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We must become Chernobyl wolves Davos men are hilariously incompetent

The wolves are mocking you. Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/ Getty Images

The wolves are mocking you. Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/ Getty Images


April 18, 2024   8 mins

As I write, lean grey wolves are pacing through a rain-soaked landscape in eastern Europe, untroubled by the fact that their forest is dotted with the decaying ruins of buildings abandoned half a century ago. Their home is the Chernobyl exclusion zone on the northern border of Ukraine, abandoned after the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history.

It may seem like an improbable leap from Chernobyl wolves to a flustered speech by Yuval Noah Harari, the pampered darling of the Western world’s corporate aristocracy, but if you bear with me, I’ll show you the connection. Harari, the chief intellectual of the Davos set, is a vegan atheist who practices mindfulness meditation and writes the kind of big-picture history books that evoke adoring swoons from the corporate media and eyerolls from real scholars. In his most famous book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of the Future,  he takes it for granted that even the stickiest wet dreams of today’s internet-addled tech bros must surely come to pass. Intellectual hubris? His picture should be next to the entry in your dictionary.

The guy put on a fine display of pearl-clutching in an interview earlier this year, insisting that if Donald Trump is re-elected it will be “the death blow to what remains of the global order”. It wasn’t simply the King in Orange who had Harari fainting on the couch in the best Victorian style. What really seems to have shaken his world is that Trump and his supporters don’t just disagree with the specific institutions and ideals that Harari’s friends at the World Economic Forum are pushing these days. They reject the entire concept of a planned global order.

Reading about Harari’s outburst, I found myself nodding and muttering, “he almost gets it”. For all the mockery I’ve directed at him, the man deserves credit for an intellectual leap that most people of his class seem incapable of making. This inability to grasp the rejection of global order is quite a recent phenomenon, especially considering that the entire project of an international order planned and managed behind the scenes by an economic and political elite only dates back a little more than a century.

Before that point, efforts to impose some permanent structure on the seething chaos of human affairs mostly took the form of imperial conquest on the one hand, or treaties woven via careful compromises between major political and military powers on the other. It took the gargantuan carnage of the First World War to convince a great many people in the wealthy classes that these two traditional options wouldn’t make the world safe for plutocracy. That led to the creation of paired non-profits in Britain and the United States — the Royal Institute for International Affairs and the Council on Foreign Relations — and thence to similar organisations, of which the Club of Rome and the World Economic Forum are perhaps the best known today.

One consequence of this common heredity is that no matter what the problem is, the only solution these organisations can recognise is going further in the same direction they’ve been pushing all along. The one remedy they have to offer is global coordination by vast bureaucratic structures that erase the lines between government, corporate, and non-profit sectors. The mere fact that it hasn’t worked yet does nothing to slow them down.

The Club of Rome is a good example. The one Club of Rome publication everybody’s heard of, The Limits to Growth, posed a set of problems that global bureaucrats have tried to solve in a flood of publications since. What’s fascinating about this obsession is that the problems discussed in The Limits to Growth can’t be solved through global coordination by vast bureaucracies. They can’t actually be solved at all.

What The Limits to Growth showed is that if economic growth is pursued far enough, the costs of growth rise faster than the benefits and force the global economy to its knees. Global bureaucracies can no more change that than they can amend the law of gravity. In fact, as the costs of growth begin to bite, one of the few options that offers any hope for improving conditions is to cut back sharply on bureaucracies of all kinds, since bureaucracy consumes resources and energy, and produces remarkably little in return.

A viable world on the far side of peak growth is not, therefore, a world of global managers. It’s a world where local, community-scale politics and economics replace the hugely expensive global systems that sprang up during the last extravagant blowoff of the age of unchecked growth. Yet you can read all those studies churned out by the Club of Rome and never see a word about this.

That the world of the future will inevitably have less room for global management is something that would-be global managers can’t even begin to conceive. Yet the system they dream of running is stunningly incompetent. Take climate change, for instance. For decades now, doing something about climate change has been one of the central projects of the Davos set. But none of their conferences and loudly praised international agreements have had any measurable effect on the rate at which CO2 gets dumped into the atmosphere. If this is the best that global management can do, the world is better off without them.

It’s become popular in some circles to insist that the panoply of cascading failures set in motion by the Davos set prove that our global managers are evil masterminds who deliberately intend to cause the dismal outcomes their pet policies have so reliably brought about. A somewhat less popular opinion, though arguably a more accurate one, holds that global managers belong to a decadent aristocracy so sheltered from the consequences of its own actions and so caught up in a world of vapid abstractions that it’s a marvel they haven’t caused even worse disasters. I’d like to suggest a third interpretation: our world is far too complex for global management to be a viable option.

This shouldn’t be surprising. After all, from the perspective of modern scientific materialism, human intelligence is not some kind of nature-transcending superpower; it is simply the set of cognitive processes our ancestors evolved as they sought to find food and mates and avoid predators — important tasks, to be sure, but not especially intellectually demanding ones. By contrast, from the religious perspective, humans are simply one class of created beings, irremediably finite and fallible. It’s only in the hubristic delusions typified by Harari’s book Homo Deus, which jumble misunderstood scientific and religious ideas together into a kind of crackpot anthropolatry, that these obvious realities get mislaid. The fact that our current caste of global managers has fallen into such stupidities goes a long way, I think, to explaining their failure to manage the world.

This is where the wolves come loping back into sight. When the Chernobyl exclusion zone was first evacuated, people speculated that it would become a radioactive desert, devoid of life or populated solely by a scattering of hideously crippled mutant life forms. As we now know, that didn’t happen. Instead, the eastern European forest of an earlier time promptly grew back, coping easily with the increased radiation flux. Deer found their way there promptly; horses abandoned by their owners shook off centuries of domestication, found mates and gave rise to herds of wild horses. Wolves soon followed in pursuit of tasty prey.

