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A Time of Hope

2017 June 12
by Ian Welsh

I have been writing a long time. For most of that time, people said I was “pessimistic” and I replied that what they saw as pessimism was realism.

What I foretold, in broad strokes, has come to pass. Climate change is past the point of no return, the housing bubble burst, austerity was a disaster, and it emboldened the far right.

When I first started writing, I tried to push the Democrats to go left, to try to mobilize people who don’t vote to vote by offering them policies that worked for them. I advised them to engage in intensive outreach, because I, as many others, noted that people who don’t vote are a lot more left-wing than people who do vote. People don’t vote because they feel disenfranchised; none of the major parties represent them.

After the election of Donald Trump, I had an interview with Jay Ackroyd, and he said that as long as he’d known me, I’d been more pessimistic than others, but now I was optimistic, and what gives?

Simple, the trends had turned.

Sanders happened and he did better than any self-avowed socialist in the US in my lifetime. He came very close to winning the nomination, despite the Democratic party fixing it against him.

Corbyn happened, in that he won the leadership of the Labour party and then fought off an attempted coup.

The trends had changed.

The time of neoliberalism was clearly ending, which I had noted repeatedly. That meant that we were moving into a time of change. Now, I had expected, following Stirling Newberry, that this period of decline in neoliberalism would first hit in 2020/24, but these are the pre-shocks.

That doesn’t mean we’re out of danger. It is not guaranteed that the left wins in every country, as it did not in the 30s. The far right and the populist left both have an opportunity in this era: The old verities are dead, and people are looking for a different way to run societies. They can go authoritarian, indeed totalitarian, or they can go populist left and no, there really aren’t any other options, though far right and populist left have variations: all types of populist left aren’t the same and shouldn’t be seen as the same.

But neoliberalism was a shit ideology: Its project was impoverishing millions to make as many billionaires as possible. Ignore the bullshit about the third world; during the post-war era, the third world was improving faster than during the neo-liberal era, but without cramming down first world middle and working classes.

Neoliberalism, with its market worship, was completely incapable of dealing with climate change. Proper government intervention to goose markets would have had us where we are today with renewables (cheaper than coal) 20 years ago– which is what we needed, and would have moved up the timeline for electric cars as well as the essentially, wholly undone project of energy-neutral and carbon-neutral building, while not allowing the oceans to be destroyed.

Markets work best when government intervenes in the correct ways. Neoliberalism intervened, in essence, only to reduce regulation and push money towards rich people: This did not make markets more competitive, it made them more prone to monopoly and oligopoly. (This is not even close to being in question, it shows up in all the data. Anyone arguing otherwise is a liar or a fool.)

So, neoliberalism failed to deal with climate change or ecological collapse and, by vastly increasing inequality and failing to regulate markets, caused both political and economic instability. Asset prices should not rise faster than median wages over long periods. If they do so, something is wrong. That most economists and policy makers could not recognize this shows their corruption and foolishness, as well as the uselessness of mainstream economics to understand its own subject matter.

I am, therefore, not optimistic, but realistic: I say that we are moving out of an era where problems could only be solved if they made someone a billionaire and are moving to an era where we will be able to start actually fixing problems that matter.

This is a high-risk period, and I, as have many, have tried to reform neoliberalism, to fix problems without having to enter an era of war and revolution, to fix them before it was too late (as it is now for catastrophic climate change).

That didn’t work. So be it. This is where we are.

But unlike in 2009, with the co-opted and corrupt Barack Obama taking the throne and throwing away the last chance to avoid the worst of what is now baked-in, we now have some real reasons to hope along with all the baked-in catastrophes we’ve had handed to us.

Oh, yes, Trump.

Yeah, he’s bad, and he’ll be bad for a lot of people, but I am not worried when it comes to the big picture because he’s incompetent. I never thought he’d be Hitler and the idea that he will launch a successful coup is now completely risible: He is far too incompetent. He’s supposed to launch a coup and he hasn’t even filled over 90 percent of all senior administrative posts at the Pentagon?

Get a grip.

In fact, as I thought at the time (and at that time I thought he was more competent than he’s proved to be), Trump may well be an innoculation against someone worse. Someone competent, running on actual right-wing populism, say, Bannon with charisma, could well have turned America into a fascist state for two generations.

Trump? No. And his failure provides a clear warning of the danger and may discredit those policies. (It is amusing that liberals are obsessed with getting rid of him. Pence will be far worse, because he will be competent and agrees with every bad part of Trump’s platform and none of the good parts (which, granted, aren’t happening anyway).)

Chin up. We failed to reform the system, and now we are in an era of great instability. Lots of countries are still being staggeringly stupid, like France electing Macron to destroy their entire labor code and impoverish themselves, when Melenchon was available.

But the left–the populist left–is rising. We saw it with Sanders, and we are seeing it with Corbyn, who may actually be the first world leader of the new era and the new era’s ideology–just as Thatcher was the first great neoliberal leader (even if she was not called that at the time).

It will be ugly. There will be wars and revolutions. There will be periods where the old order does horrible things (Macron, Merkel’s destruction of Greece and impoverishment of the South) and where the new order of the right does terrible things.

But it is now, also, possible to do many of the right things, like re-nationalizing natural monopolies, ending the student loan bubble and the exploitation of the young, repairing universal healthcare in the UK, creating it in the US, and so on.

There are no guarantees. We got lucky in the 30s, though it may not seem like it. Imagine if, instead of FDR, the US had wound up with some fascist? Many Americans at the time thought it possible.

Still, we now have the chance to be lucky, which was simply not possible when we were societies under neoliberalism. Under neoliberalism, some individuals could get lucky and obscenely rich, but generally the whole population could not benefit.

Now we can. And that is reason for hope. So hope. Don’t be optimistic, just be realistic about the opportunities as well as the dangers opening up.

