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The American Crack-Up The nation remains blinded by a veil of madness

(Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images)

(Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images)


January 20, 2024   9 mins

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function”. His formula is justifiably famous, but it’s worth noting that it comes from an autobiographical essay titled “The Crack-Up”, which painfully detailed Fitzgerald’s inability to pass his own test, and resulting descent into alcoholic dysfunction.

Today’s American crack-up springs from similar sources. Imagine a time-traveller from any decade in recent memory arriving in America in January 2024: they would encounter a country that would appear to have gone nuts. Millions of migrants stream illegally into the US at the highest rates in history, while the government in Washington prohibits border states from enforcing Federal law. Meanwhile, major cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are routinely paralysed by angry demonstrators whose causes change from month to month (this month’s cause is “intifada”). Questions like “should doctors perform surgery on children to change their gender?” and “is it ok for the President of Harvard to routinely plagiarise the work of other authors?” are now seriously debated by reputable media outlets.

It all depends on where the time-traveller happens to land, though. By many objective criteria, today’s America could not be in better shape — a global hyper-power that continues to lead the world in innovation, with flagship companies such as Google, Apple and Meta continuing their reign as the most valuable human creations on Earth. America’s billionaires are its new millionaires. Someday soon, Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, both of whom are among the richest men in history, will establish the first human colonies on the moon and on Mars.

The idea that two such different Americas exist at once is hard to take in, because of the country’s polarising political warfare — even if both visions are solidly grounded in fact. How have two diametrically opposing Americas come to inhabit the same space at the same time? That question can be answered in a single word that is generally missing from American civics textbooks: “Oligarchy.”

Contrary to the country’s powerful democratic mythos, which imagines American democracy ceaselessly expanding to include workers, women and minorities — not to mention the inhabitants of many far-flung countries — Americans now find themselves living in an oligarchy administered day-to-day by institutional bureaucracies that move in lock-step with each other, enforcing a set of ideologically-driven top-down imperatives that seemingly change from week-to-week and cover nearly every subject under the sun.

The new American system has little in common with the process of balancing regional interests through the two-party system, as described by 20th-century American political scientists. Today, power flows from the top down, from a set of fantastically wealthy billionaires, to a national administrative class, and to a new layer of non-profit administrators, foundation executives and NGOs, which in turn employ a floating class of hundreds of thousands of grant-makers, organisers, case-workers and protesters who serve as the shock troops of the Democratic Party.  In this role, they regiment the party’s identity-driven interest groups while receiving large amounts of funding from the billionaire class and the Federal government — thereby enabling the Party to serve as the broker between the oligarchs and the “disenfranchised” poor.

By trashing institutions that once protected their interests, and cutting them out of the national power equation, the new American system deprives America’s working and middle classes of opportunities to build wealth or otherwise exert meaningful control over their lives — an observation borne out by a wealth of harsh statistical evidence. After 2008, America’s rich continued to get wildly richer while the middle class lost ground, along with the poor. Unsurprisingly, income mobility has fallen radically, from 90% for children born in 1940 to less than 50% for children born in the Eighties. American life expectancy — perhaps the most basic gauge of how people are actually doing — is also experiencing a sharp decline, despite (or because of) the fact that America adopted a universal health care system more than a decade ago. What these grim statistics still fail to capture, though, is the feeling of utter, disorienting madness that pervades so many sectors of American life these days, from universities to corporate boardrooms to social media, where people seem to find themselves advocating causes which they are often at a loss to explain.

So where did it start? The collapse of the 20th-century print pyramid and its replacement by the cracked mirror of the internet clearly had something to do with the current madness. The election of Donald Trump, and the subsequent rise of the Russiagate conspiracy theory, which was promoted by Trump-phobic elites as fact, both helped to make insanity and illogic the coin of everyday political discourse. Once that happened, it didn’t take much to drive the entire country mad.

Covid lockdowns led to the creation of a broad quasi-governmental censorship apparatus to police “disinformation” under the guise of public health. The George Floyd riots revealed that lockdowns had become a convenient fiction, while wholesale looting and property crimes, along with the incineration of downtown Minneapolis, were embraced by the American power structure as healthy social justice rituals. A wider attack on American monuments, history, and culture followed.

A sane, constructive political class would have recognised the dangers posed by the emerging oligarchy, and increasingly insane public discourse, and worked to build bridges between the two Americas and help create the basis for a healthier society. Instead, Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, saw an opportunity to rubbish Republicans by making Democrats the party of the rich in the name of the poor. The policy of aligning the Democrats with the wealthiest Americans, while taking from the middle class and rewarding the poor with symbolic identity politics victories, was Obama’s creation — hardly a surprising coinage from a BLM-promoting Harvard Law School graduate who once told an intimate that the two things he wanted, as he left the White House, were a private jet and a valet. Obama’s continuing influence as a tone-setter for the Democratic Party, and within the Biden administration itself, should not be underestimated; there’s a reason why he became the first (healthy) former US President since George Washington who refused to retire to his farm (or the equivalent), instead keeping a large mansion in the heart of Washington.

Obama’s central position in the Democratic Party is both practical and symbolic: in his person, he represents both the elite institutions such as Harvard Law School and the large American foundations and billionaire funders who backed his political rise in Chicago. Obama represents the new American elite, which is composed of the people who populate the types of institutions that produced and backed him, and which is the main instrument of oligarchical rule.

What members of the new American elite share is a sense of placelessness, which is also embodied by Obama, a fatherless child who grew up in Indonesia and then in Hawaii, after being sent to live with his grandparents by his mother. Where former US elites represented the upper tip of multiple local pyramids of influence and wealth (see Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was born and died on the same patch of land in the Texas Hill Country), the new American elite is the product a small set of homogenous institutions which are all sponsored or owned by billionaires. The result is a class of shallowly educated people — of whatever race, gender or sexual preferences — with a set of uniform values imposed by self-infatuated academics and diversity gatekeepers which are of very little help in sensibly administering a continent-sized republic, which was not designed to be run by a national elite in the first place.

America’s callow hothouse elites plainly lack either the temperament or the necessary language or experience to deal with the new social and economic reality they face, let alone the yawning social divisions engendered by 50 years of laissez-faire economics accompanied by the growth of surveillance and censorship technologies. Lacking any real understanding of the new technologies that have fundamentally transformed the American social and economic structure, or how those technologies, and new concentrations of wealth, are re-shaping the lives of ordinary people, they seek to cast the country’s ever-expanding range of social problems in the only language they understand, which is race — and to haughtily and self-righteously dismiss everyone who disagrees with them as bigots.

Yet the unending stream of obvious policy failures that America’s elites have authored, both domestic and foreign – from the country’s immigration, income and education crises, to its failures in the Middle East and Ukraine — can hardly be blamed on old-fashioned bigots, of whom there are thankfully few in Washington. In reality, the identity-based vitriol of the country’s political, academic and media elites is not shared by most normal Americans — who actually have to live with each other on a daily basis. Which in turn suggests that the national obsession with race and group identity is a tool being employed from the top down, to fracture the possibility of democratic opposition to large concentrations of wealth and the rule of the bureaucrats.

As the fearful servants of a fearful oligarchy, America’s elites don’t trust the people they rule. It’s no surprise, then, that one thing that most of the social innovations of the past five years — from open borders to the new language of race to the attack on meritocracy — have in common is that no one voted for them. When major shifts in elite ideas contradict existing laws, American institutional leaders have learned that ignoring these contradictions is a smart move, lest one find one’s own elite status revoked, or cancelled.

In the meantime, new holidays, identity group flags, unwritten laws and new governmental powers continue to proliferate, flattering the elites and enshrining their vision of the reality that they administer. “Each year on November 20, the world recognises Transgender Day of Remembrance,” US Secretary Antony Blinken solemnly announced at the end of last year, “a day to commemorate the transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming persons who are targeted and killed for living authentically and courageously.” President Joe Biden issued a similar proclamation on the same day — a national holiday which has been observed by the United States government and the entire world since when, exactly? Why, ever since the President and the Secretary of State made their pronouncements on November 20, of course.

So is America experiencing a pogrom against transgender and non-binary people? According to the advocacy group GLADD, a total of 33 trans, non-binary and gender-non-conforming people died by violent means in America in one year. Given that there were a reported 21,156 homicides in America during that time, and transgender and non-binary individuals are said to make up 1.6% of the US population, the law of averages would suggest that one might expect that approximately 338 transgender and non-binary individuals would have been murdered — or 10 times the number that were actually killed. The fact that transgender and non-binary people are approximately 10 times less likely to die violent deaths than the average American would appear to be a cause for celebration rather than commemoration.

Yet in Year Zero America, defiance of basic maths can often seem like a precondition for gaining one’s rightful place on the social justice calendar. In 2019, the last year for which statistics were available before the George Floyd riots, a total of 13 unarmed black men were killed by police throughout all of America, according to statistics compiled by the CIA-linked, oligarch-owned Washington Post. According to the Post, the number of unarmed, non-violent black men killed by white police officers in 2019 may have been as low as three, or as high as seven. No doubt both numbers are painfully high — but not nearly as high as the total of 7,300 black American homicide victims in 2019, the overwhelming majority of whom were killed by other black Americans, not to mention the hundreds of white Americans killed by black Americans that same year. So perhaps America’s murder problem isn’t mainly the product of racism after all.

The consequence of America’s new “anti-racist” math can be measured in lost lives and shattered families, nearly all of whom are black. On 31 May 2020, a week after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, for example, 25 black Chicagoans were murdered and another 85 injured — which is the kind of daily death toll that one might see in a war zone. Nevertheless, George Floyd’s death set off what was widely described as a “national reckoning” not only with brutal, ostensibly widespread policing techniques but with the large-scale effects of “white supremacy” and “structural racism” — supposedly pervasive phenomena so lacking in objective correlatives like discriminatory laws and observable practices that they can best be described as conspiracy theories.

