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Reality about America’s Future

2012 November 9
by Ian Welsh

Now that the silly season is over, let’s be really clear where events are headed.

1) Obama is reelected.  He never needs your vote ever again. What he does need, to become as rich as Bill Clinton, is people to buy his speeches.  If you don’t have 500K or so hanging around to pay for an ex-POTUS speech, you are no longer part of his constituency.  Practically speaking, he needs to make sure people in the financial industry have the money and inclination to make him rich once he’s no longer President.

2) Idiot triumphalism aside, the electoral count was deceptive.  The Republicans didn’t lose by that much in key electoral states.  The Democrats are not cruising for 20 years of control of the Presidency.  There will be a Republican president again, that is an existential certainty.  The Republicans didn’t want this election very much, and did not really push for it.  There are good reasons for that.

3) The Republican party are reactionaries, who want to repeal the 20th century.  The Democrats are conservatives.  There is no major left wing party in the US.  Since avowed left-wingers won’t even vote for third parties in states where Democrats will win for sure, like New York, third parties can be written off for the time being, especially on the left.  If there is a third party which will rise, it will be on the right.

4) The Republicans and the Democrats agree on many issues, disagreeing mostly on social issues.  Even on social issues, the differences are in the margins.  Obama deported more Hispanics than Bush, but is ok with letting college educated young Hispanics stay, which was enough to buy the Hispanic vote, since they came here to build a better future for their children.  Obama overruled his drug administration’s scientists to make sure that Plan B did not become an OTC medication, because as a father he would want to know.  (Of course, if an underage female needs Plan B, in a lot of cases it will be because her father or other family member raped her.)  Obama signed an executive order saying that federal money could not be used for abortion.

5) On civil liberties, as opposed to social issues, there is no real space between the two parties.  Obama has increased surveillance, arrogated the right to kill American citizens without a trial, and instituted more cases against whistle blowers than any President in history.

6) Obama wants a Grand Bargain.  This will mean some nominal tax increases on the rich, and a pile of cuts to the middle class and the poor, especially the young.  SS & Medicare will be cut.

7) Bush tried to cut SS, he failed.  Obama will succeed, cutting SS and Medicare is something only a Democrat can do.  Moreover he will make Dems vote for it, and the Republicans will only give him enough votes to pass, most of them will vote against it, thus making Republicans the party of SS and Medicare.  There will also be massive cuts to the federal bureaucracy and even further cuts to programs like food stamps (which continues to exist only because farmers want it.)

8 ) Obama is, thus, moving to austerity. The economy will be ok till he gets what he wants, then it will crater.  Give it two years, after the mid-terms, you’re toast.

9) Americans have decided they want catastrophe.  There is NO significant force in US society pushing against having a disaster.

10) The US is trying to become a petro-state through fracking.  It won’t help most Americans, and it will do massive environmental damage.  It will also accelerate global warming.  Yes, Obama is better on global warming than Republicans, but he’s not enough better to matter, he is, in fact, making it worse.  Your grandchildren will ritually curse your very names.

11) America will have another major war within 10 years.  That’s what empires in decline do.  It could be with Saudi Arabia, it could be with China, it could be with someone else.  It will happen, because a President will be in a bind, and think “I’ve got this big military, why don’t I use it to solve my problems?”

12) Inequality will continue to increase, with dips during recessions.  Wages and wealth of ordinary Americans will continue to drop.  There will be a small housing recovery, due to massive Fed intervention, keeping homes off the market and deliberate destruction of homes, but it will not get back to a bubble.

13) The Fiscal Cliff will most likely be averted this time, but it will happen again after the next financial crash.  If that one is avoided, it will happen again.  At some point, it won’t be averted.  The US will have no choice at that point but to move to full war footing.  If you don’t get a big war before that point, you will then.

14) The fiscal cliffs won’t be avoided forever because the rich aren’t really going to tax themselves at the necessary rates. If they do that, they don’t get ahead.  Every collapse, they have to bailed out by someone else, if they aren’t, they’re destroyed.  They know this.  The key financial assets they held, at the depth of the crash, before the Fed started accepting them, were worth 10 cents on the dollar at best.

15) Europe is not going to fix its problems until the Euro collapses.  There will likely be civil wars, Spain is one obvious place it may happen.  Greece is almost certainly going to be taken over by the Golden Dawn, who aren’t even neo-Nazis, but rather the real thing: straight up Nazis.  The rich would rather deal with Nazis than with the left.  That isn’t going to work out for them, but they don’t realize that.

16) In the 20s the Europeans relied on America to be the engine of growth, that didn’t work out.  In the current day, the world is relying on China to be the engine of economic growth, and that isn’t going to work out either.

17) After the fiscal cliff that isn’t managed, and after the big war, the US will have a full fledged economic collapse, on the order of Russia after the USSR collapsed, but worse because most Americans don’t actually own their houses (they have mortgages), don’t have gardens where they can grow food, and don’t have good public transit.

18) History is mutable.  This is now the glide path.  It is most likely.  The details can change, but the endgame is virtually certain.  Since no one in the US wants to stop collapse and catastrophe, it will happen.

19) After it happens, the current generation in power will be thrown out on their asses by the young, who will have to fix America.  We’ll see if they have what it takes to do it.  Expect them to be very cruel to the old, who they will view as having screwed up everything and put the entire bill on them.  Among other things, expect an end to so-called intellectual property (a misnomer), expect the financial class to be gutted and expect a radical rewrite of bankruptcy laws.

20) This is an optimistic scenario.  The less optimistic (but possibly realistic) scenario has a “charismatic leader” of some variety take over and institute a dictatorship of some variety.  Many Americans will be begging for such a figure to arise, feeling that only a strong man can make the country work again.

44 Responses
  1. November 9, 2012

    Hard to disagree with this, unfortunately. The extent to which people who are nominally opposed to all of these events lined up to support Obama anyway makes it hard to have hope. What can a lone person do? Take up gardening, sure, but what else?

  2. November 9, 2012

    Excellent post! I’ve often felt a government, short of invasion, is a reflection of its people and certainly so in this case.

  3. BDBlue permalink
    November 9, 2012

    Not sure about the specifics, but the general gist – things are going to get very bad is hard to disagree with. Unfortunately, I’m not quite sure what to do. I know people will say leave and I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but I can’t (or really won’t due to family concerns) right now. And even if I could, where to go that isn’t going to be threatened by climate change or the collapse of the Euro or the flailing U.S.?

