‘Fallen! Fallen Is Babylon The Great!’
(For those keeping score, the title of this post is a quote from Rev. 18:2.)
Damon Linker is feeling prophetic — and he’s damned correct to! Excerpts:
You can almost hear the sentiments echoing down the corridors of (political and economic) power on both sides of the Atlantic: “There’s nothing to worry about. Everything’s fine. No need for serious soul searching or changes of direction. Sure, populism’s a nuisance. But we’re keeping it at bay. We just need to stay the course, fiddle around the edges a little bit, and certainly not give an inch to the racists and xenophobes who keep making trouble. We know how the world works, and we can handle the necessary fine tuning of the meritocracy. We got this.”
And why wouldn’t they think this way? They are themselves the greatest beneficiaries of the global meritocracy — and that very fact serves to validate its worth. They live in or near urban centers that are booming with jobs in tech, finance, media, and other fields that draw on the expertise they acquired in their educations at the greatest universities in the world. They work hard and are rewarded with high salaries, frequent travel, nice cars, and cutting-edge gadgets. It’s fun, anxious, thrilling — an intoxicating mix of brutal asceticism and ecstatic hedonism.
The problem is that growing numbers of people — here in America, in the U.K., in France, and beyond — don’t see it like this at all. Or rather, they only see it from the outside, a position from which it looks very different. What they see is a system that is fundamentally unjust, rigged, and shot through with corruption and self-dealing.
To this point, if you are not following Chris Arnade on Twitter, now is the time to start. More Linker:
They see Marissa Meyer, the CEO of Yahoo, taking home a cool $186 million in stock (on top of many millions in additional salary and bonuses) for five years of “largely unsuccessful” work.
They see Henrique De Castro, who worked briefly for Meyer at Yahoo, pulling $109 million in compensation for a disastrous 15 months on the job.
They see Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly getting fired from Fox News for sexually harassing a parade of women over the years — and taking home tens of millions of dollars each in severance.
They see former Democratic President Barack Obama sharing a $65 million book advance with his wife, earning $400,000 for a single speech scheduled to be delivered in the fall at investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald, and gallivanting around the globe with David Geffen, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, and Bono.
And then, as Linker avers, there’s Trump and the Washington Republicans, who don’t seem to have much of a clue about what the people who voted for them want. Whether or not you think the border wall is a good idea — I have my doubts — Ann Coulter is absolutely right here:
No one voted for Trump because of the “Access Hollywood” tape. They voted for him because of his issues; most prominently, his promise to build “a big beautiful wall.” And who’s going to pay for it? MEXICO!
You can’t say that at every campaign rally for 18 months and then not build a wall.
Do not imagine that a Trump double-cross on the wall will not destroy the Republican Party. Oh, we’ll get them back. No, you won’t. Trump wasn’t a distraction: He was the last chance to save the GOP.
Millions of Americans who hadn’t voted in 30 years came out in 2016 to vote for Trump. If he betrays them, they’ll say, “You see? I told you. They’re all crooks.”
No excuses will work. No fiery denunciations of the courts, the Democrats or La Raza will win them back, even if Trump comes up with demeaning Twitter names for them.
It would be an epic betrayal — worse than Bush betraying voters on “no new taxes.” Worse than LBJ escalating the Vietnam War. There would be nothing like it in the history of politics.
He’s the commander in chief! He said he’d build a wall. If he can’t do that, Trump is finished, the Republican Party is finished, and the country is finished.
Trump was never going to get the wall built, but if there is nothing he promised more fervently. If Trump sells out his voters on this one, I don’t agree that the country is finished, but I do believe that the reaction when these voters realize that they’ve been had is going to be hellacious.
Anyway, back to the Linker column: Read the whole thing and pass it along to everyone you know.
They say that Marine Le Pen can’t beat Emmanuel “Micro Macro” Macron. They’re probably right. Le Pen may not deserve to win, but empty-suit Macron, who stands for nothing more than the interests of the French and European establishments, deserves to lose. If Le Pen wins this thing on May 7, that will be the equivalent of pulling down the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad. And the globalist elites will have brought it on themselves.
Hard, hard times coming. None of us are going to escape it; the best we can do is to build our resilience. Prepare.
UPDATE: A reader sends in this link to an Ian Welsh blogpost. Excerpts:
Economic problems take time to ripple thru political system because after 30 most people don’t tend to change their views. They believe what they believe, they are who they are, and while age produces real changes, it doesn’t tend to change their politics, absent absolute catastrophe.
But we are now moving to the other side of that. For decades people put up with decline, but now the youngsters, some of whom are in their early 30s, have never known anything but a failed system and a bad economy. This political world has never worked for them, ever: they have no emotional investment in it, no habit of supporting it.
So, as we continue our economic decline; as inequality gets worse and worse, and as the coming generations move to the age where they are politically viable, the current time ends.
The next set of rulers and their supporters will try new things; new systems. They will be willing to revolt. The age of neoliberalism is all but over.
It is quite hard to predict history in the short term, where the short term means years, or even a decade or two. It is very hard to predict history in the long term of centuries or millennia. But between that it is quite easy. Each ideology, each empire, each economic system has a best by date. Some last longer than others, but all end, and they do so in fairly standard order.
We are near the end of an ideological order: neoliberalism. We are near the end of war-making technological era, with the rise of robots. We are near the end of a production technological era, with the rise of AI and bots.
Combined with environmental catastrophe (and nukes), this makes what is coming down the line much worse than the normal cyclical change. Much, much worse. We can create a better world, or a few better societies, out of it, to be sure, but there is probably no avoiding the Age of War and Revolution which is soon to be upon us.