How Welfare States Make Us Less Civilized

[SOURCE: Mises Institute]

by Per Bylund

Throughout history, the state has justified itself on the grounds that it is necessary to protect us from others whose habits and beliefs — we are meant to believe — are dangerous. For millennia, this fiction was easy to maintain because most people interacted so little with people outside their nearly autarkic — and therefore impoverished — communities.

But, with the rise of industrialization and international trade in recent centuries, the state's claim that it is necessary to keep us "safe" from outsiders has become increasingly undermined.

Much of this is thanks to the fact that in order to benefit from the market, one must engage in activities designed to serve others and anticipate their needs. As a result, trade increases our understanding for both members of our community and even the stranger; it also makes us realize that other people are much like us. Even if they speak strange languages or have odd customs and traditions.

The Market Order and Civilization

This is in essence Say's Law, or the Law of Markets, which states that in the market we produce in order to trade with others so that we can thereby, indirectly, satisfy our own wants: our demand for goods in the market is constituted by our supply of goods to it. In order to effectively satisfy other people's wants we need to not only communicate with them, but understand them. If we don't, then we're wasting our productive efforts for a random result. Obviously, we'd benefit personally from learning what other people want, both their present wants and anticipated future wants, and then produce it for them.

So far so good. Most people (except for Keynesians) grasp this very simple point about the market — and how it contributes to civilization and peaceful interaction. But all people aren't saints, so good, hard-working people risk being taken advantage of as they have nothing to set against such actions. Without a central power such as the state, who will protect us from such people?

Answer: the web of voluntary transactions aligns people's interests. In the market, "bad people" are not only defrauding, stealing from, or robbing a single person or family. They are, in effect, attacking the community of interdependent producers and network of traders.

Imagine a town with a baker who specializes in baking bread that people in the town like, but that he doesn't necessarily fancy himself. Instead, he sells the bread in order to earn money that he uses to buy from others what he truly wants. Others similarly specialize their production to produce what others want, including the baker, so that they can use part of their income to buy bread. When a thief steals from this baker, he negatively affects the town's bread supply — and thereby also makes the baker unable to effectively demand goods from others. This affects a lot of people, not only the baker: it affects all people who wanted to but now can't buy bread and all those who expected to but no longer can sell their goods to the baker.

The network of exchanges and the specialized production for others thus creates a community of interdependent producers whose interests are generally aligned: they have all increased their productive effort by supplying a single good that is in high demand, and thereby made everybody better off. But it also means it is in their own interest that no one is unjustly treated and disadvantaged, whether the victim of a "bad person" is an existing or potential supplier of goods they desire or existing or potential customer of the goods they produce.

They all benefit from this order, since their productive efforts are used where they do most good. But they are also all in it together — they are all affected if things go wrong. It is not strange, then, to see how towns used to spontaneously organize to deal with crime. Robbing the baker involves not only a robber and his victim: an attack on one is an attack on the community. The robber has by his very actions chosen to not partake in community — to be an outcast.

Effect of the Welfare State

What's happened over the course of the last century with the rise of the democratic welfare state is that these market-based bonds between people within a community have been severed. With the growing state, more and more people have found positions in the economy and society where they do not need to serve others. In other words, the state has made it possible to live off what other people produce rather than contribute to satisfying everybody's wants.

As these bonds between people are severed, the threshold to engage in criminal behavior becomes lower. But more importantly, as people do not need to rely on their ability to satisfy the wants of others, they don't understand other people: they have no incentive to learn about their needs and wants, and they have nothing to gain personally from satisfying them. In other words, there is no interdependence and therefore less of a reason to stay away from destructive behavior.

This is exactly what we've seen over the course of the past century when the very large state has replaced civil society with centralized systems and market with power. The problem is that when people stop learning about each other, it is easier to resort to conflict rather than cooperation — and it is much easier to see other people as obstructions to your own happiness. Getting rid of them thus increases your share of the (now diminishing) pie, and using and exploiting others for your own benefit appears a means toward satisfaction of one's own wants.