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81 Responses
  1. Tomonthebeach permalink
    June 12, 2017

    I share Ian’s optimism for the future, but for now, the tide has turned only in Europe. It is seductive to characterize President Trump as a lightweight who is in over his head. That is surely how he appears. However, Ronald Reagan and George Bush were also incompetent to govern, but they did not fall from power – in one case – while POTUS was succumbing to dimentia. In the USA, one must look behind the Wizard’s curtain to see who is really pulling the levers of power.

    As a kid, one learns to never underestimate a schoolyard bully. He got there by successfully punching a lot of noses. So also has Trump, and, so also have many of his henchpersons. What we see in the USA might be a coordinated attack masquerading as loose-canon recklessness.

    That Trump has not even nominated hundreds of agency positions seems incompetent, but it has had the effect of hamstringing the entire government. Never-ending Congressional inquiries into bad acting WH staffers likewise is hamstringing the US legislature. Meanwhile Trump (cleverly?) announces one welfare or make-work job program after another – all designed in ways that guarantee they will not see any legislative traction. In time, Trump’s base will point the finger of blame at Congress; not Trump. By not supporting subsidies for ACA, Obama care will bleed to death without congressional legislation. The domino effect is already showing signs of depriving many more than 23M people as health insurance premiums,, deductibles, and co-pays skyrocket in response to the death of ACA. By gutting social program budgets, Trump stokes the fires of anger and discontent at the federal bureaucracy too; not just congress — a double whammy.

    By making so many racially insensitive comments, Trump has emboldened racist activism, and street confrontations are becoming weekly media events reflecting a lawless society. Unchartered armed militia group membership is at an all-time high. There is no such thing as a liberal armed militia group. The middle/working class who were clobbered by the Great Recession continue to limp ahead with their only hope being a tax incentive or tax kickback which will bankrupt the government without commensurate increases in tax revenue from the 1% (highly unlikely).

    So, what appears to be gross and widespread incompetence in the current US regime might in fact be the orchestrated destruction of the US federal government that Steve Bannon, Russia, and China have long wished for. Because Trump has insulted every ally, it is conceivable that US allies will just stand on the sidelines and watch Rome burn; not unlike how much of the EU is treating UK these days.

  2. June 12, 2017

    The first moment of the tide turning is always small. But it makes people know it can be done.

  3. V. Arnold permalink
    June 12, 2017

    A time for hope? Or a time of true desperation?
    What happened in the UK is interesting; but hardly hope inspiring.
    Trick me once, shame on you; trick me twice, shame on me.
    As the Zen monk said; “We’ll see…”

  4. June 12, 2017

    We are doing, not watching.

  5. V. Arnold permalink
    June 12, 2017

    So you say; we’ll see…

  6. Will permalink
    June 12, 2017

    I am not sure Ian. I’ve been reading your essays for longer than I can remember so please excuse me if you have addressed this before, but I am not sure there has ever been a “left wing populism” in the USA. At least by current definitions.

    I am a huge FDR fan. Loved the straightforward and broad methods he implemented to address economic problems in the most challenging environment imaginable. BUT he was a standard, labor rights, Democrat of his time. That is to say he recognized immigration as the weapon it had become and refused to budge on it. I agree with him by the way.

    Free trade was a fraud used to deconstruct the middle class. Immigration has been weaponized over the past few decades every bit as much as trade. People being hurt by these policies recognize it and are rightly irate. How do you see the left squaring this circle?

    Because, at least to me, the British election was nothing if not a glimpse of how the right is going to pretend to address the very real grievances about mass immigration to split the budding majority which is concerned with trade AND immigration. Trump probably fits into this category as well. I’m not sure you can have a labor movement AND mass immigration. And historically this has been stated out loud and up front by the overwhelming majority of labor leaders… a lot of them minorities.

    To me the left seems paralyzed by the issue. In their current form I am not sure the left can even bring themselves to admit the screwing American workers get from H1&2 visa programs on top of a million or two desperate people a year. Let alone dispassionately deal with it.

    How would this work Ian? How could there be a “left populism” when even FDR would be considered reactionary and right wing on this issue by today’s standards?

  7. highrpm permalink
    June 12, 2017

    sanders: a socialist campaigner, clearly left of obomber/ hillacious, convinced me to send donations and then caves at the end and turns demo party man. wtf? partisan politics? an ugly reality of human nature of the awesome power of belief and the humanoid weakness of accepting what the big screener manipulators do so well, controlling the narrative.

  8. bob mcmanus permalink
    June 12, 2017

    I agree the “tide has turned,” sorta, though as a process that has been building for a long time. In Marxian terminology the contradiction between the forces of production and the social relations have become untenable with the old institutions. Computers, social media, deindustrialization, identity politics and individualism, devolution,etc have made the old structures of welfare and state capitalism obsolete. But like the old compromises that continued capitalism sustained by military Keynesianism, I don’t think neoliberalism will disappear but be included in a new synthesis that may look something like anarchy (for those of us who don’t matter, meaning most) plus tyrannical corporatism with incredible privilege and power for those who can gain access. Maybe Peter Frase’s “rentier” future.

    For example, if global warming is to be mitigated (it won’t be stopped) it will be local and small-scale, with domed gated communities for the elite, and domes built of old tin cans and cracked LCD screens for the those of us. A lot of sf writers are getting it right. Gibson, Stross.

    I also am looking at Japan, which manages a rough equality without centralized gov’t spending.

    As far as currrent events go, I suspect Macron will prove intolerable, and the French, as is their habit, will hit the streets. That will be a tipping point, Greece Spain and Italy (Corbyn’s Britain?) will join in, and chaos, Trumpian dysfunction, not fascism, is in our near future.

  9. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    June 12, 2017

    Yeah, he’s bad and he’ll be bad for a lot of people, but I am not worried when it comes to the big picture because he’s incompetent. I never thought he’d be Hitler and the idea that he will launch a successful coup is now completely risible: he is far too incompetent.

