The mind-shields fall away from the City on a Hill



What do you get when you fall in love build a self-referential neoliberal bubble? A guy with a pin to prick it.

The only ‘stunning upset’ about Trump’s election was that it left a lot of people stunningly upset. If they’d pulled their heads out of each other’s backsides they could easily have seen it coming.

One fears for America’s corvidae family. It looks like turkey will be out, and crow in, on many Thanksgiving tables on the 24th of November.

Take this example of groupthink from December 2015:

Firstly, he [Trump] will not be the next President of the United States and secondly, he will not get even close to securing the Republican nomination. By spring, he will have packed his bags and said goodbye to the circus. There are forces with more power, wealth, intelligence, guile and all encompassing self-interest that will not allow this showboating huckster anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC. The GOP would never in a million years adopt an erratic train wreck like Trump to go head-to-head against Hillary Clinton for fear of electoral collapse and decades of obscurity.

Alas for the dump-Trumpsters, it was the Democrats who used their “power, wealth, intelligence, guile and all encompassing self-interest” to flirt with oblivion by crowbarring Lady Blood Diamond into the candidacy over Bernie, the membership’s choice.

Trump would probably still have beaten Bernie in the electoral college. Americans in general are resolutely misled over the difference between socialism and totalitarianism. But I’d wager that Bernie would have picked up a bigger margin in the popular vote than Clinton.

As one of those not in the least surprised by Brexit or the Trumpster (even though I’m instinctively Remain/Bernie/Corbyn), it was refreshing to see a stale, corrupt political elite successfully challenged for the first time I can think of in my lifetime.

Con-job city

Remember that Bliar and Hopey-Changey were both absolute con-jobs whose actions completely belied their rhetoric. Trump, Brexit, Sanders and Corbyn are all focal points of popular frustration with a paradigm that looks like nothing so much as the elites withdrawing into a shining city on a hill and preparing to pull up the drawbridge.

Ordinary – or better still ‘ordinary hard-working’ – people have no place in the city. They just get to pay for the elites’ pleasures while listening to mainstream media propaganda telling them they’ve never had it so good.

Since the 1960s, the elites have worked hard at ‘perfecting’ – as they saw it – the democratic process. In essence that means ensuring that the government always gets in, whoever the people vote for. In terms of the quote above, idea is that the elites use their ‘power and wealth’ to co-opt bright young men and women as politicos and pundits. These charming flacks employ their ‘intelligence and guile’ to maintain what Joe Bageant characterised as a “hologram” in which every citizen props up an iniquitous structure in order to protect a redundant dream of personal wealth and self-actualisation.

Drink the Kool-Aid

Going back to the Abe Lincoln-attributed quote in the last post, when you’re trying to fool all of the people all of the time, you have to be very careful not to fool yourself too. Abe wouldn’t know what Flavor Aid is but he’d recognise the expression ‘drinking the Kool-Aid’ meaning to believe your own peer group’s propaganda at whatever cost to society and yourself.

Even my very thinly-populated social media stream was full of apocalyptic wails on Wednesday morning. They came from people who are white, middle class and, generally, close enough to the shelter of the city on the hill not to need to worry about immediate fallout from President Trump or Article 50. Yet you’d have thought black vans were already en route to their homes, loaded with government-sanctioned redneck lynch mobs.

In many cases, these reactions came from people seeing their pensions eroded, local services shut down and their children priced out of home ownership and forced into massive debt in return for an often second-rate higher education.

Not that the problems underlying those problems are fixable in the sense that real growth will come back for decades or centuries (it’s to do with net energy available to industrial civilisation). The point is that the world went through an inflection point not when American electors chose Trump this week but when it rolled over into The Long Descent somewhere between 1995 and 2005.

The folks in the city on the hill realise that the cake will slowly but steadily shrink from now on. Moreover they’ve understood why for around 20 years. Did they start a grown-up, “liberal-progressive” debate about how society might get together to find ways to mitigate the effects of its predicament?

Did they fuck. They went to war over the last remaining decent-sized stocks of oil and natural gas (high-quality energy) in the Middle East. All the while spinning out pipe dreams about self-driving cars and Elon Musk’s frankly bonkers man-on-Mars plan. The game is to prevent thinking people from thinking too hard about what’s actually happening in their own lives. And also engaging people in endless debates about which flavour of Kool-Aid ‘matters’ most – black lives, LGBT rights, Disabled Access, First Nation land rights or whatever.

Well, durrr. They all matter. But they are also being used as a smokescreen to distract everyone in the 99% from the scale of the ongoing theft of real wealth and its substitution with IOUs that the elites know they cannot honour in a resource-constrained future.

Now it seems that even the best bread and circuses that technology can provide aren’t enough. Trump and Brexit were moments when ‘ordinary hard-working’ people turned round and bit the hand that was feeding them a diet of mass media bullshit.

The shame on all of us is that we’ve gone along with it for so long that the only way for Americans to register their disgust with a democratic process systematic rigged against them was to elect a showboating huckster.

Abe never said it

As a postscript, there’s no record anywhere of Abraham Lincoln uttering the famous quip about fooling people all the time. It’s very likely the phrase was invented, long after Abe was assassinated, as an adversing gimmick to sell false teeth, tobacco and booze among many other things.

Like they say, believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.


Good morning America, how are ya?



Yeah well, that’s a headline for tomorrow, 9th November, but everyone will be using it then.

