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

Open Thread

This is for comments on topics unrelated to recent posts.


The Philosophy of Decline and Collapse


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 17, 2021


  1. bruce wilder

    The conditions now exist to consolidate an oppressive, authoritarian state in the U.S. The counter-revolution is well-advanced in securing all bases of power and authority and subverting all refuges for organizing criticism or opposition.

    The full, comprehensive horror is so complete that it can be not just discouraging to acknowledge, but actually dangerous as it induces patanoia and despair.

    Chris Hedges wrote a few years ago about the Death of the Liberal Classes — how the economic foundation for a critical liberal-left advocating necessary reform had disappeared as unions, newspapers, academia, mainline Churches had declined, but the full implications are now unfolded.

    The continuing persecution of Assange and the departure of Greenwald and Poitras from The Intercept serve to illustrate how little is left of journalism, as if Russiagate had not already driven home the point. Taibbi has narrated the story of how Media came to be an engine of “tribalism”. A lot of people are surprised at the absence of an instinct for institutional self-preservation driving defense of Assange, but the reality is that the institutions are gone and only their shadows remain. The New York Times, The Guardian are self-parodies at best.

    People talk about the strange absence of a left, in contrast to the Kochotopus. But Koch spent money. Journalists who want to nurture their own voice are left to substack and Patreon.

    Leftists like to rail against an abstract “capitalism” and “neoliberalism” but fail to acknowledge the full, paralyzing, smothering envelopement that has taken place.

    Much of the soi disant left in the U.S. ended up fodder for an anti-Trump parody political “crisis” that was used to, among other things, make the integrity of the swiss cheese that are American electoral processes into an article of blue America faith — that will work out so well!

    The ease with which the left in Britain was subverted after the surprise of Corbyn — by cynical accusations of anti-semitism and a Brexit no one on the left understood — ought to be instructive.

    There is going to be no right-wing insurgency, at least none that isn’t a tool and a prop for the false drama of more propaganda. There will be repression, because resources to survive are being withdrawn from another fraction of the population in what has become civilization-as-a-game-of-jenga.

    And there will be no left insurgency, because most of the would-be left does not even grasp that BLM is only an exercise in brand management and guerilla marketing.

  2. KT Chong

    The Big Tech and social media have been cracking down hard on magats, Trumpanzees and Trumplicans, who are now crying and wailing that their free speech is being censored, that their First Amendment right is being abridged. Let’s not even get into the fact that Twitter, Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Amazon are private entities and can set their own terms of agreements for user engagements. Even if those corporations were “public interests” or held “public platforms”, they still could ban and censor speech in the current circumstances — because the US Supreme Court already ruled on the First Amendment for our current scenario in two landmark cases, Schenck v. United States (1919) and Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969).

    The US Supreme Court ruled in 1919 in Schenck v. US that — and this is important — speech that is DANGEROUS and false is NOT protected under the First Amendment, (as opposed to speech that is dangerous but also true, which is protected.) Schenck v. US was the landmark case the made the decision to BAN someone from shouting fire in a crowded theater. The phrase “falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic” was written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in his majority opinion: the abridgment of free speech is actually PERMISSIBLE if the speech:

    1. is FALSE and DANGEROUS.

    2. presents a “CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER”.

    So, do Trump and his magats’ behaviors and speech meet condition 1 or 2?

    In the aftermath of the Capitol riot and after seeing what the magats and Trumpanzees have done, we now have actual evidences that their behaviors and speech meet BOTH conditions.

  3. KT Chong

    The other landmark case on the First Amendment is Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969). Some had argue that it overturn Schenck v. US, while other said it clarified and qualified the earlier case. It does not matter either way for our current situation: Trump and magats’ speech is NOT protected under the First Amendment in either argument.

    In Brandenburg v. Ohio, (and I directly quote,) the Supreme Court established that speech advocating illegal conduct is protected under the First Amendment unless the speech is likely to incite “imminent lawless action.”


    The Brandenburg v. Ohio decision used a two-pronged test to evaluate speech acts. Speech can be abridged if it:

    1. is directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action


    2. is likely to incite or produce such action.

    Again, Trump’s actions and speech meet BOTH criteria.

    Oh, and BTW and FYI, you are still NOT allowed to — and may be punishable by law if you do — “falsely shout fire in a theater and cause a panic.” That has not been “overturned”. So BOTH Schenck v. US and Brandenburg v. Ohio would disqualify the speech of Trump and his magats and Trumpanzees from the First Amendment protection.

