Thursday, September 16, 2010

American fascism and musical chairs

David Seaton's News Links
I've had a few comments on my last post from people who didn't really see any similarities between today's America and Germany and Italy of the 1920s and 30s.

I'm sorry if my previous  post on American fascism wasn't as clear as I would have wished. When I talk about fascism in America I do not envision torch-lit parades of brown shirted skinheads giving the roman salute. Anything America is going to do is going to have a distinctly American flavor. I am saying that we are already there.

What you see is what you get. American fascism has already arrived and we have to deal with it.

We have to ask ourselves why people like Glen Beck, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin are having such success communicating (ideas?) that any levelheaded person can easily identify as absurd, abominable, horseshit?

Why is what these creatures serve so widely consumed?

Because with limited menu choices, many people, faced with eating cold reality straight out of the can, would rather gulp down steaming horseshit, that's why.

Why is that?

What it all boils down to in the end is that the party is over, but nobody want to go home.

The era of phenomenal growth that has lasted for over 200 years, since the Industrial Revolution began, is drawing to a close. It is literally running out of gas.

From now on the world will operate more and more in the "zero-sum" mode, which is going to be like old fashioned musical chairs.

In the Industrial Revolution version of musical chairs the music hardly ever stopped and the system kept adding more and more chairs: anybody who didn't have a chair now could dream of having one in the future or at least dream of their children having chairs someday. Who cared if some had more chairs than others? Everyone was going to have some sort of chair sooner or later.

That seems finished.

Now we are going back to the classical game of musical chairs, the version we used to play as school children, where they take away the chairs when the music stops and the music stops often. You remember how it goes, more and more people are left standing.

In this new version of the old game we are playing, a few still are sitting and they are afraid that those standing will start thinking about taking their chairs away from them and sitting on them instead.

This has to be avoided at any cost.

What are the political consequences?

If people really understood that there wasn't going to be future abundance on its previous scale, that it was going to be like in a lifeboat, or like the buried miners in Chile, with only so much water and so much food, survivors would demand, as in a lifeboat, that the provisions be shared equitably. This would mean that people with huge fortunes would have to take an enormous haircut, as their abundance would have to be shared out... they don't like that idea one bit.

They don't want anybody else to like that idea either and that costs a lot of money to pull off.

The key phrase would be, "if people really understood". So it is important for those who own the chairs to keep the chairless from thinking, from understanding what their situation really is.

This is especially difficult for Americans to come to grips with, as America's whole culture, both the real everyday one and the Hollywood mythical one, are built around the idea of limitless horizons and unlimited opportunity. There has always been a lot of unreality in this, but it is the foundational myth and emotionally a very sustaining one, especially for Americans now going through a rough patch. It will be very difficult, perhaps impossible, for most Americans to face the new reality soon and to think clearly about its implications.

That is what the Tea Party, Fox, etc is all about: keeping people from thinking straight. The idea is to play on people's emotions: fear, hate, racism, xenophobia, just to keep them from doing the math. The Teabaggers, Beck, Gringich and Fox are often criticized for not making any sense... this is not a failure of communication or an error on their part... that is the object of the exercise: to make rational thought difficult or impossible due to emotional overload. This is a slippery slope that usually leads a country that travels it into more emotions,  more war and less and less cool headed thinking.

This is the world that readers in their teens and twenties are going to spend the rest of their lives trying to make habitable.

We are already there.DS


Anonymous said...

So you know for a fact that America will not develop game changing technologies in the next 30 years?

What are your sources?

master cylinder said...

I like this. We cant keep doing it the same way, yet we don't have a plan. Democrats only have letting Bush tax cuts expire. The thing that really makes me mad is that we are required to buy crap to keep our GDP going. That's why we are here. We have to make something we can sell again, and to other countries!
How can it be 98-2 and the 2 [top 2 percent affected by tax cuts expiring] have such a big voice? They dont want you in the club! They are doing everything to keep you out. So yeah, look over there! Fire!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous.
What makes you think there will be "game changing technologies" in the next 30 years? Are you willing to gamble your children's and grandchildren's future that there will be.

As my father always like to say, "Expect the worst and hope for the best."

Publius said...

Very astute series of essays.
Regarding Anonymous's comment (why are the least thoughtful comments always left anonymously)?:

Technologies do not produce abundance. They are simply tools (that's what the Greek techne means.
Without energy, there can be no growth.
Without ever expanding supplies of relatively cheap and easily transportable, concentrated energy (aka oil), limitless growth is impossible.

Nuclear energy requires enormous sums of non-renewable fossil fuel to build out.

There are numerous other resources that are dwindling.

The faith that technology will deliver abundance, whatever the problems with raw material depletion is just that: a faith with no support other than the previous two hundred years. The conditions, however, of that first period no longer apply.
The game is over but for the crying.

Joe Bauers said...

Anonymous - Check James Howard Kunstler's meticulous analysis of peak oil and the various "alternative energy" sources proposed to replace oil in his book "The Long Emergency".

Short answer: Oil is the basis for every single material thing that makes 2010 life different from 1910 life, there simply is no replacement for oil, and we're running out of oil. When oil goes away, so does the possibility of endless economic growth. And so we're left with Mr. Seaton's musical chairs game.

Anonymous said...

Your wrong! Without TRUE Americans like Mr. Beck this county would slip into the stranglehold of SOCIALISM.

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