The Unmasked Face of Our Society

My views on many things have been shifting lately. Recent events and interactions have forced me to rethink some assumptions and conclusions. One relevant issue is lesser evilism. It seems to me now that this misses the point. In thinking about supporters of Hillary Clinton, I offered a different view:

“What if we take at face value how people vote? Maybe they aren’t voting for a lesser evil. Maybe it is no mere unintended side effect the harm done by the politicians who represent them. Maybe, just maybe voters really do get exactly what they want.”

I’m starting to think the same thing about Trump supporters. Maybe it isn’t really about a mere protest vote. It’s possible they actually like Trump as a person and what he stands for.

Some people like that he is a plutocrat, a supposedly successful businessman. They see the business world as a meritocracy and that the country should be run like a business. As such, Trump has proven himself worthy of power. In a strange way, some people see him as something like an enlightened aristocrat (related to Plato’s philosopher king) who is independently wealthy and so can do what needs to be done. It’s sort of a hope for a modern noblessse oblige.

There is a historical basis for this worldview. Some of the American founders, of course, were slaveholding aristocrats and they liked to envision themselves as a noble vanguard for a new kind of ruling elite, an enlightened aristocracy. The idea was that being independently wealthy would make them politically independent. They would be above it all.

Few of the early ruling elite ever were independently wealthy. Their lifestyle was dependent on the profits made from their plantations and such. Quite a few were even in debt. But that isn’t the case for Trump, as long as you ignore all the times he declared bankruptcy.

It didn’t originally occur to me that Trump was anything more than the spokesperson for blind outrage against the system. I assumed even his followers didn’t take him seriously, as the majority of them don’t seem to mind that he sometimes promotes policies they don’t like (e.g., universal healthcare). I really thought it was just a protest vote in an a campaign season filled with so many horrible candidates.

I’m beginning to think there is more going on, similar to those in the Clinton camp. What helped me to see this other view is a person I know who claims to be a libertarian. But I’ve never been clear about his actual ideology. One of his favorite shows is Star Trek: The Next Generation*, a show that portrays a communist utopia.

I noticed that he was supporting Trump. But, knowing he is smart and educated, I took it as a protest vote. This guy shattered my assumptions by making a case for enlightened plutocracy, with the implication being that Trump will be an enlightened plutocrat. To his mind, libertarian values must be protected from the dirty masses by a ruling elite. He hates democracy and understandably sees it as a failure. Trump is the man for the job. He won’t let democracy get in his way.

I don’t see how a ruling elite ruling over a disenfranchised public is libertarian in any possible interpretation. Then again, I don’t see how Clinton’s neoconservatism and neoliberalism has anything to do with with progressive liberalism. This is the strange way ideology operates in some people’s minds. It’s not about principled consistency. Many people just want their side to win, however they they perceive their group identity. Such things aren’t ever fully conscious and rational.

I’m becoming convinced that lesser evilism can’t explain what is going on. Many people who support Hillary Clinton and Trump do so because they represent precisely what they want. In both cases, it’s a worldview of power and defense of the system, even though different visions of power and of the system.

This was more hidden in the past. But conflict has forced issues to the surface like pus oozing from a wound. We are seeing the unmasked face of our society. And it ain’t pretty.

* * *

*This gives me a hint why someone like this ‘libertarian’ guy would like Star Trek: The Next Generation. The perspective on that society for the show is a semi-military ship that explores and patrols the galaxy. The captain of the ship, Jean-Luc Picard, is essentially a wise and benevolent patriarch.

The viewer rarely sees any outward signs of political democracy such as elections, although the society is a social democracy and a massive welfare state. The only aspect of democracy is the rule of law and judicial process where people are given the opportunity to defend themselves against charges. But one never sees any full-fledged example of democracy.

So, at least on the ship, it is mostly a utopia of a ruling elite and a clear social hierarchy. It’s vaguely libertarian in that people have basic protected civil liberties.

