The Symptoms Show American Culture Is Transitioning into a Violent Oligarchy

Lambert here: As opposed to a peaceful one?

By Thom Hartmann, a talk-show host and author of more than 25 books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute. Reposted from Alternet.

I’m sitting in my home office working on the next morning’s Daily Rant when I hear what sounded like a man in my driveway yelling, at the top of his voice, “You f*cking c*nt!” and other female-specific obscenities. Walking to the window, I saw a guy in his 40s, red-faced, giving my wife the finger with both hands and cursing her out as he climbed into his car and squealed out of the driveway.

Louise, it turns out, had invited a local contractor to give us a bid on some repairs and she’d (very nicely) asked him, before letting him into the house, if he was vaccinated. He exploded and marched back to his car screaming curses at her.

In all her years on this planet, including as CEO of three different companies, that was the first time in her life a man had behaved like such an ass toward her.

In Tennessee a high school student testifies to a school board meeting that his grandmother has just died of Covid and he begs his school to mandate masks so his other grandmother isn’t next; he’s shouted down, laughed at and heckled by smirking, unmasked adults.

On Jet Blue what’s become a new rite of passage for flight attendants blows into life as a man screams obscenities when asked to leave the plane because he refused to properly wear his mask.

In Tacoma, Washington a group of thugs goes looking for a fight when “antifa” fails to show up for the brawl the “Boys” had advertised. Undeterred, they march around town with clubs, flags and baseball bats looking for people to pick fights with until a local (not-antifa) man, apparently disgusted and feeling threatened by their behavior, finally pulls out a gun and shoots one of them in the foot (the story is still evolving; it’s possible the guy shot himself in the foot).

In Ft. Collins Colorado a man harasses a group of women suntanning on the beach for wearing “pornographic” bathing suits, refusing to leave when they ask him to go away because, he says, “This is America!”

Across the nation, hundreds of poll workers and election officials endure daily death threats and violent harassment just for doing their civic duty. And school boards are under daily assault in similar fashion.

And these are just the stories from the past week.

This continuous and increasing use of violence and threats of violence has become an epidemic across America since 2016 and it’s not because of frustration with the pandemic.

This is what happens in every country when it begins making the transition from being a democratic and generally polite and respectful culture into one that embraces authoritarianism or fascism.

And it always starts from the top down: leadership sets the initial tone in countries, just like in companies and families.

In our case, these people are imitating Donald Trump; our best hope is that President Biden’s reasonable and compassionate example can help the nation turn against it, although Trump-imitating governors and other elected officials are making it very difficult.

The Republican leadership of Texas, for example, just legally embraced vigilantism against women, and a dozen GOP-controlled states are planning to follow suit this month. This is how it starts.

In Hungary, roaming bands of thugs with torches threatened to burn the homes of Roma people as Viktor Orbán rose to power a bit over a decade ago.

In The Philippines, President “Little Donald Trump” Duterte praised vigilantes roaming the streets with clubs and guns looking to beat or kill people “linked to drugs” including “more than 150 judges, mayors, lawmakers, police and military personnel” he viewed as political opponents. Duterte told his followers: “Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun – you have my support.”

In Russia roaming bands attack and kill suspected-LGBTQ people as the government’s leadership ramps up otherizing language against its own citizens. Across former Soviet states advocates for democracy or gay rights are routinely hunted, beaten and often killed.

As Mussolini came to power in Italy in the early 1920s his civilian vigilantes, known as Blackshirts for their garb of that color, took to the streets regularly. Historian Michael R. Ebner writes: “Thus, life for labor leaders became terror-filled, especially because Fascists did not limit their attacks to the public sphere. Nowhere was safe. Late at night, 10, 30, or even 100 Blackshirts, as these squad members became known, sometimes traveling from neighboring towns, might surround a home, inviting a Socialist, anarchist, or Communist outside to talk. If they refused, the Fascists would enter forcibly or threaten to harm the entire family by lighting the house on fire.”

In Germany in 1921 Hitler organized a volunteer, unpaid civilian militia he called the Sturmabteilung (Storm Unit) who roamed across Germany looking for labor leaders, gays and Jews to beat up.

In Brazil today roaming bands of thugs called “militias” beat and kill people they believe are political enemies of strongman and Trump imitator President Jair Bolsonaro. According to reporting in The Intercept and The Guardian, they’re led by Bolsonaro’s eldest son Flávio.

In every case, around the world and throughout history, regular citizens were first surprised, then shocked, then intimidated, and finally dominated by the emerging authoritarian or neofascist movements led or encouraged by ambitious politicians in their nation.

In every case, everyday interactions like traveling on a train, bus or airplane, hiring a contractor, or just walking through town became a minefield filled with unpredictable eruptions of threat, intimidation and violence.

As Chicago reporter Milton Mayer wrote after returning from Germany just after World War II: “If I – and my countrymen – ever succumbed to that concatenation of conditions, no Constitution, no laws, no police, and certainly no army would be able to protect us from harm.”

We are witnessing today in America the symptoms of a culture going through the early stages of transition from pluralistic democracy to violent oligarchy, as I lay out in far more detail in The Hidden History of American Oligarchy.

It quite literally starts with “average people” randomly exploding and behaving like asses while political demagogues promote self-styled militias, lawlessness and vigilantism.

We ignore or minimize them at our own peril.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. DJG, Reality Czar

    Today, in my FBk feed, I got this “memory,” which likely comes from a link here at Naked Capitalism. I came to Naked Capitalism through Duncan Black and through Charles Pierce at Esquire. But I have mainly ended up here at NC. Much to your dismay and disappointment, ne!

    The counterexample:

    Duncan Black (Atrios): “One thing I get the sense from the Clintonites and Obamaites (sometimes the same people) is the belief that when it comes to the economy, they did everything fucking right. The Clintonites saved the world from a deficit which didn’t matter (which was promptly turned into tax cuts for rich people) and were in power during the 90s boom, and the Obamamites saved the world from The Second Great Depression. Things aren’t perfect, but everything that’s wrong really just isn’t their fault.
    “The Clintonites solved the wrong problem and benefited from the internet boom, the Obamaites failed to address the things (and made them worse) – banksters/foreclosure crisis – that they actually had some money and power to deal with.”

    The U.S. economy is in worse shape than eight years ago, when Black posted this statement. The U.S. Gini coefficient has grown worse. In the end, people do indeed vote their pocketbooks.

    One of the reasons for social programs and a jobs guarantee is social peace. People who are desperate for money don’t knock down displays of crackers in the Trader Joe’s in the throes of anger.

    It doesn’t help that one of the foundational texts of Anglo-American culture can’t decide if it wants the War of All against All or not. So we have the War of All against All. It doesn’t have to be that way–generalized pissant-ery.

    1. Reanderthal

      Do chimps fling much excrement in the wild, I wonder, or is there something about the zoo environment…?

      1. tegnost

        I take it you’re being self referential? Or was there something DJG said that makes you want to round up your mob and pay a visit?

        1. Reanderthal

          If you take it, you need no question mark.
          I wouldn’t want to be in any mob that would have me as a member, and I don’t think the chimps in my comment are who you think they are, nor indeed is the zoo.

      2. Yves Smith

        A snide and veiled ad hominem attack is still an ad hom, and a violation of our written site Policies.

        I trust you will find your happiness on the Internet elsewhere.

      3. steve

        Well, looking at the comments to this I see everyone, so far, has a completely different take than I.

        I took it as a comment of the society (zoo) we (chimps) live in and pointing out it’s role on the making of people and culture and in our time and place there is a lot of poo slinging featured.

        Just me?

        1. jr

          It was the delivery of his (?) comments that raised a flag for me. That in-between “could be agreeing with me/could be mocking me” fence-riding is the hallmark of a blog commenter seeking to stir up distracting crap without getting booted right off the bat. A style distinctly reminiscent of that gaggle of mediocrities once known here as “Philip Cross”. Or so my Spidey-senses told me…

          I have been wrong before though, once I bought one of those jackets that you can wear inside out. Yeeesh.

        2. Yves Smith

          No, sorry, this is the hallmark of a passive-aggressive attention seeking shit-stirrer. And did his comment elicit anything of value? No, it led us all to talk about him.

    2. lance ringquist

      i have a problem with hartman, i used to listen to him. but he ignores what caused the rise of a trump, or a orban.

      orban was the direct result of idiots running government that believed in free trade economics that turned hungray into a IMF run basketcase.

      nafta billy clintons disastrous policies tanked our economy, as well as the worlds, and the empty suit hollowman obama bailed out those disastrous polices, then doubled down on them.

      this led to the rise of a trump type.

      hartman conveniently left that out.

      he would have better served us if he had said this,

      if we do not do this, we will melt down into a civil war where the deplorable are blamed for everything, and deplorable will fight against each other even more than now.

      the main thrust of these trails and commissions, was not to demonize and make one single person pay, if you pull weeds, you must get to the roots, otherwise the weeds grow right back.

      you have to expose the whole rotten group in government, their advisors inside and out side of government, and their financial supporters.

  2. .human

    Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    Until our species condemns violence, lives by The Golden Rule, and practices conflict resolution through peaceful means, this will be the way of the world.

    1. JohnnySacks

      The Golden Rule? Seems to be more like “He who has the gold makes the rules”

      This country has never been anything other than a callous black-hearted hyper violent group of winner take all pseudo-colonialists. 300 million used car salesmen with enough money to buy all the guns in the world and no reservations against using them on anyone who disagrees with them. (Hunter Thompson)

      1. jr

        Agreed, at what exact historical point does Hartmann think we transitioned from the City on the Hill to Failed State? I’ll bet it’s the day Trump took office. Now CEO’s are being verbally accosted in the streets! Where will it all lead?!? (Insert brunch joke here.)

        1. JBird4049

          What has changed is that the communal Shining City on the Hill, or perhaps the New Jerusalem for the devout, was the national aspiration for four centuries; now they seem to want to tear it all down and climb the pile of rubble to rule atop it as the American God-Emperor.

          A dream for the whole nation has become instead a dream for the individual egomaniacal man-child.

          To restate it a third time with a slightly altered meaning, it was the desire to improve the nation, to make it great in the general sense, governed by the people, and not to make it great as an empire ruled by the wealthy Meritocracy.

          For historical perspective, this is what the Founders feared, albeit in the form of a dictatorship, and the Bill of Rights and using the state militias as the primary military force was the plan; the army, and one could add the police, was to be only a skeleton on which to quickly create a national army in an emergency. The Academy at West Point was only allowed to be created when it was pointed out that the engineers it created could be used to build the country.

      2. Soredemos

        “This country has never been anything other than a callous black-hearted hyper violent group of winner take all pseudo-colonialists.”

        I don’t agree with this. I’m dubious of any claim of supposed ‘national character’, and I’m especially dubious of it when talking about populations that number in the hundreds of millions. ‘We’re just a nation of irredeemable sinners’, which is what statements like that amount to, are basically reductionist moralizing, metaphysical truth claims, and I don’t think they have the explanatory power the people making them think they do. Making it says you’re just giving up on trying to figure out why things are the way they are in favor of just making some vague blanket statement of spiritual inferiority.

        Yeah, there’s a lot that’s ugly in the history of the US. But there is a lot ugly in the history of pretty much every country. The predominantly Korean colonists who became the Japanese conducted a pretty similar combination of genocide and mixing with the native Jomon of Japan, of whom only a vestigial tourist culture continues to exist in the far north of the islands. Would you also cast moral judgement on the modern Japanese? “Of course they tried to build a ‘Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere’; they’re nothing but a bunch of black-hearted, hyper-violent colonists. Look how their country was founded!”. But that’s not actually an explanation. It makes zero attempt to actually analyze the historical context or the underlying factors involved.

        Russia and China are other prominent examples of countries with ugly histories of expansionism. Yet today it’s very hard to argue that either of them is anything other than fundamentally defensive in their foreign policies today. For another two examples, Portugal and the Netherlands both once had extensive colonial empires, both of which were horrific. Yet I don’t see people making blanket moral judgements of the moral deficiencies of the Portuguese or Dutch.

    2. DrSloperWazRobbed


      So true. Thing is it’s “live by the sword, clutch pearls when other uses the sword”.

      It is hard to know who realizes this is what’s going on.

      Lots of people are really bad at thinking. That is basically the problem. And some of those who are good at thinking pretend that thinking is not really what got them to a position of political leadership

  3. Jackiebass63

    Wow!I have witnessed rude behavior getting worse for decades. This article hits the nail on the seems almost anything is acceptable and justified by it is my personal right. I just read an article about a 15 year old who stole her grandmothers car. She and her friend went on a joy ride. They spotted a jogger and decided they would scare him by bumping him.Instead they hit him so hard it killed him. The small city I live in has become so violent it isn’t safe to walk in many areas. The country and world has regressed into a more primitive society. I don’t have much hope that things will soon get better.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      “The country and world has regressed into a more primitive society.”

