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Thoughts On Where We Are, and Where We're Going
#18
(09-04-2018, 06:48 AM)Bob Butler 54 Wrote:
(08-18-2018, 08:01 PM)justpassingthrough Wrote: I haven't thought about S&H much for a while, but had a few random thoughts after some time away from it. I've had doubts about various aspects of their theories, especially the more specific details, but I think the more you zoom out, the more credibility it has. It doesn't fit exactly under any category, so I chose General. With that in mind, this is how I see things right now:

1. The Boomer Left, which had been on a relentless 50 year march, reached its apotheosis from 2008-2016. It reached its phase of maximum influence, and maximum decadent excess. In 2016, the dam broke. The Left's shock and incredible hysteria at Trump becoming president was based on their cult-like dogma about the inevitability, and linear "progress", of their idiosyncratic obsessions. Their faith was shattered. Cyclical pendulums swung and smacked them for a loop like an anvil landing on Wile E. Coyote.

2. It's unclear exactly where we sit in the cycle, and there are echoes of many past cycles. There is division in the US like the Civil War, with the extremes embracing the discredited and cataclysmic ideologies of WWII. Totalitarianism is back in fashion, especially on the Far Left, which increasingly calls openly for socialism, and has taken up a cause of Nazi-like systematization of "identity" groups, and a Maoist Cultural Revolutionary determination to completely erase and remake society, culture and history by any means necessary. The fact that freedom of speech and other First Amendment protections are now openly opposed by the radical left, not merely a few cranks, but systematically in major institutions (academic, media, internet behemoths) is a relatively new feature of truly dangerous militant extremism. Orwell is rolling in his grave about the ideas increasingly dominating Silicon Valley, which makes them look like they're following 1984 as if it's a textbook..  (Snip)

This post has been much longer than expected - the ideas started flowing - so I'll stop it there. Helped me flesh out my own thoughts. I've convinced myself again that 9/11 was the Catalyst, and we are now approaching the 1T boundary, but probably not quite there yet. Trump/Pence looks like some analogy of Truman/Eisenhower.

I see the height of the left being from the New Deal through the Great Society.  As noted, that period ended probably some with the Southern Strategy, but definitely with Reagan's unraveling, taken to an extreme by Trump.  I see the extended unraveling, a alternation of power by the two parties, as the classic 3T compromise approach, but this time the people believe in a divided government while the parties are growing ever more extreme.  Neither set of values are acceptable to the country as a whole.  The best one can do is to flip the see saw regularly, to limit the amount of 'damage' that the extreme in power would cause.

Indeed, the Boom Awakening is dashed completely, discredited except for music whose demographic (folk and R&B) are decidedly old. Styles reflecting tastes of the Boom Awakening are retro in the sense that styles of the Gay Nineties (and one has to be a Boomer or older to have connections to people who knew that 'Gay Nineties' had nothing to do with male homosexuality) are clearly from an older era. The 1960s are now approaching the distance in time from the current world that the Gay Nineties were from the 1960s. As you say, it is the Reagan Revolution that remains relevant to this day, and it Donald Trump has intensified it to a full-blown assault on every liberal and humanistic tradition in the American heritage in favor of an economic order nearly feudal in its cruel inequity.

If you want a mass-culture analogy to Donald Trump, just think of the semi-fascist setting of the Planet Mongo from Flash Gordon serials of the 1930s that reflected the widespread belief of the time that fascism was the wave of the future because its politics seemed so much more efficient than the messy checks and balances of countries that remained democratic.

Quote:I am starting to see the see saw as an extended unraveling, that the crisis is being blocked by the threat of nuclear weapons internationally and the promise of an inevitable change of power domestically.  The spiral of violence is very limited.  The see saw and the unravelling split in the country will continue until an awakening like movement shifts values to clear blue going on green.  This won't happen until the red see global warming hurting in their lifetimes, and it is not at that level yet.  Cultures are extremely stubborn.  Even then, it might be possible for the red to alter their stance on ecological issues, but drag their heels on economic issues.  A true awakening, with the emotion of the religious awakenings or the 1960s awakening, might be avoided.

I look at the violent rhetoric of Donald Trump and the measured responses of his opponents (we will stick to electoral politics, however inconvenient, and to protests and marches) and I see Americans believing that the Trump phenomenon will itself implode of its own incompetence and cruelty. We Americans are better than that, we think. I can predict domestic violence, but it will take Trump (Pence if something happens to Trump) to instigate it. But -- it will take law enforcement and the military to repress an efforts by the Hard Right to start suppressing dissent.

Should Trump or Pence start calling for the arrest of political opponents or dissidents, we could have something unprecedented in American history: a military coup. How the junta would deal with the situation would define this Crisis Era. How does it win over the support or at least acquiescence of liberals and secular humanists? Or does it establish a Pinochet-style regime that holds that nothing matters except the enrichment and indulgence of economic elites?


