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

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts. (So no Ukraine/Russia related stuff.)


March of De-Dollarization: Russia Selling In Rubles


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 27, 2022


  1. Willy

    We seem to be undergoing what I’ll call The Age of the Lie. And I’m not just calling out the obvious politicians or the major news sources with their varying levels of veracity and shamelessness. Their means justifies their ends, the ends being more money more power. So there’s at least some logic behind that that.

    In my own life I have to deal with people who don’t seem to care that they’re wrong. They can say or do anything they want, without needing to prove a damn thing, or to care at all if they’ve been proven wrong, without feeling a bit of shame. Has it always been like this, have they always been there, or are these people simply reflecting who it is that controls our culture ?

  2. Astrid

    As COVID incidence continue to be relatively low in central PA, we went for a concert last night. It was very different from the few DC and Philly area concerts we attended. Those had universal checks for vaccination and universal masking (some venues allowed for drinking, though none of our previous attended concerts did). Literally nobody else wore masks to this concert, not the attendees or the staff. We felt reasonably secure with our N95 + cloth masking and the amount of open space in the venue. The attendees were mostly Gen-Xers with some distribution to older and younger.

    The situation that must not be discussed here was not discussed at the concert. Covid wasn’t directly mentioned, though frustration about not being able to tour was briefly referenced. It was a joyous event by a gifted performer who seemed extremely happy to be back in the road. We already bought tickets to see him in DC with the full band next month. We’re also planning another trip to Toronto in late May to see another band in concert. With things the way they are in the world, we’re balancing risks of concert going (again, with N95 masks and as much distancing as we can) against the joy of attending concerts while we can, and deciding to enjoy ourselves.

    And this is the new normal. Let’s hope it’s not quickly replaced by a worse new new normal.

  3. GlassHammer

    First Plague, then War, and next is Famine.

    Farmers on the Brink

    Folks it’s way past time to shift your focus to your backyard, your neighborhood, your church, your town, and your county. Your also going to have to work with people you dislike to get through this.

  4. bruce wilder

    Human nature seems to encompass a great capacity for deception and deceit, betrayal and negligence, Willy. I agree that the pursuit of power thru manipulation by the great and their myriad assistants explains much of what we see from prominent politicians and institutions. It is distressing, but explicable as pursuit of a self-interest easily perceptible beneath the disguise as you indicate, but I think you underestimate the psychological effects of the method-acting required to play roles successfully (for the individual actor making a career) in elite institutions.

    My father, who was a whistleblower against corruption early in his long career as a policeman, would say, “the fish rots from the head.”

    Just as those near the top are liable to get high on their own supply, and to start believing their owns lies as a means of convenient economy — not needing to track the truth, always difficult to determine anyway, is a relief — those of us in more dependent situations, and able only to observe from afar or to reconstruct from imagination, are left to subsist on thin gruel. We lowly peons have no chance anymore to be “right” about anything or to profit from being right; we might as well discard any ego investment we might have in working at “being right”. If we need a shot of dopamine, we can make some stranger “wrong” with an ephemeral comment on social media. Beyond that, what is the point?

  5. someofparts

    Maybe being as old as I am gives me a perspective that might be helpful here. To answer Willy’s original question, no, our communities have not always been consumed by corruption, lies and the absence of decent values.

    I’m gonna oversimplify and say the changes started with Reagan. That is when all of the elements that have degraded our world began to emerge. In my case, I was turning thirty when that happened. So I had ten years to live and work in the world that existed before Reagan. It was a thousand times better than what we have now.

    There was no homelessness. There was no hate speech on the radio or television. News in the papers and on television was not brazenly dishonest as it is now. College, healthcare and housing were affordable. Banks were honest and very conservative. There were plenty of big, thriving companies. It was easy to find steady work that paid a living wage. Companies paid for school, so you could start at the bottom, take classes at night, and move up to a better job with the same company. Competence, integrity and quality of work mattered and were rewarded.

    I know those things are true because I lived them. So no, things have not always been this awful. People who benefited from these arrangements made them that way and have prospered at our expense.

  6. different clue


    I am just old enough to remember some of this. I grew up in the warm afterglow of the High Classic New Deal civilization.

    The anti-New Dealers have spent their 50 years getting revenge for the New Deal by slowly dismantling it over time. They want to destroy its last vestiges, such as Social Security, Wages and Hours Laws, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Columbia Valley Authority, etc.

    When I was a schoolchild in Eastern Tennessee, the New Deal was taught to us school kids as a good thing by teachers who I just betcha were old enough to have been children during the Great Depression.

    I have begun experimenting with random young people just lately. I ask them if they have ever heard the words ” the . . . New . . . Deal . . . ” Two out of the first three young people I have asked that question say they have never heard the words. Such is the state of pro Upper Class history education-prevention in public school America today.