      I’ve come across a fascinating explanation for moral decline that argues that instead we’re “advancing” to this new, more violent, less moral culture as a result of everything being handed over to The Market.

      The third chapter of Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics addresses both Cass Sunstein’s “nudging” and the commodification of everything. What follows is a relatively brief excerpt of a longer section that is all heavily footnoted to relevant studies:


      F]inancial concerns are increasingly being introduced in social realms bringing our market identities–as consumers, service providers and workers–to the forefront of our attention. And when market norms displace social norms, the effects can be hard to reverse as demonstrated in an experimental study in Haifa, Israel in the 1990s. Ten children’s day nurseries all introduced a small fine for parents who were more than 10 minutes late collecting their children at the end of the day. The parental response? Rather than arriving more promptly, twice as many parents started arriving late. Introducing a monetary fine wiped out any feelings of guilt and was interpreted as a market price for overtime care. Three months later, when the experiment ended and the fine removed, the number of late pick-ups rose higher still: the price had gone but the guilt hadn’t come back. The temporary marketplace had, in essence, erased the social contract.

      Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics, p. 103.

      Nudging with little money rewards or fines and commodification are eroding what moral impulses people have in a neoliberal society. The big question is whether our most fundamental commodification, of life itself, in the form of “if you don’t work, you don’t eat,” works to cheapen human life as well.

      1. jr

        I believe this is what “Ole’ Whiskers” called the “cash nexus”:

        although I was surprised to learn the term was originally Thomas Carlyle’s.

        Incidentally, I came across a PDF of “The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World 1700-2000” by Niall Ferguson if anyone is interested:;%20Money%20and%20Power%20in%20the%20Modern%20World,%201700-2000%20(2001).pdf

      2. lordkoos

        I agree with your take HMP. There is a price on everything while little value is placed on the natural world or human life. This is not really new but it’s becoming more extreme. People are being splintered into ever smaller cultural factions dedicated to promoting the interests of their own groups above all else. The rhetoric of both the left and the right is very divisive, whether it’s racism or extreme political correctness.

        Politically, on both the right and left people are more prone to violence — this is not surprising since peaceful means and voting have been ineffectual at moving our political class to directly help people, even while more and more of us are struggling to make ends meet. With few exceptions the focus of our political class on enriching themselves no matter what the cost to society. There is no “we” now, only “me”. In our small town so far there seems to still be a sense of community but that is becoming more frayed as time goes on.

    2. Mark

      The coursening of society in large part is due to the culture of death and nihilism. Where people have no purpose in living other than to please and satisfy themselves you will eventually lead to this type of behavior. Headonism is not a strategy for a succesfull culture. Add to that the clear perception by a large segment of the populous that believes that they have been abused by the ruling class and you are destined to have these types of problems. What never ceases to surprise me is how people can readily see the log in another persons eye. I thought that the mostly peaceful BLM riots burning down churches ( looting and trying to tear down the emancipation statute was the example of the disintegration of society that the author would have talked about not some guy who chastised teen aged girls for wearing thongs to the beach. Lack of modesty is a legitimate point for a parent to bring forward. The response by the girls that he should gouge out his eyes was far from kindly.

      This coursness is not unidirectional as the author chooses to suggest and it started long before Trump. For all of the disrespect the November 6 people showed to our electoral process unlike the “mostly peaceful” BLM riots they did not try to deface the great works of art easily within reach in the Capitol Rotunda.

      I am concerned that what we are witnessing is the same types of events that occurred between the wars in Europe where the Communist/Socialists/Progressives sought to initiate violent change and were met by Nationalist counter movements of reactionaries (National Socialist Parties).

      It is really interesting that after the occupy Wall Street movement of a decade ago which to organize societal greivences based upon class and the rigging of the financial system which came too close to the bone the narrative was very quickly changed to redraw the lines of societal conflict on skin tone completely avoiding the common unifying factors between the great multitudes and the ruling class. Was this by shear accident? Does this even make any sense? Are there not more commonalities amongst most people than there are differences? Why does the media and the political elites constantly try to divide people by minor or insignificant differences and why do most (s)people allow them to do that.

      We need to honestly talk with each other (not cancelling those we disagree with) to seek a common understanding. If time has taught us anything you cannot exterminate ideas you can only honestly dialogue about them and if people act in good faith the best of all of the ideas should prevail.

      “Can’t we all come together?”

      “The times they are a changing.”

  4. Cocomaan

    these people are imitating Donald Trump; our best hope is that President Biden’s reasonable and compassionate example can help the nation turn against it,

    Joe Biden’s compassionate example: blowing up women and children when his Afghanistan exit strategy failed.

    It’s hard to believe Thom Hartmann is still talking about trump.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      He caught the TDS bigly and what he’s describing is the backlash to the true authoritarianism growing in this country coming from a confluence of the Reagan Republicans in both major political parties, the security state and big tech. As I keep telling a TDS infected friend who, rather crazily in my opinion, bought a gun to protect himself from the roving hordes of white supremacists – when things turn pear shaped, make sure you’re shooting at the right fascists.

      1. lordkoos

        Several years ago a black friend of mine, after being jumped and beaten by some white supremacists in a parking lot one night after leaving a bar (this was in downtown Seattle), went out and bought a semi-automatic weapon on the gray market. He kept it under the front seat of his car, unfortunately a few weeks later he was pulled over for driving while black and the cops found the unregistered gun and busted him for it. It’s probably just as well he lost the gun but I couldn’t blame him one bit for wanting to have it

      2. ambrit

        Oh yes about “right fascists.”
        Evidently, a major component of the recent surge in domestic gun ownership is the black community.
        To which I’ll add an anecdote about the dangers of gun ownership. Many people bought a Glock, a semi-automatic hand gun. The brand has major “street cred” and name recognition. However, the Glock line is almost distinctive in that their semi-automatic hand guns do not have manual safety features. The thing is “ready to go” all of the time. Accidental discharges are more probable with this sort of design. These guns are made for people who know how to handle firearms. Not a good item for first time owners. So, there is a rash of returns of this item once the new owners learn enough to tell the difference. This firearm is a perfect item to fill the scenario proposed by a Hollywood gumshoe: “He had a gun, and, it went off.”
        If you really think that you need a weapon to protect yourself, learn how to handle it first. Oh, and keep it far away from the kids.

        1. Andrew

          You said, “The thing is “ready to go” all of the time.” Lol. The other way of looking at it is that it’s in safe mode all the time. A Glock, has street cred because it is extremely reliable, quite safe, and will shoot all manners of high and low quality ammunition with accuracy.

    2. Oh

      Thom Hartmann is a Obama-Biden lover They can do nothing wrong. Although this article points out the polarization of this country, this is old news and it comes from the wrong guy. He used to be a true left wing person until he knew what pays. He left Portland to move to Washington, DC (next to Obama) when Obama became President and has kiss up to the Democrats ever since.

      1. jr

        Hartmann has never rang “true” to my ears. I don’t disagree with him necessarily but there is something a bit hysterical about his writings. I’ll take Hedges over Hartmann any day of the week.

          1. jr

            Agreed, but is he wrong? A confluence of climate catastrophe, authoritarianism, wealth inequality, neo-feudalism, and militarism smacks of the Apocalypse to my ears.

          2. Soredemos

            Hedges entire speaking career is nothing by hysteria. He’s been one-note for the last twenty years. I was infatuated with him for about six months, but then that wore off. He hasn’t strayed far from his fire and brimstone preacher upbringing, and I don’t actually find his gimmick particularly useful or insightful. He’s good for verbose lines if you already agree with him, but that’s about it.

          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            I skimmed after “President Biden’s reasonable and compassionate example”, but the lack of any mention of police violence stuck out to me bigly, to say nothing of the mention of military or any other violence perpetrated by or on behalf of the government.

          2. Ahburn

            “He picks and chooses a few isolated violent incidents…”.

            I agree. In his paragraph on Russia above he includes two links, one from 2014 in Russia, and one from 2010 in Kyrgyzstan. He also refers to Kyrgyzstan as a former Soviet state—30 years after the fact. Seems he’s really grasping here.

      2. Nikkikat

        Hartman is a cheerleader for all things Democrat. He may whine about how “weak” they are but it’s always, always the Republicans fault. He likes to claim that he knows history, he still is a dyed in the wool LIBeral. I am also turned off by his bragging about making a million dollars with his travel agency. I would also note his russia hysteria.

    3. Cakeeater

      Sad that default argument is “In our case, these people are imitating Donald Trump; our best hope is that President Biden’s reasonable and compassionate example can help the nation turn against it, although Trump-imitating governors and other elected officials are making it very difficult.” Naked Capitalism has devolved into another Progressive Safe Space.

      1. Gareth

        It’s an article from Alternet presented for comment, dissection, and analysis. It’s not written by Yves or anyone else associated with NC.

  5. Basil Pesto

    However much you might want to quibble with particular points in this article, I still can’t shake the feeling that we’re at a particularly fraught point in human history, that has been building for quite some time now. That probably comes across as one of those grim internet prognostications from an anonym that posterity will not give two shits about and is therefore entirely worthless. And perhaps it is. But there’s been such a dramatic concatenation of Things Happening since, say, the GFC that even if we can’t know where things will lead, the signs that are there would seem to be cause for concern for any reasonable person.

    One might argue about the nature of the violence and anger that we’re seeing and will continue to see (who are the goodies? who are the baddies? etc) and which is only going to escalate, but violence is surely the only possible outcome in lieu of a willingness to meaningfully come to grips with and ameliorate these issues – particularly, I suspect, in the more economically imbalanced countries.

    Meanwhile, if the doomiest predictions about the pandemic bear out, and the virus doesn’t devolve into a benign cuddly koala virus that we can get along just fine with, then, absent a miracle cure, it’s hard to imagine populations that will tolerate the ongoing misery that people clearly understand to be a consequence of misleadership. Sure, China might be authoritarian, but authoritarianism might not look so bad to a lot of people after 2-10 years of ambient viral ravage, assuming that China continues to keep the virus at bay.

    There are of course issues at play beyond the virus, mostly economic. The tragedy is that this could all be avoided or strongly mitigated with good governance, but we don’t get that because of a dogmatic commitment to a moronic conception of how the world is supposed to work from terminal second-raters. So instead we are sleepwalking to an ostensibly bleak future with absolutely no reason to expect happy outcomes. But people seem genuinely unconcerned by how febrile everything is right now, as though we truly do live in the best of all possible worlds.

    1. Reanderthal

      Those ‘particularly fraught’ points in history (the human is redundant) are recurring aspects of civilisational ‘progress’.
      They occur because ‘good governance’ cannot be. The Peter Principle and institutional corruption alone would guarantee this statement, but of course there are innumerable other reasons.
      Unless of course, we pose the cui bono question, and observe that from a dynastic+oligarchic point of view, governance is GREAT!!!!!
      Many forget the etymology, or true meaning of Apocalypse. It means the revelatory falling of the veil at the end of an age.
      As for the disease, read carefully: the less said about it, the better.

  6. Reanderthal

    To Weimar, or not Weimar…?
    Does anyone even have a choice?
    Until the Hunter Laptop exegesis is complete and public, anything said about Biden senior in polite venues like this one is wishful thinking at best, delusional propaganda at worst.
    The ‘turn’ described in this article (essentially a moral collapse) has rather more to do with Netflix (Obama) and Hollywood and Pharma and Epstein-level depravity/corruption (all ongoing, ie. chronic issues) than it does to do with a transient political figure.
    Trumpism is a legitimate, and importantly, a considered reaction to the moral failings of faithless Occidentalism/globalism.
    You kill God and then wonder why society goes to sh*t?!

    1. diptherio

      From your comments above, I thought “oh, we got an anarchist in the chat.” But no, obviously not. An evangelical libertarian, perhaps? I’d be interested to know what you consider your political ideology to be, if any.

      Trumpism was definitely a reaction, but not a “considered” one. Trump was the only option for something different than the status quo that was offered in 2016. He failed to deliver different results, and so was tossed out. As for your “kill god, whaddya expect?” line, you might want to consider the similar trends in other countries (past and present) with much more religious populaces than the US.

      1. Reanderthal

        Haha. Me too! To my own consternation and delight, I find my political ideology to be a moving target, hard to lasso. God is a hard One to pin down too, eh.
        There are 6500 extant human languages. There have been many many more. Each speaks political ideas differently.
        The Anthropologists have a lot to answer for – they have allowed deep and wide insight into the diversified and universalities of the human experience to be locked up in ivory safes.
        The Sheeple think Left or Right is the whole choice.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        al Qaeda is a faith-based organization.
        9/11 was a faith-based initiative.

