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

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The Role of Character and Ideology in Prosperity

(First of two collections of important articles published 2014 or earlier. )

I want to take readers through some of my previous writing on ideology and character, and how they help form the societies in which we live. Taking the time to read these articles (a short book’s worth), should vastly improve your understanding of the world and the articles to come. It should be worth your time, even if you read the articles when they were previously published, as, at the time, they lacked both context and commentary, and were not collated to be read together so that the connections were obvious.

(I have a lot of new readers, so I’m going to republish this. These are some of the most important articles I have written–Ian)

Baseline Predictions for the Next 60 Years

While not an article about ideology, the above is an article about where our current ideology and character are going to take us: To the brink of disaster and possibly beyond, while continuing to impoverish and disempower larger and larger segments of the human race. This might be a slightly optimistic piece; there’s some reason to believe our actions in the world’s oceans could destroy the oxygen cycle, and if this is so, events will be much, much worse.

What Is an Ideology and Why Do We Need a New One?

Too many people think ideologies are some airy-fairy nonsense, while they themselves are “pragmatic” men and women operating on common sense and facts. Such people are amongst the greatest of all fools: Our entire society is based on interlocking ideologies; the primary of which are neoliberalism, capitalism, human rights, and socialism. It is not obvious, nor was it obvious to most societies that have ever existed, for example, that food should be distributed based on money, nor that ideas could be property. How we organize things, our particular ideas about markets and their role, and our ideas about who should lead us, are ideological. If we want to change society, we need to be able to control markets so they aren’t producing a world that makes us sick, unhappy, and, in increasing numbers, dead.

How to Create a Viable Ideology We may look at current trends and realize that if we don’t reverse them–and reverse them fast–billions will suffer or die; but creating an ideology which can reverse these trends requires us to understand what makes an ideology viable and powerful. An ideology which does not create believers willing to die, and to kill, on its behalf, will lose to those that do. An ideology which cannot prevent people from selling out, from betraying, will definitely lose in the current world, where there is so much money available at the top to simply buy out (for billions) those who create something new, so that anything new can be neutralized into nothing but a monetization scheme.

Our Theory of Human Nature Predicts Our Policies

The ideas of an ideology determine how our society is run, and, of those ideas, none is more important than what we make of human nature.

A Theory of Human Nature Suited to Prosperity and Freedom

If we are trying to create a prosperous, free world, our policies must be based in a theory of human nature that is both true (enough) and which leads to policies that create widespread affluence and human freedom.

Character Is Destiny

Ideology and character are intertwined. Character determines what we do, what we don’t do, and how we do it. The character of large numbers of people determines the destinies of nations and of the world itself. If we want to make the world better (or worse), we must change our own characters. Those who fail to understand how character is created (and changed) will never change the world–except accidentally.

How Everyday Life Creates Our Character

Along with, as noted, our destiny. I always laugh at radicals who want more schooling, because schooling is where people learn to sit down, shut up, give the approved answers, and do what they’re told. Working life, as an adult, continues this process of learned powerlessness and acquiescence, and even in our consumptive and political lives we continue the trend; choosing from the choices offered, rather than producing what we actually need for ourselves.

How Everyday Life Creates Sociopathic Corporate Leaders

Those who lead our corporations control most of our lives, even more so than the government, because they set the terms by which we live, die, and can afford the good things in life. Our daily lives are prescribed by these people, from how we work to what we eat, to what we entertain ourselves with. We need, therefore, to understand the character traits for which our leaders are chosen, and how the process of choosing works. If we can’t learn to create and choose better leaders, we will never have a better world.

The Difference Between Ethics and Morals

If we want an ideology that tells us how to create both a better world and the people with the character to create that world, we must understand what sort of people they should be. To accomplish this, we must first understand how they treat other people–the people they know, and more importantly, the people they don’t.

The Fundamental Feedback Loop for a Better World

The shortest article on this list, this is also one of the most important and speaks directly to how money directs behaviour and how that directs our choice in leaders.

Living in a Rich Society

It’s been so long since parts of the West were truly prosperous that people have forgotten what it’s like, and they’ve forgotten that it creates a different type of person than a scarcity society.

Late 19th and Early 20th Century Intellectual Roots

Lived experience creates character and character feeds into ideology. It’s worth looking at how various themes of the Victorian era were created by those who lived through that time and the time that came before it.

