Category Archives: Society

The Value of Everything, by James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler draws an apt comparison between contemporary America and France just before the revolution in 1789. From Kunstler at kunstler.com:

We are looking more and more like France on the eve of its revolution in 1789. Our classes are distributed differently, but the inequity is just as sharp.

America’s “aristocracy,” once based strictly on bank accounts, acts increasingly hereditary as the vapid offspring and relations of “stars” (in politics, showbiz, business, and the arts) assert their prerogatives to fame, power, and riches — think the voters didn’t grok the sinister import of Hillary’s “it’s my turn” message?

What’s especially striking in similarity to the court of the Bourbons is the utter cluelessness of America’s entitled power elite to the agony of the moiling masses below them and mainly away from the coastal cities. Just about everything meaningful has been taken away from them, even though many of the material trappings of existence remain: a roof, stuff that resembles food, cars, and screens of various sizes.

But the places they are supposed to call home are either wrecked — the original small towns and cities of America — or replaced by new “developments” so devoid of artistry, history, thought, care, and charm that they don’t add up to communities, and are so obviously unworthy of affection, that the very idea of “home” becomes a cruel joke.

These places were bad enough in the 1960s and 70s, when the people who lived in them at least were able to report to paying jobs assembling products and managing their distribution. Now those people don’t have that to give a little meaning to their existence, or cover the costs of it. Public space was never designed into the automobile suburbs, and the sad remnants of it were replaced by ersatz substitutes, like the now-dying malls. Everything else of a public and human associational nature has been shoved into some kind of computerized box with a screen on it.

To continue reading: The Value of Everything

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When We Can No Longer Tell the Truth…, by Charles Hugh Smith

You can tell pretty much all you need to know about a society and its government by what happens to people who tell the truth. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Lies, half-truths and cover-ups are all manifestations of fatal weakness.
When we can no longer tell the truth because the truth will bring the whole rotten, fragile status quo down in a heap of broken promises and lies, we’ve reached the perfection of dysfunction.
You know the one essential guideline to “leadership” in a doomed dysfunctional system: when it gets serious, you have to lie. In other words, the status quo’s secular goddess is TINA–there is no alternative to lying, because the truth will bring the whole corrupt structure tumbling down.
This core dynamic of dysfunction is scale-invariant, meaning that hiding the truth is the core dynamic in dysfunctional relationships, households, communities, enterprises, cities, corporations, states, alliances, nations and empires: when the truth cannot be told because it threatens the power structure of the status quo, that status quo is doomed.
Lies, half-truths and cover-ups are all manifestations of fatal weakness. What lies, half-truths and cover-ups communicate is: we can no longer fix our real problems, and rather than let this truth out, we must mask it behind lies and phony reassurances.
Truth is power, lies are weakness. All we get now are lies, statistics designed to mislead and phony reassurances that the status quo is stable and permanent. The truth is powerful because it is the core dynamic of solving problems. Lies, gamed statistics and false reassurances are fatal because they doom any sincere efforts to fix what’s broken before the system reaches the point of no return.
We are already past the point of no return. The expediency of lies has already doomed us.
Honest accounts of hugely successful corporations that implode share one key trait: in every case, managers were pressured to hide the truth from top management, which then hid the truth from investors and clients.
This is the key dynamic in failed oligarchies as well: if telling the truth gets you sent to Siberia (or worse), then nobody with any instinct for self-preservation will tell the truth.

How Many Russians Do You Hate? by Robert Gore

“I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”  Muhammad Ali

How many Russians do you hate? Chinese? North Koreans? Iranians? Syrians? Yemenis? If, aggregated, your answer was zero, your answer is typical.

Perhaps you were rejected once by someone you loved, whom you wanted to love you. It’s surprising how quickly love can become hate. You hated, bitterly, for a long time. Then you realized your hate wasn’t just ineffectual—the hated one had moved on, oblivious to your antipathy—it was warping you, closing you off to the good that life offers. You were only hurting yourself, so you let it go, reopening the door to positive possibilities and opportunities.