    So I stay, but how to prepare? I really don’t know. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about it since Tuesday. For some reason, even though I knew either Obama or Romney (and probably Obama) would win, it still has set in motion great feelings of dread. I’m really at a loss of where to even start preparing for the possibility that things will get very bad. And I admit to having know idea of how to stop it from getting very bad. Most of the people I would turn to as allies, think I’m just a crank at this point.

  4. BDBlue permalink
    November 9, 2012

    A crank who apparently doesn’t know the difference between “know” and “no”. Ooof.

  5. alyosha permalink
    November 9, 2012

    Excellent post. My money’s on the dictator scenario – someone who will promise to fix everything, just give them unlimited power, temporarily of course (which will become permanent). It will be interesting to see which party this person comes out of, the right wing party (the Democrats) or the far-right party (the Republicans). Or whether these parties will even exist or matter by then.

    Most of the people I would turn to as allies, think I’m just a crank at this point.

    That’s actually a good sign, it means you still have some time. When everyone knows It’s Over, it will be too late. That moment is coming.

    I was relieved that Obama won, because the Republicans are insane, and it should buy more time for those of us trying to leave. I’m savoring the shock and disbelief the GOP is experiencing right now, but I am let us say, a little concerned about when this turns these folks bitter and angry and ready to start fighting physically.

    The rich would rather deal with Nazis than with the left.

    Mike Lofgren, a former GOP operative who writes at TruthOut.org, compared the situation in America with the failed Third Republic in France, (1870-1940) which ended when Hitler invaded (the article is worth looking up).

    Similar dynamics – France was at the height of its power, and had military bases all over the world. France’s wealthy class bought the politicians, allied themselves with the religious right, and refused to pay any more tax, which compelled France to borrow money to cover its immense debts from fighting World War I. A leftish administration won in 1936, headed by Leon Blum. The wealthy fought against this, and had a slogan, “Better Hitler than Blum”, even though they knew full well Hitler’s designs for France.

  6. November 9, 2012

    By the way Ian, thanks for your writing. With people like Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg telling me how I just had to vote for Obama since he was so clearly the better candidate, it’s almost enough to make me wonder if I’m crazy and everyone else is right. Every sane voice is appreciated, even if they are few.

  7. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 9, 2012

    Notorious P.A.T. PERMALINK
    November 9, 2012
    By the way Ian, thanks for your writing. With people like Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg telling me how I just had to vote for Obama since he was so clearly the better candidate, it’s almost enough to make me wonder if I’m crazy and everyone else is right. Every sane voice is appreciated, even if they are few.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Oh man, can I relate to that; I’ve alienated virtually all of my friends with my reasoned disdain for both parties/candidates.
    My further thoughts, that we are heading for an inevitable Orwellian ending, doesn’t help much either.
    I’m constantly questioning my views and opinions; but I just can’t bring myself into line with the majority’s realities as I see them. So, I’m trapped in an outsider’s universe.
    Of course; my leaving the U.S. helped consolidate the separation…
    After Ian’s last thread I wondered if he was done. It’s my last refuge so I’m very happy to see him continue.
    Thanks Ian, hang in there: The alternative ids severely lacking.

  8. bystander permalink
    November 9, 2012

    I follow and agree on items 1-8 and 10-17.

    Re: #9
    I don’t know that Americans desire catastrophe, although it would seem as though they are inviting catastrophe. Regardless, of what Americans want, effectively, the outcome will be as though as if nothing is done to try and forestall the oncoming catastrophe that will be climate related, even if nothing else occurs first. What I believe of Americans is they – as a current population, and as a whole – have never really known privation. The dust bowl years and the great depression are a myth unrelated to the lives of those younger than most of their great grandparents. Maybe even great-great grandparents. That’s the closest analog. And, so, Americans are optimistic. Assuming tomorrow will be more like yesterday than the 1930s. 1930 was about 80-some years ago. In less than 20 years it will be 100 years ago. One more generation to no memory at even the secondary source level.

    At #17.5 you begin to lose me. My own crystal ball doesn’t stretch that far forward. The only thing I’m relatively confident of is the future government of that period will be less likely to assist its citizens that that of the dust bowl years given the political trajectory that we’re witnessing. It’s at #17.5 that I see the possibilities of the charismatic leader I think you’re imagining. And, surely, current defenses of Obama suggest that a substantial portion of the population is open to one.

    I do chuckle at this: don’t have gardens where they can grow food. Hell, a good portion of the public doesn’t even know how to cook food, never mind grow it!

  9. El Guapo permalink
    November 9, 2012

    I think this is pretty spot on . Its going to be something to watch the Obamabot “progressives” rally around their hero and cheer on the gutting of the safety net. Its the pragmatic thing to do after all.

  10. Shoes4Industry permalink
    November 9, 2012

    Global warming and climate change will take care of all this, not for the better.

  11. Hairhead permalink
    November 10, 2012

    I am fifty-five. When I left University at 22, I saw the path laid out for me in this Western world as the path of slavery (wage- 0r otherwise). So. I have never had a credit card and never taken a bank loan. In my life.

    Two days ago I was working with a young (24 years old) woman who had been working for two years since leaving school. She was complaining about having to work, having bills and bills to pay, and feeling so constrained and tied down while she was so young. When I told her of my financial situation, she gasped and her eyes bugged out. “How can you NOT have a mortgage?”, she exclaimed.

    “Because I CHOSE not to,” I said.

    Ian, I have been watching this bullshit since the mid-’70′s. And it always seemed obvious to me. Politicians and leaders said one thing, and did another. And over and over the populace would believe the former and not the latter, no matter how terrible the latter was.

    So, one could say that I am insignificant. I would agree. I am. But I’m flexible and ready to move and I have few illusions. (Hey, I’m human; we all have some illusions.) In the country of the blind, the sighted person is ignored, if not reviled.

  12. jcapan permalink
    November 10, 2012

    18) History is mutable. This is now the glide path. It is most likely. The details can change, but the endgame is virtually certain. Since no one in the US wants to stop collapse and catastrophe, it will happen.

    Well, the Rapturists, by no means a small cross section of US society, sure don’t want to avert it. The 1%ers don’t care either, confident they’ll be able to ride their golden parachutes to secure compounds in undisclosed locations, private security contractors and bribed dictators making the transition as smooth as possible.

