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  1. #976
    Super Moderator Wind's Avatar
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  3. #977
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    We are likely to see a mass-die off in many parts of the world this winter. A cascading series of crises is disrupting all the systems of daily life we depend on. The UK seems furthest along the road, but China isn't looking great either. There will be shortages of everything this winter, but particularly food and energy.

    Some countries have prepared better than others. For instance, Hungary has just signed a new long-term (15-year) gas supply contract with Gazprom, at much lower prices than before, bypassing the Ukraine through Serbia and Austria. Four new nuclear reactors are also under construction by Rosatom, which should double the country's renewable energy generating capacity once it's ready.

    On the other hand, Ukraine has decided to antagonise all of its neighbours, Russia and Hungary in particular and is depending on paying ridiculous prices for gas on the spot market, for which it has no money budgeted. They will probably end up simply stealing Russian gas that is meant for other countries, hence Russia's eagerness to bypass Ukraine via new pipeline routes to the North and South.

    In any case, there will be a desperate struggle for energy this winter, which is promising to be a harsh one. Gas, Oil, Coal are all in short supply already and prices are going through the roof. UK energy companies are failing on a weekly basis now and there are fistfights at some UK gas stations for what little fuel still remains. Even knives are being drawn. Many key workers, such as nurses and doctors can't get to work. This is only going to get worse.

    Winter is Coming.

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  5. #978
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    "If the American people are too ignorant to realize the impacts of this and continue to vote for candidates who are willing to make this play, we probably shouldn't be leading the world."

    At the end, Beau makes a comparison I've been making for years. It's like an abusive husband saying, "Look what you made me do."


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  7. #979
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    Sharp analysis of our current energy predicament from Dmitry Orlov, as always

    https://cluborlov.wordpress.com/

    Global gas wars: the fun has just begun!




    Spot price for natural gas in Europe has just breached the psychologically important level of $1000 per thousand cubic meters, or a buck a cube. This has already had some significant results all across Europe. In the UK, fertilizer plants can’t operate at such prices and have shut down. This will in due course cause food price inflation later on, but the immediate effect is to deprive consumers of packed meat and beer because of a shortage of dry ice that is a byproduct of fertilizer production. Meanwhile, all the way on the other side of what remains of the European Union, in the Baltic statelets electricity prices are now 10 times higher than just across the border in Russia. Of course, they are welcome to buy cheap and plentiful electricity from Russia, but that has to come in via Belarus and Lithuania and the Lithuanians have strategically wrecked relations with Belarus by harboring the fugitive Tikhanovskaya the cutlet queen who is a sort of Belarussian Juan Guaidó.

    On the other side of Belarus lies the Ukraine, where things are even more fun. Back in spring of 2019 the Ukraine declined Russia’s gracious offer to sell it gas $240-260 per thousand cubes (a quarter of the current spot price) and instead opted to buy it on the spot market. The result is that the Ukraine needs 13 billion cubes of gas in storage to get through the heating season but has less than 5. But it can always buy what it needs on the spot market, right? Wrong! The Ukraine is broke and has zero budgeted for this purpose. Luckily, it can still buy cheap electricity from Russia—at least until Ukrainian nationalists decide to blow up the transmission lines to Russia like they did with the ones to Russian Crimea a while back, causing energy shortages there and forcing the Russians to construct an energy bridge to it from the mainland in a process that took close to a year.

    But Unlike the Ukraine, which is broke, countries within the EU don’t have to freeze because they can just buy the gas they need on the spot market, in the form of liquified natural gas, right? Wrong! The LNG market is global, and Europe’s East Asian competitors—China, South Korea and Japan—can always outbid them for the available supply. These three countries have been running structural deficits with the United States for decades and have accumulated an unwholesome hoard of US federal debt. With the US now nearing national bankruptcy and/or triggering dollar hyperinflation by allowing its national debt to breach the $30 trillion threshold, they are eager to unload as much of this hoard as possible, exchanging it for needed commodities such as natural gas. They don’t much care how much the gas is going to cost because the eventual price of the US debt is going to be zero and something is always better than nothing. Thus, there is a good chance that the EU will be shivering in the dark this winter in solidarity with the Ukraine.

    But things are much better in the United States which, after all, is a proud exporter of natural gas thanks to what is left of its fracking industry. Wrong again! The Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA), a chemical and food industry lobbying group, has just demanded that the US Department of Energy place limits on LNG exports. Otherwise, they say, very high natural gas prices will render numerous US enterprises noncompetitive and force them to shut down. Prices have already gone up by 41% over the past year. But that’s not enough to stimulate production: natural gas production in the US is falling together with the drilling rig count and the amount of gas in storage is currently 7.4% below the previous five year average. Attempting to put limits on LNG exports will cause loud screams from energy industry lobbyists, who have plenty of clout on Capitol Hill, and result in protracted political battles in an already sharply divided and disagreeable US Congress.

    Meanwhile, back in the EU, there is something that can be done immediately to avert this crisis: turn on NordStream2, which has just been completed, by setting aside European bureaucratic foot-dragging protocols that will stretch out the process of certifying it and by throwing out the truly idiotic restriction that it only be used at 50% capacity. Russia’s Gazprom would be perfectly willing to sign a long-term supply agreement at a reasonable price, just as it did with Hungary just a few days ago. But for now such a change of heart seems unlikely. On the one hand the free market fundamentalists are still full of blind faith that the free market will somehow keep their people from freezing; on the other, environmentalists seem to believe that freezing would be a virtuous act that will help save the planet from overheating. Come next spring, melting snow may reveal a political landscape littered with the frozen corpses of environmentalists and free market zealots. We should all wish them the best of luck, of course, whether they deserve it or not.

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  9. #980
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    Rationing has been introduced in the UK, for the first time since the aftermath of WW2. At first, it's just meat, but except other basic necessities to follow.

    I would love to blame Brexit for all this, but unfortunately it is only exacerbating the underlying problem, not causing it. Expect similar measures to be introduced in the rest of the world pretty soon. There is likely to be a shortage of everything this winter, so rationing will have to be introduced in many places, to avert panic buying, hoarding and profiteering.

    https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/...istmas-1242061

    UK food shortages: Supermarkets may start rationing meat ahead of Christmas amid gas crisis

    As well as driving up household bills, surging gas prices are negatively impacting food production

    Supermarkets may have to ration meat this winter to prevent shoppers from panic buying turkey and pork products.