If you couldn’t continue hating someone who hurt you, why would you hate any one of billions of people you’ll never know? It’s foolish, a waste of time and energy. Most people pursue their own opportunities, living and letting live…especially people they don’t know. It’s an important element of a well-adjusted personality. Wars and conflict get all the press, but the unrecognized history of the world is actually a more salutary chronicle. Through the generations, people in large measure have lived peaceably together, even people of different races, nationalities, and creeds. Peace, cooperation, and mutually beneficial exchange, not war and conflict, account for humanity’s journey from cave to skyscraper.

Who peddles, promotes, and profits from war and conflict? The people of Germany didn’t spontaneously make war against the people of Poland in 1939, nor the people of the United States against the people of Iraq in 2003. Germans and Americans may have supported those wars, but they were instigated by those in power. Almost all wars are, but are fought by people who have no use for them, who will bear most of the costs, and derive few if any of the purported benefits.

Hate is stoked to overcome the natural desires for peace and prosperity and aversion to war. As a leader, you don’t sit the citizens down one-by-one and calmly explain to them why they should hate whomever you’ve chosen to fight. Rather, you make a frenzied appeal to a crowd, and let crowd psychology work its woeful wonders, with ostracism and worse for the few rejecting the appeal.

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Hate is the very foundation of war. Isn’t it also the very foundation of power? Certainly those in power would reject that formulation, but let’s come at the question from the other direction. If you hate someone, you wish the worse for them. You wish you could determine their fate, which left to you would be awful. Isn’t power the ability of one person to determine the fate of another? Has power generally been exercised to the benefit or detriment of those subjected to it?

Keep in mind that the exercise of power forcibly preempts the subjected’s own judgments about what’s best for themselves. You’d like to keep what you’ve earned; the state takes it. You’d like to live your life in the way you see fit; the state has its myriad regulations and punishments. You and another party would like to conduct a mutually beneficial exchange; the state bans, regulates, or dictates its terms. You want to live in peace: the state pursues war.

Now the state may claim that all it does is for your benefit, but aren’t you the best judge of what’s beneficial to you? Doesn’t this presumption that they know better than you do what’s good for you reek of insufferable arrogance? Think about your own experiences. Has anyone who obviously thought he or she was superior to you ever had your best interests at heart?

“I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.”
Linus Van Pelt, from the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz

The last one hundred years has seen a parade of leaders and their henchmen demonstrating their professed love of humanity with guns, concentration camps, torture, gas chambers, forced famines, genocide, and other evils. In the twentieth century, humanity-loving governments have killed between 100-200 million of the people they couldn’t stand, and that’s not counting the wars. How high does the body count have to go before the conclusion generally takes hold that it’s the power and the killing and the death they love, not the people they subjugate? Or is that insight only reached when the person next to you—like you kneeling, his hands bound—takes a bullet in the back of his head?

Power, a mass murderer once noted, “grows out of the barrel of gun.” You shall know him, and everyone else with a gun trained at your head, by their fruits. Their harvest is always death, fed by the poison of their murderous hate.

A bumper crop looms. The world is perfectly configured for an orgy of hate. Developed nations’ governments have debt and other promises that cannot be kept, and their creditors and populations expect to be paid. Their economies are faltering under the load of existing debt service. The optimistic wave of social mood and central bank machinations propelling US and European equity and bond markets to new highs—and keeping their economies treading water—are long in the tooth. When markets and economies crash, scapegoats will be found, blamed, perhaps afforded something resembling judicial process, and imprisoned or worse.

China and Russia are leading a consortium of nations that recognize US unipolar world dominance is a thing of the past and are challenging what remains of it. The US public sustains itself on a delusional mix of something for nothing, red versus blue, transparently fraudulent propaganda, jingoism, and state-sponsored veneration of the state and its functionaries. And they hate, against those the government and its media instruct them to hate.

Let the hate flow through you!
Emperor Palpatine to Luke Skywalker,
Star Wars: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi

Reality will wipe out the delusions, but leave vast reservoirs of hate. The Palpatines who think they can use hate for their own ends will find that it cannot be so precisely channeled. All of its irrationally random consequences cannot be predicted, but hate will surely boomerang against its promoters.

Those of us who hope to pick up the pieces and build something better cannot afford the foolish and counterproductive indulgence of hate, during the cataclysm or its aftermath. You may be disgusted by a cockroach infestation, but hating them does nothing to eliminate them. Eradicating our cockroaches—those who claim superiority and their right to rule us—will require all the tightly focused concentration, resourcefulness, cooperation, and rationality we can summon. Justice will not be denied—but bloodthirsty vengeance and mindless violence must be. Criminality has to be called to account and suitable punishment administered. Unfortunately, revolutions often replace bad with worse. Give in to hate, and we become that which we seek to eradicate. The Dark Side destroys all who embrace it.

