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Neil Howe: 'Civil War Is More Likely Than People Think'
(07-31-2017, 06:45 AM)Mikebert Wrote: Polarization is a good proxy for intra-elite competition/conflict. This is a normal occurrence during secular cycle crises eras.  Last secular cycle we went into crisis around 1907, this time it was 2006. Polarization peaked during the first decade of the 20th century and remained high afterward until the crisis was dealt with around 1940. Similarly polarization is high today and will remain so until the crisis is dealt with this time.

I would surmise that intra-elite conflict was high in the 1850's, even though it does not show up in the measure you cite, because Civil War broke out in 1861.  I would suggest the elite-led insurgency developing in the 1760's and 1770's is strong evidence of polarization then too.  Similarly, developing insurgencies in the 1640's and around 1450 show the same.  Each of these saw the being of a secular cycle crisis that terminated in a 4T.

Since most of us believe it is a 4T now, isn't this sort of expected?

...I wonder what sort of polarization existed in France before 1789, in Russia just before 1917, and in Germany in 1930. Do we have any parallels?

When Generations came out, I expected the Crisis to be mostly cultural and not economic. Dictatorship and racism were clearly outmoded throughout the industrial West, and expecting those to revive in America seemed impossible. Maybe there would be some sort of economic transition due to technological advances. Of course there was the possibility of a 1929-style Crash, and for a year and a half the economic meltdown beginning in late 2007 looked much like that beginning in late 1929. I could not see any Evil Empire rising that could make the Brezhnev-era Soviet Union seem a cause of nostalgia.

But we got out of the Panic of 2008 seemingly unscathed. There's a big difference in effect. The three horrid years beginning in late 1929 set America back about twenty years in economic progress and created a political climate in which people insisted upon institutional change.  Americans, including even what had been the ruling elite in the 1920s, abandoned the brash every-man-for-himself individualism  because such proved a failure. Americans had tolerated booms and busts, like pollution, as necessary characteristics of an economy in growth and an economy delivering technological advances that made life richer and fuller. People found out the hard way that such economic progress as America had had since the Civil War was so uneven that many people were still living as if it were still the 'Forties. The Eighteen-Forties, that is. 

But America in 2008 was no longer the America of 1929. America didn't react the same way to the economic meltdown. The political system rescued the shady actors of the Double-Zero Decade (the New Roaring Twenties) on the assumption that their capital and bureaucratic power had to be protected. But those people recovered the means in which to buy the political process -- which is exactly what those elites did. Our nation is the frog that took the scorpion for a ride through the floodwater.

Anyone who thinks that Trump's America is a democracy is a fool. But the election of Donald Trump is the last phase of salami slicing that has transformed America into a Republic in Name Only. It is entirely possible that the economic leadership will allow us to have an illusion of free elections that just fall short of giving people a government responsive to people other than big agrarian landowners, urban rent-grabbers, the shareholding elite, the executive nomenklatura (America's bureaucratic elites in Corporate America act much like the their counterparts in the Soviet Union -- they found ways in which to exploit the masses severely while not owning the means of production), sell-out intellectuals, and organized crime. These people prefer that politicians be either fanatics on their side or be pliable 'empty suits'. It's only a matter of time before America becomes the Evil Empire. Those elites are not at all in conflict

(OK -- so is the 'Russian' Mafia the American equivalent of the pre-WWII Black Dragon Society in Japan?)

Don't fool yourself. The economic elites like things as they are, except that they would like to privatize anything that can turn a profit, like the Interstate Highway System, to monopolistic gougers. But we will hear the gougers call themselves benefactors, the bringers of the best of all possible worlds. If you wonder whether the worst abusers and exploiters in American history, the slave-owning planters, had any feelings of guilt about what they did to slaves -- they thought themselves the best thing that ever happened to their chattels. That may be more marked in Idealist generations who can believe that their scummy behavior serves some great purpose (the enrichment and pampering of themselves). The pampering of the elites is so important that people may need to be worked to exhaustion on starvation rations for it -- to those elites such is a logical consequence of their narcissism.

The Great Depression had its positive effect in dashing the narcissism of people in Veblen's Leisure Class. In the 1930s America would have to grow its way out of the worst point of the Great Depression to the point that America was materially better than it was at the start. By the late 1930s people had more cars, telephones, radios, phonographs, ovens, refrigerators, and furniture than it had in the late 1920s. Those would be very useful when Americans had to endure the loss of the consumer society after the Pearl Harbor attack.

For the economic elites, times have never been better. The middle class is living on the past. The poor? They are scraping along. The system still offers welfare -- a way to ensure that there will be plenty of workers for munitions plants and in the fields for provisions for soldiers when the Master Class decides upon a war for profit in war machines and for resource-grabs in victims of American aggression.

America's economic elites are as rapacious, arrogant, and demanding as ever. They now have nearly total power. You are an optimist if you believe that they will allow any election to curtail their power. They need only get a 55-45 split in State legislatures and both Houses of Congress, and a pliant President to get what they want -- a society of extreme polarization in economic results.

...Just consider the antithesis of narcissism: humility. Nobody does humility for the fun of it. It is a survival tool, deference to others' power over one or about realities beyond one's control. In the 1930s, America's economic elites feared the masses who had lost so much between 1929 and 1932. Today's elites have nothing to offer us but fear -- and some stupefying entertainment to keep us from doing something so subversive as thinking.
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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I read Neil Howe's WaPo op-ed from recent months, which didn't necessarily suggest he thought some kind of war was inevitable, but did say: well, hey, it happened repeatedly before.