    I agree he himself could never be involved in a coup. He’d foil it. But speaking of foiling and foils, maybe Trump is a foil in all of this and not the foiler. Perhaps he is the pretext for an arranged coup. Any way you slice this, it’s good for Putin. Putin wins if America devolves into Civil Strife & Civil War. Putin wins if America implements a Military Coup because it will no longer be that City of Freedom on the Hill — the Democratic Beacon of Light it has so long claimed to be.

    The only way Putin doesn’t win is if a True Populist Uprising takes place that wrests power from The Rich and deports them all to Russia. Then we can deal with Putin on our terms and not the The Rich’s terms or The Deep State’s terms. I don’t want to surround Russia with missiles. I don’t want to turn former Soviet Satellite States into bastions of planet & soul destroying NeoLiberalism. I want no more Imperialism in all its manifest forms, so, when and if that Populist Uprising that wrests control from The Rich takes place and America ends its era of Imperialistic Hegemony for good, it also doesn’t do so blindly and naively without considering the physical maxim that power vacuums are filled by something, and that something is rarely a good thing or even better than what came before and is often times worse if the power vacuum phenomenon is not considered and taken into account.

    Is Trump The New Pearl Harbor?

  10. Ché Pasa permalink
    June 12, 2017

    I saw a headline: “Trumpism is crumbling worldwide” which is kind of silly, but oh well. Headline writers are known for their turn of phrase, not their insight.

    Trump was not supposed to win. Everyone understands this, right? Everyone understands that the throne was to be smoothly transferred to Mrs Clinton, and the neoLibCon project of endless war and ever-wider pillage was to continue without a pause. And We, the Rabble, would like it or the beatings would continue until we did.

    When by a quirk of the electoral system Trump gained the throne instead of Mrs Clinton, the stunned rejection of his presidency was displayed in massive street demonstrations, the likes of which we haven’t seen in the recent past –the anti-Iraq invasion protests notwithstanding — and in an unprecedented level of disobedience and outright sabotage by the permanent government.

    For all his bluster, Trump’s power was essentially neutered by the end of March. He’s still a spectacle to be sure (and a media money maker as he’s been all along), but he can’t — and won’t — do anything outside the parameters of our ruling neoLibCon paradigm. Anyone who wasn’t bamboozled by his glitz and blather understood that even if he was allowed to exercise power, he wasn’t going to interfere with the principles that had made him and his cronies rich. No way.

    He might, at best, reorder who gets the booty. And accelerate the process. That’s about all he set out to do in any case. Even if he is driven from the throne (the opportunity to do that, I think, has passed), the Program will continue.

    Only now, of course, the neoLibCon Program seems benign, even compassionate and generous, compared to the monstrous cruelty of Trump and his gang of thieves.

    Get it? Our Rulers have been conditioned to never let a crisis go to waste. And they certainly don’t intend to let this one be wasted.

    So here we are.

    The answer to Trumpism, we’re being shown, is not “progressive populism” — it’s more and better neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

    And We, the Rabble will be grateful. Won’t we?

  11. V. Arnold permalink
    June 12, 2017

    Ian, I think you have grossly mis-read the prevailing sentiment of most Usians.
    We’re fed up, cynical, pissed off as hell, and not going to take anymore bullshit from anybody…
    Of course, I have no idea what that demographic is comprised of; time will tell.
    But your followers here will, mostly, have none of it…

  12. brian permalink
    June 12, 2017

    When you are on the beach and you see the tide going out, exposing the muck and the under bed that hasn’t been exposed from anytime that you’ve seen in your lifetime… and then the water pulls more out to sea going farther and farther showing all the interesting crevasses the sea has hidden… RUN. The exposure of deep state machinations, the break down of the veneer, is just a premonition and energy building for the tidal wave or anger, madness and violence. It is coming and will destroy all those who are not safe.

  13. Steeleweed permalink
    June 12, 2017

    “Climate change is past the point of no return” – Yes.
    This is really the gorilla in the room.
    The only thing that will stop our contribution to global warming will be the collapse of the economies & lifestyle that drives it. When coastal cities are under water and most of our food production severely reduced or relocated and water sources are dwindled to a trickle – and several billion people have perished – we will stop making it worse. By then, of course, it may well be too late; built-in feedback loops like melting of the permafrost zones will drive warming even if humans and much of the biosphere were gone. I expect there will be some humans around in 100-200 years, but not a lot. And politics will be the least of their concerns.

  14. June 12, 2017

    >So you say; we’ll see…

    Obviously your not doing, unfortunately rather badly – could I recommend some Zen books for you? But you’re not watching, you’ll view the rerun for television in a generation’s time. It’s like the screenataraits watching Watergate, rather than watching the news which they largely don’t bother to report. Why report news when you can rate viewership?

  15. brian permalink
    June 12, 2017

    i’m a big fan of the idea you get what you focus on. And fore-telling what will happen in USA based on what’s being focused on does not seem good. There has been a major focus in art, literature, etc on dystopian futures, breakups in society, destruction of civilization, authoritarianism, literally hitler, breakdown of government… but not so much of violence (above normal anyways..).

    Violence has mostly gone underground into video games and virtual… So maybe the USA will fall into more of a non-violent civil war, perhaps by hacking our infrastructure, and kinds of infrastructure terrorism, of fracturing of people into tribal groups, and perhaps a large war that goes onto US soil that will really cause the fracturing.
    I don’t see USA people as violent per se, they are too soft for that, the’re just apathetic, focusing on victimization status, tragedy of the commons. I bet a nuclear bomb goes off in USA (terrorism), the country retaliates, and then gets beat badly in the war and China administers USA during the reconstruction period..

  16. June 12, 2017

    > The only thing that will stop our contribution to global warming will be the collapse of the economies & lifestyle that drives it

    It has collapsed, the question is who is going to get their feet rested on the fire as it does? What people do not understand, is there right now watching the collapse. For example, malls going up in smoke. This is actually been going on for a long time in the remote parts of the country – not even that far outside of the main zones. (Like 20 years longtime) But it has reached profitable parts of the country, and it’s going to burn down very quickly.

