The Strong Man vs The Messiah

It can be argued that the natural form of government for humanity is the strong man.  This makes perfect sense, of course, since from what we know of our simian cousins bands are usually led by a large male.  (Though sometimes an older cranky female will do.  Be warned.  I’m cranky and I’m not getting any younger.)

Tribal government is usually exactly just that – the strongest man, or his son if strong enough to maintain the prestige, gets to rule the roost and impregnate all the women or a significant number of them.  In exchange he keeps his tribe safe, steals the other trib–  I mean, recovers the stolen property the other tribe took from his people, and generally makes life ordered and relatively safe.

Like most other forms of government, strong man government can even work reasonably well, given a small enough group and a smart enough strong man.

Scaling up, it can still work reasonably well as monarchy (which is hereditary strong man government) given the right kingdom, the right historical situation and a truly brilliant “strong man” who has been raised with the idea of noblesse oblige.  (Weirdly, through the entire history of monarchy in the world, I can count on the fingers of one hand the “good monarchs” of that stamp.  And half of them didn’t end well.)

Even in democracies, and republics, we keep getting strong men who take power, usually after a period of horrible chaos and terrible economic conditions and who often improve, or at least bring order to their people.  Salazar in Portugal was one of those.  I’ve expressed before that I don’t like his style of management (as a libertarian I dislike most strong men because they’re arbitrary and dictatorial) but from what I got from my grandparents (neither of whom were particularly fond of him, if one listened carefully to what they said) he took a bankrupt nation with rampant banditry, disorder, and famine, and shepherded it into semi-modernity.

He was of course a dictator.  Most strong men are.  Also, his policies were very similar to FDR’s who was in many ways as close as the US will ever get to a “Strong Man.”  I think that FDR’s policies prolongued the depression, and I think Salazar’s policies kept Portugal an agricultural and poor country much longer than it should have.  (Though how much of the current “prosperity” is the result of massive infusions of international money, I leave as an exercise for the class.)

The problem is that as bad as government by strong men is – and most of it is, and it always is in the long run because no one is strong enough or smart enough to manage even a city well in the modern age, much less a whole country, the twentieth century brought us the revival of a much, much worse idea. The theocratic leader, a sort of Messianic Pharaoh.

Part of it was that most people cannot face the notion of “government by the people” – not really – except in the US.  And the very idea of government by strong men had been damaged for us.  It happened with World War One and World War Two.  The men leading the various countries then were “the pride of their race” and the “brightest of their people” and it was strongly believed that of course they knew what was best for everyone.  Progress depended on their vision.

After the killing fields of World War I, the idea that these mature, responsible men knew what they were doing was severely damaged worldwide.  And after the ovens of World War Two the whole idea of racial supremacy and eugenics was a horror we refused to look in the face.  (Though eugenics still permeates much of “progressive”’ thought, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

And so – this is obvious if you read a lot of stuff set and written between the wars – the young decided they needed a new idea with which to steer the course to the bright future where if they had a say we would study war no more.

The problem is that not only had most of them lost their religious faith, but they had lost something deeper and more elementary: the faith that their civilization was better than the rest, a faith that arguably carried Indo-Europeans to vast expansion and to becoming the predominant world-culture prior to this.  (Interestingly, there never seemed to be an Indo-European RACE, just a culture that absorbed all others.)

Suddenly, all assumptions had to be examined, and everything we took for granted must be wrong.  The older men with knowledge and power who had led the culture, the fathers and grandfathers one trusted implicitly were to be doubted, to be impugned.

But men – and women too, for those who don’t understand the anglo saxon rule of using men to refer to both – don’t live by bread alone, they live by ideas.  And the idea can’t just be “the opposite of everything they say.”  For millennia – forever? — the idea was that the oldest, the wisest, the most successful would of course lead.  The nervous shock of WWI (and yes, there are reasons why it punched harder than other wars, but this is a blog post, not a monograph) upended that idea.  And yet, a society – a civilization – can only run so far without a central, unified assumption underlying what its members choose to value and how they plan for the future.

The Nazis and the various like movements around the world (it was very common, all of it, including eugenics.  You’d be surprised how many otherwise intelligent people fell for it) was one of the attempts to come up with a grand-unified-structuring-theory for Western civilization.  It combined the “Strong man” and “best of his race” with the whole idea that the youth would somehow evolve and be better and propel each “people” to glory.  (Listen, you can argue all you want to, but I was forced to memorize more cr*p about Siegfried in my German culture classes than I ever want to have nightmares about again.)

Well, that led to WWII and therefore caused yet more recoil.  Fortunately (!) a similar ideology was waiting in the wings.  Just like Fascism was National Socialism, this one was socialism, too – it satisfied the need to deny power to those “old men” who had been successful under the normal rules of life and business.  BUT unlike National Socialism, this one was International Socialism.  It didn’t separate humans into races and try to perfect the race (well, later it did, but for purposes of manipulation.)  Instead, it came with its own mythos about how private property had deformed the human soul, its own (bizarre, unproven, counter-logical) idea of a past in which all men had shared everything, and its own idea of paradise.

It is perhaps counterintuitive to those who haven’t studied the theology (it is, trust me) of these beliefs in depth, but the apogee of communism is supposed to come when every man becomes a natural communist, a perfectly evolved man who will have neither greed nor individual desires, and then the state will wither away since it’s no longer needed.  And of course, this will happen worldwide and we’ll study war no more.

This dream is of course nuts.  What Heinlein said about one man’s religion being another man’s belly laugh applies.  Only, while religions at least rely on some supernatural event to make this happen (and therefore can’t be disproven, because unless you can prove that the Messiah has come, or that the second coming has occurred, or that…  You can’t prove it won’t work) all communism has is the process of first forming a brutal state that is supposed to crush all trace of individuality and human will out of its subjects and (implied) keep those who would pass on such traits from leaving descendants.  And, unlike religion, where you can’t prove that when you die you don’t go to heaven or that when the great transformational event happens humans won’t be miraculously transformed, with communism we know the result of their attempts.  They run about seventy years of increasingly worse conditions, and then the whole thing comes crashing down, because it turns out selecting people to rule based on parroting back your lines is a worse manner of picking rulers than to select the great grandson of three pairs of first cousins.  At least most European rulers knew which end of the queen the crown went on, even after six or ten generations of inbreeding, while communism creates rulers who LITERALLY can’t see the reality before their eyes.

Communists have learned something from history, though.  They’ve intuited that “strong men” regimes happen when everything collapses.  Throughout history they’ve taken advantage of this to institute their regimes.  It’s just that for some odd reason (bad luck!) they can never hold on to their gains and things just get worse and eventually they’re toppled.  (And, it seems, unless great care is taken, at least some of them will revert to strong-man-government, aka Putin.  Which is better than communism, but not by much.)