    I’d say the rest of the US population courageous enough to admit collapse and catastrophe are looming, not merely possible, is at best about 5% of the pop. Everyone else is propagandized, anasthetized and/or in full-blown tribal denial (in this there’s a connection to the aforementioned religious nuts). Confronting reality, choosing the red pill, is just too harrowing a thought–they’d much prefer to stay in their pews. But there’s nothing like “worse” to bring them around and worse we’re going to get, regardless of which jackass is occupying the WH. Austerity and climate events that’ll require some serious soma to deny. The unknown consequences of would-be change won’t be so terrifying when the present gets bad enough. When it’s not only their grandkids/kids facing collapse but god forbid, me too…

    And JFC do I agree about Ellsberg and Chomsky. They may be able to both vote less-evil and remain committed activists but as would-be examples of what we must do as a society in acknowledging reality and transcending a corrupt system, they’re huge disappointments. The “most dangerous man in America” and the anarcho syndicalist agreeing with Diggles that we just have to hold our nose and keep voting for the guys destroying the future of the world. Of course, this invalidates all other calls to action. “Like, yeah, OWS was great and represented the best hopes for America in its confrontation of corporate power, but meanwhile we should vote for Wall St’s handpicked reps.” And then they wonder why working Americans can’t reconcile that raft of contradictory horseshit and take to the streets behind our enlightened vanguard. They can be condemned for taking the social media-reality TV-sports-porn palliative that is the blue bill too but given the alternatives on offer …

  13. DupinTM permalink
    November 10, 2012

    Agreed as always. The most salient point is the fact that Obama, like anyone else looking at the mid-term future, needs his speaking fees to weather the coming (literal and metaphorical) storms. And as Glenn Greenwald just pointed out, most liberals are happily willing to sell out the ones slightly more reluctant to gain some (unpaid) airtime on the likes of parasites like Huffpo.

    As it comes to this kinda stuff, can we expect a post on his likely replacement for Geithner? Real talk such as this involves the most important issue in a neo-feudalist society – nepotism. And, as a devoted study of courtiers, I see where Clinton comes in – his daughter is a hedge fund rolodex master, his wife has a satrap worthy of any Roman matriarch – but how will Obama, as a true fin de siecle scapegoat, compare? I just don’t see his future being anything past, what, a few TED conferences where he talks about some half-assed batteries while the air condition fails?

    I fully accept how blindly trusting the current Google/behavorial science leader types are to techno-magic, but I don’t see how, when the storms start really coming in, or, jebus forbid, the atlantic current switches/the permafrost methane pops out, Obama can have anything but a sad martyrship for the petro-billionaires in store for him. There’s just no goddamn upside for anyone who takes this position w/ children, unless they truly just don’t give a fuck, and the whole point of the narcissists who would willingly sacrifice everything public for their own private interests includes their family in that equation.

    In what non-Philip K. Dick Dr. Bloodmoney scenario do Sasha and Malia end up royalty, rather than ‘first against the walls’, sins of our fathers type deal?

  14. November 10, 2012

    I think the dictator (“savior”) is most likely. We have become a nation worshipful of authority. Notice the former presidents are still called “President Clinton,” for instance, and the same goes for the title that goes with any office. We are so inculcated with the worship of authority that we endow the holder of temporary office with the kowtowing and boot licking even after they leave office and are but common citizens. This “savior” who will assume the role of dictator will come from the left.

  15. November 10, 2012

    1. Most of you, Ian included, are missing the point of the triumphalism. The principal motivator of the “Overton window” phenomenon was that the Republicans could put together an extremist right-wing platform year after year and have a large base of Americans that not only basically honestly agreed with it, but most importantly believed that their agreement was the authentic belief of a critical mass of Americans.

    If you look at right-wing blogs and opinion-makers, including the comment sections, you see this illusion crumbling and the demoralization—that most of their platform is not the “default” position of the American public—take hold. The sudden lack of psychological validation is the most significant thing I have seen occur on the American right, and it is a necessary if not sufficient condition to moving the Overton window.

    So I don’t think the triumphalism is so “idiot.” This being Ian’s blog, of course there is a basic tendency to rain on parades… But American liberals also have an attitude that their beliefs are somehow exceptions or minority positions in the USA, so the triumphalism and Schadenfreude is to some extent a healthy thing.

    2. I can agree with most everything else Ian has written here, except for the bits that prognosticate very far into the future, though they are certainly possibilities. Obama will very likely strike some kind of odious and detrimental grand bargain, and the biggest likelihood—which was likely either way—was that the world is going to “hell in a handbasket”. I would say that the most dangerous thing currently going is the total intransigence of northern European politicians, who are totally unwilling to let the scales be balanced (either by allowing inflation or by allowing a Euro exit and debt cancelllation). The intransigence and complacency even at a personal level is breath-taking.

    3. However, I am attempting to think of a scenario by which an Obama loss would have made the worst scenarios less likely. This has never so far been adequately explained, and so unsurprisingly even the most left wing figures in America, such as Chomsky, quite wisely rejected the attitude that is prevalent in this blog and comment section. Similarly, I don’t understand why Ian keeps repeating the fact that there will be a Republican presidency in the future—of course there would have been, even if Romney had won there would have been at least one after him.

    The question is whether it would have been one under greater right-wing psychological validation for their position on social and identity issues—or not. That’s all.

  16. Ed Sung permalink
    November 10, 2012

    If you look at right-wing blogs and opinion-makers, including the comment sections, you see this illusion crumbling and the demoralization—that most of their platform is not the “default” position of the American public—take hold.

    I feel Obama’s been a dismal disappointment as a president, and voted for Stein in the election. But in the wake of the Democratic victory, not just on the presidential level but in Congress and all the way down to marriage equality and marijuana legalization measures, I’m wondering if I cast the wrong vote, for the reason Mandos cites above. Maybe the most important priority is to prevent Republicans from winning elections, because every victory for them is a validation of their principles — not just from their own perspective, but from that of the nebulous general population. Every time they’re defeated, it undermines not just their own validity, but that of conservatism overall as well.

    In order to compete in the future, Republicans will have to back away from their far-right stance and move left. And every time they continue to lose, they’ll have to keep moving left. This is huge. Because conservatism, slowly but surely, will no longer be perceived as the no-brainer default position for Democrats as well. When the Republicans are seen as losing because of their conservatism, perhaps Democrats will eventually stop be seen as winning despite their liberalism. So perhaps the thing to do is simply keep handing the GOP defeat after defeat, even if that means voting for Democrats we can’t stand, until Republican positions become so toxic that the essential political current starts to move leftward.

    Anyway, it’s a thought.

  17. GetReal permalink
    November 10, 2012

    One of my friends thinks that all the old bigoted people will die out in ten to twenty years and then we’ll magically swerve to the left and rainbows and sunshine will ensue. I told him that, yeah, maybe on social issues that don’t effect the authority of the corporate state, like gay rights, and abortion, but Americans have a pretty unbeaten 300 year streak of being compliant little authoritarians. I doubt that will change. In fact, a recent survey showed that 50% of high school students think it’s wrong to question authority in ANY matter.

