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

The Future Belongs To The Young, Once the Old Die

Science advances one funeral at a time – Max Planck

For years it has been clear that real change wouldn’t come until the current generation of politicians and apparatchniks died off or were forced to retire in large numbers due to age.

One of Machiavelli’s maxims was that people don’t change. They learn whatever lessons they’re going to learn, become who they are, and then act much the same no matter what happens.

What we’re seeing with Sanders’ numbers makes this clear. He’s winning 90 percent+ of the under 30 brigade. In the Scottish independence referendum, we saw that minus the pensioner brigade, Scotland would have left Great Britain. Corbyn’s supporters tilt young.

And so on.

Now, these are very young people, being led by the very old: Sanders is a true civil rights baby, someone who actually walked the walk in the early 60s. Corbyn is a largely unreconstructed British social Labour politician from the sixties.

The left is being led by the remains of the last actually socialist generation. (Hilary’s close to that age, but was a conservative “Goldwater girl,” and she acts like it.)

But the people who are flocking to those oldsters are young, young, young.

(I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write this year. If you value my writing, and want more of it, please consider donating.)

And the people who are blocking left-wing change are generally old. Remember the Reagan Democrats? The Boomers, Silents, and GIs who gave their middle finger to the Great Society so long as they could have their nice suburban homes free of of “icky” black people?

As they die, change becomes possible.

They aren’t going to change their minds at this stage in their lives, the status quo is what they know and what they want.

What goes around, comes around.  There is no end to history till we go extinct. The conservative era was never going to last forever.

What it has done is last too long–long enough to lock us into a rather nasty future. And because the conservatives have resisted any reasonable change from the left at all costs, there is a good chance some form of fascism will come to control many core countries.

This was expected. I’ve been warning for years that economic failure was setting up the conditions for fascism: You are more likely to get a Hitler or Mussolini instead of an FDR.

But, those on the inside, who are successful, don’t listen to those on the outside (like myself). They see no reason to do so, because they are “the winners” and the people on the outside are “the losers,” and why would you listen to losers?

And so, here we are. Good riddance to those who refused to deal with climate change and who presided over nearly 40 years of economic stagnation and decline.

The only problem is they have died too slowly. All humanity will pay the price.

(Caveat: You may be, and probably are, of the same age, and you’re probably a nice, good person who did not support these horrible policies. There are always some “Good Germans.”

The Hippies were great people who were right about almost everything. They also were a small minority who lost the culture wars.

So don’t take this post personally, though I know many of you will. (For the record, I think Gen-X, my generation, is pretty awful.)



Clinton and Trump Win


The Culture of Meanness


  1. Now I know how other people feel when I call them Good Germans. No wonder I lost most of my readers.

    I thought that explaining how parental authoritarianism led directly to becoming a Good German might actually work and then I gradually realized that most people prefer being Good Germans because it was freaking terrifying to be on the outside. Those bastards will kill you. They can’t exists without an authority to lead them and he’s usually a monster.

  2. Jeff Wegerson

    Trinkets. I can’t wait to get my electric car.

  3. someofparts

    “The only problem is they have died too slowly.”

    Well, this is one problem that our leaders are eager to address. I hear they’ve already made good inroads with sharp mortality upticks for the high school-educated 45-60 set.

  4. V. Arnold

    The Hippies were great people who were right about almost everything. They also were a small minority who lost the culture wars.

    Yes we did. Never had a chance actually.
    We believed in peace, love, and brown rice; totally naive to the realities of the world in which we lived. In a way, it served us right; our ignorance, innocence, and naivete’, led us to fantasy; not the stark reality of the thing ruling every aspect of our life.
    But that naive vision never left me, and guides my present hopes for the future; no matter how remote and just out of reach, at least for the collective; but not for the individual if one is willing to step into the void.
    But the crux of the problem is most will not; but rather accept the status quo and abide, as best they can…

  5. highrpm

    @soft, stay the hell away from missouri synod lutherans.