  17. June 12, 2017

    >Free trade was a fraud used to deconstruct the middle class

    Free trade was not what was being talked about, FDR pursued free-trade. The question is what trade should be free? What the populist does not understand, is there is a cost for free trade. In our case two world wars, but that runs out eventually. I cashed in on a bit of the wave in terms of databases, but even that was dying even as I was harvesting money from it.

    Eventually one house to take a chance, such as renewable energy sources. But that does not make free trade, it’s something that you have to grow up: and the baby boom does not want to do that. Nor does it want their children to grow up with that, because that would mean that their profits would be in danger.

    In FDR’s time, we borrowed the complete output of the country for six years – and destroyed 20 years of others work. It will take that much plus another 30 years of toil running up to that point, and then just maybe we’ll have free trade again. And you want it badly, that’s what unions mediate the exchange of. So you want free trade because unions give labor a chance at getting some of the benefits back. The problem is right now that the rich are taking all of the profit, and you don’t like that – as well you shouldn’t. “The rich” realize that Vietnam is as good as the US for making free-trade of the kind they are willing to pay for.

    Would actually want is to determine which trade will be free, in which trade will not be free – about 5% seems to be the going rate, Though that varies tremendously. The problem is you want free trade to be not free, and this means horribly bad things. This why labour in the United Kingdom wants free trade among the young, just not the kind prescribed by the bankers.

    Everybody wants the profits, and shifts the costs to someone else. “The rich” are much better at doing this than anyone else is. It is their gift.

  18. johnm33 permalink
    June 12, 2017

    I always thought FDR was a fascist, just not a narrow minded stupid one, he always saw the big picture whilst others concentrated on self interest. A successful imperium needs a solid eonomic foundation, and the aquiescence of the populace, looks like one gone and the others going.
    Climate change is going to be very different from what most imagine, only the very lucky or those with prescience will plant the right crops, as year on year variation continues beyond anyone now alive’s lifespan. It took 1500 years to settle down to the current climate regime, maybe we’ll be luckier this time.

  19. bob mcmanus permalink
    June 12, 2017

    Macron’s new party wins legislature huge (ok, 1st round) as in 75% of the seats. Very low turnout, most people have given up and stayed home? WTF, French?

  20. Shh permalink
    June 12, 2017

    It should surprise no one that with the last WWII survivors on their deathbeds that the world they created would pass to.

    Though I dislike Trump, I can’t see him as anything other than the utterly quotidian byproduct of so-called Western Civilization since the Marshall Plan first propped up what we call the Middle East. The same cohort of economic and Geo-political ideologues brought us here, with their free market uber-alles mantra, and managed chaos doctrines, etc. I think Trump is great in that revulsion to him presents a rare opportunity to break down the paralyzed dialectic that entrenches an obsolete and detrimental social hierarchy. But only if people stop getting caught up in the “I hate Donald” frenzy. For this, I have precious little hope.

    As far as disruptions to thermal distribution in the atmosphere and oceans, combined with massive toxicity in most human occupied watersheds, it looks pretty grim. A perfect storm of upheaval is on tap folks.

    I still hold out hope that the arc of history is not approaching terminus quite yet.

  21. June 12, 2017

    > with their free market uber-alles mantra

    This is the difference between free market and ultra-free market: the post-World War II generation followed free market economics, that your Thatcher-Reagan followed ultra- free markets. one was messy and corrupt in places, especially in the Middle East; the second was corrupt from its very core.

  22. Willy permalink
    June 12, 2017

    <i.But only if people stop getting caught up in the “I hate Donald” frenzy. For this, I have precious little hope.

    Ideally, the quotidian dialectic byproduct should include a rational “why”. This isn’t like in the old days where kids wanted to be a part of some trendy idealistic cause that served as a diversion from the realities of fighting for survival in a competitive changing world, while hooking up for some free sex. This is about survival. Kids know it and they’re scared. They hate The Donald because he’s turning out to be one of ‘them’.

  23. Willy permalink
    June 12, 2017

    Ugh. Try again…

    “But only if people stop getting caught up in the “I hate Donald” frenzy. For this, I have precious little hope.”

    Ideally, the quotidian dialectic byproduct should include a rational “why”. This isn’t like in the old days where kids wanted to be a part of some trendy idealistic cause that would take them away from the realities of survival in a competitive world, while hooking up for some free sex. This is about survival. Kids know it and they’re scared. They hate The Donald because he’s turning out to be one of ‘them’.

  24. Willy permalink
    June 12, 2017

    This is the difference between free market and ultra-free market: the post-World War II generation followed free market economics, that your Thatcher-Reagan followed ultra- free markets. one was messy and corrupt in places, especially in the Middle East; the second was corrupt from its very core.

    Exactly. Even with the most basic elemental need, water, hyponatremia is a possibility. There’s a sweet spot for everything. And then the corrupt and power hungry everywhere are always looking for that weakness they can exploit. My interest lies in understanding how common folk can be persuaded to help counter these things, including their limits and possibilities.

  25. Ché Pasa permalink
    June 12, 2017

    It helps to understand that the People On Top long ago laid in supplies and hired troops to protect them in the Event of Climate Catastrophe or what have you. They are as prepared as it is possible to be in advance of practically any calamity you can name or imagine. They are not going to suffer more than a little bit, and if possible, they won’t even suffer that much.

    The rest of us shlubs are on our own. Motto: “Tough luck, Suckers!”

    What has surprised me is that the Program hasn’t been sabotaged by those who might have done it. The whole Project might have been brought to a screeching halt if not a fiery collapse long ago, but instead, faith in the electoral system supplanted realism and common sense.

    The electoral system is not designed to do what you want it to do. Just the opposite in fact: it’s tailor made for what it has been producing. Protecting and defending them that has from the rest of us.

    So here we are.

    RC demands that others commit Revolution on his behalf while he watches and criticizes. Bless his shrunken heart. I’ve pointed out that a Revolution of sorts has been under way for some time, but it’s multifaceted and not (for the most part) intent on Storming the Winter Palace and other such romantic imagery.