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The US Is Not “One Nation” — And it Never Was, by Ryan McMaken

Conservative writers especially like to harken back to a unified, monocultural America that never was. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

Patrick Buchanan is an informative and interesting writer. On foreign policy, especially, he’s long been one of the most reasonable voices among high-level American pundits.

When it comes to cultural matters, however, Buchanan has long held to a peculiar and empirically questionable version of American history in which the United States was once a mono-culture in which everyone was once happily united by “a common religion,” a “common language,” and a “common culture.”

Now, he’s at it again with his most recent column in which he correctly points out that the United States is culturally fractured, and speculates as to whether or not Thomas Jefferson’s call to “dissolve political bands” in the Declaration of Independence might be sound advice today.

Buchanan is correct in noting that the US is culturally divided today.

But, he appears to have a selective view of history when he contends there was a time when this was not so. If there ever was such a period, it’s unclear as to when exactly it was. 

Buchanan can’t be referring to the mid-19th century when Northern states and Southern states were becoming increasingly hostile toward each other. Many of these differences flared up over slavery, but larger cultural differences were there too, exemplified by a divide between agrarian and industrialized culture, and the hierarchical South versus the more populist North. The result was a civil war that killed more than 2 percent of the population. It was a literal bloodbath.

Was that version of the United States culturally united?

Nor can Buchanan possibly be referring to the US of the so-called Gilded Age. After all, during this period, the US was flooded with immigrants from a wide variety of backgrounds, 

Historian Jon Grinspan notes:

American life transformed more radically during the 19th century than it ever had before. Between the 1830s and 1900, America’s population quintupled … at least 18 million immigrants arrived from Europe, more people than had lived in all of America in 1830.

This hardly led to a period of religious or linguistic unity.

To continue reading: The US Is Not “One Nation” — And it Never Was

Meanwhile, Spotted Together At A Southampton Party, by Tyler Durden

Whatever their nominal differences in political affiliation and philosophy, the powers that be in this country are a pretty homogenous bunch. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

While publicly polarizing average-joe America at every opportunity, it appears the ‘elites’ are having a blast ‘together’ behind the scenes

As Politico reports…

OUT AND ABOUT IN THE HAMPTONSLally Weymouth held her annual summer party last night at her house in Southampton.

There was a long gold carpet entrance from where the parking was to a big tent next to her house. She served champagne, rare filet, fried chicken, cornbread, a big chocolate cake, ice cream and cookies decorated as American flags. Brother Don Graham did a big tribute to toast Lally (whose birthday is tomorrow) and shouted out Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film about how Ben Bradlee and Katharine Graham challenged the government for the right to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971 (Tom Hanks is playing Bradlee and Meryl Streep is playing Graham). Don made a big deal that Spielberg was there and jokingly conceived a Spielberg movie about Lally and described the cast (some actors and some in the room).

SPOTTED: Jared and Ivanka chatting with Joel Klein and Alan Patricof, Kellyanne Conway on the dance floor, Boyden Gray, Chris Ruddy, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and wife Iris, Katharine Weymouth, Mary Jordan, Richard Cohen, Margaret Carlson, Gillian Tett, Steven Spielberg chatting with Steve Clemons and Robert Hormats, Carl Icahn, Tom Lee (famous for doing a leveraged buyout of Snapple and now lives in Princess Radziwill’s house), David Koch, John Paulson, Dina Powell, Richard Edelman, George Soros and his wife Tamiko Bolton, former Florida Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham (Lally’s uncle), her cousin Gwen Graham (who is running for Florida governor), Maria Bartiromo, Ray Kelly, Bill Bratton, Jeff Rosen, William Drozdiak, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.).

As DailyWire.com writes, David Koch was at a party with George Soros? Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Kellyanne Conway, too?

To continue reading: Meanwhile, Spotted Together At A Southampton Party

The Male Starved Culture, by JC Collins

Has the pendulum swung too far, and is Trump the start of its swing in the other direction? An off-the-beaten-track article from JC Collins of philosophyofmetrics.com:

And How Trump is Using Game Tactics to Psychologically Rape the Left

The liberal left has a big problem.

