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

Happy New Year

I hope my readers had good years in 2017 and will have better ones in 2018.

It’s going to be an interesting year. Trump is fairly clearly in the throes of dementia. We need to avoid a major conflict with either North Korea or Iran. And we can expect, barring large, unexpected events, that the Republicans will lose control of the House and possibly the Senate at the end of the year.

All the best to all people who act with good will in this new year.



Why the Wave Election of 2018 Could Mean Nothing


The Law of Heaven


  1. Herman

    Happy New Year, Ian. As much as I criticize the Democrats on this blog I hope they win in 2018 so that we have a divided government and the Republicans can’t pass more awful legislation like the recent tax bill. I know some people here will say that the Democrats will make a grand bargain with the GOP to cut entitlements or whatever but I don’t think that will happen with Trump. I could be wrong but I think Trump is different, there will likely be no compromise with him. That is why I am against attempts by the Democrats to impeach him. I think the Democrats would be more willing to work with Mike Pence than Trump so I think we are safer with a Trump presidency and the Democrats in control of one or both houses of Congress. Hooray for gridlock!

    Just by two cents about 2018.

  2. “All the best to all people who act with good will in this new year.”

    Ditto that.

    I think progressives can take some inspiration from Justice Democrats, which is up to about 50 candidates, and have done many things right (strategically speaking), and seems to have persistence built in to it’s organizational structure. Here is Cenk Uygur doing an admirable job explaining the program. (N.B.: he’s been ejected, in spite of his founder status, due to his sexual crudities becoming public knowledge)

    The outlook for conservative populists is murkier. I can only see Bannon & allies (& Mercer money) pushing things towards his/their vision of a less plutocratically controlled America. Their program is not transparent, which suggests that it has limited potential for grabbing lots of mindshare. Having “America first” notions overshadowed by the tainted Trump brand won’t be very helpful in purple areas of the country….

    My preferred political evolution is that the D’s and R’s undergo “hostile takeovers” (as Uygur would put it) and be roughly even in political power. Right now, I have to give the progressives the edge between these 2 groups, based on programmatics.

    I am hopeful that enough disruption to the status quo will occur as to create a power vacuum and open up the process to more forceful and successful reform efforts. I think that’s possible, as the corruption of the FBI, and their de facto collusion with the Democrats becomes more of a well known scandal. Furthermore, there are what I will call “rumors” that a recent Trump executive order “Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption” will be useful in going after corrupt globalists, including some that have colluded to sandbag the Trump Administration. (see 8:40 into )

    Trump is a deeply flawed individual, but I do believe that there are many evils he is less tolerant of, that similarly rich globalists are happy to profit off of.

  3. Peter

    I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year even those who can’t find any happiness today but my posts are being moderated again. Many great happy things have happened this past year just not for liberals but try as they may they can’t turn back the clock.


    It turns out the people who make Kobos are almost as bad as the people who make Kindles, and that all small computing devices are exploitative because of their use of rare earths.
    Well, I tried.

    When Donald Trump was elected I was frightened and felt betrayed — it should never be forgotten that, aside from his many other flaws, he campaigned on a platform of Soft Pastel Hitler Shit — and after I calmed down I decided that I would try to engage with viewpoints that were different from my own (but not unproductively hostile), which is why I’ve been leaving phonebook comments under every fifth Ian Welsh post for the last five months. In 2018 I hope to actually have the time to converse with people, if anybody is ever interested.

    I’ve been intermittently following Mr. Welsh’s posts since he was linked to by Doghouse Riley (may he rest in whatever he prefers to peace) almost a decade ago — and there are things I still don’t understand about his worldview, like his hatred of the free press and out-of-season vegetables — but I’m beginning to understand other things that were opaque to me as recently as a few months ago. It could be worse, from my perspective.

    Still getting used to seeing “liberal” used as a slur by the Left, though!

    I am the only person I know who isn’t still drunk this morning.
    I hope everyone can enjoy what’s left of The Holidays as much as possible, before they’re gone for another year!

  5. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    The outlook for conservative populists is murkier. I can only see Bannon & allies (& Mercer money) pushing things towards his/their vision of a less plutocratically controlled America.

    Mercer, the plutocrat, wants a less plutocratically controlled America?

  6. The Stephen Miller Band

    Meet the New Year — Same as the Old Year.

