The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

American Social Collapse Is Far Closer than Most Will Admit

A rather lovely article on US social collapse by Susan Zakin includes this summary of the stages of failing states.

In State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror, Harvard’s Robert Rotberg writes that while every country is different, the signposts tend to be the same. It is worth attending to the characteristics he describes. They should sound familiar:

  • In a weak state, basic services such as education and health are privatized; public facilities decline. Infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, shows signs of neglect, particularly outside of major cities. Journalists and civil society activists are harassed. Tensions among ethnic, religious, or linguistic groups increase, but widespread violence has not erupted–yet.
  • In a failing state, a single leader gains control of the legislature, law enforcement, and the judiciary. The leader and his cronies are enriched while ordinary citizens are left without basic services.
  • In a failed state, living standards deteriorate rapidly. Citizens feel they exist only to satisfy the ruler’s greed and lust for power. The potential for violence increases as the state’s legitimacy crumbles.
  • Finally, in a collapsed state, warlords run the country. The market rules to the exclusion of any other concerns, while the social compact has been completely eroded. “The Id is unleashed.”

There’s no question that, by this measure, the US is a weak state. Trump is not the man on horseback quite yet, but if he gets a second term he may well be–not because he seems to really want it, but because people under him are working to bring the remaining pieces of the state (the military and judiciary) under his complete control.

Trump probably isn’t going to win re-election, and Trump’s brownshirts, made up primarily of the various services clumped under the Department of Homeland Security, especially ICE, aren’t up to taking on the military. Yet. The cops, of course, would back Trump in a heartbeat, and the national guard will break down essentially by how red or blue their state is. The military is the last bastion, oddly, standing against a centralization of power.

So let’s say Biden wins, which is probable, mostly because of Covid-19 and Trump’s fumbled response–including the economic response. He’ll inherit an America with a 20+ percent unemployment rate and tens of millions of homeless people. Hunger will be widespread.

He’s already said he won’t change anything. His solution to the problem with the police is to give them more money for “training,” a solution which has never worked in the past and won’t work this time. He has told corporate America that he won’t be changing how business works. He’s against Medicare For All.


Biden is the pre-Trump status quo, except like all Democratic presidents since Nixon, he won’t actually undo most of what his Republican predecessor has done. He isn’t going to push for getting rid of the Patriot Act, breaking up DHS, a wealth tax or high corporate and marginal income taxes, saving the post-office, breaking up monopolies and oligopolies, stopping pharma price-gouging or, well, changing pretty much anything which makes the US a weak state according to Rotberg’s scheme.

What this means is that Biden won’t stop a damn thing. At best, he is a pause. More realistically, the state will continue its slow descent under him, as it did under Obama.

And then the next Republican will become President in four to eight years. He will have learned from Trump that the US is ripe to fall into a strongman’s arms; that many Americans want that. He will run as a right-wing populist. And when he becomes President, he will systematically, in a way Trump is personally too senile and incompetent to do, take control of all the levers of power, including the military.

When predicting the future, the greatest mistake is often to not take into account reversals of trend.

But I’m having a hard time finding a cause for reversal of trend, at least in time. It is true that the Boomers are about done. Pelosi, with her corruption and weakness, is 80 years old. There will be a generational changeover, more to Millennials than to GenX, but it’s unlikely to be large enough to put a progressive majority in place. Neoliberals will continue to be the alternative to authoritarians, and neoliberals don’t actually care enough about authoritarians to fight them because they genuinely believe that the state shouldn’t be doing much, that there is no such thing as society, and that markets should rule. They can’t really oppose state collapse, because they are the ones who weakened the state, deliberately, due to their profound belief that the state is bad.

So, avoiding the next stage of the disease requires a rather fine needle-threading. It requires something like Biden stepping down after four years (because he’s already senile) and being replaced by a progressive, who then wins an election and is able to do enough to start reversing the decline. But this President will be working with a judiciary and a civil service systematically purged of people who believe in a strong communal state, not just by Republicans but by Democrats.

This isn’t a likely scenario.

The only other real chance of change, then, is a popular revolt that forces the current governing class out of power. That’s more possible than many people think, because they haven’t taken into account the mass homelessness, hunger, and unemployment coming down the line.

But is it likely? Are the odds good?