  4. KT Chong

    So the Big Tech has covered their bases for banning Trump and his magats and Trumpanzees. They must have already consulted their law firms and/or legal departments, and know they would be covered by Schenck v. US and Brandenburg v. Ohio.

    And the magats and Trumpanzees have no ground to cry and whine about the First Amendment and free speech. Don’t buy into their pleads to the left for help and pity that, “They came for communist and Jews and gypsies and — boohoo — now they are coming for us right now! You have to help us now or later they will come for you too!” (Notice the veiled and passive aggressive threat there.)

    Except magats, Trumpanzees and Trumplicans ARE the people who came for communists, Jews and minorities in the first place. They are just getting their karma right now. This is not the “coming for” phase. This seems more like the “Nazi has just lost and it’s time to round them up” phase.

  5. GlassHammer

    Survival Saturday:

    As promised here is my initial prepping post.

    Link to a useful website:

    Link to two items I bought for prepping (5 gallon food grade buckets and the lids):

    ^These are very useful for keeping bugs, mice, and other pests away from the food you are storing. You may need to place mylar bags in them depending on what is in there and be sure to periodically look inside them.

  6. Stirling S Newberry

    The elite press corps is finally admitted this is a dire result:

    Privately this gathered in whispers. (Because the blog generation is taking the reigns.)

  7. KT Chong

    In Chinese cultures, “Thirty-Six Stratagem”, is probably more important and seminal as Sun Tzu’s Art of War. However, only Sun Tzu has achieved some degree of renown in the West.

    Here is an overview of the classic and each stratagem:

    Stratagem No. 18: “擒贼先擒王”, (i.e., Chinese characters if you can’t see them;,) “defeat the enemy by capturing their chief,” keeps popping into my mind on how to deal with and end this Trump situation.

    The current right-wing insurgency is entirely focused on the Trump’s cult of personality. There is really no underlying substance to this “movement” I had once thought. Go after Trump. Get rid of Trump. Then the entire alt right will crumble and collapse, and there will not be any “long-term right-wing insurgency in America.

  8. Stirling S Newberry

    I disagree. There has always been leaders of the reactionary right. Trump merely wants to be seen as a leader as opposed to the cause being predominant. Anagnorisis is the word of the day: the novelistic moment the one realizes what your situation is.

    The Chinese 贼 has the connotation of “thieves” as in sabotage.

  9. Ché Pasa

    I believe Chong is essentially correct about how to disable the rightist insurgency. It won’t collapse on its own, nor can it ever be completely suppressed. It’s part of the US national identity. However, removing its main animator — Trump — will stop its growth and reduce its appeal to those who believe in the divinity of the Leader. The question is whether those who decide these things will actually do it this time. I have my doubts.

  10. KT Chong

    Donald Trump is a unique character. There is currently no equivalence on the left, and the right will not get another one like him again. Get rid of him, and the whole right-wing movement will fizzle out without the cult leader.

    I’d say target and get rid of that entire family as well, just to be safe.

  11. KT Chong

    “铲草除根” or “斩草不除根,春风吹又生”

    “When you cut the weeds, be sure to also get rid of the roots,” or “if you cut the weeds without getting rid of the roots, the weeds will grow back when the spring breeze blows again.”

    Need to destroy and exterminate that whole family, (i.e., not literally,) or they will create more troubles down the road.

    I don’t think any other Trump family member is able to command a cult or as dangerous as Don himself, but just to be safe, lock them all up. Find some reasons, some crimes that they have committed, or make them up. I don’t care. Jut get rid of them, and then we can deal with other problems later.

  12. Hugh

    Alex Azar, a former executive at drugmaker Eli Lilly and Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, resigned from the Administration in typical Trumpian fashion, making his resignation effective on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, the day he would have had to leave anyway. At least, he can look back with pride on how well he handled the covid vaccine distribution.

    Tomorrow the 17th big Trump fascist rallies are planned in all state capitals. If any turn violent, they could push a few more cowardly Republican Senators to back impeachment conviction.

    And there is still Trump’s pardons for crooks and traitors celebration which he will probably hold on his way out of town on the 19th and 20th.

  13. cobrakai

    @Che Pasa

    LOL You think removing Trump will stop a nasty populist right movement? Trump is irrelevant. The anger comes from legitimate grievances that neoliberalism will never satisfy. This is not rocket science. Stop commenting. You embarrass yourself everyday.

  14. Hugh

    cobrakai, your Proud Boys meeting on break? Having a legitimate grievance doesn’t mean any and every response to it is legitimate. The right is famous for its unquestioning support of the people who created the grievances they are so angry about. And the right’s idolizing a POS like Trump goes a long way to explain why the right has no credibility.