    Just a little weirder.

    Okay, maybe a lot weirder but drop the maybe.

    Trump’s Tax Cuts

  7. Peter


    Watching the collectivists squirm and become incontinent because of Trump’s victories will bring many people happiness in the coming years.

    Your link shows there may be profit to make marketing Depends for commies and fellow travelers and ball-gags to muffle the shrieking.

  8. nihil obstet

    2017 continued a slow decline for the U.S. The death and destruction America supports abroad is still nightmarish, and it continues to spread. Trump was too incompetent to get much done domestically. The tax bill was just stupid; it actually and immediately hurts few people. However much we may get upset about its making the rich richer, there comes a point when some extra zeros on a spreadsheet don’t have a practical effect. Until we have confiscatory taxes at the upper end, the elites are just running up the score for their own narcissism. The IRS is too underfunded to train its workforce in a Byzantine law that no one has been able to read yet, so the practical effects will be even less.

    Finally, the legitimacy of the courts is declining. An independent judiciary is supposedly a bulwark of freedom, but we seem to be returning to the glory days of the late 19th and early 20th c. when the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection of the laws was ruled by the courts not to prevent Jim Crow, but to prevent regulation of corporate fraud. Given the courts’ decisions on standing that virtually eliminate class action suits but affirming required arbitration clauses, we have a police system run for the enforcement of corporate power. I’m interested in what can be done to change that, and I don’t think a series of constitutional amendments is the way. A court that can read the 4th Amendment to permit mass surveillance isn’t going to care about any stinkin’ constitutional amendment.

    And so, here’s to Donald Trump’s dementia. May it provide lots of fodder for those wishing to figure out how to make a government responsive.

  9. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Does anyone else get the impression that if Cheeto Mussolini expressed a desire to kill and eat Peter, Peter would acquiesce to his Dear Leader?

  10. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Seriously, I am reminded of G. Gordon Liddy’s willingness to die, if necessary, for Richard Nixon, whom any sane man could see was unworthy of such devotion.

  11. Barry


    What is it you hope to accomplish with your posts here? What cause do you wish to advance?

    Do you think your approach is effective?

    Do you think this is a worthwhile use of your time?

  12. @ Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    JFK came from a rich family, but one that had a sense of noblesse oblige. I don’t know much of anything about the Mercers, but if they were totally devoid of such sentiments, they should be backing establishment Republicans, not MAGA type disruptors that have been vetted by Steve Bannon.

    One thing I like about Justice Democrats is that their candidates can’t accept corporate money. I wish there was a similar strategy in place for reformist Republicans (at least for House of Representative candidates, who run less expensive campaigns), but I don’t know of any such organization. One reason for doing so is that the reasonable default interpretation of plutocratic financial backing of political candidates is not MAGA or noblesse oblige, but self interest.

    You failure to pay attention to ‘nuances’ like this blinds you to potential positive intervention by elements of the 1%, even if your prejudice is well founded.

    Somebody who has considered the nuances is Ralph Nader. See his book “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! “

  13. NR


    Peter is a troll. It’s really that simple.

  14. marku52

    Happy New Year to all here, one of the few internet communities with comments worth reading.

    Here’s hoping for a year of good health for our host.

    The best feature of the trump maladministration is its stunning incompetence. May it continue to be so. If he has dementia (sure looks like it), well, so did St Ronald. Maybe not that bad a thing.

    Emma, I enjoy your posts, just bought the book you recommended about the 4 horseman of inequality, have just begun it.

    On the distinction between liberal and left: the current Democrat policy is pretty consistently liberal-in the european sense-which means for the most part free market solutions to all problems. The Left thinks that leaving things to the free market in many cases is itself the problem, and only government action can repair market failures. Think ACA VS single payer.

    Here’s a joke about Dem policy: “We favor means-tested microloans for student lunch debt!”

    Instead, you could, you know, provide a free lunch to all kids?

  15. Emma: I’m a Kobo user but the only reason to prefer it to Kindle currently is that it’s competition for Kindle. I un-DRM all my books naturally and read them mostly outside of the Kobo app.

  16. Peter

    First I am impugned then impeached and interrorgated followed by more impugned all on the first day of the new year, someone is not happy. I am unperturbed and can’t wait for the next happy news that will set the snowflakes hair on fire. The tongue-swallowing catatonia that should follow will bring relief if not happiness to many long suffering citizens.