    I refer once again to David Graeber’s “Revolution in Reverse” for clues to how part of it is working. But there are many, many parts, and it is global, and this Revolution will ultimately triumph.

    Our Betters know that, but they are determined to take as much with them as they can before the end. And they are succeeding, aren’t they?

  26. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    June 12, 2017

    It helps to understand that the People On Top long ago laid in supplies and hired troops to protect them in the Event of Climate Catastrophe or what have you. They are as prepared as it is possible to be in advance of practically any calamity you can name or imagine. They are not going to suffer more than a little bit, and if possible, they won’t even suffer that much.

    Indeed they are. Think about Libya and the REAL REASON for the invasion and failing of it. Do you think it had anything to do with Libya’s vast reserves of Fresh Fossil Water? I do. All Fresh Water now effectively belongs to The Rich, and that’s for a reason, the reason Ché Pasa indicates. Lack of Fresh Water will be the death of billions upon billions in the very near future. Only those with access to fresh water will survive or live any kind of quality of life. Note the date of the following article and note what happened very soon after.

    Libya’s Qaddafi Taps ‘Fossil Water’ To Irrigate Desert Farms

  27. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    June 12, 2017

    But only if people stop getting caught up in the “I hate Donald” frenzy. For this, I have precious little hope.

    Then don’t pay attention to the frenzy. See through it and own your own criticism of Donald Trump instead of doing the opposite and providing lukewarm cover for him. I own my own unique criticism of Donald Trump & Russia and the relationship between the two. I don’t let The Establishment dictate my criticism of Donald Trump & Russia nor do I allow The Establishment to conjure a palpable, emotive contrary reaction to its propaganda.

  28. June 12, 2017

    >Even with the most basic elemental need, water, hyponatremia is a possibility.

    Welcome to the Wicked Witch of the West ca. 1850-1900. No free trade involved.

  29. Hugh permalink
    June 12, 2017

    Revolution becomes necessary when the Establishment gets to a point where it is unable to reform itself and is incapable of satisfying even the minimal demands of the many. I agree we have been at that point and past for a while.

    The Occupy movement, Sanders, and Trump have all been manifestations of the popular discontent and the realization that the Establishment of the rich and elites has failed us. But they failed due to their contradictions and incoherence. Occupy needed clear objectives and needed to keep building on those. Instead it stalled out. Sanders had planks but no vision. He wasn’t a fighter when a fighter was needed. In the end, he was part of the Establishment he railed against. That is a frustrated reformer, not a revolutionary. Trump was a fraud, pure and simple.

    I think what is important about sites like this one is that they provide venues for education and analysis, what went wrong before and what needs to be done to get it right. What we see is that the discontent is out there, it is justified, it is not going away, but the ideas, political awareness, and discipline are still lacking for effective action. That’s what we are here for. That’s the work that still needs to be done. And each of us in our own way is helping to get it done. In that, there is hope.

  30. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    June 12, 2017

    This War Crime/Genocide is on Obama with the cover of Climate Change. You don’t see this shit in The Mainstream Media — the connecting of all these myriad dots. I wonder why? Strike that, no I don’t. I know why.

    How NATO Deliberately Destroyed Libya’s Water Infrastructure

  31. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    June 12, 2017

    Turn any stone over and you will always find a Bush. They fly below the radar, but they’re always there lurking and strategizing. That’s how Dynasties maintain until the very bitter end.

    Why Did George Bush Buy Nearly 300,000 Acres In Paraguay?

  32. realitychecker permalink
    June 12, 2017

    @ Che Pasa

    Exactly what “benefit” do you think a revolution would bring to me, you stupid old burro fucker?

    I am old and have no kids. Where is my fucking “benefit” if “others” fight for their future freedom? You know, the “others” who will be around to enjoy it, or to have their children enjoy it?


    You define and exemplify entitlement mentality. The meek shall inherit the mud. Nothing else.

  33. realitychecker permalink
    June 12, 2017

    @ Hugh

    You get a sense of how hopeless it really is when you see the old leftist types like Che Pasa squawking that “a real revolution is already underway,” and they are talking about voting and community organizing and the rest of the usual bullshit . And attacking those who think a real revolution might be worth discussing. (DISCUSSING, because I don’t happen to have the conclusions in advance of the discussion. Naively, I hope I might learn something from someone else along the way, silly old me.)

    IOW, “Have another mouthful of hope, and try not to choke on the feathers.”

    Don’t you love farce?

  34. Ian Welsh permalink*
    June 12, 2017

    Corbyn is certainly a fighter. He just doesn’t stop and he doesn’t let anyone derail him or get under his skin. It’s actually amazing, I’ve seen almost no one in public life with that level of discipline.

    He might lose, but he won’t stop.

  35. Willy permalink
    June 12, 2017

    Some day historians will say:

    “It all started when Uncle RC told everybody to go fuck themselves.”

  36. Willy permalink
    June 12, 2017

    Ubermensh are usually assholes. And those most qualified to lead (to the benefit of all) usually don’t want the job. I don’t get the impression Corbyn would lose it upon achieving power to make everyone wear their underwear on the outside. One needs to know more about these kinds of people, rare as they are.

  37. bruce wilder permalink
    June 12, 2017

    I am not sure I can quite put much hope into “the tide is turning” metaphor.

    Institutions have a life span because human beings do. Generations pass and with that passing, a lot of knowledge and experience, for good or ill.

    Right now, we are in big trouble because we do not know how our world works. “the uselessness of mainstream economics to understand its own subject matter” is a critical but still small part of this.

    The legitimacy crisis enveloping the political establishment and the political news media illustrates just how little perspective people have on their leaders, parties, etc. Everywhere I hear people claim some “revelation” about Trump is “not normal” and usually I am not sure whether to question the speaker’s ignorance or their sanity. People think this is just about Trump as a personality, as if politics is about personality. And as if Hillary Clinton is not a ripe horror. (Legitimacy of a Clinton questioned? Surely that would not happen! She would be so competent! The national secrets would be safe on her email server!) People caught up in the hysteria do not understand how crazy they have become.