    The energy crisis, combined with labour shortages and supply chain problems, has hit meat production ahead of the Christmas rush, when millions of shoppers normally fill up their trolleys turkey, ham, and other festive foods.

    Surging wholesale energy prices, a shortage of workers at meat processing and packing plants and insufficient numbers of HGV drivers to transport produce to supermarket depots means some households could go without their favourite festive fare this Christmas.

    The situation is so precarious that at least one major supermarket chain has warned officials that it is considering rationing some produce in the run-up to Christmas to block panicked shoppers from buying up what meat it does have, it is understood.

    Supermarkets have also been urged to start offering festive promotional deals earlier than usual this year, according to the Sunday Times. This would help to spread out consumer demand over a greater period, avoiding, official hope, enormous spikes in the last weeks before Christmas.

    As well as driving up household bills, surging gas prices are negatively affecting range of industries, including food production.

    Carbon dioxide, a byproduct of the production fertiliser, plays a vital role in the food industry – the gas is used to stun animals before slaughter and for vacuum-packing meat products.

    But rocketing natural gas prices across Europe recently prompted a major fertiliser producer, CF Industries Holdings, to suspend operations at two UK plants, cutting off the CO2 supply upon which the meat industry depends.

    Following an intervention from the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who promised a short-term financial bailout, the US firm agreed to restart production. However, on Friday, the British Meat Processors Association reported that several slaughterhouses and meat processing plants had reported dwindling supplies of CO2, and warned that the industry could be “back to square one” this week.

    Labour shortages at abattoirs have compounded the problems caused by the gas shortage, leaving farmers facing the prospect of having to cull hundreds of thousands of healthy pigs. Animals killed on-farm are typically shot with either free bullet weapons such as rifles, or by captive-bolt stunning, whereby a blank cartridge fires a captive, retractable metal bolt into the brain, followed by bleeding.

    Hundreds of healthy pigs have already been culled because of overcrowding on farms caused by the backlog of growing animals that cannot be sent away for slaughter.

    The Prime Minister has been accused of failing to understand the nature of the situation after he said the pigs would have died anyway and become “bacon sandwiches”.

    Tom Bradshaw, vice president of the National Farmers Union, said Mr Johnson had shown a “lack of respect” to farmers.


    AND:

    Public could be told: Put on a jumper

    The British public could be asked to turn down their thermostats to lower the risk of cuts to power supplies if the fuel crisis continues during the winter months.

    The suggestion is reportedly included in plans drawn up by officials intended to steer the country through the crisis.

    Ministers have also allegedly been told they may have to offer their backing to a campaign to urge people to put on a jumper, according to The Sunday Times.

    Asked whether he would personally encourage the public to wear more layers instead of turning up the heating, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “It’s up to people – it’s amazing how different people’s cold thresholds can be very different.”

    Mr Kwarteng added that the public should “be sensible…[and] do what they feel comfortable with”.

    Speaking on Sky News, Mr Kwarteng insisted that his job is “not to tell people how many layers of clothing they should wear.”

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  11. #981
    Senior Member BeastOfBologna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chris View Post
    Rationing has been introduced in the UK, for the first time since the aftermath of WW2. At first, it's just meat, but except other basic necessities to follow.
    Standard practice. The older technologies will make it as difficult as possible to make the transition to sources that will save the planet.

    Save the planet or keep the bottom line padded for the stakeholders? hmm, let's see? F*cking psychopaths. I wouldn't be able to make such a rotten decision and I ain't no saint. I would be making an 90% effort to jump on the new bandwagon.
    “To seek self-knowledge is to embark on a journey which ... will always be incomplete" - courtesy of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem

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  13. #982
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    Recent emigrants from Hong Kong are finding settling in to life in Brexit Britain more challenging than anticipated. Interesting perspectives.

    read://https_www.ejinsight.com/?url=...hortages-in-UK

    HK emigrants face cold winter, inflation and shortages in UK

    During the spring and summer, tens of thousands of Hong Kong people moved to Britain, excited to start a new life away from the National Security Law and “patriotic education”.

    But, as the days get shorter, they find themselves facing a cold winter of shortages and rising prices for food and energy.

    Since Britain allowed holders here of British National Overseas (BNO) passports to emigrate, more than 47,000 have had their applications approved. Most are families with children of school age.

    A recent survey by Hongkongers in Britain found that 88 per cent of the migrants had a degree of undergraduate or master’s level and 69.4 per cent felt financially secure through selling or renting out property here.

    It also found that, as of the end of August, only 18.5 per cent had found full-time work with an employer and nearly half were unemployed.

    They find themselves in a country suffering from inflation, shortages of goods and high unemployment, as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic and the decision to leave the European Union. Prices are rising faster than wages; the living standards of many people are falling.

    The Office for National Statistics said that, in August, the consumer prices index rose to 3.2 per cent, up from two per cent in July. The increase of 1.2 percentage point between July and August was the largest since records began in January 1997.

    Britain is short of 100,000 truck drivers, mainly because those from the European Union do not wish to come because of complex border checks and long waiting times as a result of Brexit. This has led to shortages of goods in the shops. Families may not be able to buy the toys, sweets and turkeys they normally enjoy at Christmas.

    The price of meat is going up because of a lack of workers. The British Meat Processors Association said last week that, since Brexit and the pandemic, labour shortages had worsened.

    "Industries are now competing with each other for a dwindling pool of workers. The labour crisis has seen workers in strategically important sectors like food manufacture and social care being enticed away by other sectors that can afford to hike wages 20 per cent or 30 per cent. Every employer, including the public sector, may have to follow suit, but it will mean consumer price inflation,” it said.

    Since September, Britain has suffered from petrol shortages, because of the absence of tanker drivers to resupply petrol stations. In early October, about 20 per cent of petrol stations in London and southeast England had no fuel. The government has mobilised 200 soldiers to transport oil to the stations.

    This shortage hits badly those Hong Kong people who have bought or rented homes in rural areas or suburbs of cities. These areas have poor public transport; residents have to rely on private cars for their daily lives.

    Migrants who have just arrived find a wealth of information on YouTube, in podcasts made by their Hong Kong compatriots, with details on many aspects of their new country.