We increasingly see examples of this type of thinking among entrepreneurs and those who want to be entrepreneurs. They start businesses not as a means to make a living — that is, to indirectly benefit themselves according to the Law of Markets — but in order to do "what they like." It's a lifestyle choice that many seem to think they have a "right" to make. Even worse, sometimes they even blame their entrepreneurial failure on "society" for not being supportive enough and not appreciating what they're offering at the price they're demanding.

This is exactly backward: to be able to do what you like for a living is a privilege that you can enjoy only if you, by doing so, satisfy others. If you create value for others, you gain value for yourself.

In this type of society where the bonds between people are weakening, it is not strange that people find the idea of a decentralized, spontaneous order outrageously naïve. Competition is here not the sound striving to better serve others by trying different and differentiated ways of satisfying wants, but rather a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers. In this situation, whoever is willing to cut corners, lie, and deceive is immediately better off. The incentives, in other words, are for destroying value and to prioritize short-term gains even if they come at high long-term costs — because those costs may be another's burden. It's the very opposite of civilization and an existence that will, if left unchecked and unchanged, eventually degenerate into a Lord of the Flies-type tribalism.

It is not strange that people have a hard time understanding the harmony argument for markets in a time when the state has alienated them from productive interdependence as explained by Say's Law. The market's informal, spontaneous cooperation for mutual benefit has been replaced by a statist mindset, which seeks guarantees — and finds it only in formal power.

But it should be obvious from the discussion above that this is not in any sense a guarantee — especially against bad behavior. It is the opposite. Yet it should be recognized that the market also offers no guarantee, strictly speaking. But do we need one when people's interests are aligned? All we need to trust is that people do what is good for themselves. That's hardly naïve.

>> Original source

Americans are Rapidly Descending Into Madness

[SOURCE: Liberty Blitzkrieg]

by Michael Krieger

I don't live in an echo chamber, partly because there aren't enough people out there who think like me, but also because I constantly and intentionally attempt to challenge my worldview by reading stuff from all over the political map. I ingest as much as I can from a wide variety of intelligent sources, picking and choosing what makes sense to me, and then synthesizing it the best I can.

Though I'm certainly grounded in certain key principles, my perspective on specific issues remains malleable as I take in additional information and perspectives. I try to accept and acknowledge my own ignorance and view life as a journey of constant mental, emotionally and spiritual growth. If I'm not growing my capacity in all of those realms until the day I die, I'm doing it wrong. Life should be seen as a battle against one's own ignorance, as opposed to an obsession with the ignorance of others. You can't legislate morality, nor can you legislate wisdom. The only way the world will improve on a long-term sustainable basis is if more of us get wise. That's a personal journey and it's our individual duty to accept it.

While I'm only in control of my own behavior, this doesn't mean that the behavior of others is irrelevant to my life. Unfortunately, what I see happening to the population of America right now seems very troublesome and foreboding. What I'm witnessing across the board is hordes of people increasingly separating themselves into weird, unthinking cults. Something appears to have snapped in our collective consciousness, and many individuals I used to respect (on both sides of the political spectrum) are becoming disturbingly polarized and hysterical. People are rapidly morphing into radicalized mental patients.

What's worse, this environment is providing a backdrop for the most destructive people of my lifetime — neoconservatives and neo liberals — to preen around on corporate media as "the voices of reason." This is one of the most perverse and dangerous side-effects of the current political climate. As I noted earlier today on Twitter:

What the entrenched political class is doing now, is exactly what the Fed did after the crisis. Posing as saviors to a disaster they created

— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) August 16, 2017

This is how humans who are dangerous failures stay in power. They claim they'll help handle a problem of their own doing.

— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) August 16, 2017

If in your disgust with Trump, you're willing to run into the cold embrace of these destroyers of the middle class and the Middle East, you'll get what you deserve. In contrast, if we really want to deal with our very real and very systemic problems, the last thing we need is a population-level mental breakdown that leads to a longing for the criminally destructive political status quo, yet that's exactly what seems to be happening.

Ok fine, so everything seems to be rapidly collapsing, but what are we supposed to do? First of all, don't lose your minds.