  15. Plague Species

    The anger comes from legitimate grievances that neoliberalism will never satisfy.

    I don’t think it does, or at least it doesn’t any longer. This is well beyond grievances. This is mass insanity writ large. These people are living in an alternate reality and they want that alternate reality to be THEE reality.

    Will the National Guard shoot white people? We’ll see. If they don’t, the coup, because this is ongoing, will be successful and Pat Lang will ride into D.C. on his horse when and if the smoke clears. Afterall, he is part and parcel of what has stoked these nutjobs all these live long years.

  16. Plague Species

    KT Chong is right, the head must be cut off versus wagging the tail if there is any chance of stemming the rising tide of fascism. It may not be enough, but it sure beats what’s being done now. But we know they won’t do it and that means we’re toast. My Pillow has called for Martial Law and he wants the Bidens and the Obamas and The Clintons arrested as well as Pelosi and Schumer and AOC as well as many others. If Trump did call for Martial Law, would the military answer that call and obey?

  17. KT Chong

    The NRA has declared bankruptcy and intends to reincorporate in Texas to escape financial and legal consequences:

    Another win for the left. It’s like different parts of the right are crumbling and imploding all at once.

  18. Plague Species

    KT Chong, gun nuts need not worry. Biden’s stimulus relief package no doubt includes a bailout allocation for the NRA under the aegis of covid relief. Without the NRA, Biden et al can’t look like the good guys.

    How’s unity looking so far? As if. If this is unity, and apparently it is, no thank you, I’ll skip the unity.

    You cannot unify with 75 million or more lunatics living in an alternate reality who will never listen to reason.

  19. different clue

    Some levels of government might look into Trump and/or his offspring to see if crimes were maybe committed and maybe need prosecuting.

    Part of getting rid of Trump’s power might involve a long slow campaign of attrition against his businesses. New York City has begun showing how. Sever all contracts and make no new ones with any Trump enterprises. I have read that TrumpCo stealth-owns a lot of faceless gray office building properties in NYC. If someone could reveal which ones those are, and which businesses rent space in them, a movement to boycott every business which rents space in a TrumpCo building till they break their leases or at least don’t renew them might attrit revenue streams to those buildings to the point where TrumpCo is forced to sell those buildings at pennies-on-the-benjamin to other operators. That would cut off a reliable root to TrumpCo’s baseload revenue-power source.

    Trumpies will keep patronizing Trump properties all over the world to show support. But might non-Trumpies decide to boycott all such properties ( if they are even affluent enough to have patronized those properties otherwise)? Such a movement all over the world would attrit TrumpCo’s revenue-stream-based power even further.

    Many Trump resorts are on current seacoasts. He has asked governments for permission to build seawalls, as in Ireland. I have suggested that those governments should all deny Trump permission to build seawalls around his properties to protect them from a rising sea caused by the global warming which he pretends to believe is a Chinese hoax. The governments should throw that back in his face every time he asks for permission to build a seawall. ” You helped the sea rise even higher, Trump. No seawall for you!”

    And that’s how those parts of humanity which care about these things can erase Trump from off of the map of power.

  20. Joan

    @Plague Species and others,

    I think Ian’s advice is on-point, for people to cool it and let things settle down. Think about it: Americans are armed to the teeth. If things were to really pop off in the US and destabilize, that would lead to the death of innocent bystanders so quickly. Things would go really badly very quickly. That option is definitely a worst-case scenario because things don’t get better after that, they only get worse and worse until there’s a power vacuum in the US. There are plenty of examples of this: look anywhere in recent decades where this has happened, the fracturing and then who manages to seize control in the power vacuum, then apply that scenario to the US. It would be truly terrible.

    Look, the mass hysteria in the US goes both ways. Right now it’s Trumpers, but remember for the last four years there were establishment Democrat types hallucinating about Russia rigging our election. Anyone who has access to a TV or the internet has been heavily propagandized. Americans need to stabilize themselves and insist on peace despite and in the face of such divisive propaganda.

    This is why if you are a lower-middle class Leftie in the US, you should care about working class jobs, and you should want those jobs even for people who do not agree with you politically. Again, if someone pushes something through on a local ballot that is a social issue and you’re against it- go outvote them, rally your friends. But in terms of economics, which is the source of so many grievances, the answer is simple: jobs, good jobs that allow for human decency.

