Blog Archives

Economic Decay Leads to Social and Political Decay

It seems my rant yesterday (Let Me Know When It’s Over) upset a lot of people, many of whom felt I trivialized the differences between the parties and all the reforms that people believe will right wrongs and reduce suffering.

OK, I get it, there are differences, but if the “reform” doesn’t change the source of the suffering and injustice, it’s just window-dressing that makes the supporter feel virtuous. Want an example? Let’s take the the “cruel and unusual punishment” for drug-law offenders, many of whom are African-American males whose lives are effectively hobbled by felony convictions and long sentences in America’s Drug War Gulag.

You want a “reform” that actually gets to the root and solves the source of the injustice? It’s simple: decriminalize all drugs and recognize drug use as a medical and social issue rather than a criminal-justice / Gulag issue. But that won’t happen because too many people are making too much money off the Gulag, which is now a public and private-prison Gulag.

(Other advanced nations have had success with this structural change. Maybe we could learn something from their examples?)

If you’re not ready to demand the full decriminalization of all drugs, then you’re not really interested in solving the problem; you’re just seeking virtue-signaling “reforms” that don’t upset the power structure. And since any real solution necessarily disrupts the power structure benefiting from the status quo, all the painless “reforms” are ineffective.

In other words, either go big and change the power structure or go home and stop promoting your own virtue. This is why the economy is floundering despite all the warm and fuzzy headlines about stocks rising due to the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates: we collectively refuse to consider structural changes in the way “money” is created in our perverse system–perverse because the way “money” is created guarantees soaring inequality.

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Hell Hath No Fury Like a Liberal Scorned: The Media Turns on Facebook and Google

Of the many remarkable trend changes of the past year, few are more striking than the fawning embrace of Facebook et al. by Big Media turning to an enraged sense of betrayal. Facebook and Google–by their own self-definitions, shining beacons of liberalism and goodness (we’re not evil, we’re fantabulous!)– were viewed by the famously liberal Big Media as allies in the fight against Trump, illiberalism, populism, deglobalization, etc.

Now, to their horror, Big Media has discovered that not only did their Big Tech sweethearts betray their affection and trust, they’re just another bunch of predatory profit-maximizing monopolies who will stab anyone and everyone in the back who gets in their way to higher profits and more power.

It would be sad if it wasn’t so pathetic. Poor Big Media, so anxious to be hip and with it, so anxious to impress social media while trying to exploit its reach to prop up their own dying business model. Big Media, so easily seduced by Big Tech: we’re liberal, too, and together we’ll lead the world out of darkness into light, blah blah blah.

Then Big Media discovered its virtue-signaling liberal sweetheart, Big Tech, is just as threatened by liberals as by conservatives, and it turns its firepower on liberals with the same savage abandon as it does on independent and conservative media.

The bitter rage of the previously besotted and now betrayed suitor is evident in these recent articles in The Atlantic, New York Times and Washington Post, all bastions of virtue-signaling self-righteous defense of the state-cartel Empire, a.k.a. liberalism.

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Virtue-Signaling the Decline of the Empire

There are many reasons why Imperial Rome declined, but two primary causes that get relatively little attention are moral decay and soaring wealth inequality. The two are of course intimately connected: once the morals of the ruling Elites degrade, the status quo seeks to mask its self-serving rot behind high-minded “virtue-signaling” appeals to past glories and cost-free idealism.

Virtue signaling is defined as “the conspicuous expression of moral values by an individual done primarily with the intent of enhancing that person’s standing within a social group,” “the practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue” and “Saying you love or hate something to show off what a virtuous person you are, instead of actually trying to fix the problem.” Yes, yes and yes.

“Virtue-signaling” expresses two other key characteristics of an empire in terminal decline: complacency and intellectual sclerosis.

Michael Grant described these manifestations of decline in his excellent account The Fall of the Roman Empire, a short book I have been recommending since 2009:

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