  6. dfs

    We believed in peace, love, and brown rice; totally naive to the realities of the world in which we lived. In a way, it served us right; our ignorance, innocence, and naivete’, led us to fantasy; not the stark reality of the thing ruling every aspect of our life.

    If the tide had turned in 2000 (it very nearly did) then the hippies might have been seen as a harbringer of a more level-headed 21st-century reformism spearheaded by the children of the Boomers.

    It didn’t happen, of course, but such is fate.

  7. Jib Halyard

    Sorry to rain on your parade, but you seem to have forgotten one thing: young people eventually grow up…

  8. V. Arnold

    February 22, 2016


  9. markfromireland

    @ Susan of Texas

    Re: “Good Germans” well the problem with the “Good Germans” was that they weren’t all that “good”. Von Stauffenberg’s group to give a very pertinent example of “Good Germans” wanted Germany to keep its territorial gains. They also did nothing to stop German warcrimes they also did nothing to stop the holocaust. The Allies rightly said “no dice”.

    When I see or hear some “American liberal” doing their “Good Germans” schtick I wonder – and I grant you that it’s idle wondering, whether they’re on the collusionist or the collaborationist wing of American “liberalism”.

    Off topic: Your posting Friday, February 19, 2016 re: Nordic Countries innovation and entrepreneurial rates. Two further examples:

    Denmark’s genomics based pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs. Danish food industry generally.

  10. @ markfromireland

    Of course. The question was how could good people go along with the Nazis and the answer was that they were not good people. They were authoritarian, patriarchal, militaristic, and filled with anger and resentment.

    We are all guilty of giving in to the authority. We would be forced to give up everything we have to fight back in a potentially successful manner. Do you think we don’t know we are guilty? Why do you think we watch so many save-the-world superhero movies?

    Thanks for the information. Recording lies in media is useless but I enjoy doing it anyway.

  11. EmilianoZ

    Of course our corporate masters know all this. They are way smarter and way ahead of us. That’s why they’re pushing stuff like the TPP. That’ll make politics irrelevant. When the Millennials finally take power they wont be able to change a thing without paying exorbitant compensations to them. We have been so outsmarted it’s embarrassing.

  12. Bruce Wilder

    The Sixties and Seventies, when the Boomers were coming into their own, are fascinating, because somewhere beneath the liberal spirit that labeled the developments of the time, there was a dark reaction forming, which would manifest during the 1980s as the Boomers took power. The war protesters weren’t actually learning to oppose war; they were Dick Cheney, avoiding the draft and nurturing an ambition for another American Century, this one based on lies and torture. I think of Samuel Alito at Princeton, contemptuous of the rebellion around him, authoritarian and completely unaware of what it took to let an Italian-American from a working class background get there. There was an anti-authoritarian, conservative libertarian spirit even in the Free Speech movement at Berkeley, which wasn’t just pressing to reform the communitarian state, but blindly destroy it.

    I am astonished at how the Clinton v Sanders political contest has revealed the extent of exactly what you draw attention to: the contempt of Insiders for Outsiders. The contretemps over the projections of the Massachusetts economist, Friedman, which provoke supremely arrogant dismissals from Krugman and other establishment economists is just the latest example. Sanders says, “Glass-Steagall” and that arrogant, ignorant pissant Noah Smith is dismissing his critique on the webpages of Bloomberg. Sanders says, “single-payer” and Ezra Klein is voxsplaining how much more costly it would be (as if anything could be more expensive than the corrupt system we have).

    I still expect the establishment to re-assert control in the next month or so: Trump will be shoved aside or surrounded by a kitchen cabinet of the usual suspects; Sanders will be suppressed by DNC tweaking of the numbers and the delegate allocations — Sanders will “lose” by a percentage point or two in a series of contests, and then denied a fair share of delegates. I just don’t know where that will leave U.S. politics: an election where both candidates — Trump and Clinton, I’m presuming — are despised by solid majorities, and rejected by pluralities even in their own Parties.