At the top of the food chain, the wolves of Chernobyl absorb more radionuclides than anything else in the area. Under ordinary circumstances, this would make them horribly vulnerable to cancer. But wildlife biologists researching the wolf packs recently discovered that the wolves had evolved a robust resistance to cancer. Nobody understands the biochemistry yet, and it’s possible that nobody ever will. In their quiet way, the wolves have achieved something that modern medicine has tried to do for more than a century, without any noticeable success.

Impressive though this is, it is by no means unique. Nature outwits science all the time. There are bacteria and algae that thrive in the water that circulates through nuclear reactors, basking in streams of high-intensity gamma rays that would fry you and me on the spot. There are living things that grow on the outside of spacecraft in orbit, handling the hard vacuum, lethal cold and sizzling radiation of outer space with perfect aplomb. There are fungi that eat carcinogen-laced toxic waste and go back for second helpings. We can’t do any of these things. Nature chuckles at our incompetence and shows us how it’s done.

Then there’s Ascension Island. Nearly two centuries ago, when HMS Beagle dropped anchor there, it was a barren little cinder of volcanic rock in the middle of the South Atlantic, so far from any other scrap of land and so devoid of water that the only living things on it were sea birds and a few species of fern whose spores were light enough to blow there across the ocean. On board the Beagle was the ship’s naturalist, a young man named Charles Darwin, then at the beginning of his career. While he’s most famous for his theory of natural selection, Darwin was also the only person in history to invent a tropical forest, and he did it more or less by accident.

It’s a remarkable story. After his visit to Ascension Island, Darwin wrote to the British Admiralty suggesting that if somebody planted trees on the island, the increased water vapour arising from the trees would make the local climate suitable for a naval base. The Admiralty, with the sort of bluff, blundering enthusiasm for which Britain has long been famous, took him up on it in the stupidest possible way: they ordered any ship that meant to pass Ascension Island to pick up some plants at the last harbour they left and plant them once they got there. As a result, the island ended up with a dog’s breakfast of invasive species scooped up from half the world’s coastal ecosystems.

In theory, that should have produced ecological chaos. In practice, in just a few decades, much of Ascension Island turned into a green tropic paradise with lush upland forests. Current theory insists that this is impossible, and that a stable tropical forest requires millions of years to adapt and grow. Nobody told the plants about current theory, though, so they just went ahead and did it. Not only did Ascension Island get a tropical forest in an eyeblink of geological time, it got one of the more delicately balanced forms — a cloud forest, which thrives on water vapour condensing on the leaves of trees at high elevation. Oh, and Darwin was quite correct: the forest changed the local climate, yielding adequate water, and Ascension Island became an important naval base.

Rather than letting plants work things out for themselves, however, scientists have tried repeatedly to plan and create ecosystems. Those attempts reliably fail because ecosystems are too complex to plan rationally.

The same principle can be applied more generally to explain the cascading failures of the managerial elite. Those failures continue to happen because the world is too complex: it is so full of unpredictable variables and intricate feedback loops that no degree of human expertise, no set of abstract principles, no concept of world order can provide accurate predictions and allow the creation of a viable and productive order on a global scale.

That doesn’t mean that human beings can’t co-create a relatively stable, successful, thriving order in the world. It just means that this project is best pursued on a local level, relying on personal experience, folk wisdom, and close attention to local conditions. That’s exactly what the managerial aristocracy can’t provide — and why world domination keeps slipping through their fingers.

“A great many ordinary people are sick and tired of the pompous pretensions of the class for which Yuval Noah Harari speaks.”

All this partly explains why Yuval Noah Harari is shrieking like an overwrought six-year-old. The world isn’t just refusing to follow the abstract models he brings to it, it’s refusing to follow any abstract models at all. Educated to think of the world as a passive medium that privileged intellectuals can shape at will, he’s being confronted with the terrifying discovery that the world literally couldn’t care less about him, his credentials or his ideas. Admittedly, he’s not handling it very well, but then few people can deal gracefully with the flat disconfirmation of their most precious beliefs.

The fact is that a great many ordinary people are sick and tired of the pompous pretensions of the class for which Harari speaks. They know that when Harari talks about global order, what he means is that he wants them to be ordered around by his rich friends, according to some set of fashionable abstractions detached from local realities. They believe that letting ordinary people live their lives and pursue their own self-defined goals — like Chernobyl wolves or Ascension Island plants — will have better results than leaving the world in the hands of an incompetent elite. And the evidence suggests that they’re right.

A great many of these people are prepared to take matters into their own hands. As Napoleon Bonaparte is supposed to have said, wars happen when the government tells you who the enemy is; revolutions happen when you figure it out for yourselves. Quite a few people in the United States have figured things out for themselves, and many of them seem quite willing to use Donald Trump’s monumental ego as a battering ram to knock some sense into a system that’s given them nothing but misery for too many decades. If that fails, they’ll simply reach for some other instrument, and it’s worth keeping in mind that their next choice may be even less welcome to Harari and his rich friends.

Meanwhile, the wolves of the Chernobyl zone roam unharmed through a radioactive landscape. Those wolves are laughing at us.  We may want to listen to them.


John Michael Greer is the author of over thirty books. He served twelve years as Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America.


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El Uro
El Uro
27 days ago

This article is not about nuclear accident. This article about stupidity of “smart” people.
Thank you, John Michael Greer! I don’t like Druids, but you pinpointed the problem.
Fun fact: the English version of Harari’s first best-selling book featured Putin as an example of a bad guy. When the question of translation into Russian arose, Harari instantly found a way out of the awkward situation by personally replacing Putin with Trump.