        Do we really need more gOD in our lives?

        1. flora

          Maybe what’s needed is recognition that human consciousness is more than the sum of its parts, (and not replaceable by AI). William Barrett’s 1987 book “Death of the Soul: From Descartes to the Computer” has some interesting perspectives. From the introduction, “Banishing Consciousness”:

          “…in short, no sooner had science entered the modern world than it becomes dogged by its shadow, scientism. What is this peculiar phenomenon we call scientism? It is not science, any more than the shadow is anywhere identical with the substance of a thing….Scientism is pseudoscience or misinterpreted science…. No; scientism is neither science nor philosophy, but that peculiarly modern invention and malady – an ideology.

          It may be worthwhile to take a step backward and try to see how this situation came about…. what we shall be trying here to do is simply lay hold of the fact itself, the fact of consciousness as a human reality that seems on the way to getting lost in the modern world. “

        2. Synoia

          It is amazing, or very nasty, to reflect how many people have been tortured or slaughtered because of the meme of “God.”

          I believe mono-theistic religion to be a curse on the human race,Examine Christianity, and its beatitudes and reflect its practices, on the wars, conversion by the sword, and slaughter based on interpretation of religion (Catholic v Protestant).

          If there is an afterlife, which I personally do not believe, I would spit in God’s face for permitting and apparently encouraging the slaughter practiced in His Name.

          This is my personal opinion, and not one I discuss widely. I don’t understand the cause or level of Religious fever that underpins the level of intolerance in history.

          Judaism, Christianity and Islam all believe in the same God, and their reflect massive levels of inhumanity, and godliness, on others who worship in a slightly different manner form each other.

          1. Mark

            Synoia I used to think as you do about the Abrahamic relieions. I think that you need to examine the apologetics of each of these religions before you say that they are all following the same God. It’s not just form of worship but actual beliefs about the nature of the diety and humanities relationship to the creator.

    2. Basil Pesto

      I believe the woman that said “there’s no such thing as society” was a devout Christian.

      There are many examples of why that inane argument is so ridiculously self-serving and tendentious, but that’s one that readily comes to mind.

      1. sharonsj

        When it comes to religious arguments, I usually tell people I’m a Pastafarian (a devotee of the Flying Spaghetti Monster). It shuts them up real quick.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Here’s what I have begun telling people when appropriate.

          The God of selection is a Callous God, and Its first true prophet was Darwin.

  7. Tom Stone

    Well, Trump was and is an Authoritarian asshole and corrupt to the bone,
    But why is Biden given a pass?
    He has been an enthusiastic supporter of every repressive piece of legislation from the 1994 “Crime Bill” on, the “Patriot Acts”, the “Military Commissions Act”… and is very much in favor of a Domestic Terrorism Bill.
    Based on what Biden has actually accomplished during his half a century in office he a hell of a lot more dangerous than that inept clown Trump could ever be.
    As to the increasing Violence in the USA this is a normal aspect of a society transitioning from “High Trust” to “Low Trust” and becoming more and more corrupt, unjust and authoritarian.
    When the consent of the governed disappears all that is left is force and the threat of violence.

    1. Randy G.

      @ Tom Stone

      Unfortunately, Hartmann has devolved into an apologist for the Democratic Party and the culture wars bunkum. He peddles strictly partisan grievances now — and Alternet is one of the worst sites for TDS on the web.

      Maybe running a violent Empire, now in decline, with ever increasing wealth inequality, and with people’s lives getting more and more desperate, maybe that has something to do with our social disintegration? You know, the precariat economy brought to you by both parties and corporate America?

      “You know, the thing!”

      Biden is the “reasonable and compassionate” guy? Not part of the violent oligarchy? The dude who supported all those invasions and regime change wars in places like Iraq, with bloodthirsty enthusiasm. The Biden who opposes an affordable national healthcare system during a pandemic. And refused to fight for an increase in the abysmal minimum wage that he campaigned on. That compassionate, dude?

      Give Biden credit for ending the Afghanistan debacle, not out of compassion, but out of pragmatism. Apparently, his inner circle believes the U.S. needs to focus on the coming war — Cold or Hot — with China.

      Trump apologists can also present lists of brutal attacks staged by Antifa on journalists or the looting and burning of small businesses, many owned by immigrants, during the BLM riots.

      When Tom spouts international grievances, he only condemns misbehavior by official enemies of the Democratic Party such as Orban in Hungary and Putin in Russia.

      However, no outbreak of violence in those nations compares to what was unleashed by the Biden/Obama backed putsch in Ukraine or the Hillary/Obama war on Libya or the Hillary/Biden/Obama backed coup in Honduras. Or the horrific war on Syria where the U.S. (Team Blue) arms and backs brutal Islamic jihadists.

      To stick with Ukraine, why not mention the more than 60 people burnt alive in Odessa, by the ultra-nationalists of the Maidan coup? Because the Maidan putsch was an Obama and Biden baby so it is by definition “reasonable and compassionate”. The ultra-nationalists in Ukraine also regularly attack gay theaters and pride marches.

      Hartmann cites the Milton Mayer book on the threat of Nazism but no mention that Biden and the U.S. government supports actual neo-Nazis in Ukraine because, hey man, our Nazis are reasonable and compassionate.

      Good luck, Tom. Hoping you and your CEO wife eat brunch with Kamala or Pelosi, or get an invite to Obama’s 65th birthday bash. You know, the “compassionate” non-violent oligarchs.

      1. Jeff

        Randy, thanks for expressing the same frustration I’m feeling but in a much more targeted, specific, cogent manner.

    2. Telee

      It should be noted that Biden has just opened up federal land and seashore for drilling leases in spite of the obvious advance of climate change all while talking about and seemly recognizing the consequences of global warming. This in spite of his campaign promises. He remains a friend and aid to oil and gas drillers like his predecessor. Perhaps it is this friendship with big oil that Hartman is talking about.

  8. Beavis

    “our best hope is that President Biden’s reasonable and compassionate example can help the nation turn against it”…. well, we’re screwed.

  9. Kit

    Bret Devereaux’s excellent blog, A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry, ties our current moment to the classical idea of stasis, a social condition endemic to the many small Mediterranean states. The blog is mostly concerned with the intersection of history and pop culture, but takes a digression to describe the ancient cycle:

    The decline of trust makes the ‘trap’ of stasis self-reinforcing: as trust declines and more decisions are made as cynical calculations (Thuc. 3.82.1-3) it becomes harder and harder to broker a deal to end the strife that all sides will trust and respect, particularly because stasis tended first to cannibalize any moderate figures or factions. The endpoint, of course, was self-destructive violence as the last limits and norms broke under the weight of escalating competition.

    Sound familiar? But there is (a bit of) hope! This happened often enough back in the old days that Rome and Athens managed to avoid the trap once or twice, through “compromise and constructive, inclusive redefinition of the polity”. But I’m not sure I share Bret’s optimistic , early take on the Capitol Riots which opines that Joe Biden is following the ancient recipe for successful defusing of the stasis bomb:

    Of course there are pitfalls, on either side of this careful balance between holding the leaders of the stasis accountable and yet reincorporating their followers into the citizen body. Examples emerge from all of the failed efforts to contain stasis. Reconciliation without justice merely allows Peisistratos to keep trying until he gets lucky and succeeds. But what is equally obvious from the history of stasis (on this, see Thuc. 3.82-86) is that vengeance without law or reconciliation merely heightens tensions and ensures that the next explosion of violence will be worse.

    At least we seem to be taking the road toward the former pitfall.

    1. IM Doc

      What an amazing blog. Long before my MD I have a degree in classical literature and history – and have never heard of this site. I am looking forward to looking through some of these entries.

      Thank you so much for this.

  10. Tex

    I thought we maybe we were finally moving away from the Orange Man Bad causation model. This guy’s still suffering a acute case of TDS. I guess when all you have is a hammer……

  11. Paul Whittaker

    I have just read an article on Sweden which was outed as a disaster over its refusal to lock down mask etc. it is now 40th on case loads percentage. Not being newsworthy it is currently avoided by the media, as are India and Israel for different reasons. Point is that we seem to be bombarded with screeching howls by the media and politicians: “you are with us or with the terrorists”, which has to rub off on people one way or the other.

    1. juno mas

      Um, Back in May 2020 I commented here in NC that “…Sweden is a train wreck.” with regard to Covid. The lead Covid guru for Sweden, Anders Tegnell, without much real knowledge of Covid-19 encouraged Swedes to go about their business. Learning little from the early Italian experience, older Swedes died in the thousands. At rates ten times their Nordic neighbors.

      Today, Sweden is doing better, after administering 13 million vaccine doses to a population of 10 million. While there are pockets of success, Sweden still falls behind in current deaths reported per 100,000 compared to their Nordic neighbors.

      See this:

  12. flora

    Forgive my skepticism: there’s a right-wing or a GOP voter rally in DC at the Capitol tomorrow in support of those arrested Jan 6th. So of course (here comes the skepticism) left-wing media pundits find this a good week to ramp up the generalized “violent danger” rhetoric, setting a mental stage in readers for what MSM media may be hoping to report. Sells newspapers, I guess. /meh

  13. Lou Anton

    Let them eat booster shots, my 3-time CEO wife and I decided in the end. These people, these thugs.

    I haven’t read Hartmann’s books, but this article reads like the complete opposite of his book titled “The Hidden History of American Oligarchy: Reclaiming our Democracy from the Ruling Class.” This article makes it seem like the author’s chosen his side, and he’s chosen Team PMC.

    1. Anon

      Yes. Strange that Hartmann feels the need to identify his wife as being the CEO of three different companies during the course of her life (she deserves respect!) and the man who cussed at her as a contractor (working class!). Hartmann’s elitism is on display here. If he and his wife had been poor all their lives (as I have been), they would know that being treated like a piece of (family blogging) is nothing new in this country.

    2. Harold

      I don’t understand why wife’s profession is relevant to the anecdote. Sounds like pulling rank. A mere nobody had the effrontery to insult, not a lowly PMC, but a boss of the highest rank! Sounds like someone’s status came under threat.

  14. Gareth

    Hartmann lacks the awareness to realize that what his wife did was incredibly rude. If you are going to have a requirement that your contractors be vaccinated, you need to let them know that before they book you on their schedule and drive to your job site. She wasted his time and gas money when she could have asked him for his vaccination status over the phone. Not every blue collar worker has the time or resources for that sort of game.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I have had all sorts of people over here to do work on the Arizona Slim Ranch. Never once have I asked any of them about vaccination status. IMHO, that’s a personal question and I generally don’t ask those of tradespeople.

      What do I do? Well, I wear a family blogging mask, that’s what. Call it leading by example. Or something like that.

      So far, everyone coming here has donned a mask before entering my Ranch House.

      1. tegnost

        Same here on vax status, I got the shots and do not think it unreasonable to assume that the unvaxxed are not a big threat to me, only to themselves. It’s just more “get in line” from the usual suspects… and I never stopped mask wearing as the vaxxed are pretty darn careless who they infect.

    2. Futility

      Nonetheless the reaction was even ruder. He could have said no and put a mask on, instead he resorted to misogynistic invective.

      1. Yves Smith

        Putting a mask on was clearly not an acceptable option. She wanted him vaxxed. She was making him be vaxxed a condition of going inside, which was a new requirement imposed at the last minute.

      2. Gareth

        First, if she was willing to let him wear a mask, you would think her husband would have mentioned it in the article he wrote about her for a national audience. Not only would it have cast her in the best possible light, which is important when telling the world about your spouse, but it would also have reinforced his argument that vaccine refusers are unreasonable and dangerous. This is a case of where the dog is not barking.

        Second, let’s examine the power structure at work here. We have a presumably wealthy, educated, and socially-savvy three-time CEO and her husband with a radio show and column with national reach versus a handyman. She and her husband swim in the most vicious political circles in DC; we can assume she knows that time is money and that she understands how easily people can take offense to things. The contractor called her names and swore at her, which has probably happened to her before if she was a CEO. She is portrayed to be a strong, independent woman. She is not a delicate flower who faints on cue. We know nothing about the contractor’s background. However we do know that she wasted his money and time, and she treated him like an untouchable to boot.

        I would agree that he could have reacted in a more productive way, but the offense he caused her is not more outrageous than what she did to him. She effectively took food off his family’s table and then had the nerve to call him ritually unclean.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          “She effectively took food off his family’s table and then had the nerve to call him ritually unclean.”

          This is baloney. The author did not give you enough information to assume this. You are making assumptions about her behavior based on his political leanings.