    The commenter upstream who turned the tide going out into a metaphor of how a tidal wave empties a bay just before the wall of water rises may have the right idea.

    The New Deal was preceded by many decades of critique of how the world worked or failed to work. Some of those ideas were superficial or silly, but there was also a lot of deep thinking and boring of hard boards. New institutions were built to manage the much improved post-wwii world and for a couple of generations we have been making billionaires out of dismantling those institutions and disinvesting from the accumulation of social capital they represented.

    Ian acknowledges the inevitable wars and revolutions to come. Part of not understanding the world is the denial that attends the role of the rich in creating an oppressive world. The New Deal and many of the epic reforms of the 19th century were predicated on side-stepping the power of the rich and powerful — creating parallel institutions or competing ones. Neoliberalism was often most effective when it pressed to destroy these heterogeneous structures in media and finance.

    I do not see yet the spirit of organizing. I thought there was a glimmer in Occupy. But, so far the younger generation is still reaching back to a much older group, exemplified by Cornyn and Sanders. It may turn out SN’s original idea of 2024 may be right — it may take that long for leaders and social affiliation to mature.

  38. Kfish permalink
    June 12, 2017

    There’s a lot of talk about how the rich are going to hole up somewhere far away and ride out their problems. Unfortunately, as one man put it, first you have to take your helicopter pilot’s family with you, or he won’t fly. Then you have to take your staff’s families with you, or they won’t work for you either. Eventually you realise that anyone that rich needs a whole society to serve them, and you might as well stay.

    The Roman elite tried the bunker strategy as well; entire walled villas in the countryside with slaves, farmland and hoards of gold buried nearby. We’re still digging up those hoards.

  39. Some Guy permalink
    June 13, 2017

    Things are certainly starting to slide in all directions. I fear Leonard Cohen may have been right about the rest as well.

    “Give me back the Berlin wall
    give me Stalin and St Paul
    I’ve seen the future, brother:
    it is murder.”

    If I were a 1%er looking to keep the people in their rightful place, I think my first target would be social media. The old Fleet St. boys savaged Corbyn at almost comical levels, but nobody under 50 really cared.

    The fight against ‘fake news’, the focus on reforming algorithms at facebook and google and wherever, the millions spent on human and automated social media bots are the 1%s preliminary attempts to solve this problem, whether they will work or not and how they will escalate if they don’t is a big question.

    Another big question is whether renewable power will ever make it to a point where it is clearly superior (economically) to fossil fuels. Without a leap forward in the energy game, I don’t see any way to keep a planet of 10 billion people from catatrophic meltdown of one sort or another. With enough (constantly accelerating) energy you can do almost anything, even keep a population ruled by capitalism reasonably happy and civilized. Without it…

    Ultimately, the decay is in our morals. Plato sketched out the way a society inevitably faces a decline in morality over time over 2,000 years ago in ‘The Republic’ and looks almost eerily prescient. The view I’ve come around to (supported by some recent studies) is that the only thing that temporarily restores our lost sense of solidarity that capitalism erodes, is all out war. But all out war is now certain death given our military technology and the fragility of our global just in time, parts from everywhere, economic system.

    Some problems don’t have a solution.

    Still, I see your point Ian, things sliding in all directions has its advantages over a highway to hell.

  40. Peter permalink
    June 13, 2017


    I don’t know about all wealthy people but many seem to be strong not weak and not likely to cut and run if things go pear shaped. There is often opportunity in crisis and they are the ones who might profit by staying and meeting the challenge.

    It’s likely everyone else will be doing the running to seek help from the wealthy who control most if not all the power and material needed to survive. The country estates are useful for vacations from the warlord business and a good place to stash the family if the little people revolt.

  41. Kfish permalink
    June 13, 2017

    The problem is, though, that the skillset of today’s uberwealthy has been shaped by current conditions. The people who have clawed their way to the top in the last 20 years are unlikely to be best adapted to the conditions of the next 20. The ones who have inherited their positions are even less well positioned.

    For example, Mark Zuckerberg is trying to make the jump right now – getting out of his executive suite and going out to ‘meet the masses’. Whether he’ll be successful or not is an open question, but his approach is certainly not being copied by any of his peers.

  42. V. Arnold permalink
    June 13, 2017

    I listened to your Jay Akroyd interview; I hesitate to speak of it here.
    By the way, angry works for me and I happen to like your persona in that interview.
    I may e-mail my impressions if that’s okay.
    Frankly your comment on leaving was spot on; I self exiled (as you know) and I’m bloody sick of the cheap shots by RC about where I landed.
    So, further comments I’d like between you and I.
    I don’t want to impose; so let me know. Or not…

  43. highrpm permalink
    June 13, 2017

    v. arnold,
    i’m bloody sick of hearing about your self-exile. hoopdie-doo. i’m happy for you. now shut up about it, finally. since it almost sounds like martyrdom. and i’m bloody sick of the cheap shots about those commenters on this site — like myself — you deem on a lower rung intellectually than yourself, and therefore unworthy to post here as they cheapen ian’s site. rc was spot on with his observations of che pasa. and likely of you, too.

  44. V. Arnold permalink
    June 13, 2017

    highrpm PERMALINK
    June 13, 2017

    So, you’ve spun yourself into meltdown; and want to censore comments from posters you disagree with.
    And then you add: “i’m happy for you.”
    Smacks of passive/aggresive to this one.
    I would suggest that the angst generated by my detractors is a combination of jealousy and recognition of their very own impotense because of their inability to ACT!!!
    Blah, blah, blah; talk is not doing; not action; it’s just impotent bloviating and striking out at their world, in which they have no power.
    I’m sorry for you, really; because you represent the majority of helplessness rampant in the U.S. today.
    You fucking made it; you fucking live with it or fucking change it!
    I couldn’t so I fucking left! Live with it or don’t; I don’t give a flying fuck, you poor, miserable creatures lurking in your internet reality.