History is odd and one never knows, but I suggest that readers look at the situation hard in the face. The US is an un-developing nation, well on its way to being a failed state. Because you live among the infrastructure created by the great engineers of the Lost, GI, and Silent generations, it’s hard to see that, but that infrastructure is rotten–and so are the institutions and the souls of the people who run your society.

When the US goes bad, it’s going to go bad in truly awful ways. Americans have over 300 million guns, and an ethos that says violence is not just okay, but good. The right has been pushing eliminationist rhetoric for generations now; they think “liberals” are evil and need to be hung from lamp posts.

The odds on this turning around are terrible. Not impossible, any gamer or gambler knows you can roll one percent.

But while you can roll one percent, you shouldn’t bet your life on it, or risk rape and torture (no, don’t even pretend, many right-wingers believe rape and beat downs are suitable punishments).

Make your plans.

If you think I’m wrong about this, well, work it through. Carefully. Make the argument. What is going to go right to stop this trajectory? What is going to change? What are the odds?

Don’t just go with a feeling. Do the work. See if you still believe it’ll all turn around.

Protect yourself. Because if you’re American, odds are that within ten years, no one else protect you. And it could be a lot less than ten years. Stop putting off whatever it is you need to do to protect yourself.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 26, 2020


The Riots to Come… and The Revolution?


  1. Bruce

    I think you are forgetting that capitalism is not a moral force but a pragmatic one that only functions (and provides wealth) if profits are possible. This is an open question. If money loses its value, hey, the rich are just the same as anyone else. And we have an infrastructure, however mangled, that can provide for all with modifications. We act like everything just disappears without capitalism and we have to start from scratch. But this is not true. The basis for communism already exists.

  2. Thomas B Golladay

    If the National Guard splits, the Army will as well. Civil War is inevitable.

  3. Zachary Smith

    The initial analysis here is excellent. The political situation in the US is very bad, and with no obvious prospects of getting any better.

    But look as I might, I saw no references to external forces. The US of A doesn’t exist on an empty and neutral planet Earth. There are foreign predators out there, and any balkanization of the nation will make each part relatively easy prey for those wolves. Imagine getting into a situation similar to the pre-Constitution days of the Confederation where the “Indians” have equal or better weapons and vastly outnumber the former Colonists.

    Add to that the fact climate change continues to accelerate. In fact, any chaos we in the US experience could mean nothing more than us being at the head of the line to get the first taste of what is coming down that pike.

    A breakup would lead to shortages of all kinds, including the basics needed to grow food. There would be roving gangs of armed Militias which could have heavy weapons and even air support. The pattern would follow what the US has been doing overseas in Iraq and Syria and other places. “We” could even be on the receiving end of Killer Drones controlled from the other side of the county – or the other side of the world. Ordinary Airstrikes and sabotage. Smuggled armaments. Smuggled foreign mercenaries.

    I doubt if “planning ahead” is going to work so far as individual survival goes. From the wiki:

    United we stand, divided we fall

    A similar phrase also appears in the biblical New Testament – translated into English from the historic Greek in Mark 3:25 as “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand”. Similar verses of the New Testament include Matthew 12:25 (“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand”) and Luke 11:17 (“But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.”).

    I’ll stand with Benjamin Franklin when he said “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

  4. NL

    US is an oligarchy (and has always been; what we call ‘freedom’ is oligarchic freedom from the sovereign, i.e., king, deity, etc), and its immediate fate will be decided in a struggle among the oligarchs. Why would the oligarchs struggle? But for the stagnant/shrinking resources provided by the population. Some clever ecologists model this as the dynamic between hare and lynx, voles and foxes. The population is exhausted, uneducated, indebted, diseased and generally unhealthy, unmotivated (no happy future), turned into servants, birth rates are down, drugs, alcoholism… you know the picture. Then another question is what to do with the ‘Empire’ and ‘the military industrial complex’, which consume lots of resources that could go to the oligarchy. Part of this question is how to achieve “the new détente to directly address issues of geopolitics and security.’ ( — detente with China, Russia and other major powers. The fate of the Empire has actually already been decided, when the military budget was placed under the ‘sequester’ — the oligarchs in the majority do not want to pay for the Empire.

    That reference above goes to an article that dances around but never clearly states that the US oligarchs and China communists made a pact (consciously or not) to make the US oligarchs fabulously rich in one generation and in the process to industrialize China. The US oligarchs and elite seem to be split now into those who want to continue with the pact and those who want to break it.