          Home repair contractors who are high enough up the ladder at their business to be making quotes on work are rarely he’pless, impoverished imbeciles. If this businessman has a record of her having made an appointment with him to visit the property, he could have informed her that 1) he wasn’t vaccinated, but that she needed to have informed him of her “entry requirement” before he drove there, and that 2) she would be on the hook for a visit fee if she refused him access for a matter she hadn’t mentioned when making the appointment. This can’t be the first time he’s arrived at a potential client’s home and been unable to obtain access. Not unless he’s very new to running a contracting business. If he’d had an email or even a text he might reasonably have told her he’d put a small lien on her place if she cheated him, despite it being more trouble than it’s worth for an initial visit charge.

          Why is it that so many here believe they admire the ‘real’ working man….. but then write as if he’s always a sweet and complete socioeconomic incompetent? And just such a ‘real man’ that he can’t possibly keep his mouth shut in the face of difficulty? This is a false representation. Men who “work with their hands” for a living are not usually lacking in self-control like this jerk.

          This guy clearly didn’t need her business, and felt like having tantrum in the face of an unpleasant surprise. Maybe because he’s spending his time between jobs listening to nut job radio talk shows, but that’s his problem, not hers. Not even if she is a precious twit. It’s her house, remember?

          Your legitimate distaste for Hartmann’s biased drivel has warped your good sense if you believe you can – on that basis – make a case for how this contractor behaved towards his wife. On. Her. Effing. Property. Out here old rancher women have been known to draw on men who carry on this way. A reaction that makes real good sense to me.

          1. Gareth

            I disagree, Fluffy. He spent gas money going to her home. He gave up other job opportunities to go there. That’s real money, and that’s opportunity cost. She knows that as a CEO. She had a job requirement that she chose not to share until he spent that money and lost those opportunities. Then she sent him packing with an “Ewww . . . . unvaccinated. Tee hee. Maybe if you were vaccinated you could have my business.”

            I’ve dealt with rich people like this for most of my career. What she did wasn’t an accident. This type thinks anyone they give money to is a servant they can abuse at will, and if someone calls them on it, they either rage or express bewilderment and offer a tiny raise if the person will stay on with them. Then the abuse increases, and they think they own you. If you work with them, you set boundaries early on, or they will try to consume your life.

            Hartmann and his wife are upset because one of the serfs/muggles talked back to them, plain and simple. This isn’t the 1700s. The wealthy don’t get to cane a man for failing to doff his hat when the illustrious lord and lady ride by. You will note that I did not question her right to have a vaccinated person do the job. It’s her home and her money. You will also note that I described his behavior as unproductive. It’s not good for his business in the long run. She can do what she wants, but she should not go out of her way to hurt others for the LOLs. Moreover, if she does so intentionally or through her own carelessness, she shouldn’t be surprised if she gets vocal feedback.

            Not every contractor is a smooth businessman. Many are; the nicest home on the street where I grew up was owned by a plumber, and he was an exceptionally kind and understanding man. His son and I parted ways when I chose to go to the “big city” where people were “more accepting”. He stayed behind and built his father’s business into his own little empire. He has his father’s gifts, and he can finesse the most unbearable people. Sometimes I wish he had been able to convince me to stay. Regret is a curious thing, isn’t it?

            There are also contractors who don’t have people skills; they work in jobs where they can be alone because they get mad at others easily. They don’t know how to handle an obnoxious client, and they get upset and storm out. In my experience, these types are drawn to residential painting, small landscaping jobs, and honey-do work because many of those jobs can be done solo or with one assistant. They don’t become wildly successful, but they can earn enough to make a basic living if they don’t trash their reputation too much.

            No normal human being responds to being asked if they are vaccinated with a string of profanities. The most anti-vax people I’ve met will proudly say they aren’t and will explain why they won’t get it. Others who are hesitant will defer the question with a “not yet” or “that’s not your business”. You will note that Hartmann does not say the man exploded upon hearing the question. He preconditions it with “before letting him into the house.” If the man had exploded from a casual “did you get vaccinated yet?”, Hartmann would make that detail explicit since it would bolster his argument.

            1. sj

              Okay, this is MUCH later, but hold on a moment there. Providing a bid in no way contracts the recipient to accept that bid. So he in NO WAY gave up other job opportunities to go there. Going there was, in fact, one of those opportunities. Because you will have a hard time convincing me that he spends all his time providing bids all day, every day.

              Having said that, if she wasn’t going to let him in the door without a vaccination she should have said so from the jump. And having said that, if the anecdote is literally true and he did not exaggerate the man’s reaction then Hartmann also has a legitimate beef.

      1. Charles Sheldon

        Nobody has stated what to me is the obvious. She ordered the work and forgot to ask the vaxx question and when he appeared it struck her and then she asked and he exploded. Perfect example of white and class privilege slightly modified by the fact that vaxx demand behavior is just now evolving so we dont yet have clear social rules or expectations. He should have donned a mask before knocking on the door. She should have accepted a mask if he was unvaxxed and she was vaxxed.

    3. BeliTsari

      Thank you. Our beloved (vaccinated) super’s isolating after reinfection on a flight overseas. Neighbors, even older than us, caught B.1.526 awaiting J&J innoculation… we’re ALL hearing all sorts of wildly varied experiences. MANY, are contradictory to BS government/ media cherry picked obfuscation & lies. Wear a REAL mask & eye-protection as necessary. Some of us remember chicken pox. I’d often encounter Amish, Haredi & undocumented Chinese on the same NJT bus, with N95 masks still tucked in my bag? Everybody needs to take a look at ‘Murikas REAL lethal pandemic?

    4. Skorn

      Vaccine status is rightly linked to economic ruin. The contractor anger was justified even though I quibble with the delivery. I bet Thom and the CEO wife have no understanding of the risks of vaccine injury. Those suffering severe adverse events are 100% responsible for healthcare costs. Not to mention the idiocy involved at mandating a vaccine that doesn’t even stop viral transmission, per the Cape Cod MA outbreak this Summer.

      1. YankeeFrank

        And let’s not forget that in the 539,000 adverse events reported in relation to the covid19 vaccines in the USA since 12/20, 6,600 died and 7,500 have been permanently disabled as of 9/21. And remember, the main issue with VAERS data is under-reporting. The table linked below also shows that all other vaccines for the past 30 years show adverse reactions totaling 719,000.

        The covid19 vaccines are not safe, and medicare for all (nowhere on the horizon), while it would certainly reduce the costs of care for any adverse reaction, does not make up for the loss of income (family home gone?), pain, suffering and possibly even death one may experience from the vaccines.

        And perhaps, just perhaps, censoring (think of the norms!) people and calling them deplorables, hurling disgust and insult after insult at them while financially and physically destroying tens of millions of lives for the past few decades, with the violence-drenched media the enthusiastic purveyor of hate and division for all that time, while mass murderers like the Sacklers walk away with billions and low level “offenders” get the jackboot, with the federal reserve, wall street and big tech destroying the very last non-predated upon sectors of our economy…

        Perhaps those like Hartmann and his wife who know full well what’s been going on should reconsider their tribal affiliation. It does appear to be all about manners (mannerisms?) with these people.

        1. BeliTsari

          So, to summarize Tom: lots of us death o’ disparity deplorables voted for Obama, to: protect us from 1099 debt-peonage; assure single-payer healthcare to folks, perhaps a decade before retirement (totally independent of any employer). AND save Medicare from privatization. To appoint many fair-minded justices and STOP murdering poor people, at home and abroad. Yet, we’re now OFTEN misclassified as 1099, devoid ANY healthcare, paid sick-leave or affordable drug treatments if vaccine side effects or PASC auto immune after-effects occur (since WE weren’t able to shelter, work remotely or hide in rural “vacation cottages” and millions of us essentials simply worked sick). So, though every study finds we were FINE after our first shot; somehow, now… we’re “anti-vax,” “anti-science” idiotic deplorables who deserve to die, since we can’t afford surprise medical bills, lost jobs, potential additional auto-immune organ damage from cursory diagnostics, specious media lies and obfuscation, etc?

    5. IM Doc

      We have workmen in and out of the house frequently.

      My cousins on both sides of the family are workmen of various stripes. These are the guys I grew up with.

      Not in a million years would I demand to know vaccination status of any workmen in the house. Since my wife is mainly the one at home when dealing with them – she just puts on her mask anytime she is around them.

      It is called adulting.

      The cognitive dissonance must be incredible for people like the Hartmanns. The vaccines are perfectly safe – and perfectly efficacious. I have heard that a million times this past year. YOU WILL BE PROTECTED. Every time you turn on the TV. Why on earth should they have to worry if the workman is vaccinated or not? What should it matter to them? They are vaccinated. Dr. Walensky and Dr. Fauci themselves repeatedly assured everyone this was so. Come to think of it – I have not heard the old “I am 95% protected” line in weeks. That has totally disappeared. I wonder why?

      “FOLLOW THE SCIENCE” – they say – the data has changed. Well, I have been following the science for 30 years. I know what the science tells us when we introduce non-sterilizing vaccines into a population during a pandemic. This is just one of any examples of consequences we are going to have to learn to navigate. It sucks, but handling it like a 3 year old is not going to help.

      Be prepared for many more articles like this. This Hartmann family are the kind of people who are going to find themselves blacklisted from having any workman visit their homes ever. Those workmen people do talk after all. And because of multiple other grave errors made by the Hartmann PMC class there are suddenly not very many of the workmen. I personally would never talk to someone like that guy did. Crude. But it would also never cross my mind to demand any personal health information from anyone entering my home.

      1. William Hunter Duncan

        Is it true that the vaccinated carry the same viral load as the unvaccinated, and that theoretically the vaccinated can spread Covid just as easily as the unvaccinated, but that we don’t really know if this is true because we aren’t doing any randomized testing of the vaccinated? Because I keep getting censored every time I bring this up among members of the PMC, or rather the PMC gatekeepers won’t allow me to trouble the greater PMC with the question.

        1. BeliTsari

          They simply can’t HANDLE the truth! We’d seen that during RussiaRussiaRUSSIAgate, Occupy, BLM, 9/11 and intervening bailouts, catastrophe capitalism, or the plain & simple FACT that “both” halves of the haves L.O.T.E. dopplegangster kleptocrats, because Trump, Biden, Obama, Bush take OUR homes, labor, equity & kid’s futures legally (while, ANYTHING we do to resist inform, protect, whistleblow, protest… well, just READ the opening, subordinate clauses of the 13th & 2nd Amendments?) Cui bono, when we’re infecting loved-ones, coworkers & commuters? I’m amazed, they’re not swiping convalescent plasma from PASC school kids yet?

        2. Basil Pesto

          From what I can recall – and I stand to be corrected – per GM from an older post, viral load in vaccinated delta infectees is estimated to be 10% lower than uninfected, so a bit lower but not that much in the scheme of things.

          I have read some argue that infected vaccinees won’t be as transmissible for as long as the unvaccinated are, but these were rather technical arguments and I don’t want to get them wrong. I think it remains uncertain.

        3. IM Doc

          The best data – and is subject to change – that the difference is minimal – as in at best 10%. It is basically the same. The problem is in behavior. The vaccinated to this day feel entitled to roam around and do whatever they wish because they are so much cleaner. And another bug is that they have the potential to have less symptoms. So are less likely to stay home when infected and have more opportunity to share.

          A not so good situation. Many of my vaccinated patients do not seem to understand that they are just as likely as everyone else to be a source of infection.

          FYI – it has now become overwhelming in my outpatient practice – about 90% of the patients I am seeing daily for COVID are indeed fully vaccinated. Again – I am sure there are many unvaccinated that are sick and just do not come to the doctor – but the numbers of vaccinated positive and sick I am seeing continue to increase and continue to really surprise me in their prevalence. The numbers of fully vaccinated patients admitted in the hospital are indeed increasing as well – just not nearly as rapidly as the outpatient setting. This is just not supposed to happen in even a 50% vaccinated population in any kind of previous vaccine situation. I remember even Dr. Fauci earlier this spring that getting to our current level of vaccination would really put a dent in the numbers. He was reiterating the same vaccine experience that I too am familiar with. It is simply not happening.

          1. lordkoos

            IM Doc, I’m curious, how sick are these vaccinated people generally? Are you seeing many serious cases among them that require hospitalization?

            1. IM Doc

              Interesting question. By the time they get to me, they are all sick. I am not in general going to see asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic patients.

              But as time has gone on, the vaccinated patients are becoming more and more sick. Each week, the relative rate of admission of the vaccinated is increasing. I am now having a few days where most admissions are vaccinated. That was not happening just two weeks ago. It is still absolutely true that the critically ill are almost always unvaccinated although I have had a few vaccinated patients be critically ill. I would also make certainly clear that the same risk factors are present in these vaccinated patients as everyone else. Obesity, diabetes, heart and lung disease, stressed out, alcohol abuse, and COPD/asthma are the common themes. Especially obesity and diabetes. We should all be working on these risk factors that are reversible with every effort we have.