51 thoughts on “The Unmasked Face of Our Society

  1. Benjamin,
    First of all, we live in an entertainment society, the inevitable extension of a consumer society. Presidential campaigns themselves have become a form of entertainment, as we have witnessed in stark relief this past year. Donald Trump understands this and is taking advantage of his long career in public entertainment to leverage a political bid. Consumers of entertainment — i.e. spectators, voyeurs — engage in projection, trying to see something of themselves in the entertainers they admire. Instead of the Athenian model of a citizenry interested in political issues, the faux democracy we have in America engages most citizens in this sort of psychological identification. At least that’s how I see it.
    Secondly, as has been pointed out by various scholars, many Americans have authoritarian personalities. They admire strong leaders and are drawn to them, regardless of their actual policies. This is one reason why Trump can shift from one position to another, sometimes even contradicting himself, and yet lose no support in doing so.
    A good scholarly discussion of this topic, published seven years ago by Cambridge University Press, is Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics, by Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler. Henry Giroux has written extensively about it as well.

    • Good comment! It is helpful to keep in mind both the issues of entertainment and authoritarianism. The two are closely related. I have read that book by Hetherington and Weiler. I might have quoted from it before in some posts. There was a period there where I was studying authoritarianism. I’m not sure I’ve ever ready anything by Giroux, though. I’ll check him out.

    • Authoritarianism is why ideological and party labels are often so irrelevant. It’s not the label of your group that matters. What matters is the group itself and the fact that you identify with it. Authoritarians are masters of lockstep groupthink.

  2. I’m surprised you criticize (my impression) allies in your disdain (for lack of a better word) for our “system”. Many of us come to a conclusion from a different path than others who agree with that conclusion. So why should the 2016 election be any different?
    A government can’t be run exactly like a business but certainly a more businesslike approach to efficiency, economic operation, accountability and the cessation of things that don’t work might beneficial.
    Individual responsibility is gradually slipping away as a cornerstone of American values because our government, possibly unintentionally, discourages it. Thus, we gradually become comfortable with others making decisions for us.
    This leads to a desire for a strong leader to make be in charge of decision-making. Soon, our old notion of democracy fades because that democracy requires a level of responsibility in civic life more and more of us choose not to accept.

    When traveling in the USSR in 1964, I learned that “freedom” has different definitions. We tend to define freedom as freedom of choice. In the USSR, people on the street told me that democracy did not offer freedom because you had to worry about making decisions. What if you made the wrong decision? Better to leave that up to the country’s leaders. So they defined true freedom a freedom from worry. Authoritarianism right and left and some aspects of socialism provide that kind of freedom.

    I agree. Your friend is not now or never really was a Libertarian.
    A columnist (whose name I forget) wrote a few weeks ago that Trump supporters (and possibly Trump as well) have no idea how he plans to do what he claims he will do and most Sanders supporters have no idea what Socialism is.

    As you mercilessly pointed out in my many of my past posts, I have no citations here save for my own experience and observations. Since you don’t have your usual plethora of references this time around, I thought I might get away without any this time as well.

    • I’m not sure I get the point you’re getting at.

      It’s not as if I’m exactly looking for allies in this campaign season. I don’t have any faith in the rigged electoral process. But neither am I against allies. It’s simply irrelevant in the present situation, unless we are talking about allies for revolution. The system likely isn’t going to be fixed. And it probably doesn’t matter who is elected.

      Still, I’ve been extremely sympathetic toward those who feel outrage. I’ve bent over backwards on numerous occasions to be understanding toward Trump supporters, far more understanding than I’ve been to Clinton supporters that is for sure. For those who see Trump as a protest vote, I get why people see it that way. Besides, Trump is a symptom, not the disease. And the average American is simply reacting to a situation they didn’t create and that they have no control over.