    It might be fun for older people to ask this very question of young people, and those who haven’t even heard the words might be non-overbearingly advised to google the phrase The New Deal and see what comes up.

  7. bruce wilder

    I, too, am old enough to remember the remarkable shift that began under Carter and accelerated under Reagan. I remember being shocked at Reagan inserting fictions into every speech. And, shocked also when homelessness became ubiquitous.

    It is common now to look back at the machinations of movement conservatism and blame them for doing what they always wanted to do, but I would remind that what made it all possible was the collapse of liberal/left opposition to their designs. The New Left wanted nothing at all to do with Organized Labor. The chattering Liberals became leftish versions of Neoliberals, conversing the right-wing Neoliberals in power in the Reagan Administration.

    The Republican Party controlled by plutocrats began their populist game with appeals to reactionary social conservatism on social issues, and Democrats gradually learned to play the same stupid game. In time, the “liberal-left” began to “win” on the social issues, a consolation prize for losing the economic game they refused to play anymore. Mostly, the Democrats were just opportunists claiming credit for things they mostly opposed or were ineffectual in pursuing — like Obama preening over the legalization of gay marriage. The Republican establishment was pleased at how easily “moral” voters were to manipulate with resentments against the libs and ginned-up controversies.

    That’s politics, though, and “The Age of the Lie” sounded more like the narrower problems of communication and dialogue in the face of a tsunami of propaganda, with a nominal “liberal/left” that no longer has a concept of objective facts divorced from moralistic narratives.

  8. someofparts

    Yes, I remember the boomer abandonment of labor. These days, watching All In the Family makes me cringe. I think Vietnam was the ostensible issue that caused the boomers to turn their backs on labor.

    Thinking about that led me to look farther back to the early days of the New Deal. It sounds like socialists played a big role in designing those programs, but were then pushed out of government as soon as FDR was in his grave.

    I think this mattered immensely for labor because socialists would have traditionally been anti-war. Somewhere along the line, as socialists were run out of government, labor was conned into supporting militarism.

    At the point when labor and the boomers fell out because labor supported Vietnam and the boomers opposed it, it sounds like both sides were already corrupted. Labor was corrupted by supporting militarism and imperialism, while the boomer liberals were already hypocrites, who flattered themselves that they were high-minded pacifists, but really only opposed the war because they were subject to the draft. Since the war and the draft ended, boomers have been just fine with imperialism too.

    The only people still willing to serve in the military are the impoverished children of the working class, and liberal boomers hold them in contempt for it. Sure, they make a lot of noise about appreciating our troops, but that is just the braying of hypocrites.

  9. Ché Pasa

    A brief comment on something that is increasingly bothersome to me.

    I’ve long had an interest in architecture, and it’s increasingly obvious that what passes for architecture in the neo-liberal “democracies” of the west is more and more atrocious, awful, indeed barbaric. That’s not to say the growing number of autocracies have produced much better design, but they certainly show much more daring, compelling and occasionally more beautiful new buildings than anything you’d see in London, Toronto or New York.

    Architecture tells you something about the societies from which buildings emerge, and from appearances, based on their buildings, the neo-liberal “democracies” have been in steep decline for generations, most precipitously in the last 30-40 years.

    Sad, but perhaps inevitable.

  10. different clue


    I was pretty young during the antiwar versus prowar days. One thing I do remember reading about in the news and seeing news reports about is where a bunch of Union Construction Workers in New York City ( often nicknamed “Nixon’s Hard Hats” ) attacked members of an antiwar march with iron pipes, lead pipes, etc. And the police who rioted against protesters and bystanders and non-protesting McCarthy Campaign workers, sometimes entering hotels to beat them up inside the hotel, were also Union Members. So there was an element of Big Labor drawing first blood and teaching the young protesters to hate Union workers as their personal political and cultural and physical safety enemies.

    Of course I was pretty young then and only knew some things going on. But there may be an element of the liberal-left faction of boomers getting personal political revenge against Union workers above and beyond mere hypocrisy. I wonder how much of Bill Clinton’s devotion to Free Trade Agreements was based on a hate-based lust to destroy the lives of millions of unionized manufacturing workers by destroying the whole economy which they had their jobs in . . . . as revenge for them having voted for Nixon in 1972 when he and Hillary had been young campaign workers for McGovern not so long before.

    And of course in terms of destroying our New Deal Civilization, Carter began the process as best he could, Reagan speeded it up, Reagan and Bush negotiated and prepared all the anti-American Free Trade Agreements, but it was Clinton himself . . . Jeffrey Epstein’s friend . . . who pushed these agreements into law and put America on the path to social and economic decay and demolition from within which we are now in the late stages of.

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