  21. Willy

    Playing it cool only convinced radicals of their righteousness. It misunderestimates the power of gradual brainwashing. History has demonstrated that sometimes people really do need to fight.

    Conservatives enabled unchecked tech monopolies to grow so fantastically powerful that they can now easily afford to deny service to anybody, even if they’re wearing the proper shirt and shoes. Conservatives attacked their loyal opposition to the point where anything a conservative now speaks, writes, or types about the “satanic” opposition shall only ever be God’s Holy Truth. Should it be any surprise that conservative doctors created a cult monster for votes, and now the monster wants to eat the foolish doctors?

    A minority of conservatives are seeing the error of their ways and joining their more compassionate conservatives in the Democratic Party. Not much of a start, but there are progressives amongst the Democrats, who are still being allowed to speak freely. There are none amongst the Republicans.

    Your typical conservative voter is only now beginning to understand what “neoliberalism” actually is, who wins those games and why that is, and most importantly, that it is not “socialism”. I’d suggest we find ways to successfully educate them further.

  22. Ché Pasa

    Regarding the Insurrectionists:

    Looks like other observers have noticed that the Insurrectionists were largely petit bourgeois under the aegis of the haut bourgeois, who in turn thought they were carrying out the wishes of the faction of the Overclass led by (or whose public face has been) one DJ Trump, God-Emperor. There were certainly working class whites among the Stormers of the Capitol, but mostly, they held back or weren’t there at all. Do you have any idea how expensive DC is? Well, there you are.

    Other observers have noticed that there is practically a genetic through line among the Insurrectionists. They tend to be white, of course. Mostly male. But many are also of a certain age (40-60ish), loud, boistrous, bullies, certain of their righteousness, but not at all sure what their supposed Movement is about — except for dominance. They want — and believe they have a right — to dominate and rule the Lower Orders. Which includes most electeds. Many unhappy blond people. Oh my yes.

    If this were 17th, 18th or 19th century Britain, the ringleaders would have already rounded up and many hanged. No one would have been allowed to “just go home” from the Capitol, they all would have been detained right there in the open on the Mall. Then hustled off to one of the many military bases ringing the Capital.

    The home towns of the Insurrectionists would have been placed under martial law, the families of the ringleaders and participants detained — probably tortured — and some executed. Vast numbers of sympathizers with the Insurrection would be transported out of the country to the Empire’s various prison colonies.

    Those who aided the Insurrection from within would be imprisoned and some executed by now.

    If the Insurrection had originated in Ireland or India, there would be massacres. Many.

    But this is America. Instead, as always, after a few examples are made of the lowest ranks of Insurrectionist, the rest will be coddled and curried. It’s how we do things here.

  23. Willy

    So some are saying that Trump is looting the White House, that historic artifacts are finding their way on to his moving van. If anybody happens to be surfing eBay and sees an antique bust of Lincoln being sold by somebody called something like “Rudy Bannon” or “Steve Giuliani”, please alert the proper authorities.

  24. Willy

    Ché, sharp-eyed conservatives poring through Capitol riot videos spotted a black man amongst the Patriots.

    Suspicious that he was a lefty, they did some research and confirmed that he was indeed a lefty. They claim that this “John Sullivan” is actually a BLM antifa socialist and that he instigated everything.

    For their part, lefty sources have provided evidence that they’ve known for some time that Sullivan is an “agent provocateur”, a possibly mentally ill drifter desperate for a political family to call home.

    I’m hopeful that one of our conservative missionary trolls will reach out and help Mr. Sullivan. And please, stop calling the other dark skinned attendee, Mr. Ali Alexander, “black” or even a Sammy Davis impersonator. He’s arabic.

  25. different clue


    Here is a picture tending to show why some people would be saying that historic artifacts are finding their way into his moving van. Or maybe into random junior staffers’s moving vans.

  26. @Joan,

    I agree with you 100%.

    Have and hold principles. But do not deal in hate. Do not deal in violence. I might advocate those things if they worked: but they don’t. Take up these tools and you become the enemy you fight. Those who witness violence employed for a good cause do not think, “that cause is good”: they think “violence is the way.” And they are lost. What you do, how you treat others, is the person you become and the world you make.

    I think that both major tribes have entered false realities. We can say one is worse, that one outcome would be the more inhuman: but both are dystopian. Though these false realities are different, they are mutually reinforcing. Strengthening one side strengthens both.

    Ian speaks of enemies. Yes, there are enemies: but even they are human. Americans must anchor themselves in their shared humanity if they are to have any hope of returning to a shared world of sanity. Without that, it is not even possible to differ over policies and principles.

