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

The Current Trendline Is Full-fledged American Social Collapse

… or a full fascist turn.

Jared Diamond wrote a long book on why societies collapse.

Let me summarize his findings.

Societies collapse when elites are isolated from the consequences of their decisions as experienced by the rest of the population.

Here’s America:

Imagine that. The numbers nationally are worse. There is NO reason for the people who run America to change their Covid-19 strategy. None. Less than zero; the strategy is working brilliantly for them. Your suffering and deaths make them richer. Understand this. Understand it.

So, what does that mean?

It doesn’t mean that the US is likely to have 550K more deaths. Why not? Because the number one rule for understanding the US in the age of neoliberal greed is this:

No matter how bad you think something is in the US, it’s worse, even if you take this rule into account.

So, 550K is now the “good case scenario.” The case against it is based only on “lot of the old people have already died, and we’re better at keeping people alive now than at the start.” It’s not based on numbers of infections, which are already past the initial peak and nowhere near the top.

Then there’s those 32 percent of people who couldn’t make their housing payments in July, 22 percent of small businesses going bankrupt, etc.

So, I’ve been pounding this issue but today, looking at all this, it became utterly clear that the perceived self-interest of American elites is now so completely detached from the rest of American society and everyone else that there is no recovery without a revolution, peaceful or otherwise (and a non-peaceful revolution could trigger the collapse all by itself, while peaceful revolution is… unlikely).

Nonetheless, ordinary Americans are being pushed to the wall: broke, homeless and hungry will become normal for some number of Americans in the tens of millions. The actual economy will contract, but the rich will be richer.

Complete and absolute disconnect. This was visible in 2008, when the rich were bailed out despite being bankrupt and not just allowed, but encouraged, to set up an assembly line to steal ordinary Americans’ houses.

This is not recoverable.

It is not sustainable.

The Age of America is nearly done. Empires do not die cleanly. Russians died like flies when the USSR collapsed, and Russians were in far better shape to handle collapse than Americans are because they had garden plots and housing that wasn’t going to be taken from them.

Biden will probably win this election. He will not stop this. He will delay it somewhat, while furthering the conditions that made it happen.

Once Biden’s done, another right-wing “populist” will win the election, because the center would rather elect a fascist than even a 50s-style left-winger.

That President is likely to either turn the US full fascist or cause its collapse, or both.

When US passports start working again after Covid burns through the country, get out if you can. If you can’t, prepare as best you are able.

The time to get out or start preparing was 2008/9. But if you leave it too late, your life is on the line, or much worse.

Do not discount this, please. The numbers are staggering, but worse, those numbers are seen as good by the people who run US society. They want the displacement, because it is an opportunity for them to increase their wealth and power.

They will wind up ruling over rubble, but you will live in the rubble.

Do not discount this if you are American.

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Feeling and Acting Powerful in Catastrophic Times


Open Thread


  1. NR

    A violent revolution will not play out the way people here think. Racism has poisoned American society far too deeply for that. When those poor, put upon white working class people finally take to the streets with guns, they’re going to be shooting black people, not rich people.

  2. js

    And what are we to make of this, the billionaires are the least of it.

  3. The J

    Ian writes: \”Russians died like flies when the USSR collapsed, and Russians were in far better shape to handle collapse than Americans are because they had garden plots and housing that wasn’t going to be taken from them.\”

    Good point. I recommend reading Dmitry Orlov\’s \”Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects\” where he compares how the collapse of the USSR played out what parallels he sees with the coming American collapse. He makes some very good observations and says that Americans on average will be worse off than the Russians when their empire fell apart. He also gives some recommendations about how to best prepare for what is to come.

  4. Pollyanna

    Or as a certain Chairman would say, \”There is great chaos under the heavens; the situation is excellent.\”

    Unless you\’re on Ellen Musk\’s magical mystery rocket, no place will be untouched. But you are underestimating the Chinese. There is a chance the CCP actually grasps Marx. Haven\’t you noticed that billionaires in China have a habit of being \”demoted\” when necessary. Bill Gates is not quite as likely to suffer a similar fate.

  5. KT Chong

    Recently Krystal Ball said that a neoliberal administration will not be able to save the country, that neoliberals like Joe Biden are good at “managing the decline of America” (or something like that.)

  6. KT Chong

    Anyway, I pay attention to what is going on in China. China will likely replace America, for awhile; BUT China has already planted the seeds of its future decline and destruction.

  7. Joan

    @KT Chong, could you explain “China has already planted the seeds of its future decline and destruction”?

    My guess would be domestic environmental destruction while developing. Mass desertification, chopping down forests, maybe there is a loomed water crisis? It pushes them from a more stable stage of building alliances to needing the natural resources of those allies so much they might be willing to invade rather than negotiate.

    @Ian, can you talk about the situation in the Middle East/North Africa and whether you think it will cause another migrant crisis in Europe? It might be “out of the fry pan and into the fire” for Americans looking to get to Europe.

  8. killneoliberalism

    Biden supporters are getting a hard on.

  9. anon

    I left America in the last recession. It was a good decision for me in some ways at the time. I found my way back to the USA and have a good paying job. I have decided that my plan B would be to return abroad if I lose my good paying job during this crisis. At least I have connections there and people who will help me, either by staying with them for a little while, or get me a job at my old employer.

    It’s hard to leave behind family, a house, friends, etc. If you are young and not yet settled down with children, it will be easier to leave. I recommend for those who are willing to research job opportunities and educational programs abroad that can get you out if you lose everything (job and/or housing) in the USA. I have friends who managed to move to Asia and Europe through lateral moves in their company or applying for graduate degree programs. Once they get their masters or PhD abroad it opens doors for them to get jobs in those countries.

