putin parked what are widely regarded as the most advanced and effective anti-aircraft system in the world ( until the S-500 is deployed) , at Assads doorstep to fend off attacks from the ISS air force. Did they miss the message of the Russian Cruise missiles launched from previously unknown trawlers in the Caspian to accurately hit targets over a thousand miles away. They are either clueless or they have drunk too deeply of the American Exceptionalism Koolaid and think we can defeat them as easily as the Libyans.

I think that with this kind of thinking coming out of the State department, which is the area of government the Hillary has had the most influence on, there can be no doubt which of the candidates poses the most geopolitical danger.

rapier said...

It is quite likely that Britain will not exit the EU. At least 75% of MP's oppose it and many who supported a yes vote don't actually support it either. They were acting out of political convenience. The process is rather muddy but comes down to something call Article 50. The thing is next March article 50 no longer will apply probably. You see the EU is on the cusp of what is called Full Integration. At that point any nation leaving will be up to a vote so if 14 other nations don't agree then it's no exit.

I am sure it will all be a muddied mess but who is to bet against the global elites of liquid modernity. Where have the lost the past 8 years? Name one place.

Brian said...

Regarding Brexit, I know about half a dozen Brits who were all in the 'Remain' camp, though none are particularly privileged and all hate Cameron and the Tories. Some, but not all, describe Leavers as racists, but what they all share in common is that they have kids.

For them, the EU offers a wider range of opportunity for their kids, and with Brexit they see the chance for their kids to live and work anywhere within the union disappearing and they're mad as hell about it.

João Cláudio Fontes said...

But , isn't Trump a member of the affluent society too ...?
Why haven't the destituted masses identified with Sanders most then ...?
Like in the 30's , the "normotic" masses seem to be indeed being driven by and to the fascist affluent "saviours of the land" ... any doubt Trump has a fascist discourse ...?And the UKIP ? Or other right-wing parties in Europe ? or some extreme right wing politicians here in Brazil who are leading a coup d'étát agaisnt our Labour's elected president ...?
When (neo)liberal democracy fails , like is failing now as the IMF itself admitted recently , the real affluent people , the "1%" , have no pain in their consciousness to call in the fascist dogs .
And that's what's happening , again ...

Sven Eriksen said...

@Bill Pulliam

"The generation born with Pluto in Scorpio sextile to Neptune in Capricorn has begun turning 30. [...] That combo is so potent and mysterious it is downright scary."

Oh, I know. Just the other day I was plotting world domination while enjoying my birthday cake...


You are really cutting close to the bone this week. A really splendid analysis. I found myself staying awake till the middle of the night just to read it as soon as it was posted. This week's events made me want to contemplate what happens within the self as the delusion of control (as outlined in your post bearing that name) shatters. I came to the conclusion that the ego simply cannot handle it, and in order to avoid melting into a puddle of green goo it escapes into its own house of mirrors where it tries to repair itself by cuddling the fantasies of its own innate superiority over that which it failed to control. A couple of hours later your post came up, and I was both amused that the mirror house symbolism had occurred to you as well, and at the same time I was somewhat stunned to learn someone had actually built an actual structure within which to act this out...

Mary said...

"... for the first time ever recorded, the northern hemisphere's jet stream crossed the equator and fed into a jet stream in your hemisphere. That's dramatic, and if it keeps happening, it will send global climate into completely unfamiliar territory."

Crossover has been observed several times in the last few years. I even have vague memories of it hitting the news a few years back. From an actual meteorologist:

June 29th, 2016 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Paul Beckwith has a masters degree in laser optics, which he has somehow parlayed into being a “Climate System Scientist” to spread alarmism about the climate system...

....There is frequently cross-equatorial flow at jet stream altitudes, and that flow can connect up with a subtropical jet stream. But it has always happened, and always will happen, with or without the help of humans. Sometimes the flows connect up with each other and make it look like a larger flow structure is causing the jet stream to flow from one hemisphere to the other, but it’s in no way unprecedented.

Alexandra said...