But look they don’t see that.  They KNOW how the forces of history are supposed to work.  They’ve read Marx and Engels, and this time it will be different.  The theories are logical and make perfect sense.  They make much more sense than messy reality.  And therefore they’ll continue applying the theory even when reality refuses to respond in the right way.

Which brings us to the difference between the strong man and the communist Messiah (which is what they keep looking for and why Mao, Kim Il Jung, Castro, all acquired weird patinas of theocratic leadership) is that the strong man is not – generally – blinded by ideology and is therefore able to see what is before his eyes, and how to make life better (or at least not worse) for his people.  Meanwhile, the true believer Messiah insists on ramming the train full speed ahead, because the bridge simply can’t be out.  It doesn’t matter what his eyes show him.  His eyes are biased by capitalist lies. Why, his college professors, the best minds of his time, the authorities of his received wisdom which has become a religion, all tell them there WILL be a “bridge to the future” there.  So, if he just rams the train forward fast enough, the bridge will materialize.

So, in country after country, after a real or forced collapse, communists have grabbed the reins of power – often by masquerading as “strong men” – and led the country into the abyss.  At best, it devolves into a sort of strong man rule, but one so tainted by theology and personality cult that even the most functional of them is horrible for the common people.  (This might be worsened by communism’s view of individuals as widgets, interchangeable with other individuals of the same general characteristics.  It instills a lack of respect for normal people, and in fact an inability to see them as individuals.)

It has fallen in country after country, but “next time will be different” because a hundred million dead is not enough.

It remains to be seen whether the US is different enough – we are different, you know?  Not only a country of colonists, but the only country where most people are voluntary colonists and where we made a decision to accept each other’s religion and race.  There are many other blended countries in the history of the world, but they were created by waves of conquest (yes, we conquered our own aboriginal population.  So, we’re human, deal.  BUT that’s not how we accrued most of our population) – to resist the virus of the communist religion like we resisted (no?  We did put term limits in after FDR, an admission that something had gone horribly wrong.  And we started trying to walk back from the abyss) the strong man government of the 20th century.

Is there enough sheer cursedness left for us to resist the idea of the great communitarian world society?

You know, if the virus had reached its peak in the seventies, I’m not sure.  We were full of hopey-dopey ideas, then, aided by a lot of drugs.

Now?  Oh, sure, they’ve had our schools.  They have our entertainment.  They have our media.  But we’re still Americans.  We have the sheer cursedness of not trusting the slick bastards.  And there’s no longer any country in the world even pretending communism works.  The liberals’ worship of China is sad and pathetic when you consider the Chinese have gutted all the communitarian crap out of their system to survive.

Can they get a little headway?  Sure.  But their crawl through the institutions means most of their leaders have already reached third generation stupid and would need a hint or two before they could tip the pee out of a boot with the instructions written on the sole.

Their inability to deal with individuals as individuals works against them, too, because the one thing that Americans are is individual.

Also, their idea of technology is the same as when the march through the institutions started: they think in terms of mass technology, mass transmissions, a unified voice and vision.

The current tech is much closer to bringing us total chaos (and you can hear their sweet, sweet screams of rage and pain as it hits entertainment, media and education) in which the individual and individual creativity and ingenuity rule supreme.

The new world emerging is MADE for Americans – the people who left everything behind to join with and invent a new way of life.

Will we win?

I don’t have a crystal ball, and the future is always uncertain, but my bet is that we’re too big, too weird, too individual for them to even hold for long.  They can by the tip of their nails hold us for a little while, but they can’t swallow us, they can’t destroy us, they can’t reduce us.  Not as they’ve done to other countries.

No.  I think in the end our very American brand of chaos wins.  They’ve made a mistake.  They got ambitious.

THIS is the land where the misbegotten dream of international socialism dies.  We are individuals.  We will not be reduced.

Yes, they’ll bring on the chaos.  Yes, it’s going to get rough.  But Americans thrive in chaos and it will wake up those among us who’ve fallen into communitarian dreams.  This is not a land that lends itself to a secular messiah.

This is the nut they crack their teeth on.  It’s good they came here.  We’re the only ones who can discredit this murderous religion forever.  And we will.  Because we’re Americans.  Because a hundred million dead is enough.  And because we have them surrounded.

Be not afraid.

132 responses to “The Strong Man vs The Messiah

  1. Scaling up, it can still work reasonably well as monarchy (which is hereditary strong man government) given the right kingdom, the right historical situation and a truly brilliant “strong man” who has been raised with the idea of noblesse oblige. (Weirdly, through the entire history of monarchy in the world, I can count on the fingers of one hand the “good monarchs” of that stamp. And half of them didn’t end well.)

    This is why, in a post-post-apocalyptic world that has embraced monarchy because that’s the guy that saved everyone, the nobles have created a Truman Show-like habitat, completely cut off, and kept in a permanent state of desperate aftermath. They send their children there at two-years-old and those children are raised in poverty, with the threat of death, disease, and starvation always just over the hill. They are brought out at 12 or so, and gradually shown the true world, one of new world, hi-tech splendor.

    Of course…the program doesn’t sit well with some…

  2. Communism (and its bastard cousins fascism and socialism) is like perpetual motion engines which would work if there just was no friction nor inertia.

    Such systems look fine on paper (pace Whoopi Goldberg) but that is because their benefits are overt while the costs are covert (we see the broken window’s repair but not the investments forgone for that repair.) Free markets, OTOH, are often messy in their self-organization, chaotic and the organizing hand hidden. Their costs are open, the derivation of their benefits not wholly apparent. But it works because it accepts human nature and human self-interest as real and ineradicable. As Ira Stoll comments in the New York Sun,

    At least two important points are being missed in the discussion of Mr. Romney’s remarks. First, there’s a double standard at work. When reporters suggest that donors to Republican causes are motivated by self-interested desire to keep their taxes low and their businesses unhampered by environmental or labor regulations, that’s groundbreaking investigative journalism. See, for example, the New Yorker magazine’s Jane Mayer on Charles and David Koch. Yet when Mr. Romney suggests that Democratic voters might have been motivated by self-interest, his comments are condemned.

    The second missed point is that Mr. Romney is hardly the first to suggest that voters might be swayed by the government benefits they are receiving. There’s an entire field of economics, known as public choice theory, devoted to the idea that, as the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics summarizes it, “people are guided chiefly by their own self-interests and…as such, voters ‘vote their pocketbooks,’ supporting candidates and ballot propositions they think will make them personally better off…Public choice, in other words, simply transfers the rational actor model of economic theory to the realm of politics.”
    http://www.nysun.com/national/romneys-gifts-remark-is-rooted-in-a-nobel-prize/88084/

    Strong men are above all else realists. They manipulate and control by direct appeal to the self-interest of their subjects.