    On issues of foreign policy, civil liberties (except for a few token gifts here and there), and war, there will be no difference between Republicans and Democrats. And let’s get real, there was no difference between Romney and Obama. Even on abortion. Romney trotted out one of his guys to tell fearful moderate Republicans that he would not go after abortion. Policy is developed by the corporate state. The people who run the show know that 77% of the public support abortion. They know that there won’t be any truly serious challenge to Roe V Wade. Why bother? And those in power are pro abortion anyways, same with gay rights. Look at how CNN and MSNBC promotes both, and yet won’t say a kind word about the Palestinians. It’s all theater. They don’t give two shits and a fuck about gay rights or abortion, but they will certainly use them as chits to keep the two party system in place.

    Americans don’t care about anyone except themselves. That is why they were not willing to trade their illusionary loss of abortion rights in exchange for not bombing the fuck out of brown people in the Middle East or ending the drug war. They aren’t even willing to drive to another state to get an abortion in exchange for ending endless wars or the ever growing police state. So that is exactly what they will get, abortion rights, but also endless fucking wars and a police state. I mean, FUCK, we found out the Chicago police has been TORTURING suspects for 30 years AND that the NYPD has been planting drug evidence on thousands of suspects, and no one so much as batted an eye.

  18. GetReal permalink
    November 10, 2012

    @Ed Sung

    The Republicans aren’t going anywhere. Americans like authoritarianism. That is evident by their complete disdain or indifference when NDAA was passed, when it was discovered that American intelligence is operating on home soil, when it was discovered that the Chicago police were torturing suspects for 30 years, when it was discovered that the NYPD was watching racist hate videos, and when it was discovered that the NYPD was planting drug evidence on suspects. And to the people who think that the Republicans are going to go with someone like Huckabee? LOL, nope. They’re going to nominate someone like Condi Rice in the next cycle, and they’ll probably win. Even the most racist white person will be able to vote for Condi, ‘cuz she’s “one of us”. The Republicans aren’t stupid, and they aren’t going the way of the Whigs either.

    Like I said, on a few token social issues, they will evolve, and then they’ll be “relevant” again. Just watch. Some “brave” member will step out and say, hey we need to change with the tastes and mood of the country, and then all of sudden their policy will evolve, and the MSM will lap it up like sweet milk. They will also say that the nomination of Condi Rice was a genius move, and lap up more sweet milk.

  19. November 10, 2012

    Re Obama and Grand Bargains.

    So, the long-standing elite consensus was formed through a (mis)interpretation of history in the past few decades, particularly the stagflation episode and the fall of Communism—but more importantly, it’s failure to deliver the post-revolutionary worker’s paradise. Through various branches of reasoning and in multiple schools of thought, it was finally concluded that labour is always and everywhere the author of its own woes, and any attempt to improve the lot of wage labour will incur a terrible price deferred into an unknown future.

    That is, in essence, the relevant component of neoliberal thinking. It may be wrong. It may be in bad faith. In may even be evil. But it is not prima facie stupid.

    If you are a person whose background involves a left-leaning political tendency, and you are faced with this conclusion, perhaps through your interactions with certain wings of Chicago intelligentsia, then you are faced with an ideological crisis. Because what it implies is that the rentier class can never actually be displaced—the apparently useless rentiers really do serve a function.

    Then the next intellectual step is to say that the correct way to alleviate the problems of the wage-earning class is, in reality, to find a way to expand the class of rentiers.

    But if you are a right-winger by background, then you will instead look with satisfaction upon the neoliberal hypothesis and say that it merely confirms what you have always known: that aristocracy is a natural phenomenon, and woe betide those who seek to construct a society in which labour does not suffer, as it must, the insecurities of an unequal world.

    The “Grand Bargain” is a bargain between these two neoliberal world views. It consists of an attempt to expand the class of rentier and a payoff to ensure that the aristocracy remains aristocratic.

    That only the latter will actually happen is a consequence of the neoliberal hypothesis, but left-leaning neoliberals do not believe that they have any alternative but to try.

    What does this have to do with Obama? It doesn’t matter what he intends. Even if he were genuinely left-leaning in intention, he couldn’t do much more than what he is doing now without discarding the neoliberal consensus to which he probably subscribes.

  20. Lucius Volumnius Flamma Violens permalink
    November 10, 2012

    The “Grand Bargain” is a change in world views.
    “The Senate voted that Octavian be given the crown of oak leaves that signified service to Rome, and it made him consul again. From the period of the triumvirate with Antony and Lepidus, Octavian still held the title of Princeps, which could be translated as Leader (or, in German, Führer). In keeping with his great prestige, the Senate gave him a title that had the ring of his being divinely chosen: Augustus Caesar. And the Senate made it law that he be included in the prayers of Rome’s priests. In appearance, the republic had been restored, but in fact ultimate power still lay with Octavian — Augustus Caesar. The republic was not going out with a bang. It had been just fading away.”
    History doesn’t just repeat itself.

  21. Ian Welsh permalink*
    November 10, 2012

    Actually, it does matter what Obama intends, because if you intend something you find an ideology that works with it. I do not believe that Obama is a left winger who has accepted the neo-liberal paradigm and tries to work within it.

    And neo-liberalism is a profoundly stupid ideology, because we have seen this ship before. Financialization of economies, aka. rentier formation, has occurred multiple times in recorded history and has always led to the same place. So yes, neo-liberalism is prima-facie stupid.

    As for the Overton window, you are incapable of reading me correctly. I have noted, more than once, that on certain social issues, the US is moving to the left. They don’t matter that much to the big picture. Though I approve of gay marriage, and even didn’t talk to my own father once for 6 months over the issue, it isn’t going to change the flight path the US is on. Same thing with marijuana legalization.

    Mourdock, who made the rape comment, was opposed by a Democrat who was a sponsor of a bill outlawing abortion. He was elected. He just didn’t have foot-in-mouth-disease. Americans are queasy about rape (though only queasy) but they are certainly willing to elect politicians who are anti-abortion.

    People are very confused about the difference between being left wing on social issues, being for civil liberties, and being left wing on economic issues. They are not the same thing.

    As for gloomy, no. You, as with most people, are unable to tell the difference. I have reread my corpus, and my predictions are most likely not to come true when they are on the optimistic side. If anything, I have pulled my punches for years, out of misplaced hope. Even the post above is slightly on the hopeful side.

  22. November 10, 2012

    People are very confused about the difference between being left wing on social issues, being for civil liberties, and being left wing on economic issues. They are not the same thing.

