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

The Trifecta+ Which Will Make The Next 100 Years Hell

The Course of Empire by Thomas Cole

The Course of Empire by Thomas Cole

We have three major challenges all coming to peak close to each other.

Or possibly four, depending on how you define your terms.

First: the end of a sub-ideological era. Neoliberalism is on its last legs, just as New Deal liberalism was in the 70s. Ends of sub-ideologies tend to be tumultuous and it’s worse when it’s the end of a fundamentally extractive sub-ideology like neoliberalism, than it is with the end of a “building” ideology like the New Deal which worked to strengthen people, regulate companies and build vast human and inanimate infrastructure.

Neoliberalism was, fundamentally, the realization that all that build-up led to a huge looting opportunity. Get rid of the regulations, stop enforcing anti-oligopoly laws, force massive asset bubbles and those on the inside could get stinking rich.

The New Deal was a reaction to the problems created by a certain type of exploitative capitalism: a “we can’t allow this sort of abuse”, where neoliberalism was “man, abusing people, and destroying/privatizing institutions makes a lot of money.”

So, the 70s sucked, but they were nothing near as bad as the great depression and WWII.

But that’s also because the transition to neoliberalsim did not coincide with—

Second: the end of a hegemonic era. 1914 to 1945 is the end of not just British but European world hegemony. At the end WWII the USSR and US divide Europe in half, with the US controlling the Western half and the USSR the eastern. That the America glove was often velvet, did not change the fact that there was a steel gauntlet underneath (look up Gladio, as an example.)

The death tolls of WWI (21m), II(50m) and the Great Depression (uncounted), plus the anti-colonial wars, famines and the Japanese conquests(14m) and colonial wars is in excess of a 100 million. At the end of WWII, the world population was about 1.33 billion people. That’s a lot dead people and we aren’t counting all the people who were maimed, impoverished, made into refugees, raped or tortured. Nor are we counting the USSR pogroms (we probably should) or the colonial famines (we probably should.)

Hegemonic powers do not go easy into the sunset, and the more powerful they were, the harder they die.

But although there were some serious environmental problems in this era (the dust bowl, for example), the simultaneous end of the hegemonic and sub-ideological cycles which occurred in the early 20th century (which includes communism), didn’t have what we have coming—

Third: a worldwide environmental crisis which will reduce the Earth’s carrying capacity semi-permanently. At best reversal will take hundreds of years and be partial, because we aren’t going to be able to un-extinct all the species we’re killing and the depth and vibrancy of the ecological web is a huge part of Earth’s biological carrying capacity.

So, we can reasonably expect that a significantly greater proportion of the Earth’s human population will die during the upcoming period and more people will be impoverished, tortured, raped, turned into refugees and so on. It is not impossible to imagine a scenario where that didn’t happen, but it requires human social groups to act with decisiveness, wisdom, compassion and forethought which have no precedent in human history I am aware of.

These is what I’ve partially labelled in my categories as “The Age of War and Revolution” and “The Twilight of Neoliberalism”, but they are much larger than that.

Now there is also a larger cycle coming. You’ll note that I kept calling New Deal Capitalism and Neoliberalism sub-ideologies. They’re both capitalist ideologies, and the capitalist world-system has been around since the late 15th century, blossoming with the industrial revolution into a global world-system. Previous to this, contradicting the name, most world-systems didn’t cover the entire globe, but capitalism did. Even communism was part of the system (that’s an entire other article, but the USSR was not in autarchy and was forced to play the game by capitalist world rules.)

Capitalism is ending. There are a bunch of reasons (follow the prior link), but one big part of it is simply that it’s going to have been seen to have failed and be blamed by everyone for the environmental crisis (it’s not just a climate crisis, ecological collapse is at least as important). Democracy stands a chance of getting it in the neck too.

We aren’t just going to be changing sub-ideologies and swapping hegemonic powers and dealing with an enviro-collapse; we are going to be changing how we fundamentally run our societies, because it is almost certain that you can’t be capitalist and fix the environment, and in any case, again, capitalism will totally be discredited by all the deaths and catastrophes during this era.

Likewise, we are going to have to transition from the hydrocarbon era which has run since near the start of the industrial revolution because we cannot fix our environmental issues and have hydrocarbons be our primary energy source.

So, depending on whether you count the transition from capitalism to whatever, we’ve got the end of 5 eras or so. (WWI to II also saw a sub-transition in energy, from coal and steam engines to oil and internal combustion.)