  45. Ché Pasa permalink
    June 13, 2017

    Revolutionary notions (and sometimes acts) never truly die in this country, and conditions have always been shitty for some significant portion of the population. In my own lifetime, things have been a lot shittier for a lot more Americans than they are now. Which doesn’t excuse anyone for their actions or failure to act in the present.

    Our Rulers seek to restore that prior level of shittiness or worse for the masses (see: Greece as one of many examples around the world or any deindustrialized section of this country, or get to know agricultural workers …) while they grab all the present and future gains for themselves and their spawn. The only thing “new” about it is its general in-your-face ugliness and its success against almost every form of (regular) opposition.

    Essentially nothing that used to work against High and the Mighty still does. That’s not some accident of fate. It’s by design. Naturally enough the response by those on the other end of the grinder is different. It has to be. The Revolution this time doesn’t look like past Revolutions. But it’s going on nevertheless.

    Elections will not, cannot solve the problems we (the Rabble) face. Period. They can’t, they won’t and they are not meant to. And they’ve devolved to such an extent that they’re little more than spectacle, entertainment — and boosters for the bottom lines of the media and consulting class. Outcomes hardly matter. In the end, it will be the same old shit, possibly better prepared — or not.

    People have to take things into their own hands and find solutions that work best for them. For many, that means withdrawal. That’s a form of resistance that has a long and deep history in this country, and one that is often effective.

    It doesn’t change the society and the System so much as it makes them irrelevant.

    Occupy has been mentioned a number of times here as a kind of precursor to some eventual Revolution — or not. What’s generally missing from these superficial evaluations is a recognition of what Occupy was for and what it actually did.

    For one thing, Occupy is still around, it didn’t disappear once the violence of the State destroyed and dispersed the encampments. The fundamental idea is the basis for dozens if not hundreds of intentional communities scattered all over the country. Those communities — in some cases — then become the engines of local social/economic transformation. What works in one area doesn’t necessarily work everywhere. Etc.

    This sort of thing is just one aspect of the Revolution this time, and it is part of a globalized resistance to the Powers That Be. It takes time and dedicated effort, but it can work.

    It’s one step, but only one, along the way.

  46. June 13, 2017


    He is trying, as my mama said, to get your goat. The first thing about him, is not letting him do that. In a way, think on him as actually rather trivial. Move past him.

  47. V. Arnold permalink
    June 13, 2017

    Ian, on second thought, forget it, not worth the effort here.
    Best of “luck”…

  48. June 13, 2017

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out … it is wood, and would be damaged.

  49. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    June 13, 2017

    The following is yet another example of the interesting times in which we live. It’s surreal. How low can they go? Where are we? How did we get here? Where are we going? Don’t bother to hang on because there’s nothing to hang on to.

    Look Ma, NO HANDS!!!

    At First, I thought It Was An Ad For My Pillow OR A Solicitation To Those Who Would Like To Have Been Exposed To Asbestos And Therefore Are Convinced They Have Mesothelioma

  50. realitychecker permalink
    June 13, 2017

    @ V. Arnold

    You are right, of course; we are all jealous that the junta you live under makes child prostitutes available for very reasonable rates.


    Curious how you just can’t seem to live without us, though.

  51. realitychecker permalink
    June 13, 2017

    “So, further comments I’d like between you and I.”

    Smacks of grandiosity to this one./s

    We’ll miss you less than you’ll ever know.

  52. Will permalink
    June 13, 2017

    Damn. We lost another one?

    “… somewhere looking for the end of that long white line.” :p

    Gotta be tough to live through the end times brothers. The pressure’s getting to us, lol.


  53. Ian Welsh permalink*
    June 13, 2017

    Understand that if I ever do more than desultory moderating it will be done by turning comment pre-approval on. At that point I would simply not approve ANY comment with a personal attack, and would be fairly strict on racism and sexism and probably even what I consider lies.

    This would destroy real time conversation in the comments, and be work for me I don’t want to do.

    Doesn’t mean it’ll never happen though. I’m getting more complaints about comments than I ever have in the past. Mostly I don’t care, most readers never read comments and if people don’t like comments the best thing to do is not read them. But if I get the feeling it’s causing too many people not to read the blog then I will do something.

  54. Willy permalink
    June 13, 2017

    I’m used to gurus calling me “son” or “my child”. I’m finding having RC saying “go kill yourself” or “you moronic assfucker”, to be strangely refreshing (okay, amusing might be closer). Maybe Uncle RC can start a blog where his followers can be mercilessly Pai Mei’d?

  55. Ian Welsh permalink*
    June 13, 2017

    I see a when you die off comment, but not a go kill yourself or “moronic assfucker”. Are these in different threads? Link them for me please?

  56. Ian Welsh permalink*
    June 13, 2017

    Come on folks, “we’ll miss you less than you know” is on the right side of the line (although I don’t see it adds anything to the convo). Kill yourself and moronic assfucker are not.

    Common sense please.

  57. V. Arnold permalink
    June 13, 2017

    RC is a mis-informed liar, troll, and a Sophist. So, bite me!
    I did not say I was leaving; that was SN’s mis-understanding.
    I wouldn’t want RC to be too happy, so I’ll stick around…

  58. Tom W Harris permalink
    June 13, 2017

    C’mon y’all, get a room and work it out, wink wink.

  59. different clue permalink
    June 14, 2017

    The sincerity of the people who want a better comments section can be tested by saying that making the comments section better will take more time ( which Ian Welsh has said upthread) and therefor more money ( because “time is money”). So one supposes that Mr. Welsh could, if he so chose, offer to pre-moderate the comments before allowing any to post if enough people donate enough money. That would be a test of how many people want a better comments section and how badly they want it.

  60. V. Arnold permalink
    June 14, 2017

    Well, I was waiting for somebody to comment on this from RC; but not a peep, shame on you all

    June 12, 2017
    @ Che Pasa
    Exactly what “benefit” do you think a revolution would bring to me, you stupid old burro fucker?

    Hate speech much?