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

I like your Putin point. I am reminded of the TV show “Fawlty Towers”, which of course featured a bumbling Spanish waiter named Manuel. The show was sold to a number of European countries, including Spain, where it was quite popular. However, when they overdubbed it into Spanish, the local TV network turned the waiter into an Italian named Mario.

Harry Phillips
Harry Phillips
27 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

What’s wrong with Druids??!

I’d prefer them to adherents of the religion of peace.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
27 days ago
Reply to  Harry Phillips

Or the noncy priests of the Vatican

Warren Francisco
Warren Francisco
26 days ago
Reply to  Harry Phillips

You’ll regret your preference when they come for your firstborn. Then you’ll recall fondly the voluntary self-sacrifice of the founder of “the religion of peace”, the act that created the civilization that you clearly take for granted.

Harry Phillips
Harry Phillips
26 days ago

Are you sure we are talking about the same “religion of peace”?

Warren Francisco
Warren Francisco
24 days ago
Reply to  Harry Phillips

Certainly we are. The kingdom of heaven is spread upon the earth, but men do not see it.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
26 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

You don’t like Druids?! Why not?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
26 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

Nature abhors a vacuum? Is the Abomination of Desolation we were brought up to dread when we mistook that word for a noun. Words are like trees, they procede us, but unlike objective trees may determine the landscape we inherit depending on what we see in them?

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
27 days ago

One of the most enjoyable reads ever on Unherd.
I’m so tired of Harari, Gates, Schwaub and the rest of that set giving the world their ‘insights’ on how the world should be.

James Hartley
James Hartley
26 days ago

That was a cracking read. Thank you.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
27 days ago

In the future, everyone will be a radioactive mutant wolf for fifteen minutes.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
26 days ago

Haha! QED. Green-thumbed.

George K
George K
27 days ago

The article is not bad, well written but I honestly have a hard time to take seriously a “chief Druid”. I’m automatically doubting every factual statement produced by a “Druid” . I don’t even have Druid friends.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
27 days ago
Reply to  George K

There are only two good druids: C-3PO and R2-D2.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
27 days ago

Those aren’t the druids you’re looking for

T Bone
T Bone
27 days ago
Reply to  George K

The first half of his articles are always excellent. Its always a great documentary that turns into the Twilight Zone.

George K
George K
27 days ago
Reply to  T Bone

LOL so true, I always start checking who wrote the article when he gets to conclusions

J Bryant
J Bryant
27 days ago
Reply to  George K

I know what you mean but, like you, I enjoyed the article. He says much that is true.
Sadly, it took a major nuclear accident to generate conditions where virgin forest returned to Ukraine, complete with wolves and wild horses. I wonder if it will take a cataclysmic social event to unseat the Davos elite and allow small-scale human flourishing to return.

George K
George K
27 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Sad but I’m afraid we’re at the end of the road

Martin M
Martin M
27 days ago
Reply to  George K

You have a problem with religious leaders?

Nick Wade
Nick Wade
26 days ago
Reply to  George K

The article stands on its own merits. I can’t take Liam Gallagher seriously, but I like his music.

John Riordan
John Riordan
26 days ago
Reply to  George K

Go back a few years and I’d agree with you, but as per the article above, the sorts of people I’ve habitually treated as serious stand revealed in many cases to be complete clowns without even the most basic degree of competence or insight.

A Chief Druid really doesn’t look too bad next to them.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
27 days ago

Disruption is the way to go.

Walter Egon
Walter Egon
27 days ago

I enjoyed that!

Christopher Boughton
Christopher Boughton
27 days ago

A terrific essay. I can’t wait for Trump to be re-elected to see more pearl-clutching swoons from these incompetents. If the Democrats can’t stop Trump through the courts, a move widely regarded by Republicans as a blatant attempt to stop him running, then he will win. And if they do stop him through the courts then the pay back will be swift and bloody. Unfortunately, Europe’s elites don’t seem to understand that the latter event – civil war in America – means that they will be easy prey to Russia, China, Iran etc. Without an immediate, massive rearmament program Europe is doomed. Poland is showing the way, will the rest follow?

Francis Twyman
Francis Twyman
26 days ago

Failing elites or Trump chaos, what a choice, doesn’t auger well

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
26 days ago
Reply to  Francis Twyman

But today’s chaos only began after Trump left office and the current sock puppet and his former boss’s cadre took over again.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
26 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

What a delusional take, Warren. Both the “mostly-peaceful” protests and the Jan 6th “sightseeing tour” took place under his chaotic 4 years. You support Trump on various grounds and might enjoy his brand of disruption, but I think it’s time to at least acknowledge he is an Agent of Chaos, not sensible or conservative change.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
26 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Not of what you would call sensible or conservative change, no. But there are many in the United States who have watched “sensible, conservative” change etch away their values, denigrate their beliefs, kill their jobs and spend their money without their consent, and they’re fed up. Their attitude has become, “Very well, it it takes chaos to get you to listen to us, then chaos it shall be.”