    Many praise the larger size of their home, greater green space and more relaxed school environment for their children, who can participate in more sports, arts, music and community affairs than in Hong Kong; they have less homework and “stuffed duck education”.

    But there are many negatives – the weather, especially during winter; British food, with too much bread, pizza, sandwiches and tastes so much blander than at home; lack of Filipino and Indonesian maids – live-in servants are a luxury for the very rich; social life built around alcohol; and a work culture to which they are unaccustomed.

    The many job shortages created by the departure of thousands of EU citizens mean an upside for the Hong Kong arrivals – many vacancies in coffee shops, fast food outlets and restaurants, food packaging, nursing and social care, manual work in farms, factories and warehouses, and truck-driving.

    These jobs pay less and are not as sophisticated as those the migrants did in Hong Kong. But, according to the survey by Hongkongers in Britain, the vast majority of migrants know that they will have to change industry and accept a less well-paid job. They are willing to move to sectors that need labour and use the experience to improve their English, learn new job skills and help their integration into their new country.

    They did not expect to find themselves in a country with such shortages and inefficiencies. But they do not complain. They have made their choice and must live with the consequences of it.

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  15. #983
    Senior Member BeastOfBologna's Avatar
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    The one difference that these immigrants experience and behavior is the negative pressure of standard of living from their home country to the new one. The one major upside for most immigrants is that the change of country provides a rise in standard of living. The non-southeast Asian immigrants to the U.S. usually find commensurate lifestyle opportunities. It can be tough for some Southeast Asians, South Asians are usually in a good situation because they generally come from an educated English speaking environment. The Latin American immigrants plight is well known. They suffer for at least one or two generations before they make forward progress. Upward mobility is better for male workers than female which is a hardship for unmarried with children immigrants. As one of the other articles posted showed, Americans won't provide empathy, sympathy, or welfare willingly to their own citizens much less those in need. I personally have never known Hispanic immigrants to remain in poverty for more than a generation (but that is a personal observation). There are some Hispanics, of course, that will remain in a sad state for many generations much like the descendants of the immigrant families that sailed over on the Mayflower.
    “To seek self-knowledge is to embark on a journey which ... will always be incomplete" - courtesy of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem

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  17. #984
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    Truer words have never been written...

    Umair Haque is quickly becoming my favourite essayist and social commentator. Every word he writes is pure gold.

    https://eand.co/why-do-americans-ido...h-5590d80471ce

    Why Do Americans Idolize the Super Rich?

    Is Getting Rich Worth Devoting Your Life To?

    It’s often said these days, that if you think America has problems, of decline, of blindness and folly and self-inflicted ruin, that you must hate the rich. No, I don’t hate the rich. I think that I pity them.

    Here’s a little secret. I grew up among the super rich. Not the American super rich — that’s the minor league in comparison. I mean the genuinely global mega-rich. People so bizarrely, gruesomely rich they’d have towering Italian palazzos shipped over tile by tile, painstakingly rebuilt by hand, put behind gleaming gates, surrounded by opulent gardens, and guarded by little armies. I don’t say that to boast, because it didn’t happen by my design — but only through a quirk of fate. My grandfather and father were courted by them, the super rich who grew that wealthy by siphoning off the wealth of the countries my forefathers were trying to protect.

    And so as I grew up, many of their kids became my friends. We’d play, innocently, as kids do, unbothered by the fact that I was just a relative pauper, and they were ulta rich. But as we grew up, I observed something strange. Which seemed to happen so predictably, I started to put a countdown timer on it. These kids hated themselves — deeply and badly. Their parents treated them like little objects, trophies, prizes. The families were like corporations, not human tribes, full of warmth and laughter. Mom and dad couldn’t bear each other. Nobody had a job — but everyone was busy, every day, forever, battling everyone else over that pile of money. Nobody seemed to have any inner sense of meaning, worth, or purpose.

    That can true of everyone, of rich and poor — but this was different. Predictable, chronic, systemic, implosive, soul-destroying. I could set my watch to it. Families would blow up. Kids would turn into despairing addicts. Marriages would blow up after months. Grandkids would be disowned. Sibling would be pitted against sibling. Entire families, and lives, would come apart at the seams. In the middle of all this — throbbing, pulsing wounds of grief, rage, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and emptiness. And still, despite all that, that they’d cling to their money like a security blanket, even as it cost them everything that should have mattered more. It was the only thing they seemed to know, understand, or appreciate.

    Getting seriously rich, I soon learned, had a very, very steep price. All the things which really mattered in life: human bonds, a sense of meaning, a higher purpose, and even a sense of inherent self-worth. Which is why I never bothered to worry about it. Now, I don’t mean to give you a preachers’ homily. But I do want to point out that in this life, from what I’ve seen, you can’t have it all. You have wealth, or you can have worthiness — but can you have both? To answer that is also to answer the question: should we hate, vilify, or scorn the rich?
    Now, it’s obvious to say that a poor person probably isn’t going to be very happy. Let’s dispense therefore with the idea that I’m saying “wealth bad so poverty good!” Far from it. I’m suggesting that maybe there’s an optimal point of wealth for human beings to have — and beyond that, the moral, social, and emotional costs of riches far outweigh the benefits, which are nonexistent to begin with, because you can’t spend that much anyways, nor can you take it with you. But we don’t think about this in America, do we? We lionize wealth — it symbolizes all our deepest value: selfishness, greed, individualism, superiority. And yet that can only be because we are fragile, feeling little and inferior, deep inside. I’ll come back to all that.

    You need science, probably. Very well. As people get richer, they lose their empathy, wisdom, compassion, and so forth. Whatever positive attribute it is that you want to study, it seems that the more wealth you amass, the less of it you will have. But we shouldn’t need science to tell us this. Aeschylus told us this story millennia ago — and so did Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, and Sartre.

    One of the truest differences between Europe and America is also an almost invisible one. In America, the rich are lionized, adulated, and worshipped. There’s something like a bizarro aristocracy of the oligarchs, and Americans curtsy and bow politely, like servile things, before a rich person. Before Donald Trump was President, a nation admired him — weirdly — as a kind of modern-day hero. Americans, weirdly, unique among nations, equate wealth with all the great virtues: intelligence, courage, sophistication, wisdom, creativity, compassion. If you’re rich, you must be as smart as Stephen Hawking, as spiritually advanced as the Dalai Lama, and as wise as Aristotle. They have really bought into the myth that a wealthy person is a better person. Is that true?