    No, I’m pretty sure I’ve understood you perfectly. I just don’t agree with this statement here. I mean, it’s the very fundamental crux of our now long-standing disagreement on this point.

    It is not an accident that the social-issues right and the economic right are connected in the USA, as well as the worst forms of militarism. Among isolated classes you have a few genuine anarcho-capitalists who believe in total social autonomy. But it’s not an accident that Randroid Paul Ryan believes in things that Ayn Rand would not have accepted on the social front. That’s because Ayn Rand didn’t 100% realize that what she wanted ultimately requires a patriarchal society. Ryan is consistent.

    Which is why I don’t agree with this:

    As for the Overton window, you are incapable of reading me correctly. I have noted, more than once, that on certain social issues, the US is moving to the left. They don’t matter that much to the big picture. Though I approve of gay marriage, and even didn’t talk to my own father once for 6 months over the issue, it isn’t going to change the flight path the US is on. Same thing with marijuana legalization.

    Within electoral politics and insofar as you think electoral politics matters (big caveats), then the social issues do very much have to do with the “flight path”. If you read right-wing blogs at all, or blog comments, or have ever argued in conservative venues (I used to, a long time ago, and still occasionally do), you will see that the rank-and-file right really does believe in a connection between social hierarchy and propriety (moral continence) and economic dominance and stability.

    And that, as I said, is not an accident and is not even completely stupid. The stability of feudal hierarchy (economic and political dominance of a rightful ruling classes) is partly dependent on a patriarchal order. (Neoliberalism is basically admitting, in a nutshell, that feudalism—such as what formed from the development of the Roman rentier class and its latifundia—is ultimately inescapable.)

    Because these things form a somewhat consistent ideological complex, psychologically validating the right on social issues also validates them on economic issues, and vice versa.

    Now whether the potential “flight path” change is too little and too late is another matter. I would probably agree that it is too little and too late. However, better than nothing.

    As for gloomy, no. You, as with most people, are unable to tell the difference. I have reread my corpus, and my predictions are most likely not to come true when they are on the optimistic side. If anything, I have pulled my punches for years, out of misplaced hope. Even the post above is slightly on the hopeful side.

    Oh, I agree that some of your predictions, especially if you follow the logic down your timeline, are quite optimistic.

    I meant “rain on parades” in the sense of, you know, immediately rushing out and pooh-poohing what other people feel are their successes. My biggest beef with the whole thing is the sectarianism.

  23. Hellen permalink
    November 10, 2012

    Ian you are right. Housing prices have skyrocketed so much in Colorado that it’s entering bubble territory. It will surely give people a false sense of security so that when the collapse comes, they will be frightfully devastated and in an unimaginable rage. Rage is going to unleash like never before all the way around. I would add to your list racial strife and violence that people are unprepared for. Class warfare goes without mention. Millions upon millions who voted for Obama are now waiting for the money they believe he’s going to give them. The rich who voted for him are going to be angered by the compulsive threat of his promise of high taxation. I did not vote for the man. I think the Left is the most criminal now because of the coverup of their true nature and intentions. The people have been lulled into believing they are the compassionate saviors of mankind. The mind control they’re engaged in is staggering. This election was hideous, but the divisive techniques used by the Left were a great clue to what’s ahead. The ecstatic crucifixion of Mitt Romney was a disturbing reminder of mob mentality and destructiveness. The impulse will have to go elsewhere. He certainly provided a focal point.

    I used to object to your pessimism as it threatened my ersatz optimism. It used to be real, but it no longer serves any purpose. I’m leaning toward the dictator scenario as probable, possibly a military dictatorship since violence and strife will likely be greater than any one can logically predict giving the drugged state of laziness and illusion that now controls the masses. The media is completely under state control so the rest will follow. An electric jolt in the masses is due after which hell is scheduled to break loose.

    So I’ve joined you pessimists who I finally see as realists. In my advanced age, my idealism is still a thing of value but only insofar as I understand it as just that. An ideal. With the “idea” part being emphasized.
    The Left is the biggest problem since they are the true statists. The welfare state being created by their policies is laying the foundation for authoritarian control. The idea that the rich are going to pay for the others’ upkeep is preposterous, of course, but his followers believe it. When they recognize the betrayal, all hell will break loose. The turning of minorities against the whites will probably backfire, but not before a new wave of racism runs its course. They can’t continue to see poverty rise as fast as it is in their communities without reacting at some point. It’s a planet of suckers but those who point that out while keeping them down are not smart. It’s interesting that Obama explained that his election is based on “revenge”. The die is cast.

    My mother survived Auschwitz and I was initially reluctant to acknowledge the signs of coming collapse and state control, but now I’m ready to face it. She was in Hungary and although her mother saw it coming they didn’t get out. Her father did, but her mother was sent to the gas chambers. It’s always the same. People refuse to read the signs. Perhaps I am a little more sensitive to this than most. The power of television is astonishing and is ready to be utilized. Plus the phone apps where the president can issue orders to everyone anytime everywhere. He can sound the alarm at will. I have neither television nor a government linked phone. I’m still connected to the land.

    I’ve traveled in totalitarian countries and there is one revealing element here that makes it impossible for me to deny. That is the indoctrination of children and their gleeful singing in the classroom about the glories of their leader. I don’t believe that the authoritarian power will come from the Right. It will be the Left as is obvious from this election. But that’s moot. Until such time as a political party puts up a person with at least a modicum of intelligence and understanding, I will not be participating in electoral politics.

    We have no choice but to follow this path to complete decline if we still harbor hopes of recovery and renewal. So I’m replacing my fear with anticipation for the time when we can rebuild. I think the best scenario for the wise ones is to sell as many of our assets as we can and pare down our personal lives to come as close to survival mode as bearable. The solutions will present themselves as we go and cooperation amongst ourselves in defiance of the government could work. You know, sharing and all of that. I think the Right might be closer to understanding the coming realities and have been preparing. Eventually, the divisions won’t matter. It could simply be the citizens against the government. They keep trying to mercilessly divide us, but it’s good to stop falling for it starting now. I’ve come a long way, myself, since I once supported Obama, and I hope that I never fall for that kind of thing again. I now participate in conversations on Republican sites as a way to diffuse hatred which steals vitality and autonomy. Being ordered to hate people for no logical reason doesn’t appeal to me. Democrats are vile now and I can no longer identify with them even though I was raised as a strict radical Leftist. Some of the family were normal Democrats which kept me loyal for a little longer than needed. The idea of the warm hearted loving caring protective tolerant open minded liberal is in the realm of ideals and never really incarnated successfully. They can try again later.