As I suggested in February's post, Why Increased Consciousness is the Only Path Forward:

As noted earlier, Wilber thinks 10% is a key tipping point. In other words, if we can get 10% of the population to center around a yellow second-tier level of thought, which consists of a momentous leap in consciousness, the entire world will change for the better. I agree. I'm not here trying to sell you a seminar on how to expand your consciousness; rather, I think these article can help spark some sort of revelation in the minds of many of you who are already at yellow, or at least at the cusp of such a transformation. Since consciousness can and does regress under conditions of stress and fear, it's extremely important to be conscious of your consciousness so that you don't fall back into lower states.

Unfortunately, I see many people regressing at the moment, and I see the media as an intentional force in trying to get people to lower their consciousness. A perfect way to tell if someone is operating at a low level of consciousness is if they're constantly placing tens of millions of their fellow citizens into an outside group they subsequently demonize. It's perfectly fine and healthy to harshly criticize the system itself and the many powerful individuals doing awful things within it, but once you start dehumanizing large swaths of the population as a matter of your worldview, you are most certainly on a very counterproductive path that will lead to merely a blackhole of nothingness for society.

Beyond maintaining one's sanity, it's imperative that conscious humans create systems and communities that have as little connection as possible to the existing and rapidly disintegrating paradigm. This will create "anti-fragile" units of strength within the collapsing Potemkin village socio-economic structure that dominates our culture right now. Some of these projects need to be local, while others can be global. Community farming/food production is a great example of a local initiative, while Bitcoin (and cryptocurrencies in general), represent global initiatives to replace the hopelessly corrupt and archaic entrenched financial system. While crazy, power-obsessed tribes focus on taking over the hopelessly corrupt centralized government in Washington D.C., we need to continue to build separate, decentralized paradigms — and there isn't much time to waste.

Fortunately, there are plenty of very decent, very conscious people out there. I want this piece to provide encouragement to those of you already engaged in this invaluable work, as well as inspiration for those of you looking for an outlet for your creative and intellectual energies. It's never been more important to keep our heads steady and not permit ourselves to be sucked into the mental sickness infecting so many of our fellow humans. It's imperative that we vigilantly guard our wisdom and consciousness, because the best solutions will only come from a place of spiritual and mental health. If you descend into the gutter with everyone else, your output will also end up looking like trash. That's the last thing we need.

Stay strong and stay conscious.

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In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

>> Original source

Smoke and Fire

[SOURCE: Clusterfuck Nation]

by James Howard Kunstler

Cue the corn pone Nazis. Enter, stage left. Well, what did you expect?

With the various authorities in this culture incessantly applying “white privilege” noogies to the public’s skull, sooner or later they were sure to provoke a lizard-brain response from the more limbic-oriented low orders of honkeydom. Of course, you couldn’t stage-manage a more stupidly arrant provocative act in the State of Virginia, guaranteed to bring out the raging yahoos, than threatening to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.

There’s a depressingly tragic overtone to this whole affair that suggests the arc of history itself is driving this story — a dark animus in the national soul struggling to resolve its contradictions. And the Charlottesville incident, which left a woman dead and many others badly injured from a car-ramming, has the flavor of a “first shot” in a new civil war.

The echo civil rights campaign of the moment — a strange brew of Black Lives Matter, “Antifa” (anti-fascist), latest-wave feminism, illegal immigrant sanctuary politics, and LGBTQQ agitation — emanates from the college campuses and creeps through the culture-at-large like a miasma, poisoning group against group, in an orgy of victimization claims of the sort that inevitably lead to violence. This is how tribal and religious wars start in primitive societies.

There is also a funk of phoniness about this campaign that should alert the higher centers of judgment in the brain. The Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, MO, that kicked off the BLM movement was never a convincing case of injustice, but has been widely regarded as if it was, despite state and federal inquiries (under Obama’s DOJ), that concluded otherwise. The figment of “white privilege” is not responsible for the extraordinary black-on-black homicide rates in Chicago and Baltimore or the black teen flash mobs in malls around the country. What is suspiciously at the bottom of it all is the spectacular failure of the original civil rights campaign of the 1960s to alter the structures of poverty in black America, as well as the grinding guilt among white Democratic Progressives over the failures of their own well-intentioned policies — converted perversely into racial self-flagellation.