  17. The Stephen Miller Band

    There is no Free Market. There never has been. Greedy Opportunists & Exploiters will always consolidate & monopolize, and once they do and they always do, it’s no longer a Free Market because the Monopolies control legislation & regulation and squash competition.

    This is why my tax policy as it relates to businesses would always be predicated on Too-Big-To-Fail. With my tax policy, no company will ever again be Too-Big-To-Fail and therefore no company can ever blackmail the American people again and hold them hostage because of its massive size and ubiquity.

    My tax policy will be arranged in such a way that no corporate entity would rationally prefer to grow beyond a certain threshold because the tax burden would be too great. It would be a progressive tax rate based on a combination of number of employees plus profit & revenue. It would ensure small companies are incentivized due to a low tax rate. It will encourage diversity and creativity and innovation. You know, what America used to be before the Psychopathic Plutocracy gained prominence & power.

  18. Mongo

    Thank you, Ian, and a good New Year. Contributing to a clearer understanding is an amazingly rare commodity in any era, but even more valuable in times of transition.

  19. Willy

    I resolve to wish everybody a Happy New Year. Happy New Year everyone!

    I also resolve to nominate Peter to be our “Captain of The Trolls” (is there a best troll award?), for valiantly dumbing down the conversation with cherry picking, splitting hairs, link-free rationalizations, imagination-free namecalling, and of course, a general confusion brought on by advancing dementia. OTOH, if he chooses to offer ideas, any ideas, about effectively fighting crony capitalism, I’d have to rethink that.

  20. Willy

    I also want to wish Trump a happy new year. Mental illness combined with dementia is a tough slog, in such a public occupation.

    It’s his handlers I wish to heap scorn upon. My prediction is that they’ll decide on puppet strings instead of CGI to try and mask the truth, and that the strings will be quite obvious and the media noticing will be called fake news, but I’m digressing again…

  21. Hugh

    Happy New Year to all and best wishes to you.

    I agree that the only way to understand Trump is through his mental disintegration. Who knew that Trump’s covfefe moment would prove less a comic oddity and more a harbinger? Or that his personal disintegration would so closely mirror the intellectual, moral, political, and economic decline of our country?

    Important to remember that the Mercer/Bannon championing of the elimination of the estate tax would cement the current class of plutocrats/kleptocrats in place.

    Trump’s victories this year remind me of those of the Cleveland Browns.

    I agree with nihil obstet that the current court stacking further underminds the judiciary. I would say Bush v. Gore (stealing elections), Heller (support of gun nuttery), and Citizens United (buying elections) have also gone a long way in this direction. They point to a Court and a judiciary that are anti-democratic, prone to specious, self-serving arguments, and above all corporatist. It is the 5-4 split in the Court between reactionaries and conservatives that gets all of the press, but it is the 9-0 corporatist majority that should remind us that the Court has been on the side of the haves against the have nots, for all but 20 years of its history (from Brown to Roe). Far from being apolitical, the Court and judiciary are as political as it gets in their defense of a government of the rich by the rich for the rich.

    I agree too that free markets don’t exist. The question is always who controls them for whose benefit.

  22. Joyce L. Arnold

    Thanks to you, Ian, for sharing your thoughts. Good wishes for the year ahead.

  23. MojaveWolf

    Wishing a happy & prosperous & good New Year’s to all (of good will; Ian’s qualifier has merit!)(& enlightenment & becoming a better person to the others; tho we of good will can use more of that as well)

    I’m very, very happy 2017 is over (odd numbered years tend to be horrible for my loved ones & I; I can’t say 2017 was worse than 2011, 2013, or 2015, but it was as bad, and all of those are in running for “worst year of life”). Hopefully 2018 will be not be like 2016 or 2008, in which bad things from the previous year came to fruition. We shall see.

    On the world stage, as all ways, shall hope for the best while trying to brace for the worst.

  24. Webstir

    My best regards into the new year, Ian. Thank you for a great place to think, and rant occasionally.