    Please keep this up as a reminder to us, Ian. I believe that safety can be found by some no matter what.

    Remember that the Nazis were Leftists originally, but the party was taken over by the Right. And Hitler’s adored social engineering practices were learned from Americans. America, land of the free and the home of eugenics!

    Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist rhetoric, although such aspects were later downplayed in order to gain the support of industrial entities, and in 1930s the party’s focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes.

    Sound familiar? Anti-white and anti-rich seems to be the new focus with the always ongoing anti-capitalistic philosophy. Obama’s ties to the Communist Party are well known. It is far from conspiracy nonsense. So the comparison to the Russian collapse is worth considering. Revenge against the domineering white man never works, but growth of minority populations with increasing political power could eventually level things out. By not interfering with the accumulation at the top, there is a chance that the collapse under its own weight will happen sooner.

    The details matter not. It’s just wise to start to prepare and withdraw identification with either political party. Survivalists can teach you particulars, such as water storage, energy backups, escape routes through the woods, first aid preparation, and the rest. Maybe silver is a good investment since it can be used as currency when push comes to shove. Societies have survived these events many times before, and we will too. Doctors and other professionals are leaving their practices and might be available to help us when things get rough. Sometimes the best in humans emerges within these scenarios along with the worst.

    I agree that the Republicans dodged a bullet this time. And I think Obama’s second term is going to be a disaster, after which, he’ll have hell to pay. Prison would probably be a safe place for him, but I doubt he’ll be lucky enough to get there.

  24. November 10, 2012

    And lo and behold.

  25. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    November 10, 2012

    @Hellen

    Democrats are vile now and I can no longer identify with them even though I was raised as a strict radical Leftist.

    This sentence is self-contradicting gibberish, and the fact that you don’t even recognize it as such clearly identifies you as a right-wing troll.

  26. kj1313 permalink
    November 10, 2012

    Huh Sanity, obviously as truthful as the fair and balanced motto of fox news. Ian can defend himself but if you can’t see how both parties have sold out everyone but the financial elite the last 40 years, you’re a fool. The path has been laid out, just close your eyes and pretend it isn’t happening.

  27. kj1313 permalink
    November 10, 2012

    Hellen your diatribe just gave me a headache. You obviously have no idea what it means to be a leftist or progressive.

  28. Hellen permalink
    November 10, 2012

    @Blizz

    I was raised in a politically active Dem family, many of whom were active in the Socialist movement in the beginning of last century. Some were far Left, and one of my uncles spent time with Castro. I didn’t question my allegiance in those days.

    Later they moved more to the center and expressed their ideology by working in the labor movement in Milwaukee. They were good people and I felt like they did about social justice. But that’s not the party of today. Forgive me for expressing my distress about today’s Dems, but I feel a combination of betrayal and foolishness that I could have been so naive when I saw the changes coming. Ian tries repeatedly to explain this to you, but many refuse to listen.

    I have my own ideas now and they fit the philosophy of neither party.

    I will say that the impulse to label someone who upsets you as a troll reveals a paucity of sensible judgement, altough I do admit that calling Democrats vile could arouse that in you. It’s all too common on these blogs and lowers the level of conversation. I vow to work on my adjectives.

  29. Ian Welsh permalink*
    November 10, 2012

    There have been liberal societies with patriarchal structures and bans on abortion and even interracial marriage, let alone homosexuality. See the 50s. The peak of British widespread affluence happened in about 1870s and declined from there, before rebounding after WWI, the taking a dive in the Great Depression but with more social welfare, not because the British ruling class game two damns about the working class but because in WWI they discovered they had been so neglected many of them couldn’t be inducted into the army. There were plenty of horrible slums, but for the time there was a lot of money spread around to ordinary people.

    Germany, under the Emperor and Bismarck, with a parliament which was not particularly powerful, was ahead of most other countries on social welfare.

    Patriarchy is not antithetical to widespread affluence, that is simply incorrect.

  30. Ian Welsh permalink*
    November 10, 2012

    The Nazis were right wing totalitarians. They were also right wing socialists. Right wing socialism is not uncommon, see Alaska and the US military. Left wing totalitarianism looks like the USSR or Maoist China. Note that there were NO non-state corporations in either of them.

    A friend of mine’s father was a VP in Siemens during the Nazi years. The Nazis did not go after him even though he was somewhat subversive precisely because he was a VP at Siemens.

  31. Ian Welsh permalink*
    November 10, 2012

    Finally, the time to tell people they are full of shit is when they are fullest of it. In January 2009 I tried to tell progressives they needed to start opposing Obama hardcore to make him do what they wanted. They wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. They were wrong.

  32. kj1313 permalink
    November 11, 2012

    Ian, I bought into the possibility of Obama being a progressive in 2008. In hindsight I think he was going to follow the neoliberal economic & neocon foreign policy agenda no matter what. He was bought & paid for long before he thought of running.

  33. November 11, 2012

    “This election was hideous, but the divisive techniques used by the Left were a great clue to what’s ahead. The ecstatic crucifixion of Mitt Romney was a disturbing reminder of mob mentality and destructiveness.”

    And this person wants us to believe she was ever a leftist? Maybe she’s just really drunk and or off her meds,and incoherent, and I should cut her some slack. But still, better trolls, please.

    I think the prediction about the young being extra cruel to the old has not base in fact. This country has been getting more collectively cruel in general since at least 1980 (emptying the public mental hospitals into the streets, wars, drug wars/mass imprisonment). The current level of collective indifference and hostility to the poor and to our foreign enemies was unthinkable in the 70s. I think that is the trend that will continue. I just don’t see any intergenerational animosity coming up. But of course if the old sit by while Obama kills social security for the young, the young will return the favor 2 years later (a point that somehow seems to get lost on older people). That’s not cruelty, just payback. At the individual level, I can’t see young people turning on the old, unless your talking about youngsters getting really tired of living in mom’s basement and changing her diapers because there will be no healthcare.

    Also, please explain what you mean by the fiscal cliffs. I thought that term only meant the coming tax increases combined with the sequester nonsense.

  34. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    November 11, 2012

    Two concepts from your title do not pertain, reality is one, future is the other.

    Saint Ronnie of the Reagan famously stated he did not abandon the Democratic party, it abandoned him. Apply the same to political America, being abandoned by reality. Using another metaphor, reality-rats abandoning a sinking delusion, is also useful, but reality is more like sand, glistering in a strong summer’s sun, when closely inspected, comprising of distinct reflections of various shades and hues from individual grains, taken together, blinding, capable of hiding in the glare pearls of great value. Political discourse in America has turned into verbal glare, voices drowning out each other, vying for attention, creating a din where no voice can be heard above nor with clarity. Add to this the cacophony of the interminable bizarre burlesque that American political parties provide as their substance; not only reality would abandon, if given the chance, rationality is its companion.