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
26 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

They are heard not “listened to ” and won’t be while their approach is to shout and break things, like some photo-negative of those they despise of the far Left.
I’m not saying the poor and common man are getting a fair shake, but tantrums or outbreaks of genuine rage that reach vandalistic and violent heights–from the Left or Right–won’t help anyone long term. This is pretty easy to see when one isn’t swept up in a mob mentality.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
25 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I’m not sure the evidence agrees with you. War is certainly never desirable, but in the killing of large numbers of people, irreconcilable issues are resolved when one side decides to give up because it’s not worth it anymore or one side is just destroyed entirely. Violence ended Nazi Germany. Violence started the French revolution. The United States was born in violence and resolved the issue of slavery through violence. Does anyone believe any of those issues would have been resolved when they were without the violence? No, violence of one kind or another has settled most disputes in history. Saying vandalism and violence won’t help anyone is naive. It will have consequences. It will help some and hurt others. It may hurt the people engaging in violence in the short term but destabilize the systems they’re rioting against in the long term, or it may drive people into the arms of tyrants who will protect them from mob violence. You may not believe in violence. I don’t either, but I’m not fool enough to think the violence won’t accomplish anything. It may or may not accomplish the stated goal, but it will almost certainly cause something to happen. If history is any indicator, whether the violence is justified and whether the rioters were freedom fighters or terrorists will probably depend on who wins.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
26 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I think you need to do a little more homework on the responsibility for all the chaos during the Trump and Biden Presidencies. An unbiased assessment would suggest AJ that it is you who are being delusional.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
26 days ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

That’s just pure opinionated spin cloaked under a homemade “certified unbiased” stamp.
I admit that I’m biased against Trump, but I absolutely think that–love him or hate him–any sober or objective look will support the conclusion that Trump is an agent of chaos. Many of his supporters even admit that, and welcome it. .

Stephen Feldman
Stephen Feldman
26 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Chaos begets tranformation

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
26 days ago

In can. In and of itself it’s likelier to lead to more sorrow, anger, and bloodshed, with no rainbow or pot of gold on the other side.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
26 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

If you ignore the media hysteria and the bombast of the man himself and look at what Trump actually did in office you might be surprised at just how ‘sensible’ and conservative his policies were – certainly compared to those of his predecessor. He certainly never did anything quite as brutally stupid as Libya or the appeasement of Iran, yet we’re supposed to view Obama as the grown-up in the room. Doesn’t make much sense really, does it?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
25 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Of course Trump was more conservative politically than Obama, though not Bush Jr., Bush Sr., or Reagan. But his temperament is unhinged and he has no evident motive beyond heightened fame and self interest that extends to his inner circle–if they remain total sycophants. He has no discernible moral anchor. He outright demonizes Democrats, such as he was until pretty recently, and publicly threatens his opponents with jail or other punishment. His rhetoric sows more division at home and abroad. He emboldens far right extremist groups and told one of them to “stand down and stand by”–which they took as an endorsement of menace on his behalf should he lose, as Trump intended them to take it. He helped to stoke the Capitol Riot and watched it unfold on his TV for hours. He would have been willing, at a minimum, to watch Mike Pence hang or get shot if it had kept him in the White House. He praises and buddies up to autocrats and aspires to be one himself. He does all of this heedlessly and often deliberately. He doesn’t care much about America–whose present-day society he seems to hate apart from his own level of societal prominence–or anyone outside his inner circle. I don’t think that’s a wild accusation on my part.
All of that matters in world leader, especially the so-called Leader of the Free world. My argument to political conservatives is not that his policies are less conservative than Obama, Biden, or any likely Democrat candidate, but that he is here to start fights and burn things. Many like that about Trump, but he doesn’t have sound judgment and some of his supporters will feel the burn too. Listen to what nearly all of the many people who’ve left his cabinet during his administration have to say about him. Listen to the actual conservatives who oppose him. You already have a Supreme Court supermajority, however ramrodded through by McConnell.
I don’t expect you to agree, but I ask you to listen to some among the diverse group of people united in opposition to Trump a bit more, and to behold the man with clearer eyes.
Don’t suppose we’ll reach much of a compromise on this one but I respect your overall good sense and the totality of your comments here. If you read this whole thing, my thanks and apologies.
*Obama inherited two wars and ended one of them. He made many mistakes but he was decidedly presidential and adult–by comparison to Trump at least.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
25 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I think where we differ is that I don’t subscribe to the ‘great man’ theory of history. The current conflict engulfing the US is entirely about class.

It was triggered when the Clinton Democrats abandoned their traditional commitment to the welfare of the blue collar class in favour of toadying to the globalists and war-mongers of Wall Street.

Obama carried on in that vein, failing to hold anyone accountable for the systematic fraud that caused the financial crisis, dropping more bombs than any of his predecessors, destroying Libyan civil society for no good reason at all, meddling in Ukraine, bullying British voters and doing little or nothing for the black voters in his own constituency.

Trump is a great statesman by comparison.

And as for the Clinton woman, well …

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
25 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I agree with some of that. Bad business in Libya, just like Iraq and elsewhere. I wish the US government would forever accept that you can’t win by removing a dictator that their own people won’t remove themselves. Even the German and Italian A x i s power architects were killed by suicide and fellow countrymen respectively.
Great statesman compared to Obama… haha! Opinions will differ but let’s let history decide that one. Get back to me in 20 years if we’re both still alive
What’s your favorite Trump speech: American Carnage, post-Charlottesville?
You sound quite Marx-adjacent when you reduce the current American troubles to class alone. It’s also about culture, religion, and race (to keep the list short).
One place we do agree is on the Great Man of History front. Still, national leaders tend to have an outsized impact–none more than American presidents these days–for better or worse.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
25 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Well, I’m not a Marxist because I’m not a proponent of violent revolution. But politics ultimately is entirely about class. The culture wars and race-based and religious repression are just the same tools that elites have always resorted to as deflections.
In times of shortage in Rome, for example, the patricians would employ members of the criminal class to go into the forum and the wine shops and foment tribal and religious conflict. In what way is that any different from the activities of George Soros, Kamala Harris, Joy Reid et al when they enlist criminals, many of whom are deliberately imported for the purpose, to attack small businesses – meanwhile demanding the defunding of the police and the removal of legal remedies against crime that disproportionately affects the working class?
Here’s a thought experiment. Pretend you have no idea who Obama, Biden and Trump are. Nor any knowledge of the media narratives surrounding them. Then compare the consequences of each presidency. That’s what matters.
For thirty years now, and almost everywhere in the West, we’ve been living through the largest upward transfer of wealth in modern history. The process has to be disrupted, even if it takes an uncouth politician with bad manners.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
25 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

