So much is in play lately socially & politically are there some larger trends we are missing?

I ask because of this book interview in Vice

This Short, Terrifying Book Explains How the West Could Collapse

I’m not asking because of the book interview itself, it had some interesting points but I don’t think it adds up to the death of western democracy. What the book does though is point to some large trends across time it’s very difficult to see when you’re in the middle of them and only in hindsight an you say “Oh yeah that’s what was happening”.

Everything seems upside down to some degree with the Trump presidency, liberals having their echo chambers imploded, and all the related fallout. Things we took for granted are being dismantled. Chunks of the American middle class are sliding into scrambling underclass status. Elites keep gathering power and resources and oddly … liberalism is playing defense.

What are the larger historical forces here at play we are missing? What is the Olympian view? Is having one even possible? Could anyone is 1960, 1970 or 1980 foresee the US of 2017? What’s happening that we cannot see?

I’m really hoping the global glut of un(der)employed young men doesn’t result in The Handmaid’s Tale becoming prescient.

My 2 cents: It was the one-two punch of the popularization of the internet and then 9/11. When the millennium began, the transition seemed inconsequential at the time. It’s only in retrospect that you can see that the rough temporal convergence of those two factors led to absolutely immense repercussions.

In the case of the internet, it could well be a great historical irony that it began as a project of the US Department of Defense.

When a disaster hits there’s always plenty of blame to go around: crony capitalism (AKA capitalism), deindustrialization, atomization of society, financialization of the economy, consumerism, bubble economies, oligarchy (you can’t vote the bums out if you didn’t vote them in), good ol’e militarism, and squishy totalitarianism, which renders popular resistance effectively nil. People recognize that clever slogans on protest signs won’t do anything, but it’s not obvious what would. The systems may be too large and decentralized to resist or reform.

Stuff like this has been written about for a long time. One of the obvious problems when left politics is captured by the corporate sector is it opens the door for the popular right-wing backlash. A problem with America in particular is the populace is seized by culture war rhetoric, so you have the curious sight of the downtrodden voting against proven policies that would help them and their families and eschewing effective organization because that’s what socialists do.

What’s odd about that? Liberals are all about meritocracy and maximizing return on investment for the owner class. They’ll defend the status quo 'til their dying breath.

The #resist movement has completely changed the political climate in the US. The enervated progressive and liberal factions have been electroshocked into consciousness by the complete and utter defeat of the election. I don’t think anyone really appreciates the depth and breadth of this movement.

I sure hope so. I’m not seeing it yet, but maybe we’ll all see some progress next year.

Here’s two macro trends that get a lot of attention but which we still haven’t begun to process as a polity and a culture:

  1. Artificial intelligence. It will alter our economy more fundamentally than the internet did. Eventually, it will alter it on the scale of the industrial revolution, or even the jump from hunter-gatherers to agriculture. And it is starting and accelerating already.

  2. The death of trust. We are, at our core, just sophisticated apes. The world is already so advanced that much of our “knowledge” is just beliefs we have because we trust other apes. But as our networks grow larger, the world becomes more complicated and fast-paced, and it becomes easier to fabricate very realistic hoaxes, our ability to judge whom to trust has become both more important and less reliable. AI might partially fix this, but if so, it will only enhance the effects of #1 above.

The fundamental disappearance of “Them”.

“Them” united “Us” and gave us a sense of Higher Purpose.

Where would we be if there was no “Communism”?

What would have happened if there was no schisms in Christianity?

Hell, what would do instead of rooting for “Our” High School teams in their never-ending battle against the HS 30 miles away?

I take it the there was an Iraqi blogger who provided blow-by-blow of W’s “Shock and Awe”.

How dedicated to a war can you be when you know the persons your government is trying to kill?

We now have Burma (remember Burma?) coming online.
Will the Jihadists tame their rhetoric when they can see the carnage their heroic suicide bombers inflict.

It’s not just oil that comes from that patch of sand - it is your favorite blogger as well.

This is a big one. It used to be, people could widely agree on the facts, and disagreements occurred in the interpretations of said facts. Nowadays, trying to find agreement even on the facts is next to impossible, forget the interpretation.

