Is this what Bannon sees? A global scale generational crisis that is going to come to a head in the form of a massive struggle among civilizations? One so large and so bloody that it will leave an enduring mark on the human genome for all time? […] It might be. And here is the hard part — he could well be right.
XS, for one, welcomes our new darkness arms race.
… Here’s another way to put my concern. The percentage of global GDP which is held in relatively non-free countries, such as China, has been rising relative to the share of global GDP held in the freer countries. I suspect we are underrating the noxious effects of that development.
If freedom has become disconnected from economic competence, then classical liberalism is dead.
(The XS suspicion, however, is that Cowen’s sense of “freedom” has been so corrupted by social democracy that it’s incapable of doing the work he wants it to here.)
America’s new court prophet explains:
We live in an increasingly volatile and primal era, in which history is speeding up and liberal democracy is weakening. As Vladimir Lenin wrote, “In some decades, nothing happens; in some weeks, decades happen.” Get ready for the creative destruction of public institutions, something every society periodically requires to clear out what is obsolete, ossified and dysfunctional — and to tilt the playing field of wealth and power away from the old and back to the young. Forests need periodic fires; rivers need periodic floods. Societies, too. That’s the price we must pay for a new golden age. […] If we look at the broader rhythms of history, we have reason to be heartened, not discouraged, by these trends. Anglo-American history over the past several centuries has experienced civic crises in a fairly regular cycle, about every 80 or 90 years, or roughly the length of a long human life. This pattern reveals itself in the intervals separating the colonial Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Great Depression and World War II. Fast-forward the length of a long human life from the 1930s, and we end up where we are today.
Despite a new tilt toward isolationism, the United States could find itself at war. I certainly do not hope for war. I simply make a sobering observation: Every total war in U.S. history has occurred during a Fourth Turning, and no Fourth Turning has yet unfolded without one.
Watch the whole of modern political confusion expose itself in a micro-tremor:
Locke’s commitment both to voluntary religion and voluntary, contractual government are mutually reinforcing. Just as people join and remain in religious communities by their consent, so they enter and sustain political communities. “Men being, as has been said, by Nature all free, equal, and independent,” Locke writes in the Second Treatise, “no one can be put out of this estate and subjected to the political power of another without his own consent.” If the members of a faith community believe their church is failing to uphold its spiritual responsibilities, they have a right to leave — without fear of reprisal. Likewise for a political society: If its members believe the political authority is failing to safeguard their natural rights — their “lives, liberty, and estates” — it forfeits the right to govern.
“Likewise”? Yet one leaves a church, but replaces a government. The fall from liberty into democracy takes only a single false step. With a little more consistency, the case for Exit-based control of government would have been solidly made centuries ago (intrinsically secure against all Rousseauistic perversion). Still, it’s not too late to do that now.
Formally, this isn’t a new ‘Boldmug’ argument, but it’s stated neatly here:
Whether you choose to think about it or not, I have a very simple explanation of Anglo-American success as it relates to democracy. […] If you see democracy as a pest, like Dutch elm disease, it makes perfect sense. Dutch elm disease originates in China. Therefore, Chinese elms are resistant to Dutch elm disease. But not immune! It’s still a crippling disease in China. But the trees live. […] The result of globalization: Chinese elms dominate the world. And hybrids. An elm does not live, anywhere in the world, unless its DNA is mostly Chinese. It would be a mistake to conclude from this that Dutch elm disease is good for elm trees, and the Chinese should export it to everyone. Unless they’re just plain evil. […] All we have to observe, to show that this is the case, is to show that politics in the Anglo-American tradition (don’t forget, Marx wrote in the British Library, and his column appeared in the New York Tribune), (a) frequently causes serious damage to Anglo-American countries, and (b) always or almost always has two results in other countries: it either causes massive, traumatic disasters, or brings the country under effective Anglo-American supervision, and/or both.
This is the difference between the hard Left & hard Right: you can be a violent leftist radical and go on to live a pretty kickass life. This is especially true if you’re a leftist of the credentialed class …
(The whole article is strongly recommended, for topicality among other qualities.)
ADDED: Yeah: in 1971, you could get in a gunfight with cops, shoot a cop, be carrying a gun stolen during a different state’s double cop murder — and get out of prison in less than a year!
Amnesia has been orchestrated.
Greer’s analysis has its questionable idiosyncrasies, but at its level of maximum abstraction it’s hard to contest:
As 2017 dawns, in a great many ways, modern industrial civilization has flung itself forward into a darkness where no stars offer guidance and no echoes tell what lies ahead. I suspect that when we look back at the end of this year, the predictable unfolding of ongoing trends will have to be weighed against sudden discontinuities that nobody anywhere saw coming. We’re not discussing the end of the world, of course; we’re talking events like those that can be found repeated many times in the histories of other failing civilizations.