      Sympathy or not, it won’t stop me from pointing out uncomfortable truths. If someone can’t be an ally with me in truth, then they aren’t really an ally. Everything must begin with truth. We Americans have avoided uncomfortable truths for too long and we’ve allowed things to get bad. Outrage at this point is a little bit too late, but better late than never.

      • My point is that you frequently condemn the “system” and now you seem to be unhappy that some folks with whom you to disagree condemn the “system” as well. What system do you propose to replace the current system?

        Michael Harrington’s book “Socialism” explains socialism in such a way that one wonders why anyone would ever consider any other system. But then he asks if socialism is so perfect, why has it failed everywhere except in small, homogeneous groups and societies. Answer: It wasn’t done right. I suggest problems with capitalism occur because it isn’t done right. And problems with communism occur because it isn’t done right. In other words, humans don’t execute such things very well. A problem with so many political arguments is that theory usually is compared with practice. Theory will always win such arguments because theory is pure while practice is messed up.

        Humans are flawed creatures. We screw up a lot. I think a major issue is that many of us find it difficult to accept that fact. So we condemn the system rather than the players. Expecting perfection in all things is a sure way to drive yourself nuts. One of my doctors once said, “Perfection is the enemy of good.”i

        • “now you seem to be unhappy that some folks with whom you to disagree condemn the “system” as well.”

          I’ve never been unhappy about anyone who condemns the system. But many people condemn the system for many reasons. It would be ridiculous for me to agree with all of them. Am I supposed to agree with the theocrat who condemns our system simply because we both condemn it? If someone was voting for a theocrat, I’d probably point that out as an issue of disagreement.

          “What system do you propose to replace the current system?”

          Functioning democracy. Not just superficial political democracy that is found even in banana republics. Also social democracy and economic democracy. Basically, a genuinely free society.

          “In other words, humans don’t execute such things very well. A problem with so many political arguments is that theory usually is compared with practice. Theory will always win such arguments because theory is pure while practice is messed up.”

          I agree. I’m not a utopian. Fortunately, there are examples of fairly well functioning democracies in the world. The Nordic countries aren’t failures. There not perfect either, but they demonstrate functioning democracy can be implemented in practice.

          “Humans are flawed creatures. We screw up a lot. I think a major issue is that many of us find it difficult to accept that fact. So we condemn the system rather than the players. Expecting perfection in all things is a sure way to drive yourself nuts. One of my doctors once said, “Perfection is the enemy of good.””

          That misses the point. Humans are filled with both flaws and potential. All of civilization demonstrates the vast potential of humanity. It’s not that humans aren’t capable of democracy. But requires particular conditions to function well. That is an important thing to know, assuming one wants democracy.

  3. I don’t think that most Sanders voters are like that. If Clinton wins, don’t expect them to defect over in many cases. Or if they do it will be holding their noses at best.

    The reality is that it Sanders loses, the next left wing candidate will be able to rally his base in the next election, provided they are authentic. Obama fooled a lot of people on the left. Now people are not as blind.

    The big issue is what to do about the existing entrenched power structure.

    • I think it’s good that our society has been unmasked. All of this was true in the past, but it was harder to recognize. Without a strong reform candidate like Sanders, voters had plausible deniability for not voting for a strong reform candidate. This campaign season, though, demonstrates which people are actually serious about reform and serious about democracy. This brings everything out into the open where hopefully sunlight can be an effective disinfectant.

    • It has been very interesting seeing which media sources are actually for reform and which endorse the status quo. An example of a pseudo left leaning source is the Daily Kos, which has a very pro-Clinton and anti-Sanders bias in its coverage.

      • I learned to be wary of mainstream media long ago. And I learned to be discerning of media in general. I don’t place my trust easily in any given source. My trust has to be earned. And that is hard to do, as I’ve grown more cynical and skeptical. But it appears I wasn’t cynical enough in the past. I never expected such concerted media bias against a candidate, specifically a candidate who is the most popular and trusted and most in line with majority public opinion. This campaign season has been educational for me, in a number of ways.