You can blame Barack Obama. Or you can blame America’s feckless race-and-identity-obsessed elites. Or you can blame the internet and the fortunes it gave rise to. The larger picture that one gets from America’s multiple and interrelated failures is of a country suffering from terminal brain-rot — and wildly unequal to the task of running the planet.

Yet at the same time, America remains by far the most powerful country on Earth, with a plethora of great minds who invent great stuff. Most Americans long for a sense of common purpose, and share a strong desire to get along with each other. Lately, even leading oligarchs such as Elon Musk and Bill Ackman, cocooned by their enormous wealth, find the system they live in to be insane enough to be worth putting their fortunes at risk to publicly oppose it.

Historically, America has generally been bad at producing European-style elites, because the country is so large, and elites are inherently anti-democratic. Previous attempts by self-appointed elites to rule the country have generally resulted in the rider being thrown off the horse by furious populists. Yet an enraged Donald Trump seems like an equally unlikely saviour for American democracy, especially since it is hard to imagine that the country’s Trump-hating elites, who control its governing and judicial bureaucracies, would allow him to take power.

As we enter another election year, what threatens America’s future prosperity and fading democracy the most is neither Trump nor his enemies. Rather, it is the thickening linkage between America’s incapable elites and a fearful oligarchy that owns the key communications platforms and pipelines that are the source of the country’s largest fortunes, and which provide the context in which large numbers of Americans live their lives and understand reality.

The cure for today’s American Crack-Up is to defuse the affair between our bureaucratic elites and a Big Tech oligarchy that is mediated by the diversity barons of the Democratic Party. The way to do that is to remove the legal protections that have allowed for Big Tech’s monopolies, and which killed off the independent American press, and then to curb the power of national elites by letting individual states make and enforce their own laws, as the US Constitution intended. Once the causes of the country’s current madness are removed, Americans may be able to see their own virtues and weaknesses plainly — and start acting like grown-ups again.


David Samuels is a writer who lives in upstate New York.


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UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

I am shocked by your treatise..there is no value in your comments whatsoever.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I concur. This author has posted worthwhile articles here in the past but this is a politically predetermined rant served up to a mostly favorable readership.

Arthur G
Arthur G
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Really? He seems to have described our ruling class to a tee.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

That’s a symptom of your well-sealed bubble.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Perhaps we are all in different bubbles. I know nothing any of us have said, has made one iota of difference to your opinions.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

How would you know either way? (But I am definitely subject to some kinds of persuasion).And is the UnHerd some united us that I have rudely dared to disrupt? Having been here for about 2 years I notice that contrary views get shouted down more & more forcefully here, and as more of a seeming reflex. The editing policing here means that heavily downvoted comments go into 6 or 12-hour “quarantine” even when there is no objectionable tone or comment, kicking them out of the real-time discussion for unpopularity. Is that what you want at a website called UnHerd?
Let me know if you want to attempt a polite and substantive exchange. I can keep that up for longer than you might think.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Don’t let them get you down AJ, your comments are polite, measured and intelligent even if one might not sanction all your views, few are worthy of down voting. I agree Unherd is becoming more knee-jerk and partisan.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Thanks Carl. Back at ya.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

I think we were discussing, not the quality of the comments, or even their intelligence, but whether AJ’s views had changed due to other poster’s comments.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Or yours, for that matter.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I did not say “But I am definitely subject to some kinds of persuasion.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

When do many think it describes our political situation rather perfectly, it could just be that you have blinkers on. ‘No value’ presumably means that the views of this ‘many’ also have no value?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

You’re going after two or more of the most intelligent and well-intentioned commenters on this site, in a dumb and cheap way. Please step it up or pipe down, sir.

J Bryant
J Bryant
4 months ago

Great essay. I’d be interested in a follow-up essay where the author expands on the final paragraph. Much ink has been spilled on the problems that ail us. Not so much on solutions.

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I think the solution is calmly dismantling bureacratic progressivism through the Democratic process of open debate. Critical Theory silences debate. Half of the West does not hear opposing arguments because they’ve been given trigger warnings about who they shouldn’t listen to. For years Heterodox speakers were deplatformed often through violent suppression on college campuses. Any bureacracy that doesn’t revere diversity of viewpoint is failing its obligations.

I disagree with many people on this board including the author about laissez-faire economics. I think Javier Milei gets it… but rational people (like the people on this board) can at least debate that stuff. The bureacrats and their guard squelched debate for a very long time and that’s why this period is so hard for them. They can no longer suppress public opinion.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

A much more helpful approach that avoids escalation for escalation’s sake. Real debate is not welcomed by either far-wing of the political spectrum, and both wings are swallowing way too much air these several years now.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Why is it that in criticising the left, it is also necessary to criticise the right. Until we stop doing this we will never escape the ‘american crack-up’ The article manages to point the finger where it belongs – the Dems and their blind followers.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Because the blame is shared and always has been. No side of the age-old series of divides– Conservative/Liberal; Tradition/Innovation; Caution/Risk; Heaven/Earth–will ever score a conclusive win. Nor should it.
The notion that you need to further demonize and dismiss the 40-plus percent of the country who disagree with you–“some of whom…I assume, are good people”–is a (blurry) mirror-image of the naive blindness that the most Trump-deranged leftists suffer from. We got to live together, old man.

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Do you buy the concept of an egalitarian society though? Where experts in social planning perfectly arrange social hierarchies? This is insane what the DEI Bureaucracy has achieved on an institutional scale. I mean every other commercial is a pharmaceutical ad about psoriasis infused with left wing politics. It’s Safetyism paired with identarian diversity and just repeated ad nauseum. Its foundationally Critical Theory/Intersectionality in a Corporate context. I totally agree with you that there are Conservatives embracing it because they’ve been trained to embrace ESG but the force multiplier is clearly coming from the Left. I just think it’s hard
to argue that the cultural division wasn’t instigated by the Left.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

The idea that the US has anything remotely resembling an “egalitarian society” or is even going in that right direction, is truly laughable. The (uber-) rich are getting richer and richer.

You are mixing up two very different ideological forces, both of which you disapprove of, fair enough. The modern progressive movement is not socialist by any conceivable definition.

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I do understand the difference between Social Democracy/Progressive Capitalism and Degrowth Communism/Democratic Socialism. Fabian Socialism and Critical Theory were developed as alternatives to the Class Conflict Theory of Communism. But the end goals are the same; to change/progress the direction of History through redistribution. It’s just a difference in method. 

Progressive Capitalism is a form of Socialism because it’s intentionally redistributionary and demands public/private partnership between State and Corporation.  It’s staying within Capitalism but just redistributing cultural and economic capital through State policies. It’s a revision of Marx’s dialectic.  The people that came after Marx including Lenin realized they had to adapt Marx’s theories to present conditions. 

So yes, I recognize the difference between the two but I see them as two factions of the same ideology. Or in Hegelian terms, they are two parts of the same whole.  The current Right/Left divide in America is between people that believe in the inherent goodness of the Central State vs those that don’t.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Socialism has never truly been a proletariat movement, though. A few unusually intelligent labor leaders were well versed in Marxism, sure.
But his successor, Marcuse – the intellectual founder of modern leftism – was admired almost entirely by university students, primarily the well to do ones.
Working people find the left’s notions either incomprehensible, or patently foolish. And most of them know, on some level, that they can’t afford lifestyles of financial profligacy, sexual promiscuity, and “sustainable” consumerism.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Since you are intelligent and fairminded, I’d rather argue this on another comment board. I’m not saying the balance is always near the exact middle.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Criticism is not demonization. In fact it is the very heart of analysis.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Man you haven’t even attempted t engage with me in good faith. Not for a moment. “The heart of analysis” ? I sense significant heart in you but not much intellect, let alone analysis. I ain’t saying you’re a dummy, but you don’t like to think. You seem to think you know everything already, so that the only people you can even hear already agree with you on most things. That sucks dude.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

When you start criticising the messenger and not the message, then you have really reached rock bottom.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

You don’t think you’re guilty of that quite often yourself man? You reveal an utterly one-sided worldview, hardened and self-certain, and seem to need to convince yourself of its high rectitude by repeating it in ritual fashion. You have no fresh or well-considered “message”, nor are you listening to any wholesome messenger, in my opinion.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

The Right, arguably because it thought it was demographically losing, stoked the original culture wars, over abortion and gun control, neither of which are even controversial issues in most other western countries.

A D Kent
A D Kent
4 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

We’ll see how Argentina performs in the coming years – but so far Milei’s view of ‘laisse-fair’ seems to be some libertarian-sounding lipstick on the financialised-rentier-corporate-captured-pig that got them into this mess in the first place (his choice of finance minister from the last-but-one government is instructive in this respect).

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

I completely disagree. Argentina along with the entirety of South America dove deep into Collectivist Bureacracy. It’s bounced back and forth from Socialist monetary failures to Authoritarian strongmen. Both systems are Anti-Democratic and used the repressive apparatus of the State to crush political opponents.

Bureacracy drives inflation and inflation drives poverty.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
4 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

STOCK MARKET HITS ALL TIME HIGHS

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark M Breza

Exactly. I was going to write just ” and yet, we keep getting richer, up 30% over EU gdp in ten years. Hmmm.”

A D Kent
A D Kent
3 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

How has debt – national, local and personal tracked that over the last few decades?

Marc Dougherty
Marc Dougherty
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark M Breza

Which is great.. but so has consumer debt..illegal immigration..suicides..fentanyl addiction..anti-depressant use/addiction..teens identifying as the opposite sex (30%), homelessness in many major cities..to name a few..