  3. Your post brings to mind my understanding of the Battle of the Bulge (I don’t have a detailed knowledge, I speak more from a general understanding).

    In spite of the chaos, of break down of the military chain of command, of a almost complete lack of knowledge of ‘what was going on’, the American GI continued to fight, spontaneously re-organize into effective groups & simply wouldn’t quit. Do we have enough of that spirit left? that individual strength paired with the ability to cooperate? that simple ornery cussedness?

    I think we do. It’s seen all over the country, in the ‘regular’ people and places.

    Don

    • It is ongoing in the areas of the NE devastated by Sandy and FEMA.

    • I recently finished A Time for Trumpets, which echoed my other readings on the battle, and it wasn’t hardly that chaotic. There was nothing resembling a chain of command breakdown (although some units in the front got cut off from it for a while, German radio jamming worked), the knowledge of what was going on was of course extra foggy but wasn’t a “complete lack”, and units did not disintegrate with one possible exception that proves the rule, “[...] the conglomerate group of infantrymen hurriedly thrown together from men in a rest center to hold Honsdeld against Peiper’s tanks, no front-line American unit fled without a fight. After hard fighting—out of ammunition, overwhelmed by tanks—some fell back in disorder….” (pg. 618-9).

      Everyone was of course confused, Hitler managed to pull off a complete surprise (in part because a counterattack was certain, but no one knew where due to obsessive operation security, in part because what he tried was never, ever going to work given that his racially informed viewpoint that we were the Allies’ Italians was utterly mistaken, and therefore it took us a while to figure out, not that it really mattered because those units that held and then retreated immediately ruined the timetable).

      Higher command initially suspected it was a spoiling attack related to action a bit to the north, but to those getting hit what to do was reasonably clear. Certainly extra chaotic, but as one unknown German general is claimed to have said in post-war debriefing, “The reason the American Army does so well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices it on a daily basis.” … and that holds true of many aspects of our nation as a whole, at least compared to so many others. Note our host’s absolutely spot on comment “… that most people cannot face the notion of “government by the people” – not really – except in the US.” Imagine how our 2012 election circus looked to the rest of the world….

      • Lina Inverse -

        This is completely off-topic, but I just recently discovered Slayers, and now your nom de blog makes me grin every time I see it.

      • “The reason the American Army does so well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices it on a daily basis.”

        Rommel, the desert fox, said that. Or at least that is who it I have seen it attributed to, and that is the quote I thought of when reading Sarah’s post. :)

        • iI have posted this on several occasions, but cannot find a more reputable source than this, which apparently derives from comments posted at Long War Journal, in combination with the accompanying quote:

          “The reason Americans do so well in war, is war is chaos, and Americans practice chaos on a daily basis.” General Erwin Rommel 1942
          “The difficulty in planning against American doctrine is that Americans neither see fit to follow their doctrine nor even read their manuals.” KGB Document
          http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/150401/why-are-we-winning/michael-ledeen

          • I hadn’t seen that HS– I mean KGB Document, I like it.

          • I’ve heard the reputed KGB quote, but more often credited to Soviet Army officers or the like. They weren’t thrilled by the thought of having to deal with such an adversary, even though we’d officially adopted a lot of their combined arms doctrine.

        • It’s not in Wikiquote, which tends to be fairly reliable about attribution and disputed quotes. I found many references to an unknown German general, although the quote is a little too cute for my taste, it requires a German understanding the internals of the US Army at a time … well, actually it could be informed by his observations post surrender, when things would be particularly chaotic.

  4. When I read some of the western would-be Communists quoted in Jamie Glazov’s book and in other places, some of their pronouncements struck me as profoundly religious. One woman said (in the early 1970s IIRC) that if she were killed by the authorities during a visit to China, it would be wonderful because she’d be dying to serve the goals of the great movement. A few other similar writers came very close to sounding like St. John of the Cross and other Christian and Sufi mystics in their desire to lose themselves in the movement. One wonders how many of them, if raised in a different environment, would have gone into Christian or other religious orders or have gotten involved in Muslim or Hindu mysticism.

    America and Americans will survive, in part because so many of us are so un-mystical. :) Blood and soil? Get real. The grand irresistible march of history? Un huh, and I’ve got a low-mileage, low-emissions Trabant or Lada to sell you.

  5. On top of that, most people will choose to be at the bottom of any hierarchy, no matter how horrible the position, if the alternative is not being part of it at all.

    America has a higher proportion of people willing it go it alone than any other place in the world, but the need to belong to something is so strong that I suspect not even America has a majority who would forgo belonging in favor of what they believe is right.

    That’s why we need to make noise. We need to be there so those who believe as we do but aren’t strong enough to stand alone know there’s somewhere they can belong.

  6. Wayne Blackburn

    Haven’t read the post yet, but I just saw this, and a quick scan of the post here looked like it was as likely of a place to link it as any in the past week. Of course, others probably did catch this, but it’s the first time I heard it.

    I don’t really want to know how that is going to play out, but I’m very much afraid we will find out.

  7. It is good that you came here. You were wasted in Portugal.

    Even if we disagree on some of the details – and I am NOT going down that long walk with ANYONE – the individual, though sometimes stupid and misguided (sez who?) has the individual’s interests at heart. I’m an individual. I like that. Part of the reason I probably won’t be moving back to Mexico, even when DH retires, even though I can write there.

    At least here we can complain, sometimes even band together and fix things when they get too far out of whack. I’d hate to try that in China or even Cuba right now.

    • Forgot: I’m off to deal with the bureaucrats who are putting my house up for sale because, though the bank mailed them a check on the day of Hurricane Sandy, they managed not to get it and post it, and, with no forewarning whatever, sent me a notice of Tax Sale.

      Timed nicely to arrive Saturday after the bank had closed, so I had the whole weekend to stew.

      Sheesh!

      • Good thoughts going your way ABE– and good luck– give ‘em h*ll

        • It took a trip to the bank, where they cheerfully canceled the check, gave me a cashier’s check for the money (tax man insists), and didn’t charge a thing. Not their problem, either – their records show the check was mailed, but not cashed.

          I then followed with a trip to the Township office, where (you’ll appreciate this) the Handicapped parking was next to an elevator which hasn’t worked for a while – they’re looking into it. At the top of long stairs, there was a very heavy door.

          Reasonably pleasant people took my money. They said that the tone of the missive – TAX SALE NOTICE in large red letter, 3 pt. type underneath with some information I still haven’t managed to read – was the State of NJ’s fault, and required by law. I was polite in pointing out that the TONE of their missive was enough to give many people a heart attack.