Quote:But I doubt it.  The currently active generations have sold the planet.  I anticipate the immediate future generations are going to be very angry as the bill comes due.  It will be an angry time, unlike the love and rock n roll 1960s awakening of the blue boomers youth.  At least, I would be angry.  I am already angry.

Let us remember -- Donald Trump has the classic vices, in accordance with Howe and Strauss' description of idealist generations in the past (he is ruthless, arrogant, and selfish in the extreme) and none of the virtues (he is not at all visionary or principled), and even his one virtue of decisiveness is that he is decisive. Yes -- but he is decisively wrong.

This will not be a cultural struggle. This is not a cultural war between Boomers who turned away from the mass culture of the 1970s when it soured; it is not between those who listen to classical music and those who listen to country music. (Hey, give credit to Boomers for making a cultural icon out of Gustav Mahler!) This is an internal struggle between fascism and basic human decency. This is a struggle between right-wing populism against everything else. At this point we are beginning to see a conservative and right-libertarian opposition to Trump as conservatives begin to recognize the dangers of populism even if such fits some of their political values and as Right libertarians recognize Trump economics as little more than crony capitalism (socialism for the economic elites). What remains of Trump support is now largely one faction of people whose values formed at the end of the Awakening Era, the Religious Right that offered a secular Calvinism as an economic norm while offering a smug self-righteousness.

It may be ironic that the last surviving relic of the Boom Awakening that has any real influence is the fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity that claims Jesus but has Ayn Rand as its political and economic messiah.


Quote:Values?  Ideally they would be more ecological, less economic.  In the Industrial Age, much of the discussion was division of wealth.  Some people wanted to maximize competition, few if any rules, to maximize the division of wealth.  Others wanted heavier regulation, to cap the division.  Either way, the point of view was that God had given Man dominion of the Earth, that wealth came with exploiting resources, which man did fairly freely.


Ecological values would put the limited number of resources first.  There is only so much.  You only exploit them in a given way.  You worry about division of wealth after.  You look at things in a top down manner.

Man could get dominion over the Earth only when there were few people and the technology was that of hunter-gatherers. Today we have technologies that an deplete resources (especially fossil fuels) and unleash dangerous chemicals. We have more people competing for such critical assets as real estate. We are clearly at the point in which economic rents that make the cost of living balloon are outpacing technological innovation that give us more and better technological goodies. With enough population pressure we Americans will come to envy people who thought radio, phonographs, automobiles, and refrigerators the wonders of technological progress for not having to work so many hours just to pay off landlords and tax collectors. (Indeed, much of the cost of technical improvements result from increasing cost of real estate to build new public buildings and expand existing highways are reflected in higher taxes). 

The more crowded our cities and suburbs get, the more some of us find ourselves in a lust to enjoy nature at its most pristine -- where it survives.

Quote:Marx and Malthus are currently unpopular.  Their worst case predictions never came true.  This is in part because their warnings were taken seriously enough by the elites that their predictions were never allowed to come true.  But, they have not gone away.  At bottom, give or take the Marxist habit of creating a new elite ruling class, Marx and Malthus got the basics right.  Resources will be limited, and the poor will create violence if the limited resources are not distributed reasonably.  You might wish it different, but at bottom the limits are there.  I see things made more clear at the next awakening.

We don't want to believe them; we do everything possible to make them irrelevant. We have old-age benefit programs that have the effect of ensuring that people do not render large numbers of children destitute out of the hope that the children will keep their parents or grandparents from running out of food. It is telling that where real estate prices are so high that middle-class families cannot afford the two-bedroom apartments necessary for raising children up to middle-class standards, most of the children are themselves offspring of people who moved into those areas after having children. The "children" that many in New York City and Silicon Valley dote upon are... dogs and cats. Marx warns of us of the danger of a proletarian revolution, but he neglected to recognize that the political hacks and business executives that would become the ruling elite in Socialist states or that would arise in capitalist plutocracies would become a privileged elite in its own right would become just as corrupt and pecuniary as slave-owners of classical antiquity, feudal lords of medieval Europe and China, and the early capitalists of Marx' early capitalist order of an agrarian world giving way to an industrial world. Selfish greed  and unrestrained indulgence seem to go with economic power that elites invariably define as the social optimum.

Marx, meet George Orwell and Milovan Djilas, the people who recognize that even socialism (let alone the pure plutocracy that Ayn Rand and Donald Trump exemplify) can exist without social justice. The most common command in history, essentially "Suffer for my gain, indulgence, and power, ye slaves or peons" is as alive in contemporary America as it was in the Egypt of the Pharaohs.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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RE: Thoughts On Where We Are, and Where We're Going - by pbrower2a - 09-04-2018, 08:53 AM

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