This is compounded by the fact that end of sub-ideological and ideological eras always occurs with fanatically incompetent elites in charge. The classic western example is the fall of Rome, but look at the Weimar Republic, at Hoover, at Nixon/Ford/Carter and so on. The generations who created the previous system are dead or out of power and their heirs are boobs who don’t know how to repair their system. When the Lost generation, the last generation to remember the 20s, not just the great depression) died, a subset of the GI and Silent generations then destroyed the New Deal, both negatively (unable to deal with the oil shocks) and positively (Reagan/Thatcher/Friedman, etc..)

The people in charge now are radically incompetent at everything except internal power games. They are good at accumulating money and staying in charge and bad at everything else. They cannot fix any problems, at best they mitigate, and their mitigations (such as central banks printing money in response to the 2008 financial crisis) make underlying problems worse. On top of simple mechanical incompetence, they are also unimaginative: they cannot conceive of different ways of running society. Even when there are partial exceptions (Chinese leadership handling Covid semi-competently is an example) the elites can’t see their way to ending the ideology (capitalism, and yes, China is a capitalist mixed society) which is destroying the conditions for its own existence.

So this is where we are: the end of an ideological era; the end of a hegemonic era and a huge environmental crisis, all of which can’t be handled without fundamental ideological and leadership changes and which an reasonably be expected to kill billions of people while we “figure” or “fumble” it out.

Welcome to the fin de siecle. More than one. Enjoy the fruits of decadence while they still last.



You Don’t Have To Be Upset


Open Thread


  1. bruce wilder

    I have thought for a long time that a deep pessimism lies behind the inertia of American elites, who cannot imagine any shift that doesn’t more-or-less immediately collapse the status quo that makes them rich and powerful. Of course, they cannot solve any problem — they are the problem, their parasitic greed the core of every problem and they know it.

    there is delicious irony in the admonition “to be the change you seek” in such a context.

  2. GrimJim

    Great summary!

    I was just talking with my wife about how the local Golden Corral was going to be reopening, and we could once again go and pretend to be rich and decadent by eating all the food we could possibly want and more…

    And we better get in while the getting is good. Cause you never know when that chance to be decadent will be your last.

    By the same reasoning I’ve been gorging on chocolate and bananas. When it all comes tumbling down we won’t ever see those again…

  3. Willy

    The people in charge now are radically incompetent at everything except internal power games.

    Not to mention, all the trickle-down corruption which results. I’ve even been known to blame “the tranny crisis” (for our more culturally obsessed) on a common culture which states: “In a world where elites have been given ‘the liberty’ (the power) to get away with anything they want, what’s a little public crossdressing?”

    Anyways, I told peers that very same thing at my global corporation after losing my own innocence. I’d spent a couple years doing exactly what all the slogans on the walls told me to. I even got a major award for it. The boss, the bosses boss, and the bosses bosses boss presented me a fancy plaque and gift certificate. I was chuffed.

    A week later I saw the bosses bosses boss in the bathroom and looked him straight in the eye. He was oblivious. In fact, I’m pretty sure he didn’t even know who the hell I was. His mind was probably focused on some internal power game, or possibly, on how badly his organization was performing.

    My morale sunk. It didn’t help that it turned out my gift certificate qualified me to receive a useless trinket or toy. My boss noticed. To raise morale he tried another tack. At our group meeting he announced that he’d be bringing in an all-star, a tough competitor who’d show us malcontents what’s what. Look out!

    And then All-Star arrived.

    All-Star wore a suit (Instead of the anonymous khakis and polos. Or for those who’d completely given up, old jeans and a George Carlin tee shirt). He was smart. He was stern. He was built. After posting pictures of bodybuilders and conservative icons at his cubicle, he went straight to work. A machine. The rest of us spoke and acted very carefully around him.

    After a couple months of this I arrived at work to find my excited neighbor announcing that All-Star had given his notice. I went over to find out why. I found All-Star telling his gathered crowd about how ashamed he’d been about his pay, status, and prospects at that dysfunctional global corporation. He didn’t care how badly his bridge was being burned.

    I have other stories about that place. Many, many stories. But you get the point. Slogans were nothing more than a band-aid for a once-proud, now-crumbling corporate culture where everything was all about power games.

    I’m hoping that The Next Big Thing will be to severely limit “the liberty” of all elites and leadership and ideologies and their inane slogans which have proven themselves useless, which have failed to improve things for the hardworking rest of us. I’m hopeful that a better system is in store.