JMG, your analysis is a refreshing blast of sanity as usual. I thought you might get a chuckle out of this, I mean article, on Spain’s economic “recovery”: (On a side note, I think this counts as my offensive reading assignment for this month.) Apparently Spain is now a “model for Europe”, and how did they accomplish this miracle, this “dream liberalization program”? By depressing wages, mass layoffs (on top of their already massive unemployment), and “more flexible” work hours (read: more work hours). The Spanish government are trying to cope with a collapsed economy by deliberately collapsing it even further—since they can’t devalue their currency, they've devalued their labor instead. (This is all portrayed in glowing terms and contrasted with those silly whiny Greeks who can’t get their act together.)

Granted, that was written over a year ago, but if that is the “model” economy that EU member nations outside the German core are supposed to look forward to, I’d say Brexit is just the tip of the iceberg.

Justin said...

Rapier, I agree with you that Britain is going to try and avoid exiting the EU - and the amount of talk I hear about 'banning old people from voting' is quite disturbing.

Generational backlash is something I think about a lot both as something that people my age (I'm 27) might both be exposed to and commit in the future - after all, people are going to be mad once it becomes apparent that the Baby Boomers basically burned through an entire planet's worth of resources in 80 years. Of course, by the time I expect that sort of stuff to start, I'll have been doing something similar for 30 years - although I've "been good" for the last 3 years or so. I would be interested to read JMG's thoughts on the matter.

Militant leftist-statist movements have always been carried out by young people who have been convinced (rightly or wrongly) that society owes them something and they can take it by force. Most of the killers in Cambodia were 10-15 years old - I'm not saying that anything quite so horrific is likely to happen in the Western world, but who knows where things will go in the next few years.

sgage said...

@ Sven

"A couple of hours later your post came up, and I was both amused that the mirror house symbolism had occurred to you as well, and at the same time I was somewhat stunned to learn someone had actually built an actual structure within which to act this out.."

I have for a long time (since the 1970's) thought that the progressive immersion of mankind into more and more technology of its own design, at the expense of experiencing Nature and the Real World, was in fact building a house of mirrors - indeed, that seems to me to be the program of Progress. Another expression I like to use that really puts off my techie friends and relatives is 'control freakery'. But it seems so clear to me that that is what is going on...

Secondly, I have always thought that living in a house of mirrors would certainly lead to such a detachment from reality that it would inevitably lead to psychosis.

As far as I can tell, culturally, here we are.

Justin said...

Re: Japan

Many heads of zaibatsus and other important Japanese entities can trace their lineage back to feudal Japan. It's a phenomenally stable country, and although the future carrying capacity will likely be in the 5-10 million range (IIRC at the height of the Edo period there was about 30 million due to climate change and pollution, I do hope they can keep being Japanese for centuries to come.

It's kind of weird to think of being part of a millennium-old ethnostate while being of mixed European heritage and being a 2nd generation Canadian. I have to admit the idea of having a continuous culture stretching back 50 generations is appealing in these times.

alex carter said...

As usual the Interne has added its filtering and censorship to what I've written; I'm sure the messages by others here are similarly filtered, censored, and tinted. I mean to say:


So, I will, at least theoretically, be able to vote for President, assuming what I put into the necessary Race Box is something the people working in the registration office is something they don't mind.

I say this because, being white in Hawaii, where I grew up and lived as a young adult, means it taking months on end to get your car registered, means application papers "round filed" if trying to strive above your station by going to college, etc. It's not that bad in California but these factors are still present to some degree - I've certainly run into obstructionism in attending college or trying to, and it "not being allowed" in the Census of 1990s for me to be white, living where I was. After filling in a race they didn't want to see on the form, I was actually sent a sort of "correction form" by the US census, in which I filled in again that I was white, and put a few lil' swastikas just to drive the point home (nothing like an ancient Indian and Native American symbol to do that!) and the end result, frankly, was probably that Census-wise, I ceased to exist.

The latest Ted Rall cartoon probably sums it up.

Bob Brown said...


I think you nailed it. Do you think it is possible to get the average person to care about the environment? Or has the hypocrisy of the elites on environmental issues so muddied things that they will throw the baby out with the bath water when the time comes. I guess history says that they will.