  10. nihil obstet

    I don’t know what $77,300,000,000 means in a collapsed society. What is it that billionaires own? Stock certificates? Bonds? So-called intellectual property? There’s no useful local wealth that they can command. Will the new advice be the same as the old advice — “Save your Confederate money, boys, the South will rise again”?

    They’re OK as long as their thugs (armed services, police, private armies) are loyal, but it’s hard to see that loyalty lasting very long. The propaganda they need to keep the people from revolting also infects the troops with some modicum of ethics.

    I’m rambling because I can’t figure out what wealth is outside of government enforcement of access to resources.

  11. Anon

    I live in Los Angeles, and if you\’re an American and you don\’t see that this whole country is about to implode you are literally asleep. It\’s so obvious that to not see it you would have to be in a form of denial that is pathological.

  12. js

    Many of the billionaires don’t actually align all that well with what’s going on now. Many of them are absolutely terrible people. And they aren’t anyone I would count on to save me. But take Jeff Bezos and he is truly terrible, and his employees won’t be protected against covid, nor get a living wage. But his rag, posts against the current Trump induced chaos everyday. Now maybe they just do that for the clicks, which seems small potatoes, or maybe they do it for the CIA. But they don’t particularly align with our current pain in any real way either is all.

  13. Cesar

    I agree that the American system will collapse, and naturally you\’d like to be outside the US when this happens, that said I\’m not so sure it will end with a bang.

    When we identify that the source of ever increasing wealth disparity is asset inflation driven by central bank accounting gimmicks; we can see what brought us to our current predicament and hopefully what will take us out of it.

    Presently the money generated via central bank balance sheet growth, and distributed to private entities isn\’t acting as credit to increase the capital stock and future productive activity of the nation. Rather it is debt, to concentrate political power and aggregate labor obligations for generations to come. This isn\’t to make a case against fiat currency, but instead of using the \”full faith and credit\” to improve the commonwealth, the present regime excludes the vast majority of the nation from participating in the productive economy (if there is any), and as Ian points out it is actively causing violence against them. While not as poetic as William Jennings Bryan, we are being crucified on a cross of debt.

    But both a well functioning or degenerate fiat currency regime requires that \”faith and credit\” to be buttressed by respected and accepted public institutions. It should be abundantly clear to most keen observers that in short order this nation will have none. What are debt obligations without an accepted legal regime to enforce them, they\’re not worth the memory their stored on.

    Ultimately more violence will be necessary to enforce them, but even the \”totalitarian\” regimes of recent memory required and worked for the complicity of their populations. Like all things American, our \”fascism\” is exceptional, it doesn\’t even hold to the lie of unity of purpose. A wise man once observed that you can, \”Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, but at least it\’s an ethos\”. So where will our nation of destitute people, with no productive capacity, find the men to wear the boots, or even make the boots necessary to step on the necks?

    That\’s not to say that our militarized police forces will not continue to commit spasms of violence, but ultimately i don\’t think there will be civil war or violent revolution. I think we\’ll see devolution and fragmentation. I hope I\’m not wrong, but I can\’t see a young man in NJ join the 538th Hoboken mortar regiment to lay siege to Richmond, or to march on Red Bank NJ. I think American\’s will see that there is nothing much left to fight for, or preserve. They\’ll repudiate the old authority with the most effective weapon they have, indifference. And with that, they will also have overturned the table on the money lenders.

  14. Dale

    Nihil has a good point. Today’s wealthy hold, for the lack of a better word, digital dollars. When everything crashes that fiat money will disappear. Or am I missing something?

    Every ounce of gold that actually exists has been oversold at least 10 times as paper gold. Same with silver. Russia, China, India and other countries have been buying every available gram of real gold for over a decade. Our government refuses to allow an independent analysis of this country’s gold reserves. Ever wonder why?

    We are the most heavily armed civilian force in the world. I think the days when the local county sheriff would run the farmers and home owners off their property are over. FDR saved capitalism and the wealthy in America. I think Bernie Sanders or someone like him will need access to power to protect the wealthy once Again. I also think the Uber rich are beginning to realize this. They won’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. If they have the brains I think they have.

  15. Mark Pontin

    nihil obstet: “I’m rambling because I can’t figure out what wealth is outside of government enforcement of access to resources.”

    That’s easy. It’s local warlordism and regional Al Capones running things.

    It *can* happen here, and arguably not only already exists in mild form in some locations in the U.S. but has quite a substantial history here — recall the ‘company towns’ of the 1890s-early 1930s, from the ‘Poisonvilles’ depicted by Dashiell Hammett depicted through to Chicago itself.

  16. StewartM

    I took Ian’s words to heart a number of years ago, and started making plans to get out. However, I couldn’t do so right away (I have people who depend on me) so I have a timeline of a few years left to ‘escape’. While I come to believe that even after the Millenials take over, that there would be no turnaround for the US in my lifetime (all my adult life, which roughly starts with Reagan, the US has been in decline) I had always thought we would be whimpering away to oblivion for another decade or so rather than ending everything with a bang.

    So all I can do is to wait out CoVID, and the associated aftershocks.

    As I have said, I think Trump’s wall will function more to keep the USians locked into the spanking new ‘shithole country’ US than to keep immigrants out. Who wants to come here now?

  17. Mark Pontin

    Dale wrote: ‘I also think the Uber rich are beginning to realize this. They won’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. If they have the brains I think they have.