The latest iteration of feminism comes out of campuses that have been largely taken over by female Boomer pedagogues, especially the non-STEM departments, and is now fait accompli, so that the grievances still pouring out seem manufactured and hysterical. It also has a strong odor of simple misandry, and the whole package of ideology is wrapped in impenetrable grad school jargon designed to give it an intellectual sheen that is unearned and dishonest. The grim fact is that sooner or later even some intelligent men might notice this, and get pissed off about it.

The “Antifa” movement would be funny if it wasn’t itself prone to violence, since it espouses exactly the same kind of despotism against free thought that it pretends to fight against. It wants to shut down and stamp out debate in the public arena and trample over principles that make it uncomfortable, for instance, the First Amendment asserting the right to free speech. It makes a mockery of the battle cry for “diversity” (diversity only for Antifa-approved ideas). That so many current college students subscribe to the movement ought to make thoughtful people very uneasy about the politics of the coming generation. In their black battle garb and masks, they resemble the very fascist mobs of the 1930s that the name “Antifa” supposedly evokes as its enemy.

The illegal immigrant sanctuary movement is just plain insane, starting with the refusal by officials to even make a distinction between citizens and non-citizens. There is every reason to think that mayors of “sanctuary cities” and administrators on “sanctuary campuses” should be prosecuted under federal law. It has reached such a pitch in California, where state college deans are shepherding “undocumented” students into special programs, that they are sure to provoke the cutoff of funds and perhaps the destruction of their own institutions. The movement is the very essence of lawlessness and a disgrace to the supposedly thinking class.

The LGBTQQ movement, an offshoot of Feminism 3.0, seeks to erase biology itself as applied to human mammalian sexuality, at the same time that it wants to create new special social and political entitlements — based on various categories of sexual desire that they insist are biologically-driven, such as the urge of a man to equip himself via surgery to behave like a woman. The movement has now gone so far as to try to shame people who place themselves in the original biological categories (“cis-gender,” another grad school metaphysical jargon clot), and especially heterosexual men. Everybody else gets brownie points for being “cutting edge.” One really has to wonder how long this nonsense goes on before it provokes a reaction among the biology-literate.

If we’re entering a new civil war, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is the product solely of extreme right-wing yahooism. These Nazi and KKK bozos are rising up because the thinking-enabled people of the center have been too cowardly to stand up against the rising tide of idiocy festering at both ends of the spectrum, and particularly on the Left with its direct wiring to the policy-making centers of American life, dictating how people must think and act, and what they should care about.

What we can’t really tell yet is whether these battles will remain joined and even escalate after the financial clusterfuck that the nation is sleepwalking into, or if the financial crisis will overwhelm them like a tsunami and leave all the stupid, tattered battle flags washed up on a lonely beach.

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>> Original source

The Anti-Federalists Were Right

[SOURCE: Mises Institute]

by Ilana Mercer

On the eve of the federal convention, and following its adjournment in September of 1787, the Anti-Federalists made the case that the Constitution makers in Philadelphia had exceeded the mandate they were given to amend the Articles of Confederation, and nothing more.

The Federal Constitution augured ill for freedom, argued the Anti-Federalists. These unsung heroes had warned early Americans of the "ropes and chains of consolidation," in Patrick Henry's magnificent words, inherent in the new dispensation.

At the very least, and after 230 years of just such "consolidation," it's safe to say that the original Constitution is a dead letter.

The natural- and common law traditions, once lodestars for lawmakers, have been buried under the rubble of legislation and statute. However much one shovels the muck of lawmaking aside, natural justice and the Founders' original intent remain buried too deep to exhume.

Consider: America's Constitution makers bequeathed a central government of delegated and enumerated powers. The Constitution gives Congress only some eighteen specific legislative powers. Nowhere among these powers is Social Security, civil rights (predicated as they are on grotesque violations of property rights), Medicare, Medicaid, and the elaborate public works sprung from the General Welfare and Interstate Commerce Clauses.

There is simply no warrant in the Constitution for most of what the Federal Frankenstein does.