“But politics ultimately is entirely about class”. Of course that is very untrue in the absolute framing you use. That is a reductive Mater Narrative every bit as limiting as the Great Man Theory of History, and almost as constricting as Predestination.
Trump supporters are a coalition of the wealthy and left-behind. Suburban men supported him. So did rural whites, male and female.
You pretend to be operating in some purely objective theatre where you can compare the total impact of each presidency in real time, from across the Atlantic, with a view in no way vitiated by your class-only-and-always lens!
I’m watching and living through each presidency and I have my own fairly-well-informed opinion. It is not baseless, knee-jerk folly.
Trump is worse than uncouth. He has no moral center and sub-minimal impulse control. He is vicious and vengeful. Furthermore, he is a self-serving member of the financial elite and a new money oligarch who will do nothing but exacerbate inequality, as he did with his biggest ever tax cut for the corporations and the ultra-wealthy.
* I am also an opponent of violent revolution, except in the most extreme circumstances that prove the near-absolute rule. Funny for an American to say? Well I was born in Canada, British sovereign on a lot of the money.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
25 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I’m watching and living through each presidency and I have my own fairly-well-informed opinion.
Hmmm, I think you confuse politics with celebrity culture. What matters in politics is not personalities or rhetoric, but outcomes.
On that basis, whilst everything you say about Trump is probably true, he was still the better candidate in 2016 and 2020. Do you really think, for example that the war in Syria that Hillary would surely have dragged us into just as she and her neo-con cronies dragged us into Libya and Iraq, would have resulted in a better outcome than the cynical but effective policy that Trump pursued in the Middle East?
The world has suffered enough from the easy assumptions of moral superiority that wealthy Americans are prone to. We need a Machiavelli in the White House, not another crusader.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
24 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

No one needs a Machiavelli anywhere, except perhaps in a big library. You don’t consider the chaos, heightened division, and cultural dumbing-down that occurs under Trump (in office or ruling Republicans and acolytes from his remote toilet throne) to be part of his outcomes or upshot. I think you are sorely mistaken there. He starts fires and trashes people, oft with a kind of flippant or wanton calculation. From afar you prescribe one of the ugliest Americans who ever became famous as the antidote–or let’s say experimental vaccine–for our ills.
You lean on a very selective notion of “just results baby” but indulge in counterfactual and self-certain speculation when convenient. Anyway, most of this exchange will amount to a sharp disagreement, with some points scored on both sides, if not for me among most other subscribers here, all of whom may have left the page some time since. Our differences needn’t be chalked up to moral failing or smug moral superior-mindedness of the classic American kind (not unknown in England though, I wouldn’t say; I think we stole much of it from the John Bull). As long as you don’t, under the cloak of some hardnosed realism, dispense with morality and ethics altogether.
The problem with letting the purported ends justify the means is that the means often become the ends once they start roaring and tearing through everything. A cynical, meanspirited, life-and-death spectator sport.

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts.

Not only a stage, but also a proving ground and killing field, as I’m quite sure the Bard knew. Thanks for the lengthy and lively exchange.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
24 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It wasn’t really an exchange though, was it?

You never answered my points about the damage done by your establishment politicians, simply jumping straight back on your orange man bad hobby horse every time.

You clearly haven’t read Machiavelli since you simply re-hash the common misconceptions – but nevermind, perhaps one day you’ll stumble across Christopher Lasch or Michael Lind. We must live in hope that, one day, ruling class Americans acquire a little self awareness.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
24 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