  61. Willy permalink
    June 14, 2017

    My bad. There is a “Please go kill yourself.”

    But after “pathetic”, “asshole”, “continue having anal sex with your mother”, “brain-damaged moron”, and a few others I might have misremembered “moronic assfucker”:

    But seriously, I really don’t mind such commentary and find it somewhat amusing. In fact I’m laughing so hard right now it’s hard to type. I do admit to having a problem with needling RC, but I’m just trying to prise some of the wisdom he claims to have about revolutions out of him. Many other places talk about “revolutions” but not a violent one as he seems to suggest is necessary.

    He drew my attention when he slammed my very first and second comments here. Most others usually wait to get to know somebody before they abuse and degrade them. (more hysterical laughter) Not him. He doesn’t waste any time.

  62. wendy davis permalink
    June 14, 2017

    i’ll add this ugliness from mandos’s identity politics post. i’d even tried to laugh it off, hoping that might help him stop embarrassing himself and the site. but sadly, no, he kept firing.

    realitychecker permalink

    May 30, 2017

    ‘My next needlepoint will be:

    Just wait for the magic indigenous mudwomen of the world to sprinkle their magic pussy juice on the Earth, and that will make everything all better. The first thing to do is to get all the men out of power. Wendyworld is coming!’

    the reason that his ‘burrow fucker’ is racist as well as sexually gratuitous and obscene, v arnold, is that he seems to believe that given ché pasa’s screen name, he’s mexican or something. he’s not, but RC has plenty of ammo against ‘the other’ to spare.

  63. V. Arnold permalink
    June 14, 2017

    wendy davis
    June 14, 2017

    Oh gee, why am I not surprised?
    Little by little RC has revealed his true persona; he’ll be back as some other moniker; Git-Mo perhaps (already trolled that one)?
    His illness will not permit him to stop infecting this blog; much like IBW or the myriad others over the years…

  64. V. Arnold permalink
    June 14, 2017

    Oh, and I should have thanked you, WD, for that information…
    Very interesting, to say the least.

  65. realitychecker permalink
    June 14, 2017

    Snowflakes arise!

    You warriors who will somehow take over from the bad guys are so terrified of words typed on a page. Fucking hilarious. Who could ever take you idiots seriously?????

    I could have prepared you ten years ago for things like what happened this morning, btw.

  66. realitychecker permalink
    June 14, 2017

    Wendy apparently assumes that only Mexicans fuck burros??!!??

    Mindreading is a terrible thing to waste, ain’t it, Wendy?

    Ian is trying to allow an adult conversation here, and you morons are showing that it has to be done at the childproofed level.

    In the meantime, your bleatings continue to be totally irrelevant to what is actually happening in the world we are all stuck in.

    But, don’t let me make you think about anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

  67. realitychecker permalink
    June 14, 2017

    ” Willy permalink
    June 14, 2017

    My bad. There is a “Please go kill yourself.”

    But after “pathetic”, “asshole”, “continue having anal sex with your mother”, “brain-damaged moron”, and a few others I might have misremembered “moronic assfucker”: ”

    Gee, little Willy, it must have been somebody else who called you that horrible name; I really can’t even begin to imagine why./s

    Ridicule has always been an acceptable tool for dealing with the intransigently stupid and obnoxious. Try to remember that, and you won’t need so many handkerchiefs.

  68. Willy permalink
    June 14, 2017

    You warriors who will somehow take over from the bad guys are so terrified of words typed on a page.

    Read it again. And again… until it sinks in. It’s your true intentions that are in question.

  69. realitychecker permalink
    June 14, 2017

    It’s the true extent of your brain damage that is in question.

    And you’re right about this: I did spot it immediately. LMAO

    First let’s kill humor, then let’s go after the bad guys. That’s the ticket.

    So pathetic.

  70. Willy permalink
    June 14, 2017

    Speaking of hope, would you, realitychecker, care to describe the organizations of which you are a part? Or is cursing at ‘allies’ your only activism?

  71. realitychecker permalink
    June 14, 2017

    Willy, I don’t care to interact with you at all, ever.

    Why would I?

  72. Willy permalink
    June 14, 2017

    Because “History is going to do what history is gong to do.”

  73. realitychecker permalink
    June 14, 2017

    LOL, I’d like to think that you were history.

    But here’s your chance to have a serious discussion, if you really want to. Jump to the next thread, and share your thoughts.

  74. Tom W Harris permalink
    June 14, 2017

    Check THIS reality, you stupid fuck.

  75. realitychecker permalink
    June 14, 2017

    @ Tom W. Harris

    “Check THIS reality, you stupid fuck.”

    Excellent point, sir!

    What was it?

  76. V. Arnold permalink
    June 14, 2017

    The depth of RC’s pathology exceeds even my wildest expectations; his inability at self reflection and understanding is profound and deep.
    He strikes out like a wounded animal in its depth of dispair.
    I pity one such as he; truly lost souls…

  77. realitychecker permalink
    June 15, 2017

    @ V. Arnold

    WHAT? Are you still here? Didn’t you just bid us a scornful ‘good-bye forever’? Indecisive bugger, aren’t you? But that does not

    “I pity one such as he; truly lost souls…”

    Actually, the truly lost souls are the child prostitutes that surround you where you have chosen to live. That the junta makes available.

    How’s your political activism going there, I wonder?

  78. realitychecker permalink
    June 15, 2017

    On edit: Leave out the “But that does not”

  79. realitychecker permalink
    June 15, 2017

    Destined to become a Golden Oldie around here:

    ” V. Arnold permalink
    June 13, 2017

    Ian, on second thought, forget it, not worth the effort here.
    Best of “luck”…”

    That’s right, you just go ahead and kick back with a beer and a ‘warm one,’ it’s all legal where you are.

    Say “Hey” to the junta for us. 🙂

    “V. Arnold permalink
    June 13, 2017

    Ian, on second thought, forget it, not worth the effort here.
    Best of “luck”…”

    Definitely worth repeating lol.

Comments are closed.