  4. The media’s desire to keep the status quo has reached Orwellian proportions.

    I think that from the very beginning they were not going to give Sanders any fair chance and sought to sabotage his chances of winning. I was not surprised by that.

    What is surprising to me (and disappointing) is the percentage of the Democratic base that went along with it. No wonder the US is in such an appalling state. So many will defend the status quo.

    • I’m totally with you on that last point. I’m also surprised and disappointed. It was another area where I turned out not to be cynical enough.

      I knew that ‘liberals’ only ever do the right thing when conditions are perfect and the right choice is put in front of them where it can’t be missed. But I never thought that ‘liberals’ would embrace willful ignorance and groupthink talking points with such singleminded determination, specifically to avoid doing the right thing.

      I’ve come to realize that ‘liberals’ just want to be told nice-sounding stories and it’s irrelevant if its true or a lie. All they ultimately want is a compelling narrative and plausible deniability to help them sleep at night.

      That is a depressing conclusion to come to. I would never have been this cynical before this campaign season.

  5. I think that a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters are going to walk away really cynical. This is going to affect Generation Y’s ability to relate to the Democratic Party for decades.

    Whether Clinton wants to admit it or not, she desperately needs the votes of the people she is contemptuously calling “Bernie Bros” or whatever other names she wants to paint them as. Trump, like it or hate it does rally his base and they are voting for hope.

    Clinton’s base is divided at best, with half holding their noses. I hope that many will vote Green and unleash a viable third party, which is desperately needed.

  6. The other thing that I should note is that the Democrats are doing everything they can to alienate Generation Y.

    • It does seem that way. That is a stupid thing to do. It’s the major advantage they’ve had over Republicans. The GOP has had a generational divide for a while, but that wasn’t the case for Democrats. The divide in the Democratic party has been class, which isn’t found in the GOP. The only hope the Democratic establishment has right now is that the GOP might destroy itself or become so disconnected from most Americans as to be impotent.

  7. The opposite is happening at the state level.

    The GOP has made huge gains in state legislatures:

    Nor should we assume that Clinton has the presidency a certainty:

    Forget about the GOP imploding for a moment. They have managed to split the Democratic Party right into two. The factions are those who see Clinton for what she is, a corporate candidate, and those who cannot, or perhaps will not.

    Clinton may win, but it won’t be because she is beloved.

    • We don’t have a functioning democracy. It’s hard to know what any of it means. No matter which party temporarily gains in certain elections, the bipartisan establishment itself never changes. If the American public wasn’t being disenfranchised and demoralized, along with voter suppression, the political left would dominate this country and even the Democrats would be considered too far right to win elections.

  8. Nope, we do not have true democracy.

    What the US is actually, is a plutocracy pretending to be a democratic society. There are still lots of people who are buying the myth. Probably a lot of Clinton supporters think that the party line is fair and good. If Clinton loses, they are going to be trying to scapegoat the Sanders base.

    Never mind the amount of dirty laundry that Clinton actually will bring to the table. She is a real world version of the popular TV show, House of Cards.

    • I wonder if the person who wrote that wanted to make a sad comparison of the state of American politics today. If it were not so tragic, it would indeed be a satire.

      • I read some articles about the show and the guy who came up with the idea for it. He sounds like he is cynical to the extreme and based it on his experience of politics. If I remember correctly, I think he might be a right-wing libertarian who assumes all government is corrupt and will fail.

  9. One thing I have always found fascinating is that many of government’s failures are actual private sector failures if you think about it.

    It is much more expedient to bribe a politician than to say, compete in markets. The return on investment is far better.

    It is a rather perverse incentive, but that is how things have gone down in the economy.

    • That is because ‘private’ and ‘public’ are fictions. We can argue about whether or not their useful fictions, but that is another issue. Corporations are entities of the government, by law. A corporate charter is given by a government.

