How "interesting" are current times in the US?

There absolutely was until Roosevelt took office and managed to calm things down.

Agreed. I also contend that the tensions that produced Trump are nothing to the tensions that climate change will create as its impact becomes more severe.

Interesting, I don’t really recall seeing that in my readings. But I do know we were close to electing some potential populists that would’ve taken Fascist as happened in too much of the world. Huey Long was one I recall the most. But he wasn’t the only one.

I think the better analogue is Weimar-era Germany with its polarization and infighting, rampant corporate corruption, exaggerated nationalism and xenophobia, all set on the backdrop of massive changes in both technology and economics; the 1930s German even had an Elon Musk-like industrial magnate in Friederich Flick, appeasing politicians while consolidating control over numerous industries through risky takeovers and market manipulation while appealing to the public as a heroic titan of industry. The collapse of the Soviet Union was an economic inevitability, and the only surprise was that it happened as soon and rapidly as it did, but Weimar Germany looked poised for economic growth and being a technical leader after the disastrous hyperinflation of 1921-3 until it rather bizarrely took a hard turn to far-right nationalism and then fascism while people looked on.

Either way you read it, the signs are not good.


I think America’s collapse will be just as quick and in retrospect, just as inevitable. At this point, the quick collapse of the US is probably in the world’s best interest.

Times now are somewhat “interesting” but the real thing is how inevitable it feels that things will get significantly worse in short order. The former president attempted a coup and half the country wants him to try again. If things don’t get really bad it’ll be a miracle.

The 1990s really seem like a golden age now. The Cold War was over, the peace dividend was kicking in, Eastern Europe was opening up, Francis Fukuyama declared “The End of History.”

Progressivism—at least what passes for it in the United States—was on the upswing. We were going to stop fighting and start solving societal problems—health care, environment, pollution, discrimination, sexism. Of course, nothing was perfect, but we were working on it.

Of course, if you were paying attention, the machinations for its downfall were in the works. The right steadily became more and more radical every year, and the left’s progress was as always very slow.

We started hearing about black helicopters and rail cars with United Nations logos. All the current paranoid CT trends were in their developing stage.

Things took a turn for the worse when mobs of business suited rioters stopped the vote recounts in Florida and a “moderate” Supreme Court gaveled down the election results. Then we had 9/11 and a bullshit war which led to the sanctioning of torture and rendition and all kinds of nonsense.

The Obama era presented another opportunity to set things on the right path, but the left-ish politicians never took their chances the way that the right never fails to do.

Now things seem worse than ever, worse than the 1960s and 1970s, because even though there was turmoil then, it was at least turmoil that was headed in the right direction.

Now everything seems to be headed downhill, and the best we can hope for is someone to put on the brakes, not make any actual progress.

Still, it never seemed as

Well, save that the United States could and has the means to be the leader driving economic and technological change to cope with existential threats like global climate change, future pandemics, et cetera in a way that no other nation—certainly not China, and not even Germany—has the means to be. With that hypothetical leadership it might be possible to cope with coming changes without a total collapse of industrial society. But of course the United States is not on that path and the far-right contingent are frenetically grinding gears trying to put the nation in reverse. I don’t have a lot of hope, frankly, that anyone is going to be prepared for coming changes of climate alteration and once they are apparent it will be way too late to start coming up with mitigations.

The comparisons to the ‘Sixties in the United States aren’t really even in the same ballpark. There was certainly both unrest from people pushing civil and voting rights that was long overdue, and reactionary resistance from those who didn’t want change, but there was not the degree of stark polarization nor such a pronounced tendency toward extreme nativism and proto-fascism. If anything, the ‘Sixties were a period of social and cultural growth, and aside from a few radical groups who felt that the changes weren’t coming fast enough without violence (most of whom managed to blow themselves up or run off to Canada, and ended up becoming the ‘Me Generation’ of the ‘Eighties). What we see today is a totally different phenomena where despite all of the handwringing over the supposed violence and vandalism incidental to the Black Lives Matter protests, it is the reactionaries and so-called ‘Conservatives’ (who are not in any way traditional conservatives) who are doing the greatest damage and harm, up to and including an attempted insurrection to stop a the certification of an election they didn’t like the outcome of.