  4. bruce wilder

    GBS: “In moments of progress the noble succeed, because things are going their way : in moments of decadence the base succeed for the same reason ; hence the world is never without the exhilaration of contemporary success.”

    There is a certain interest — even a marvel — in the contemporary observation of how this plays out. Maybe it is the interest of the naturalist in the life of a parasite or of the medical researcher in the progress of a cancer.

    I have been impressed by the suggestion that decline follows a path down Seneca’s cliff — that while progress tends to be slowed by chance and human resistance to reason, decay tends to be accelerated by those same forces; thus a civilization’s walk up to whatever heights it may attain are comparatively slow and measured, while the fall may become a rapid tumble out of control.

    I am not sure I quite believe it entirely, but I do think most people have little insight into how their societies, business enterprises, neighborhoods, or families function and cannot contribute to steering them in one direction or another, consciously (though they may subvert them with the combination of resentments and ignorance). We depend on a few “entrepreneurs” to hypnotize us into cooperation, whether in building something or demolishing something else. In all of this we depend on the distorted remembrance of the past for a design, indeed for the slightest hint of what might work.

    Think of how many centuries the collective though dim recollection of Roman greatness guided the hubris of European statesmen. I think it is quite possible that revivifying American hegemony may divert the energies of many future Europeans and East Asians, who have fooled themselves about the poison of late-stage American hegemony.

    I am frankly horrified that the kaleidoscope of political realignment is turning right. Maybe the moment calls for it: withdrawal from the cosmopolitanism of the left and a revival of a nationalist concept of collective self-interest in the absence of any alternative having punch. The techno-optimism of the professional classes is hollow, false and there is no other shiny vision to inspire. It will take more than a single generation for controlled slide down Seneca’s cliff to be an appealing political vision, if it ever is. I forsee right-wing politicos putting forth climate engineering interventions that compound our problems and accelerate decline.

  5. capelin

    Great article, we really are living at a time of confluence. Clinging to the side of a people/knowledge/power/stupidity exponential growth curve.

    “(it’s not just a climate crisis, ecological collapse is at least as important). Democracy stands a chance of getting it in the neck too.”

    This is an absolutely key point. I would say flat out that ecological collapse/deep poisoning, and governance are way more important than straight “climate – ie temp and sea level rise – and that’s why all the fuss is about “climate”. Inter-related, of course, but one can’t solve nuthin’ with bad governance in the way, and causing half the problems to begin with; and many climate issues could be addressed or mitigated, but toxins and ecological collapse cut deep and long.

    @ bruce wilder “I am frankly horrified that the kaleidoscope of political realignment is turning right. Maybe the moment calls for it: withdrawal from the cosmopolitanism of the left and a revival of a nationalist concept of collective self-interest in the absence of any alternative having punch. The techno-optimism of the professional classes is hollow, false and there is no other shiny vision to inspire.”

    When truckers and evangelical bible thumpers have better political analysis than the educated, cowering, id-politics obsessed, let-them-drive-electric-cars faux left, then yeah, the moment totally calls for it, unfortunately.

  6. sbt42

    This is some hard-hitting shit for a Friday. Makes me not feel so bad about “checking out” of the typical 9-to-5 shtick when I had the chance. As I edge my way out of my mid-40s, I find myself striving to become a forgettable, unremarkable old man so that I can – like the sneaky Taoist – “hide my jade under my robes.”

    bruce wilder’s comment about progress and decline being influenced by the same types of forces is also poignant, and certainly believable.

  7. Astrid

    In China and Russia’s defense, it wasn’t just the lack of imagination that prevent them from acting more dramatically. Their regimes derive legitimacy from providing stability and”normalcy” from the madness that came before in the the 1970s for China and 1990s for Russia. So I wouldn’t necessarily discount their abilities to innovate when forced to. Their relative success in Covid (though the recent hard to contain flare ups in Chinese tourist spots show the dangers of opening up internationally) and SMO (not just surviving sanctions and winning against NATO, but having 80% of the world come along side despite the west’s iron gauntlet) gives confidence to make further unorthodox moves.

    China is going through some rough times, though I’m not surprised that Western MSM is not reporting and prefer the latest bank collapse or property bubble or laying flat scare. In addition to new Covid positives numbering nearly 3,000 yesterday (mainly in tourist hotspots of Xinjiang, Hainan, and Tibet), the weather extremes are almost as bad as they are in Europe (extreme flooding in a province while the nextdoor province is in extreme drought, prolonged extreme heat and drought during a critical time in main foods production areas). They seem to have lost their nerves about deflating the property bubble, again. They’re still trying to encourage people to have 3 kids when most couples seem happy with 1 or 0.