              1. Verifyfirst

                You keep harping on obesity. For some people it it vastly more complex than eating right and exercising (which some obese people already do). I’d like to suggest you go spend a day at an obesity treatment center and see what some people are up against. Thanks!

          2. GM

            And another bug is that they have the potential to have less symptoms. So are less likely to stay home when infected and have more opportunity to share.

            Yes, and the suspicion is that this is a significant reason why the places that were able to control it before find it so much harder now.

            Asymptomatic spread has been the devilish trick that allowed this to become a worldwide pandemic.

            Well, now we have a lot more of it with the vaccines…

        4. MLK

          Jury is still out. Some early data show that vaccinated people who become infected can carry just as much viral load as the unvaccinated but may be infectious for a slightly shorter period of time—7 days instead of 10 or more. I don’t think we know enough yet to understand differences in the rate of transmission. However, one study of randomized volunteers in the UK suggests that being fully vaccinated lowers viral load in breakthrough infections.

        5. Laura in So Cal

          My fully vaccinated Dad (Age 79) is recovering from covid (fever, headache, congestion, and a positive test). He has limited contact with others so we tried to figure out how he got it. Me and his neighbor (both unvaccinated) haven’t been sick and both have tested negative. The other possibility was his church carpool who also sit together and are all vaccinated. Everybody got tested. One tested positive and is asymptomatic. She is the probable source.

      2. juliania

        Thank you, thank you, IM Doc, and for all your posts, exceedingly and constantly thanks. What we are all facing is more than most of us can comprehend. It is, as was stated above, an ongoing apocalypse. Which I understand to be similar to what happens in a tsunami — the sea draws back and back, revealing land that ought not to be uncovered. And there is a division amongst the people – some realize what this means and they seek higher ground. Others venture out; perhaps there are riches being uncovered. . .

        We all need to seek that higher ground, and you often show the way. Thank you.

    6. Basil Pesto

      I agree, but at the same time, we don’t know – the article doesn’t explain – what her response would have been if he had said “no” instead of abusing her (and that’s assuming that that is how it played out – there’s just not enough information in the article to go on). She might have said “would you mind wearing a mask then?”, or “would you wait a moment while my husband and I double mask?” or “buzz off”

      1. diptherio

        Which would just show her lack of understanding of what being vaccinated actually does: i.e. stop you from getting super sick. As the vaccinated can still carry and transmit the disease, only requiring a mask of the unvaccinated doesn’t make any sense. And, as someone else above mentioned, waiting until the guy is in your driveway to spring this requirement on him is a pretty crappy thing to do. She easily could have made her requirements clear over the phone beforehand. But, as Biden has set the example of requiring a vaccination to hold a job, Thom’s CEO wife is just following the bad example of the political leadership, which actually goes to prove his point about things rotting from the top down.

        1. Basil Pesto

          What requirement? There is no evidence from the post that any requirement was going to be imposed. We can assume there would be, it’s probably even a reasonable assumption, but for what? further the pile on on a couple of doltish and feckless liberals? zzzz

          That they’re (presumably) ignorant of what the vaccines can or can’t do hardly makes them unique, and hardly makes her worthy of being called an “effing c” right off the bat just for asking the question, if that is indeed how it went down. People are frightened and uncertain and may believe erroneous things. There but for the grace of etc. etc.

          You’re right of course, she should have made her requirements clear over the phone beforehand. I am in full agreement that turning the worker back after making the appointment without making her conditions of entry known beforehand would be a shitty thing to do. A more Christian interpretation might be that it simply slipped her mind. Perhaps she might have said “I’m so sorry, I should have said something on the phone, but I am personally afraid of someone unvaccinated being in my home – I will happily reimburse you for your travel time, though”. I doubt it, but who knows?

          That’s not to make the tradie the bad guy either. I have no idea what his side of the story is. But then this would all risk veering in the direction of the world’s shittest Rashomon adaptation.

    7. kees_popinga

      Thanks, Gareth, for saying this. That was my reaction, too. Eventually the elite such as Hartmann may have to start fixing their own houses.

      1. paul

        Expect an uptick in: ’10 things you do not need an uncredentialed for’ articles.

        Like mending the toaster in the bathtub while enjoying an organophosphate spritzer.

    8. Rolf

      I agree with Gareth’s point above: to have waited until after the tradesman had made the trip to ask about vaccination status was at best stupid, and at worst some sort of virtue signal. For all she knows, he was indeed vaccinated, but considered her question exceedingly personal (on par with, “have you ever had an STD?”), and an unwarranted invasion of his privacy. It takes two to tango.

      Hartmann’s faith in Biden’s polite behavior is also misplaced: it will take far, far more than a smile and pat on the back to reverse popular anxieties. It will take recognition of the severe increase in precarity that has befallen the majority of people in the US, with Biden and Democratic Party ‘leadership’ playing key roles. The huge gains in insurance and pharma pandemic profits have come at the precariat’s expense, and the Democratic Party as a group refuses to accept that for people who live paycheck-to-paycheck (or in the trades, job-to-job), things have been shit for quite awhile. Sure, bad behavior on airlines and Proud Boy antics easily make the headlines, and contribute to some general sense of angst (much to mainstream media’s delight). But the vast majority of people suffer through; those that still have jobs desperately try to keep them, those unable to find work have likely given up, or say FTS to crap wages.

      Like much of the PMC, Hartmann and his CEO wife seem tone-deaf to this.

    9. Sy Krass

      True but on the other hand the contractor shouldn’t have blow up either, it always takes two to tango. Jesus was right when he (supposedly) admonished Judas for saying the body must be freed from the Romans first and then from sin, we create our own morality, as far as I’m concerned the most important verses in the Bible are still the story of the Good Samaritan.

    10. Brooklin Bridge

      Letting the contractor know about vaccine rules would have indeed been polite, but the reaction was nevertheless unprofessional and uncalled for. I don’t get all this bending over backwards to exonerate such volatile behavior. After all, there is a high likely hood he experienced similar requests among his (I assume) many house calls, so he could have thought to ask in advance whereas I assume also that the lady didn’t make as many requests to have a constant flow of contractors coming to her house so it would be something she would be less likely to think of in advance.

  15. Eustachedesaintpierre

    Sticks & stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, which of course isn’t true unless you are very thick skinned & perhaps I am wrong but there is a new form of violence involved here that has grown much more prevalent on the internet, which doesn’t involve the physical form & can be dished out by anyone who has the strength to use a keyboard. My Dad would have called it shit stirring as in this case 2 identified opposite groups scream abuse at each other from what is a safe distance – all adding fuel to a fire that will inevitably be lit on the streets – there is much of the uber & unter menschen thing going on out there.

    Also no word on the factors that are increasingly destroying people’s livelihoods & future prospects.

  16. William Hunter Duncan

    “In our case, these people are imitating Donald Trump; our best hope is that President Biden’s reasonable and compassionate example can help the nation turn against it, although Trump-imitating governors and other elected officials are making it very difficult.”

    I suppose necessary to the rise of fascism would be the kind of fecklessness that sees Biden and his Admin of neoliberal 2.0’s as reasonable and compassionate. If the unification of the Intelligence Community, Big Tech, Eternal War Profiteers, Private Equity and the DNC is to Hartmann the opposite of authoritarianism, then he is just in tango with the fascists whirling down the drain of failed empires.

    1. Robert Gray

      > If [this] is to Hartmann the opposite of authoritarianism, then he is just in tango with the fascists …

      I am reminded of the scene in Costa-Gavras’ Missing (1982) where the army are patrolling the streets, enforcing the curfew. They pass by a building, on the second floor of which is a fancy restaurant full of ‘better people’ (no curfew there!). Some of them come out onto the balcony to applaud the troops marching below, whereupon an officer riding by in a jeep salutes them. Truly stomach-turning stuff.

    2. Dermot M O Connor

      Was this reasonable and compassionate Biden the same Biden who snarled at a young woman, calling her a “dog faced pony soldier” for asking a reasonable question? Or are there two Bidens? Mister Hartmann should inform the class.

      Don’t get me started on the hair sniffing of underage girls.

  17. Wukchumni

    I’ve noticed lately in the comments on a few financial blogs I pursue, that implied talk of doing physical harm to high finance or political types has ramped up quite a bit, sentiments that are seditious and back in the day might’ve landed the person in jail if uttered and filmed in public, versus writing it online where you get a pass for most anything you do, unless its an employer scrutinizing a potential new hire.

    1. flora

      er… you mean “foaming the runway for the banks” and Wall Street bailout v 2.0 isn’t popular on Main Street? Shockers!

    2. lordkoos

      Guillotine memes are certainly not uncommon on twitter when referring to the elite and the billionaires.

      1. Wukchumni

        I expect threats of physical harm to emanate from the likes of twitter & ZH comment forums, its almost a given, but not from the avenues online i’m seeing it now.

          1. Wukchumni

            Poor Dresden, the place never harmed a soul…

            Except for the SS headquarters there with electronic guillotines where many thousand cooler heads prevailed.

  18. Bob

    So there is surprise that folks are acting out ?

    Even when as shown by the very recent Senate hearings as to the pedophile and his partners who targeted young Olympic gymnasts law enforcement does nothing or rather actively covers up is it a surprise that folks act out ?

    Most of us know that the game is rigged and we are powerless to stop it.

  19. MP

    “This is what happens in every country when it begins making the transition from being a democratic and generally polite and respectful culture into one that embraces authoritarianism or fascism.”

    People mention TDS, sure, but this is really American exceptionalism derangement syndrome. Neoliberalism, until Trump in their minds, evidenced a polite and respectful society? I think what they’re getting at is “…to me“. When the World Bank restructures another economy, it doesn’t happen to me, I’m still in a democracy. When we invade or bomb, it’s not me, it’s someone else. We have lived in a 75-year period of the US imposing conditions on others. It’s not fascism, it’s not authoritarianism, it’s literally the word and deed of liberal democracy. It’s just that people like that need to create some transitory language to make it seem we’re passing into something else entirely. No, it’s just that the conditions we routinely put other countries through are finally starting to resonate at home. Sorry!

    1. Dermot M O Connor

      “It’s not fascism, it’s not authoritarianism, it’s literally the word and deed of liberal democracy.”

      A point well-made by Spengler in ‘Decline of the West’. That was written in the late teens/early 20s of the twentieth century. That hokey 1990s internet definition of fascism as “the combining of corporations and state” was a hoax, but it works much better as a definition of liberal democracy.

      There is no excuse for so-called ‘leftists’ like Hartmann to make this kind of mistake. As someone alluded earlier, this guy is jockeying for a slot on MSNBC.

    2. Tim W

      Thanks for this. The concept of Karma can be summed up as ‘Do as you would be done by’ or else ‘Be done by as you did’. Ask a kid I enjoyed “The Water Babies’ by Charles Kingsley. Do as you would be done by and Be done by as you did appear as characters in the book. Must have stuck.

      1. Michaelmas

        Do as you would be done by and be done by, huh? Charles Kingsley, author of THE WATER BABIES, was a highly moral man and an important social reformer. But also a product of his Victorian times —

        ‘Visiting County Sligo in Ireland, he (Kingsley) wrote a letter to his wife from Markree Castle in 1860: “I am haunted by the human chimpanzees I saw along that hundred miles of horrible country [Ireland]… [for] to see white chimpanzees is dreadful; if they were black, one would not see it so much, but their skins, except where tanned by exposure, are as white as ours.”

        To bring this back to Hartmann and the original post, the lesson to take away, I think, is to wonder what similarly self-serving prejudices and assumptions we — you and I reading NC, not just Hartmann — have mindlessly internalized and are right now expressing.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > mindlessly internalized

          That is my fear. There could be a parasitic meme wasp on the back of my neck, where I can’t see it, right now, injecting brain worms with its ovipositor.

        2. Harold

          Kingsley was really twisted, but I enjoyed “The Heroes”, from which “The Story of Perseus” was read to us in first grade. Throughout my childhood I re-read it over and over. IIRC he belonged to that sect called “Muscular Christianity.” Christianity plus sports. The Water Babies I could never abide, or understand, but it was incredibly popular, apparently.

      2. Mel

        To explain Karma, I much prefer “You create the world you live in.” Steal, you create a world where there is stealing. Sneer at people, you create a world where there is sneering. Disrespect people … you get the picture.
        And a lot of people who don’t understand Karma think that they are somehow immune. Nobody is immune; they create the world.