    Bezos and probably a majority of the oligarchy are for the continuation of the pact. Bezos is positioning Amazon as a middleman between the Chinese companies and the US consumer ( Before US companies would hire Chinese manufacturers to make stuff and then sell this stuff on Amazon. Amazon now wants to directly sell from the Chinese manufacturers — of course US companies are not happy. CEO of Intel now wants to fully outsource chip production.

    How would the world look like on the present course? Service/gig economy — most people make a living selling food on the side of the road, collecting/fixing/reselling junk, delivering, riding rikshaw; most lucrative jobs will be to work in a wealthy household as a cook, maid, tutor, groundskeeper, etc… The oligarchs will derive income from selling natural resources (oil, gas, minerals), agricultural products, financial services (e.g., tax heaven), tourism, reselling imports from China to the population. Professional sectors such as law and medicine will have shrunk and become less lucrative for the most part. Universities will be wiped out by 4/5th during the epidemic. Doctors will be educated abroad and rely on foreign cures. Science will exist to say that we have it. Maybe a couple of high tech companies will survive. The military budget will be huge to protect US from China and Russia that (and this will be held as an indisputable fact) stole US bright future by infecting the country with the Wuhan virus and wish nothing less than complete destruction on the country. But US will have few if any foreign bases left, few if any aircraft carriers, etc. The money will be simply swallowed by military contractors for A&D and construction of useless or nonexistent weapons. NATO will de facto gone, replaced by a union of English-speaking countries US, England and Canada (minus Quebec which will leave Canada, and Australian and New Zealand will not fully join given increasing Asian populations/influence in the countries) US will have a three-member peace treaty with China and Russia that will guarantee its security, regulate the # of nuclear warheads and ban placing nuclear weapons in space.

    Few people will have internet (or smart phones) because few places will have intact cables running (or wireless service), few could afford to have a connection and an internet device and even fewer could afford to pay for news websites. Access to foreign websites will be restricted because the US will build an internet wall to protect itself from Chinese and Russian interference in the election and democracy. If you could get around the wall, you will be able to read about a rapidly developing world: trains are running from China to Europe, a giant space station was built, colonies on Moon, new wonderful biomaterials, people working to extend productive lifespan. Children from the wealthy families will learn mandarin and have keen interest in abroad; some will even permanently live there.

    The elections will be conducted as always. The US stock market would have few companies listed. And those in existence would have independent militias. After the long trials of Epstein/the great pedophile ring, the US list of billionaires was reduced by 2/3th, with most either stripped of their wealth and jailed or escaping abroad. Even through the beginning of the trials was sensational, most further prosecutions were conducted quietly. Infighting among the Privileged Families will still occasionally take place. Unlawful censure, extortion, graft will be common.

    Now, the other anti-pact oligarchs/elites are a minority. Not many can be identified. Anthony Scaramucci once commented during a “SALT” Conference something to the extent “do we really want to live in another Mexico?”, implying that US is becoming a Mexico. Spengler/Goldman from and fellow travelers are cooking up plans for ‘re-shoring’ industry back to the US. They are horrified at the prospect that US becomes week and can no longer protect its allies. Some elements of the military/military complex still want to maintain an Empire. They are probably responsible for the “show of strength” in the South China Sea and legislature in the Congress to strip Trump of his power to remove US military forces from abroad. From the perspective of Bezos and Co, military is a giant waste of money and not an Empire building tool. There is some point to that, with most places in the world armed to the teeth it is hard to cajole concessions with military alone. Eventually, the ‘Empire’ elements will accept that they can get even more money without actually being deployed anywhere. The anti-pack oligarchs will lose…

    Back to the above lrb article: “…the question is how rapidly we can move to détente, meaning long-term co-existence with a regime radically different from our own, a long-term attitude of ‘live and let live,’ … . It would be a long-term co-existence, in which, over time, the US may well find that it has become the junior partner or, at best, the leader of a coalition of smaller powers balancing the massive weight of China.”

  5. NL

    And I forgot to mention that while the oligarchs decide among themselves what to do, we are being destructed by oligarch-funded protests that, although relevant, are nonetheless staged via a 100 million 6-year grant from the Ford Foundation. This seems to be the purpose of the 2008 election to suppress the anger over the real estate fleecing. Racism is a big issue in the US, but it has been taken over by the oligarchy and used to suppress the class issue and economic grievances. Hard to see how the racism issue can be resolved in the US by itself in the present political economy.

