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

Open Thread

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The European Position at the End of the Unipolar World


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 24, 2022


  1. Eric Anderson

    See here in re my comment a few days ago on Ian’s “The European Position at the end of the Unipolar World” piece:

    To wit:
    “Is this a problem?
    Or is it possibility not yet realized, Ian?
    China and Russia are investing in the mistakes the west made in the past, only to remake themselves in the image of the western world’s mistakes.
    Whereas, while the western world may not know it yet, the evolving global alignment is going to force the western world to eco-socially evolve. I think if we all understand anything it’s that human’s don’t evolve without the motivation brought about by pain. Necessity as the mother of invention applies not only to inventing light bulbs and computers. But to reinventing society as well.”

    Germany holds itself out as a “social democracy”, but we all know the neoliberals in the EU have made a charade of said designation. The basis of social democracy is socializing the necessities and allowing privatisation of the luxuries. Energy seems a pretty big necessity — No? Well, here comes the socialization part and the point of my comment about necessity “reinventing society as well.”

    I would argue neoliberalism can only exist in a “unipolar” world where existential concerns are never allowed to take the stage, or even peek out from behind the curtain. This is the “possibility” I was speaking of. Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine may be the best gift the poor in the western world have received in some time. So, please don’t pity those “suffering” the heat and the cold. Give the neoliberal elite long enough and they’d be suffering just the same.

    This is a wake up call for those slumbering to their graves. Socialize the necessities or die. Make the necessary socioecopolitical changes on your terms or let the neoliberal elite make them for you. Does change inevitably hurt? Yes. Are certain changes inevitably needed when the public trust has raped for 50+ years? Yes.

    This is a “good” thing.

  2. Chuck Mire

    Lake Mead water levels plummeting to lowest point since 1937:

    The NASA images from space says it all.

  3. bruce wilder

    The NY Times published a guest essay by “a virologist” who assured all and sundry, “If we keep getting reinfected, is it inevitable that most of us will end up developing long Covid?”

    His answer, a reassuring “no”.

    In general, his reasoning and evidence (he references none) are not that reassuring. Lab-leak theory is looking better to me — if these guys know anything, they are misusing that knowledge in a myriad ways.

    And, here comes Monkeypox. In my paranoid mood, it looks to me like a stealth method of bringing back smallpox. Can it be only a couple of generations ago that elites were earnestly eradicating that scourge? Now it peaks only interest in a new revenue stream for Pharma.

  4. Joe

    Becoming more aware of the amount of people on antidepressants and mood altering prescription drugs in the USA. Pot culture too seems to have expanded this emotional dullness in Kids middle age and old folk. Commuters smoke the vapor pens to stay calm in traffic I can smell it when I open my window and drive. I Noticed last time traveling when visiting family in Mexico. The culture seemed to have a vibrancy I think I remember used to exist here in the USA.

  5. Eric Anderson

    This is the zombie apocalypse if/when it jumps to humans. Many don’t know about it, but it’s becoming more prevalent in the Western U.S.:

    And in regard to lab release, guess what? Yeah, researchers just can’t leave well enough alone:

    But, leave it to indigenous peoples to actually “do” something productive in response:

  6. Trinity

    Monbiot has a short article about not fooling ourselves and letting them distract us, although it may be a few more years (and a few more floods, wildfires, extreme heat, and catastrophic hurricanes and tornadoes) before we can really count on each other.

    “Some of us know what we want: private sufficiency, public luxury; doughnut economics; participatory democracy and an ecological civilisation. None of these are bigger asks than those the billionaire press has made and largely achieved: the neoliberal revolution that has swept away effective governance, effective taxation of the rich, effective restraints on the power of business and oligarchs and, increasingly, effective democracy.

    So let’s break our own silence. Let’s stop lying to ourselves and others by pretending that small measures deliver major change. Let’s abandon the timidity and tokenism. Let’s stop bringing buckets of water when only fire engines will do. Let’s build our campaign for systemic change towards the critical 25% threshold of public acceptance, beyond which, a range of scientific studies suggests, social tipping happens.”

  7. mago

    Yeah Trinity. Let’s stop putting band aids on chainsaw wounds.
    I support the effort even if it ain’t gonna happen.

  8. someofparts

    Earlier tonight I was reading a beautifully written but depressing book set in the slums of modern Mumbai. Thinking about India led me to thinking about the national character of various countries, or, to put a finer point on it, the historic character of leadership in different countries.

    I get the impression that in Russia, China or any number of other countries, as the nation prospers the leaders do their best to lift as many of their citizens as possible out of poverty. In India I get the impression that no matter how wealthy the country becomes, it will always be wracked by corruption, self-dealing and the poverty and misery those things create.

    Then I extrapolate to the U.S. and consider what this place will be like when we are poor and we have to face what rulers really are and what this place this will be because of them.

    There is a loophole in the 13th Amendment forbidding slavery. It is still legal to enslave someone who is imprisoned and has been ever since the day that amendment was written. This place is built on slavery and it will never change. When wealth happens here citizens do not get uplifted. They get impoverished and brutalized with even greater force.