          Then I went home and went to bed.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Whack them about the head and shoulders repeatedly with the Clue-Hammer of Doom™, maybe they will figure it out.

        If somehow you don’t get them to fix the screw-up, make sure you get a big sign to post in your yard telling what happened. If nothing else, it should make a good story for the local news.

        • As a still-functioning citizen, I feel an obligation to DO SOMETHING. In defense of other people this might happen to, and who might not be able to process the problem and deal with it.

          The matter is now taken care of, but it doesn’t sit right.

          Apparently, if you forget to pay your taxes the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd quarter, they send you a reminder, followed two weeks later by another reminder.

          However, if the Snark is a Boojum… Oops! Going off on the wrong tack there for a bit (Sarah’s drawing at the top is to blame). However, if you forget to pay your 4th quarter taxes (or they lose the check in a hurricane), because THEY have to get all tax matters settled before the end of the year, YOU get sent a nuclear attack missile… Oops, again! YOU get sent a message with (measured with my trusty ruler) 1/4″ high red block all-caps letters proclaiming for one and all “TAX SALE NOTICE,” with a three line in tiny print, red, proclaiming the following paragraph of legalese (which you may skip if you are duly impressed already):

          “In accordance with N. J. S. A. 54:5-129, as amended, the within described Real Estate assessed in your name will be advertised and a lien sold under the provisions of the statutes governing the enforcement of the Collection of all unpaid Taxes, Assessments and other municipal charges unless paid at once. Immediate payment will save you the additional cost of advertising and other expenses chargeable under the act.”

          Note to writers: Verbatim, including all capital letters, NO capital letter on the final word ‘act,’ and the lack of a serial comma.

          I just noticed that I could have paid in cash. I wonder if I should have paid in the smallest bills (legal tender) I could have brought in. Mean me.

          Underneath, more red says (lit.):

          RETURN “THIS NOTICE” FOR PROPER CREDIT.

          Who writes these things????

      • GAH. Have you been dealing with Hurricane Sandy? My condolences. And bureaucrats are even worse. Give them H*LL.

        • Yes – as to Hurricane Sandy. Many people have had it far worse than we have, but we came back from Mexico to the neighbor’s very large tree STILL leaning on our house since Oct. 29 (he’s dealing with insurance, estimates, and the guy coming to remove this tree and three more of his on Saturday).

          Nothing life-threatening, thank God (lit.). The perimeter was not breached (yet – hope the tree guys know what they’re doing), but we won’t see our damage – to our house and trees – until their trees are removed. Right now we have no broken windows – which is a true blessing in winter. We missed the Nor’easter by being in Huatulco (gorgeous place – similar to Acapulco 50 years ago).

          Eventually, all this stuff will be properly carted away, and, unless global warming is NOW, maybe the climate in NJ will cycle back to something more average and normal, if a bit warmer. Like Colorado may – for which I fervently hope: the prospect on no snow in the Rockies is truly daunting.

          • It’s not exactly as if the tree-cutting guy is lacking in work.

            • We get wind storms here very often — I know it’s not something known about the Rockies, but it’s true — often near hurricane strength winds (h*ll we lived through Hugo in Charlotte and here we get worse winds) and the next morning everyone will be out, sharing chainsaws and apportioning the wood “Oh, you can burn it? Then take it.” — so that the tree-cutting guys can deal with stuff like what ABE is facing, where it’s hard for individuals to do. Even then, it usually takes time.

              • Wind? Ma’am, when I was flying medevac, if the airliners reported moderate turbulence near Denver, Pueblo, or Colorado Springs, we would not go to Front Range airports. Something about having to bang the dents out of the top of the plane after the crew’s heads bounced off of it . . . That and while turboprops handle rotor turbulence better than jets do, it is still nothing to mess with. Done it in a glider, no desire to do it in a power plane.

              • Yes, I happen to live just far enough into the timbered foothills to not get the bad winds that hit regularly twenty miles south or west of me. But in large portions of the Rockies 60-70 mph winds are not that uncommon, and gusts over 100 merit mention on the local news only if they damage something important.

  8. From personal experience, there are not too many people who can play “strong man” or “strong woman.” As for the Messiah complex? It is more common than I want to think about– and more scary.

    I prefer individualism especially strong individuals who are willing to work together as a team. It changes the social dynamic imho.

    • The Messiah complex is scary, but I personally find the legions of people who are drawn to people with a Messiah complex much more scary. Because while the “Messiah” may want to drive the train off a cliff, if it’s just him you can call the psych ward and he’ll be in a straight jacket. Followers lend him legitimacy. And they are oftentimes even MORE wedded to the ideas than the “Messiah”. And, unlike the “Messiah”, who must keep up appearances (in pretty much any country that is not a communist dictatorship), followers can do pretty much what they want.

      Because when it comes down to it, they can be cast aside and marginalized by the overall movement if they are too objectionable (see: Ohio OWS members who planned to bomb a bridge, OWS members committing rape, really anybody associated with the darling movement of the Democratic party until it became even more of a parody of itself than when it started). And even though we’ve all watched it happen a hundred times (everybody – including the up-and-coming followers – has) they STILL insist on engaging in the same self-destructive behaviors because they’ve willfully blinded themselves to the consequences of their actions. They are Zap Brannigan’s perfect army: willing to walk straight into the line of fire of rampaging killbots.

      Whatever the reasons for their zealotry (I have my theory), as a religious person I find their level of dedication terrifying.

      • Social experiments have shown that when such Messiah’s predictions fail (as with predicting the world’s end) there will be a significant portion of the followers that become more strongly attached to their worship figure.

        And there is nothing quite like followers to incite a leader to greater folly.

      • Some people just want a person to believe in, and they’ll follow that person right off a cliff, believing they’re going to learn to fly.

      • They draw unhappy people who don’t want to believe that the cause of their unhappiness is their own lives or the human condition and so are looking for something else to blame.

  9. Another Brava! from me. Agree on all of this!

    It has fallen in country after country, but “next time will be different” because a hundred million dead is not enough.
    This gave me chills.

    I am amazed at the people I meet who spit on capitalism and business because they “treat people like cogs in a machine” and then support socialism as an alternative.

    • That’s because, in their hearts, they deem themselves superior to everyone else. Socialism is for the people. Not the socialist.

      • Yeah, I’ve been waiting for a cartoon of the current administration done up like the Animal Farm pigs, with the caption “Some are more equal than others.”

