Fifty years ago, everything seemed to be breaking down, kind of like it is now. In fact, it can feel like the 1970s redux. Searing issues of war, ecology, race, and “malaise” have never really disappeared. A silent majority, political schism, limits to growth, and price inflation — all are here.
Yet there are new uncertainties too. Even to optimists, debt-induced fragility clouds the economic horizon. Investor Charles Munger notes that bitcoin actively undermines the Federal Reserve System; any gain comes from trading, not from creating products, crops or rents. As fantastic as non-binary sexuality, cryptocurrency points to additional contemporary follies.
In 1971, television gave the world Archie Bunker, a lowbrow white archetype, at once laughable and dangerous: the problem, not the solution. The privileged and morally ambitious have since been schooled to disdain such white back-lookers as untermenschen and “haters,” while learning the arts of identity and compassionate pretense.
No morning in America looms, not yet. But worldwide, food and energy shortages do. No need to stew over a Captain Trips-like virus, roasting earth, or any number of black swans. Consider four less spectacular vectors going forward here and now.
Human biomass — doubled in size globally since 1970 — is competing for food, water, energy, and everything else at a micro, sovereign and continental level.
Global food production — to begin with, fertilizers, fuel for tractors, and water pumps — will require myriad forms of petroleum, an exhaustible resource with environmental consequences. Nuclear energy production will be unavoidable: the world needs electrical power to operate and survive. Why energy-hungry countries resist atomics as they do remains a mystery. Global inflation will almost certainly persist, reflecting inexorable demand for food and basic commodities.
Border pressures from the impoverished on all continents will continue to escalate. Incursions of people from anarchic zones present clear and present dangers to developed countries. Africa’s ailments, population explosion, and intractable challenges will involve all the world. Yet a large section of the American and European ruling classes finds it impossible — thinks it immoral — to stanch any migrant pressure on its living standards, civilization and security.
In contrast to 19th- and 20th-century industrial expansion, financial capitalism does not promise a better future for the masses.
Futurists Herman Kahn and Daniel Bell in the 1960s noticed that a growing number of Americans were thinking something like “the nation owes me a living.” Not a job or opportunity, but a living. This ever-growing population wants more, of course, claiming the poor are “underserved.” The lower-end working life — not destitution — just a century ago meant a lavatory, scullery, a cold-water tap, and some electric light and heat.
Today, forty million Americans are on welfare. The nation’s public apparatus is bloated with jobs that have no real reason to exist or exist to manage the empire of diversity. As taxpayers, the affluent and salaried middle class assumes “the government” will take care of “the needy.”
Wealth collects in money-center banks, private equity, venture capital, and family offices. The over-the-top luxury and frivolities in the overclass of billionaires and their paid helpers stagger the imagination. As Karl Marx knew, an intense concentration of wealth, racially distinct rentier class, and swelling proletariat is not a recipe for political stability.
Global austerity or not, America’s “the nation owes me a living” constituency expects subsidized food, medicine, wi-fi, air conditioning, and big-screen cable connections. Those material expectations are destined to have political consequences.
Coercive “diversity” and “reparations” campaigns demand far-fetched social and economic reconstruction.
The demographic Pig in the Python, those notorious Boomers, privileged and not, are seriously aging out. Many have salted away some assets. Grown kids and grandchildren would like to inherit the old house, the insurance, and the IRAs. A dicey future? No problem, say any heirs who’d gladly follow their bliss and leave the scut work to worker bees and braceros. That is, unless legally enabled “restitution,” taxation or seizure spoils the journey.
The progressive effort to shame white America — as if this racial monolith existed — and collaterally to fan non-white animus paves the way for legally sanctioned wealth transfers. Woke claims of stolen land, labor and capital intend to justify expropriations.
Yet quite surely, asset holders and their heirs will not stand idly by to find houses and apartments occupied by squatters, Bolshevik-style. Long before that, fearing for their property, safety, or their children’s welfare, functional Americans of all races will have relocated at the expense of diversity. They will be seeking jurisdictions and neighbors that promise legal protection, security and civic regularity. They already are.
Downtowns are emptying in hard-blue cities, some of them teeming with vagrants. Like signal flags, “For Lease” signs are everywhere. When Donald J. Trump talks common sense about putting tent cities on metro outskirts, he’s the welcome truth-teller, the one politician willing to say forbidden thoughts out loud — not the mad tyrant of leftist narrative. No wonder millions of working-class Americans of all backgrounds adore him. Leave us alone, say red-state voters and their tribunes. We don’t want to be part of your mess.
The Hollywood-Silicon Valley-MSM colossus is rapidly winning the mind game.
Giant electronic monitors already light up whole living room walls and are ubiquitous in public spaces. Screens in all sizes beam sensational partisan narratives, making it difficult for Americans to separate fact and fiction, much less coexist.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd once described “Hollywood values” ascendant in Washington D.C. as “out-of-control egos, blatant materialism, a dog-eat-dog ethos, and a devotion to pretense.” This pretense now drives public affairs and preys on trust and credulity. In the 1970s, non-binary sexuality and gender-affirming care would have been discarded as the perverse fictions they are, the stuff of Thomas Pynchon, not of White House fact sheets.
The Apple iPhone arrived only fifteen years ago. Facebook and other platforms unveiled social media even more recently. By 2016, a Twitter-driven government had arrived. Historically speaking, this is a warp-speed communications revolution. The psychological impact of electronics and the remote interface of humans, systems and information is still unfolding, a wild card since thought makers are growing more skilled at persuasion and illusion every year.
Under the circumstances, expanded state, county and municipal latitude to govern, police, and school as their residents wish — legal devolution — would be a best-case future scenario. Today’s silent majority is headed in this direction.
Yet decentralization will be an uphill climb. Any shift will meet bitter, orchestrated, and deceptive media campaigns and lawsuits from self-interested statists and their clients. How the US and Europe plan to manage migrant incursions and welfare dependency amid global commodities demand is yet to be seen. Any resolution is bound to generate major domestic and international conflict.