    They don’t in many cases. Besides, it’s too late in the game of imperial collapse, which means that intra-elite factional competition is already too advanced for those smart enough to pull together coherently to save the system as a whole. So count on it: sometime over the next twenty year the dollar will cease to be the global reserve currency.

    After 2008, there was already anger in parts of the world at the incredible Wall Street/FIRE corruption that caused the GFC and the arrogant irresponsibility implicit in Washington’s refusal to moderate that corruption in any way — that was, forex, part of the reason that Putin’s Russia declared the U.S. “not agreement capable.”

    I don’t know the specific mechanics of how the end of dollar hegemony will play out. It might be a gradual process similar to the British pound’s loss of that status or it might be — and this is more likely — as Hemingway described the process of bankruptcy: very slowly, then all at once.

    But a U.S. that internationally is a visibly collapsing empires and at home is a shithole kleptocracy won’t retain the world’s reserve currency status. It’s too late to change that.

  18. S Brennan

    No to all of you.

    At some point, in the near future, probably after the D’s/[DeepState] secures enough overt political power in the upcoming election, they will turn off their media cacophony machine, tell everybody “happy days are here again” and then go back to governing like the assholes they’ve been since Ford left office. The political hacks will inform you that things are getting better just like it’s 2009 all over again…and almost all will fall into line.

    Maybe a little helpless whining, maybe a few pathetic promises of “holding Joe’s feet to the fire” or other such nonsense. Those who have practiced learned helplessness will attempt to perfect the art….if only BERNIE hadn’t been forced out of the race by the DNC assholes*…we’ll get ’em next time…that kinda thing.

    *who’s candidates you always vote for no matter how many times they smear your face with excrement

  19. Zachary Smith

    nihil obstet, a “stock certificate” usually means ownership in a functional company. A corporation will often have manufacturing facilities, mines, pipelines. Real Stuff. Bonds may be backed by something real, and they may not. I doubt if any Corporate Bonds are in the same class as Government Bonds. Are you aware ordinary Savings Bonds have a variety called “Series I bonds”? Or of the existence of TIPS – Treasury Inflation-Protected Security? People with these would not be in the same boat as those with ordinary Government Securities.

    I assume some Billionaires are clever and some are not. The dumber types would go down the tubes with the rest of us, but those who have been buying “Real Stuff” would be OK.

    Cutting to the chase, I believe hyperinflation is the fate planned for us. The multi-trillion COVID payout gave the super-rich even more money to buy “Real Stuff” with, and it is also the perfect excuse for money ‘unexpectedly’ becoming worthless.

    IMO the psychological reaction of US citizens would resemble that of the Germans after their post-WW1 hyperinflation. Extreme cynical bitterness, and a willingness to embrace almost anyone who can give them somebody to blame it all on. Still an opinion, but the hypothetical hyperinflation I foresee will be as well planned as the German one. It’ll be all about transferring what’s left of the “Real Stuff” to the super rich.

  20. NR

    S Brennan:

    So what’s your solution? You want us all to vote for Trump? The guy who’s incompetence has led to 130,000 dead from COVID and counting?

  21. nihil obstet

    Zachary Smith

    a “stock certificate” usually means ownership in a functional company. A corporation will often have manufacturing facilities, mines, pipelines. Real Stuff.

    Corporations used to be formed to undertake projects too large for a private group, like railroads or mines. Now they’re simply a legally privileged organization. Amazon, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Walmart, and the like do not have manufacturing facilities, mines, or pipelines. Not to mention Uber and the like. Oil and gas is the major industry, but depends on functioning economies.

    Stocks are inflated beyond their historical P/E ratios, as the assets of the rich have become less supported by real world assets.

  22. Hugh

    Is Putin “agreement capable”? Is China? What does that even mean?

    Nor is the US the only neoliberal, oligarchic kleptocracy on the planet. If the US goes, most of the rest of the planet will go right along with it. So where are you going to run to?

  23. Zachary Smith

    Stocks are inflated beyond their historical P/E ratios, as the assets of the rich have become less supported by real world assets.

    Yes, stocks are grossly overpriced. But I can imagine a viewpoint which says “so what!”. If I’ve got a pile of excess “money” in the form of “pieces of paper” or “digital markers”, what good is it to me if I can get close to Zero percent at the bank, and am concerned about even ordinary inflation. I’ve heard of money launderers buying scratch-off lottery tickets with their ill-gotten gains. In their case they’re desperately wanting “clean” money, but might not a fellow with some extra billions pay a similar steep premium for “safe” assets? If he is part of a hyperinflation scheme or even suspects there might be such a thing, holding cash is too risky.

    As far as other “real” assets, farm land is a no brainer. Farmers are going to need fuel to run their machines. Winter rolls around every year, and people are going to want to avoid freezing. They’ll sell or pawn personal belongings to have at least “some” heat. The oil and gas companies may not exactly prosper, but their value isn’t likely to go to “totally worthless” either. Ditto for food. During the German hyperinflation city people would swap extra clothing and jewelry to those who grew – or were hoarding – food. On a personal note, I have a distant ancestor who I suspect got his money by preying on famine victims. I think he bought their possessions for pennies on the dollar in exchange for small amounts of food – or hard cash to take to bloodsucking merchants. There have been times when young women swapped their “virtue” for food or heat or rent. Even worse things can happen, but I’m reluctant to discuss them on a family blog.

    BTW, I’ve heard that US governors have accused the Trumpies of running the PPE supplies in the fashion of Hunger Games. I don’t think either The Leader or Clueless Joe could be relied on to enforce any kind of humane business transactions during a disaster event.

    Obviously I’m quite pessimistic.

  24. NR

    Hugh – The people cheering for the downfall of the U.S. really have not thought through what the world is going to look like when China takes their place.