    As to your prediction that “Republicans will lose control of the House and possibly the Senate at the end of the year,” I’m not so sanguine. For now, I’ll continue to maintain that the majority of those leaning left in the electorate have not suffered enough.
    Maybe when enough of them are too poor to afford television sets, they’ll realize how long they’ve been living with corporate bullets in their heads:

    And yeah, I’ll do my best to act with good will in this new year — that is, with people of my same political stripe. I’ll act in good will to all the others’ faces, while subverting their interests behind their backs.

    I sometimes think peter, rc, and boo are actually Ian messing with our heads for giggles.
    Happy New Year everyone.

  25. Tom W Harris

    Peter’s comments are just a buncha BM. Good to see that everyone agrees on that.

  26. cripes

    Yes, Happy New Year to all, except Peter, who will undoubtedly object on the basis that it is an affront to his preoccupation with All Things Peter. A most primitive narcissist.

    Perhaps my resolution should be never to type his silly, disruptive name again.


  27. Barry Fay

    It´s a little disappointing to see so many simply corrected mistakes in such a short post.

  28. realitychecker

    A lot of guys here should resolve to honor the marketplace of ideas concept, as they are sadly primitive in their behavior around that concept.

    And they are turning this place into Ridgemont High, instead of the thoughtful place Ian has tried so hard to create.

    And they really, really suck for that.

    If you can’t grow up past the kindergarten stage, please relocate your sorry asses to Daily Kos, where you will fit right in.

    Obsessive dry drunks like Webstir and admitted feces-flingers like Willy my personal stalker are an insult to this place.

    Can we devote ourselves to being thoughtful in 2018? Maybe with a bit of self-awareness mixed in? A teeny nod to self-actualization?

    Too much to ask?

    Bless you, Ian, and thanks for your ongoing contributions to the light. ((Ian))

  29. Spring Texan

    Senate, maybe. House, unfortunately, no. Not with all the gerrymandering and voter suppression. No democracy.

    But Happy New Year, Ian, and thanks for your writing!

  30. Tom

    The best way to break the rich is to eliminate Patent Laws. Don’t recognize Patents, ever.

    This allows free markets as anyone can copy an ideal and make their own improvements and others to compete have to keep on improving function and quality or be undercut.

    All the major corporations will collapse and their political power with them.

  31. Willy

    I knew it. rc is Mr. Hand!

    Except for the part where Mr. Hand actually cares about his students.

  32. BlizzardOfOz

    Someone on an earlier thread was asking why Peter was calling people “Stalinists” … well, just take a look at Ian’s and Hugh’s rhetoric here. It says a lot about their bent of thought. Classical liberals debate their opponents — Stalinists have their opponents declared clinically insane by a panel of apparatchik psychologists.

  33. Willy

    Peter was more reasonable in his older comments. Today he enjoys trolling.

    Anybody who’s a freedom fighter one day, then an Erodigan apologist the next, is just being a troll.

  34. Hugh

    Projection, much? Apparently we struck a nerve. It’s not that the emperor is underdressed. He’s bare-assed naked for all to see. But in the Bizarro 1984-land of his tribalist followers, day is night, freedom is slavery, and Trump is normal.

    What is sad is those on the right and those on the progressive left have legitimate grievances, indeed the same grievance–the country, our society is not only not working for them, it is working against them. Neither, however, has a coherent, sustainable vision for the country, and both embrace self-defeating vehicles of change, Obama and Trump being the two most recent.

  35. On Justice Democrats:
    “The Fall of Justice Democrats”

    The speaker is not terribly convincing, but his distaste for SJW messaging, which he suggests permeates Justice Democrats, is worth keeping an eye on. Also, I didn’t know that the other JD co-founder Kyle Kulinski had also resigned, though I’m not clear as to why. In any event, JD is now more susceptible to changes in direction. I’m not sure whether he’s joking, or not, but Jimmy Dore predicts that the fallout of resignations is that JD will start taking corporate money.

    I remain optimistic about JD, but guardedly so.

    The comments to “The Fall of Justice Democrats” were more interesting than the video, especially the comments by “AlwaysReason” deconstructing Ben Shapiro. I think Shapiro is very smart, but I’ve also noticed that he ‘slips in’ a lot of pseudo arguments, which are hard to catch, or refute in a debate, because his mind and delivery are so fast.

    It’s occurred to me that the outing of Uygur might well originate from mainstream Democratic insiders, who don’t want any reforms to threaten their current business model.

  36. different clue

    Happy New Year.