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I think it begins with reducing and decentralizing the bureaucracy, stricter and more transparent rules for NGOs and breaking up the big tech companies.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

…reforming/downsizing both public and private sector bureaucracy is the key project, but it will affect college educated women mostly. That’s not going to be easy, at least at the outset.
“Breaking up” tech conglomerates is not going to produce the effects imagined for it, but wholesale removal of the regulatory rules which they have captured is a workable idea for subjugating their power.
As far as the NGOs are concerned, few if any deserve to stay alive, and they won’t if taxpayers conferred funds and privileges are denied them. Again this will affect ‘educated’ women mostly.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
4 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Removing the enormous privilege of limited liability for large corporations and partnerships above a reasonable size threshold would defang Big Tech and allow small to medium sized enterprises to raise capital, flourish, and grow without, becoming dominant. It would be a very simple game changer.

Rob N
Rob N
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

~Agree but actually limited liability should be stopped absolutely. That would make it harder for the rich to set up companies and then just ignore the damage if/when they fail.
Also if employment discrimination laws need to be continued then they should apply to Govt and limited liability companies but not to privately owned non limited liability companies.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Including “Churches” which pay no taxes. The “church”of Scientology for example.

Peter Strider
Peter Strider
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

And sunset clauses on all legislation!

Rob N
Rob N
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Strider

Absolutely and maybe the sunset clause is determined by the majority it gets in Parliament or wherever. Eg passes with 1 vote then 1 year sunset clause, passes by 250 votes 20 years.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I would add that governors and mayors need to take back control of their states and cities. If that means turning down federal cash, so be it. When Bellows Falls, Vermont said enough! with the federal financial incentives to expand social programs that attracted the drug addicted homeless, the town shut it all down, cleaned itself up, and the addicts went across the river to the formerly sane state of New Hampshire.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

‘F*ckerberg has to go!!! (JFK style if necessary) He and his platforms are doing untold harm.
Social media is the problem. Our children are becoming zombies..

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
4 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Amazingly the ‘crack-up’ is only in the eyes of pundits like Samuels.
When one travels around the US this dystopia is hard to find and the place looks to be doing very well indeed !!! Of course Amerikans like to complain and think their troubles are the worst in the world but that is not the case in reality.
BTW Everyone here is not a secret double agent working for the FBI
That is only a MAGA fantasy .

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark M Breza

Agreed. Home prices and groceries are very affordable. Universities are producing extremely skilled and prepared graduates. Our borders are quite contained. Tent cities are very rare in large cities. Retail theft and open air drug environments are not proliferating and destroying cities. International foreign policy is going quite well. Almost perfect and spreading world peace rapidly.

If it weren’t for right wing conspiracy theories, everyone would be very happy.

Rob N
Rob N
4 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Great sarcasm.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
3 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

We definitely have major problems, which can be clearly traced to conscious, deliberate, but very foolish policy choices, primarily made by the left wing of the Democrats.

Rob N
Rob N
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark M Breza

The dystopia is everywhere; it just relies on the fact that most people are able/willing to ignore it or pretend it isn’t. That might work now but it is clear that it won’t work much longer.

Edin Bektesevic
Edin Bektesevic
4 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The Big Tech is only a symptom. The US has always had Big Oil, Big Car, Big Steel, Big Chem, Big MIC, etc. The US hasn’t had free press nor actual Democrats at least since that sunny November afternoon back in 1963.
The cure is actually your waking up and turning from the needy, greedy, entitled, spoilt, arrogant & ignorant nuisance you have become into Americans of the past. I.e. consume less rubbish, produce less BS, re-industrialise and start actually doing something of value, on average.

Marc Dougherty
Marc Dougherty
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, a very good essay. Completely agree with the Oligarchy part. The “reasons” for the descent into madness not so much. The solution (not plural) however is simple: Revival.
This is the only solution. All else will propagate (and amplify) the current problems because the root of (all) of the major problems of any civilized society is a lack of belief in God and his son Jesus Christ. All humans have a biological instinct to to something greater, thus, all humans worship something. Those who choose to remain in stubborn naivete (Romans 1) and deny the Creator of all, are intentionally and more often, unintentionally, waging warfare against God, a God of perfect love and perfect justice, and thus their organizations, corporations, and oligarchies that they are a apart of and run (WEF, UN, Democratic Party, WHO etc etc) will unintentionally do more harm than good. I liked the essay until the paragraph where the writer forayed into where the “madness” possibly began, and he stated two things: the growth of the internet age, and the election of Trump. Neither of these is remotely close, in my opinion. If one were to speculate on specifics of where this “madness” stems/began (which, I agree, any country/society with the rates of suicide, depression (people on anti-depressants), crime, drug addiction, homelessness, attention/focus diseases (ADHD), divorce, autism, fatherless families, homocide/violent crimes, people in jail e.g., is completely mad), these two things are many decades later than the seeds that really bloomed into this madness. The growth of the internet age has significantly amplified much of it – but it started SIGNIFICANTLY earlier.. if one were to point to specific events/timeframes (which I don’t think will ever really do too much justice – because a moral/spiritual decline of the nature of which much of the country is experiencing, apart from very small pockets (though it does seem larger areas, regions and even states are starting to wake up to it and take aggressive and drastic actions to slow it down and turn the ship around (i.e. what’s happening in Texas right now e.g., Florida during the pandemic etc) can only be a gradual one with many events, and many weak and cowardly men (and women not taking a stand against Godlessness, injustice), I would point to June 26, 1962. This was the day the Supreme Court voted to disallow prayer in school. The following year it was bible readings. Not too long after that it was removing the 10 commandments (though this didn’t reach the Supreme Court until 1980, I believe it had occurred in many states already). Within only a couple of years the hippie movement, pushed by the University system testing LSD on students at both Harvard and Berkeley (of which the idea actually came from the Government/CIA during Vietnam), mixed with the secular boom of the late 60s music (parroting the same idols of pleasure/freedom from moral/religious discipline/authority as a God (Beatles, Maharaji, Woodstock etc), all happening concurrently with the warfare of communism from Russia and other countries (see Kruschev’s speech at the UN I believe in 1961 – predicting exactly what has happened to our University system with the current socialist/communist DEI and CRT based curriculum) coming through media outlets (the expanse of television in homes and cinema (primarily controlled by athiest/Godless groups within NYC and Hollywood) led to a generation of Americans not only no longer believing in the sanctity and sacredness of things that the country was previously founded upon/rooted in, but led to a monumental movement of openly and outright rejecting those things, the things of God and the moral and spiritual principles contained therein. This has continued en masse (with the aid of many other things of course blowing in the same direction – the invention and mass marketing/profiteering of birth control, Roe Vs. Wade, and all these things intertwined with a significant expanse of the Federal, State, Local government welfare systems, which ultimately have only led to more Government worship/reliance and increased cycles of poverty, racism, laziness, and other societal sicknesses, which is clearly antithetical to any sensible or rational person’s concept of fairness and notion of equal opportunity. The demonic stronghold of the Catholic Church in our country and the symptoms of this certainly haven’t helped either bringing American families closer to God, nor have the repercussions of the hundreds of years of the human trafficking industry, starting with the Irish from England, which no one seems to want to discuss, but then expanding into much of Africa and the carribbean. In fact, these have all done a lot of the opposite, as the beauty of the mosaic that is the disparate people groups and ethnicities of the US, have simultaneously been marred with a dis-ease of “fear of the other”, leading to myriad issues since, going all the way back to before the Civil War, but of course coming to a head in the 1950-60s, and lasting still today, where it’s hard to walk into any major city in the US, and not see clear delineations between towns and neighborhoods divided by skin tones.
I’m not making any novel points, but merely tying strings of what Sowell, Bauchum, Peterson, Shapiro, Washer, Prager and many others have been saying (for decades in some cases). Nonetheless, it is obvious anyone who identifies as an Athiest, liberal, or a Democrat, clearly will downvote this response (if they read past the first mention of the scary GOD), it’s a firm conviction that these things, and these timeframes, while likely a small part of the whole picture, are much closer to when this moral/spiritual crisis and “madness” referenced in the article began. Thus, while the beginning of it I did enjoy, I couldn’t read the full essay – as I had to stop at the absurdity (no offense) of the claim that this madness started in the late 90s/early 2000s internet boom and with the election of the Trump. The election of Trump I believe is a wake up call happening in our country of people starting to see the Democratic party’s true colors, and the connections of it to the Oligarchical powers that be. Clearly members of both political parties are connected however, as this transcends the boundaries and borders of the US.. but with Speaker Johnson bringing prayer back at the forefront of the white house, things do seem to be turning and pray they turn swiftly and powerfully. God’s word says “the Devil comes to the steal, kill and destroy” and these true colors are being made more and more clear. The “madness” will potentially become much worse before it gets better, if at all. Alas, for those who do believe, we have hope for the final days and the return of Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile for those that are in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 6:12

Liakoura
Liakoura
4 months ago

“You can blame Barack Obama. Or you can blame America’s feckless race-and-identity-obsessed elites. Or you can blame the internet and the fortunes it gave rise to.”
And the easy access to firearms?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Liakoura

The unstated thesis is that you can’t blame Trump, nor anyone to the right or populist fringe of Mitt Romney.