  25. krake


    Once the petro/basket dollar is good and dead, what do you see an essential commodity, like bread or milk, costing as a matter of unit price?

    What does this do to gas costs, and other supply chsin costs?

    I don’t see it playing out, er, calmly. But I live in New England, and with the exception of dairy and seasonal orchards, or berries, we are always on the precipice of being priced out of food staples.

  26. krake


    I see it the same way. I’m not sure what tools the Fed has against runaway inflation once the US no longer holds the reserve currency. We’re not Germany, which exports to offset prices, and then engineers targeted aid, and austerity, to the import nations along Atlantic and Medi coasts.

    Short of a war with Mexico, I don’t see the US taking the war-production cheat, either.

  27. S Brennan


    Your question, as stated, demonstrates that you “would vote for Joe Biden if he boiled babies and ate them for breakfast, lunch & dinner”.

    And you will vote for Biden, with his demonstrative record of racism, of neocolonial war in Syria, in Ukraine, in Af-Pak, in Libya and in Venezuela, of ever bigger transfers of wealth to the wealthiest, of unfettered off-shoring* of unconditional support for CCP rule and mass migration to diminish working class wages. And those observations of Biden’s record, unlike your unsupported hyperbolic conjecture, are facts.

    So don’t ask a question for you already have an answer for, just go vote as you always have, keep doing the same thing again and again and again…each time expecting a different result.

    * Which is the actual root cause of Covid-19

  28. Steve

    Where do you suggest we go?

  29. KT Chong

    @Joan When China falls, it will not be due to an environmental or water crisis. Actually, the Chinese government has made ecological protection a long-term goal and national policy, China has been fairly good in its “re-greening” efforts. Moreover, China controls Tibet, so China controls an abundance of fresh water — as well as much of the water supply to India and its other neighbors. China just needs to build the infrastructure to redirect water from Tibet to other regions.

    The seeds of China’s coming collapse will be its other problems and internal “contradictions”, almost of them ere China’s own doings… too many for me to discuss here or today.

    India is the one that will face severe “Day Zero” water crises, and soon. China will be able to seriously screw over India by shutting off water flowing from the Tibetan plateau into India. China’s strategic control of Tibet and its water actually gives China A LOT of power over India and other neighbors in the west and south. Which is why IMO that China, with either the communist or another government, should absolutely hold on to and never let go of Tibet. Any “Free Tibet” nonsense is a non-starter for ANY and ALL Chinese. The Tibet issue is beyond the current government. It is fundamental to the survival of China as a nation and Chinese as a people. No Tibet = no fresh water in a coming global water crisis = China will be at the mercy of hostile powers.

  30. NR

    S Brennan – Thank you for your response, because it demonstrates that your words are simply driven by anger at the fact that your boy Trump is going to lose. Of course, it would probably help if you understood that he isn’t going to lose because of Biden, but because of his own gross incompetence as a leader. If he had handled the COVID pandemic competently, like many other leaders around the world have managed to, he would be cruising to an easy re-election even in spite of all the other bad things he’s done while in office.

    But he couldn’t manage it, so he’s going to lose. Pretty simple.

    Maybe next time you should listen when people tell you that a real estate grifter isn’t the best choice to blindly follow off a cliff.

  31. Mark Pontin

    Hugh wrote: ‘Is Putin “agreement capable”? Is China? What does that even mean?’

    Yes, Putin can be agreement-capable. So can China. Even Stalin was agreement- capable for the purposes of Roosevelt and the US, and Churchill and the UK, during the war against Hitler.

    To be not literally “not-agreement-capable” — or недоговороспособны — is to be literally unable to make and then abide by an agreement. Not necessarily even because of deliberate deception as from the lack of the very ability to make a deal and abide by it.

    Some examples: the treaty that the Obama administration made with Iran that the Trump regime promptly tore up; Gaddafi’s deal to end his nuclear program, whereupon Hillary Clinton took it upon herself to pay him back by instigating a revolution in Libya that ended with him sodomized by a bayonet.

    Hugh: “Nor is the US the only neoliberal, oligarchic kleptocracy on the planet.”

    My guess is that you don’t get outside this country much. I do. This place has become visibly the worst excuse for a society in the developed world. The statistical metrics almost all demonstrate that the U.S. is at the bottom of the scale by almost every measure.

    Hugh: “If the US goes, most of the rest of the planet will go right along with it.”

    Oh, please. America the exceptional? Come on.

  32. Thomas B Golladay

    A reminder that lesser evilism is still evil. Either vote straight evil to get it over with or third party, or don’t vote, or otherwise make the hardest choice to take up arms and pray enough rise up with you.

    Ultimately, the damage is already done. The US will collapse into warlordism and will fracture. Start preparing your community to defend itself and note where the armories are and secure them first when collapse occurs.

  33. S Brennan


    It’s Friday, your shit ain’t worth my time but…

    As anybody who frequents this blog would know, I supported Tulsi Gabbard this election cycle [or as the resident DNCer [Ten Feathers] referred to her, without any proof…the Russian Spy], so that your line “your boy Trump” is either willful ignorance or, a lie. Are you an idiot, or, a liar, please tell?

    That said, in reference to Biden; [as I said about Hillary in 2016], run that [expletive deleted] and I will vote for whoever is most likely to ensure that they never take office.

  34. NR

    S Brennan,

    You are, by your own admission, a Trump supporter. You can rationalize it however you like, but that doesn’t change the fact. So the line “your boy Trump” was entirely accurate.