I hope to be wrong but my most recent reading of Weimar and Nazi era Germany has such astoundingly stark parallels that it is difficult to find optimism.


There was no one organized movement in, say, 1932 that made dissolution its goal. Rather, the generalized feeling was that capitalism was totally broken, the politicians were doing absolutely nothing, money was disappearing as banks folded, jobs were being yanked out from under people, and all the certainties that kept a polyglot agglomeration like America together had vanished. The restlessness was similar to revolutionary moments in Europe in the 19th century, only without a handy outlet like a king to represent their opposition.

The interregnum between the election and the inauguration - which was in March in 1933 - made matters worse because Roosevelt wouldn’t agree to any solution Hoover proposed but also wouldn’t announce any of his plans in advance. Americans were poised either to take action - some action, any action - or to feel relief at Roosevelt the savior. They chose the latter.

What would have happened if Roosevelt didn’t fulfill their inchoate need? I hate that kind of speculation, but probably there would have been a huge number of violent reactions from small groups. Whether and how those would have coalesced is something to have nightmares about.

That makes sense. Thank you.

Yep, that has always been what I perceived about that group. Many of them who wound up in positions of real power and profit were “counter culture” in their youth only in fashion and lifestyle, not in fundamental worldview.

I’d think more analogous to 18 September 1931 (Japanese invasion of Manchuria), 3 October 1935 (Italian invasion of Ethiopia) or 18 July 1936 (the military uprising that launched the Spanish Civil War). The first two underlined the inability of the leading powers to enforce the kind of international regime they thought Versailles had ushered in, the last aroused the same sort of public reaction across Europe (the first two having been comfortably remote, and embarrassingly similar to the establishment of the British and French empires). Between them, they put the writing on the wall.

Yup, what the 60s were really about was white boomers’ outsized demand for attention and resources. For the next half century all aspects of American culture were reconfigured to serve them and the 60s mythology was created to justify their behavior. It’s why they always bring up Kent State as an argument that today isn’t so bad, the fact that they thing four dead white middle class kids is worse than an attempted coup is very telling about what six generation of pandering have done to their understanding of reality.

I think it’s more accurate to say that the sixties were about a lot of things happening at once. I don’t know who this ‘they’ are that you refer to. I don’t know a single boomer who thinks today is not so bad. White boomers tend to remember that period as a time of burgeoning new ideas, luxuriant new freedoms, a time when the world seemed poised to change for the better in many different directions. We were also young, and astonishingly well off and secure in comparison with pretty much anyone now. I rented a room in a communal house for $75 a month, I went on a date with a guy who kept his VW bug gassed up with change he found in the upholstery … tuition was something you could pay out of pocket.

Of course there was an outsized demand for resources, the population bulge was huge. I was born in 1956 – the typical family was four or five kids.

I think the they in my sentence was pretty clear, white boomers. They have given Kent State an outsized role in history because it was one of the few times that white middle class kids suffered consequences for their activism, people of color are still regularly gunned down by the state, but Kent State is held up as this symbol. Even now, on this board, people are making the point that we survived the 60s, so we’ll survive this. This complacency by white boomers has been a huge hurdle that has allowed for the dismantling of the safety rails installed to protest our democracy.

I’m a white boomer, along with about 70 million other such, and I haven’t heard about Kent State for like fifty years, except occasionally on the anniversary. I think you’re talking to a very small group and making some wild extrapolations.

If there is any parallel to be made between now and the sixties it is the anger, between the same two groups which have been disgusted by each other since the country’s origins.

I’m not sure whether I misunderstand you. Born in 60, I’m at the tail end of Boomers. I know no shortage of folk 10-20 yrs my senior who are perfectly happy with the lifestyles their $ allows them to lead, and aren’t terribly concerned over their philosophy being legislated. Instead, they seem more interested in getting future generations to pay more and more of their healthcare, and to insulate more of their income/wealth from taxes. Right now, if you asked them what they are concerned about, many of them would cite the very recent downturn in their portfolios. Those are the majority of Boomers I know.

I hang with progressives, that’s probably the difference. They were progressive then, when so many were, and they didn’t change when so many did. Generally they don’t have portfolios.

On this board, there were comments today about how things aren’t so bad and all you have to do is look at some of the threads about the Trump administration to find boomers down playing the depth of the crisis.