Arthur G
Arthur G
4 months ago
Reply to  Liakoura

Easy access to firearms is the only thing that will prevent the elites from trying to do much worse. No one going to volunteer for their secret police because they know one or two of them are going to die for every arrest they make.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

“So perhaps America’s murder problem isn’t mainly the product of racism after all”.
A ludicrous, strawman argument. Few among the most extreme anti-police, race-hustle crowd would even claim it was. The number of white civilians who killed other white civilians is also vastly higher than the number who were killed by cops. The true conclusion is that too many of all races–but mostly, blacks, Latinos, and whites–are killed by the police in the U.S. Not for no reason as a rule, of course. There are way too many guns and violent lunatics in this country, but US cops often fire a hail of bullets at someone with a knife or an object that looks like a gun to a PTSDed (many war veterans too quickly hired from the battlefield) hyper-militarized police force–it is not that rare. How is that fact that police homicides are a tiny fraction of the total–for any race–a strong argument that the police do not use too much lethal force?
“The way to do that is to remove the legal protections that have allowed for Big Tech’s monopolies, and which killed off the independent American press, and then to curb the power of national elites by letting individual states make and enforce their own laws, as the US Constitution intended”
Ok, that’s at least sensible-ish. But why the cheap trick of stating that wealth-concentration “continued” in 2008, with no mention of the eight previous years under Bush Jr., nor of key, conservative-led Supreme Court decisions that expanded and reinforced corporate power, such as Citizens’ United? And States Rights should reign so supreme that we become a “nation” of 50 fiefdoms–to a more cancerous degree than now–one totally unregulated by federal power of any kind?
The notion that there is no major presence of conservatives, Republican, or fundamentalists among US elites is absurd, dependent on a cooked definition of “elite” and a total disregard of the individuals who make up most corporate boards and financial institutions. You think they’re all a bunch of woke-dance left-wingers?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You’re turning this into a left-right issue when in actual fact it is an up-down problem.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Please re-read* Samuels’ overheated screed and then again assert that I am turning it into a left-right issue. If you’ll indulge me that far, I’ll have plenty to say in reply.
The article goes into a wild, self-amused venting session before ending on a comparatively sane note, as if that ties it all together.
*I re-read it myself and admit there’s some justice in your comment. I still think the article indulges in huge, simplistic vilifications and prejudiced generalizations. That doesn’t mean that I’m right, or that the article is without merit, of course. But as J Bryant notes above: Even for those who agree with Samuels–and I do in some respects, like wealth concentration (which is not confined to the left nor some conveniently-framed Elite)–where’s the solution, the walkable pathway out of all this loudly diagnosed pathology?

Scott O
Scott O
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“Few among the most extreme anti-police, race-hustle crowd would even claim it was.”
You are mistaken. A core tenet of anti-racism is that black-white disparities are always a product of racism; always. This is repeated ad nauseam by Kendi and the countless pundits who have adopted the same ideology. According to this ideology, crime in black communities is the result of trauma inflicted by systemic racism. This is an officially sanctioned view in American cities run by Democrats.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Scott O

Ok, perhaps not as few as I’d like. But you are still presenting a caricature of nearly all decriers of systemic bias, even some of the loudest. I don’t think you can correctly claim that many would endorse even a more cleverly and favorably worded version of your characterization. Yes, I’ve heard people actually claim similar things too, but they don’t represent the mainstream of liberalism, the Democratic party, or any sizable minority of people over 25.
And I was recently back in grad school in my 40s, among fellow students who averaged about age 25. In the humanities. About ten percent had views (faintly) approaching the idiotic oversimplicity you present as common. Unfortunately, two or three out of 75 came close to earning your characterization. They received considerable pushback, often from me.
Incidentally: Robin DiAngelo is widely discredited even on the left and Kendi is headed there fast.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The problem with the antiracists is that they have completely poisoned the well. American academics are terrible at separating theory from reality, and so like the Prohibitionists from a hundred years ago, they have actually made the problem worse by being so extreme.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

You often seem quick to concede conclusive victories to the worst among us, Mr. Farrows, in this case our common enemies. “Completely poisoned the well”? C’mon, there’s still fresh water for most of us and fewer and fewer are drinking at the tainted source.
I expose myself to a viewpoint-varied array of websites and podcasts, but they average center-left and more liberals–and even even progressives (not the same, as I think you’d acknowledge)–are refusing to buy into or clam up about this antiracist and doctrinaire woke crap (from the Glenn Loury to the Ezra Klein show). The pushback is real. But we should still avoid demonizing one another.
*”Made the problem worse”…I agree. Not in a prevailing, decisive way.

Arthur G
Arthur G
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

The problem with “anti-racists” is that they are hardcore racists. Bull Connor level racists.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Sure. And proponents of nonviolence are, in “fact”, more sadistic than Hannibal Lecter or Genghis Khan. Dial it down, man.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  Scott O

if you study the disparities between blacks who came to the US on their own (or family’s) accord and those descended from Slaves,you will find that the latter have one of the lowest standards of living in the US, yet the former have one of the highest. Being aggrieved might sound good, but it does nothing for one’s standard of living or personal happiness and reparations are not going to change that.
The above statistic is also indicative of a very low level of black racism in the US.

T Bone
T Bone
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

AJ- The biggest issue is that Cops are constantly put in life or death situations with irrational people.  Its a brutal job.
They’re constantly under attack. To create a police brutality narrative like that about such a Heterodox, diverse and incredibly important institution is just reckless.

The idea that racially inspired “police brutality” has any relation to economic disparities is completely unsupported by evidence.  Corporations got forcefully pressured to “reimagine” their workforce due to a “Crisis event.”   Covid was a time of unprecedented speech suppression but the “racial reckoning” still prevailed as a basis for public protests.  Hundreds of Public Scientists wrote letters claiming that the Risk of Not Protesting Systemic Racism outweighed the risk of Covid…while everyone else was locked down.  How is that “Science.”

Yes there are Conservatives on boards that are weak and didn’t push back against Woke nonsense.  But you also know that the Bush wing of the Republican party is down to like 5%.  They have outsized financial power in the business world but proportionally the Bush Republicans are almost extinct.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I strongly agree with your first sentence concerning the irrationality police face. A very hard job, encountering many vicious people and most everyone on a bad day, for which they are not cut enough slack by many, especially on the far left.
On the other hand, I strongly disagree with your second sentence. I have experienced hugely different treatment from police when I was down-at-the-heel vs when I was better off. And I have had friendships and romantic contact with non-white folks that have shown me the unequal, dis-favorable treatment that poor and black people in particular encounter, on average.
I’ve seen a cops face and attitude change toward the darker person he is giving the 3rd degree several times, like the second my affluent-looking, fancy-talking white behind arrives. Not with all cops, or even anywhere close to most. Not an anomaly either.
Anecdotal, subjective, small sample size? Sure, but I know what I’ve seen. Enough bad apples in blue–let’s make a conservative estimate of 3-5 percent–make the police a legitimate source of fear for law-abiding poor and dark people in some communities. American police use brutal tactics, or just harass and intimidate without much cause, far too often. Some of it is justified or an inevitable fallout of the madness they encounter. But those police who are among the most traumatized (whether from time on a actual battlefield or while wearing the badge in a warzone like Detroit)–or bigoted–or corrupt, should get a lengthy “timeout” from the job at a minimum. Not enough careful hiring or external oversight.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Like every profession, policing attracts a certain personality type. This is a broad generalization of course, but I would suggest people who enjoy authority over others are naturally attracted to the profession.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Right. And a small but scary minority are highly psychopathic–but now with a badge and gun. Many are also do-gooders who start out quite idealistic but get jaded.

Rita X Stafford
Rita X Stafford
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Terrific essay. I’m surrounded by bohos, lefties and Hollywood elites many of whom have been my dearest friends for at least fifty years, and I often find myself pitying them and their social justice warrior children. It’s just so ludicrous. My brilliant late husband, who in his youth was a member of the Progressive Labor Party, was reborn a conservative after the Jimmy Carter Experience. He once advised me to not argue politics with a liberal because it was pointless. It wasn’t about being silent. It was about being smart. Thank you David Samuels. Your essay left me feeling hopeful and perversely exhilarated!

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
4 months ago

Jimmy Carter – my first and worst vote ever
..

Rita X Stafford
Rita X Stafford
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I seem to have mistakenly posted my comment as a reply to AJ Mac. Nothing against AJ Mac but my comment was intended as a general, free floating expression of appreciation

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

Thanks for the correction. Wondered about that!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Exactly.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Exactly.

0 0
0 0
4 months ago

You are right that the governing and judicial elites will try to stop Trump from assuming power, but the more they do that is the more they discredit themselves in the eyes of the public. The oligarchy is unscrupulous, but they don’t depend on coercion to stay in power. Their power is derived from the perception of legitimacy of the institutions they control and the laws and conventions are underpine them. The masses only obey them because they believe that the laws and the institutions exist to benefit them and protect them, but when the masses cease to believe this is so, the elites will lose power over them. History is full of example of this happening, the American and and French revolutions are excellent examples of this. Despite the power of these regimes their power collapse suddenly and rapidly because people stop respecting their authority, because of the eyes of the people leaders were so discredited in their eyes they stopped obaying and turned against them. The same can be said about the rise of the Confederacy and even the collapse of Tzarist Russia.
The thing is about the current crop of American elites is that on some level at least amongst some of them, they know this to be true. They know for the fact that if they blatantly break the rules, their position will be threatened, The result being they’re kind of reluctant to do anything that blatantly breaks the rules, not out of a sense of morality, but more on a self-preservation. Instead of to use dirty tricks in the form of political and legal maneuvering. But the problem is that there are elements within the ruling class for not acting intelligently or rationally. They’re doing out of a combination of fear, ambition, greed, and pride and social pressure. This is maybe even worse by the fact that the current elite do not act like elites nor regard themselves as elites, being elite in the sense that somebody who’s responsibilities is to maintain continuality of a healthy state of things, like old school aristocracy were supposed to do. Instead we have a bunch of self-seeking persons out for themselves who have no sense of true social consciousness nor care about anybody but themselves. They do not act in a cohesive manner and are often conflict with each other because they fear hate and envy each other. It’s also for the fact that aren’t really all that elite to begin, do the fact that most of them either got their position because they won the lucky sperm contest or they were some unscrupulous social climber who made themselves useful to the people who won the lucky sperm bank (lawyers chiefly, that’s why there’s so many in politics). The result of them are not really good at their jobs nor all that interested in being good at their jobs, to self centred to do so. The big fear is that a portion of them might result completely undemocratic means to preserve their position, thinking that they can create some kind of authoritarian system to keep their enemies at Bay and keep their exalted position. But as we seen in China and Russia when it comes to certain oligarchs and billionaires who suddenly died or disappeared, this is not true because in such an environment who you are doesn’t really matter. If you anger the wrong people, you can’t be taken down without Mercy and what money and power you have won’t be enough to protect you. The more wise amongst the elite understand this, but I’m afraid that they may not be able to restrain the more extreme or desperate amongst them who might act rashly.
When it comes to the issue of Trump, I’m very doubtful he’ll end up being the savior of American democracy. He’s too old, does not have enough time do the one-term left, and lacks any kind of effective political organization. It’s made worse by the fact he has poor judgment when it comes to assessing the character of people around him, as well as being extremely overconfident at the point of being self-destructive. As well as impulsive and short side to the point of self-sabotage. And to self-absorbed the extent that he doesn’t care about anything beyond himself to the point of being borderline clueless about the world around him. His issue is he lacks the temperament for the job, opportunities presented, or the conditions to allow it to happen. I don’t think he even fully knows what trouble he stirred up and the forces that are at work right now and might wash him away. He won’t be the savior, his role will be one of a catalyst, like Harpers ferry or bloody Kansas or fort sumter, or be an archduke Fernand like figure. The responsibility of beating the oligarchy will be left with the people who will emerge once he’s left the stage. But he’ll only do leave extremely reluctantly or forced by the hands of others.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Despite the mangled English, there’s a great deal of insight in your comment. I think your perspective takes the debate beyond that of the author of the article, which is what we need to be thinking about. The points you make could equally apply here in the UK.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