  35. Hugh

    Thank you, Mark Pontin, for being so open about your embrace of Chinese and especially Russian dictators. Good to know. And I guess we should have a big shout out to Germany whose complete absence of leadership has done so much to doom the EU, but it can be given a pass because of “statistical metrics.” Rah!

  36. Astrid

    Hugh. The Russians and Chinese governments, dictatorial or not, have done a far better job of caring for their citizenry and not destroying other countries than your country. AND the only places where they are be said to be brutal have been within their sphere of influence for centuries and where they have genuine security interests. They cannot afford to not hold the line there and let US trained color revolutionaries fester within their borders.

    What interest are you serving by whining about the bad Russians and Chinese in Tibet or Chechnya or Hong Kong. Do you think these places would be better off if the Americans invaded them? Or the Saudis? Israel? French and English? USians have no moral authority to speak on the brutality of anything outside their borders. If you can’t clean house within, what right have you to point an accusatory finger at others?

  37. bruce wilder


    I am also in LA and I can feel the restless energy walking a length of Melrose Ave today.

    Desperation and not the ultimately quiet kind is seeping in everywhere, everything. Lots of homeless everywhere.

    The city clings to routine. I ride an early morning bus. Really early. Like I was surprised it runs at that time at all. I am routinely one of at most two riders. On a system that charges no fares.

    The day before yesterday Microsoft caused their own flagship Outlook product to crash on millions of computers. Yesterday, Cloudfare DNS failed over a large area, due to a faulty router in Atlanta. We used to speculate about how and when the internet fails. It may be starting.

    Racism has poisoned American society far too deeply for that. When those poor, put upon white working class people finally take to the streets with guns, they’re going to be shooting black people, not rich people.

    That was the very first comment under this post. Someone believes that, or at least thinks they have some license to assert it in a gambit toward social construction of reality. That is scary.

    It is the rapid crumbling of economic structures, already underway, already stressed that seems likely to set local panics. Look at the anxiety over schools not opening. I am not someone who frequents bars, but there is a sizeable number of people who make their living or construct their social lives around them. Not always healthy maybe but choir practice can be deadly too.

  38. Hugh

    Yes, Astrid, let us take your or Mark’s double standard and set it on high. I am sure everyone will immediately see the error of their ways and adopt it. So dictators good if anti-USA and brutal only because we force them to be. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I’m sure now progressives will finally be taken seriously by . . . well probably nobody, but they should be used to that by now.

  39. Astrid

    It’s not double standard to recognize that somewhat effective and limited brutality of Russia/China is preferable to senseless and boundless brutality of the USA. Also that Americans have half a century of utter failures in every metric that matters, nobody in their right mind should listen to American opinions, on anything.

  40. Astrid

    My *progressive* PMC friends support Biden, Harris, Pelosi, and Rice. They worship Obama and the Clinton’s. They’re ready to forgive Cheney and Dubya. They’ve looked up to every neocon who ever criticized Trump. Every one of them happy to slander Bernie Bros and repeat NPR/WaPo/MSNBC/NYT unquestioningly. They’re on Team Dem against Team Trump. Why should anyone take them seriously?

    I am not a progressive. I’m a realist. I see that all humans are a malignancy. There are periods when it looked like growing our bigger brain wasn’t a completely terrible idea, but overall the trend is clear. We’ve doomed ourselves and doomed millions of innocent species to premature extinction. The only salvation is geological time and the hope that natural Earth system can rebalance for further change before it’s extinguished by the expanding sun. The only actions truly under my control is to enjoy the time and resources available to me now, to be kind to those around me, and not to forcibly bring other lives into this mess.

  41. cripes


    I too am a reluctant misanthrope, I like some people, but despise the human race as a whole.
    Louis Ferdinand Celine’s Journey to the end of night read as a teen helped me to understand.
    I love and protect animals and mourn the destruction of ancient species from bees to elephants.
    Despise the vast system of human oppression and violence on behalf of a tiny cabal of sociopaths that we call civilization.
    It’s an unspeakable horror.

    So I do what I can to minimize, defray and delay the consequences of the onrushing collapse for myself and the small circle I can reach within arms length.

    Carry on as they say.

  42. Joan

    @KT Chong, that’s very interesting, thank you for the explanation.

  43. NL

    Whether we like it or not, ‘personal liberties’ and ‘human rights’ come from the struggle of future oligarchs against the monarch. And oligarchies are no less brutal than tyranny or monarchies. We will find out that one soon.

  44. Stirling S Newberry

    This is late stage in a wave of capitalism – the leaders are a bunch of boobs. This because they inherited their position. Then they give money to … oh look shiny thing! What where we talking about? The relatively small rich make their money buy gambling – which they call “selling stock.” Then they give themselves permission to raid us the little people out of some property rights. This works, until it doesn’t ( for explanation) Basically, the winning strategy is to be a hawk – until the last dove dies. Then there is a collapse. That collapse is what we are seeing now. The hawks must profit, even if that means devstation.

    But the collapse isn’t pretty and takes a while.

  45. Scott Nance

    My son, whose job is political and social analysis at the highest level, had these thoughts:

    Interesting article. I think he’s probably wrong in the short run, but probably right in the long run, the only question being exactly how long.

    The odds of any one crisis causing a societal collapse is very close to 0%, but the odds of some crisis at some point causing a societal collapse is very close to 100%.

    I think this was the most important quote: “There is no recovery without a revolution, peaceful or otherwise (and non peaceful revolution could cause the collapse by itself, while peaceful revolution is… unlikely.)” because it shows that the system will collapse unless we have a revolution, and if we have a revolution the system will collapse, meaning that the prognosis is not very good either way.