You demonstrate plenty of arrogance but little self awareness.
I admit I’m no student of old Niccolo but I have read some Machiavelli, perhaps one third of The Prince about 30 years ago–that was plenty. I know it’s short but still too long and too nasty of spirit for me. I don’t admire self-aware machinations and sociopathy.
Or why don’t you explain the worthwhile subtleties of his heartsick worldview?
It’s better to be loved and feared, depending on the person you’re attempting to engage with; no generalized either/or is needed (love is the statistical champion).
What is there to answer in your sweeping yet selective claims concerning the damage done by recent presidents? Those are just opinion-suffused assertions, not facts. Or course there is damage, and unequal blame, but all you’ve really done is slung mud pointed in one general direction: The Left. Presidents bear a partial, complex burden of responsibility for what occurs under their leadership or lack thereof.
No one can accurately, let alone incontrovertibly pinpoint the Total Net Effect of a presidency, especially while it is ongoing or recently concluded. Not even you.
It appears to me that you simply want to scold and instruct me, the Little American you think you understand so well from your side of the Atlantic. You’re not looking to have a good faith exchange, nor find any point of agreement or mutual understanding across superficial or real difference. Let alone learn anything, for thou art the Teacher.
Bye bye dude.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
23 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Those are just opinion-suffused assertions, not facts
Iraq, Libya, the financial crash, Ukraine, open borders … these are not facts?? Give me strength.
the Little American you think you understand
I’d be the first to admit I don’t understand you – or at least your adamant refusal to even recognise, let alone accept responsibility for, the damage you do in the world.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
22 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That I do? Personally? Are you on the hook for every global action taken by UK government, let alone the darker pages in the Book of British Empire?
By the way I’m not wealthy nor in any position of major authority apart from the residual overall advantage that comes with being a well-spoken white guy.
Get a grip. Seek help from someone whose sincere input you can respect, because your rhetoric and smug, humor-starved certitude are both way over the top now.
I can see you have answers for just about everything, mostly simplistic ones. And a series of fake questions for which you’ll accept only one possible answer: yours.
What a hectoring, tedious person you are these days. With next-to-zero evident self-awareness.
*Of course this has been an exchange, as supported by the expressions “contentious exchange” and “exchanged insults”.
You just don’t really do civility or good-faith exchanges–let alone real discussion–with anyone who doesn’t drive in your ideological lane. Do you? And your lane has only narrowed.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
25 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Trump certainly is an Agent of Chaos. A substantial portion of his voters know it. They’re voting for chaos, because it might break the system they’ve come to hate. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Populism is a reactionary movement. It is defined not by what it is for, but by what it’s against. It’s defined not by its own goals, but by opposing and frustrating the goals of others, notably the davos men this author highlights. It’s barely coherent by design. Sometimes, when one buys a property, the house is in such an awful state that it’s better to just knock it down and start over. The fact that the avatar of American populism is a barely competent clown hardly matters. One needs a lot of knowledge and skill to build a house, but almost anybody can knock it down. It’s always been easier to destroy than to create. In the end, all one needs is a wrecking ball, and Trump is basically the people’s wrecking ball.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
24 days ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I’m in primary agreement, though I recollect that we differ as to whether it makes sense, with some reluctance and misgivings even, to vote for the Wrecking Ball.
America may well be a decrepit house in the figurative sense but I don’t think it makes good sense to actually burn or tear it down. As far as we’ve fallen I still think we have much of genuine value to lose. Nor do I consider it the likelier outcome that America will be improved post-demolition.
We need constructive re-modeling of the sort that can only occur with more patience & forgiveness joined to neighborly & brotherly love. I know that’s a Hallmark card kind of message and I don’t live up to it myself–especially the patience part. But I don’t think we can ever quite escape its persistent urgency, not even in the bloody (or glorious) aftermath of some Purge or Conflagration.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
22 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Oh you’re completely right. I just don’t have any faith in the people who currently have power to even comprehend such a thing, let alone implement it effectively in the face of hard opposition from most of the world’s money and power, and a lot of people are just as fed up as I am but lack my sense of moral restraint and emotional detachment, hence the danger such people pose.
I don’t love Trump and wouldn’t vote for him. He’s a terrible human being and just as incompetent as the people he opposes for different reasons. Still, I’m cynical enough to consider it somewhat fortunate we ended up with Trump. As the old saying goes, it could be worse. As history has shown, when people lose faith in their governments and their ruling class, it could be a lot worse.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
22 days ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

That makes overall sense to me although I am not ready to welcome upheaval for upheaval’s sake. Plus, I am not emotionally detached overall, but run hot and cold, with both an angry/mean and kind/generous side; trying to become kinder though I’m not reliably “nice” at my core, and wouldn’t want to be.
Whatever our temperamental and assorted other differences, I’m glad we share some version of never-Trumpism.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
22 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Wouldn’t call myself never Trump, simply because I consider most of the people who use such terms no better than Trump himself. Trump is bad, but he wouldn’t have been able to come to power if it weren’t for the already ridiculous amount of anti-establishment sentiment that had already built up within the population from decades of being ignored in favor of economic numbers and globalist nonsense. Trump is the wrong answer to America’s problems. He simply isn’t competent or skilled enough to even scratch the surface. The never Trumpers though, establishment types like Romney and Cheney are the problem. I don’t consider them better than Trump. I blame their incompetence and failures for inflicting Trump upon us all. I won’t give them credit for opposing Trump and saying he’s a buffoon, when they were the ones that gave the buffoon a stage as a way to manipulate voters and are now crying foul that it backfired spectacularly. Trump is, among other things, a living monument to their failure, their spectacular incompetence, and their utter disconnection from the will of their voters. AFAIC, may history join their names together forevermore. It would be entirely appropriate.
Three decades of centrist uniparty globalist policy got us to the untenable position we find ourselves in. Despite rising anger and political opposition from both right and left, these people still have nothing to offer but more of the same. I’m not going to delude myself into believing Donald Trump is some sort of political genius who will save us from decades worth of bad policy and shortsighted pursuit of profit, but I can’t honestly say I hate the idea of Trump any more than I hate the idea of more globalist technocrat nonsense. It’s like choosing whether to be stabbed or shot. One may as well flip a coin.
Part of me enjoys watching Trump because the ruling class deserves him. They have earned the mockery of the people. They have earned the scorn. They deserve to be remembered by history as fools who were so incompetent, so misguided, they were beaten not by a military genius like Napoleon nor a charismatic charmer like Hitler, but by a buffoonish an orange haired cartoon character. They probably deserve a good deal worse and they probably won’t get it. History is rarely guided by karma. AFAIC, the ruling class has earned the scorn, the ridicule, and the fear they are now experiencing. While it’s not quite justice, it is balance, and nature loves balance, as do I. I’m no fool. I know it will come with a lot of collateral damage. I know that any social upheaval falls hardest on the poorest. I know that, but I can’t do much about that either way. I can, however, enjoy watching the powers that be running around like a bunch of headless chickens while the world they’ve so carefully built comes falling down around them and chuckling because I saw it coming and they didn’t. Since I can’t do a darned thing about it, I’ll take whatever enjoyment I can while I can. I’m definitely not a nice person.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
21 days ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I thought you might object to the term–even after declaring you’d NEVER vote for him–I don’t embrace it myself. Thought I’d drop it anyway to check the water. I don’t think Trump is pure evil or whatever, but I have strongly disliked him since the 1980s. I view him with some hatred too, plus something like contempt mixed with pity. Down with wrecking ball politics!
Though I’m not above it altogether, I don’t share your apparent level of schadenfreude or readiness to treat human woes like a spectator sport. It seems your detachment can pivot into vengefulness too.
I wonder if your are overselling your own detachment. But I appreciate your impossible-to-pinpoint perspectives, which don’t seem hardened into place for the most part.
Despite my sometimes angry bite I’m more of an achingly sincere, ever-so-tender person at heart. And rude or mean some of the time too (hope no one’s noticed).
If you’ll permit me to ask: What sort of real-world politicians or people do you like or admire?