  6. Ian Welsh

    Outside forces are rarely the important part of of imperial failure. When Empires fall to outside forces it is AFTER they have rotted from within.

  7. Joan

    I personally think the military will side with Trump. It might mean the enlisted ranks turning on their officers, sure. But most enlisted people are fans of Trump, just from the sample size of people I know.

  8. Joan

    Oops I hit submit before my second point. I think Trump will win reelection despite the current polls for a number of reasons. People genuinely like him, and a lot of those people don’t care about catching covid when they go to vote. There’s also a significant minority of people who are so ready for the Democrats to implode that they’ll vote for Trump thinking that might speed the process.

    I personally was a Bernie fan until he turned sheepdog, and now I don’t have anyone to vote for. It’s hard to tell which option would be better in terms of potentially alleviating suffering. By that I mean: if the Trumpers don’t get their man, then whoever runs in 2024 is probably going to be way more extreme. It seems obvious to go for Biden, but that might be winning the battle only to lose the war. I’ll check to see who is down ballot, and if it’s all corporate backed, I’ll probably just stay home and drink.

  9. Mark Gisleson

    Nancy Pelosi is not a Baby Boomer, she’s a member of the pernicious Silent Generation. The oldest Boomers will not turn 80 until 2026, and the Silent Generation still holds most of the wealth in this country.

    Please be more careful about this. There is tremendous resentment of Boomers out there and in most cases, the hate would be more properly directed at the Silent Generation which is far closer to the “Greatest” Generation than they are to the Boomers who the Silent Generation mostly despised.

    Boomers are extremely complicit in today’s problems but the Silent Generation has been getting away with murder while letting Boomers take the rap.

  10. bruce wilder

    In a failing state, a single leader gains control of the legislature, law enforcement, and the judiciary.

    I think the tense is wrong there. And, “single” is doing a lot of work there, that ought to be examined more closely.

    A state fails because of a deficit of political power and a deficit of political will to govern in something like a public interest. It is weakness at the center and the inability to forge a governing coalition that brings the state low. The agreement-incapable Charles I, not the fickle tyrant Henry VIII, brings the state down around his own ears. It may be a subtle point, but it is an important one.

    Great crises in a failing state are resolved by strong leadership. An FDR or a Lincoln lead deeply capable coalitions. I will say it, though several here will insist it isn’t so, but Putin put together a deeply capable coalition and Russia recovered from being a failed state as a consequence.

    Weimar failed because it became impossible to form and hold together a coalition that was willing to support the constitutional state. And the last gasp was a liberal government imposing austerity by decree in the midst of the Great Depression, confident in its own virtue but heedless of policy consequences.

    Some reference in the discussion so far has been concerned with where the loyalties of the military or the police may lie. That is overlooking the classes that have done so much to get us into this mess, not to mention the hostility rampant among those classes to the state. Not just on “the right” but very importantly among the neoliberal left who are proud of hating the country and are proud of being incapable and disinterested in governing. Read the NY Times, these creatures of Versailles that write that rag are despicable; ditto for the servants of Bezos at the Post.

    The people who have prospered by signing on to careers “administrating” the complexity necessary to implement the deal that the oligarchs and financiers made with China to betray the country — the people who made Wal-Mart and Amazon and Apple and destroyed Boeing and General Electric and most of the country’s public Universities — these are the ones you have to look out for. Where do their “loyalties” lie? They are the ones who look upon the senile, horrible Biden, who promises to do nothing, as a “decent” fellow and look to his weakness for salvation.

    When he dies just before or just after election, who steps in then? And, what if he doesn’t die, he just sits there like a potted plant? Who steps in then?

    People who say “far closer than most will admit” and then speculate about the Presidential election of 2024 are not quite getting it, I think.

    I think the prospects of the U.S. recovering from failed state will depend upon a revolution among the administrative class and/or among the oligarchs. Getting enough capable people together, willing to agree to disagree about a lot of “moral” issues and get on with it, is really, really hard to imagine for the U.S. right now.

    The “loyalty” of the military — dominated as it is by PowerPoint Generals looking for consultant gigs for retirement and unable to even conceive of ending let alone winning a war — exemplifies the problem but is only a tiny slice.