      Early Americans understood this and for this reason carefully limited the power of corporations, such as not allowing them to be involved in politics or else lose their corporate charter. A corporate charter gives an organization certain rights and protections given by the government, and the original assumption was that the government only does this because the organization directly serves the public good.

      Over the past century or so, corporations have become conflated with private businesses. It’s been forgotten that a corporation is a public entity designed to serve a specific purpose of public good. Treating a public entity as a private business inevitably leads to failure of the government itself, for the public good gets sacrificed. A government that no longer primarily serves the public good will lead to problems.

  10. The big problem is when the interests that run society run it in a manner for their own interests at the expense of society, versus in the interests of society.

    At least there used to be some sense of noblesse oblige. It was far from perfect (minorities especially got the shaft), but at least there was a convergence of wealth for a time.

    Today there is not that sense. Instead there is a egotistical sense amongst the rich that their wealth is a sign of their moral superiority.

  11. I suspect that this is the real reason why the police are being militarized.

    Someday people will wake up and the plutocrats don’t want that. They will be used against the people like in an authoritarian police state.

  12. We are long past the point where this can be dismissed as a conspiracy theory. The police are being militarized I think for a reason.

    I think that many right wing whites naively believe that supporting the militarization of the police will be good for them because it will keep “those people” (read: minorities) down. In reality, it will be used against them as well … soon.

    It’s like the middle class workers who supported outsourcing at first … now it has haunted them as well.

    • I’ve thought that all major governments are preparing for all kinds of things.

      Across the world, many things likely will happen in the coming years and decades: civil wars, revolutions, world war(s), climate change catastrophe, refugee crises, economic depression, ever more and greater terrorism, maybe a plague, or who knows what. Everything is unstable—politically, economically, and environmentally.

      A few governments have spoken openly about this kind of thing. The Pentagon has warned about climate change. China supposedly has been building vast tunnel systems and accumulating the materials to rebuild infrastructure, but they aren’t the kind of government to state anything publicly.

      Growing police militarization is just one tiny piece. The military itself in the US has grown. The US spends more money on it now than did the Reagan administration in outspending the Soviets. There are probably secret bases all over the world and a few in space.

      If for example a world war hits, all of a sudden the public will see new kinds of weapons never before seen. It won’t be like any previous war.

  13. Clinton I think will make this whole thing worse.

    There is one benefit. I think that she will alienate all but her most passionate supporters pretty quickly when she assumes office … and she doesn’t have the goodwill Obama had in 2008.

    • Probably so. I doubt even most of those lesser evil voters are going to feel overly inspired to defend her and come up with endless rationalizations.

      People are going to tire of her before long. Then frustration and anger will set in. Many will show their irritation for feeling like they had been manipulated into voting for her. The futility of the political system will become undeniable. She is not going to be a popular president, not even among Democrats.

      All that she has going for her is that she isn’t Trump. But the fear of Trump will disappear the moment she is elected. Blaming Trump and scapegoating his supporters can only go so far. It’s not ultimately satisfying when one ends up with a president like Clinton at a time like these when most Americans are bone-tired of the status quo.

      Democrats aren’t going to come out of this looking good. Winning this election could be the worse thing that could happen for them.

  14. Here is one article on changes. I was somewhat pleasantly surprised by teh comments actually, and on this website too.

    American Conservative is interesting site in that it is not “mainstream conservative” but ti almost seems to have a conscious effort not to be alt right, as well.

    I am someone who tries to keep open mind and listen to others, but due to history and background, it IS really hard to listen to some views like this, you know?

    • I like the American Conservative. I occasionally read articles at that site. It’s pretty good, useful for another perspective. I haven’t looked at that article yet, but I’m sure it won’t resonate with me. So many of the criticisms of diversity are ahistorical and don’t acknowledge the long history of diversity in the United States and Britain.

  15. Do you ever wonder if a lot of world leaders aren’t really the world leaders but puppets? That the authorities in power aren’t truly the politicians?