    The Boomers are living too long, indeed. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will finally be gone in 2017, a good ten years after they should have retired. And, the consequence is that the political system will be deeply de-legitimized, on the eve of what almost certainly will become before the end of the decade, an dire economic crisis amid an eruption of inchoate political violence.

  13. Lisa

    Susan of Texas & markfromireland

    “Of course. The question was how could good people go along with the Nazis and the answer was that they were not good people. They were authoritarian, patriarchal, militaristic, and filled with anger and resentment.”

    Yep, the only ‘good Germans’ had escaped overseas, were in the concentration camps or in very deep hiding. Those ‘good germans’ then kept their Nazi written anti-gay laws going for another 50 years.

    “1945 – Upon the liberation of Nazi concentration camps by Allied forces, those interned for homosexuality are not freed, but required to serve out the full term of their sentences under Paragraph 175”

    “In 1950, East Germany abolished Nazi amendments to Paragraph 175, whereas West Germany kept them and even had them confirmed by its Constitutional Court. ”

    ” While the old view of “militarized” masculinity may have phased out, “family-centered” masculinity was now grounded in the traditional male, and being a proper man meant being a proper father, which was believed at the time to be a role a homosexual male could not fulfill.”

    “Between 1945 and 1969, about 100,000 men were indicted and about 50,000 men sentenced to prison. ”

  14. cripes

    Old bad: young good. Friend goood, fire baaad.

    Sounds like Boris Karloff puffing his cigar in the blind man’s shack.

    I think you are a little confused how power is actually wielded.

  15. different clue

    When Ian Welsh uses the phrase “good Germans”, I think he means “resistance Germans” such as the White Rose and others. Would I be wrong?

  16. markfromireland

    Lisa with the greatest possible respect you manifestly haven’t slightest idea of how it was for gays in the DDR. Gays were savagely repressed in East Germany. Blackmail into spying for the political police, arbitary arrest, beatings, forcible castrations, forcible electro psychiatric treatment, forced to live in offenders hostels if they got out of prison or the mental institution alive and many did not.

    Also Paragraph 175 was not as you claim a Nazi written law – it was Paragraph 175 of the Prussian Code – Bismarck’s code in other words. That code was carried over into Federal Law during the Weimar years.

    The Nazi treatment of Gays was particularly horrific – no argument, from me about that. Anyone interested should read Heinz Heger’s “The Men With The Pink Triangle” (that’s the title of the English translation the original is makes for even worse reading) And it is precisely because they were such bastards that it behoves you and I and everyone else to get our facts right.

    If you’re ever over here I’ll introduce you to some elderly East German Gays who fled to Denmark, they’ll rapidly clear up any misconceptions about what it was like to be gay in the DDR – try hearing someone describe what it felt like to get just a light local anaesthetic before being castrated under the “public decency” it’s the sort of thing you don’t forget.

    NOWHERE treated gays in any sort of halfway decent manner until VERY recently. The West Germans were by no means either alone or the worst.

  17. Ian Welsh

    There were a few good Germans. They were the ones who hid Jews and so on.

    One of my best friends was a teen soldier for the Reich. I asked why he left Germany after the war, he said “because we all knew and people were pretending we hadn’t.”

    I actually consider him one of the kindest, best men I ever knew. I think I’ll kick the article I wrote on him back up top.

  18. Ian Welsh

    My father told of one of his Uncles, who was gay. He had a good life till the cops rousted him once, then his entire life was basically lost — good job gone, anathema. Died a broken man.

    It was funny, really, my Dad was anti-gay marriage, but he was seriously angry about how his Uncle had been treated, as well. People are often contradictory.

  19. Ian Welsh

    When people aged 20 to 30 are breaking over 90% for one candidate, you would be a fool not to notice it and take it into account.