    But in Europe, to be rich carries with it a faint whiff of distaste, of derision, of scorn. Americans think they prize humility — but it’s European prime ministers who cycle to work. Which is better for a society? Let me answer that backwards.
    Imagine I gave you ten million dollars. If you were smart, you’d buy a little villa in France, retire, never check the internet again, and tend to your puppies, grandkids, and garden. But — and here’s the problem and the key — this never seems to happen. I’ve known many, many rich people. And the moment that they have ten million, something odd seems to happen. It needs to turn into a hundred. And the moment it turns into a hundred, it needs to turn into a billion.

    In other words, as we get rich, a great and fatal moral perversion seems to occur. Virtue seems to become vice. Something snaps deep down in the human soul. Greed, avarice, covetousness, pride, cruelty — all of these seem to replace humility, gentleness, kindness, wisdom, and truth. You don’t have to look very far to see it. Why is Jeff Bezos shooting rockets into space instead of funding college for every kid in America? Why are the American mega-rich building something like a theofascist kleptocracy instead of funding school and healthcare for every child on the planet?

    “Why should the rich help anyone else?!” you cry. The answer is very simple. What we really are after through riches — through anything at all — is moral sentiments. Happiness is the experience of one’s own moral goodness. Meaning is the experience that one is a moral significance to others. Fulfillment is the realization of one’s moral possibilities. Do you see how that works? Can money buy you these things?

    You need a sense that your life has really counted. “This person has given me something! They educated me, they taught me, they encouraged me, they lifted me up when I had fallen!” Now you have a sense of meaning. But it has come only through moral significance — that you have really cultivated a life that is not your own, and thus, what you have done has mattered.

    Now we can answer the question, can’t we? Indeed, the mega-rich should be doing things with their lives that carry great and enduring moral weight. But they are not. That’s because getting rich has cost them something priceless: their moral consciences. Hence, happiness, meaning, and fulfillment seem to elude them. That’s why the ten million has to turn into a hundred, and then a billion. It’s why you never see someone living out the fantasy of retiring to that villa in France when they’ve made a few million.

    What happens instead? Because they’ve lost their moral bearings, virtue has become vice. Avarice, greed, cruelty, selfishness. All these things are soon turned on the very people that they love. Wives are discarded, husbands thrown away. Kids are treated like either little princes or paupers. And worst of all, no inherent sense of self-worth, has ever developed, because the illusion has been created that money can gave it to you.
    A person with a sense of inherent self worth knows this much. Money cannot give you what only morality can. You cannot buy happiness, meaning, and fulfillment. You must earn them, with actions which carry human weight. Those which lift up lives. The reward for the actor is the experience of moral goodness, moral significance, and moral growth, which we call happiness, meaning, and fulfillment.

    But if you have been living all along under the delusion that the hole in your soul, that inherent lack of self-worth, self-coherence, selfhood, can be filled up with money and objects — and you make ten million — that ten will have to grow, grow, grow — and still you will never be filled up inside. You need to feel big because you feel little. But the little part of you needs only to grow into something beautiful and true, all the more so because it is delicate — not something all-powerful and possessing.

    Remember Americans and Europeans? Americans have internalized the values of capitalism — greed, selfishness, and so on. But they are not rich, and they will never be rich. These values serve only as kind of false self, where a true one should be. So they’re left in a haze: is greed good? Or is it bad? Is using people OK? Or is it wrong? Capitalism has cheated them of a sense of intrinsic self-worth — which also means you can answer the questions above. They think that you’re not a worthy person unless you’re wealthy. But they don’t really know that the opposite isn’t true. You can be as wealthy as Croesus, and still never think of yourself as worthy.

    Europe is more successful precisely because by scorning the rich, it has made getting rich something not to proud of, to be a little ashamed of. It is not a substitute for living a genuinely worthy life, whether one of action, of letters, of ideas, or of discovery. It is barely a life at all, many Europeans would probably tell you, to get rich. Hence, wealth itself is something which is met with derision and scorn. Very different norms emerged — Americans idolize riches, and Europeans disdain them.

    But that norm made Europe a much healthier and happier place, too. It meant that Europeans invested in each other, with great public goods, instead of devoted their lives to the futile goal of individual riches. It made Europe a place with less distance between the rich and the middle, so that distrust never grew as sharply as in America. And it made Europe a more humane and fulfilling place, too — because the capitalist values of greed, cruelty, domination, and selfishness were never accepted as decent and sensible things to devote a life to.
    So. I don’t hate the rich. But I don’t worship them, like Americans do, either. “What book is Bill Gates recommending?! LOL, what? A rich man who is only a rich man is no smarter than a poor man — in the ways that count, he is all the more a fool. Because he doesn’t seem to know that wealth has its own price — one’s moral conscience. No one escapes the price they must pay time and death, and great wealth, which is only ever an expression of greed and egotism, is a futile search for grandiosity and omnipotence where life, in all its fragility and delicacy should be. It corrodes the character of the bearer, and leaves a hole where a self might have been. A poor man might be a wretch — but a rich man who has never become anything more is a moral fool.

    I pity the rich — because I’ve seen happy people, and I’ve seen rich people, but I’ve never seen both. But the same is true for societies, too. Rich societies who don’t set norms and values to laugh at, belittle, devalue, and scorn the very pursuit of wealth, so they can aspire to higher and better things, soon become just like those rich families I grew up among. Places destroyed from the inside, by their egotism and appetites.

    And should you doubt me, take a good, long, hard look at America — the richest nation history ever saw, by a very long way. But also something like the most inhumane, unhappy, lonely, desperate, meaningless, empty, atomized, and nihilistic. And yet also the most greedy, proud, avaricious, selfish, usurious, gluttonous, and wrathful. Do you see the link that I do? Wealth costs you, my friends. It costs you your better self. And America is history’s truest example yet.

    Umair

    March 2021

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  19. #985
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    I watched members of my own family, with very very strong family values, slowly move away from them and more towards the glamorous life which money seems to provide. They were a little like lottery winners who suddenly had a boon and didn't know how to handle it.