  8. Astrid

    “the educated, cowering, id-politics obsessed, let-them-drive-electric-cars faux left”

    That would be pretty much all my friends. Very nice individually, great careers, million dollar mortgages with young kids or babies on the way, so glad flyaway vacations are back! As individuals, they’re nice interesting people as long as you avoid certain topics. As a class, we all deserve what’s coming to us. The few unorthodox amongst my friends whom I can somewhat openly talk with agree that we have it coming.

  9. Willy

    The right I’m seeing worships Trump, theocratic whites, and the liberty of the powerful. They blame the left for standing in the way of “more of the same” which as the rest of us know, will only hasten the ruin for everybody else and then ultimately even their own. They manufacture lies about the left, what the left wants, how the left operates… whatever it takes to keep the left out of elite status. TINA is their game.

    Richard Wolff’s ideas lie closest to the truths I experienced as a gig economy worker, inasmuch as productivity and worker benefit goes, especially the stuff about workers having the major share in the ownership and management.

    In my travels the corporations run by short term profiteering elites performed the worst. Stock buybacks, investing in overseas supply chains, giving away core technological secrets in exchange for limited short term business opportunities… The worker-management culture was the worst in these places. Down in the trenches it was a dysfunctional political hellhole. I’m guessing that when leadership elites employ lies, cheats and tricks instead of creative solutions, the minions notice and the cultures within, top to bottom, give up on competency to become focused on gamesmanship.

    The companies run as ESOPs did the best. Grew the fastest and most. Were the most productive and profitable while also building the better future for their own. Those culture were focused far more on awarding the best producers. One downside was they could be demanding places in which to work. If you didn’t believe in working that is.

    I suspect these things scale well to Marxist and capitalist nations. When solving problems is the focus, more of the citizenry and the overall system succeeds, short and long term. When gaming the system is the focus, more people suffer. It’s the culture within the system.

  10. Joe

    Millennials have a very different cooperative take on reality the don’t suffer the greed religions well. If Boomers can install the right people into positions of power before they expire the current structure in place will be a lot harder and slower to change though change it will. Out of control forces, especially carrying capacity issues will press very hard on the PTB until something major cracks. Change is in the air.

  11. Steve Ruis

    Brilliant . . . depressing, but brilliant. We still seem to be just naked apes, unable to get out of our own ways.

  12. Mark Pontin

    Bruce Wilder: *they are the problem, their parasitic greed the core of every problem and they know it.*

    Oh, it’s more frightening that that. I’ve encountered some of these people and most of them really do believe they’re the best and brightest.

  13. different clue

    A simple-to-understand term for this that layfolk like me could understand might be . . . the Crisis Crisis. A crisis of multiple crises all force-multiplying eachothers’ effects and power. There is a crisis for every taste in crises. Those people who want to work on “something” should work on their own and eachothers’ survival first and foremost. Because if they can survive long enough and stably enough to keep surviving, then they can invest their surplus time and energy ( if any ) towards working on “something”. And every person or groupload of persons who wants/want to work on “something” should work on whatever something they care about ( and hopefully know about) the most, because that is the “something” they will do their best work on.

    And if I am working on “something”, I would hope that I have better taste and form, and more respect for others, than to demand that someone else drop their “something” and work on my “something”. If I can reach that level of taste, form and respect within myself, and I can know that I have reached it; then I will feel free to ignore anyone who tries to recruit me into service to their “something” as static if I can; and if they simply won’t leave me alone I will free to soak down their face with bear spray until they get the point and stay totally away from me.

    Perhaps if enough people work effectively and productively enough on all the right “somethings” and those “somethings” all come together to make the crisis crisis a little less worse, us can still stop them from creating the hell future which them want to create for us. And maybe us can make the future merely heckish for us instead of outright hellish for us.

    Of course, them deserve the hell future which them are engineering on purpose for us. If us’s making the future less hellish for us also makes the future less hellish for them even though they don’t deserve to escape what they create, then that is a side-effect I am prepared to live with.

  14. Carborundum

    I have a feeling the future looks much less doomful from a non-Western / non-Northern perspective.