  11. Dan Lynch

    Agree with Ian’s assessment of the current situation, but ambivalent on the future.

    In 2014 Nick Hanauer predicted The Pitchforks Are Coming based on the simple observation that no society has been able to survive our current level of high economic inequality without massive social unrest. I can’t argue with that.

    But I think our study of history is too Euro-centric. The U.S. actually has much more in common with Latin America. Like Latin America, the U.S. has a relatively recent history of slavery and genocide and the social problems that go with it, and like Latin America, the U.S. has always had high inequality, so I look to Latin America as an example of what is in store for the U.S.. Yes, Latin America has had lots of coups and revolutions, but the coup governments usually fizzle out after a few years, and on the whole, not much changes, and the high inequality continues. So I think that is what is in store for the U.S. — oh there may be some sore of right wing coup, and it will be ugly, but after 10 or 20 years it will fizzle out. Then a left wing government may win power, but after 10 or 20 years it will fizzle out because corruption and incompetence are the order of the day no matter who is in power. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    It doesn’t have to be that way, of course, but given America’s lack of social cohesiveness I’m not seeing us turning into Scandinavia any time soon.

    We should also consider the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Americans have only pulled together during war or during some major crisis, the rest of the time we have been barely governable. It would be very very easy for the U.S. to break up — it would not necessarily be a violent breakup, but even a peaceful breakup would cause serious problems, especially for those of us living in backwards red states. Idaho might turn into Ukraine. I want to fix the U.S. government, not dissolve it.

  12. Mark Pontin

    Yes. The U.S. is a collapsing empire and for non-elites a worse place than most other developed countries, no doubt. It will get worse, almost certainly. The immediate default to apocalyptic scenarios and nothing else should probably be moderated by realism, nevertheless.

    Yes, holocausts happen and they may come to the (erstwhile?) U.S. They certainly aren’t impossible.

    But the USSR survived Stalin’s Great Terror and purges, and didn’t collapse till 1989-90. The Russian Federation exists now and in 2020 is a more or less functioning society, whatever US propaganda wants to claim.

    China, likewise, survived the Cultural Revolution and nowadays is in line to be global hegemon.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki got atomic bombs dropped on them, and then years later those cities were rebuilt and repopulated. And so on.

    Yes, the U.S. of the future will from the POV of the current mindset of U.S. exceptionalism, arrogance, and ‘city on a hill’ BS be a terrible, reduced place.

    But people will live in North America and societies will after some fashion or other be formed.

  13. different clue

    In the 1980’s , Yuppies driving Beemers were Boomers. And also, in the 1980’s, homeless Veterans sleeping under park benches were Boomers.

    Both were Boomers. So what exactly are “the” Boomers supposed to be to blame for? ” Boomer-blame” is a cheap responsibility-evasion gambit on the part of the generations who carefully designed the reality the Boom-children grew up in. Boomers take suburban sprawl for granted because the Greatests and the Silents carefully engineered Suburban Sprawl into existence and very carefully and maliciously destroyed all alternatives.

    I hope the Boomers have a few million of those “300 million guns” so that if the ravening hordes of antiBoomerites decide to go Boomer-hunting, the Boomers can prove themselves ” the most dangerous game.”

  14. S Brennan

    Good point Mark Gisleson,

    I have trying to get people to accept your generational point of view for years, sadly, incessant propaganda works just as well on “intellectuals” as plebeians. The oldest cohort boomers belong in a different category, people born 1935-50ish have almost nothing in common with those boomerettes born 1955-1965. Being 20-something in the USA 1955-65, the world was your oyster, being 20 in 1975 meant your first 7 years in the work force were recessionary. I remember being told; “we ain’t hiring, haven’t been for a couple years..and when we do hire somebody, we’ll hire the guys we laid off first”. I heard a version this for quite while, I worked construction as a day laborer for years. Not complaining, that’s the luck of the draw but, I do get annoyed when I hear how easy I’ve had it.