The welfare clause stipulates that "Congress will have the power … to provide for the general welfare." And even though the general clause is followed by a detailed enumeration of the limited powers so delegated; our overlords, over decades of dirigisme, have taken Article I, Section 8 to mean that government can pick The People's pockets and proceed with force against them for any perceivable purpose and project.

Today, Federal courts are in the business of harmonizing law across the nation, rather than allowing communities to live under laws they author, as guaranteed by The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

In American federalism, the rights of the individual are secured through strict limits imposed on the power of the central government by a Bill of Rights and the division of authority between autonomous states and a federal government. States had been entrusted with the power to beat back the federal occupier and void unconstitutional federal laws. States' rights are "an essential Americanism," wrote Old Rightist Frank Chodorov. The Founding Fathers as well as the opponents of the Constitution agreed on the principle of divided authority as a safeguard to the rights of the individual."

Duly, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison perfected a certain doctrine in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. "The Virginia Resolutions," explains historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr., "spoke of the states' rights to 'interpose' between the federal government and the people of the states; the Kentucky Resolutions used the term nullification — the states, they said, could nullify federal laws that they believed to be unconstitutional." Jefferson," emphasizes Woods, "considered states' rights a much more important and effective safeguard of people's liberties than the 'checks and balances' among the three branches of the federal government."

And for good reason. While judicial review was intended to curb Congress and restrain the executive, in reality, the unholy judicial, legislative and executive federal trinity has simply colluded in an alliance that has helped to abolish the Tenth Amendment.

You know the drill, but are always surprised anew by it. Voters pass a law under which a plurality wishes to live. Along comes a U.S. district judge and voids the law, citing a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

For example: Voters might elect to prohibit government from sanctioning gay marriage. A U.S. district judge voids voter-approved law for violating the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. These periodical contretemps around gay marriage are perfectly proper judicial activism heralded by the Fourteenth Amendment. Yet not even conservative constitutional originalists are willing to cop to the propriety of it all. If the Bill of Rights was intended to place strict limits on federal power and protect individual and locality from the national government — the Fourteenth Amendment effectively defeated that purpose by placing the power to enforce the Bill of Rights in federal hands, where it was never intended to be. Put differently, matters previously subject to state jurisdiction have been pulled into the orbit of a judiciary.

The gist of it: Jeffersonian constitutional thought is no longer in the Constitution; its revival unlikely.

As ardent a defender of the Constitution as constitutional scholar James McClellan was — even he conceded, sadly, that the Constitution makers were mistaken to rely on the good faith of Congress and their observance of the requirements of liberty, to rein in an Über-Presidency in the making. Nor has Congress prevented the rise of a legislating bureaucracy (the Deep State?) and an overweening judiciary — a judiciary that has, of late, found in the Constitution a mandate to compel commerce by forcing individual Americans to purchase health insurance on pains of a fine.

Meanwhile, John G. Roberts Jr., a "conservative," rewrote Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, and then proceeded to provide the fifth vote to uphold the individual mandate undergirding the law, thereby undeniably and obscenely extending Congress's taxing power.

"[B]uried in the constitutional thickets" are "huge presidential powers," conceded historian Paul Johnson, in his History of the American People. The American president "was much stronger than most kings of the day, rivaled or exceeded only by the 'Great Autocrat,' the Tsar of Russia (and in practice stronger than most tsars). These powers were not explored until Andrew Jackson's time, half a century on, when they astonished and frightened many people."

These days, the toss-up in any given election is between submitting to the Democrats' war on whites, the wealthy, and Wal-Mart, or being bedeviled by the Republicans' wars on the world: Russia, China, Assad and The Ayatollahs. Or, suffering all the indignities listed — and more — in the case of candidates like Hillary Clinton.

The words of Republican office seekers notwithstanding — for most promise constitutionalism — a liberty-lover's best hope is to see the legacy of the strongman who went before overturned for a period of time. In the age of unconstitutional government — Democratic and Republican — the best liberty lovers can look to is action and counteraction, force and counterforce in the service of liberty.

Having prophesied that Philadelphia was the beginning of the end of the freedoms won in the American Revolution, our Anti-Federalist philosophical fathers fought to forestall the inevitable. For that we must salute them.