What Confucius Teaches Those Who Want a Better World

Amongst those who have created powerful ideologies, Confucius is in the first rank; Confucianism has been the most important ideology of the most populous and advanced region of the world for most of the last two thousand years–or more. Confucius was very aware of what he was trying to do, had a theory of human nature, and a theory of character. We would be fools not to learn from him.

Concluding Remarks

I hope that those who are interested in creating a better world will read the articles linked above. What I’ve written amounts to a short book, and the ideas are interrelated. If you have read a few of my posts, or even read all of them, but not thought of or read them with each other in mind, you cannot have the full picture of how these ideas work together, and why the different parts are necessary.

Ideas are often destroyed in practice by those who do not understand the reasons for the various pieces of the puzzle and prescriptions. These people feel they can pick and choose without that understanding. Character and ideology and ethics and every day life are all intertwined; you cannot pick one and say,”This is supreme.” They create each other.

Of course, the above is not a complete intellectual package. Large chunks are missing. My next piece will be a review of some key economic articles, specifically concerning why the world is as it is today: Why we lost post-war liberalism, why we have austerity and neoliberalism and so-called free trade. That piece comes after this one because without understanding our own characters, the characters of our leaders, and how ideology works, we cannot understand our current circumstances.

I will then be moving on to new articles that focus on technology, geography, the environment, and their effect on societies though the ages, with an emphasis on those technologies and environments which create prosperity, freedom, and egalitarian cultures and explore why they do so. There is an important trend today, an argument, about changing our technology to improve society, but it will only work if we understand how technology changes society.

Originally published Oct 2, 2014.  Republished July 28, 2015, March 6, 2016, October 2, 2017 & May 20, 2024.

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The Retard Parade of Western Politics Exemplified By Trump and Biden

We had a joke back in the Bush Jr. administration.

“Evil or stupid? Why not both?”

Bush Jr. was clearly mentally challenged. Cheney was supposedly smart, but he was the type of smart guy who winds up ordering the charge of the Light Brigade: great at internal politics, worthless at anything else.

Biden’s clearly senile (no, don’t even). Trump’s somewhat better, but still makes mistakes frequently and is often incoherent.. We used to sneer at the Soviet politburo of the 70s and 80s, but this worse.

But it’s not just about age. Macron is relatively young and a complete cockup, residing over a France which is constantly rioting. He’s gotten France kicked out of multiple African ex-colonies and proposes idiocy like sending the French Army to Ukraine. The German leadership are spinless morons who are shedding German industry because they won’t stand up to America, losing an advantage created by better men and women over a hundred years ago.

American policy forced Russia, which wanted to be part of the West, into a solid alliance with China, making China’s rise inevitable. The West deliberately sent China our industrial base, thus destroying the basis of our power.

We’re so incapable now that we cant even keep Yemen from shutting down shipping in one of the most important straits in the world. Drone tech should NEVER have been developed by the US military, because it was obviously a tech like gunpowder or the crossbow: it empowers any idiot to defeat extremely expensive military units and that’s what the US has an advantage in. It doesn’t have anything else: its soldiers are not, and never have been very good, just well equipped and numerous.

And then there’s climate change. “There’s a threat we know will probably end our civilization, but fuck it, let’s make it worse!”

This is true late Roman Emperor level dysfunction. Absolute morons getting everything wrong, capable of nothing but alternating between pandering to elites and making cruel shows of ineffective force, while the fall everyone with sense knows is coming storms forward from the horizon.

Of course, they do live in a world where they fuck underage girls and boys, grow bloated on bribes and pat each other on the back telling themselves that they are the greatest great leading the most powerful power that every strode the world. Trump shits into a golden toilet.

But this Emperor’s New Clothes crap. They’re idiots. They’re evil. And they’re presiding over the end of the European era and the induction of catastrophic climate change and ecological collapse while getting their asses repeatedly kicked by a bunch of tribesmen.


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The Lessons Of Jesus (Or “Why Conservatives Hate Francis”)

As Easter approaches, let us consider Pope Francis.

The difference between Francis and his critics isn’t as wide as some people make out, and he’s far less unorthodox than his enemies claim, but this is the difference: Francis wants to welcome people, and believes in a God whose primary trait is love, while Church conservatives want to exclude people.

