Some time ago some people did a study and decided that people who were mildly depressed had a better grip on their circumstances and chances than those who were optimistic.
Note two things there, the first being MILDLY depressed and the second being THEIR chances and circumstances. I.e. when you are evaluating your own life, you are, arguably, in possession of more facts than people looking in from the outside. You know your spouse, children, whoever is around your immediate surroundings, and therefore can relate to what they are likely to do.
I’m often accused of wild optimism in this blog, something I find ALMOST bitterly funny, since a) I’m a depressive by nature (possibly by brain wiring since it runs in my paternal family) and the best, most stable of my states is “mildly depressed.” When I fall off the horse and become profoundly depressed it’s a whole different ball of wax. b) I am not telling you there will be pie in the sky by and by, only that we have a long struggle ahead to get this country back on the path of liberty and that since the enemies of individual freedom took a 100 years to bury us, we have to give it as least a good fifty years and work steadily at it without attempting to burn it down after twenty or so, because we didn’t yet get everything we want and our liberty pony TM has hoof rot.
I will confess right up front my bias in this. I think Americans — natural born Americans, who have never experienced the upheavals the rest of the world has been through — delight in imagining doom is to come upon them any minute. I’ve seen it on TV and in papers since I moved here. “Economic crash coming any minute” seems to be a thread in our news, a thread that comes up again and again and again. (And before you say we’re in an economic crash now — not even. We’re in the economic doldrums. It is, I think, an unacknowledged depression and pretty severe, but let’s be real, okay? The structure hasn’t disappeared, children aren’t scrounging for food in garbage bins. There’s still food on the shelves, and all of us (well, all of me, she says ruefully) could afford to be somewhat leaner. Now part of what is insulating us is that we have a great wealth of both capital and people. there’s a great deal of ruin in a country, and more in this one than in the average one.
Because my book to listen to while unpacking is Expanded Universe (A little creepy, really. Is there any corner of my brain the man didn’t burrow into? I don’t remember reading this book, it’s not in my regular re-reading rotation and I first read it when I came to the US, so how is it possible that the style and the ideas… are way too close for comfort? But I’m not guilty, yer honor. I maintain we simply share the same writing bandwidth. Whatever is beaming the books to the brains of receptive writers has aimed the same beam at both of us. And I’m not crazy. Well, not more so than your average writer.) And I got to listen to that same “doom, gloom, the end is coming soon” in quite a few essays. Now the man had a good reason for it, because he lived through the transition to the atomic bomb, but still…
I think honestly that the idea of a total collapse is an American tall tale, a campfire scary-comforting story, of the sort you tell yourself to appreciate the light of the fire and the warmth of your tent more. I think it’s all “the world economy will collapse and then the jackalopes will eat us.”
I could be wrong. I’ve named the circumstances in which I could go wrong. Major disasters, major attacks on most of the country, that could change our civilization beyond repair, though the amount of damage that would make us regress to early stone age is unbelievable.
But what if the rest of the world goes that way? The rest of the world will go that way. Partly because of their own choices, because socialism seemed like such a bright idea. Partly because of our choices, because socialism is rendering us unable to give them the assistance we have, in keeping the little cocoon of their illusions going.
So, if the world collapses, won’t we? Well, no. See aftermath of World War II. We managed. We muddled along. We did all right.
But that is not the main point of this essay. Yesterday I understood the reason so many of you think I’m optimistic, when someone said our trajectory would be exactly the same as Venezuela.
Look, I rolled my eyes so hard SOMEONE needs to find them before the cats play with them.
Americans in a way were ripe to fall for the multiculti lie, i.e. “all cultures are alike, except ours is uniquely bad.” Not your fault in many ways. the size of the country, our relative strength, the fact we’re innovators, makes travel abroad more of a luxury and less of a vital interest for most people. And when most people do travel it is to meet with peers abroad, or to England, which is a whole country of peers.
Comparing our issues to Venezuela is Laugh-Snort inducing to anyone who knows the two countries. Yes, yes, richest country, blah, blah, blah.
Where it breaks down is the culture. Like most Latin countries the Venezuelan society is sharply divided between rich and poor and the rich are far more ostentatious than ours, and the poor are UNIMAGINABLY poor, by American standards. But it goes way beyond that. If you think we have race problems, you haven’t looked at theirs. It tangled up their revolution which was not at all like the US one. Beyond that there is… not so much a culture of manana but this “inexactness” that is a curse of Latin cultures (I’d like to know why, and suspect it came with the moors. I mean the Romans were fricking engineers and legalistic to the hilt, both of which require exactness.) I joke I spent most of my teen years standing on street corners — reading sf books — because in Portugal “we’ll meet at three” could mean four. Or five. Or six or, in extreme circumstances, seven. Because I’m an Odd and neurotic I suffered from a fear of being late, so I would manage to be there an hour early and…
There are other cultural quirks, too, some of them cataloged by Heinlein in Tramp Royale. You CAN work for your money, in a Latin Country, but you’re not supposed to let them see you work. That class thing. At the top of the class structure is “old money” who never worked a day for their money and never will. And that’s the image people aspire to project.
If you don’t see the differences between that and the American cultural mythos; if you don’t understand how they’d lead to very different types of collapse, you might want to ease up on the “doom, gloom, the end is coming soon.” Because you’re not in possession of all the factors.
Look, I’m not saying it will be easy or simple. I’m not saying some areas won’t have the devil’s own time. (You know the areas. Most of them are having a hell of time now.) I’m not saying that anything will be handed to us.
We’re heading into rough times, when we’ll have to fight hand over hand to keep our freedoms and claw back a little more. BUT if we resist the fatal tendency to give up and burn it all down in a gigantic temper tantrum, we MIGHT yet bring this through. Our children might not live in freedom, but our grandchildren might.
If this is wild optimism, let it be so.
Sursum Corda. We’ll get ‘er done.