>> Original source

Just Wait a Little While

[SOURCE: Clusterfuck Nation]

by James Howard Kunstler

The trouble, of course, is that even after the Deep State (a.k.a. “The Swamp”) succeeds in quicksanding President Trump, America will be left with itself — adrift among the cypress stumps, drained of purpose, spirit, hope, credibility, and, worst of all, a collective grasp on reality, lost in the fog of collapse.

Here’s what you need to know about what’s going on and where we’re headed.

The United States is comprehensively bankrupt. The government is broke and the citizenry is trapped under inescapable debt burdens. We are never again going to generate the kinds and volumes of “growth” associated with techno-industrial expansion. That growth came out of energy flows, mainly fossil fuels, that paid for themselves and furnished a surplus for doing other useful things. It’s over. Shale oil, for instance, doesn’t pay for itself and the companies engaged in it will eventually run out of accounting hocus-pocus for pretending that it does, and they will go out of business.

The self-evident absence of growth means the end of borrowing money at all levels. When you can’t pay back old loans, it’s unlikely that you will be able to arrange new loans. The nation could pretend to be able to borrow more, since it can supposedly “create” money (loan it into existence, print it, add keystrokes to computer records), but eventually those tricks fail, too. Either the “non-performing” loans (loans not being paid off) cause money to disappear, or the authorities “create” so much new money from thin air (money not associated with real things of value like land, food, manufactured goods) that the “money” loses its mojo as a medium of exchange (for real things), as a store of value (over time), and as a reliable index of pricing — which is to say all the functions of money.

In other words, there are two ways of going broke in this situation: money can become scarce as it disappears so that few people have any; or everybody can have plenty of money that has no value and no credibility. I mention these monetary matters because the system of finance is the unifying link between all the systems we depend on for modern life, and none of them can run without it. So that’s where the real trouble is apt to start. That’s why I write about markets and banks on this blog.

The authorities in this nation, including government, business, and academia, routinely lie about our national financial operations for a couple of reasons. One is that they know the situation is hopeless but the consequences are so awful to contemplate that resorting to accounting fraud and pretense is preferable to facing reality. Secondarily, they do it to protect their jobs and reputations — which they will lose anyway as collapse proceeds and their record of feckless dishonesty reveals itself naturally.

The underlying issue is the scale of human activity in our time. It has exceeded its limits and we have to tune back a lot of what we do. Anything organized at the giant scale is headed for failure, so it comes down to a choice between outright collapse or severe re-scaling, which you might think of as managed contraction. That goes for government programs, military adventures, corporate enterprise, education, transportation, health care, agriculture, urban design, basically everything. There is an unfortunate human inclination to not reform, revise, or re-scale familiar activities. We’ll use every kind of duct tape and baling wire we can find to keep the current systems operating, and we have, but we’re close to the point where that sort of cob-job maintenance won’t work anymore, especially where money is concerned.

Why this is so has been attributed to intrinsic human brain programming that supposedly evolved optimally for short-term planning. But obviously many people and institutions dedicate themselves to long-term thinking. So there must be a big emotional over-ride represented by the fear of letting go of what used to work that tends to disable long-term thinking. It’s hard to accept that our set-up is about to stop working — especially something as marvelous as techno-industrial society.

But that’s exactly what’s happening. If you want a chance at keeping on keeping on, you’ll have to get with reality’s program. Start by choosing a place to live that has some prospect of remaining civilized. This probably doesn’t include our big cities. But there are plenty of small cities and small towns out in America that are scaled for the resource realities of the future, waiting to be reinhabited and reactivated. A lot of these lie along the country’s inland waterways — the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri river system, the Great Lakes, the Hudson and St. Lawrence corridors — and they also exist in regions of the country were food can be grown.

You’ll have to shift your energies into a trade or vocation that makes you useful to other people. This probably precludes jobs like developing phone apps, day-trading, and teaching gender studies. Think: carpentry, blacksmithing, basic medicine, mule-breeding, simplified small retail, and especially farming, along with the value-added activities entailed in farm production. The entire digital economy is going to fade away like a drug-induced hallucination, so beware the current narcissistic blandishments of computer technology. Keep in mind that being in this world actually entitles you to nothing. One way or another, you’ll have to earn everything worth having, including self-respect and your next meal.