    Except that they'd had plenty of money before and had handled it up to then.

    It was the sudden jump in income combined with all the folks who come along to tell them how wonderful they are and how they only deserve the best of the best. Most are just trying to make money off of them.

    Too much money goes to the head and does messed up things.

    I did not like watching it.

    Why are the American mega-rich building something like a theofascist kleptocracy instead of funding school and healthcare for every child on the planet?
    The very bogus answer is to throw out the demon-word 'SOCIALISM!'.

    The 'theofascist kleptocracy' is also being fueled by the Prosperity Doctrine which equates wealth with Godliness, apparently regardless of how the wealth was acquired.

    I've even seen the word wealth used in prayer where it's clearly not a spiritual wealth that folks are praising.

    Very dangerous.



    And in immediate synchronicity, I just came across a reference to Umair in a completely different place and on the subject of climate.

    I was not searching for him.

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    Quote Originally posted by Chris View Post
    Truer words have never been written...

    Umair Haque is quickly becoming my favourite essayist and social commentator. Every word he writes is pure gold.

    https://eand.co/why-do-americans-ido...h-5590d80471ce

    Why Do Americans Idolize the Super Rich?

    Is Getting Rich Worth Devoting Your Life To?

    It’s often said these days, that if you think America has problems, of decline, of blindness and folly and self-inflicted ruin, that you must hate the rich. No, I don’t hate the rich. I think that I pity them.

    Here’s a little secret. I grew up among the super rich. Not the American super rich — that’s the minor league in comparison. I mean the genuinely global mega-rich. People so bizarrely, gruesomely rich they’d have towering Italian palazzos shipped over tile by tile, painstakingly rebuilt by hand, put behind gleaming gates, surrounded by opulent gardens, and guarded by little armies. I don’t say that to boast, because it didn’t happen by my design — but only through a quirk of fate. My grandfather and father were courted by them, the super rich who grew that wealthy by siphoning off the wealth of the countries my forefathers were trying to protect.

    And so as I grew up, many of their kids became my friends. We’d play, innocently, as kids do, unbothered by the fact that I was just a relative pauper, and they were ulta rich. But as we grew up, I observed something strange. Which seemed to happen so predictably, I started to put a countdown timer on it. These kids hated themselves — deeply and badly. Their parents treated them like little objects, trophies, prizes. The families were like corporations, not human tribes, full of warmth and laughter. Mom and dad couldn’t bear each other. Nobody had a job — but everyone was busy, every day, forever, battling everyone else over that pile of money. Nobody seemed to have any inner sense of meaning, worth, or purpose.

    That can true of everyone, of rich and poor — but this was different. Predictable, chronic, systemic, implosive, soul-destroying. I could set my watch to it. Families would blow up. Kids would turn into despairing addicts. Marriages would blow up after months. Grandkids would be disowned. Sibling would be pitted against sibling. Entire families, and lives, would come apart at the seams. In the middle of all this — throbbing, pulsing wounds of grief, rage, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and emptiness. And still, despite all that, that they’d cling to their money like a security blanket, even as it cost them everything that should have mattered more. It was the only thing they seemed to know, understand, or appreciate.

    Getting seriously rich, I soon learned, had a very, very steep price. All the things which really mattered in life: human bonds, a sense of meaning, a higher purpose, and even a sense of inherent self-worth. Which is why I never bothered to worry about it. Now, I don’t mean to give you a preachers’ homily. But I do want to point out that in this life, from what I’ve seen, you can’t have it all. You have wealth, or you can have worthiness — but can you have both? To answer that is also to answer the question: should we hate, vilify, or scorn the rich?
    Now, it’s obvious to say that a poor person probably isn’t going to be very happy. Let’s dispense therefore with the idea that I’m saying “wealth bad so poverty good!” Far from it. I’m suggesting that maybe there’s an optimal point of wealth for human beings to have — and beyond that, the moral, social, and emotional costs of riches far outweigh the benefits, which are nonexistent to begin with, because you can’t spend that much anyways, nor can you take it with you. But we don’t think about this in America, do we? We lionize wealth — it symbolizes all our deepest value: selfishness, greed, individualism, superiority. And yet that can only be because we are fragile, feeling little and inferior, deep inside. I’ll come back to all that.

    You need science, probably. Very well. As people get richer, they lose their empathy, wisdom, compassion, and so forth. Whatever positive attribute it is that you want to study, it seems that the more wealth you amass, the less of it you will have. But we shouldn’t need science to tell us this. Aeschylus told us this story millennia ago — and so did Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, and Sartre.

    One of the truest differences between Europe and America is also an almost invisible one. In America, the rich are lionized, adulated, and worshipped. There’s something like a bizarro aristocracy of the oligarchs, and Americans curtsy and bow politely, like servile things, before a rich person. Before Donald Trump was President, a nation admired him — weirdly — as a kind of modern-day hero. Americans, weirdly, unique among nations, equate wealth with all the great virtues: intelligence, courage, sophistication, wisdom, creativity, compassion. If you’re rich, you must be as smart as Stephen Hawking, as spiritually advanced as the Dalai Lama, and as wise as Aristotle. They have really bought into the myth that a wealthy person is a better person. Is that true?

    But in Europe, to be rich carries with it a faint whiff of distaste, of derision, of scorn. Americans think they prize humility — but it’s European prime ministers who cycle to work. Which is better for a society? Let me answer that backwards.
    Imagine I gave you ten million dollars. If you were smart, you’d buy a little villa in France, retire, never check the internet again, and tend to your puppies, grandkids, and garden. But — and here’s the problem and the key — this never seems to happen. I’ve known many, many rich people. And the moment that they have ten million, something odd seems to happen. It needs to turn into a hundred. And the moment it turns into a hundred, it needs to turn into a billion.

    In other words, as we get rich, a great and fatal moral perversion seems to occur. Virtue seems to become vice. Something snaps deep down in the human soul. Greed, avarice, covetousness, pride, cruelty — all of these seem to replace humility, gentleness, kindness, wisdom, and truth. You don’t have to look very far to see it. Why is Jeff Bezos shooting rockets into space instead of funding college for every kid in America? Why are the American mega-rich building something like a theofascist kleptocracy instead of funding school and healthcare for every child on the planet?