That is rather patronising Steve

alan bennett
alan bennett
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

As soon as you used the group false narrative about Trump, you debased your argument.
Tump lost his way in the first term because of criminal lawfare and his obviois political naivety.
Can you actually name a substantative policy fsilure he made, because that was why he was elected.
Almost everyone in the West believed the lies about covid, because we had faith in our institutions, Trump believed the same, that was his big mistake.

0 0
0 0
4 months ago
Reply to  alan bennett

Of course Trump failed, his own deep character flaws kept getting in the the way of archiving anything. I think deep down he was never really serious about draining the swamp and just saw the MAGA movement as something serive his personal ambitions, that being to enhance his prestige he was denied by other elites and still denied despite being a former president. He may have of the believed his his own rhetoric, but that was nothing more extension of his own grandiosity, but he never had stomach to go through with it. Trump did not care about the work of being President, only the status it conferred to him. The only reason why he dose what doing right now because its the only he can keep the attention that his huge yet fragile ego craves, as well as to keep himself out prison. Like I said, his role will be that of a catalyst, not a savior, but that role will will be accidental, not intentional.

Flibberti Gibbet
Flibberti Gibbet
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

If your theory about Trump is true then it is proving to be an expensive vanity exercise. The Trump family net worth has taken a nose dive defending multiple concurrent prosecutions.

0 0
0 0
4 months ago

That’s because Trump is a narcissist, and narcissists are obsessed with maintaining their false self-image do to their deep insecurities, which is how they deal with their insecurities. So obsessed with the with it they’re going to do absolutely anything to maintain they’re delusions about themselves. It becomes their overwhelming drive and life. The results are not particularly rational and can be very self destructive.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Jeez, why don’t you re-read what you write and spell check? The sloppiness affects your credibility.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Err. . .glass house, much; “Jeez”, as an exclamation requires the correct punctuation.
Surely, the substance of the comment is far more important than its structure, just a thought.
All the best.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

Both are important. There is also style, and not using an exclamation mark can sometimes make more of a statement, just as not using a question mark to a question makes something rhetorical.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Oh come on! Give the guy a break, the Americans bizarrely have a choice between two losers, what do you suggest we have have Bezos, Zuckerberg and Musk vying for their votes?
Social media has to go or we are doomed, first USA then UK, Europe to follow, UBI, surveillance, drugs and mass immigration as no one wants to work and think they are above it, the West is becoming an under class. The West is dead, long live Zuckerburg!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Well argued. There are a majority of opinionated “thumb votes” here who’ll not be persuaded to entertain much of anything they perceive as anti-Trump or not pro-Trump enough. Many seem to have a deep need to believe in him–often to the point of regarding his a true hero or de facto savior–right now. You aptly highlight his total selfishness, impulsivity, and giant, fragile ego. Some Trumpkins can be reached, in some measure, by degrees.
Since I can tell you are a well-informed and nuanced thinker, let me ask you:
Is every elite a wicked group that must be defeated, or just the current one?
If the oligarchs and other self-appointed guardians are to be vanquished, won’t the MAGA rebels have to join forces with at least some of the less-monied Woke Mob?
I don’t accuse you of this, but in some mouths the talk about Educated Elites, Oligarchs, and Wokesters, etc. starts to sound like a convenient, stitched-together scapegoat that recalls Lizard People and Devil Worshippers, though in less-unhinged terminology.
Are we to imagine that The People–once cleansed of those with too much money or education–can “rule themselves” all so well, without running into bloody ditches and bad hierarchies of their own, or of an imitative sort?

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

This is easy for you to say, sitting in your own comfortable study. Of all the things that Trump accomplished and then you have the gall to say ‘Trump did not care about the work of being President’, It belies belief that anyone who seriously says this, can have examined the record of the 45th Presidency.
I think the most truthful statement about the future is that the Dems and Elite will never allow Pres. Trump to be elected. This must say something about the effectiveness of the previous Trump administration.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Since you challenged me (I’ve responded): Please name Trump’s accomplishments.

David Lynn
David Lynn
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Steel tariffs, drill baby drill, no wars. Enough said

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

So it has to be me first; what a shallow person, you cannot think of any, what a laugh, what a case of TDS.
How about ‘no wars’;
how about the lowest minority unemployment; how about the unprecedented economic boom; how about an increase of $6000 in family income; how about the highest employment in history; ; how about the greatest promise and opportunity for citizen of all backgrounds; 7,000,000 off food stamps; how about bringing manufacturing back to the US; how about significant reduction in government regulations; howabout the Abraham Accords; how about China containment, how about getting NATO to increase their military procurement (that was forward looking) ; How About Enery self-sufficiency etc
I know I’m talking to one who cannot be persuaded which is obvious from your “I’ve responded ” which was a lie. For it not to be a lie you should have said ‘I cannot think of anything”.
So I guess I’ve got one more person into the MAGA movement. Haha

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

I did answer you first, at the specific reply, as I thought I made clear.
But ok, thanks for some facts, however cherrypicked. The economy was good until Covid but not so much for the little guy.
In response to your this opinionated assertion: “how about the greatest promise and opportunity for citizen of all backgrounds”. Some pushback, some subjective, some factual.:
Division and meanness roared to new heights under Trump.
The racial-anger riots occurred under Trump.
The Capitol Riot occurred under Trump, with his encouragement and eventual, delayed de-escalation.
He continues to claim he was robbed of a landslide victory, with no evidence any court or unbiased observer has endorsed.
He endangered the life of Mike Pence, and would have been willing to literally watch him hang or be shot on his TV if that had enabled him to hold onto the White House. Do you deny that?
He is a dyed-in-the-wool charlatan, who ran a scam university and made his supporters pay a portion of his legal bills under false pretenses through online donations.
He is beholden to foreign governments for huge sums of debt and willing to barter his power to the highest bidder, even at the expense of the common folk who often adore him.
Loyalty is a one-way street with Trump–he will never be loyal in return, with partial exceptions for immediate family.
I’m not saying Biden is great: he was always mediocre and has now lost a step or two. But compared to Donald, Grandpa Joe is a grown-up, and a comparatively decent, sane person.
I can be petty and contentious, but I ain’t too shallow–and I don’t think you are either.
Agree to disagree?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Exactly. Again another downvote when I voted up.

Bruce V
Bruce V
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Clare remember, you’re seeing the cumulative effects of several voters at once. 12 down and 11 up = -1 during the duration of your typing and refreshing the webpage by hitting enter. This is most visible on newer articles. Go way back on some dormant article that no one is voting on and do a test up/down. I bet you’ll see the desired result

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Bruce V

So you mean because there are people reading this somewhere else? I’m still amazed by the lightbulb so this beyond me! I need up-down voting. They have simple upvoting other places. No downvoting to encourage comments.

Flibberti Gibbet
Flibberti Gibbet
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Ignore this post…

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Anyone who writes “ha, ha” can’t be taken seriously.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Anyone who writes ‘Anyone who writes “ha, ha” can’t be taken seriously’ can’t be taken seriously

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

So no jokes Clare! I wouldn’t want to be misunderstood.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

If you write something that’s funny then it should be obvious. Putting “ha,ha’ is like you’re being sarcastic.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

If anyone thinks a second Trump presidency would not be a threat to democracy please check out The 2025 Presidential Transition Project.

Flibberti Gibbet
Flibberti Gibbet
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Not starting a war.
Not giving away $10s of billions of military equipment to hostile rivals (Afghanistan).
Not blowing up a major undersea pipeline vital to the economic interests of many NATO counties.
The Middle East Abraham Accord.
Half decent economic growth prior to Covid.
Reeling the young leader of North Korea into international talks and shaking his hand.
Appointing a supreme court judge who could articulate a response to “What is a woman?”.
Starting construction of the wall.
Caring more for US citizens than Ukrainian citizens.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

Only for US citizens who voted for him and never dare to oppose or challenge him in any significant way.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Exactly. And another downvote when I voted up.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

You seem to be the only one running into problems. Click the down thumb for a down vote. This will reduce the count by one. if below zero it become -1 etc.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

‘Never dare’ – what planet are you on? This is gas lighting projection ….It is the Dem DOJ that has had people in jail and solitary confinement for standing outside the Capitol; that has targeted Catholics; that told banks to do searches on people who bought Bibles and shopped at Bass Pro; that used the FBI to entrap low-IQ individuals (Michigan)….. You’re a real idiot.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

Great way to start a genuine and worthwhile exchange! Have a nice day, Idiot.