    This was a good quote from the Welsh article: “Societies collapse when elites are isolated from the consequences of their decisions as experienced by the rest of the population.” On social issues, Rob Henderson wrote about the same phenomenon here, saying “Luxury beliefs are ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class… activism is “a way for useless people to feel important, even if the consequences of their activism are counterproductive for those they claim to be helping and damaging to the fabric of society as a whole.” Instead of investing billions of dollars into poor black communities (which would actually cost something), elites let a few more black kids into Harvard, and take Aunt Jemima off the syrup bottle (which is free).

  46. bruce wilder

    thank your son for us, Scott Nance — best comment of the thread.

  47. Ché Pasa

    Signals and triggers for insurrection are proliferating in the US, seemingly more every day. Much of it isn’t accidental. We’re being guided toward a cleavage point, a dissolution, cancellation of the United in United States. And there is a contrary movement toward greater unity within the dissolved USA. We’ll have the Stupid States ruled by warlords, contrasted with everyone else.

    Some time ago I asked how close we are to civil war. I think we’re not close at all to the US civil war of the 19th Century, nor to its precursors in Britain. An insurrection does not necessarily lead to civil war, nor does a dissolution of a nation-state, though either can. It won’t happen if there’s an intervention.

    The regime has made a critical mistake by deploying its DHS “troops” to various cities, not just Portland, to suppress rebellious protesters with both violence and seizure off the streets among other tactics. The alarm against these actions by unaccountable and unidentifiable forces is real. And it’s spread beyond the anarchists and others targeted, well beyond. The regime overstepped in DC with its actions against demonstrators in Lafayette Square and so far as I know hasn’t done that since, but it has deployed roving, rogue squads of amalgamated federalized loyalists in cities around the country supposedly to protect federal sites from the rabble. Trouble is, that’s not what they’re doing. They’re serving as a Gestapo instead. This is a threat to much more than the rabble, and the outrage we’re hearing from electeds and others about it is the sure sign that this kind of thing cannot be allowed to stand.

    And yet I’m pretty sure it will be allowed to stand. In a different form. As the summer progresses and the situation deteriorates for so many people, we’re likely to see a soft martial law imposed at first spottily and then as we get closer to Labor Day, more generally. The Trump regime is disintegrating as Trump wanders farther and farther into la-la-land and its various elements compete for prominence, but none of them show any sign of leadership ability. At the moment, the People have no leadership either.

    I’ve said before that I expect a regular military intervention at some point before the election, likely sooner rather than later. If it happens, my sense is that both the insurrections and the potential for civil war will lose a lot of energy. But it can only be temporary.

    And then what?

  48. NR


    China is literally committing genocide against the Uighurs right now, but do go on about how their brutality is “limited.”

  49. S Brennan


    What you doing about “China committing genocide against the Uighurs”?

    I’ll tell you what you’re going do, you are going to smugly vote for the same group of people that have empowered the CCP in China for the last 30 years…all the while virtue signaling your piety.

    Here’s a photo I think you’ll enjoy

    Clinton/Bush/Obama group hug…

  50. NR

    S Brennan:

    Boy, you are really, *really* mad that your boy Trump is going to lose, aren’t you? The really funny thing is that Biden is a complete joke, and Trump could have beaten him easily if he’d been even the slightest bit competent as a leader. But he’s so incompetent that he’s actually going to lose to the worst candidate the Democrats have run in decades.

    Which actually makes him an even bigger joke than Biden, come to think about it.

  51. Mark Pontin

    Astrid wrote: “I see that all humans are a malignancy. There are periods when it looked like growing our bigger brain wasn’t a completely terrible idea …. We’ve doomed ourselves ….”

    With all respect, you’re caught in many utterly contradictory conceptions and value judgments.

    To begin with, growing our bigger brain was *never* an idea. A self-replicating molecule, DNA, appeared on this planet and eventually aggregated into forms — ants, sharks, insects, birds, ourselves — in which it could walk and move around to better replicate itself. Intelligence was one evolutionary strategy that then emerged spontaneously via natural selection.

    Intelligence only became an idea once human-level intelligence emerged to generate the idea of intelligence as an idea. Now perhaps human-level intelligence is *not* in the long term a viable evolutionary strategy. See forex the position of the biologist Ernst Mayr as Mayr himself presents it —

    — or as Noam Chomsky lucidly presents it (and the rest of your concerns) here —

    Putting Mayr’s question aside, however, it’s clear that just as intelligence was never an idea till there was human-level intelligence to generate the idea of intelligence, the same is true of value judgments that human-level intelligence is necessarily a “malignancy.” Only human intelligence generates these ideas and value judgments about malignancy, and humanity being a cancer — and notions of good or evil generally — and attaches them to intelligence or anything else. They’re utterly meaningless outside the realm of human thought.

    Astrid: “We’ve doomed … millions of innocent species to premature extinction.”

    Again, ‘innocent’ is a purely human idea and value judgment. And actually a pretty ridiculous one to apply to an animal kingdom which is red in tooth and claw, and in which individuals in a species will quite naturally cannibalize other individuals of the same species.

    Werner Herzog’s value judgments about the horror and idiocy of nature are at least as valid as the ‘innocent’ illusion. You can look them up if you haven’t come across them; he’s quite funny.

    Astrid: “The only salvation is geological time and the hope that natural Earth system can rebalance for further change before it’s extinguished by the expanding sun.

    “Salvation’ and ‘hope’ and ‘natural Earth system’ are, again, all things that have *no existence whatsoever* outside the realm of human intelligence and value judgments. Yet you’re condemning human intelligence and value judgments.