  20. Texas Nate

    It’s funny how Ian points out a FACT, namely that younger voters are voting for change and they’re losing to change resistant older voters and what he gets back is a lot of defensive, fact-free nonsense.
    What I think we’re seeing is a political system that worked pretty well with a lower average life expectancy for ~200 years featuring generational political shifts every 60 years or so is having trouble dealing with seniors who stay active, voting and leading longer than previous generations and so aren’t passing the baton when the time comes.
    The fact that this is happening at the same time as a 100 year run of dramatic changes in the communications environment (from print to newsreels + radio to TV to cable TV to internet to social media) just makes it even harder to comprehend.

  21. re: V. Arnold and the hippies, hear, hear, I also one of those fools that believed and hoped for a better tomorrow, thanks for expressing what I feel/felt !!!

  22. Tony Wikrent

    I used to think that people could be taught to change. Then I read about what happened in Germany immediately after the war. All four occupying powers – USA, USSR, Britain, and France – established de-nazification programs in their zones. Not one of them succeeded. All four programs were eventually terminated, quietly, within less than three or four years after they began.

    It opened my eyes to what happened in USA during reconstruction. The Confederates lost the war, but eventually won the peace.

    Science at least advances, even if one funeral at a time. I have doubts whether economics does, however.

  23. subgenius

    @ Tony W

    Why would a mythology (economics) advance?

  24. Ben

    The elegiac tone and topic of the OP and first few comments reminds me *so much* of Vineland. Highly recommended.

  25. Steeleweed

    Not all the young are progressive, unfortunately. Some are stuck with the ignorance of their elders.
    I have great respect for what I call ‘small-c’ conservatives, the common mindset of much of rural America before the homogenization by TV & MSM. They knew what they knew and what they didn’t know; experience had taught them something about life and people; they understood the important things about life, people, society, politics.
    Big-C Conservatives are something entirely different and I never met one who wasn’t sociopathic (and I’ve met far too many over the years).
    I know well perhaps 20-25 people who identify as Libertarian – family, friends and colleagues. All of them – without exception – are ignorant as sin about history, totally incompetent with logic. Some of those Libertarians are 45-55 but a surprising number are late teens, early 20s. I only hope age brings them some wisdom. The middle-aged ones will never change, just grow more bitter over time.
    Waiting for a generation to die off delivers a very sporadic event rather than a neat and tidy passing of control to the next generation. The way things are going in the country and the world, we may not have time to wait.
    We may celebrate the Yippies good intentions and mourn their [inevitable] futility, but their efforts were not entirely lost. Some like Jerry Rubin simply abandoned the Movement, going from Yippie to Yuppie, but others created the foundation for much of value – The Whole Earth Catalog, Foxfire books, off-grid, eco-friendly living, etc. Some did indeed drop out successfully. There are a surprising number of people in this country living below the radar.

  26. Lisa

    markfromireland, fair point I only looked up Wiki for that stuff and concentrated on West Germany, thanks for the more detailed info.

    You are right nowhere treated gay or trans people well, but Germany was a stand out in Europe for a long time post WW2.

    The sad thng that pre the Nazi it, especially Berlin, was seen as a haven for gay people ecause it was more tolerant.

  27. nihil obstet

    @ Tony Wikrent

    Can you recommend a book on the efforts at deNazification? I’d be interested in that.

  28. cripes

    “It’s funny how Ian points out a FACT, namely that younger voters are voting for change”

    It’s funny how they voted for change, TWICE, with Obama and got squat.

    The Nazi’s got a plurality of the vote in the 1933 elections from people voting for CHANGE, and we all know how that worked out.

    Can we finally dispense with change as any kind of meaningful barometer of policy or governance, instead of what it is: an incoherent slogan vulnerable to exploitation by public relations trolls.

    At least you didn’t invoke the dreaded “hope.”

  29. Tony Wikrent

    nihil obstet –
    Sorry, there is no book on deNazification that I read. There was some very interesting material I read on the Web during a few hours of searching one evening.

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