B Stern
B Stern
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

His only achievements were reducing taxes for rich guys like him, the Abraham accords and reducing taxes for rich guys like him. His only goals as president were 1 and 3 above.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  B Stern

Agreed. He also has a boundless need for attention and fame. He’ll settle for infamy if that’s the only way to hold the spotlight.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Exactly. I keep getting downvoted when I upvote.

Bruce V
Bruce V
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

See my reply to one of your other comments on why this is happening.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Bruce V

Thank you for trying to explain but I have something called dyscalculia which makes it difficult to understand numbers, especially in the abstract.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Didn’t go to war; faced now NK; drew attention to great of China; 3 peace deals in Middle East; moved embassy to Jerusalem; foregrounded real threat of illegal migration and started building the wall; black employment at highest rate ever….
Now you go: Biden ….

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

When you say employment you mean good full-time jobs right? Nevertheless, I admit his economic policies were beneficial, for many Americans, some more than others. Until his disastrous mismanagement of the pandemic.
Your syntax and typos (“great of China”) suggest that you’re typing on your phone, perhaps while doing something else. But I’ll treat you with respect for now, despite your arrogant and insulting tone.
Biden:
Doesn’t call people evil left and right, nor use the feds to pursue his personal enemies.
Has actual, serious public servants in his administration, not fringe wackos like Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and general Flynn.
Actually cares about and understands the working class, from which he comes. The common folk who think silver-spoon loudmouth Donald Trump is on their side–on anyone but those who suck up to him and his fellow-rich boys–are sadly deluded on this account.
Won’t burn up or suspend the Constitution to further his personal aims.
Is an actual Christian who goes to church weekly, whereas Trump is a chump-ass phony who has never read the Bible and holds it upside down, giving lip service to his servile evangelical base.
Doesn’t horn-dog around with porn stars, sexually assault people, or perv on his own daughter.
That’s actually more response than you deserve right now dude. But if you want to come back at me with something other than ranting and insult, I’ll give you another chance.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Are you talking about Admiral Levine and Sam Hinton.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

I don’t want to be in stupid conflict with you, Mr. Lee.
I’ll “see” you on the next comment board.
Have a good day.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

How do you know where he’s sitting? Not wanting someone to be re-elected may have something to do with how destructive the previous presidency was.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

What destruction? You mean like the disorganized retreat from Afghanistan which gifted terrorist state with billions of dollars of military hardware and cost dozens of American lives? Like soft pedalling Iran which led to the Hamas massacre and subsequent war and destabilization of the Middle East (Compare with Trump’s move of Embassy and three peace treaties and no war). You’re an idiot too.
Who do you vote for Claire?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

Throwing the word idiot around doesn’t make you sound more intelligent. Quite the opposite.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You literally threw the word in comment above.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

Only in response to someone who called me an idiot first. Sound familiar?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Nevertheless, AJ it would behoove you to take the high road.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Fair point, Clare.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Exactly.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago

That’s a silly question and attacking the person, not their opinions is very mean-spirited.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Good points but, if I may say so, you have too much trust in grammar checkers.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

English ain’t his (or her?) first language, but the commenter is bright and thoughtful.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

How do you know that he/she can’t speak English?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I don’t. But as a reading and writing instructor some of the mistakes seem like those of a non-native speaker.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Then wouldn’t you think he/she would want to make sure to spell check and grammar check?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Fair point. But are the comments actually incomprehensible or just ungrammatical? Some of the commenters here use near-flawless grammar and syntax but still manage to make little sense.

Shrunken Genepool
Shrunken Genepool
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

My gosh you are a righteous so and so

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

Nuh uh, you are. Mom…Shrunken’s bein’ mean again!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago

And you are……………? Kind?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago

He/she doesn’t seem to care about grammar or spelling.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Let it go Clare… Zzzz

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

I’m debating the topic with another commenter, not you. The thread gets lost.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago

He/she doesn’t seem to have a grammar checker or a spell checker.

Simon S
Simon S
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Trump’s “role will be that of a catalyst, not a savior, but that role will will be accidental, not intentional.” Exactly- and I think that is a major reason why many people are going to vote for him. To rock the boat so much “something” actually happens.

0 0
0 0
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon S

That’s exactly true, despite what Trump wants to believe, the phenomenon around him was never about him, it was about the ground swell of resentment that was building up for a long time. He just had the audacity and recklessness to throw the first stone.

James Twigg
James Twigg
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

The most terrifying outcome would be for Trump to be either imprisoned or assassinated. Then he would become a martyr. His fate would be exploited as an example of what happens when you challenge the elites and all manner of hell would break loose.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Perhaps the 2 year Russia Collusion Hoax, which according to the Horowitz and Durham Reports had no underlying evidence, proved to be a distraction for Trump. Perhaps 2 impeachments, without any admissible evidence, were intedended to cripple Trump. Perhaps violating state election law to rig the 2020 election was a little beyond what the Constitution allows. Perhaps after 4 years of Democrats questioning the 2016 election results completely without evidence, Trump and his supporters expected equal time.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago

Oh pleeeeeze.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
4 months ago
Reply to  alan bennett

All the character flaws that 00 listed in Trump are true.

The difference between Trump and the entire political class is that when he says he wants to do something he generally means it, and tries to do it.

Sometimes he fails to do the things he wants to do, and some of that failure is due to his weaknesses, as well as to the opposition of the elite establishment.

Adam Bacon
Adam Bacon
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Great essay, and a great astute ‘comment ‘ thanks 00, almost an essay in itself..

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

In response to your comments about Pres. Trump. He certainly appeared to have the temperament during his time in office. In spite of all the hoaxes, he did alot of good. Secondly, I believe there were several instances of people in his administration being corrupted whilst in office – Bill Barr springs to mind, which tainted his administration.
It’s not necessarily his age, but I do not think 4years will be long enough to correct all that is wrong with the current situation in the US or whether anyone is capable of accomplishing it. I am not hopeful.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Trump is for sure the preferred candidate of people who are “not hopeful”.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Do you for really believe the Biden voters are hopeful of anything…………..

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Not so much. I think it’s worse among the MAGA crowd but it was a bit of a cheap shot, I admit.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Another down vote for my up.

Bruce V
Bruce V
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

See my reply to one of your other comments on why this may be happening.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Bruce V

Thank you.

Sandra Pinches
Sandra Pinches
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Excellent comment! It is very refreshing to read such an insightful,nuanced analysis delivered without hysterical emotion or polarized thinking.
There is nothing in your comment with which I disagree, but I am uncertain about your predictions in the first paragraph. You have described very well the self absorption that has taken over the U.S. culture. One of the consequences is that our leadership and many of our citizens, despite or because of their obsessions with “globalism,” no longer recognize that we have foreign enemies who vigilantly watch our decline. It is unlikely that these observers will give our ruling class another century to wallow in internal disputes over abstract concepts like “intersectionality.”
The potential for China, Russia, North Korea or others to move against us sometime in the near future, via military action or more probably by simply continuing to buy up our assets, draws little to no attention from the rulers or the people here. The fact that our military has become as weak as the rest of our institutions, due to rot at the top, makes me wonder how much resistance we could mount to repel an attack. Not to mention that many of our people have become so anti-American that they might actively side with the attacking forces.
In addition to the overall excellence of your piece, your last paragraph is the most accurate and objective analyses I have ever read of why Trump is unfit to serve as president.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

The only concept missing here is Turchin’s elite over-production. They are eating their own and will take down all before them. We’ll have to see what emerges from the rubble. As Neil Howe is at great pains to emphasize 4th turnings don’t always produce better outcomes.

0 0
0 0
4 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Like I said, the elite fear, hate, and envy each other. They vacillate between worrying with each other and working together, the relationship between each other is more like frenemies. Even though there’s conflict occurring at the top tier, it’s controlled and mitigated, because there’s too much to lose by going outright trying to destroy your enemies, it’s for prune to maintain a balance of power. When it comes to the problem of elite overproduction and the resulting conflict, it’s coming from their courtiers, particularly those in the managerial class. The types of people who they depend upon to run their various empires and maintain their power, the people who despite their power and privileges they have know that their position is precarious. They’re competing with each other to get and stay in an exalted position. But the same time they’re starting to get more belligerent towards their masters. Do in part that they envy them and are angry at the fact that despite what they have, they’re never going to be at the same level as their masters, and they find that enraging.Plus despite the wealth and material comfort that their position brings them, it brings them no joy or comfort existentially. Their lives really devoid of any true meaning and purpose, which is why they gravitate towards identitarian movements, which provide those things for them. Meanwhile, the elites are terrified of them and are afraid to move against them in any that’s substantial way at a fear that they’ll provoke them and lose those who they need to keep their power, they just constantly have to appease them in some way by making concessions of them to appease them, but eventually they’re going to start making demands that go completely against their interest. It’s the reason why the Democratic party has become so radicalized at its base. Eventually things are going to explode because the radicals are going to push too much and their masters are not going to give up what they have, the State of affairs cannot be maintained as is. It’s like an unhappy marriage of convenience in which the spouse is hate each other and are constantly competing with each other for power, such marriages often tend to end pretty awfully.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

i enjoyed reading this. I think you’re right. We’re reaching a point where the concept of ‘equality’ is no longer working for those who want yet more power and status, hence the sleight-of-hand switch to ‘equity’.