    By the way, the 1930-1950ish cohort raised FICA payroll taxes to just under 15% back in 1984 to pay for their retirement, just as some of us began to get on our feet. Chart below, look at self-employed for the real rate…claiming employer pay half is bs, when an accountant looks at the books in a business downturn, they know damn well that laying you off gets rid of that cost.
    Well said Bruce W,

    Definitely worth repeating a section:

    “…That is overlooking the classes that have done so much to get us into this mess, not to mention the hostility rampant among those classes to the state. Not just on “the right” but very importantly among the neoliberal left who are proud of hating the country and are proud of being incapable and disinterested in governing. Read the NY Times, these creatures of Versailles that write that rag are despicable; ditto for the servants of Bezos at the Post. The people who have prospered by signing on to careers “administrating” the complexity necessary to implement the deal that the oligarchs and financiers made with China to betray the country — the people who made Wal-Mart and Amazon and Apple and destroyed Boeing and General Electric and most of the country’s public Universities — these are the ones you have to look out for. Where do their “loyalties” lie?”

    Good stuff Bruce

    While the USA’s current trajectory is one of decline, we’ve been here before and roused ourselves. I think the idea of a societal collapse is very premature…many countries, [allies], profit handsomely from the current situation and would be reticent to allow our empires failure purely out of self-interest. While most Europeans would feel secure with the US empire’s collapse, having offloaded the duty of manning the Asian ramparts to the Russians, many Asians collectively remember their time under the Chinese yoke and are not eager to be recolonized by China. However benign Chinese rule over Asia is portrayed by the NY Times and Bezos at WaPo, most Asians do not look forward to another thousand years of living in a unipolar world with China as the indisputable leader…

    That said, as Bruce W pointed out above, that was before we had an entire class of people whose salary depended on them not understanding that they are, for all intensive purposes Chinese agents, traitors to the USA. Never has the USA had to face such a large, well heeled fifth column.

  15. nobody

    At this point I believe it\’s optimistic to think that Trump will be defeated. Trump\’s numbers were only falling among low-information swing voters because of his mishandling of the pandemic. Now that Real Americans are dying from COVID-19, he has pivoted towards taking the pandemic seriously and that change should improve his standing with low-information swing voters enough for him to secure an electoral college victory.

    Far more than anything else that has happened under Trump, the fact that US federal political elites have only acted to protect Red American lives after happily watching COVID-19 kill nearly 200,000 mostly blue Americans is a deep indictment of how deeply damaged American political culture has become. Withholding healthcare to politically disfavored groups on this scale is genocide and should be described as such.

    I see no prospect for positive reform in America short of disintegration. Compromise and constructive governance is not possible when one half of a country is willing to kill the other half.

  16. Arthur

    As I have stated before, we are witnessing the break up of the United States. And why not? Very little holds us together as a nation. Is it so surprising the Joe Bob in Alabama sees the world differently from the chic denizens of Fifth Avenue? And are we any different for the citizens of Rome? A Roman citizen in Gaul had a vastly different experience from one in Judea. Yet both were citizens. And we know how this all ended for the Romans. What holds us together in the USA? Maybe sports. Red and blue can unite in their mutual love for the Chicago White Sox and their hate for the New York Yankees. But that’s quickly falling apart. Just today I saw that 12 members of the Florida Marlins have Covid. Who could’ve seen that coming with the start of this asinine short season! But I guess we have to pretend things are really okay. No, we are breaking apart. That some parts of the land will do better than others is obvious.

    What is interesting to me about these protests, be they from the left or right, is that both assume the country will survive intact but with their side in charge. In this they are equally deluded.

  17. S Brennan


    Would’ve had a point if the Mayor of the city of New York and the Governor of New York weren’t D’s but, they were/are. The death visited upon the the coastal urbanites is solely a factor of international travel by the resident upper class…not some grand conspiracy. By the NYTimes own estimate, over 70% of the cases outside of New York State arise from New York City residents traveling and spreading* the disease. Trying to turn American against American by using false allegations and then waiting to take pleasure in the ensuing chaos is ghoulish behavior.

    *Unlike Nobody, who openly demonstrates his/her hatred for those not like him/herself, I do not think it was a grand conspiracy of New Yorkers trying to infect the country…they just like to travel and party…just individual selfishness by individuals, NOT an organized plot by “blue” against “red”.

  18. nobody

    S Brennan,

    I’m unclear how any of your post is relevant to what I said.

    The federal response to the initial outbreak in New York City was negligently inadequate, with federal political elites from Trump downwards doing nothing while continuing to push the line that the pandemic was a “Democratic hoax” manufactured to remove Trump from office. Federal elites were very happy to do nothing while tens of thousands of New Yorkers died.