    I hope Ian Welsh will decide to run some “survivalizing” and “conservation lifestyling” articles of the sort which will invite informed readers to submit their own ideas on “survivalizing” and “conservation lifesyling” . . . and links to sites about those subjects, and mentions of good books on those subjects.

    Perhaps some of us will be in a position to displace some of our “economic activity” away from the monetized Overclass Market Economy and towards tiny little zones of de-monetized subsistence economic production and consumption. After all, the tomato one grows in one’s own yard ( and I am sure that a few of the readers here have a yard) and eats without having to pay for it equals just that money not-needed to get that tomato that one did not have to buy, and is also just that much support and involvement withheld from the time-is-money hamster wheel economy.

    I spent part of New Years Day digging a bunch of snow off my little yard and piling it onto my south-side-of-the-houselet garden bed. Then I flattened and shaped the top to reflect sunlight into my window. I will refine the shape and angle a bit more, and then sprinkle water on it to get a curved ice-mirror to reflect a lot of light into my window. I won’t gather any data, but I will gain some anecdata on what seems to happen.

    Maybe other people will start doing little things like this just to see what does or doesn’t happen.

  37. Karen Jacobs

    Now that the Dims’ narrative “Russia stole the election” has disintegrated, “Trump has dementia” is the fallback meme for the echo chamber to pursue with mindless glee while real discussions on the internet about past, present and future events are underway.

    For example, Canada is in process of instituting censorship similar to the policy that was embedded in Obama’s NDAA and is currently being used by Google-Twitter-Facebook to arbitrarily remove individual posts and banish individual accounts as well as manipulate what the users see or don’t see; i.e. cocooned in the echo chamber:

    David Knight News and Analysis hour 2 today re events taking place in Iran and talking with Charles Ortel who has done several years in depth research on the Clinton Foundation; Jerome Corsi has done years’ worth as well and they uncovered the diversion of Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac funds to pay for the unfunded Obamacare subsidies:

    and the extra-ordinary “tutorials” that have been taking place on reddit over the past 2 months by “Q” relating the ongoing struggle to regain our Constitutional Republic and rule of law:

    Lastly, before any one attempts to discuss President Trump, his administration or policies with me, I request that they cite the information posted at that they think proves their case.

    Particularly interesting is the December 21 Executive Order going after the funds of human traffickers as well as those aiding in government corruption and the coincidental resignation of Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google’s parent corporation, Alphabet on the same day:

  38. Karen Jacobs

    p.s. The six interviews about the theft of Leader Technologies patented work on the basic code that enabled social media is very enlightening. part 1:

    a description of part 1 is in the description box as well as the link to remaining 5 interviews

    The founders included patent, copyright and trademark protections in the Constitution to encourage science, literature and inventions by creative citizens and assure they would be rewarded for their work.

  39. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    I am unperturbed and can’t wait for the next happy news that will set the snowflakes hair on fire.

    Yep, Steiner’s gonna lift the siege any minute now… 😈

  40. different clue


    Here’s a joke about Conservatives and Liberals. (Not Leftists. Liberals).

    The Conservative sees the homeless triple-amputee and says: “Why don’t you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps?”

    The Liberals sees the homeless triple-amputee and says: ” I could get you some benefits if you would just lose that other hand.”

  41. Tom

    @ Karen Jacobs

    Patents are not the cause of America’s prosperity. America’s prosperity was the result of stealing large amounts of land from the Indians and exploiting it, and not getting involved in the European shitfests that tore that continent apart. Which meant we weren’t spending large sums on a military and constantly fixing wrecked infrastructure like the Europeans were.

    As bad as the ACW was, it never rose to the sheer destruction caused by the Napoleonic Wars and we recovered relatively quickly.

    It also helped that at the start of the Oil Age, America had the majority of the world’s oil infrastructure.

  42. nihil obstet

    The Constitution gives Congress the power to establish copyright and patent laws; it did not enact such laws nor require them to be enacted. They appeared to recognize that such restrictions are antithetical to freedom by restricting right to free speech and establishing monopolies. The original copyright law enacted by Congress was for 7 years. Current law can make copyright last for 120 years. Copyright actually was to encourage publishers more than authors, who were paid like any other workmen.

    Research now shows that the intellectual property laws are more restrictive than incentivizing and we have alternative means of encouraging innovation that are far superior.

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