The greatest controversy of Francis’s pontificate has been his allowing blessings for same sex couples. He doesn’t allow marriage, and no priest has to bless a homoxexual couple, but they are now allowed to. In Africa, most of which is virulently and culturally anti-gray, this has gone down badly even with those on the left of the Church, but outside African, it’s been a theological issue. The Church teaches homosexuality is a sin and no grace can be given to homosexual couples.

Anyone who knows the church finds this ironic and funny, given that the priesthood and the bureaucracy couldn’t run without closeted gays.

The larger issue, though, is that just as Jesus spent time with tax collectors, prostitutes and other low-lifes, and believed it was almost impossible for the rich to enter heaven, Francis believes the Church should reach out to sinners, treat them kindly and even love them, as Jesus loved humanity, despite our sins.

The example of Jesus, as displayed in the Gospels, is that of love for the unworthy. His contempt is for the empty ritualists, the Pharisees, and the greedy, but even they are invited to join Jesus on the path to God. But, of all the sins he took time to condemn, Jesus himself never spoke of homosexuality.

I’m not, overall, a fan of Christianity. I’m with Gore Vidal, who said that monotheism was the worst thing to befall the West. Christianity and Islam’s records are of vast violence and coercion and horrific crimes.

But there is a good side to Christianity, a tendency to love and acceptance and care for the poor and the weak which comes directly from the Gospels, and that care tends to be show much more in the better offshoots of Catholicism than in most Protestant denominations, tainted as they are by ideas of predestination and/or salvation by faith alone. When Henry the Eighth forcibly shut the monasteries one claim was that they didn’t help the poor enough, but the new Anglican church did even less.

Francis is the only Pope of my life who I regard as Christian: as following the the example of Jesus, even if very imperfectly. The others were orthodox inquisitors, feeling that rules were more important than love and charity.

I rather doubt that either Benedict or John Paul II will like their reception, should Jesus and Heaven exist:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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Your Greatest Enjoyment

A few memories stand out for me:

Age 5 or so, on the beach, kneeling on a rocky granite outcropping. The tide is out, and the rock has many small basins still full of water. In one of them a few small fish, silver and a sort of reddish gold, swim in circles. I stare, fascinated.

A tiny room in the third story of an old house. The woman I’m in love with, a psychology major, is doing her her homework, sprawled on her bed. I’m tucked into an alcove, knees up against my chest, reading a book. We aren’t talking or touching, but I’m warm in a cold room, my eyes are soft, and both of us are perfectly aware of the other.

I’m eighteen, running on 4th Avenue. The sun is shining, people are out shopping. I zip past a mirrored wall and turn my head to watch myself run. My form is flawless: my knees come up parallel to the ground, I’m running about a five minute mile, almost effortlessly, muscles warm and relaxed. I’ve done about eight miles; two to go. Sweet.

Now, or in the past, what have you enjoyed most? Write in comments, or email me if you don’t want to share widely.


Hate, Anger, Contempt And Our Leadership

Yesterday I wrote a very angry article about the genocide Israel is committing in Gaza, with the full aid and complicity of most Western nations, including the US and my own country, Canada.

As I noted in comments, it’s the angriest I’ve been since 2015 when Syriza crumbled to European austerity. The day that happened I was furious. I wrote an angry post and went for a walk, still boiling with anger. About half an hour later I thought “this is ridiculous, it isn’t helping the Greeks and I don’t like it” and the anger went away.

It was odd, in the sense that we often have thoughts and feelings we don’t like, but usually they don’t go away just because think “I’d rather not feel this way.”

But a fair bit of it stuck, and over the past eight years my anger has reduced radically, and on those occasions when I do get angry, I can end it quickly if I want to. I was angry when I wrote that post, but I didn’t go to bed angry.

From about the run-up to the Iraq war till 2014 I was angry most of the time. Lots of dead people, tortured people, raped people, hungry people, homeless people that didn’t need to be any of those things.

Our leaders and too many of us (remember approval for the Iraq war polled over 70%) were creating Hell when we could just as easily create Heaven.

In many ways the current Gaza war reminds me of the run-up to and early Iraq war. The same feeling of frustrated helplessness while vast evil was planned and performed. Iraq didn’t radicalize me, Obama confirming he was neoliberal scum and condemning a billion+ people to die by slamming the pedal down on climate change did, but Iraq turned me into an activist, a role I occupied from 2002 to 2009, and emotionally inhabited till 2014.