    “Why should the rich help anyone else?!” you cry. The answer is very simple. What we really are after through riches — through anything at all — is moral sentiments. Happiness is the experience of one’s own moral goodness. Meaning is the experience that one is a moral significance to others. Fulfillment is the realization of one’s moral possibilities. Do you see how that works? Can money buy you these things?

    You need a sense that your life has really counted. “This person has given me something! They educated me, they taught me, they encouraged me, they lifted me up when I had fallen!” Now you have a sense of meaning. But it has come only through moral significance — that you have really cultivated a life that is not your own, and thus, what you have done has mattered.

    Now we can answer the question, can’t we? Indeed, the mega-rich should be doing things with their lives that carry great and enduring moral weight. But they are not. That’s because getting rich has cost them something priceless: their moral consciences. Hence, happiness, meaning, and fulfillment seem to elude them. That’s why the ten million has to turn into a hundred, and then a billion. It’s why you never see someone living out the fantasy of retiring to that villa in France when they’ve made a few million.

    What happens instead? Because they’ve lost their moral bearings, virtue has become vice. Avarice, greed, cruelty, selfishness. All these things are soon turned on the very people that they love. Wives are discarded, husbands thrown away. Kids are treated like either little princes or paupers. And worst of all, no inherent sense of self-worth, has ever developed, because the illusion has been created that money can gave it to you.
    A person with a sense of inherent self worth knows this much. Money cannot give you what only morality can. You cannot buy happiness, meaning, and fulfillment. You must earn them, with actions which carry human weight. Those which lift up lives. The reward for the actor is the experience of moral goodness, moral significance, and moral growth, which we call happiness, meaning, and fulfillment.

    But if you have been living all along under the delusion that the hole in your soul, that inherent lack of self-worth, self-coherence, selfhood, can be filled up with money and objects — and you make ten million — that ten will have to grow, grow, grow — and still you will never be filled up inside. You need to feel big because you feel little. But the little part of you needs only to grow into something beautiful and true, all the more so because it is delicate — not something all-powerful and possessing.

    Remember Americans and Europeans? Americans have internalized the values of capitalism — greed, selfishness, and so on. But they are not rich, and they will never be rich. These values serve only as kind of false self, where a true one should be. So they’re left in a haze: is greed good? Or is it bad? Is using people OK? Or is it wrong? Capitalism has cheated them of a sense of intrinsic self-worth — which also means you can answer the questions above. They think that you’re not a worthy person unless you’re wealthy. But they don’t really know that the opposite isn’t true. You can be as wealthy as Croesus, and still never think of yourself as worthy.

    Europe is more successful precisely because by scorning the rich, it has made getting rich something not to proud of, to be a little ashamed of. It is not a substitute for living a genuinely worthy life, whether one of action, of letters, of ideas, or of discovery. It is barely a life at all, many Europeans would probably tell you, to get rich. Hence, wealth itself is something which is met with derision and scorn. Very different norms emerged — Americans idolize riches, and Europeans disdain them.

    But that norm made Europe a much healthier and happier place, too. It meant that Europeans invested in each other, with great public goods, instead of devoted their lives to the futile goal of individual riches. It made Europe a place with less distance between the rich and the middle, so that distrust never grew as sharply as in America. And it made Europe a more humane and fulfilling place, too — because the capitalist values of greed, cruelty, domination, and selfishness were never accepted as decent and sensible things to devote a life to.
    So. I don’t hate the rich. But I don’t worship them, like Americans do, either. “What book is Bill Gates recommending?! LOL, what? A rich man who is only a rich man is no smarter than a poor man — in the ways that count, he is all the more a fool. Because he doesn’t seem to know that wealth has its own price — one’s moral conscience. No one escapes the price they must pay time and death, and great wealth, which is only ever an expression of greed and egotism, is a futile search for grandiosity and omnipotence where life, in all its fragility and delicacy should be. It corrodes the character of the bearer, and leaves a hole where a self might have been. A poor man might be a wretch — but a rich man who has never become anything more is a moral fool.

    I pity the rich — because I’ve seen happy people, and I’ve seen rich people, but I’ve never seen both. But the same is true for societies, too. Rich societies who don’t set norms and values to laugh at, belittle, devalue, and scorn the very pursuit of wealth, so they can aspire to higher and better things, soon become just like those rich families I grew up among. Places destroyed from the inside, by their egotism and appetites.

    And should you doubt me, take a good, long, hard look at America — the richest nation history ever saw, by a very long way. But also something like the most inhumane, unhappy, lonely, desperate, meaningless, empty, atomized, and nihilistic. And yet also the most greedy, proud, avaricious, selfish, usurious, gluttonous, and wrathful. Do you see the link that I do? Wealth costs you, my friends. It costs you your better self. And America is history’s truest example yet.

    Umair

    March 2021
    Interesting article and the best answer?

    Matthew 19:24
    Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

    ~ AD 66-70
    Last edited by BeastOfBologna, 26th October 2021 at 12:35.
    “To seek self-knowledge is to embark on a journey which ... will always be incomplete" - courtesy of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem

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    Quote Originally posted by BeastOfBologna View Post
    Interesting article and the best answer?

    Matthew 19:24
    Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

    ~ AD 66-70
    Yes, in terms of the climate he is an even bigger doomer than on the issues of fascism or brexit. He basically reckons we are now in the dying days of our planet and our species and we will be gone in a few decades.

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    Quite the optimist, eh?

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    Another gem from Umair, absolutely stellar analysis.

    https://eand.co/were-living-through-...y-ea12a875b9a5

    We’re Living Through the Collapse of Liberal Democracy

    The Real Reason Why Britain and America Are Collapsing — And Why it Matters

    [IMG]https://miro.medium.com/max/2560/1*Fx2AkJRJPgiolI4LDIDz1w.png[/IMG]

    One of my commenters said, the other day, speaking about a collapsing America and Britain, something incredibly prescient and important. “There is no more Yugoslavia.” Why do I think that’s so important for you to grasp?

    You might not know it, but we’re living through momentous times. I don’t just mean climate change — but for a different, though related, reason entirely. We are living at the tail end of the single greatest series of social experiments in human history.

    And now the results — which human beings have craved and fought wars over and lacked for millennia, since the dawn of civilization — have finally come in.