Imo some people will only accept the specific facts that buttress their argument and deny those that dont. Very few complicated issues are black or white.

I don’t really know what’s going on and I’m as bewildered by election 2016 as anyone is. But, having said that, my best guess is that it is economic squeezing that is responsible for most of what we’re seeing. I’m no economist but it feels like there’s a bit less pie overall, and on the one hand people who used to have a lot of wealth are uninclined to pare down, so they’ve been doing political things to increase their percent at the expense of others, and on the other hand those who are quite deprived are feeling angry and desperate. Neither faction was particularly enamored of the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, in the land of social issues and lifestyle politics, it feels like most people are still on a slow but steady progressive path; I don’t see anything sea-change-like happening there in all this upheaval, except that those matters aren’t as important to many people as the economic ones are, and you know what they say about strange bedfellows.

I wonder what hindsight will think of same-sex marriage rights/approval in the future. I’ve lived through the changes, so they seem gradual. They don’t evoke thoughts marches and protests (despite those existing) in my mind the way the Civil Rights movement does. But looking a poll numbers, the change in public approval is that’s occurred far more quickly. But it could be said we’re at the end of that specific issue (though related ones remain).

The invisible hand is corporatism at a technologically advanced stage. The dream no longer lives, the future holds no promise. There is no penetrating the barriers erected to provide comfort in our collective purgatory.

I have read quite a few articles that put forth the root cause of both the Arab spring and the rise of terrorism as bad economic prospects for young men in the Middle East. If a person has a decent job and some hope of a better future, they are less likely to revolt against a government or adopt radical ideas and act on them.

The same poor (relative) economic prospects in the Western world can also be seen as a root cause for the anger of Trump, Brexit, Le Pen, and even Bernie voters. If a person is pessimistic about their prospects, they are more likely to vote for a radical change from the status quo.


Maybe all that’s happened is being a “weekend protester” has devolved to being a “Twitter protester.” The bar lowered pretty much to the floor - or couch, as it may be. It literally takes no effort and only fractionally more risk to thumb-type any protest you like.

I’d say the big movement of the current time is that the US is slowly losing its mind - and I mean that literally and seriously, not as snarky or Captain Obviousness. We are in a regressive phase in which sense and sensibility have been thrown out the window and under the bus, and the result is the vast range of open idiocy we now live with - any one incident of which would have been headline-grabbing national news just a year or two ago.

It’s an overused, misused and misunderstood term, but I think we’re on the threshold of Heinlein’s “Crazy Years” - and I do write as someone who fully understands what he meant by that label.

One trend is that world-wide poverty is at its lowest level in history. In 2015 the World Bank noted that “extreme poverty” was below 10% for the first time, saying it gives “fresh evidence that a quarter-century-long sustained reduction in poverty is moving the world closer to the historic goal of ending poverty by 2030.” Think about that: a respected bank thinks it is realistic to end extreme world poverty by 2030.

The problems originating in the Middle East are troubling but the overall trends since the collapse of the USSR is that global violence is decreasing.

Despite Trump and Brexit our world has never been more prosperous and peaceful.

I’m going to venture the opinion that while there are major sociopolitical forces at play in the western democracies, particularly in the US, this shouldn’t be conflated with Trump. The Trump fiasco is only very tangentially related and in any important sense is not related at all. These forces may be changing political ideology, but electing a total idiot isn’t an ideology, it’s an aberration, and Trump isn’t an ideologue, he’s a loose cannon who has no idea what he’s doing other than enriching himself and his family.

The fact that a few other nations have actual politicians representing extreme right-wing xenophobic views is indeed relevant, but for the most part they aren’t getting elected. France recently rejected their leading xenophobe and elected a moderate, one who is closely aligned with Angela Merkel and a strengthened EU. Every country on earth is on board with the Paris climate change accord except the following anomalies: Syria, Nicaragua, and (thanks to Trump) the United States, because of course climate change is a “hoax”. This kind of idiocy is not subject to any rational analysis, it’s just idiocy.