  15. Mark Level

    Ian’s diagnosis is sadly correct, in all its gory details . . . but I will strongly disagree with one assertion, that the “end of Capitalism” is coming. I think materialist thinking, greed and selfishness are so deeply psychologically driven (via propaganda over decades) into most Westerners (broadly speaking) that they will NOT let go of worship of “the profit motive” ideology, even when it metaphorically turns into a hungry crocodile which is chewing on their lower extremities. They’ll still value the beast even as it eviscerates them– & yes, I share Bruce Wilder’s anxiety that the only political energy during this obvious collapse seems to be on the Right, on either insane deeper Austrian style/ Ayn Randian “Glibertarian” economics nonsense (look at all the morons who can’t see thru a con-man and fraud on the level of Elon Musk), or theocratic, anti-sex anxieties . . . “Leaders” like DeSantis running around blaming everyone’s ills on the very existence of out gay people, transsexuals (a tiny percentage of the population, objectively smaller than the Jews who Nazism blamed for all the rising German Reich’s ills . . . Where is the Left? In America and in Europe (evidently) there is no real left beyond some vague tolerance of others being different. (Astrid’s observation about what I would call “pod-people”, these dumb, complacent liberals who have never really directly experienced oppression in their life and can’t conceive that it exists, and their class-based role in creating and reinforcing it. And I freely admit that my origins were in this group of people, but since I threw away my class privilege card when I was 19, & worked blue-collar jobs for the next ten years, got pretty well inoculated against.) I guess the last post currently visible by Carborundum says it nicely, maybe non-Westerners will find a way out?– I’d like to have a sliver of optimism to keep functioning, & do badly want to believe that somewhere people will pull their heads out of the depths of Mammon’s backside and start to recreate a functional, one could say “human” society that isn’t just based on what you “own” (or believe you own.) The likelihood of such an event occurring anywhere in the US, however, I don’t see as likely at all. Additionally while some Millenials and post-Ms might hate capitalism as much as I do, unless Covid targets the oldsters more successfully than it has up until now, I think it’s highly unlikely that the sick “American Dream” will be wrested from the hands of the Zombies who elect the kind of corrupt kleptocrats that are currently flushing this society right down the toilet of environmental and economic collapse, joined with massive violence and ignorance.

  16. Trinity

    The energy is on the right because the DICs (demos in charge) need the right to do their dirty work, while they spout nonsense they never intend to do. That’s my take.

    Ian, this is the best ever imho. As painful as it is, it’s best to be prepared.

    One thing the Chinese and perhaps Russia have is the ability to pivot when necessary. There are perhaps other nations as well with this ability, but the US is not one of them.

  17. Ché Pasa

    “How not to get upset” followed by”We’re all doomed”. Well OK.

    Someone said on the upset thread that it seemed like we were just trying to numb ourselves to the catastrophe and horror we are and will be living through. And that’s not it at all. If anything, by following Ian’s advice, we’re able to be more attuned to the suffering all around us, including our own, and we’re (hopefully) able to exercise wisdom over what to do about it. We’re not numb at all.

    Far from it.

    These are really difficult times for a lot of people, even if — for now — some of them are still living in comfort. When I see the explosion of homelessness, largely due to the enormous increases in rent, I ache for everyone in that condition, but I know I can’t solve it. I might be able to do a little bit to alleviate some of the suffering though, and that, if I can, is what I do. That’s all any of us can do as individuals.

    And we know in our bones that the suffering is going to increase exponentially. Our rulers don’t care, at least when they’re not being gleeful about it. They think they are safe, indeed invincible and nothing can or will happen to most of them no matter what happens to the rest of us. Well OK. That simply shows their lack of wisdom and compassion.They lack those qualities, They can’t imagine that any of us do. But they are wrong.

    Do what you can with wisdom and compassion. Don’t fret about what you can’t do. And if someone asks for your help or encounter someone who you know needs help, help them any way you can. You become a Bodhisattva.

  18. Carborundum

    It would be educational to reflect on the underpinnings and enablers, projecting forward. The two most important seem to me to be demographics (virtually always given short shrift by political economists) and information technology (the fundamental enabler of the financialization movement; while ideology receives massive amounts of attention, it is only the style, the sales pitch – tech is the substance).

  19. marku52

    Excellent Ian. You’ve put together at least 10 of my disconnected thoughts and made a treatise out of them.

    I’ve long thought, for example, that 100 years from now, anyone practicing “capitalism” (defined as taking more out of the environment than putting back) will be burnt at the stake by a a horrified mob. This will be judged by a religious caste whose entire existence is based on this principal. Probably supported by a warlord. Ecologists will be in high demand, as small territories try to rebuild a productive ecology.