He systematically underestimates the contribution of unprecedented positive-feedbacks, in the opinion of this blog, but — perhaps ironically — factoring those in only strengthens the broad prognosis. It’s mostly night now.
Political economy as it ought to be done:
When business in the United States underwent a mild contraction in 1927, the Federal Reserve created more paper reserves in the hope of forestalling any possible bank reserve shortage. More disastrous, however, was the Federal Reserve’s attempt to assist Great Britain who had been losing gold to us because the Bank of England refused to allow interest rates to rise when market forces dictated (it was politically unpalatable). The reasoning of the authorities involved was as follows: if the Federal Reserve pumped excessive paper reserves into American banks, interest rates in the United States would fall to a level comparable with those in Great Britain; this would act to stop Britain’s gold loss and avoid the political embarrassment of having to raise interest rates. The “Fed” succeeded; it stopped the gold loss, but it nearly destroyed the economies of the world, in the process. The excess credit which the Fed pumped into the economy spilled over into the stock market, triggering a fantastic speculative boom. Belatedly, Federal Reserve officials attempted to sop up the excess reserves and finally succeeded in braking the boom. But it was too late: by 1929 the speculative imbalances had become so overwhelming that the attempt precipitated a sharp retrenching and a consequent demoralizing of business confidence. As a result, the American economy collapsed. Great Britain fared even worse, and rather than absorb the full consequences of her previous folly, she abandoned the gold standard completely in 1931, tearing asunder what remained of the fabric of confidence and inducing a world-wide series of bank failures. The world economies plunged into the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
With a logic reminiscent of a generation earlier, statists argued that the gold standard was largely to blame for the credit debacle which led to the Great Depression. If the gold standard had not existed, they argued, Britain’s abandonment of gold payments in 1931 would not have caused the failure of banks all over the world. (The irony was that since 1913, we had been, not on a gold standard, but on what may be termed “a mixed gold standard”; yet it is gold that took the blame.) But the opposition to the gold standard in any form — from a growing number of welfare-state advocates — was prompted by a much subtler insight: the realization that the gold standard is incompatible with chronic deficit spending (the hallmark of the welfare state). Stripped of its academic jargon, the welfare state is nothing more than a mechanism by which governments confiscate the wealth of the productive members of a society to support a wide variety of welfare schemes. A substantial part of the confiscation is effected by taxation. But the welfare statists were quick to recognize that if they wished to retain political power, the amount of taxation had to be limited and they had to resort to programs of massive deficit spending, i.e., they had to borrow money, by issuing government bonds, to finance welfare expenditures on a large scale.
The Great Depression myth is among the most disastrous ideological catastrophes in history.
The article (all good) is by a young Alan Greenspan, which is a cautionary lesson in personal degeneration.
If given the slightest opportunity, the monkeys will ruin everything:
From the Restoration in 1660, to the end of World War II, the Royal society enforced the scientific method. If you wanted respect and esteem as a scientist, you had to tell us new and interesting things, and you had to show everyone how you knew these new and interesting things from what you saw with your eyes and touched with your hands. […] After World War II, Harvard got the upper hand over the Royal Society, and you no longer have to show your work. Instead, your work must be approved by the most holy synod of mother church – in other words, must pass peer review behind closed doors. Peer Review is new. Attempts to root it in the past of science before World War II are artificial and contrived. Somehow we obtained almost all of science that matters before we had peer review, and since we have had peer review, things have started to go terribly wrong with science. Peer Review is science by social consensus, and Galileo told us that that does not work.
Wagner’s Law is a critical concept for political-philosophy. In the words of Adolph Wagner (1835–1917, as cited by Wikipedia): “The advent of modern industrial society will result in increasing political pressure for social progress and increased allowance for social consideration by industry.” It thus explains why the right has to be radical, if it isn’t to be a sad joke, because snowballing socialism is the ‘natural’ trend.
Here‘s Will Wilkinson abasing himself before it abjectly, and Arnold Kling showing considerably more spine. Also, commentary from Scott Sumner.
Nothing that falls short of a serious assault upon the real process formalized by Wagner’s Law merits the label ‘right-wing’. Conservatism, for instance, is merely decelerated leftism. Wilkinson is positively enthused by that. The Outer Right is everything that definitely isn’t.
What, then, is required to practically defy Wagner’s Law? NRx abstractly designates the project. Neocameralism goes into the details.
If XS expected the Alt-Right to break from the modern demotic meta-regime whose signature is Wagner’s Law, it would celebrate the fact. It doesn’t, sadly, expect anything of the kind. That’s why the Alt-Right isn’t ‘us’ or even — strictly speaking — a right-wing political phenomenon at all.