The Political Wilderness

This is a great summary of politics in the world right now, from someone I highly respect. I come from a different perspective, but I find myself mostly agreeing with this voice from the political wilderness. I find it hard to even disagree with him about liberalism, my default position. All of his criticisms seem fair to me.

Symptomatic Commentary

Lately, I must admit I have felt fairly politically homeless:  moving in a way what most people would define as “right-ward” in the sense that my view of history is one is of trade-offs and tragedy.   I will be the first to admit that materially and in terms of peace things have gotten more stable in the 20th century, but in terms of outbursts of violence–when instability arrives, the technology that keeps us safe chews cities to bits.   Steven Pinker is only right if take the long view and then if you avoid black swan developments: One mistake and the same mechanism that have decreased violence while increase it dramatically.

I am deeply a-liberal in the sense that I think that Aristotle was right about about democracy and liberality, in the larger polis such Republicanism becomes impossible, but the larger polis is almost inevitable.  The shift to the nation-state and…

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5 thoughts on “The Political Wilderness

  1. I have come to the conclusion that the US has lost its capacity for self-correction and self reflection. Pretty much every single problem that has occurred over the past 30 or so years has been a result of self-inflicted problems.

    – 2008 Recession: Blind adherence to neoliberal ideology

    – Growing poverty and the decline of the middle class: See above. That and the poor response to the recession, the destruction of the US manufacturing base, and a few other ill advised decisions.

    – The Afghanistan War: A repeat of many of the mistakes of Vietnam. A failure it seems to study history too. Afghanistan is known to be a place where empires die and the US seems to have repeated many mistakes.

    – The War in Iraq: See above. That and the fact that it was for oil, which brings us to why is the US so dependent on oil? Because it has not invested in alternatives and is not looking to break automobiles from oil. Peak cheap oil is a very serious problem.

    – The BP Oil Spill: Again, oil divesting is needed. That and a lax regulatory environment combined with BP’s culture.

    – Hurricane Katrina; Poor preparation by FEMA, the Bush administration, and a few other ares.

    – The steady erosion of civil liberties: Again, a largely self-inflicted wound.

    At the end of his presidency, Eisenhower warned of a military industrial complex. It would seem that since the end of WWII, Americans have not been vigilant. Sadly, it would seem that the poorest will get hit hard the worst.

      • A few others I can think of:

        – Decline (relative) of the US education system

        – Soil erosion and other agricultural mishaps (some of which can be rightfully blamed for the current obesity epidemic, combined with a few big corporations)

        – Water shortages in certain areas

        – In ability to solve problems (ex: the recession has led to a total gridlock in the US government)

        – Cost overruns for military projects (if you ever have the chance to, read the book America’s Defense Meltdown – it’s a free PDF online)

        I’m sure the list could go on and on. The issue is that the US has demonstrated a total inability to solve these problems in anything resembling a constructive manner.

        • I’ve written about this many times over many years. I’ve discussed it with many people in many different places. Quite a few Americans understand all of this. I suspect even quite a few in mainstream politics and media understand this, even if they won’t speak about it openly and honestly.

          The frustration isn’t that we don’t know about these problems, but that we don’t know how to act or are afraid to act. The problems seem too large and any possibility of response seems too little too late. There is a some combination of cynicism and pessimism that paralyzes us on a collective level.

          We all know we are absolutely fucked. There is no way around it. Americans have successfully dealt with many difficult issues in our history, but not this time.

          • A substantial proportion of the population is indeed well informed. The problem I think is that a large proportion is not; that segment is too vulnerable to media, too suggestible, and will resist against their own interests, which they lack the intelligence to see.

            The other issue is that I suspect many don’t recognize how bad it could get. In a few decades, the US could be a third-world like configuration, with the top 1%, maybe a ~10-20% middle to upper-middle class, and a large underclass.

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