I'm kind of still of the opinion that this Crisis is more like the Glorious Revolution (in a certain way) than any other, coming as it did after the Cycle that made England into Britain (much as I think the Depression/WWII made America a superpower). There was certainly violence abroad and in particular the colonies (King Phillips War and all that) but nothing like a total war in the UK.

I also think (having started but not yet completed Stephen Skowronek's "the Politics Presidents Make" - which should be of interest to any 4ters) that Donald Trump may be most like Andrew Johnson, a "wild card" president who succeeded a major, reconstructive liberal one and was unable to undo Lincoln's warrants for disruption and reordering. Trump is like the zombie Reaganite to Johnson's zombie Jacksonian (no wonder Bannon likes him). (The Trefousse bio of Johnson just dropped on my doorstep - am reading because precisely this; day off because f***ing hot out there.)

Re: violence: sadly, maybe more, I think, but of the kind we've seen and continue to: lone wolves, mass shootings, conspiracies involving small numbers of people acting out their crazy.
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(08-03-2017, 02:58 PM)linus Wrote: I read Neil Howe's WaPo op-ed from recent months, which didn't necessarily suggest he thought some kind of war was inevitable, but did say: well, hey, it happened repeatedly before.

I'm kind of still of the opinion that this Crisis is more like the Glorious Revolution (in a certain way) than any other, coming as it did after the Cycle that made England into Britain (much as I think the Depression/WWII made America a superpower). There was certainly violence abroad and in particular the colonies (King Phillips War and all that) but nothing like a total war in the UK.

I also think (having started but not yet completed Stephen Skowronek's "the Politics Presidents Make" - which should be of interest to any 4ters) that Donald Trump may be most like Andrew Johnson, a "wild card" president who succeeded a major, reconstructive liberal one and was unable to undo Lincoln's warrants for disruption and reordering. Trump is like the zombie Reaganite to Johnson's zombie Jacksonian (no wonder Bannon likes him). (The Trefousse bio of Johnson just dropped on my doorstep - am reading because precisely this; day off because f***ing hot out there.)

Re: violence: sadly, maybe more, I think, but of the kind we've seen and continue to: lone wolves, mass shootings, conspiracies involving small numbers of people acting out their crazy.

Welcome back to the fray.
Intelligence is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom, but they all play well together.
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(08-06-2017, 07:52 AM)David Horn Wrote:
(08-03-2017, 02:58 PM)linus Wrote: I read Neil Howe's WaPo op-ed from recent months, which didn't necessarily suggest he thought some kind of war was inevitable, but did say: well, hey, it happened repeatedly before.

I'm kind of still of the opinion that this Crisis is more like the Glorious Revolution (in a certain way) than any other, coming as it did after the Cycle that made England into Britain (much as I think the Depression/WWII made America a superpower). There was certainly violence abroad and in particular the colonies (King Phillips War and all that) but nothing like a total war in the UK.

I also think (having started but not yet completed Stephen Skowronek's "the Politics Presidents Make" - which should be of interest to any 4ters) that Donald Trump may be most like Andrew Johnson, a "wild card" president who succeeded a major, reconstructive liberal one and was unable to undo Lincoln's warrants for disruption and reordering. Trump is like the zombie Reaganite to Johnson's zombie Jacksonian (no wonder Bannon likes him). (The Trefousse bio of Johnson just dropped on my doorstep - am reading because precisely this; day off because f***ing hot out there.)

Re: violence: sadly, maybe more, I think, but of the kind we've seen and continue to: lone wolves, mass shootings, conspiracies involving small numbers of people acting out their crazy.

Welcome back to the fray.

Oh yes, thanks. Just saw this now. Cheers to you!
Reply
(08-03-2017, 02:58 PM)linus Wrote: I read Neil Howe's WaPo op-ed from recent months, which didn't necessarily suggest he thought some kind of war was inevitable, but did say: well, hey, it happened repeatedly before.

I'm kind of still of the opinion that this Crisis is more like the Glorious Revolution (in a certain way) than any other, coming as it did after the Cycle that made England into Britain (much as I think the Depression/WWII made America a superpower). There was certainly violence abroad and in particular the colonies (King Phillips War and all that) but nothing like a total war in the UK.

I also think (having started but not yet completed Stephen Skowronek's "the Politics Presidents Make" - which should be of interest to any 4ters) that Donald Trump may be most like Andrew Johnson, a "wild card" president who succeeded a major, reconstructive liberal one and was unable to undo Lincoln's warrants for disruption and reordering. Trump is like the zombie Reaganite to Johnson's zombie Jacksonian (no wonder Bannon likes him). (The Trefousse bio of Johnson just dropped on my doorstep - am reading because precisely this; day off because f***ing hot out there.)

Re: violence: sadly, maybe more, I think, but of the kind we've seen and continue to: lone wolves, mass shootings, conspiracies involving small numbers of people acting out their crazy.

That's about right. It would be nice if this 4T ended up with the USA adopting a parliamentary system.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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Parliamentary system? Trump would not have survived a vote of no-confidence. Obama might not have with the same behavior, but at least he might have governed differently and even more cautiously.

Presidents and Prime Ministers are typically about equal. The power was about the same for FDR and Churchill. But we get stuck for four years with a bad President.
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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