    Now that the pandemic is killing the meat-puppet red state voters that federal elites need to stay in office, however, the federal response is improving. Only the deeper parts of the GOP fever swamp are still calling COVID-19 a “Democratic hoax;” instead the pandemic is being treated as a serious issue that needs addressing. Of course the GOP will fail to address it, because they have no serious policy apparatus to speak of, but at least now they consider the issue important.

    Call it a conspiracy if you will, but the evidence is pretty clear that the GOP and its meat-puppet voters didn’t see anything wrong with the pandemic killing Democratic urbanites and only started caring about the issue when the pandemic started killing the GOP’s meat puppets.

  19. CH

    See this from Mike Duncan (of the Revolutions podcast):

  20. NL: Global Warming is missing from your analysis. Global Warming (Baking) requires that the US merge with Canada, and that China attempt to take over Siberia.

    If the US collapses, Canada is set up to absorb the northern half and leave the southern half to bake. Cali/Nev/Ariz will be just a few desert rats living in caves, working at night and sleeping during the day.

  21. Dan Lynch: We’re a mix of Brit/Germa and Latin American culture. We’re less prone to strongman politics than the Spanish/Portuguese ex-colonies.

  22. bruce wilder

    I like Mike Duncan. I am a fan of Revolutions podcast, which is produced to a reasonably high standard.

    At a certain remove of time and place, narratives of revolutionary fervor and change are, if nothing else, entertaining. The narrative, however persuasive the storyteller, is not driving events — not really. What actually happened is complex and full of paradox and contradiction. The narrative simplifies and glosses over a lot we may not be able to know about a time and culture foreign to us. Stories have their own structures and conventions of motive, character and struggle in a fixed order; any content can be fitted to their frameworks, but it would be a mistake to imagine telling the story of 2020 in 2043 and thinking that you have mastered the day.

    In actual revolutions while they are happening, narrative is a weapon. The fight is carried out among statesman and their lackeys by competing storytelling as much as by arms of war. Conflicting explanations of what particular events “mean” are deployed to win hearts and minds in “real time”.

    And, indeed, the audiences for the tales of the day — whether the tales are told in grand rhetoric from high places or spread as contagious rumor — the audiences may be without firm convictions or considered judgment.

  23. different clue

    If we call the core-base voters for Trump ” low information voters”, what shall we call the core-base voters for Clinton and now for Biden? ” High disinformation voters”?

    Hah! Good one. ” High disinformation voters” . . . huh huh huhuhuhuhuh . . .

  24. Ché Pasa

    Re: Guns

    If the surveys are right, about a third of US households have any guns at all, and of those the majority have 1-3. The bulk of privately held armaments are in the hands of a very few people, some of whom have a thousand or more firearms. This is quite a bit different than the notion that Americans as a whole are armed up to the gills. They aren’t. Most Americans aren’t armed at all and in some cities the rate of gun ownership is in the teens or less.

    The rate of gun homicide is high by global standards, but it is almost unprecedentedly low by US historical standards. The recent rise in murder is driving political panic in DC, but the rate is still near historic lows.

    There are all kinds of armed gangs and groups and militias and so forth, chief among them the police — who seem to have an affinity and bond with some of the armed civilian groups. If things were to go to shit, police combined with these armed groups could rather easily seize control and impose their rule in most areas. Warlords. And I bet that most people would go along with it. The silent majority will always back the bullies. Even when the majority are the victims.

  25. NL

    Jack Parsons: Global warming was stopped and reversed, first because people in the US stopped driving as much during the Great Pandemic and then could no longer afford SUVs and gas after the dollar collapse of 2020-2022 , bridges and highways became impassable in many places and a majority of the population relied on scooters to get around, while well-off could hire rikshaw in a city as a status symbol. Second, because US military’s ‘footprint’ shrunk significantly — turned out that military conflicts and exercises had been a major source of greenhouse gasses. And third, because the Great Eurasian Union implemented the True Green policies of eliminating gas cars, reforestation and building a grid of self-driving electric vehicles guided by lasers and navigation signals. Oil was used primarily for material production purposes (super bioplastics). Around the time the Great American oligarch X Æ A-Xii united the whole of US under his rule and began the “Restoration”, Eurasians finally figured how to harvest sun’s energy by space satellites…

  26. S Brennan

    Now why in the bleep would I tell a stranger if I had a gun?