Richard Huw Morris
Richard Huw Morris
26 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

So true and one thing you can say about the ‘Orange Man’ he never kicked off any wars while he was in office.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
26 days ago

Nor has Biden “kicked off” any. He ended one though, however clumsily.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
25 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Ukraine? Israel/Palestine? Do you think Putin, Haniyeh, Khamenei were not rubbing their hands with delight on the day this corrupt and feeble-minded hack was inaugurated – and more so after the shameful debacle of Kabul.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
25 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

So now every conflict that start during the term of a given president is “kicked off” or inspired by the man in the Oval Office? That makes no sense.
Covid and the bad response to it by both Trump and Biden certainly further de-stabilized the national and global order.
I agree that the war in Afghanistan ended in a shameful debacle. It would have been more shameful to stay there much longer.
I think Biden is and has always been mediocre, but he is a decent man and has mostly good and bright people around him. Trump is unbalanced and corrupt to the core, and courts the advice and company of wingnuts and ambitious charlatans.
I can see there’s not much use in us trying to discuss anything Trump or Biden (or Obama) related. I don’t love Biden as a candidate and think he’s now too old to be at his middling best, but I don’t think he dangerous, morally vacant, or mentally unstable–Trump is.
Perhaps we can have a substantive, good faith exchange about other topics in the future. On this we’re just bickering and exchanging blows.
Have a good weekend.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
25 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The evidence that Biden has been on the take for a long time is pretty overwhelming, but you don’t think he’s ‘morally vacant’?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
25 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Hell no. Whatever his flaws, I see him as good hearted, a practicing Christian of the better kind.

Trump can’t win a Who’s Less Corrupt contest with a bookmaker, pawnbroker , or some mafiosos, much less the mildly shady Biden.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
27 days ago

The druids of the Celts were trained at Anglesey. J Caesar invaded Anglesey and killed all the druids. As the druids left no written records where does modern day druid knowledge come from?

Ali Baba
Ali Baba
27 days ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

According to the blurb of one of the present author’s books:

In the midst of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, a handful of British intellectuals turned their backs on the social and cultural trends of their time and set out to reinvent the spirituality of the ancient Druids. The movement that rose out of this effort played a central role in struggles for cultural identity in most of the Celtic nations of Europe, provided inspiration to such world-class creative talents as William Blake and Frank Lloyd Wright, and inspired an innovative tradition of Western nature spirituality that remains active to this day. 

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
26 days ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

To some extent it’s a romanticizing dress-up game or LARP similar to calling yourself a Gnostic or Wiccan or Warlock. Greer has a little something more inside the hood though; don’t think he confines himself to extant remnants of druidical lore.

Tony Price
Tony Price
26 days ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

J Caesar didn’t get much further north than the Thames in his second, and more extensive, 54BC invasion. It was Gaius Suetonius Paulinus who got to Anglesey, in 60AD after Claudius’ invasion of 43, and knocked the Druids about, although he couldn’t have killed them all; before Paulinus could do a more comprehensive job he had to turn round and hotfoot it back south to sort out Boudicca.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
26 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

So who was left after GSP did his work ? As there were no written records, what knowledge remained ?

Tony Price
Tony Price
26 days ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

No idea. But pretty much every religion relied, or so I believe (tell me if I’m wrong as I ain’t no expert, and obviously not modern ones such as Jedi stuff), has relied on oral storytelling about the founder/prophet until such time as someone (often supposedly by hearing direct from God in some mysterious way) wrote down what it was all about. Maybe Druidism was passed down orally?

Archibald Tennyson
Archibald Tennyson
26 days ago

Not bad for a pagan idolater. But we can put those differences aside and stick it to the Davos set together.

George Venning
George Venning
26 days ago

Harari, it is increasingly clear, is the Francis Fukuyama of our times.
But, I suspect Fukuyama is a great deal smarter than his ridiculous book: he was certainly wily enough to write an epilogue which falsified his own hypothesis and he always had the grace to appear at least a little embarrassed by the number of idiots honking on about TEoH.
Harari on the other hand, seems to me to be a smart guy made stupid by his own success.
Then again, putting myself in his shoes for a moment, if I were a polymathic academic oddball and I somehow caught the kind of success he did off my first two books, it probably wouldn’t improve my self-awareness either.

Lewis Eliot
Lewis Eliot
26 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

George – I’ll stick up for Fukuyama, if I may. ‘The End of History’ simply observed that Western liberal democracy had outcompeted all other forms of governance in delivering prosperity. What it’s morphed into over the last twenty years is a different question, but none of the alternatives – past or present – seem to be terribly attractive. The subtitle of the book, though, is ‘The Last Man’. It’s often overlooked and rarely discussed, but this aspect of the book is far from optimistic; my recall of the book is that Fukuyama suggested, in the absence of an existential enemy, the West would eat itself. And here we are.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
26 days ago
Reply to  Lewis Eliot

I agree – he’s gotten a bad rap based on overly-simplistic readings of his first book. I recently read his two volume set: “The Origins of Political Order, and “Political Order and Political Decay” and found them both fascinating. He addresses reactions to his first book in the introduction to one of them, admits a couple of his predictions were premature or wrong (which I credit him for) but also that most of them are not – at least, not at this point.