    We are beginning to have indisputable proof of an age old question, one of the most ancient of all time. How should human beings live together? What is the most successful and desirable form of political economy? What actually yields eudaimonia — lives well lived? And what only leads to dysdaimonia, meaning lives badly lived, meaning anger and rage and despair and distrust, which culminate, ultimately, in the hatred and brutality of social collapse?
    Let me take a moment — stay with me now — to note just how elusive the answer to this question has been. Take a turbo-charged one paragraph whistlestop tour through history with me.

    How many forms of political order have human beings tried? Through the centuries, there have been many. In the beginning at the dawn of civilisation there was a empire, suffused with a kind of democracy — think of Rome. Empires fell, and gave way to Dark Ages. In them, some people became “noble,” their blood pure, and others were “serfs.” Feudalism, meaning serfdom and peasantry — and nobility and monarchy — was the dominant forms of political economy until the Age of Revolutions, around the 1850s or so. The Age of Revolutions began with the French abolishing feudalism — and culminated in the Russian Revolution.
    That brings us to the 20th century. You might not know it, but the 20th century was the Age of Grand Experiments. How were human beings to live together? Still, after all those millennia of strife and conflict, of bloody theocracy and revolution…nobody knew. But in the 20th century, something was different: nations were determined to try to find out.

    So the 20th century saw four Grand Social Experiments in different forms of political order, one after the other. The first was Soviet communism. The second, following it, was German fascism. The third was American and British liberal democracy. And the last and final one was European and Canadian social democracy.

    What results did those Grand Social Experiments yield? Well, we know about two of them. They failed disastrously. German fascism ended in World War, holocaust, atrocity, and Germany’s own ruin — not in eudaimonia. It was the first to fail, and the shortest lived. That left three forms of political order still testing these grand experiments of how people could and should best live together: communism, liberal democracy, and social democracy.

    By the late 80s, Soviet communism, too, had failed. Its track record was pretty disastrous, too. It hadn’t caused World War — but it had led to everything from famine to totalitarianism. By 1990s or so, the Berlin Wall finally fell, as stifled East Germans sought freer, more prosperous lives. That set in motion the chain reaction of Soviet collapse.

    Now, American pundits predicted at this time — the mid 90s or so — what was then called “the end of history.” Every nation was to become a liberal democracy. That was the telos, the endpoint, of an “evolution” of forms of political order — the apex of a hierarchy. That was because, quite naturally, looking around, American pundits only saw one surviving form of political order — their own. They saw European and Canadian social democracy as fads, aberrations, cute toylike things — certainly not deserving of serious respect, consideration, understanding.

    The Soviet Union was therefore expected to become like…America. A liberal democracy. Instead, it splintered into warring tribes and factions at its edges. Yugoslavia became the Balkans became a genocidal war between ancient tribes with old grudges and hatreds. Russia, meanwhile, didn’t become a democracy — it became what it is today, an authoritarian state pretending to be a democracy, a counterfeit democracy, a source of global tension, its people still brutally repressed, its politics a laughable spectacle.

    I bring all that up for a reason. What are we living through today? The implosion of liberal democracy — the third form of political order.

    If you had to point to two rich nations with serious, serious problems, which ones would you choose? On the evidence, you’d have to point a finger at America and Britain. Brits can’t get food, blood tests, and even beer the way a modern nation’s accustomed to right about now. Raw sewage is being dumped in rivers because Britain can’t chemicals to treat water. Meanwhile, America’s descended into a kind of dystopia that’s renowned the world over. Texas has placed bounties on women’s heads…turning any man who wants to be into a vigilante…while Trumpism firmly believes that Trump won the election, but it was “stolen” from him, and the attempted coup of Jan 6th was perfectly justified, if not a tourist event.

    And that’s barely scratching the surface. The fact, which anyone can observe, is that Britain and America are collapsing. Just the same way that the Soviet Union collapsed before them. In fact, the very same forms of pathology now afflict them, too — the weird doublespeak, meaning the way that Brits aren’t allowed to say “Brexit did this to us,” or Americans can’t criticise “capitalism.” The weird ignorance that plagues these societies, too — they seem to have no idea that they don’t have to live this way, fighting bitterly for medicine, healthcare, retirement, a little bit of money. The way intellectuals — cloying for power and money — normalize all this, and shrug happily. The way corrupt politicians stand in the way of any kind of reckoning, let alone progress.

    America and Britain are collapsing. That’s not my opinion. It is an empirical fact. If we look at any social indicator, it’s plummeting — and it’s going to keep doing so. Literally any one, from trust to real income to optimism to confidence to income to health. These are societies whose standards of living are falling off a cliff. Britain’s plunge has been more sudden, while America’s been in free-fall for decades at this point, to the point where a kid in West Virginia now has the same life expectancy as a kid in Bangladesh.

    This is what a collapsing society is. Prolonged, catastrophic declines in standards of living point to badly, fatally broken structures and institutions. Which structures are broken? Society’s structure itself — the middle class in America, once vaunted and famous, is now one giant underclass, bitterly fighting each other for tiny amounts of money with which to pay off the interest on debts (“medical debt,” “student debt,” “credit card debt,”) whose principal haunts them beyond the grave. Americans are paupers now — and nations of paupers tend to end the same way that Weimar Germany did: they turn to fascism.

    Structural collapse becomes institutional and normative collapse: as a society’s middle class falls into poverty, it chooses demagogues, who legitimize not just norms of hate, violence, and brutality, but a whole rule of law and government based on them, too. That’s Trumpism, and it hasn’t gone anywhere. The shocking implosion of America’s middle class around 2010 predicted all this. This is what a collapsing society is — and Britain, growing rapidly poorer by the day thanks to Brexit, cardboard cutouts of food replacing actual food at the supermarkets — how Soviet is that — is following America’s footsteps, right behind it. (And if you’re going to nitpick about the chart above, and say “But the UK’s place on the Social Progress Index has stayed flat!” Rest assured that over the next decade, it will repeat America’s performance as real living standards plummet thanks to Brexit.)

    Now, you have some sense of that: America and Britain are badly, badly broken societies. You probably even have a sense that nobody can “fix” them. You are right. But now I want you to understand why your intuition is correct — the profound lesson it already senses.
    We are living through the implosion of liberal democracy. Remember the Grand Experiments of the 20th century? The different forms of social order? First fascism failed. Then communism failed. That left two forms of social order still being tested: liberal democracy, and social democracy.