Outside of eating itself over its own absurd policies of pop culture socialism and personal unaccountability, it is faced with the one thing it cannot beat. The leftist ideology has spent decades pounding on the evil male patriarchy and its perceived forms of governmental and cultural influence. But for all its efforts and scheming the male power dynamic is alive and stronger than ever.

You see, the male demographic has remained quiet for a long time. The strength which exists within the male spirit allowed it to hibernate while the world went insane. All the brute force in material existence cannot come close to matching the power of a well-timed and well-placed strategy. That is exactly what is taking place in the world now.

The cultures which developed since the beginning of human thought and organization all developed around the strong male power dynamic. This power dynamic has always been harnessed and focused by the passive female dynamic. Together both built vast civilizations and empires which spanned across the face of the earth and through the gates of time.

The male was the aggressive front force fighting the elements, nature, and other men. The female was the passive supported and tempered heart which gave men a purpose that was worth defending. This dynamic of life and existence begins to erode the moment either are removed or retarded.

A strong and vibrant relationship between the male dynamic and female dynamic makes a large powerful government redundant. The family unit and social structure which develops as a result of this relationship has carried humanity through tens of thousands of years, if not millions.

There was no need for a government or laws to force men to defend their families. Equally so, there was no need for a government or laws when men defended and cared for their families. The eventual corruption of the human heart across the male and female power dynamic ensured that both became dysfunctional and reliant upon the same governance and control mechanism which began to erode the relationship in the first place.

To continue reading: The Male Starved Culture

We had just experienced exactly the type of free and honest fight club conversation that ZeroHedge enables, by Hedgeless Horseman

I attended the conference that is the topic of this article, and made a presentation on “Breaking the Alternative Media’s Dependence on the Mainstream Media.” Soon I will release the text of that presentation, probably in parts since it was about a 45-minute speech. It was a great conference, and Hedgeless Horseman and Zero Hedge deserve a world of credit for hosting it. From Hedgeless at zerohedge.com:

At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.” 

-Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

I am still trying to interpret and integrate all that I experienced and learned about disintermediation, about myself, and about y’all at last week’s First ZeroHedge Symposium and Live Fight Club in Marfa, Texas. I hope that writing this after-action report will help me to better assimilate it.

Last Wednesday, I picked up the aquaponics speaker, Tim, upon his arrival from Hawaii at the airport.  My family and I got to know him well during our short 10.5 hour drive out to Marfa, and over the course of the next 6 days.  We now grok the differences between aquaponics and hydroponics, and the similarities between our two families.

For us, staying in the tepees, tents, and vintage aluminum trailers at El Cosmico proved to be a very good choice.  ZeroHedgers arrived and immediately coalesced around the open-air showers and community kitchens.  Usually the question of, “Are you here for the symposium?” was answered with a yes, a big smile, an offer of a beer or mescal, and an introduction such as, “Hello, I am hedgeless_horseman.”  

[The guy in the picture is Hedgeless Horseman]

Some of us had come a day early to tour the art at the Chinati Foundation.  I had very high expectations based on the reading I had done, and they were exceeded.  It was sublime to experience Donald Judd’s 100 untitled works in milled aluminum, in that particular light, architecture, and environment.  Another favorite was Robert Irwin’s relatively new permanent installation where we literally moved out of the darkness and into the light.  The full-day tour served as the perfect appetizer to clear, open, and prepare my mind for the three-day symposium.

Thursday afternoon, I learned from our gracious hosts in Marfa that a few special snowflakes, which had only recently fallen in this hot and dry desert, had started a petition for the city to ban us from holding the symposium in “their” town. I asked what the perceived problem was, and was told that they were afraid we were violent and white supremacists.  We all laughed, especially the non-whites and pacifists.  Someone asked if the special snow flakes were able to read the list of speakers and topics.  Apparently not.  However, I immediately suspected that their concerns and petition were just another clear case of FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real.  This was confirmed when I agreed to be interviewed by one of them, a young woman from New York, who also claimed to be a freelance journalist.

To continue reading: We had just experienced exactly the type of free and honest fight club conversation that ZeroHedge enables