    3. flora

      “This is what happens in every country when it begins making the transition from being a democratic and generally polite and respectful culture into one that embraces authoritarianism or fascism.”

      Transition without agency? Or, if with agency, what economic strata in the country has the power to move toward and enable that transition: the economic and political elites, or the working classes? Mr. Hartman could look at his own class for enlightenment.

  20. Tom Stone

    This is pure tribalism.
    It’s all on Trump and those who voted for him.
    Biden and The Democratic Party are Compassionate and reasonable….
    When i read something like this I wonder how much the sales of airplane glue have increased.or whether it is confirmation of the alternate universe theory..

      1. Kris Alman

        Ditto. And tribalism preceded Trumpism.

        The fraying our society is rooted the church of capitalism, with faith in the invisible hand and optimal equilibrium. Growth at all costs.

        Inequitable and unsustainable resource distribution contribute to humans overpopulating our planet.

        If the human species can’t come together as one tribe, we’re headed toward rapid extinction–like all the other species we’ve doomed.

    1. voteforno6

      And yet, the vast majority of commenters here spend a lot of time bashing Democrats and people who ostensibly support them. Tribalism goes both ways, it seems.

      1. sharonsj

        That’s because the Democrats are supposed to be saner than the Republicans. They are, but it hasn’t made a difference in most lives.

      2. lordkoos

        I can’t speak for others, but I bash the Democrats because I voted their ticket for decades, while watching things continue to worsen even when they are in power. It’s a matter of expectations. I view the current party as a complete betrayal of what they once stood for and I remain angry about it. On the other hand, I never expected anything from the Republican party to start with so I tend to comment less about their failures.

        1. ambrit

          Yes. I too feel like a jilted boyfriend/girlfriend in High School.
          The Old Democrat Party made certain promises in exchange for our votes. The Party got our votes, for years and years, and promptly forgot about the promises.
          The Old Social Contract has been broken, and not by the people at the lower end of the socio-economic scale.
          Payback cometh. Trump is just a symptom of the underlying “Social Disease.”
          How does one innoculate one’s children against Greed? We on the Left have to start emulating the old Political Evangelicals and start planning for the long run.

        2. IM Doc

          I agree with this statement 100%.

          It is bitter disappointment that is fueling my ire with the Dems right now.

        3. eg

          Your experience in America with the Democrats has been duplicated throughout the rest of the Western world where the former parties of labour have systematically betrayed their working class constituencies via an embrace of neoliberalism and educated urban elites. Piketty traces this arc very thoroughly in his “Capitalism and Ideology.”

        4. lance ringquist

          100% in agreement. what burns the nafta democrats the most was that trump was a better president than nafta billy clinton and empty suit hollowman obama.

          now saying he was better in actuality, is that that bar was so low, anyone could get over it.

          so it did not take much.

          his massive increase in votes in 2020, coupled with the facts that some minorities are tired of being played, and you can see why the thom types are furious.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      One could do some Mad Libs style edits to this article and it would be completely believable as something having been posted on Fox or the like. If Hillary had won, we’d be reading the same article except the blame would be placed on the sexist and misogynist deplorables being driven literally insane by the existence of madame president.

    3. Dermot M O Connor

      Remember some lib-apparatchik cooing after one of Biden’s early drone bombs, that it was great how he did it, because he wasn’t tweeting about it classlessly on the internet.

      A great consolation to the innocent civilians blown to pieces by the attack, no doubt.

  21. BeliTsari

    This has been most working folks’ experience, for much of our lives. Getting caught between white-flight suburbanite and Creative Class™, retired Yuppie (bosses, landlords, creditors, functionaries & bureaucrats) and it’s pretty scary, from our unreported perspective (eg: living between well-pads and peaking plants, 1099’d to foreing oligarch reopened, super-site mills, where your cellphone subjugates you into virtual share-cropping gigs, to eat, pay usurious medical debt and have a place to sleep. Many essentials worked with COVID right at first (including, several “retiree” friends, in their 70s). To have CDC, Cuomo, Trump, de Blasio & all media repeat murderous lies to feed essentials (the new Black) to a virus to flip rent stabilized apartments, indenture chronic PASC workers into disruptive gig serfdom, is the unreported story behind this ALL: Biden’s folks are using DNC’s sneering petit-bourgoise specious gullibility, to unleash Trump’s MAGA Sturmabteilung on poor, vulnerable, IGNORED victims. From well before Bacon’s Rebellion right through BLM. Jay Gould’s half of the “working class” all bought Freedom Arms Bushmasters on EZ Credit to put us uppity essentials in our place. Dopplegangster protection scams aren’t anything new, it’s what Catastrophe Capitalism’s based upon (smug denial is the 2nd most cherished indulgence on Manhattan Island).

    Sam Clemens & Sam Hammett BOTH made remunerative livings, writing about this tendency

  22. marym

    In addition to the TX anti-abortion law states are passing other laws that protect vigilante behavior.

    Driving a car into protesters

    Harassment and intimidation of voters and election workers

  23. KD

    In one sense, this article is on to something, things are fraying at the seams. On the other hand, the let’s pretend quality that this is somehow because of Donald Trump and the GOP would be an optimistic delusion if it wasn’t outright propaganda. First, there has been plenty of civil unrest, crime and rioting on the left side of the spectrum. Second, anyone who thinks that the Democratic Party has any solutions for the present is a fool. Joe Manchin is the soul of the party, the rest of it is just a sheep dog operation to keep the sheep from escaping from the slaughterhouse pen.

    The system is broken, resources flow from workers to rentier parasites, people are demoralized, every legislative “reform” ends up being a scheme to siphon off more wealth to the top, and the people in the streets increasingly realize they aren’t voting their way out of this mess. The PMC with their health care coverage can strut around their lily white neighborhoods with their BLM signs and their Biden bumper stickers, but they are living in a bubble.

    Turchin was right, and we are witnessing the inevitable results of elite overproduction.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > In one sense, this article is on to something, things are fraying at the seams.

      The anecdotes are pretty bad, and Hartmann is onto something with them. Unfortunately — as my introductory comment gentle notes — he doesn’t know what he’s onto.

      What seems really unique to the time is airplane rage. I think if I ever had such an encounter, I’d be shaken and angry for days. I long for the time when using a cellphone on the Quiet Car was the ultimate transgression.

      1. The Historian

        How is airline rage any different than road rage? It seems to me that when people get stressed beyond their capacity to deal with it, they turn violent.

        There was an interesting interview on Realignment a couple of days back with writers Heying and Weinstein discussing their book, ” A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century”. They posited that the stresses of the extreme rates of change that we are under are driving us crazy – as in mentally ill – because they are occuring faster than humans are equipped to deal with them. They also questioned how it was that in this last election we were faced with the choice to either vote for Trump or Biden, neither of who were/are mentally equipped to lead a nation. This sounds like a book I am going to have to read. Who knows? They may be on to something.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > How is airline rage any different than road rage?

          The rage is not different. The settings are very different. It’s possible to get away from a situation on a road. It’s absolutely not possible on an aircraft (probably one reason they’re so stressful to begin with).

          I do agree that as the pot heats the frog do in fact become increasingly restless.

          1. The Historian

            Thanks! I get your POV now. I was looking at the problem in terms of the rager v. the people subjected to his rage. Yes, rage is very different when you aren’t directly involved but cannot escape!

            1. KD

              Mark Moffett wrote a book “The Human Swarm” which has an involved thesis, but attributes the development of human societies to the fact that if you put 100 chimps from different parts of their habitat on a plane, they would end up fighting each other, whereas you can put 100 humans who don’t know each other on a plane and they can peacefully co-exist during the course of the flight until they arrive at their destination. It almost sounds like we are going full Chimpanzee.

  24. TomFinn

    Seems a case of ‘Short Attention Span Theater’: US history began a little over four years ago, or at least what matters effecting current events.
    All societies decline, all empires fail, it’s just that the survivors of the last such aren’t around to warn us off; and not that we’d listen.

    1. The Historian

      We do have a short attention span. What is happening now is not all that new. Think of what happened in the South wrt civil rights. Think what happened to the Japanese Americans during WWII. There are many examples of American incivility throughout our short history.

  25. KLG

    Another anecdote. A good friend and established writer who lives and farms in SE Georgia told me last week that no longer are the locals polite and considerate, which has been the default. Yes, I am aware of why this politesse developed historically hereabouts. But she thinks the QAnon faction, which is significant in her neighborhood, has gotten out of hand. The flip side, of course, is the standard PMC view of these “Deplorables,” which I find more offensive (but without the guns). For both sides the poster seen in pothead dorm rooms of the 1970s comes to mind: “Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.” The question is, where do we go from here? Down the drain into a rising sea?

      1. lordkoos

        Ending extended unemployment exactly on the date of labor day was a nice touch. You have to admire the thoughtfulness that went into that decision.

        1. Michaelmas

          You have to admire the thoughtfulness that went into that decision.

          Yes. It’s not often that America’s owners drop the veil of propaganda and communicate their views on the proper roles of the vast mass of Americans so clearly

  26. JT

    I stopped reading at “President Biden’s reasonable and compassionate example.” There is nothing reasonable, or compassionate, about Biden.

    1. Young

      General Mckenzie just announced that he made a mistake killing seven innocent kids and three innocent adults in Afghanistan, probably on the order of “reasonable anf compassionate” Biden, assuming he did not pull a Milley by pulling the trigger without informing the President.

      But, the honorable general took the full responsibility and he will be allowed to retire with full benefits, along with full speaking fees on the circuit, not to mention reserved board seats.

  27. Samuel Conner

    I’ve read that about 4% of the population has sociopathic personality traits — significantly subnormal function of conscience and empathy.

    That’s a lot of people.

    Per that source (Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door), what keeps such a large proportion of the population from doing more harm is social constraints, “hard” constraints such as legal consequences of misbehavior and “soft” constraints such as norms and expectations.

    It seems that in recent decades some of the hard constraints on the powerful have been eroded; perhaps what this post describes is the erosion of the soft constraints on everyone else.

    1. Tom Doak

      But presumably every other society in history has included 4% sociopaths, too?

      Or has the internet doubled their number?

      1. Samuel Conner

        IIRC, MS doesn’t do historical analysis in her book, but she does mention her belief that this 4% thing is trans-national at the present time, but that its implications in the functioning of societies varies from culture to culture. The one example I recall was her mention that “soft” constraints are stronger in places like Japan, and social consequences of misbehavior can function like a kind of “external conscience”.


        edit added: LOL, after submitting this, I scrolled further down and encountered MonkeyBusiness’ comment @ 10:25

  28. Glossolalia

    I live in a well-to-do DC suburb and judging by their behavior on the roads people are ANGRY. My wife was flipped off in a parking lot the other day for apparently taking too long to back out of a spot. People blow through stop signs, cut you off, speed, and generally act like aggressive assholes. You just don’t act that way when you’re content in life. And in my neck of the woods statistics would tell you that those people are most likely upper class liberals.

  29. Wukchumni

    Even the gun festishists are upset with new hand cannon enthusiasts, whereas not that long ago, they would have rejoiced over more people getting armed, dangerous & violent.

  30. The Rev Kev

    The guy in that ‘Man Confronts Bikini-Clad Girls at the Beach Saying Kids Shouldn’t See ‘Pornography” story reminds me of a Russian joke that I came across the other day-

    A man walks down the street minding his own business, when he sees a woman on a balcony screaming “Help! He wants to rape me! Help!!!” from the top of her lungs. The man looks up and says, “Ma’am, calm down, I have no interest in you whatsoever and you are on the balcony while I am in the street” to which the woman replies, “Yeah, maybe, but I can come down!“

    I know that the author wants to make a point with a whole series of anecdotes but that is what they are – anecdotes. Out of a population of 335 million, you can build up any case you want on anecdotes. As markers, I would be looking for stuff embedded into popular culture and I mentioned the films of Quentin Tarantino the other day simply because his films normalize violence and make it acceptable. And most popular TV programs always have some person pointing a Glock whether it is necessary or not. It is subliminal this effect but it is real.

    I have a book printed in the 1970s and this New York firefighter was saying back then that there was a trend how people were unlearning the value of a single human life. Since then it has gotten worse through neoliberalism. We are now being told to look at people and view them for their economic worth as if they had a price tag on them. How does that play out? A young, black kid on the street is worth zip but throw him in a prison and somebody profits to the tune of $40,000 a year. That’s how. No wonder rage builds up as seen in the BLM riots last year.

    And just for fun and mockery- (8:22 mins)

    1. Anne Twitty

      Rev Kev, I often appreciate your comments. On this one, though, I ask you to reconsider that “joke” (so similar to many others) and its implications.