A story for the space bat wings book at:

I've posted once before but in case it was missed.



W. B. Jorgenson said...


I've also found myself comparing the way that the elite has reacted to Brexit to be a temper tantrum.... Needless to say lots of people are unhappy about it.

In addition, I will still have and use internet, so I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm "declaring independence" from it, as I likely will still use it at least once a day for email and such.... I expect it to be a change, but I will have to seriously rework my life to fully get away from it. My plan now is to cut use to a minimum, see how that goes, and then figure out ways to cut it further. I will still follow this blog up until the print version comes out though, I view having a sane discussion essential.

Finally, question about the print version: will you publish the comments people send in? Printing all of these will be rather difficult (although perhaps you'll get fewer comments), but at the same time, the community we're building here seems like a good one, especially those of us who follow you into the world of print. The back and forth will be far slower, but I'm not sure that's really a flaw, patience is a useful skill/virtue to have.

Myriad said...

Okay, if it's not too late (I should have almost two hours left!), here's Drop Day, my Space Bats story entry.

I have to admit this one's kind of out there. I decided to take a run directly at the deindustrial genre's most over-used trope, the School Lesson, and worked in some gaming clichés (and/or parody of same) as well. And in honor of Joel Caris, there's asteroid mining too. :)

Gaianne said...


Please accept to your current Space Bats story contest my offering:

Picnic in the Strawberry Moon

on the blog Moon of Bronze


Mark Luterra said...

"Mark, what makes you think that the next round of candidates will be any better? For all you or I know, if Trump is defeated this time around, the next guy to succeed in rallying the masses will be fond of armbands and jackboots."

You may be right. We may be better off if the support of the angry internal proletariat goes to a narcissistic strategist with no real personal causes rather than to one with deep-seated anger and hatred that arises from within their ranks. I'm also frankly amazed that Trump's supporters buy into the idea that he is "one of them" when his entire history is of changing positions and alliances to stay on top. I'm still holding out hope for our generation's equivalent of FDR: someone who is not afraid to discuss the real problems and who has some good ideas about how to go about solving them in a way that unites more than it divides.

denis beckmann said...

Well said. May I add that here in Australia we have elections this weekend. I fully expect the same to apply. A reaction against the two major parties and a bonanza for various independents who have a more sympathetic view of peoples problems.

Nancy Sutton said...

Thanks John.. I"ll be sharing this at every opportunity ;)

Ah, yes... Shelley was right so long ago.. "We are many, they are few"

And the blatant vote/election rigging, most recently by Republicans, and now by the DNC, is a clear indication, to me, that the 'few' are feeling the heat of real democracy. (Unfortunately, being seemingly sociopathic, if they are really threatened, we might have 'induced' panic, [see 'Operation Northwoods, smallpox blankets, Great Depression II, and the numerous agent provocateur and false flag operations in history, etc] ).

Re: your no-longer friend, you can imagine the jaws dropping when I shared, at our Dem primary caucus, that I would vote for Trump over Hillary, saying I'm with Susan Sarandon..who commented on MSM (!) that Bernie's 'revolution' was needed yesterday, and Trump might bring it on quicker than more Clinton BAU. By 2020, enough voters may have seen the light and will vote for Elizabeth Warren (Bernie's twin) ... hopefully, this will be the case even if Hillary is elected.

Re: neocon Hillary, she appointed, as Undersecretary for Asia and Europe, Victoria Nuland, the wife of Robert Kagan, co-author of the PNAC paper. And she admires Henry Kissinger... what more needs to be said. Oh yes... she's announced she'll let Bill 'handle' the economy.... OMG.

Nancy Sutton said...

But, I have to add that I think Trump's candidacy is a diabolical plan cooked up by Bill and Donald (they had a confirmed telephone call Spring of '15.. before Bernie 'arose'). Judging by the successful results, they planned Trump's inflammation of the Republican 'base' and rending of the party; while ingeniously driving everyone else into Hillary's arms. True brilliance as only a sociopath could devise. I'll still vote for Trump ;)

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