Anyway, what I learned in 2014, and what I grounded into my consciousness in 2015 was that being angry all the time was destroying me. My health, my effectiveness and my enjoyment of life. My anger wasn’t hurting the people doing all the evil, they could care less, and why should they care, they were well off or rich, powerful and living very pleasant lives while I was poor, sick and angry?

The only person my anger was hurting was me.

Don’t get me wrong, if my anger had let me, in some sense, win, I’d have taken the hit. I was committed, oh was I committed. But it didn’t work.

Andrew Cockburn once asked someone working for him if their hate was pure and I get it. Still is. I won’t pretend or cavil, or pretend to be a Saint. I hate Obama. I hate Biden. I hate Trump. I hate Clinton and Bush. Netanyahu. Didn’t use to hate Trudeau but genocide support has pushed me over.

My hate is pure, but these days not intense. Just a sort of background contempt (the most dangerous emotion, by far, contempt.)

At the same time I feel this odd empathy and sympathy for them. I get it, I feel it, the self-righteousness (especially evident in Obama and Trudeau), the love of power and adulation, the sense that they are the ones who know and make the hard decisions and so on.

Ben Gurion knew he was evil, and I respect him for that, but most of our leaders think they are good.

(And no, don’t succumb to the bullshit of “well if I think they’re evil, and they think they’re good, who knows who’s right. That’s garbage. Have you aided a genocide recently? Invaded a country based on lies? Denied the children of Iraq cancer medicines? Bombed a hospital or pharmaceutical plant? Made millions homeless then effectively made being homeless illegal?” )

Life is good for the people in charge: the senior pols, the CEOS, the high level executives, the tools who run NGOs (whose workers lives are mostly shit).

Anyway, I write this because I bet a lot of my readers feel the same way, and recognize a lot of what I’m saying.

Rule : don’t let the monsters ruin your life. Don’t let them control your emotions. Surges of anger are fine, but don’t live there. Seek out joy and happiness and as much as possible fight from there.

But remember also that emotions like hate, anger and contempt, in controlled doses exist to let you know who is an enemy, who shouldn’t have power, and who is dangerous to you. Such emotions are dangerous, absolutely, because they can be weaponized by others to turn you against people who don’t deserve them. See Jews, WWII and Palestinians, today. See Americans who think Putin is a bigger threat to them than Biden or Trump or the CEO of any Fortune 500 company.

What’s happening in Gaza is an atrocity. By all means do something, but don’t let it make your miserable, because if you do, the bastards have a victory, the suffering of their enemy, you.

But remember, oh yes, always remember. And remembering, act if you ever have the chance.

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The Elements Of Persuasion

Many posts I write aren’t intended to be persuasive if you don’t already agree with me on some axes. Take, for example, the post “some acts are always evil.” I chose rape as my example: it is not possible to have a justified rape. If you agree with this, you’ll agree that some acts are always evil. If you don’t think rape is never justified, then my argument won’t work with you, and indeed it didn’t work with all the commenters for just that reason.

There are three primary elements of persuasion.

The first might be called beneficence or trust or sometimes even disinterest. If you’re trying to persuade me to do or believe something, I want to know that you have my best interests at heart: that you aren’t trying to persuade me because it’s good for you that I agree, but not good for me. This is the entire thesis of the book “How To Make Friends And Influence People.” It’s the basis of all win/win negotiating methods. It makes a huge difference.

Disinterest is the intellectual version of this, meant more for changing minds than making deals. It is a “I just follow the logic or facts wherever they go and accept the conclusions.” If you’re obviously arguing “from interest” people will tend not to believe what you say about issues unless they share the same interest as you.

The second might be called competence or wisdom or knowledge. This is the “do you know what you’re talking about” check. Perhaps you’re arguing win/win that we should attack that tiger and take its lunch, but if I don’t think you know how to beat that tiger, it sure ain’t looking like a win/win to me. Professionals trade on this sort of thing, “I have training”. The guy or gal trying to tell you how to do well on dates or get a romantic partner needs to have a happy relationship or be constantly seen with beautiful women or handsome men. The person preaching how to get rich has to be rich, and so on.