Now, just wait a little while.


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>> Original source

Narratives Are Not Truths

[SOURCE: Clusterfuck Nation]

by James Howard Kunstler

The polity is a social organism, of course, meaning that it adds up to more than the sum of its parts, a body of politics, if you will, just as each of us adds up to more than just our bodies. It's alive as we are alive. We have needs. We have intentions in the service of those needs. Those intentions animate us and turn us in one direction or another to stay alive, and even more than that, to thrive.

The American polity is not thriving. It has been incrementally failing to meet its needs for quite a while now, playing games with itself to pretend that it is okay while its institutional organs and economic operations decay. It turns this way and that way ever more desperately, over-steering like a drunk on the highway. It is drunk on the untruths it tells itself in the service of playing games to avoid meeting its real needs. Narratives are not truths.

Here is a primary question we might ask ourselves: do we want to live in a healthy society? Do we want to thrive? If so, what are the narratives standing in the way of turning us in the direction?

Let's start with health care, so called, since the failure to do anything about the current disastrous system is so fresh. What's the narrative there? That "providers" (doctors and hospitals) can team up with banking operations called "insurance companies" to fairly allocate "services" to the broad population with a little help from the government. No, that's actually not how it works. The three "players" actually engage in a massive racketeering matrix — that is, they extract enormous sums of money dishonestly from the public they pretend to serve and they do it twice: once by extortionary fees and again by taxes paid to subsidize mitigating the effects of the racketeering.

The public has its own narrative, which is that there is no connection between their medical problems and the way they live. The fact is that they eat too much poisonous food because it's tasty and fun, and they do that because the habits-of-life that they have complicitly allowed to ev0lve in this country offers them paltry rewards otherwise. They dwell in ugly, punishing surroundings, spend too much time and waste too much money driving cars around it in isolation, and have gone along with every effort to dismantle the armatures of common social exchange that afford what might be called a _human dimensio_n of everyday living.

So, the medical racket ends up being nearly 20 percent of the economy, while the public gets fatter, sicker, and more anxiously depressed. And there is no sign that we want to disrupt the narratives.

A related narrative: the US economy is "recovering" — supposedly from a mysterious speed-bump that made it swerve off the road in 2008. No, that's not it. The US economy has entered a permanent state of contraction because we can't afford the fossil fuel energy it takes to continue expanding our techno-industrial activities (and there are no plausible adequate substitutes for the fossil fuels). We tried to cover up this state of affairs by borrowing money from the future, issuing bonds to "create money," and now we've reached the end of that racket because it's clear we can't pay back the old bonded debt and have no prospect for "making good" on issuing new bonded debt. Recently, we have been issuing new debt mainly to pay back the old, and any twelve-year-old can see where that leads.

Reality wants us to manage the contraction of that failing economy, and because that is difficult and requires changing familiar, comfortable arrangements, we just pretend that we can keep expanding the old system. Of course, all the work-arounds and games only increase the fragility of the system and set us up for a kind of sudden failure that could literally destroy civilized society.

Another popular narrative of the moment — a dominant preoccupation among the "educated" elites these days — is that we can change human nature, especially human sexuality and all the social behaviors that derive from mammals existing in two sexes. This set of narratives is deeply entwined with fashion and status-seeking, with the greatest status currently being conferred upon those opting out from being either one sex or the other, along with the biological imperatives associated with one or the other. This has been identified by the essayist Hugo Salinas Price as an updated form of Gnosticism and is now the official reigning ideology of the college campuses. Some call it "cultural Marxism," but it is really a form of religion. It offers colorful distraction from the more difficult adult tasks of managing contraction and rebuilding the political economy with its social armatures.

So, these conditions might prompt us to ask the more general question: how much longer do we, as a polity, want to pretend that narratives are the same as the truth? As I've averred previously, I think reality itself has to force the issue by delivering circumstances so compelling that it is no longer possible to keep telling yourself the same old stories. And that reckoning is not far off.

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>> Original source

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