    Today, we’re living through the collapse of liberal democracy. The third form of political order that the 20th century’s Grand Experiments were testing is now failing. Another way to put that is that the Grand Experiment in liberal democracy is now yielding results, and they’re bad. Liberal democracy does not work.

    It ends up collapsing, just like Soviet communism before it. It is not a form of political order that endures. It doesn’t survive. Like all failed forms of political order, it extinguishes itself, ending not in eudaimonia, but in dysdaimonia, lived badly lived, living standards falling catastrophically, meaning, in practice, hatred, violence, stupidity, brutality, cruelty, and chaos — which is exactly where Britain and America are today.

    That’s a lot to take in, to really understand. Feel free to reread the last paragraph or two so you really get it. The 20th century’s Grand Experiment in liberal democracy is now yielding results. The results are a failure. Liberal democracy did not work, just like communism and fascism before it. It might have worked a little better, but that’s not saying much. Liberal democracy is ending in self-destruction and collapse, just like communism and fascism, too.
    Let me pause for a moment. There are only really a handful of liberal democracies on earth — and America and Britain are their chief exemplars. What does liberal democracy mean?
    Broadly, it means that public goods are to be privatized. Because nobody deserves anything from the social surplus as an inherent, constitutional human right. They might deserve the right to carry guns, sure — but a portion of the social surplus, meaning healthcare, retirement, income, a place to live, etcetera, as constitutional rights? Forget it. Everyone is to “stand on their own two feet,” and not be a “liability.” Society is to be ruled by competition, the more intense and brutal the better, which is the machine that winnows the wheat — the talented, ruthless, cunning, amoral, indifferent — from the chaff. Even the average person is better off this way, because all those Nietzschean ubermen are the smartest and cleverest and most productive, who lift up everyone’s living standards, with wondrous “innovations” and ideas and creations.

    Again, take a moment to really understand the linkages in all those disparate ideas. How they add up to a whole paradigm, a whole praxis, known as “liberal democracy.” Why? Because…
    We now understand that all that is false. If it were true, any of it, then American and British living standards wouldn’t be falling so catastrophically. They wouldn’t have been falling for decades now. They would have kept on rising. The whole causal chain which liberal democracy’s Grand Experiment was based on — individualism, greed, selfishness, hyper-competition, leading to productivity and innovation, leading to rising living standards for all, fuelling political stability and happiness and trust — we now know the whole theory is false.
    Know. This isn’t politics anymore. Now we’re in the realm of knowledge, of facts, of empiricism. Politics is about beliefs. I believe this form of political order works, because it leads to eudaimonia. People have believed many such things — in feudalism, theocracy, communism, fascism. Intelligent people, thoughtful people — they know. Because there is something to know. It’s not a political belief that feudalism or fascism don’t work as forms of political order — it is a fact which we know, the lesson earned with blood and tears and tragedy.

    And now we are learning the same thing about liberal democracy. We are beginning to know. The answer to a very great question. The outcome of a Grand Experiment. We are not in the realm of casual “politics” anymore, meaning political beliefs. We are now in the realm of knowledge about political economies, which is a very different thing. Now we know that liberal democracy doesn’t work, either, right alongside fascism and communism.
    Interestingly, we also know that liberal democracy appears to decay into fascism. The widespread poverty and implosive living conditions it produces, in the end, as the rich get richer, and the middle becomes an underclass, ignite the atomic bomb of fascism right in the heart of a society.

    That is an old theory, by the way, championed by thinkers from Adorno to Baudrillard, resting on a Marxian foundation. Before now, though, it was in the realm of debate. You could be a “leftist” and believe liberal democracy wouldn’t work — or you could just as easily be a liberal democrat, and believe in it, anyways. Both were positions an intelligent person could take, because we didn’t have knowledge about the subject yet, just theory. One theory said liberal democracy would lead to eudaimonia, and the critical one said it wouldn’t. Who was right? Nobody knew, yet.

    Now we do know. And knowing that liberal democracy leads to collapse — just like communism and fascism before it — is an incredibly momentous thing to know. It isn’t something that’s taught at schools and universities yet, but it will be. It will be one of the central facts of the 21st century, something every college freshman is taught, because, again, now it isn’t in the realm of theory or debate anymore, but in the same realm as “communism fails” or “fascism fails.”
    Why is knowing that liberal democracy is a failure so momentous? Because it only leaves one form of political order.

    Remember, the 20th century saw four Grand Experiments. Now we know — know — that two have failed, fascism and communism, and the third, liberal democracy, is collapsing just like the other two, before our very eyes. That only leaves one Grand Experiment. The one in social democracy?

    How’s that one doing? Ah, now we come, at last, to something good. That experiment is a runaway success. An empirical, factual success. Canada and Europe enjoy living standards which rise, year after year, and that fuels political stability, cultural expansiveness, and social solidarity. People aren’t at each other throats like they are in America and Britain, or were in communist Russia or fascist Germany — because they’re too busy living eudaemonically, their lives improving year by year, which staves off the anger, fear, despair, and rage which coalesce into the hatred, brutality, and cruelty which culminate in social collapse.

    That, though, is a topic for another essay. In this one, I think every educated and thoughtful person should know. There were four Grand Experiments in the 20th century. Two failed, and everyone knows that — communism and fascism. But now the third one is failing too — liberal democracy, and that’s why America and Britain are imploding. It’s also why nobody appears able to fix them: their fundamental forms of political-economic order are not fixable.

    The age of Grand Experiments in Social Order is coming to a close. And it’s yielding surprising — perhaps shocking, at least to American and British pundits and thinkers — results. Liberal democracy, like so many attempts at ordering society before it, is a failure, too. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t yield eudaimonia — it yields dysdaimonia, lives badly lived, and all that anger, rage, despair, ends in chaos, brutality, hate, and worse. Liberal democracy ends in collapse and implosion, which is what Britain and America are experiencing right about now.
    Remember my commenters words? Now I hope you understand how profound they really were.

    There is no more Yugoslavia.

    Where does that leave Britain and America? Like the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany before them. On a path that’s immovable — because not a force in the world can teach a collapsing society much of anything — yet ends in certain ruin.

    Umair

    October 2021

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