    Reading about those slums in Mumbai I was thinking that almost any other country on the planet would be better to live in than India. The day is quickly coming when people lucky enough to be born anywhere else on earth will feel that way about the U.S.

  9. someofparts

    This week I had to go to the nearby clinic to refill a prescription. Except for a guy at the front desk, everyone was subdued. All of the nurses and aids who helped me are young enough to be impacted by the Dobbs decision. Starting now, I’m going to tone myself down in public. I don’t want some young woman looking at me with silver hair and thinking that Roe has been there for me but I don’t care that it just got taken from her.

  10. Ian Welsh

    Lived in Bangladesh as a teenager, visited India and had relatives there. It’s like most places: perfectly fine to live in if you have money. And as someone who has had servants, I can tell you that servants > appliances, by a rather large margin. Middle class Indians have at least one servant.

    Terrible place to be poor, except that socially it’s not as bad as some other places in the sense that there are so many. However caste interacts with that and you sure don’t want to be Dalit.

  11. Eric Anderson

    Thanks for that comment re the 13th Amendment. I’d not considered it from that perspective before. But, it sure as shootin’ explains the ‘southern strategy,’ the ‘war on drugs,’ and the ever recurring push in this country to jail debtors.

  12. Mary Bennett

    Ian Welsh, I am a little puzzled as to why you think servants are better than appliances. Granted, the energy which appliances use has to be paid for, which is why I have never owned or used a dishwasher. and got rid of the vehicle some years ago. Purchase of an appliance, while expensive, is a onetime thing–well, one hopes–wages are ongoing.

    Maybe it is that I am pretty much a natural born hermit, but I do not want to spend my days negotiating with servants over everything from work assignments to how many of their relatives I can afford to hire.

  13. different clue


    Technically, it is not physically or mathematically Impossible to delete the backdoor authorization for slavery cleverly written into the Thirteenth Ammendment. And at the time, maybe it was not even cleverly written into it. Since the Thirteenth Ammendment was written by Puritan-Influenced Northern Radical Republicans, it may just reflect their Cultural Inheritance of vicious cultural persecution directed at the “duly convicte” of whatever the Northern Radical Republicans thought that legacy Puritan cultural oppressors like themselves might decide to randomly and arbitrarily “duly convict” someone of.

    Only somewhat later did Oligarchs and Oligarch-wannabes and Southern Plantationist Elites discover what a handy get-out-of-jail card that backdoor “convict slavery” clause could really be for them.

    Here is a layman’s explanation of the “legal slavery loophole” in the 13th Ammendment . . . ” The 13th Amendment exempts from the involuntary servitude clause persons convicted of a crime, and persons drafted to serve in the military.”

    Here is the full text of the 13th Ammendment itself. See how short it is?
    ” Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
    Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. ”

    And here is the clever convict slavery loophole on its own, so everybody can see it.
    ” except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,”

    Isn’t that clever? If the government ( any government) decides it needs a million, or ten million, or a hundred million slaves;either for itself or for its social class owners in the private sector; all it has to do is invent the necessary laws to convict the desired number of enslavable convicts, and then enslave them for the rest of their natural lives.

    How would it be mathematically and physically “possible” to shut and erase that convict-slavery loophole? It would be as simple as merely deleting the slavery-loophole part of the sentence from the ammendment. Here is what the Thirteenth Ammendment would look like with that convict slavery loophole erased from it.

    ” ” Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
    Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. ”

    There. Deleted and Done. See how easy that is physically and mathematically? I am sure there is a cumbersome and difficult and would-take-decades process for altering that Ammendment by just simply deleting the convict-slavery loophole wording from the text of the Ammendment while leaving the rest of the Ammendment untouched.

  14. different clue

    (And one could even delete the needless legacy commas from that sentence to make it an even cleaner Ammendment.)

  15. Z

    Poll: On their personal journey to hell, which doped up 80 year old will lead the world to nuclear annihilation first?

    The Lead Stiff of Weekend at Biden’s?

    Speed Queen Nancy P?

    Let Them Eat Shit Mitch?


  16. Ché Pasa

    For Willy and those who have a hankering for a return to media personalities like Walter Cronkite:

    This is a propaganda film he made for the soon-to-be-built interstate highway system (c. 1956) touting all of its many benefits, ignoring all of the downsides. That’s the nature of propaganda. Was he wrong? No. Merely one sided.

    He did a lot of these sorts of things, in part because he was so trusted as a spokesman for the way it is, the way it was and the glorious future to come. Do we want that again? Maybe we need it..

  17. Trinity


    “Great” cartoon, thanks for posting it. Kind of a summary of what’s really going on, and maybe why they do little about the climate. I hope they realize it could take hundreds of years (if that) to get back to “normal”, where averages really are reliable averages for planning.

    @Che, I remember reading somewhere long ago that the interstate highway system was really for the military to more easily move equipment around. The entire “happy motoring” meme was to get us all to buy into it, and pay for it.

  18. Z

    Nice to see Vogue do a solid for the CIA …


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