Liakoura
Liakoura
4 months ago

It’s an interesting article although hasn’t one of the two suggested solutions in the final paragraph –
“The way to do that is to remove the legal protections that have allowed for Big Tech’s monopolies, and which killed off the independent American press…”
…been tried, for instance through allowing ‘reader participation’ – such as the founders of UnHerd have provided here?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

Interesting essay, but it doesn’t explain why the same thing is happening across the west. Hell, Canada is even more messed up than the States. So did the rest of the world simply inherit this from the U.S?

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

That’s the main problem with the article – it applies US specific causes to symptoms that the entire West is suffering (particularly the Anglosphere). Though the first cause identified, the rise of the internet, is universal.

carl taylor
carl taylor
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Do you not think that US cultural ‘colonialism’ is universal? The old adage that when America sneezes the world catches a cold, is true. Both of the examples that the article cites – Trans Day of Remembrance and the BLM movement – as being evidence of an acceptance of unreality, have been exported around the world. That the ‘virus’ has predominantly infected the Anglosphere is a clue to the effectiveness of its transmission.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
4 months ago
Reply to  carl taylor

I agree that’s a major factor, and explains why the Anglosphere is most affected. I was thinking more of the specifics such as Obama, Trump, police shootings etc.

The UK is undergoing the same processes, probably due to the same underlying reasons, and many of the US specific causes he identifies are actually just earlier symptoms (some of which may be unique to the US).

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago
Reply to  carl taylor

This is certainly possible, but the author didn’t address this.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

I might be naive, but most of the problems in the West boil down to Net Zero policies and out of control migration. There will be a boiling point in the population, that will explode into a massive Revolution, as millions will be losing their jobs, can’t heat their homes and can’t afford the transport of their choice, i.e. cars and plane rides. Just read that already 39% of the population in the U.K. is in debt with their energy bills. Also the broken down British Health system and the lack of housing is due to massive migration. One desperate woman told Rishi Sunak yesterday: “
make it back as it was”. Sunak had only a tired smile on his lips. Fat chance that anything will be fixed unless one leader stands up to the entire Western establishment .
“Drill Baby Drill” and “build the wall”, he/she should cry and have the ability to find a way to stop the Green Madness and these invasions. But this leader must possess massive guts and the skin of an elephant as the whole WEF establishment will try to destroy him/her.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

I think open borders and net zero are the most dangerous manifestations of the same progressive thinking. What does this say about the origins of all this? Climate change hysteria started in 1989, and was certainly mainstream by the mid 90s. This is well before all the other manifestations.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
4 months ago

Personally I’d say it was economics more than anything else. Debt levels have balloned since the early 2000s driving up house prices (and therefore rents), whilst globalisation (which includes migration) has undercut wages.

There’s a lot more too it as well, but basically living has become too expensive to ‘make it back as it was’. Brexit has rowed back on this a little, but it’s only one small step.

Chris Van Schoor
Chris Van Schoor
4 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Yes! As I was reading the piece, it occurred to me “but why is it also happening in the rest of the Western world?. I’m afraid of the answer (it could just be “rot” and “decline” and nothing more..)..

R Wright
R Wright
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The American empire rules the west. All culture is downstream of it, particularly in Anglophone countries and Scandinavia. The battle over this will only be won in the United States. Britain is a vassal and its leaders have a vassal mentality.

Amy Cools
Amy Cools
4 months ago

‘What members of the new American elite share is a sense of placelessness, which is also embodied by Obama, a fatherless child who grew up in Indonesia and then in Hawaii, after being sent to live with his grandparents by his mother.’

This sentence opens a paragraph that’s a non sequitur. You go from his ‘placenessness,’ to LBJ’s placednessness, to the ‘new American elite’ being ‘the product a small set of homogenous institutions which are all sponsored or owned by billionaires’ without saying anything about how the latter is related to the former.

Obama doesn’t impress me, but how you characterize him here seems both irrelevant and like a cheap shot in the context of this paragraph. It would apply to huge numbers of Americans since the nation’s inception, mostly non-elites. My grandparents, for example, moved all over the United States and Canada starting in the mid-twentieth century, seeking better opportunities and going where the work was, and my grandfather died and was buried far from his native state. They were the opposite in every way to the elites you describe. Children of military parents often grow up all over the world, and I would guess almost all of those also couldn’t be described as members of that ‘homogeneous elite’ – at least, not ones I know who grew up that way. I could go on and on.

The essay had me almost entirely on board until this paragraph. Made me wonder what other not-well-thought-out, sloppy rhetorical generalizations I’d find when I kept on reading.


 As I read the rest of the essay, it pulled me back on board, and I think that the overall thrust of most of the essay’s arguments are correct. But it just doesn’t do to use such poor and nakedly partisan (another reader correctly pointed out Bush’s economic elitist policies, for example) non sequiturs like the above to make them.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
4 months ago
Reply to  Amy Cools

What is lacking is a national identity. One of the reasons (I suspect) the British empire was so successful was that it incorporated a portable British identity that included British law, British notions of justice and a British classical education ( all still generally admired throughout the world). Colonial style architecture and furnishings are instantly recognisable in the ex-colonies. There was a sense of superiority, probably well-founded given the achievements of the enlightenment. The current elites are very threatened by national identity and seek to destroy it by tarnishing the concept and (with pretty much the full support of academia) associating the words nationalist and populist with strictly negative attributes. The elites are also very threatened by rational thought and seek to suppress it by replacing education with indoctrination. The elites are intent on destabilising existing society by destroying unity, manoeuvring the fringe to the centre and importing every ethic conflict in the name of multiculturalism. Two points here: it is impossible to define a unity as a multiplicity and multiculturalism excludes the possibility of a national identity which would supersede cultural differences.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago

Excellent comment!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago

Interesting and thought-provoking – though I still think Trump is disaster who is incapable of promoting anything except his own ego, whatever important currents he has hijacked. Smashing the system is not much good unless you have an idea of what should replace it. The French revolution lacked a plan and gave us Napoleon, the Chinese and Russian revolution gave us Mao and Stalin. Those are not good role models.

Just one question, which does undermine the author’s authority: What is the US ‘failures in the Middle East and Ukraine’? Which alternative result could and should the US have achieved there? The only obvious alternative in the Ukraine would be to help Putin conquer Ukraine, but is that really better? As for the Middle East, that is a permanent intractable problem. What would want to do there, exactly? Go to war with Iran? Retreat, and have a nuclear-armed Iran control access to much of the world’s oil?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Trump isn’t so much as ‘smashing the system’ but rather ‘righting the ship’.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

What a bad captain of anything, let alone a nation.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Another down vote when I voted up.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Your’e just not hot right now…

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Not hot?!!

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Sometimes the ‘counters’ are slow. Have you not noticed that sometimes your vote suddenly doubles or tripples? If you vote”A” at the same (or near) as others vote “B” you will be presented with a composite or aggregate answer. .This might trigger a conspiracy theory or just plain paranoIa. Don’t worry, Unherd treats us all the same – whatever you want to call it.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Doug Pingel

I don’t understand aggregates. As I explained in another post I have dyscalculia, so numbers in the abstract, not the physical, are hard to grasp. I just wish there could be a different system.
The reason I kept mentioning it with these comments is because I wanted to make sure AJ knew I supported him, since we’re in the minority opinion here.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Aye. Trump would destroy anything to spotlight and promote himself, in a pinch, and I don’t believe that’s an exaggeration.
“Smashing the system is not much good unless you have an idea of what should replace it”. In a sense it’s the mirror-image of the idiocy of the Deconstructionists–you’ve taken it apart just to leave us with a pile of rubble?
To your other point concerning Ukraine and Middle East: Geopolitical actions are too easily called “a failure” by those who oppose the actors for ulterior reasons. Who pretends to have a workable plan for success in a region that has been fraught with conflict since before the invention of writing? What Western leader “succeeded” in the Middle East?
That doesn’t render all criticism and opposition unfounded, of course, but anything that lands short of some unlikely triumph or ideal outcome can be cheaply sneered at as a failure.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

if you do not believe it to be an exaggeration perhaps we could be informed of what in particular Pres, Trump has destroyed.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Faith in the electoral process–not that it was strong before. Our already fraught national conversation. Our worldwide reputation–again, by making it worse.
But note that I said would destroy, if emboldened and enabled to or cornered. His lawyer has just openly claimed that he–and by extension, other presidents–can use the Navy Seals to assassinate a political rival, and that there would be no recourse but impeachment and conviction.
Trump is already foreshadowing a much more authoritarian and extreme prospective presidency this time around: locking up opponents, summary executions of accused drug dealers, internment camps for the homeless, and so on. Some people welcome that. I don’t.
*Maybe a slight exaggeration on my part though

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

This is quite a stretch – when you are held to account! This is by far your worse comment, indicating that ‘slight exaggeration’ may be by far the best of your qualities.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Now you’re just taking irritated pokes at me.
We’re only able to talk past one another at this point, pretty much. I feel more charitably and calmly disposed toward you, perhaps because I expected outrage from multiple commenters in response to my blunt, somewhat hastily posted remarks. But I am being quite sincere overall.
I could have been less combative but these (un)herd comment boards, especially on certain key topics, tend to become back-slapping, self-soothing chambers of loud agreement. Little dissent that isn’t fawning or slight is much accepted, let alone engaged with in good faith. And yes, I see that on left-leaning sites too. I’m probably a bit more fair-minded than you think–at least I hope and pray that I am! Someone needs to break up this echo chamber a bit more aggressively and boldly. Perhaps someone less divisive, opinionated, and–let me face it!–prone to arrogance than I am.
When you say worst comment: Which did you like the most (or hate the least?}

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I don’t find you arrogant. And you don’t attack the person just their opinions.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Thanks, Clare. I try not to. Same goes for your principled, opinionated commentary here.
*Why did anyone need to downvote this exchange, without even having the nerve to announce his or her self?
Weak.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Ah I see romance blossoming!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Maybe…we’ll see

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Funny!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
3 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Is there a difference between having an opinion and being opinionated? Are men ever opinionated?