  10. I am reminded of the film concerning the fake electrocution experiment. It was shown in my college psychology class to point out how “everyone follows orders” and how cruel humans are, etc. But there was one test subject, a crochety old man, who refused to push the “shock” button after the first time. They made veiled threats, made appeals to authority, he basically said “bring it.” He wasn’t having any. All it takes is one stubborn old cuss to spoil the lesson ;-)

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Well, there are always going to be some followers, and some independents. When the pain becomes enough on the individual, they have a greater tendency to become independent, though some never do, or else they never see that they are, in effect, inflicting the pain on themselves.

      • I came out of four years active duty and went to college Army ROTC as a vet. I noticed then, more so than when I was enlisted and active, that even among a cadre of people that think themselves leaders, there are still a very small group that the rest will listen to and take orders from. I’m not talking about cadet rank (stop laughing) or anything so banal. I’m talking about the sheer force of…personality/charisma/etc…that the 10% possess and the 89% will follow. I include the 1% to cover the nuts on both margins.

    • Good point. The experimenters should have been studying why and how some people resist social conformity.

      Another favorite for such classes is the old “lunar crash” exercise, wherein you are tasked to rank order prioritize the 25 items to salvage and carry with you. After doing the prioritization individually you then do it as part of a group, then score the lists against the “optimum” ranking to discover that the group always outperforms the individual, thus demonstrating the advantage of working in a group.

      Except for the (third) time I participated in the exercise. Having a fair memory, especially for unexpected new information (I had been charmed, the first time I did the list, to learn that a pistol would indeed fire absent atmosphere — and I remembered it) I got a pretty good score as an individual. In the group I found I had no particular interest in arguing other members around to my point of view, especially as they did not much accept my argument that “I’ve done this exercise twice before – trust me, it is more useful than you think and no, I don’t quite remember why.” It wasn’t as if there was a grade involved, nor were we crashed on Luna. So the group, for failing to heed my wisdom and experience, received a poorer score than one of its constituent members.

      Which proved to me that group-building exercises and the evidence derived from psychological experiments should be taken with several grains of sodium-chloride.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        We just did a group-building exercise where we were required to build the tallest structure we could from:

        a. 20 pieces of spaghetti
        b. 3 feet of masking tape
        c 3 feet of string
        d. one large (toasting size) marshmallow, height to be measured at the top of the marshmallow.
        Time Limit: 18 minutes

        My group won the contest, but I acquiesced to another member’s ideas, and we wound up getting a much shorter structure than I am convinced we would have gotten from mine, though of course I can’t prove that. I could build something taller, but I would have the advantage of having had much time to think about strategies, where part of the exercise was to be short on time.

        It was supposed to show the value of jumping in and doing, rather than sitting around and talking. The person running it said that, on average, Kindergartners built the highest structures, because they didn’t waste time, and instead jumped in and started trying things. I don’t much agree with the reasoning behind this kind of study, because as systems get larger and more complex, it’s all too easy to break something significant without plenty of planning beforehand.

        • The most important part of doing group activities like that is that it allows the single members of your office community heretofore unexplored fields of flirtation. That and it’s basically recess for adults.

        • Back in the Clinton years I participated in an exercise in “balancing the budget” that was staged by some one or another “good government” group. Local politicos and a high-ranked Clinton administration official (I cannot at the moment recall his name, but I think he was OMB Director or Head of the Council of Financial Advisers; oddly, I can still clearly envision his weaselly face) officiated.

          All the praticipants [SIC] broke into small groups and went through the budget items, deciding what expenditures we would cut, what taxes we would raise, where we would impose “usage fees.” The exercise thoroughly demonstrated that just cutting expenditures would not produce a balanced budget.

          Except.

          It was quite clear that the budgetary and fiscal assumptions employed in constructing the exercise were rigged. They employed static analysis to evaluate the fiscal effects of policy, among other things. The game was as fixed. As with one of those tricks where the magician tells you to “pick a card, pick any card” the one thing of which you can be certain is that you will end up with the card the magician picked for you.

        • Eat the spaghetti, tape the marshmallow to the top of your head, (therefore if you are as tall as I am getting 6 feet of height) and use the string as a garrotte to strangle the person who thought up the idiotic exercise.

        • We did that a while back at some idiotic training event. Fortunately, there were three of us in the group who had taught high-school science, and were totally familiar with the best possible strategies for that exercise. If you’re ever stuck with that PARTICULAR task again, step 1 is to cut the marshmallow into 1/4 inch cubes which you use as glue to keep the stupid string from slipping along the spaghetti when you tie pieces together.

      • Ha! I participated in one of the exercises that’s designed to “prove” to you that the group effort is better than the individual. Except they picked a *jigsaw puzzle* as the task. I’m really good at puzzles, so I basically just took it over and did it all myself, and our “team” was the first one done. Which totally destroyed their “point”.

        • That’s how I ALWAYS handle group work.

          • And why I absolutely despise it. There’s always at least a third of the group that isn’t going to do a lick unless you stand behind them with a cattle prod.

            Only one instructor in my entire college career dealt with them appropriately: She let us stub out the portions of the program they were supposed to have produced with “This represents what should have been done by So and So.”

          • Wahl now, thet is jes’ plum’ foolish. The proper first thing ter do is determine whether the quality of the output matters. If it matters, sure, take charge and do it yerself and/or organize the rest of the group according to skill sets and how much effort is needed to get them to do the work properly.

            But for BS team-building exercises the proper action is to set back, grab a book to discreetly read or otherwise productively occupy your time and let some other poor fool(s) with an inappropriate sense of responsibility complete the task. Then speak up and claim the lion’s share of the credit. Thus you not only maximize your own effective use of time, you teach the other team members an important lesson about working in a group.

            • Waaalllll, the one problem with that approach is you might just get a reputation for being the person to turn to when things go pear shaped. And while it is nice ego-fodder to have your innate genius and talents recognized, it also means that you are expected to pull chestnuts out of fires on multiple occasions. Reputations for competence can be overrated, IMHO. ;)

  11. It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.

    I don’t pretend to know what is going to happen to us. But, as Glenn Reynolds likes to remind us, something that can’t go on forever won’t. It does seem that the US and much of western culture is on an unsustainable path. Perhaps we are living the old curse, “may you live in interesting times”. Hold on folks, we may be in for a heck of a ride!

    So, what will happen if our current system or path we are on crashes.

    I tend to agree with you that the individualists who embrace new technology and the uncertainty it brings will be best able to handle what comes next. Katrina and now Sandy, have shown that there are times when we will have to fend for ourselves to survive.

  12. I’m a bit weary of fighting a battle of ideas with people who view debate as a distraction while they pick your pocket and cut your hamstrings. The correct response to the ardent socialist is to hose him down with pepper spray and beat him with a tire billy.

    • And this is why the socialists and communists will ultimately lose here – although it will be ugly until they do. They don’t understand that the decent people hold back not because they’re weak, but because they know how bad it can get.