    Capitalism has fundamental, unsolvable issues.
    At any conceivable discount rate, there is no present value in avoiding the destruction of the planet in a hundred years. None.
    And (Piketty and Hudson) if debt grows at 4% and wealth at 2% (and even that will be impossible in the crisis years), then at the end one guy owns everything

    Capitalism has no future.

  20. StewartM

    When the Lost generation, the last generation to remember the 20s, not just the great depression) died, a subset of the GI and Silent generations then destroyed the New Deal, both negatively (unable to deal with the oil shocks) and positively (Reagan/Thatcher/Friedman, etc..)

    As a late ‘boomer, I”m glad to see you mention the responsibility of the GI and Silent generations in our predicament. I was like in my early 20s when Reagan came to power, and even the oldest boomers were in their early 30s, and none of us were at the apogee of our wealth and power when the transition was enforced. (I will admit, though, there was an active set of young college Republicans, YAFFers, and–most disturbingly–a economics grad student (who always signed his with the suffix “III” like he was royalty or something) and who just loved to write letters to the student newspaper praising and quoting French fascists like Charles Maurras. With that too, the rot goes deep; it didn’t start in 2016 with Trump.

    Interested in that democracy itself might ‘get it in the neck’. I personally would worry about this happening, because a system of government non tethered to popular will well-nigh inevitably starts governing for its own best interests, not for the body politic as a whole, no matter what the original intentions are (the analogy to Wagner’s and Tolkien’s rings is apt; even if you desire to use their power for good, it will make you into a monster). However, one of the problems I see among working-class people is, unlike Marx predicted, they have what Marxists describe as a ‘peasant’ mentality–when they’re being screwed, instead of trying to create new conditions for a better future, they demand a reversion to a halcyon (and false) past when they imagine everything was better. Even more, they don’t even seen to realize how that past they want to re-create actually operated (like Tea Partiers saying ‘taxes are too high’ when taxes back in the good ‘ole days they say they want to go back were higher, and moreover they had to do things like submit to vaccine mandates to boot).

    Why is this? Maybe because of the creation of the vast right-wing noise machine that openly and incessantly repeats lies and un-truths as fact. That was its deliberate purpose, to propagandize for the right, instead of being a truthful purveyor of news. Maybe to preserve democracy, that kind of ‘freedom of the press’ has to give–you can’t publish lies as facts. Though there is a great danger of suppressing non-orthodox opinions, which is important (maybe these could still be published if prefaced with an admission that ‘this is a minority opinion among experts’).

  21. different clue

    @Mark Level,

    The whole North American continent used to belong strictly and only to a total-coverage group of Nations based on something other than capitalism. Many of these Nations still exist in the teeth of MexAmeriCanadian efforts to exterminate their culture in order to exterminate their outlook and approach.

    But as long as they continue to exist, they offer a material-spiritual alternative method of ordering society which westermodern people might be able to defect to. Effective support for Indiandigenous National Existence rights raises the chances of keeping a better way in existence for disaffected westermodern individuals to defect to.

  22. Jorge

    “Capitalism” is too old and supple a term to be useful here. We’ve had “financialized imperialism” for 500 years, and “financialized industrialism” for 250. The use of free trade to suppress autarky is coming to an end, and a rise in autarky will accompany the fall of free-trade neoliberalism. These are two ends of a pendulum, and we are definitely seeing the pendulum start to go back from its current extreme; the same thing happened after 1918.

  23. I suppose I might quibble that there are more devils than the three or four identified in this post — but no more devils are needed to warrant the argument. What is remarkable to me is the coincidence of this post by Ian Welsh with a similarly dark post by Chris Hedges from a couple of days earlier — and no I am not suggesting anything more than a coincidence and the dark portends of that coincidence. Two thinkers I follow and admire, and in this case agree with, both espousing similar views of our dark future — an all too near future — is alarming.

  24. nobody

    It’s quaint to assume that much of anyone will survive the next hundred years.

    A mass die-off back to pre-industrial levels is the inevitable result of the combination of climate change and the collapse of effective leadership.

  25. Feral Finster

    Contemplate The Iron Law Of Oligarchy. Of course, the past 200 or so years in the West have been a time of *relative* prosperity and growth, in large part because the grip of oligarchy was loosened.

    What we are seeing now is but a reversion to the mean.

  26. Davy

    Ian, been reading your thoughts for many years. Appreciate the insights.
    It’s like watching the runaway train still miles away from the damaged track. Can Sandra bullock or Casey jones slow it down? Will it be a survivable derailment or will the cargo explode and kill everyone? Can I do anything other than read more Marcus Aurelius and take it?

    Always insights but not much cheerfulness right now.

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