      Just to begin with:

      She (they) are just waiting and wanting to be raped

      1. The Rev Kev

        Not that sort of joke. It was a point of people being offended, even if they had to go out of their way to get offended. Sort of like the guy who complained to police about naked people at a nudist colony. When the police said that there was a high wall around it so how could he see, replied that if you climbed that very tall tree, hung upside down on that long branch and twisted your neck around, that you see them. This guy could have just moved away to another part of the beach but instead decided to make a big deal about nothing. I suspect that live and let live is not part of his philosophy.

  31. John Mc

    All serious and honest work on this issue raised by Hartmann involves getting one’s own house in order first before going tribal. And while I am mildly sympathetic to the point that we are seeing human behavior and community interactions descend into an infantilized series of public tantrums, it is also true that there has been a displacement of institutional responsibility and a degradation of the connective bonds that link so many of us into an individualized neoliberal vacuum of self-righteous anger implosions (almost like millions of emotional explosions happening all at once with a trigger hair firing pin and a smirk of condescending justification).

    And it is precisely these frayed community connections that are prayed upon and seized by the tripartite state to destabilize the public even further. So while it may feel good to write a Hartmann letter or to point the finger over there somewhere — any serious person has got to work on themselves, their own family’s arrogance and contribution to where we are, and challenge their own people BEFORE doing analysis that most people already fully understand and are witnessing, but does nothing to change the dynamic.

    Mr Hartmann, we lost our democracy a while ago with the help of centrist democrats as much as the batshit crazy right- I could make a list of all the complicity if required.

    So, propping up a great hope in Biden does nothing but cement the notion of a whiny, losing neoliberal – “someone-saves-us-from-this” sniveling, victimized like stance that the elite DNC types have been trotting out for years.

    It is a pathetic response from someone who to purports to really want change.

    John McElroy, Phd.

  32. bassmule

    Why do we admire billionaires, even as they drive the rest of us to desperation and violence? Because we all know the secret of Freedom American Style: Once you have enough money, you can live above the law.

  33. MonkeyBusiness

    In 2020, Good Samaritans handed in nearly 30 million dollars to Tokyo Police (Lost and Found).

    Don’t worry guys, things are violent here, does not mean everyone in the world has gone crazy. Considering that Japan’s economy has been stuck for a long time, unlike good old Uncle Sam’s …………..

  34. Darthbobber

    Why does the author seem to find only Trumpie manifestations of this phenomena he describes? They’re pretty bad, but they scarcely enjoy a monopoly of mob tactics, or shouting down opponents, or showing absolute contempt for those who disagree with them.

    I first noticed the massive increase in the online version of viciousness in the 2008 battle between the keyboard warriors backing Clinton and Obama (weird to begin with, since the ideological and policy differences between that pair were virtually nonexistent). This was also where I first noticed large groups among the Democrats going far beyond attacking the opposing candidate and expanding their denunciations to include the supporters of the enemy candidate. This process accelerated with both the Sanders challenge and the arrival of the Donald. By 2016 characterizing Sanders SUPPORTERS as male chauvinist pigs, closet racists, and nitwits was fair game, as was slagging off the “basket of deplorables” seen as at fault for Trump.

    The organization of online flash mobs to intimidate critics is now a mainstream technique used at least as widely by neoliberals and various self-described leftists as by those of the right.

    Within Occupy Philly one was occassionally treated to the spectacle of a preorganized “four legs good, 2 legs bad” chorus deployed by factions to simply shout down and disrupt the speech of comrades WITHIN the movement. And at the more violent level, I’ll just mention the recent antics of varioud Black Blocers and poseurs in Portland and other venues.

    Then there’s the state and elite supported aspect of all this. If we now have warrantless surveillance and secret laws administered by secret star chamber tribunals, and if we now treat the revealers of uncomfortable truths (Assange, Snowden, Manning, the recent drone whistleblower, etc) as dangerous criminals to be mercilessly hunted down, this seems to be an area of intra-elite consensus, though its as fascistic as any of the pseudopopulist manifestations the author takes note of.

    Then of course we have the exponential increase in money being invested by the oligarchy into controlling political outcomes, which liberals are fond of inveighing against, but which the actually existing party behavior shows them perfectly willing to make use of for their own purposes.

  35. Chmeee

    “…our best hope is that President Biden’s reasonable and compassionate example can help the nation turn against it,…”

    Just because he’s politely being an authoritarian doesn’t make things better. What he’s done with the single act of othering a small, but significant portion of the US population by directing blame onto them for the continuing pandemic, ‘the pandemic of the unvaccinated’, isn’t any better than the othering those other authoritarians around the world are engaging in. It has in fact turned the ‘vaccinated’ into a rival group that vehemently, and even violently wants to ostracize those who are in general rightly ‘hesitant’ (the anti-vaxxers are small, albeit loud minority) and are genuinely concerned about the short and long-term effects of a novel vaccine (myself included. although I have become vaccinated, and understand the importance of it, I am still concerned that there might be side effects that will occur years from now). The parallels are uncanny, even if subtle. As Neil Young said about Bush the Elder, “We got a kinder, gentler machine gun hand”.

    To steal a few sentences from Wednesday’s Jonah Goldberg’s G-File

    “Meanwhile, many of the Democrats and liberal pundits who spent the last five years prattling and preening about their love of norms have grown quiet. I could fill pages with examples……….When Trump said he had total authority to do what he wanted during the pandemic, it was an outrage and crime against the constitutional order. Now that Biden has discovered he has such authority—via OSHA!—they think anyone who raises constitutional concerns is a partisan, a crazy ideologue, or part of a “death cult.””

  36. TomT

    A cynic might suspect that Liberal Democrats will embrace actual fascism the minute they are unable to continue blocking basic reforms through electoral shenanigans. When they look at Social Democracy they see guillotines.

  37. Gregory Etchason

    These individuals only need a strong dose of Thomas Hobbes. They are in violation of every tenet of our “social contract” aside from incivility. They are abusing their 1st Amendement and right of assembly. Let them bring it. Then let there be blood in the streets on Sat Sept 18th. Not a 2nd time. Let’s get crackin.

    Draft Gen Mark Milley for President 2024

  38. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Tom Hartmann is a transparent shill for the DNC. Listen to five minutes of his radio programme. Naturally he is eager to uphold Covid hysteria first and foremost because only a Trumpite ogre would not ‘wear their mask properly” after paying a fortune to fly on an airplane. Don’t you need prooof of vax to fly anyway? The rest is simply the usual litany of DNC talking points of the day.
    Back when we all loathed Dubya, I used to tune into Hartmann’s show on Air America until that thing outlived its usefulness as a propaganda exercise. But the overlap between Clintonoid party line and Hartmann’s spiels is too precise.

  39. Jabura

    This is my fear of what is metastasizing in America today. The blame isn’t solely on Drumpf, he is instrumental in giving legitimacy to be open & proud of racist fascism. He said out loud what the Republicans have promoted since the end of WWII. There has always been an undercurrent of fascism in this country – going all the way back to before WWII – it just smoldered unnoticed by most –

  40. Any cause will do

    The vaccine does not prevent viral transmission. While it is perhaps understandable that Hartmann’s wife was misled by the clueless CDC director (just check out her extremely sparse publication record), a person’s vaccination status is none of her business.

  41. Mutantmule

    I don’t understand the problem? Any good Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Xi Jin Ping, Kim Jong Un or even an Elizabeth I or run-of-the-mill Ayatollah, Mullah or, for that matter, an Elder of many religious bodies—can fix all of this for you. Just turn it over to them and lean back. After that, it’s “Miller Time” and you can enjoy the screams (or, perhaps, just the silence) of those you find bothersome.

    Sadly, your appointed savior may mistake you for a miscreant—but that’s just a collateral by product of making peaceful omelettes.

    1. KD

      No, we have the full faith in the Central Planning Committee out of Wall Street. They can buy up some nice private merc armies if the peasants get out of hand.

  42. Gulag

    It may be the case that this monolith we have built ( this military/public-private surveillance/Big tech monopoly etc.) is now in the process of rebuilding us so that we may become more perfect cogs in its functioning.

    It also seems that this machine can thank both the Western bourgeoise and the Chinese Communist Party for clearing the ground of the peasantry, artisans, common land, cultures and traditions and maybe even family and home life.

    What are we left with–a culture almost totally based on sensory gratification dedicated to growth and the supposed happiness which flows from such growth.

    What is now at stake is not simply economics but culture, not the standard of living but the quality of life.

    Most of the seven deadly sins of the Western Christian tradition (gluttony, lust, wrath, pride, greed and envy) are actively encouraged by our contemporary culture.

    We no longer even think it is worthwhile to conceptualize some type of brake or some sense of limits to this cultural process– certainly, any type of spiritual vigilance is immediately labeled as contributing to our problems.

    Is this megamachine now in the process or replacing our hearts with the drive for instant gratification?

    1. Anon

      I’ve long felt that the Singularity (Artificial Intelligence writ unstoppable), is human destiny, and Hayek was its first (coherent) prophet. Also, that the band ‘Rage Against The Machine‘, was more aptly named than even its members could have known.

      “For it’s the end of history
      It’s caged and frozen still
      There is no other pill to take
      So swallow the one, that makes you ill”

      – ‘Sleep Now In The Fire’, RATM

  43. Verifyfirst

    Maybe I missed it, but it is possible that Hartmann (who I don’t know and have never read) lives in an area where only the unvaccinated are supposed to wear masks. If that were the case, it would have been a reasonable question if the contractor was not wearing a mask, since not wearing a mask would be asserting he is vaccinated.

    Aside from that question, I always do the vetting over the phone, before I engage anyone or make any appointment–first I start with their website, to see what they say about Covid measures they have taken. This usually lets me ascertain their seriousness about the issue, and their masked status. If it is not on the website, I then inquire about the employer’s vaccination policy. Sometimes I have had success requesting a vaccinated worker to handle me (I don’t then ask for proof when they arrive, so long as their mask is on properly).

    And if I don’t like their answers (or if they yell at me over the phone), I move on. Of course, good website info gives a company a competitve advantage for my business. I have a right to keep myself safe, as I define that.

  44. Fastball

    Reading Hartmann’s screed, I am reminded of two phrases:

    1. “The plural of anecdote is not data”, and

    2. “We don’t know why they hate us, so we’ll say they ‘hate us for our freedom’”

    I am far from a Trumpist as one can get, and I have absolutely no issue with people wearing masks, etc. But it appears that Hartmann cannot see the reaction that overweening arrogance and imperial hubris gets one. I don’t despise the Democratic Party because they wear masks (I myself am vaccinated), I despise them because they think they know what’s best for everyone everywhere at every time and that if you don’t agree with them it’s not because they did anything wrong or badly, it’s because the fault is in you. They even cause people to be censored for disagreement.

    The hostility they get is not in their stars, it is in themselves. They seem generally and genuinely incapable of self reflection.

    1. BeliTsari

      I’m thinking lot’s of REAL Democrats are miffed about “our” party, that’s purportedly to protect us from THEIR oilgarch bosses, FEEDING us to COVID 3.0, to extract what our dead loved ones leave behind? To force us into terrifying, horrific gigs; keeping “affluent” work-from-home churls alive, while they shop for Maybachs, $12K artesinal gelato freezers or concealable Israeli bull-pup rifles with their portfolio’s covid cash? Having atoned, our front street is back to Kia, Nissan and Hondas; as our DNC™ LLC superdelegate neighbors are skedaddled into the Poconos, Catskills and NYC schoolkids incubate tomorrow’s headlines. It’ll doubtlessly be OUR fault as teachers, au-pair, elders, immunocompromised, drivers & then EVERYONE spreads the joy? Wonder, in we’ll applaud & cheer for our helpless sacrificial victims, again?

      Wonder, how it’ll go, without any money, or a place to live?

    2. Anon

      I commented to a friend the other day, that most Americans can’t afford self-reflection. Unwavering optimism, even in the face of abstract (though fatal) contradictions, is their only perspective. If one stops to look in a mirror, not only would they risk not liking what they see, but they might lose the race! Better to outrun your neighbor, than to survive the bear.

  45. elviejito

    The best explanation I have seen for the current divisiveness is from Peter Turchin (qv), who has , with his research institute, studied 10,000 years of human history. His conclusion is that societies collapse when there are too many elites with too much money. They then act like crabs in a bucket, tearing each other down and their society in the process. No speculation on whether this can be avoided.

    1. MonkeyBusiness

      Game of Thrones. Can House Bezos get even richer with the help of the Fed? Sure, but soon enough it will have to declare war on House Gates, House Musk, etc.