I used to think this really, really mattered and in my early years of blogging I would write posts tallying up my predictions and how well they had done, with what a friend once called “Stalinist self-criticism.” I thought that if I proved I was usually right about certain subjects, people would trust me on those subjects.

Worked with some people, but not with most. It took me about five years to realize this intellectually, and another 6 years or so to understand it emotionally.

So this factor matters, but it’s only one factor and I would say that in most circumstances it isn’t most important factor.

The third factor of persuasion is what might be called mode. This how you persuade people: perhaps you make that appeal to authority. Perhaps you are friendly. Perhaps you simply make your statements confidently as if no one could doubt you. Perhaps show that what you say follows logically if people accept your premises (this is what I did in the “some acts are always evil post”, using rape as being always evil.) Perhaps you reason inductively “we can find hundreds of samples of this situation an in every or almost all case it went the way I say.”

There are socially dominant modes in different periods, societies and social groups. Scientists, at least in principle, should be convinced by evidence supporting hypotheses. Scholastic academics of the middle ages wanted one to use a combination of Aristotlean logic and biblical revelation. In most societies which have ever existed “this is how we’ve always done it’ was a killer argument. In others “I’ve got a big sword and lots of muscular friends” more or less worked, especially when willing to kill enough people.

In spiritual groups, showing that you appear to have attainments like calm and dispassion or universal love or the ability to concentrate for hours engenders trust in some people. In older societies performing miracles engendered trust (and whatever you think about it they genuinely believed in miracles and appear to have experienced them.) In established religions and with believers showing that the religious texts support what you say is an important mode.

Beneficience, competence and mode. It’s hard to get all three moving at the same time simply because different groups have different ideas of what qualifies one as competent. They shade easily into each other: the mode of arguing from scripture also suggests that the people who are qualified (competent) are priests or monks or theologians, for example. People who believe in the scientific mode of reasoning will tend to trust scientists, giving them more benefit of the doubt than non-scientists even if the non scientists are using the scientific method.

A simply summation of what works best might be “one of us and one of our leaders.” That combines an assumption of beneficience (group members want what is good for group members), competence (has risen to leadership) and mode, because a leading group member will almost always use the mode appropriate to the group.

All of these factors of persuasion can be hacked. Do Biden or Trump or Clinton or Bush care about average Americans? Of course not. There is no beneficience in most senior politicians for the masses. Are they competent? Well, maybe at making the rich richer and at campaigning, but at making everyone better off and safer? Of course not. As for mode, well, they’re usually good at adopting appropriate modes, but the recent example of Trump shows that what modes can work is a lot different from what modes are normal.

I tend to think that the most effective factor is beneficience. People are more tribal than anything else, and if you can get them thinking you’re one of them (even if you aren’t, which is usually the case with politicians) and acting in their best interests, enough of them will believe almost anything to get you what you want.

If you don’t want to be persuaded by con men and psychopaths, don’t believe “one of us” from anyone who either doesn’t have the same interests as you or whose interests, at least, aren’t actively engaged: whose well-being isn’t effected if you believe them or don’t.

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Is The Police’s Right Wing Bias A Problem For Them?

This piece is a comment, by Purple Library Guy, elevated from the comments with their permission.

You know, it occurs to me that the cops, both in France and North America, are headed for a problem similar to Israel’s. That is, they’ve gradually shifted from being bipartisan supporters of the establishment in general to partisan supporters of the hard right, and other parts of the establishment are gradually noticing.

So like, time was Israel had massive and unbreakable bipartisan support in the US from both Republicans and Democrats alike. And Israel was generally fairly nonpartisan in how it interacted with the US. As Israel’s own politics shifted right, the Labour party died and so on, while in the US there was a rise of the religious far right with their massive enthusiasm for Israel, Israel’s politics have increasingly shifted to outright support of the Republicans, and this is one of the sources of Democratic politicians’ support for Israel fracturing. Not that there is now zero support for Israel among Democratic politicians, but it’s weaker; some continue with status quo strong Israel support, some have weaker and more critical support, and some get away with being basically anti-Israel in a way that would have killed their political careers once upon a time. And this is an ongoing process which has not seen its end point, and which seems likely to end up causing Israel significant political trouble.

A similar thing is happening with the cops; as significant sections of the establishment and middle class feel the cops do not have their backs but are instead standing with the politics of the far right not just in terms of racism but in various other ways such as opposition to “wokeness”, sections of the centre-left and even centrist establishment are ceasing to take the police for granted and starting to see them as a problem. The police are narrowing the societal base they depend on. It could come back to bite them.