      Once the decent people in this country stop being polite, it’s all over bar washing the blood away.

      • Because they’re always as nasty as they can (and the press abetting them hasn’t helped them get a grip on their behavior) it makes them not believe we aren’t being HALF as nasty as we can be.

        • I’m putting my two cents in now in a LJ where a communist showed up to lament that Obama wasn’t communist enough. Sure, in a post wondering why people object to the idea he’s commie, but utterly impervious to reason.

      • If you follow one breakdown of those who decide to make war in the US, that’s probably only true of one subset. The Jacksonians are always ready for a war, but it takes certain types of triggers to engage us (“a clearly defined threat to the national interest” to quote Walter Russell Mead) and we’ve not had one yet (and if it comes to pass, it will be very ugly since they are a dishonorable enemy and all rules will be off).

        The New England Moralists are the enemy; it started long ago, some say when the Unitarians captured Harvard, some when the bloody consequences of their crusade against slavery made them say “never again”, or rather, they changed their methods. (They’ve obviously signed onto wars since then but have gotten weirder and weirder, for example they appear to mostly approve of helping our enemies post-Vietnam.)

        You’re most especially referring to the third group, the Midwestern Pragmatists. They’ll continue doing business with the enemy until they calculate it’s not profitable, that it doesn’t make sense, and then they’ll with much less passion than the Jacksonians crush him utterly. Eisenhower is a classic example of this subset.

        Which will be decisive? What would be a likely adequate trigger for the Jacksonians?

        • “They’ve obviously signed onto wars since then but have gotten weirder and weirder, for example they appear to mostly approve of helping our enemies post-Vietnam”

          Post-Vietnam? Most of them seemed to approve of helping our enemies DURING Vietnam. Google Hanoi Jane.

          • Oh, yes, I’m very aware of that, but thought getting into that unusual transition period would have distracted from my message above (it was a parenthetical comment to begin with).

            Although one should play close attention to dates, specifically when the Commander in Chief switched from being the Democrat LBJ, not that he didn’t gain a lot of often legitimate opposition from his insane approach to prosecuting the war, to the Republican Nixon, who fought to end it (successfully, as it turned out*). Which of course would upset the serious “on the other side” Left even more. A quick skim of her entry in Wikipedia indicates she was a committed hard Leftist in the ’60s, but her major, noteworthy Vietnam War events all happened after Nixon was in office.

            *Successfully in that the ARVN with US ammo and air support crushed the first all out armored 150,000 man NVA invasion, with only 40,000 men sans equipment escaping back north. It took a second such invasion coupled with the Democratic Congress and Nixon crippled by Watergate to give the North a win … but Jerry Pournelle points out this also was a major factor in bankrupting the USSR. They supplied the equipment for 3 complete large scale armies (bigger than any WWII battle); the first was expended piecemeal, the 2nd in the failed invasion, the third was required for the successful one.

            Hmmm, going a bit further in history, when to almost universal acclaim Communist Vietnam invaded the Khmer Rouge controlled Cambodia, the PRC expressed its displeasure by invading Vietnam. And got crushed by the Vietnam equivalent to our National Guard, better armed, trained and experienced than the PLA. Pity.

            • I think you’re making too much of the distinction between American regions. Yes, yes, they’re there underlying the basis of character and yes, yes, I can see the liniments of The New England Puritan in my husband still (even if his dad married someone from West Virginia, he was raised in his paternal culture and yes, yes, the bit of me that’s pure chaotic Latin culture confuses him more often than not) but in the last fifty years we’ve moved around so much as a people that it’s all got scrambled. The main influence anymore is the “unified entertainment and mass culture” and that’s cracking. (I don’t know how much Reagan — Dan voted for him in 84, myself, the kids’ school books — read dramatically by me, with gestures — or just the fact the media front wasn’t as united as it used to be started getting to Dan, but sometime over the last eight years he started to get more upset than I, and over the last week and a half he’s gone WAY more upset. The other side should beware. When the nice guys lose their temper, it’s all over but the shouting.)

              • I agree– you don’t want to make my hubby mad–anyone. I have two tempers–the quick easily finished and the slow boil with the grudge that lasts forever. The hubby has the temper that when aroused is a scorched earth. It doesn’t come often. He hardly ever gets mad. When it comes even I tremble. I might have the easily aroused berserker temper, but I wouldn’t cross him ever when he is that way– Even though he was raised in OR and WA, his family came from Pennsylvania.

                • I also think that with my easily aroused temper– it acts as a safety valve ;-) Otherwise I would be an inferno– It is not a good thing on either side of it.

                • Cyn Bagley: What part of Pennsylvania?

                  • I think Stroudsburg, PA — his grandfather had a lot to do with the trains in that area of the country–

                    • After some looking at maps and consultation with a friend who grew up in upstate NY, I think that’s part of cultural Appalachia populated with a lot of Jacksonians.

                      And in general when Jacksonians get really riled up, the results are not pretty. But sometimes called for….

                    • He comes from some Mennonite stock (even though they had fallen away)– and yes, you describe him pretty well temper wise.

              • I think you’re making too much of the distinction between American regions.

                Well, the regional part of the descriptions is from history, especially through WWII; as you say, we’ve moved around quite a bit more since then. Still, I only have to travel a few tens of miles to change from my culturally part of the South Jacksonian home town region to get to the quite different “Midwest”.

                So if you ignore the not so relevant any more regional part of the descriptions, where might your husband be placed in these three subsets? I wonder if there’s more latent Jacksonianism in him from his mother that you yet realize; what are his triggers, especially in the last week and a half?

                • My MIL comes from strong prohibitionist stock and… um… no.
                  He’s particularly annoyed by the rampant un-investigated fraud and by the media’s blatant covering up and lying leading to the election. He wants to TRUST the media. He grew up with that idea. The fact they’re total whores has only dawned on him recently and it burns him up.

                  • It is an horrible experience, that mean feeling of trust betrayed.

                    • It is also that once you start doubting the premises and integrity of what you have been receiving, the questioning leads you down unexpected paths into confrontations you weren’t expecting. Look at the Liberals who moved to conservatism after 9/11 and you see the same experiences as religious converts.

                      Once that last straw falls, you find you can no longer support the haystack of lies necessary to believe Liberalism.

                  • Yeah, it sounds like he comfortably fits into the New England Moralist subset. That’s exactly the sort of thing that should get them very upset, and legitimately so.

                    Then we get into discussions of means (the ends pretty much being agreed upon) and that tends to get messy. This situation is; it sure looks like the influence of the “New Media” on the Internet is not yet all that big, certainly not decisive compared to the power of the MSM, especially their worst one of lying through omission.