    • That is a thought that occurs to me. For all my complaints about Hillary Clinton, I think it’s more likely that she is one of the many faces of power. I doubt she is the ultimate source of power. She can be successful in her political career as long as she plays by the rules and is useful to the puppet masters. It is hard to not wonder about all that happens behind the scenes, a lot more than we’ll ever see.

  16. The real danger is in 2020 is if a more disciplined demagogue gets into power because people will be disillusioned with Clinton.

    The best case scenario is if another Bernie can beat a Clinton in a 2020 primary. That is very unlikely because the DNC will never allow a primary against Clinton and will rig the primary if there was against a progressive.

    • That seems like the eventual fate and ultimate conclusion of this political system. How could it not lead to ever more disciplined demagogues? It’s a training field for demagogues to hone their skills and to learn from the demagogues who came before them.

      Plus, there is a link between demagogues and oligarchs like the Clinton and bush dynasties. It’s a mutual reinforcement, a lockstep march toward a particular future that takes ever more clear form.

      A radical visionary and moral leader could intervene in the system and save it from itself. But that seems so improbable as to be a naive hope. Still, it is theoretically possible.

    • Some good may come out of it. A large proportion of Generation Y has been exposed to the extent of the corruption in the Democratic Party.

      If it could be turned into Green Party or another alternative party support, it might be a good first step.

      • There are many steps along the way. But it’s not clear how far we are and exactly what path we’re on.

        It doesn’t seem like we’re in a situation like such movements as that of Civil Rights and Populism, both of which forced one or both of the main parties to commit to progressive policies, keeping the two party system intact. It could be more like the rise of the Republican Party to become a new main party, but that involved rising conflict and then a civil war. Similarly, we could be like those protest movements and the public outrage that accompanied them that developed in the decades prior to the American Revolution (or else like the populist and reformist demands that led to the English Civil War, the American Revolution in some ways being it’s continuance and the American Civil War its final conclusion).

        There are still other possible comparisons, such as the over-extension and following decline of empires such as that of the Romans and Spanish, the former of which led to what used to be called a Dark Ages when European society became much simplified for centuries. Or maybe it’s more of a particular historical age coming to a culmination or flagration. The end of feudalism with the rise of reform religion and Enlightenment thinking created centuries of mass conflict and violence across multiple empires and nation-states. On a more dramatic level, there was the near total collapse of impressive Bronze Age civilizations and then a passing of centuries (when writing was forgotten in places like Greece) before equivalent civilizations took their place in the Axial Age.

        In the short term, the best we can hope for is that a new party becomes a main party. This will temporarily shake up the system. It will open up a space where reforms could be enforced. But if so, after some generations we’d return to the same kinds of problems we now have or worse. I’m thinking there are some potential game-changers on the global level: world wars, climate change, refugee crises, etc. The US oligarchy could possibly manage local challenges to their power, if it were entirely limited to that. What is unknown is when and how those larger issues will impact the global world and the US as well.

  17. It does seem like there is a crisis of legitimacy brewing for the elite.

    That could be very important in ushering in an era of change. I just hope that it goes further than the New Deal, which seemed to be little more than temporary reform.

    The other big fear is if the revolutionary forces come from the far right, rather than the left. We could easily get a demagogue who alienates less people than Trump. That could be a real fascist.

    • Related to some of the big issues I mentioned, there are technological innovations and paradigm shifts that could utterly transform our world or shake it to its foundations. This could involve new energy sources/production, localized small-scale industry, biological weapons, and a thousand other things. That might be more important, in the most direct and fundamental sense, than the political aspect.

  18. The other is how the gains are shared.

    So far with technology, the money part has flown disproportionately to the rich, while the poor and middle class get displaced and lose their jobs.

    • I’ve been thinking about how technology could be shared unequally or else could itself change inequality. If individuals were able to take care of their own basic needs by themselves or in their community (provide their own energy, clean their own water, grow their own food, 3D print or otherwise produce items, etc), it potentially could decentralize and democratize the economy.