Today a presidential candidate with a disapproval rating of 79% goes to the polls against a candidate with an 81% disapproval rating.

As Steve from Virginia said today on his blog, Economic Undertow:

“Both candidates are the products of big business. It is revealing this is the best leadership that gigantic money can buy.”

Like its rise, America’s decline is a process not an event. America peaked somewhere between the candidacies of Reagan and Trump. Who, let’s face it, have much more in common than the millions of Americans who go all dewy-eyed at the mention of Ronnie are prepared to admit.

The one a religious fantasist, the other a narcissistic fantasist. Both claiming they will make America great .… and then that “again”. Both having acquired their veneer of popular recognition via the mass media.

That’s not to say they have, or had, similar characters. Reagan was a nice enough guy who was happy enough to act as a popular frontman for the financial-media-military-industrial complex. The peaking of net energy available to industrial civilisation was coming into view and Reagan was chosen as the smiley-face puppet by the forces who believed it was “America’s” (i.e. their) Manifest Destiny to hog what was left for themselves and damn the rest of the world and the electorate’s grandkids.

Now the tide of industrial civilisation has moved into its long and difficult – well, one hopes it won’t be short and nasty – ebb phase. More people, more vehicles, more stuff and ever-higher expectations vs. less and less net energy left over to power our lifestyles once one subtracts the costs of extracting oil from sand or shale, and conducting interminable wars for access to the dwindling supply of “good stuff.”

Trump is the downslope’s black mirror of what Reagan represented on the upslope. Whereas Reagan was a genial guy with a cupboard-full of goodies to squander on a grateful electorate (albeit goodies his backers were effectively stealing from future generations), Trump is the embodiment of the 99%’s anger over their own steadily-worsening situation.

What would be funny if it wasn’t so sad/disgusting is the utter shock and surprise inside the liberal elites’ media at the spectacle of Trump giving ‘their’ candidate a run for her money (ha ha: it’s our money and she represents the people who shamelessly help themselves to it). “B-b-b-but he’s ghastly”, they stammer. “He appeals to the lowest elements in human nature, etc. etc.”

What scares the elite media is the apparent incoherence of the electors’ anger. Don’t the media work ceaselessly to reassure the people that everything is rosy; that, if readers just wish hard enough and take on enough debt, they too can have the lifestyle and aspirations peddled day in and day out by the papers?

Well to quote a quote that was wry on the way up but a hard punch in the face on the way down: “You can fool all of the people some of the time and fool some of the people all of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

Trump is coming within a whisker of the White House on the back of votes from people who aren’t fooled any more. They don’t think much of Trump but they think even less of Hillary and what she represents, which is a continuation of the bullshit charade that began with Reagan, was cemented in the Clinton-Bush era and got its final insulting flourish with the crushed expectations and broken promises of that ultimate liberal elite smiley puppet, Hopey Dopey.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no conservative. I’m a card-carrying liberal of the airy-fairy Green type. Except that I’m under no illusions about the possibility of maintaining industrial civilisation on renewable energy (or that airy-fairy Green types ever get to form governments). The future is not about whether more people will be better off: it’s about how we manage with less.

The US electorate doesn’t buy the story it’s been fed by the media. The one that tells it that things are still getting better. People know the pie is shrinking and that 99% of them are paying for the elites and their media to carve a bigger slice so they don’t have to share the losses.

While the elite media staggers around in shock, however, I’m pretty sure the Deep State is already over it. DS actors have already written-off Election 2016 as a patch of bad turbulence they should have seen coming but, for whatever reason, they weren’t ready for. The DS is regrouping and realigning for Election 2020 (if not sooner), which will be very different.

I also surmise that the DS is quite divided at the moment. The status quo crowd is being dragged kicking and screaming to acceptance of the thermodynamic realities facing America. It doesn’t want to accept that it can no longer foist any old candidate ..… say a corrupt, self-serving dynastic throwback .… on the people and expect they’ll be elected with the help of the tame media.

The smart crowd is positioning for the transition to what James Howard Kunstler calls The Long Emergency:.

Whoever wins tomorrow, the next presidency will be a flailing mess that’ll make the attack of the blue meanies in Yellow Submarine look like a yoga class. The thing to watch out for will be the clean, slick, fresh-faced but hard-nosed, politician who’ll emerge with the backing of the new popular media and make the idea that it’s evening in America as palatable as Reagan made the claim that it was morning.

What new popular media? I don’t know. I guess its foundations are already being laid. It’ll look like the current popular media, but shorn of clueless idiots who don’t already understand that Trump vs. Clinton spells the end of their world as they know it.

You wouldn’t think there would be any of those left but looking at today’s agonised beatings from all corners of the UK media, a lot of pundits haven’t realised that US 2016, and Brexit for that matter, may be merely a bumpy patch as far as the Deep State goes but it’s life or death for their jobs.

So whether they find themselves cheering for Hillary tomorrow, or booing Donald, they’ll be playing a losing game. Especially if Clinton gets in, there’ll be a rump still championing the corrupt and discredited process that put her in the White House, backed by the unimaginative wing of the Deep State.

If Donald gets in then its hard to imagine what it will be like. “Berlusconi” is the only word that comes immediately to mind. A mess of a different kind to Hillary but not an existential disaster either. And crucially, a mess that will be much easier for the “progressive” wing of the Deep State to exploit.

Good evening America, how are ya?