                    Pat Caddell is getting particularly exercised about this, “The press … [have] made themselves a fundamental threat to the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of the American people.

                    • It’s actually funny because the region of Portugal I come from… Well, if you can picture the US civil war without slavery as an issue, and if you reverse the sides, you’ll have a pretty accurate picture of the Portuguese civil war (fought close enough to it.) Never mind that what the North was fighting for supposedly was absolute monarchy. What was at stake was industrialization, which the North — a land of strong Celtic origins, with the tiny family farms (handkerchief-farms) and culture that accompanies such — resisted.
                      The result is that I get the south of the US perfectly well. The whole “come and get it” attitude seems to have been baked in the cake with me. Since I naturalized while living there, I often call myself North Carolinian. And my friends who know us well enough have been known to ask “What is a nice Southern girl doing married to a d*mn Yankee?” However, for the record, I am a corrupting influence in his life. (And he seems to enjoy it thoroughly.) And we have two very odd children…

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      “The press … [have] made themselves a fundamental threat to the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of the American people.“

                      Seeing this comment is really hilarious today. On my way in to work today (I am only working a half day, so started out after noon), I was listening to Rush Limbaugh play a clip of The Kalb Report, where he and Ted Koppel were saying that partisan media (like him or, say, John Stewart) was preventing compromise in Washington because they were all afraid they would be criticized on the talk shows.

                      At one point, Kalb said, “If you eliminated MSNBC, Fox, and CNN, it would probably improve American democracy overnight. ” Then I read this comment and nearly spit all over my monitor. :-)

        • I am no longer sure there is such a trigger. Five years ago, I thought we had chosen the course of empire, siting pro-consuls in Iran and Afghanistan and funding the legions to protect and enforce the edicts of the pro-consul, even as we did in Japan and Germany.

          Then, we backed off, and decided that since we had not actually conquered them, it was taking too much of our blood, but for some reason we weren’t willing to actually win this war any more than we were Vietnam.

          If the Jacksonians and the midwestern Pragmatists can be brought together by some future provocation, expect Jerry Pournelle’s suggestion to be about appropriate:

          http://www.jerrypournelle.com/war/whattodo.html

          • I don’t think I was clear enough that I was referring to domestic situations.

            As far as the Jacksonians are concerned, 9/11 was sufficient provocation for our following actions in Afghanistan. Iraq, less so, and then as you noted done in a faltering way, something we never like.

            As far as future provocations, the sort that will unite both those groups would be of the nuclear type I suspect (although a lessor mass casualty attack on the US might do). I wonder about the New England Moralists, who gave up really really fast after 9/11 (really makes a difference if a Republican is in the Oval Office); if the target was Israel, possible but doubtful, if D.C. and/or NYC, I’d hope so. Of course, in the latter case a number of them would no longer be part of the national conversation….

            • Any analysis of the post 9/11 wars needs to factor in the fact that the Fourth Estate has become a Fifth Column, actively aiding the enemy.

              I am sure I do not need expand on that thesis here, nor provide examples nor details. But I could if called to, oh dear G-d, I could.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              The thing is, we had enough justification to go into Iraq before 9/11. After, the simple fact that Hussein was providing death benefits to the families of suicide bombers was just icing on the cake. He was violating the rules of the 1993 cease fire in several ways, was firing on American jets, and was subverting the Oil For Food program. Of all the things I wish were different about George Bush, one of the ones I wished most was for him to simply make this argument instead of enlarging on suspected activities, such as WMD, Uranium, etc.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Wayne, Hussein could have been eating children on camera and the News Media would have still called Bush a war-monger. [Frown]

                • Remember, after the first Gulf War Hussein would have been justified in any action he took against the American invader. After all, we bombed “Baby Milk Plants”, leaving Iraq’s weakest and most vulnerable to starve.

                  • Wayne Blackburn

                    Don’t remember that one. I thought it was Aspirin Factories.

                    • The aspirin factory was a wag the dog under Clinton. Some people claim it was the reason Osama was so mad with us, leading to 9-11. The baby milk factories were Iraq, and we knew what was processed there because the press was shown great big intact signs in English (and Arabic…maybe).

                    • OF COURSE. All signs in the middle East are in English!

                    • Actually, most of them are both. Even the highway traffic signs. If you want the speed limit in MPH, though, yer scrahrued.

                    • The factories? Really?
                      I assumed the signs waved around were for reporters to see!

                    • The baby milk thing was absolutely over the top, but if you walk down a decent-sized city’s streets, you’re going to see a lot of English. Saudi and Bahrain are FULL of them, along with a lot of our retailers.

                    • But Saudi and Bahrain have some world tourism and English is the world’s lingua franca. Iraq?
                      BTW Portugal has some of the funniest cases of Engrish I’ve ever seen, at least one of them a cultural, not linguistic mistakes: My God! jeans. My family couldn’t understand not only was it not an American brand, but it COULDN’T be.

                    • lol

                      There was a Chinese restaurant outside Khobar called Phukits and a small cafe that sold a goat cheese quesadilla sort of thing that read as “Le Queef”

                      They were pretty good.

                    • In Japan signs often utilize the Roman alphabet as well as the standard Japanese scripts. More so in places where you will find tourists. Extra signs, often with additional languages, are put up during major events. English is used in advertising — with interesting results. Anyone for a refreshing Tiger Sweat soda? English is used in Japan, not just because of the occupation, but as it is, for the moment, the universal business language. (Although the time when the sun never set on the Empire is being forgotten their language remains…)

                    • Sigh. One thing you should know, Wayne. Any time the US is engaged in a war against a non-Western power (or even a Western power — it’s just we haven’t done that in a while, and the press used to be you know… on our side) regardless of where our weapons are aimed, they will hit baby milk plants, aspirin factories or wedding parties.
                      It’s like every time there was violence at a communist-instigated event, a pregnant woman would be shot. Don’t believe me? I know a couple of instances in Portugal and have heard of others around the world. It’s uncanny and I can’t figure out how they managed it, unless they goaded the pregnant woman out and shot her themselves — but the incidence of “poor pregnant woman at this demonstration got shot” is above statistical likelihood. I mean, you’d need a population boom to dwarf all population booms to manage it.
                      Must be magic.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      Oh, I know. I haven’t read as many such things as you have, but I have also seen video of Palestinians using Red Cross ambulances for transportation and cover for terrorists during fights with Israelis.

      • With the caveat that the communists have been indoctrinated with the lesson that ruthlessness in the pursuit of communism is a virtue while the rest of society has been indoctrinated with the opposite.

        Which is why it is important to spread the lesson of the history of communist mass murder – so that the illusions are dispelled.

        • The nation’s Jacksonians are traditionally ruthless when fighting an enemy they view as dishonorable and there’s no question that communists qualify as such.