    As for future, there is always a future, time has that characteristic. The question becomes “Does some entity, now present, appear in the future”. That entity, perceived as historical America, presently no longer exists. The entity presently passing as America is foreseeably extinct. What the presently entity can change into, and possibly persevere is a question that has no answers at the present moment in time. To this end, serious attention is required, opinion has its place but must not be allowed to cloud or obscure relevant issues, nor drown out those voices which may provide relevancy or perspective. The host of this forum is one such voice; if disagreement appears, voice it as best as ability allows and move on, unending argument detracts from whatever point being taken and adds nothing to the discourse.

    The history of the U.S. is a history of institutions, the Mayflower Compact, the charter for the Virginia Plantations, etc. Independence provided Articles of Confederation which gave way to the revisions that produced the constitution, all contractual based institutions. What is missing in today’s discourse is any understanding of underlaying contract. Substituting emotion and belief for that understanding is folly of the fiercest delusion. The crisis before the Republic is a crisis of institution and the governance of that institution. The constitution can be likened to a strongbox, the combination is widely known and its contents can be accessed at will to whomever can buy that combination. It is necessary to reconstruct that strongbox in a manner that the new combination is secure from those with an agenda to empty its contents for their own enrichment. However the political din drowns out all voices as well as disturbing the need to contemplate and reflect upon what is needed. There is only so much that voices crying out warning can do. If there is to be a future, it will be necessary to construct institutions that will accommodate that future. Look for master builders to construct those fundamental contracts to base the desired institutions upon and consider their plans most carefully before embarking on their construction.

    All else is noise …

  35. Abe permalink
    November 11, 2012

    This is far too pleased with itself and its smug, easy cynicism to be taken seriously. Certain of these predictions are probably accurate (parts of 2 – though the GOP really is doomed in its current configuration; 5 and 6 are likely, I wouldn’t bet against 11 or 12.)

    Others of these are laughable. Spanish civil war? I was recently in Barcelona, civil war didn’t seem remotely on the horizon. Obama moving to real austerity is trickier but I think it’s unlikely – he’s well aware he’s one of the few Western political leaders to win reelection amidst this crisis, largely on the back of an economy improving thanks to stimulus. Austerity doesn’t really make political or economic sense, and its moment has passed, though it has a few death throes left in it.

    2, 9 and 18 are really what give the game away. All-too-glib pronouncements on the backs of no compelling argumentation, they’re just obnoxious and smug and pleased with their contrarian cynicism. Really, the Republicans just “didn’t want” to beat the President they already revile more than any other since FDR? They “didn’t want it”, which is why they spent a billion dollars to be shell-shocked by their defeat on election night? Sure they picked a bad candidate who ran a weak campaign, but that’s because all they have are bad candidates and strategists who have yet to adapt to the 21st century (for now). A few of their heavyweights stayed away from 2012, presumably for 2016, but that’s a pretty weak peg to hang your conclusions on.

  36. Bolo permalink
    November 11, 2012

    Obama moving to real austerity is trickier but I think it’s unlikely – he’s well aware he’s one of the few Western political leaders to win reelection amidst this crisis, largely on the back of an economy improving thanks to stimulus. Austerity doesn’t really make political or economic sense, and its moment has passed, though it has a few death throes left in it.

    Obama sezs:

    It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs.

    And we can easily meet — “easily” is the wrong word — we can credibly meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and even more in the out-years, and we can stabilize our deficit-to-GDP ratio in a way that is really going to be a good foundation for long-term growth. Now, once we get that done, that takes a huge piece of business off the table.

    The austerity train is just getting up to speed now. Granted, it could be moving much faster, so I guess that’s something to be thankful for.

  37. Bolo permalink
    November 11, 2012

    Obama also sez:

    OBAMA: And my plan would reduce our yearly domestic spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy in nearly 60 years.

    Obama further sez some stuff about the environment (related to what Ian has been saying about fracking):

    My plan for energy doesn’t ignore the vast resources we already have in this country. We’re — we’re producing more oil than we have in over a decade.

    But if we truly want to gain control of our energy future, we’ve got to recognize that pumping more oil isn’t enough. We have to encourage the unprecedented boom in American natural gas.

    He also talks about renewables and energy efficiency, but he’s full on board with fracking all right.

    One final sez by Obama:

    Now, already, I’ve put forward a detailed plan that allows us to make these investments while reducing our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. I want to be clear—I’m not wedded to every detail of my plan. I’m open to compromise. I’m open to new ideas.

    Guess which direction those compromises will come from? Hint: He’s compromising with the Republican leadership and has indicated that his current position is movable.

  38. November 11, 2012

    Ian: I really thoroughly and completely disagree with your interpretation of history. I didn’t quite realize until now that you were one of those people who seriously detached the “squishy” social issues from the “guns-and-butter” issues. The examples you use are mostly examples that I would read as proving the opposite point, which is the problem with using isolated snapshots in history like that.

    In light of your most recent blog post, I’m not sure whether I should bother to explain why I disagree, but I’ll take a brief stab at it for my own satisfaction, I guess. This whole thing was hashed out in the 60s/70s/80s by second-wave radical feminism, which is essentially where I’m coming from, “theoretically” speaking.

    You can get widespread affluence in any society when that society wins the lottery somehow, and you can get widespread poverty and suffering in any society when it wins the bad lotteries. The Gulf Arab states are able to create a relatively affluent population with oil. The affluence itself is not the point.

    However, the affluence and the distribution thereof is heavily dependent on compliance with an extremely hierarchical society—on the “up” side. Which means that, on the “down” side, there is a strict order of priorities and conditionalities involved in deciding who collects the “insurance” when calamity strikes. Those priorities are set up by a number of factors, among which prominently features kinship relations. Even feudal societies had a sort of social welfare and a set of customary obligations to the serfs (which the industrial revolution had to destroy in order to recreate society).

    The modern social-democratic welfare state accomplished, in its ideal form at least, something that had never been done before: create forms of insurance more or less unconditional on status. Conservatives complain that this means, for example, that lower-class women are less likely to have to marry in order to provide for their children when times are tough. And this comes with a further “cost”: the traditional ways that the elite bought off crucial sections of the lower classes become unavailable. The kinship relations that give working class men, for example, a sense of purpose outside of toil (through leadership of the family unit) also start to diminish in significance.