  27. Ché Pasa


    I’ve spotted a number of provocateurs in the videos I’ve looked through. Sullivan not so much, but there were others, easily spottable. When the accusation is that they are “antifa” or BLM, you know it’s false, for everyone knows the provocateur is the cop. Except the idiots at the Capitol didn’t seem to know anything. Most were just going along for the ride and the strokes and the adrenaline rush. And the tear gas. And the pepper spray. And the Glory!

  28. Plague Species

    Excuse me? Cool it? Cool what, exactly? What is it that I’m doing that I need to cool it? I’m here. I walk amongst these insane freaks. I live amongst them. I’m guessing you don’t and we know Ian doesn’t. They are insane and they’re living in an alternate reality and to conflate them with liberals and lefties is an injustice. They cannot be conflated and I’m not going to stand down in my criticism and calling out of these insane freaks. I’m not going to cower from them. Capitulate to them. I’m not going to acquiesce. I’m not going to allow them to terrorize me or my family.

  29. js

    If anyone strokes fires it is more likely to be our awful political parties rather than anyone here. My honeymoon, and it was barely that but more an arranged marriage, with Biden is ending way faster than I even anticipated. But those who think Trump offered them any sort of salvation don’t have legitimate grievances, as if they ever did, what were their grievances, paying taxes? They have delusions.

  30. Eric Anderson

    Look, you want to hurt the far right and it’s attendant crazies, then defund them.
    The far right are the petit bourgeoisie in this country. The local land and business owners.
    Out them. Boycott them. Take their money. Take their privilege. Sabotage them at every turn. Bankrupt them.

    There is a terrible misconception that the working class right can’t be turned left. It’s wrong. It’s the local far-right leaders who can’t be turned. Their minions can and will turn if their leaders are muzzled, because this is exactly what the far-right leaders do to the local labor force. They muzzle them w/threats of small town social stigma … “you’ll never work around here again” style.

    I live it. I see it around me all the time in my small rural red town. There is even a saying among transplants (and local who have left to get educated and returned):

    Never trust a local. “You” aren’t “them,” and they will always band together to screw the outsiders and the poors among them. You can set your watch by their predictability.

  31. S Brennan

    Great Opening Post Mr Bruce Wilder…two thumbs up.

  32. Lupita

    The storming of the Capitol is not such a big deal. Some years ago, a campesino entered the Mexican chamber of deputies on a horse while others parked their tractors at the entrance. Since they could not open the door to the chamber, they took off their sombreros and lit them up to burn down the door. People all over the world storm government buildings.


  33. @Lupita

    The horse is a colorful, comedic touch.

    Speaking of horses, part of Capitol police stand down was the lack mounted police officers, which George Webb says can do their thing quite aggressively.

  34. different clue

    Here is another piece of writing from Ran Prieur. It speaks for itself. I begin to think the best approach to the people described herein is dispassionate disengagement and self-protective distancing. Mental distancing, emotional distancing, slow and careful disentanglement and disengagement and disinvolvement-with in every way at every level.

    “This article blows my mind. The far-right propaganda machine doesn’t know what to do with Ashli Babbitt. She was the woman on the front lines inside the Capitol, who was killed by police. Obviously they should make her a martyr who will inspire others to risk their lives for the cause. Instead, and maybe the article is exaggerating how many people are this daft, but they’re saying her death was faked, or she was an agent for Antifa.

    I’m trying to puzzle out the mental gears, of which the minds in question are not consciously aware, that would make someone believe that, and I think it goes back to last week’s subject of transitive morality. There’s probably already a clinical term for this mental illness. It’s where you declare something bad, and then everything it touches is bad, and everything those things touch, until it comes around to you. So: death at protest bad, protest bad, movement bad, me bad. Or it might be: if she’s good, then police are bad, but then I agree with BLM, who are bad, so I’m bad.

    I think the actual false flag operation, is the idea that Ashli Babbitt’s death was a false flag operation. That’s how you tear a movement apart, by making people mistrust their allies. So I’m wondering, why is it so easy with these people?

    Picking up another loose end from last week, and I still don’t have an answer. When Q says “follow the Y,” players assume that people flashing Y symbols are bad, when it would actually make more sense, given the word “follow”, to think that people flashing Y symbols are good. I understand that the whole context of QAnon is paranoia. But that’s still a choice people have made, and why have they made it? When they use their left brains to pick out details, like a bird picking out seeds, why are they looking for poison, and not food?”

    Ran Prieur can be found at . . .

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