    2. newcatty

      Wondering if that bucket can withstand an event that will stop the clawing down of the elite crabs? Something like another bucket of scalding hot water? Groups of modern hunters with modern pitchforks looking for dinner? A new parasite that has passed the guards that used to protect the elite crabs in their buckets? Winds so strong with rain so overwhelming, that the buckets are overturned even in gated enclaves? Society is the savior.

      No speculation on whether this can be avoided.

  46. Joe Well

    Is the point of the contractor anecdote that anything that offends highly educated Americans is either fascism or racism?

    With all respect, it just seems a very great logical stretch to cite that as an example of authoritarianism. Has this person never been stopped by the police? Or tried to appeal an account ban by one of our internet monopolies?

  47. Lakko

    Like many commenters, I too have a problem with Hartmann, who I used to read rather uncritically. For example, he offered no background for the rise of Mussolini, which was connected to huge WWI debts incurred by Italy– part of the Triple Entente, so one of the ‘winners’– debts owed to Wall Street bankers, like JP Morgan Jr., who dictated terms of the Versailles Treaty to force full repayment, with no debt forgiveness, even for our so-called allies. This led to austerity policies and massive unemployment among the returning ‘heroic’ Italian soldiers. The rise of Black Shirt violence did not occur simply because Il Duce was a convincing orator. It stemmed from real grievances and painful disappointment, perceived as betrayal. See: Davies “J-Curve”

    I forget who said it, but I’m reminded of a quote I read long ago, which I’ll baldly paraphrase as ‘the only time the predatory Capitalist ruling class talk about ‘class warfare’ is when their working class victims fight back’.

    Yes, this country seems very angry, and I especially notice it when driving on the highways of SF (which I avoid as much as possible). I drive a 2009 Nissan Versa with a Bernie 2016 bumper sticker, and I’ve had a number of aggressive tailgaters lately– most driving fancy new Audi’s, Mercedes, and Beamers, etc., and I bet they are mostly Dem voters! Well Thom, who do I blame for that?

  48. drumlin woodchuckles

    I notice that most of the comments are about Mr. Hartmann’s anecdote about his wife being yelled at by a workman. Many of those comments note that the workman was in the right here, even if he didn’t explain his position with PMC grace and style.

    I notice further that the comments almost totally ignore the whole rest of Mr. Hartmann’s article. Thereby ignoring all the different true-life examples he gives of a multi-nucleii Fascist Street-Fighters Movement being engineered and assembled in America, Brazil and elsewhere. Mr. Hartmann would have done better to leave out the “my wife” anecdote because it had nothing to do with the whole rest of the article.

    But why are most of the commenters seizing upon the “my wife” anecdote to ignore the whole rest of the article? LDDS and PMCDS. ( Liberal Democrat Derangement Syndrome and Professional Managerial Class Derangement Syndrome). If the bearer of bad news is the least bit LD or PMC identified or adjacent, the LDDS and PMCDS sufferers reject and shout down the bad news because their hatred for LDs and PMCs has reached derangement levels.

    If/when the LDDS and PMCDS sufferers of the Left have their first personal encounters with genuine Cultural Fascist street thug groups, will they even remember that they have been warned?

    1. Joe Well

      He strung together a bunch of anecdotes from our vast country where anything that can happen to someone, somewhere, will. And then throws in some more convincing evidence *from other countries* which only serve to highlight how petty his US examples are in comparison.

      Meanwhile he ignores all the authoritarianism on the part of government and business.

      Especially: War on Terror and War on Drugs.

    2. Eric377

      Well writers should lead with their best case. You start your work with a really flawed anecdote and people will lose enthusiasm to plow through the rest hoping it gets better.

  49. Tom Bradford

    To my mind the title to the piece is wrong, and much of the commentary above irrelevant, especially the bickering about vaccination-or-not which was merely the seed for the author’s proposal.

    Neither Hitler nor Mussolini could be defined as oligarchic, and while Bolsonaro, Orban and yes, even Trump, could be lumped with and only achieved power by reason of being amongst ‘the wealthy’ I would argue there is no ‘conspiracy of the wealthy’ let alone ‘the wealthy’ as a cabal that would justify branding them an oligarchy. It’s simply an unfortunate fact of life that today you have to be wealthy to even aspire to high office let alone achieve it.

    I suggest the argument of the piece is that there exists now in the US a potential for someone like a Hitler, a Mussolini or a Mao Zedong, to seize a public mood, a public anger and despair and mould it to their own ends – perhaps ends they sincerely believe in themselves, like a Cromwell, a Napoleon, a Stalin – which requires power to effect. Hitler’s Blackshirts, Mussolini’s Brownshirts, the sans culottes, the red Brigade, etc. were the disaffected who were prepared to overturn the social order for what they hoped would be better. They were minorities – perhaps small but impassioned ones – who could only achieved what they did with, initially at least, the passive support of the wider community who had at least some sympathy with them.

    I believe the author’s argument is that incidents such as the tradesman’s ‘violent’ response to his wife’s enquiry, trivial in itself, is symptomatic of a wider anger, despair and disillusionment with society as it stands that is fertile ground for a potential Hitler or Mussolini to coalesce a movement around him that the wider population would if not actively support, would not hinder either. Martin Niemöller’s “First they came…” is exactly on point. Such a leader usually does not arise from any oligarchy. Indeed they usually deliberately direct hostility against such oligarchy as exists.

    January’s attack on the Capitol on behalf of Trump would have been very much in the spirit of 1920’s Germany and Italy as Hitler and Mussolini ‘tested the water’ and found it warm. Fortunately Trump was too lazy, incompetent and aware to work at it, but I sense KD’s comment above, that “the people in the streets increasingly realize they aren’t voting their way out of this mess” sets the scene. If you can’t vote your way out of the mess, anger, frustration and an urge to strike out at society with displays of temper is a result, and someone charismatic offering a way to channel that anger and frustration towards a concrete end can be very attractive.

    Fortunately I’m not American and live far from the US, so I have no idea what ‘the mood’ on the streets actually is, but if the author’s forebodings triggered by this trivial incident are representative of a wider ‘zeitgeist’ I would indeed be worried.

  50. drumlin woodchuckles

    One of the examples Mr. Hartmann gives in the body of his article about ” Culture of Fascism” violence design engineering contains within itself the seeds of some advice about how to counter the Proud Boys.
    Here is the quote . . .

    “In Tacoma, Washington a group of thugs goes looking for a fight when “antifa” fails to show up for the brawl the “Boys” had advertised. Undeterred, they march around town with clubs, flags and baseball bats looking for people to pick fights with until a local (not-antifa) man, apparently disgusted and feeling threatened by their behavior, finally pulls out a gun and shoots one of them in the foot (the story is still evolving; it’s possible the guy shot himself in the foot).”

    Notice that when Antifa failed to show up for the Proud Boys rally, the disappointed Proud Boys looked for local citizens to beat up. This probably turned some of those citizens against the concept of “Proud Boys” where before they might have tried to have no opinion.

    So why not use politico-psycholgical jiu-jitsu to get the Proud Boys to turn more people against them?
    “Antifa” could begin by failing to show up for other Proud Boys rallies, and for Cultural Fascist rallies in general. If disappointed Proud Boys and/or Cultural Fascists in general express their disappointment by acosting and/or beating up random citizens, they may drive their own wedge deeper between themselves and the random citizen community.

    Antifa ( or fake “false flag” antifas) could then announce ” anti-Proud Boy” rallies here and there far ahead of time . . . . and then fail to show up. Frustrated Proud Boys would start attacking random citizens, thereby getting themselves even more hated by normal people.

    Its just a suggestion.

    1. Soredemos

      You counter both brands of cringing idiot (fascist-larpers and antifa) by ignoring or at most mocking them.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If a Proud Boy swings a wrench into your mouth, you will not be able to ignore it or mock it. Ignoring or mocking them can be tried, but other methods might be tried by other people at the same time.

        Such as luring Proud Boys into punchups with the Antifa which never happen because there were no Antifa there. Enough Proud Boys beating/attacking enough random citizens will eventually motivate citizens to start shooting Proud Boys in self defense, and the Proud Boy Police Departments will have a hard time pretending that it wasn’t self defense.

  51. ian

    “In our case, these people are imitating Donald Trump”

    If that is the case, people have no capacity to think for themselves – which is another problem.

  52. Quantum Future

    A lot interesting commentary, some heated politics. To me, the FIRE economy that has been ran by both parties are a real problem. Central Banking model based on debt, combined with one country being near omniscient as reserve currency at or near top of the list.

    Now on a practical matter for contractors asking to enter a home amid Covid. To compete for those concerned with contractors being unvaxxed consider a CAPR mask as contractor doing a bid in someone’s home.

    About $800 for a decent one but one can advertise such protection for their prospects. It is what doctors wear in treating hospitalized patients with Covid. If people actually think I swear I could not make money…

  53. Sound of the Suburbs

    I was alarmed when “Golden Dawn” appeared in Greece.
    How can this be, in the 21st century?

    I was commenting in “The Guardian” at the time, and expressed my fears.
    Everyone else said it was a one off, but I wasn’t so sure.
    I have been keeping my eye out on the situation ever since, and we have had some good examples recently.
    An ineffective Left, pushes things to the Right, when the status quo is failing.

    The UK lashed out and placed the blame on the EU because no one had the faintest idea what the real problem was.

    Free markets, free trade and EU membership will bring us all prosperity.
    Did you mean ten years of austerity?
    Obviously something had gone badly wrong.

    “Try and pretend it never happened” the Remainers
    Oh dear, they are not going to get very far that way.
    London’s Remainers had forgotten that many were suffering from austerity because it didn’t affect them personally.
    The status quo was treating them really well.

    What you need to do is place the blame somewhere, and then explain how you’ll fix it.
    The Conservatives blamed it on the EU, and said everything would be fine after Brexit.
    This is where the trouble starts, because the EU wasn’t actually the problem.

    You can’t just say the status quo is fine, when it isn’t.
    Liberals really need to start putting a bit more effort in to find out what is causing today’s problems.
    Populists just have to find a scapegoat, and say they have found the problem.
    Trump just had to find some scapegoats to blame and the next thing you know he was the President of the US.

    Anyone know what the real problem is?
    It’s called Japanification, and it’s caused by leaving the debt in place after a financial crisis.
    This is the cause of the Productivity Puzzle.

    A real solution is never on the table, because neither side have worked out what the real problem is.

    1. lance ringquist

      but free trade has ruined many countries abilities to feed themselves. i remember when nafta billy clinton was hot against japan because they would not drop protection of their so-called inefficient rice farmers.

      nafta billy said if japan was worried, all they needed to do was buy rice from thailand, asia’s leading producer at the time.

      then came the inevitable blowout of asia’s economy due to free trade, economic turmoil, and crop failures. guess who had bins full of rice grown inefficiently? japan, and they feed asia.

      so you can pour money into your economy and watch a good portion of it drained away by free trade.

      free trade is deflationary in nature, that is free trade is austerity for the wage earners. free trade hobbles a countries finances.

      than what nafta billy clinton did to haitis rice production was a crime, and he said they can buy rice on the world markets.

      so in actuality its a basket of policies that lead to the problems.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Clinton also conspired to bankrupt and destroy rice farming in Haiti to turn Haiti into a captive helpless market for Arkansas rice growers. Did he succeed? Is his success still succeeding?

  54. Alex Morfesis

    Transitioning into a nation of wimps and snowflakes…it’s “dangerous” to be a police officer today .. especially if someone asks you to look at actual stats was 50x more likely for officers to be actually killed from the job 100 years ago…
    As to the rest of us, riots were a regular occurrence in America until the 1950’s… violent protests…anti draft riots…unions attacked for having the audacity to strike or ask for a family wage and reasonable working conditions…not sure what history books are floating around in most folks homes…but… America has never been a civil nation…maybe pockets of folks living a life hidden from the real world, in a small town just beyond lake stillbegone, where that garrison fella used to live…

  55. Eric377

    Not excusing the foul language, but discussing a vaccine-status imperative prior to getting a tradesman out to your house is common courtesy. The language was way too foul, but her attitude was in that general direction where she was indifferent to this guy’s time.

  56. T. Barnes

    I don’t normally comment but this reminded me so much of the penultimate chapter of Thomas Mann’s Zauberberg, entitled “Die große Gereiztheit”, which translates roughly “the great irascibility”. Suddenly throughout the sanatorium various fights begin to break out – I won’t spoil it for readers but it is well worth the effort to get to that point in the novel; the year is 1913…

  57. Anon

    I just realized… he said nothing of oligarchy throughout the piece… it reads “there are lots of frustrated idiots, and fascistic politicians, so America is becoming a violent oligarchy”… I take it we were merely violent before, or perhaps just an oligarchy. It’s unclear what he means… likely, that we should buy his book, which I assume is God-awful.

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