    So your position is utterly self-contradictory. If you’re not going to commit suicide, what then? What is there?

    You can look around for things that are interesting. Yes, ‘interesting’ is only a value if you have intelligence to be interested *with.* Yes, ‘interesting’ — just like any notion or value judgment — only exists in the realm of human intelligence. But it’s not self-contradictory.

    And humanity and its products can start to seem quite interesting.

    For instance, the element plutonium hasn’t existed in any perceptible quantities since the early universe; humanity has recreated it and for a few million years after we become extinct it will still be around on the Earth. Nothing in nature can reach escape velocity from Earth’s gravity and enter space; but human beings have created objects that can and the Solar System is littered with our probes and satellites now. Ongoing nuclear fission has only ever occurred naturally once on Earth 1.7 billion years ago, in Oklo, Gabon, in Africa; human beings have close to 500 fission reactors running throughout the world.

    So: interesting, other value judgments aside. Furthermore, something else that humans can now do that’s interesting is design life-forms from scratch. It’s early days, relatively speaking, but certain prospects are coming into view. See forex —

    ‘Late Night, Unedited Musings on Synthesizing Secret Genomes’

    Now you can apply value judgments to this prospect like ‘horrific’ or ‘one more example of the malignancy of humankind.’ (Though note that this prospect poses the theoretical possibility of building — setting aside all the default mental short-circuits about eugenics, abominations against Nature and God, all that — a smarter humanity with no psychopaths.)

    You can argue Mayr’s argument about the long-term non-viability of human-level intelligence as an evolutionary strategy. Mayr may very well be right.

    In the meantime, whether or not intelligence is a viable long-term evolutionary strategy, the prospect is definitely interesting.

  52. S Brennan

    No NR,

    Just pointing out you’re a hypocrite…

  53. NR

    S Brennan: You are free to invent whatever fictions you need to in order to cope with your boy Trump’s impending crushing defeat, of course.

  54. different clue

    How many Americans are going to want to emigrate? A million? Millions and millions?
    50 million? Where would millions and millions of Americans go? What country or countries would take them in?

    At age 63 I am too old to think of leaving. I suspect most Americans are too anchored-in one way or another to leave. So that means most or almost all of us are going to stay here. We will either Survive In Place or Die In Place.

    SIP or DIP. That’s the choice.

    So thoughts, advice, etc. on how to survive the age of Catastrophe and Crash-Cramdown are the most useful thoughts, advice, etc. for most of us.

    For the next few years while an “internet” continues to exist, people should use it to share, give, receive, etc. information on how to SIP if possible. Ian Welsh’s blog might be as good a place as any for commenters to place and offer such information.

    Certain subject-posts would be more appropriate that others for such comments-of-advice-and-info. And of the subject-posts which would be more or most appropriate, ease-of-search would be best served by picking one or two such categories of posts to leave all the survival-relevant comments on. ” Open thread” would certainly be one. The reprinted weekly Tony Wikrent economic roundup post would be another. Courtesy would dictate waiting a few days for all potential commenters to say everything possible of specific targeted relevance to the items in the Wikrent post. After that, survival-advice-minded commenters can offer information without risking the discourtesy of thread-spamming or thread-jacking.

    And people seeking sources of survival information can know there is a predictable place to find it . . . . at the end of Open Thread comment sections and/or Tony Wikrent Economic Week in Review comment sections. That would make searching and keeping up a little easier than otherwise.

  55. different clue

    One place to find some information USED to be a blog/website called “Life After The Oil Crash” by Matt Savinar.

    But Matt Savinar finally got tired of all that and went into astrology. So he changed his blog to being about astrology. His old blog/site address was . . . But if you click it now, you will find his astrology blog, which you can read and weep.

    But! . . . BUT! . . . if that can be found on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine ( and it used to be there), then somewhere in it might still be a set of articles by Dmitri Orlov about likely plans and strategies for Americans of different age groups to survive the collapse.

    One might well want to find that site and read those articles at The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine before the Wayback Machine goes dark . . . . along with the rest of the internet.

  56. Astrid

    @ Mark: Yes, it is contradictory. I am well aware that I was embracing (or rather, surrendering to the near inevitability of) human extinction while I keep on living. I have a very good life compared to vast majority of humans and I can even enjoy it most of the time. And since my departure won’t make any difference in the grand scheme of things while causing very considerable pain to people I care about, I have no interest in an early check-out unless and until living becomes much more unpleasant.

    I understand that there’s a view that all expressed concepts, good or evil, beauty or ugliness, dullness or interestingness, exists only in the human mind. But I don’t agree with that view. There is beauty and love and exuberance in nature. Animal parents love and care for their young. Many animals mourn losses. Many animals are capable of enjoyment. When human actions extinguish these creatures and their natural environments, it is a violence whether or not its held by the human mind. Nature is not benign (though benign enough for hundreds of thousands of generations of humans to procreate, try that on Mars or Alpha Centurai), but is a space for life forms to complete their life cycles in collaboration with other life forms. Humans took that away from the megafaunas of North America and the bird life in Oceania in the past, and are now set to wipe out the remaining pockets of larger fauna in the next 50 years. That is a domination and denial against nature that humans are perpetrating now and I don’t see a chance to stop until humans are gone.

  57. Zinsky

    Any society that allows people like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, the Koch brothers and others, to accumulate and control more wealth than most countries in the world, is a sick society. Tax the wealth away and redistribute it. Yes, conservatives, that IS redistribution of wealth but it must be done because your so-called “free market” does such a poor job of equitably distributing wealth. The problem is not the lack of resources or “scarcity”. It is the gross misallocation of those resources that is the problem.