    “If the surveys are right, [only] about a third of US households have any guns”

    The absolute lack of skepticism, when it suits a narrative, on the part of some commenters is sad commentary on US education.

  27. bruce wilder


    high on their own methane fumes, perhaps?

  28. different clue

    @bruce wilder,

    Who on whose own methane fumes, perhaps?

  29. VietnamVet

    There is no doubt that the USA is a failing state. The last major manufacturers in America, Intel and Boeing, are failing too. Donald Trump is a disaster, the worst President by far in my lifetime, surpassing LBJ. Joe Biden is a globalist restoration. At best, he will spray over the rot. But he has the same basic problem of all neoliberals, arrogance and corruption. The collapse will continue. My hope, dream, is that Democrats see the light and stop being a party of the 10% and restore Constitutional Democracy. They did once before in the first Gilded Age.

    More likely, unrest, denial, illness and fear will force a breakup of the USA from Hawaii to Puerto Rico into around eleven corporate city and supply zone regimes armed with nuclear weapons.

  30. someofparts

    Well, maybe we should show humans the same kindness we show dogs. Offer gentle, medically supervised suicide to those who want it.

  31. StewartM

    Agree with everything you said, Ian.

    The only possible reversal I can see happening is that neoliberal Democrats and their donors, and the Never-Trumpers and even some Trumpers, come to realize what “Lock her up!!” means when it gets put into practice. If Obama and the Clintons, and the Steve Schmidts and John Kasics, and their donors, realize that they too could end up in prison, or worse, they might be willing to part with a lot of their ill-gotten wealth to save their skins, just like the rich of FDR’s generation had to do.

    Remember that the Nazi “Night of the Long Knives” was NOT directed at the left (the Left had been jailed first already) but at conservatives and even fellow Nazis, in the SA and those like Otto and Gregor Strasser; “left” Nazis who actually believed in the “socialism” part of National Socialism (akin to those who still cling to the myth that Trump was ever going to provide ‘great health care to everyone’ or redo trade treaties or raise wages or tax hedge fund managers). Even conservatives *who had helped Hitler get into power*, like Kurt von Schleicher and Franz Papen, were targeted and killed. (Though Papen himself survived only because the British ambassador to Germany got wind of what was afoot, and ordered his chauffeur to keep circling Papen’s house in his car to keep the SS away, though people in his staff were gunned down). Trump has already shown he has no loyalty and he will turn on anyone quickly and viciously.

    But then again, as a class, these capitalist ‘geniuses’ usually can see no further than the next quarterly profit report, which is why we’re here in the first place.

  32. StewartM

    What Mark Gisleson said. The biggest blame, if one is to blame generations, is the so-called Greatest Generation, who got all these gov’mint goodies from the New Deal through the 1960s, then started cutting taxes (1964; 1980; Reagan was one of them) and pulled up the social welfare ladder after them after they had convinced themselves that they had all done it themselves. That includes liberal Democrats as well like JFK and LBJ, as these thought that the sole purpose of taxation was the generation of government revenue; they did not realize the full purpose of such taxation, that there was a a social justice and anti-corruption benefit as well as economic benefits to having a 90 % marginal tax rate and higher corporate tax rates.

    And those relatively young people splitting on the Civil Rights Marchers in the newreels? Those were Silents.

    I’m considered a boomer, and I was *in college* during Reagan!! The oldest boomers were only in their early 30s. One’s wealth and political clout tends to max out in one’s 50s and 60s or even older, 20-somethings have little pull by contrast. It is true we had a fair number of YAFFers and College Republicans at my college (one of whom was working at a Washington Think Tank the last time I checked, he wrote frequently for the school newspapers and just *loved* to quote French fascists!–I shit you not). But that was largely due to the fact that the New Deal economy was already beginningto decline and the support previously offered for low-cost college to the Greatest Gen was ebbing; when a system is failing them, people search for other solutions. I sure didn’t get low-cost college and even when I got student loans, they essentially were enough just to pay the tuition. That’s because the student loan payouts had not increase to factor inflation–an older acquaintance, by contrast, went to *law school* on the same amount of money which not only was enough for the tuition but also to cover his expenses, without working (which is what I did).

    Even today, we’re still ruled by Non-Boomers and will be after 2020–Biden, Trump, Pelosi, McConnell, et all, are not boomers but Silents.

  33. alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

    the Venn diagram of gun owners and Fascists is far from a perfect circle. for starters.

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