Sure, nobody’s going to “defund the police” in the sense of totally get rid of them. But there seem to be quite a few options floating around for handling most things that currently involve police in other ways; once you start doing those pilot projects and then expanding them and then you do a study saying cops are only called out a quarter as much as before because so much is handled by social workers and mental health experts, the political cover for cutting them way back gets a lot more solid, and if everyone knows they’re a bunch of alt-right bastards who cannot be trusted by the centrist establishment (let alone progressives of any stripe), there’s gonna be motive to do it.

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Denial Of Reality

One of the defining features of our civilization is that we deny what we don’t want to believe is true if it’s inconvenient to us.

Covid has been the most recent example, with the World Health Organization (WHO) taking two years to admit that it was an airborne virus, insisting it spread thru droplets. I daresay that refusal to admit reality cost a couple million people their lives.

Back in the 2000’s a number of us warned about the housing/sub-prime bubble for years. (A correspondent said he found 42 people who publicly predicted the crash.) It was obvious just from looking at charts, it was classic bubble formation.

I made two predictions about the market. The first was for late 2005. I based that on the supposition that the Federal Reserve, looking at the chart, would act. It was the last moment to do so. But the Federal Reserve believed there was no bubble, because markets are efficient, so they did nothing.

Reality denial.

It was one of my first lessons in “our elites are incompetent” (also venal and evil).

I then predicted October of 2007 about a year in advance and got that one right. A friend of mine who knows far more about economics thought it would be later, because the Fed would hold it off till after the election to help Bush. I disagreed, he thought they were still competent.

So, denial of reality and incompetence.

The grand-daddy of reality denial in the modern era is, of course, climate change. We’ve known about it for a long time, one friend has traced elite knowledge back to the 50s, and I can assure you that by the 70s and 80s knowledge was widespread and there was real alarm.

We did…. nothing, while pretending we were.

Recently WHO has said there is no longer a Covid emergency. I actually have some sympathy for what they’re saying: we’ve decided to just let it continue, and there’s evidence there are less deaths, and since no one is treating it as an emergency I suppose the emergency is over.

But we refuse to deal with the fact that it’s causing Long Covid and that repeated infections do damage to the brain, cardiovascular system and immune system, often non-symptomatic to start and that excess deaths are still highly elevated in most countries.

We’ve basically decided to ignore a mass crippling event. We can’t even be bothered to put filters in classrooms and other public areas, and hospitals are stopping mandating masks and most don’t have air filtration. (If you we won’t even put air filtration in hospitals and schools we clearly don’t give a fuck.)

And, of course, new variants emerge and there’s no reason to assume none of them will have an increase in lethality. The most recent “Arcturus” variant, while not more lethal appears far more infectious than previous variants, which were already in the running for the most virulent diseases in history.

We sort of acknowledge it exists, with a massive denialist cohort, the sort who keep insisting it’s just as bad as the flu, and then we do, effectively, nothing, after an initial, completely incompetent series of measures in the first year and a half, which because of their incompetence, discredited intervention. (Remember that 2 years of WHO claiming that Covid wasn’t airborne.)

There are plenty of other examples. I remember writing back in 2009 that if things continued as they were Americans would lose their abortion rights. I was pilloried for it. Similarly when Obama got rid of Dean at the DNC I said it was the end of the 50 state policy, and again I was savagely attacked for it, including both pushback from the White House and by commenters at FDL and Daily Kos.

Then there was all the pretense that Afghanistan could be won, or the 72% of Americans who thought that Iraq had WMD. (Well they did have some chemical weapons, but that’s not what anyone meant.)

That China is the largest economy in the world in the ways that matter is another thing most people are still in denial about, along with the fact that America is losing its tech lead.

I suppose you could say “well Ian, we admit reality and then do nothing” but actions are what count, and based on actions we’re in complete denial about our major problems, and when denial is still even remotely possible, we continue with it. I can’t count the number of people I run into who are still climate-change denialists, even as we have wildfires and every week leads to some decades old temperature record being broken.

This era is right up there with the last decades of the Western Roman Empire for stupidity and incompetence. The difference is that the scale is global and the problems are bigger than barbarian invasions.

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