      But of course those in power will try to prevent that, no matter how much technology might bring that possibility into reach. Controlling technology will become the major fight we’ll be facing. And those in power will use such things as fear of terrorists and hackers to justify increasing control. On the other hand, if technology changes fast enough, mechanisms of control might not be able to keep up with it. There might also be a backlash of public opinion and protest against such controls, as they become more oppressive.

  19. I suspect that intellectual property laws will be used for that.

    Google up the Mickey Mouse laws. It laws and patents are used as well in the US to ensure that Americans pay the costliest prescription drug prices in the world.

    • I don’t doubt that intellectual property laws, like terrorism and hackers and who knows what else, will be implemented in the attempt to maintain the status quo. Anything and everything will be brought to bear upon the ever worsening problems, as the global system spins out of control.

      The problem is that our civilization has become so massive, centralized, and bureaucratic, so complex and convoluted. Even the ruling elite don’t understand it. They are controlled by it more than they control it. The self-identified puppet masters are puppets of the system itself, yet more cogs trying to keep the machine running.

      The overhead in maintaining it is immense and it has become way overextended beyond the means available. Technology has made this possible, but it also might mean that those in power have put themselves in a trap of their own making, a trap that can’t be escaped. This isn’t the first civilization to face this predicament, many earlier civilizations having collapsed when they reached such a point.

      The more the ruling elite try to enforce their power, the weaker they will become. And the weaker they become, the more desperate and oppressive they will act. That is to say it is likely to get horrifically bad over this coming century.

  20. “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. ”
    – Princess Leia, Star Wars

    Even monkeys react pretty strongly to inequality.

    On that note, I will send an email later to you tonight.

    • If those in power care about maintaining power, they will prioritize bringing at least some semblance of equality and egalitarianism, fairness and justice into the system. It doesn’t even have to be that great of a system to maintain the social order, but people will only tolerate a bad system for so long. It would be a small price to be paid by the powerful, if they didn’t let their greed, egotism, and sociopathy get the better of them. I fear the ruling elite simply can’t help themselves, like drug addicts looking for their next fix. They are obsessed with power, no matter the level of abuse and corruption it leads them to, even as it destroys the very conditions of their rule.

      • That would be a step in the right direction. It’s better than the alternatives, the worst of which we are heading toward if we don’t deviate from this path. I bet most Americans would be content enough with the Nordic model to prevent, at least for the time being, the potential social instability and violent conflict before us. If the ruling elite want to use bread and circus to rule, they better be willing to offer more on the bread side of the equation.

        • The Nordic model isn’t the most optimal possibility that one could imagine and hope for. It is simply the bare minimum of avoiding breakdown, revolution, civil war, or whatever else form social problems might take. All the Nordic model does, when functioning at its penultimate best, is to moderate the worst aspects of capitalism. The problem is that capitalism seems to inevitably lead toward its own worst forms, no matter how much one seeks to reform it or balance it with other systems. Capitalism, as a reactionary ideology, can co-opt almost anything.

          The Nordic model is only a temporary fix, but it’s better than the present lack of a useful response in the US, temporary or otherwise. If even the Nordic model fails, then we’re in a situation where radical answers will become unavoidable or else total failure of the system will follow. Those who like capitalism better hope the Nordic model doesn’t fail. It’s the last hope of the capitalist dream, the last chance for capitalism to prove itself capable of sustaining a society for longer than a historical blink of an eye. If and when it fails, it will be an entirely new era with an entirely new post-Enlightenment paradigm.

          I don’t see how capitalism can last. It was never designed to last. The whole point of capitalism is instability, but once instability is fully created there is no way to reverse the damage. Capitalism has been dependent on the residual social capital from the old social orders, along with abundant natural resources and functioning ecosystems. It is eating away at its own foundation. The American Empire won’t last as long as the great empires of the past because the one thing Americans have always lacked is long term vision.

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