  58. different clue

    @Astrid ( and others),

    I used to be an antihumanitic self-hating antihumanite. But some interesting inputs helped me recover from this outlook.

    I was once reading about how paleoanthropologists measure the brainspace volume of human and humanoid skulls. They pour a bunch of rice into the brainspace cavity till it is full and then they pour the rice into a measuring vessel to measure its volume.

    I thought about that and then I thought about how many live cockroaches one human skull could contain. How many cockroaches would it take all clumped up together to form a ball of cockroaches the size of one human brain? If you could even get the cockroaches to clump up like that? Ten thousand at least.

    Wow! One human brain is as big as ten thousand live cockroaches! We are an interesting animal.

    Over time I came to learn that even though Africa where we evolved wasn’t ice-covered, it was still affected by the waves of icing and de-icing all through the Pleistocene. We, too, were force-evolved by the pressures of the Ice Age. We are the Irish Elk of the primates and our brain is our antlers. ( I will offer a link to images of the Irish Elk).;_ylt=AwrJ61kDMxdfVIcAgChXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyNWNiaW4yBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjI5NDRfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=irish+elk+images&fr=sfp&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tL3NlYXJjaDtfeWx0PUEwZ2VLOW5qTEJkZlNRUUFDQUJERFdWSDtfeWxjPVgxTURNVEU1Tnpnd05EZzJOd1JmY2dNeUJHWnlBd1JuY0hKcFpBTnRNbWxUUjFsM1FWSk5kVVYyU0VKcFR6aFhhRlZCQkc1ZmNuTnNkQU13Qkc1ZmMzVm5ad015Qkc5eWFXZHBiZ056WldGeVkyZ3VlV0ZvYjI4dVkyOXRCSEJ2Y3dNd0JIQnhjM1J5QXdSd2NYTjBjbXdEQkhGemRISnNBekl3QkhGMVpYSjVBMmx5YVhOb0pUSXdaV3hySlRJd2FXMWhaMlZ6QkhSZmMzUnRjQU14TlRrMU16VTFPVEEzP2ZyMj1zYi10b3Atc2VhcmNoJnA9aXJpc2grZWxrK2ltYWdlcyZmcj1zZnAmaXNjcXJ5PQ&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAK_Tu3Hc5Rbt33XZwAAt90cro10fxE_yWeCrlSJufLiwaX8v5buFUMoOhh7dNYnMLD_dwW2tMJtYYRMpUJl-2u2SelSFGIiDzCBFvJu0oSOQJjpM20_87UeU-IoPM_FQFvaqAhucQnOqNSnYMbmidetG2GsRXFAMb2aGHtLe1LeC&_guc_consent_skip=1595355940

    We are the last of the Great High-Classical Pleistocene Megafauna. ( Except for the California condor, I suppose). If we die, the Ice Age dies with us.

    When people think that human is a nasty hateful animal, they are really thinking of Civilized Industrial Man. The Amazon Indian Nations who terraformed large parts of Amazonia into a biologically nicer place than it had been before they got started were also human, for example.
    Today’s antihumanitic self-hating antihumanites sometimes forget about that.

  59. Astrid

    There are definitely pockets of relatively civil humanity. Australian Aboriginals and many North American tribes also lived pretty lightly on their landscape for tens of thousands of years. The problem is that they got mostly wiped out as soon as a more virulent human strain came along.

    If our intelligence just hurt other humans, it’s no biggie. The problem is that it hurts everything and everyone.

    And if we’re the last ice age megafauna, it’s because we killed off everything else, starting with the mammoths and giant ground sloths.

  60. ricardo2000

    As US citizens have been lying to themselves for decades, if not centuries, the logical conclusion had them electing a proudly ignorant, bare-faced liar as President. The world can no longer pretend US citizens know anything about the world, their own best interests, or the best interests of their longest allies and best friends. US citizens have put the world through 3 great recessions in 20 years, destroying decades of lower and middle class wealth. They can’t be expected to defend democracy, expand human rights, maintain an incorruptible rule of ‘law’, or manage the most important part of world’s economy.

  61. ricardo2000

    Trump is among the last acts of the US Imperium because:

    imperial decline progresses by supplanting genuine leadership and public participation with a courtier class responsible only to an oligarchy;
    citizens can’t tell trusted friend from odious enemy because the enemy looks and acts so much like the US;
    an immense military with leadership incapable of winning the smallest wars, or even retaining the allegiance of its officer class;
    the economy is used like a casino to enrich the unworthy;
    children are used to punish immigrant families fleeing US imperial cruelty in their own countries;
    the most recent generations are the worst educated since 1776 as science, schools, libraries, an independent press, and dissenting voices are crushed by corporate design;
    resurgent bigotry is aided by brutally stupid, corrupt police cruelty;
    ruthless violence is blessed by empty prayers and Hollywood blockbusters;
    smug indifference is widespread for anything that doesn’t touch their own families, or their favourite sport;
    vast numbers of citizens parade their ignorance around like they have just married a supermodel.

    These are all signs of a society about to collapse with only a minor environmental disaster needed to start the landslide, out of the ecosystem armageddon certain to come.

    Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
    This is the CONservative plan for the world: lie until no one knows what the truth might be, and then slaughter as many ‘consumers’ as necessary so that the 1%, and their religious bigot collaborators, can enact pathetic Adam+Eve fantasies.

  62. different clue


    I gather you must be one of our foreign friends.

    All I can say is . . . . thank you so much for sending over your best and brightest to get the party started, eh?

  63. Trinity

    different clue … you just proved Ricardo’s point.

  64. different clue


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