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

On several occasions Clare. Lets be honest.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I always find the comments far more interesting than the articles. Whilst there are a number I don’t necessarily agree with, I always feel they are written from an honest perspective.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Not to mention normalizing mean-spiritedness.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

We have four years of evidence regarding how Trump would govern. Are people better off today than they were during his presidency? Few would say yes, so the hyperbole over what he would do has to be seen as just that. A second term might only slow down the inevitable, but it’s an alternative to the current system.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

We’re people better off when Trump left office than they were in 2016? Even putting aside the pandemic, did he even try to unite us?

Martin Rossol
Martin Rossol
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I grant your engagement in this conversation. It is worth having the discussion in this country and more should engage. Nevertheless…
Did you vote for Trump in 2016? In 2020? Will you vote for Trump in 2024? The fact in American politics is we cannot do much about, or vote for someone in 2016 anymore, nor in 2028 or 2032. We can vote for someone today: 2024. What is the best choice in 2024? And that is not a question of absolute best or good. That is irrelevant. We have to choose a relative best. Who will do better than Trump? Trump certainly has many, many, many negatives and baggage. Why not list who you believe has less? Who can be elected? Who can bring a better team with him/her?
I voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020. Not because I liked the man or thought he would save America, but I was seriously afraid of what the left, the Democrat Party [Obama?] had ‘planned’ for this country. Open your eyes: have I been vindicated?
And yet, cheers to you AJ! I should hope to find you on the barricades!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Rossol

Thanks for saving me a seat. But in truth, as an American subscriber I get these Weekend Essays about 1am Saturday GMT, well before many do in other countries, or at least before they’re awake. I took advantage of that to post contrarian views that I knew–but hoped wouldn’t–get heavily downvoted. I didn’t want to let this one become a facile glad-handing in-group congratulation society that easily.
The extreme left is not synonymous with liberalism or the Democrats, in my view. Neither are the far right or burn-it-all-down MAGA types closely allied with conservatism or the Republican party as they were before Trump, and I hope will be again.
I despise Trump as a person and president. Genuinely dislike nearly everything about who he is and how he treats people. I think Biden is too old and too middling of intellect to be a world leader. (Reagan was both and Bush Jr. was middling in the noggin too). But I held my nose and voted for him, instead of another Trumpster fire. Perhaps you’d admit that part of what is going wrong in this country is due to the anger and bad tactics of MAGA extremists and their “avatars” in Congress. Or maybe you get a kick out of the AOC-MTG madness, which I see as mirror-images of a related extremism.
I’ve for sure “overshared” on this board and I will now try to respond, if at all, briefly, when someone engages with me with courtesy, as you have. Or when I just can’t help myself!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Rossol

My downvote didn’t register.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Clare, I just down voted you it works, trust me! 🙂

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

That gave me a laugh, thanks, Carl. Now I know it’s rigged!!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Another downvote when I voted up.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Trump has made it clear that his presidency would be a dictatorship.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

But he says he’ll relent after 1 day. What a farcical claim.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It was a joke. He just forgot to say haha afterward.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Please check out Project 2025: The Presidential Transition Project to see what the alternative to the current term might look like. It’s Trump’s plan for his dictatorship. The detailed version is on Wikipedia.

Chris Van Schoor
Chris Van Schoor
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Measure Trump by his policies. They were overwhelmingly positive for the nation and its people. Refusing to acknowledge that is just TDS.
Trump has no stated intention of “smashing the system”. He has indicated that what he wants to do is uproot some of the very people this article discusses. Hardly a revolution. The comparisons with Napoleon, Mao and Stalin are really giving Trump too much credit.
US failures: 1.Ukraine: peace could have been brokered even before any military action was taken. The Neo – con colour revolution (Maidan) in 2014 could have been prevented. NATO could have been told to forget about it (expanding into Ukraine). 2. Middle East: US has been meddling with almost every ME nation for decades. Ghaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Iraq, Iran, Syria (where their oils is being stolen), etc. etc. Every one a disaster.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago

Peace in Ukraine could only have been achieved by condoning/helping Putin install a puppet government in Ukraine – from which he could have planned further expansion. That was Putin’s openly stated war aim (‘demlitarisation and denazification’ as he called it), and only the fighting has prevented him from carrying it out. If you think the victorious expansion of the Russian empire is a price worth paying for peace and saving some US money, that is a legitimate point of view. But, FFS, say it openly, so we both know what you are proposing.

As for the Middle East, Iraq was certainly a disaster, as was Afghanistan. But usually it is the left who look at a messy region and tell us that it would all have been a garden of Eden if only the evil US had stayed away. It would have been a mess regardless – indeed, it might have been a lot worse.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

We will never know, but we do know it was never even attempted under Biden.

Emre S
Emre S
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The French Revolution comparison may be apt but I disagree with your reading. US to me is more reminiscent of a post-revolution France where the enlightened elite are disdainful and distrustful of the people they’re leading. It almost looks like a silent revolution has taken place at the start of 21st century, but then some things end with a whimper instead of a blast.
Trump in my reading is more akin to a royalist restoration effort which will probably be short-lived.
All those you list there are true believers: Mao, Stalin, and Napoleon as the archetype. Trump is no true believer. The disaster you’re waiting for is more likely to come from the Democrat-side of the political aisle who’d be a Wokeist true believer willing to do large destruction for the true noble cause.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Emre S

I am not too sure either Stalin or Mao were true believers – once they were in power. It is easy to back a philosophy when said philosophy serves to legitimate your absolute personal power. Napoleon certainly was not a true believer in anything but his own imperial destiny.

Emre S
Emre S
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I think a true believer blinds himself more than others. How can someone like Stalin or Mao have the blood of millions in their hands and still function normally day to day? That’s the question I’d pose. I think today’s Wokeist squads do believe in the manifestly crazy ideas they defend, all the while acting in vanity, selfishness and greed – they’re not mutually exclusive.
No Napoleon wasn’t a true believer per-se, or at least it’s not clear what he really believed in with all the weird things he’s said. He was however the first and a model for a series of modernist despots who pushed their vision modernity on unwilling populations overseeing large scale destruction.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Emre S

Makes sense.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

But a judge rebuked him, a federal judge dressed in robes sitting on his throne with all the power of the government behind him. And Donald Trump rebuked him right back

Looks like you are proving me right. You will vote for Trump because he is a loudmouth, a bully, and does not give a sh*t about anything except himself – and that is the kind of man you want for president. Does it feel good to imagine that you, too, was powerful enough to behave like that?

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

In all this discussion about Trump, nobody has considered the alternatives. Currently there does not appear to be anyone that would be up to the task of ‘righting the ship’ (earlier commenter).

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Maybe not. But Trump is a rogue elephant, crashing back and forth below decks with no clue, no plan, and no guide beyond his own needy ego. Those do not right ships, they sink them.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Exactly.

AC Harper
AC Harper
4 months ago

I’ve argued before that Americans are taken up with enthusiasms (Prohibition, The Red Scare, the War on Terror, as examples) which suggests to me that a careful backing away from ‘Oligarchy’ is unlikely.
No, not civil war, but possibly States going their own way. Trump is probably not going to make a big difference, but he may be able to inject a pause between the drumbeats of greater oligarchy.
I suspect a new competing enthusiasm will see the end of the present oligarchy. A triggering event will be identified whether that is a political assassination or domestic terrorism, or something else. The USA is in for a bumpy ride and that will spill over to other countries…

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
4 months ago

The roots of this long predate the collapse of the 20th-century print pyramid and its replacement by the cracked mirror of the internet.

In the 1970s the failings of communism become indisputable. The radical left needed to pour its energies into something else. That something was NGOs and charitable cause-driven foundations, which grew into administrations needing executives, employing a floating class of fellow travellers.

Slowly a new lobbyist group emerged. On paper this lobbyist group had only the interests of others at heart, and it was difficult to refuse its “humanitarian” demands. Suddenly government cash was on tap to leftist organisations. More ruthless types spotted what was happening and joined in: here was a money tap that the public and goverment, disarmed by empathy, could not turn off.

Government was now funding the people that had once campaigned to overthrow Western democratic capitalism. The electoral defeats of the 1980s only encouraged more of the leftist political types to shift their energies into this expanding “third sector”.

However, something odd happened. The right supported all of this. The small statists on the right saw the charitable sector as a way of reducing the size of the state by transferring former state responsibilities to these NGOs. This was the critical political consensus that triggered a huge expansion of the third sector, and gifted it the power it has today.

Recent developments like the internet have empowered the NGOs to guilt everyone into funding them, but the internet is just a new tool for something that was already well underway. And we’ve always had a super rich lobbying government. What’s entirely new is the alliance of left and right – NGOs and billionaires – to disempower the political middle.

If it feels like corporatism, that’s because it is. It is the fusion of left and right envisaged by the fascisti of Italy. The fascisti too were disillusioned communists looking for a new way to control society. Whether by conspiracy or by accident, this is exactly where we are today.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
4 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

An intelligent analysis, highly believable, why do they get away with it? (ps not wishing to be sycophantic or nosey, but could I enquire as to your professional background?

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
4 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

“Recent developments like the internet have empowered the NGOs to guilt everyone into funding them, but the internet is just a new tool for something that was already well underway”

Perhaps, but the Internet and the way it allows niche opinions to find an audience, and then to amplify that audience, is not just a new tool – it is an entirely different capability.

In the early days of the internet this was lauded as a plus, but that was because no one realised how many idiots there were out there to transmit crazy ideologies.

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
4 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

The radical left needed to pour its energies into something else. That something was NGOs and charitable cause-driven foundations –

Sounds like the Catholic Church (of corse, because it is a secular religion that seeks to be state sponsored)

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sylvestre

A “secular religion” Isn’t that a contradiction?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago