It occurs to me that when I say things like “How to survive the soft slide down” or “How to prepare for chaos” I’m confusing some people. (Like those who advise me to emigrate!)
I suspect I’m also confusing some people who go “But, Sarah, you say that they only captured government, and we will eventually win, because what can’t go on won’t.”
So, I thought I’d set down, once and for all what I believe about the current situation, and what I think lies ahead. Call it Sarah’s grand, unified version.
Be aware that this author does not possess a crystal ball or even a dinkum thinkum to calculate probabilities. I don’t even expect to be EXACTLY right. I expect things will happen in different time frames/at different rates/in different ways than I expect. But I expect the result to be roughly what I’m predicting here.
I spent the seventies saying something like this about the fall of the USSR, based on roughly the same thing: culture, technology and the history of the people involved. The fall surprised me because – I’m a pessimist, okay. Or at least, I’m a novelist, and at the time I was I guess and embryonic novelist (writing 20k words by hand every month) so my mind instantly goes to “what would be most interesting here?” which usually involves death and destruction – there were no last-spasm missile launches.
Anyway, this is how I see the situation in the US right now:
First, there is nothing wrong with our fundamentals, by which I mean the people and view of economics. Yes, I know we have some fantastic number on welfare. (The big issue with Romney’s mentioning that, by the way, is that he didn’t distinguish chronic welfare takers with those who are trying like heck to get out of it. Right now we have any number of those thanks to the craptacular economy.)
BUT – though you guys might not be aware of this, I am every time I go back to Europe – our hardware-in-the-head is the best in the world. You run into this every time you discuss welfare or taxes or anything with anyone from abroad. (Excepted here, to an extent are the other Anglosphere colonies. To an extent.)
It is assumed abroad that you BELONG to the country (and whoever is presently ruling it. – yes, I know we have our share of complete idiots, too. But nowhere near universal.) Therefore the country can give you everything and take everything and it’s morally just. It’s a mind set leftover from kings, where you held whatever you owned by gracious permission of the king.
Look at it this way – in Greece, in Spain, in Portugal, the people scream and shout NOT to have their benefits cut. (It’s also not as universal as the media there – and here – portrays it, but it’s close enough.) Here, we scream and shout to have our taxes cut. If you think that makes no difference, you never lived elsewhere as a native.
Second, Our elites hate us. This has been a cultural current since the very early days of the US. The idea that Europe is somehow superior and should be imitated tends to corrupt a certain number of our elites.
From their point of view, of course, they’re right. Almost anywhere else in the world their position would give them far greater scope (notice the ever continuing lamentations “I’m not a dictator.” “I’m not the premier of China.”) and they would have the “people” on their side.
But here, as much as they have indoctrinated the kids (I have news – indoctrination doesn’t STICK. My generation in Portugal was pounded with Marxism. We turned out the most conservative generation the country has ever had. Of course conservative means something different. Of course, some artifacts of Marxism do remain – like the idea that the state should regulate this or that, or the inability to understand that economics IS a natural science – but by and large, indoctrination (particularly what our kids are getting, which is not just a-factual but counter-factual) rarely survives contact with the real world.) if you assume they didn’t cheat massively (and if you are assuming that, may I interest you in the Brooklyn Bridge. You can have it for cheap.) they’re barely holding on to just a little over half of the country. AND any number of those are the very young/woefully un-informed, one at least a condition that is self-remedied.
Three, tech is going our way. It just is. Despite the fact that the moguls of tech want to be cool and hip and keep joining the side of the retrogressives, the tech we now have makes it d*mn hard to keep total control over vital things like news. Yes, yes, we’re still losing the geriatric generation who thinks that nets are for fish, and the kiddies who think comedy shows are news. But the kids will grow up, the new kiddies will not be used to TV and… well… the elderly shall pass. HOWEVER two things: the ability to type documents helped bring down the Soviet Union AND we’re nowhere near where they’d like us to be. This current administration, any other time in history (before) would have something like 70% approval and an overwhelming majority of the vote. Or, to quote younger son “We’d already be in camps.”
They’re losing the news but more importantly they’re losing entertainment AND they’re starting to lose education. The future is a never-end of pain for them, not for us. Which is why people who call themselves “progressives” are madly trying to return to the 1930s because, to quote Athena in the beginning of Darkship Revenge (you will see it when I’m done. Shut up and sit down.) “Life is full of these little ironies.”
Four, unfortunately governments have hold of certain functions (if you consult this moldy document called The Constitution, they are delineated there. Not saying a free people can’t replace them, but it will take organization of a parallel governmental structure. It will come to that, but not soon. Or not soon enough.): Common defense is one of them. Negotiating with foreign powers is another. Regulating relations between the states is another.
They’re not doing any of these, because to our elites these aren’t nearly as much fun as telling you what to eat and drink or distributing free contraceptives, or determining what treatments grandma can and can’t have.
In some cases they’re not just not doing them – defending the borders – but are preventing others from doing them. In other cases, they are doing things that are not that convinced it’s that – getting us involved in wars where we have nothing to gain, under the impression the only good war is one undertaken for altruistic motives.
This will have consequences. Also under that regulating interstate commerce, they’ve decided it’s their right and duty to regulate how much State A gives to their indigent, who is indigent, etc. I read this article about sequester was stopping free school lunches (which to begin with is bullshit. A cut of 2% in the projected increase for the year does not stop school lunches. The INCREASED spending is STILL going somewhere. This is the equivalent of our city, when we don’t let them jack up the taxes, turning off the street lights, but still paying for “art” downtown.) and my first thought was “that’s a federal function HOW?” Which explain why school lunches are a boondoogle of favored providers and of kids dumping the whole thing uneaten.
However, the Federales big noses and their sins of commission and omission WILL still bite us in the butt over time. Trust me on this. Until… the system changes.
Five – we are living through a time of massive tech change. Catastrophic change, is the proper name. This is LARGELY for the good – in the end we’ll all be better off, but the way there is iffy. Like the industrial revolution it will displace massive groups of people and change how people view themselves. It will bring upheaval and confusion, which will add to the problems we have of a disconnect between governing elite (not just politically. I see this everywhere, from churches to scientific disciplines to industry) and the people actually doing, creating and trying to fix things. It might contribute to accelerate the transformation staring us in the face, but it WILL also make it more brutal and painful. Count on it.
So, put it all together and this is my prediction: In the end we win. I’m not sure what the end result will look like, but in the US at least I expect something like our founding documents, though the implementation might be modified in a different direction than the road we’ve been on for well over a hundred years. In some ways our founding documents are more adapted to our society as it’s emerging than they were for the rural age they were written in. Or maybe in a way they’re eternal verities.
(Adaptations will be needed for voting procedure/assembly times and such – because a lot of these had travel by oxcart (okay horse) built in.)
I expect our way might infect the world even more, as the rest of the world starts using the newer tech also.
I think in fifty years the world will be more prosperous, freer, and more respecting of individual human liberty and dignity than it’s ever been.
I also don’t expect to live to see that. (Though I might. I come from ancestresses who lived to their late eighties with village healers and occasional recourse to over the counter meds.)
I am fifty and I expect, if I’m lucky, to see the beginning of the rebuilding and the sketching of what comes after. (I’d like to. I wouldn’t write Science Fiction if I weren’t mad in love with the future.)
In the mean time… Well, look at those things the elites still control and will control until a combination of tech advance and their craptacular ineptitude wrenches them from the little know-it-alls hands.
I expect we’ll lose a city, maybe more. (I could be wrong, okay? As I said, I expected actual nukes over the collapse of the USSR. Wounded bear and all that.) We MIGHT for all I know be the Almighty’s favored child and escape unscathed like a child who falls from a tenth floor window and walks away.
That and the multiple regulations (until they become unenforceable, which they’re close to being now, through sheer number and contradictory nature) will make economic life a misery, because you can’t regulate economics any more than you can regulate the weather – but you can collect all the water before it hits the fields and starve people (to stretch a metaphor.) The one thing government regulation has proven really good at in the economic realm is creating famine.
I think we might very well lose California (and I don’t mean to nukes, though that might be part of it. And I don’t mean to the sea. I mean, just leaving to aggregate with Mexico, or going it solo or something. In many ways it sounds already lost.)
I expect the next 5 to ten years to get increasingly rough, the amount of roughness depending on where you live. I expect we’re going to get a crash course in reality, with emphasis on “crash.”
But I expect us to survive. More. I expect us to thrive and continue improving on tech. Humans are curious monkeys. Americans are to an extent self-selected as troublemakers and descendants of trouble makers. Yes, we have some throw backs who want mommy. Yes, we have a generation of wounded children, the result of crappy families. BUT we’re still the world’s last, best hope.
And the merchants of despair and retrograde oppression lose.
As long as we keep our chins up and keep fighting, as long as we’re prepared, ready and willing to work for it – I think that’s how the story will go.
And though at times I feel tempted to say “poor world” – I think in the end we win. We, freedom lovers, we Americans, we, the human race.