      • Agreed. I don’t want to wallow in the slime where they like to hang out.

        But, we do need to make the other side play defense for a change. I think we can do it honestly and effectively. It is always amusing to watch liberals twist themselves into knots trying to defend Obama’s record.

        But, we do have to hammer them for what they are. It will not be easy or pleasant though.

        • Not so terribly hard, nor especially unpleasant. Breitbart showed the way.

          They are not terribly imaginative in their approach, after all. Their playbook is known, their tactics predictable.

          The first rule is to not follow the conservative reflex to explain and defend. They are not interested in your defense, after all: they merely want to put you on defense, to play the inquisitor. So turn the tables: accuse them of racism, of sexism, of ethnocentrism. Since theyare all these things, it is not difficult; what is difficult (for the decent) is accusing somebody of being such.

          Make them defend their assertions and arguments. Challenge them. Do not defend your own positions — that is unnecessary. Make them defend. Challenge their premises, accuse them of their sins.

          They claim the great power to ask the questions; deny them that power. When that idiot interviewer recently asked Marco Rubio about the age of the Earth (GQ) Rubiio would have done best to tell his interrogator that the question was stupid, irrelevant to anything that interested Rubio and that the answer depended on your premises about the nature of Time. He could even have taken the opportunity to deliver a brief lecture on the history of Man’s efforts to determine the answer to the question of Earth’s age and how such efforts demonstrate the tendency for Man to assume knowledge far more comprehensive than is justified. (Admittedly, I doubt any politician other than Gingrich has the intellectual chops to do that last part — but remember how Newt demolished questioners in the GOP primary debates by refusing to accept their premises?)

          By and large the Leftists have no idea how to defend their positions. They lack the intellectual chops, their deconstructionist training hasn’t prepared them to build anything and, frankly, if they were deep (as opposed to pretentious) thinkers they wouldn’t hold such shallow notions, eh?

      • I love this quote from David Drake’s Belisarius Series:

        “Why is it that cruel people always think they have a monopoly on ruthlessness?”

  13. In addition to all you’ve laid out, (and yes, we are an obstreperous bunch in the US of A) we are an armed society, and with many folks like you who have *lived* through socialist environs and have come to this country to escape them – I think it could very well be that to a great degree y’all (my Southern is showing) may be the salvation of this country. Unfortunately, as I can see from the kids my girls go to school with – there is very little of value being taught in public schools regarding our history and government. All is corrupt. Voices like yours are vital – and I share your take often.

    • I’d agree that the people who’ve escaped socialist and communist regimes could be the salvation of this country – they’ve seen the tactics before. Those of us fortunate enough not to have dealt with that kind of regime don’t recognize the infiltration for what it is.

      I thank Sarah for opening my eyes on that front. I knew communism was atrocious – the Australian media isn’t as heavily fellow-traveler as the US and reported the horrors exposed with the fall of communism in Eastern Europe with reasonable honesty, plus there’s a degree of concern in Oz over China’s obvious desire to expand its influence (thousands of miles of indefensible coastland will do that to a country – although my view is that if anyone is crazy enough to try, you let them land, evacuate and scorched earth anything in the vicinity, destroy the supply chain and wait. Even the coast of Australia is kind of unfriendly to those who don’t know the country) – but I didn’t know the extent of the infiltration and propaganda wars against the USA. Now I do.

    • Going along with that, watch this video (I hope my attempt at linking works) and try to tell me none of it sounds familiar to what has happened in the USA over the last 30+ years. It’s terrifying. Even worse, look up the full video (over an hour long) on YouTube and prepare to weep. Like American Muslims that explicitly state they are working toward a worldwide caliphate, this information is right in public view, but the left insists it’s not true. And they’ve got (from admittedly anecdotal evidence) a majority of Americans eating up the lie. (My theory is that we’ve had it good for so long people arrogantly assume we’ve somehow overcome the demons of our nature and would rather stick their head in the sand than face the fact that savages still DO exist – and must be dealt with. Harshly.)

  14. The whole narrative that things aren’t as bad as they seem, at least in the USA, ignore the steady erosion of faith (conscience), honesty, health and personal responsibility. A record number of citizens content to be on welfare, food stamps and in worse health (obesity) does not a thriving and prosperous country make. The national trajectory “is” up and down but on a slope generally downwards; eventually things begin to crumble.

    • The majority of people are were and shall ALWAYS be sheep. The goats are few. That said there are more goats in the US than anywhere else. Genetics and self selection.
      The trajectory we’re on IS unsustainable, and I still think a lot of people on the dole don’t WANT to be there (I know a lot of them.) So it comes down to fight now, or fight when dependency is generations old and has become an habit of mind.

      • The battle is between taxpayers and tax spenders — with the last including not simply the folks on the dole but those in whose interest it is to HAVE lotsa folks on the dole: public employee unions.

        The inherent goals of ANY union are a) member job security and b) increasing the number of members. The first goal is advanced by minimizing member accountability in his job, the second is furthered by increasing member inefficiency so that more people are required for the same amount of work.

        It is not — generally — that people on the dole WANT to be there (although many, conditioned by a mythology of having been exploited by The Man and being told they are ENTITLED to being supported, are quite happy to be there) so much as they see no way out of that trap and haven’t the skills (showing up for work on time and in a condition to perform the tasks assigned, dropping the attitude and applying themselves to doing what is required) to get out of that trap. Add in social policies that make those first few steps up out of the trench they’re in (not allowing them to build any savings, eliminating health insurance and other benefits at too early a stage, minimum wage laws and last hired/first fired employment rules) soon renders them alienated from their own lives and convinced that their efforts to improve through traditional routes (so instead they play the numbers or deal contraband) are doomed.

        It seems likely that it is not poverty that leads to criminal activity so much as it is the social policies which deny the entrepreneurial poor the benefits of their entrepreneurship.

    • The way I see it, the way the US reacts to crises is a lot like what happens if you drop a basketball. It bounces back, but each time the bounce is lower, until finally the ball is just rolling around on the floor. Eventually there is no more bounce. We’re very close to the last bounce, if we aren’t already about to hit the floor and roll. Is the state of the union still salvageable? I really want to believe so and I’ll do my part to make it happen. But it’s going to require a helluva fight to do so.

  15. Mac, an American Division with integrated air and logistics support can take on any TWO divisions from ANYWHERE ELSE. There is always the same problem: a lack of integrated LEADERSHIP.

    My son-in-law was in Desert Storm. He was deep into Iraq with his rat-rig long before the “go” was given, On the way back out, they drove along the so-called “highway of death”. He said they passed three full divisions, plus all their support system, that never made it to the Iraq/Kuwait border. They ran into a squadron of A-10s.