    And it works the other way, too. The end of conditionality in the welfare state means that women can agitate for an expanded role, and as conservatives are even now complaining (correctly or incorrectly), make further expansions to social insurance in order to guarantee their security from dependence.

    Some of this applies to race as well, of course. And other divisions of social class. This is where the conservative “makers vs. takers” meme that is now so popular on the right comes from. This is also where the left in the USA schismed in the past few decades—the division between the “labour” left and the social left.

    And that is why I get annoyed at the sort of “guns-and-butter” leftism that views the social issues (and civil right, etc) as some sort of “squishy” side-distraction used by mainstream pols to distract the masses. Or blames the social left for distracting from the “real” issues. Or, especially, fantasizes about a future in which those things can be set aside for some grand alliance of the Tea-Party-ish types and economic leftists against Big Rentier. The “tribal” divisions in US politics are real things, not concocted, and everything inside the electoral system will happen within the bounds of those “tribes”.

    So no, if you got this far, I don’t think that telling people what’s what when they are “full of themselves” is such a clever strategy. If the tribal politics is inescapable, then the triumphalism is inescapable and necessary. The alternative, of course, is that the answer does not lie within electoral politics…

  39. ybm permalink
    November 11, 2012

    Number 10 is a particularly good observation. One of this items few people know about, and even fewer discuss in politics is that the US is looking north, and liking what they are seeing with the petro-loonie, fat dividends from primary industries, and lots of big loans from banks for purchasing extraction equipment from Germany and Japan.

    That is, until American wages are sufficiently gutted that heavy machinery manufacturing can move back over.

    the US has decided that the Brazilian way is better than the French way. Why produce and trade internally when its so much simpler to extract, export, and exploit?

  40. Dakota de Sinope permalink
    November 11, 2012

    @Mandos

    It seems to me that the basic frame here is “a full fledged economic collapse, on the order of Russia after the USSR collapsed, but worse…”

    You seem to be coming from a standpoint of “theory.” Ian seems to be coming from an empirically formed well-grounded fear that we are all on the Titanic and bearing down on an iceberg — or perhaps ten minutes after the strike, but reasonably sure that IF immediate and correct action is taken, most of us can still survive.

    I know people who lived through the Russian collapse. I have a sense for what that means. I know people who lived through the collapse of Yugoslavia, too.

    To interpret what he is saying in terms of a separation of and interaction between “the ‘squishy’ social issues from the ‘guns-and-butter’ issues” seems to me a profound if not perverse misreading and misconstrual.

    If the scale of collapse that he evidently has in mind comes to pass, it’s almost certain that we will have major, massive reversals “the ‘squishy’ social issues” as a matter of course.

  41. November 12, 2012

    Yes, sure, I agree with Ian on the basic gist of those things—icebergs, Titanic, etc. What I disagree with is his analysis of why the corrective action is not being taken, and what to do about it.

    I happen to believe that it is the fact that, well, there is this leaden weight on the right side of the American political balance, and the people who make up that leaden weight are beholden to a particular set of beliefs about the “squishy” issues, and in particular the connection between the “squishy” issues and the “guns-and-butter” issues. This means that the most extreme forms of wingery can get 30% of the electorate, and needs only to peel away 20% and/or suppress an equivalent number on the other side.

    Now, do right-wing Democrats exploit this? Yes, of course they do. Because of the huge short-term incentive in taking economically right-wing positions, the Democratic elite will run only as far left as is required to distinguish themselves from what the Republicans can elect. That is driven by the underlying logic of the American political system and is essentially by design of its Founders. In order to be able to move back to a corrective course, either total collapse has to occur (all bets are off) or the conventional tribal issues must be dealt with, basically at face value.

  42. Blissex permalink
    November 12, 2012

    «The Republican party are reactionaries, who want to repeal the 20th century. The Democrats are conservatives. There is no major left wing party in the US.»

    Has there ever been? Good old Upton Sinclair remarked in “I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked” that when he presented policies as socialist he got few votes compares to when the described the very same as conservative common sense.

    Even the Democrats 1940-1980 were the party of the coalition of labour immigrants (italian/jewish/irish white workers) with the southern racists rather than the left, and when their constituency made good salaries and bought property and sent the kids to college they all became Republicans.

    Today there is no left party because there is no left constituency among VOTERS. Only the better off 50% of those with the right to vote actually vote, and 70% of voters are property and stock speculators, wishing for ever higher asset valuations and for ever lower wages, especially the vast numbers of older middle and upper class women.

    I’ll let Norquist describe the situation well:

    http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=11699
    «Now if you say we’re going to smash the big corporations, 60-plus percent of voters say “That’s my retirement you’re messing with. I don’t appreciate that”. And the Democrats have spent 50 years explaining that Republicans will pollute the earth and kill baby seals to get market caps higher. And in 2002, voters said, “We’re sorry about the seals and everything but we really got to get the stock market up.”»

    http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0903/0903norquistinterview.htm
    «The growth of the investor class–those 70 per cent of voters who own stock and are more opposed to taxes and regulations on business as a result — is strengthening the conservative movement. More gun owners, fewer labor union members, more homeschoolers, more property owners and a dwindling number of FDR-era Democrats all strengthen the conservative movement versus the Democrats.»

    The vast majority of USA voters are already rentiers… Their motto has always been “F*ck YOU! I got mine”.

  43. Blissex permalink
    November 12, 2012

    «Since no one in the US wants to stop collapse and catastrophe, it will happen.

    19) After it happens, the current generation in power will be thrown out on their asses by the young, who will have to fix America.»

    Indeed, but that is the optimistic view.

    Nobody among the majority of VOTERS in the USA cares about stopping collapse, because they all think they are ending up as rich rentiers, and they will ride out the collapse in comfortable luxury., and collapse will benefit them by lowering wages and prices in general.

    To a large extent both the USA elites have LBO’ed the USA: asset stripping, by loading the USA with mountains and private and public debt, paring labor costs to the bone, boosting cash flow by cutting investment, in order to turn accumulated capital into paying massive dividends, interests and fees to the insiders, or the stupid middle aged middle classes who think they are insiders too.

    An after the assets have been stripped? Well, David Frum has beautifully summarized the policies of Republicans, but also of Democrats, and ultimately of the majority of USA voters as:

    http://nymag.com/news/politics/conservatives-david-frum-2011-11/index4.html
    «Rather than workable solutions, my party is offering low taxes for the currently rich and high spending or the currently old, to be followed by who-knows-what and who-the-hell-cares.
    This isn’t conservatism; it’s a going-out-of-business sale for the baby-boom generation.»

  44. Laura permalink
    November 16, 2012

    Just want to register my thanks for your always intelligent, unvarnished commentary.

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