George Venning
George Venning
26 days ago

I agree with both you and Lewis. Fukuyama is, I think much smarter than the main thrust of his book,
However, he did more than arguing that liberal democracy had outcompeted all other forms of governance. He argued that this was so obviously true that it would ultimately be impossible to overturn it and thus lead to the end of “history” in the sense of the clash between competing systems. It is obvious that the book makes this claim from the title. I think it disingenuous to deny that.
Be that as it may, I think that FF himself saw this as a provocative intellectual proposition with which to prompt debate, rather than a revealed truth. We can see this from his inclusion of an epilogue which explored just one of many potential counter-arguments to his own proposal. How much more clearly could he state that, “I have been invited to turn a deliberately provocative article into a more lucrative full length book – but be aware that this isn’t what I actually believe.”
FWIW, I don’t think that the thesis of The Last Man is especially perceptive. He seems to be saying that his vision of the End of History would require a largely quiescent citizen and that, whilst this citizen may make up the bulk of the population, there will always be those whose quest for mythos prompts them to overturn the settled order. From inside the liberal western order, that probably is what the resurgence of “history” in e.g. Russia/Ukraine and Israel/Palestine looks like: too much Mythos. This challenge to western liberalism is fundamentally external.
To my eye, recent history looks much more like the rotting away of liberal democracy itself from the inside – the capture of Government by corporate interests, the hobbling of meaningful dissent (left and right) over-zealous foreign policy under the guise of spreading democracy (but only on a for-profit basis). Financialisation, too big to fail, the intractable conflict between the western financial model and environmental constraints, etc, etc. Western democracy is not solving these problems because it has been corrupted.
These challenges are internal to the west and Fukuyama did not foresee them at all.

Mina Veronica Tasca
Mina Veronica Tasca
26 days ago

I have just realised that Tarkovsky’s Stalker was not only a prophecy about Chernobyl but the film’s surreal images are a reality now.
This was such an enjoyable and interesting read. Thank you!

Penny Rose
Penny Rose
26 days ago

Thoroughly enjoyable. What a wonderful informative insightful essay. Thank you.

Xaven Taner
Xaven Taner
26 days ago

I like the Chernobyl wolves analogy. As in Chernobyl, in order to clear the ground for the coming time of the wolf we must force the catastrophe. We will roam the ruins like the first men of a new born race.

Francis Twyman
Francis Twyman
26 days ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

No need to force it, it will happen on it’s own and nature will take care of business , of the human invasive and overpopulated monkey species.

Ardath Blauvelt
Ardath Blauvelt
26 days ago

Oh my. This made my day, my week, my year. Maybe, my decade! The rebirth of reality, followed by logic and honest science would be such a relief. There’s way too many Icaruses flying around. Global warming, or whatever the climate shift is, needs to melt some wax, quick!!

D. Gooch
D. Gooch
26 days ago

“There are living things that grow on the outside of spacecraft in orbit.”
What’s this now?

John Ellis
John Ellis
26 days ago
Reply to  D. Gooch

See Scientists Discover Exposed Bacteria Can Survive in Space for Years | Science| Smithsonian Magazine.
Agreed, “survival” is not the same as “growth”, but I guess a little bit of exaggeration for effect. Still pretty amazing.

Mark Passey
Mark Passey
26 days ago

This essay touches on the core argument of Matt Ridley’s The Evolution of Everything. Humans naturally see intelligent design in the apparent organization of the world we inhabit. Society learned from Darwin to reject Creationism, but then simply transferred this creationist mindset onto secular organizations. People in power continue to believe in the idea of a directional progress that must be intelligently designed, by them, from the top down.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
26 days ago
Reply to  Mark Passey

I read Ridley’s “Evolution of Everything” and Harari’s “Sapiens – a Brief History of Human Kind” within a couple months of each other. The contrasts are quite illuminating. Harari has a strange, compelling disingenuous way of presenting information that nags at you afterward that something’s not quite right about it, something’s been left out. Ridley – I’ll read anything Matt Ridley writes. I first ran across him with “The Red Queen” which I’ve read twice. I learn all kinds of things from Ridley that have that property of holding up elsewhere.

Francis Twyman
Francis Twyman
26 days ago

I can no longer listen to Gates, such an elite bore to listen too, at least Harari was interesting to read, even if he is one of the gang

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
26 days ago

no matter what the problem is, the only solution these organisations can recognise is going further in the same direction they’ve been pushing all along.
This describes the nature of activism, which is essentially the WEF’s business model. The activist never has a solution to whatever problem is being addressed; that would be self-defeating. Activism is incentivized to perpetuate issues, or the appearance of issues, not resolve them.
The author’s climate example is a case in point. Of course, these people are undaunted by the failure of their ideas. Because the ideas are secondary to the cause. As long as they continue to gin up fear and generate support for insisting that climate is an existential threat, they will propose unworkable policies until the end of time.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
26 days ago

Wonderful! UnHerd has assembled a great troupe of excellent writers; as stylistically entertaining as they are intellectually fascinating. Greer’s are always worth reading twice.
I love the Ascension Island story, which is totally new to me. It reminds me of my garden; I plant whatever I can get my hands on and then see what happens. It’s working out wonderfully. I don’t even know what half of the plants are called.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
26 days ago

The Druid abides!
I’m impressed with this dude’s, er–Mr. Greer’s informed insights and freewheeling analysis. Still, I see no evidence, abstract or concrete, that Trump could help to reduce net national or global stupidity in any way. The next self-declared swamp-drainer could indeed be worse–or better.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
25 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The point is we’ll keep getting better or worse versions of Trump, Le Pen, Wilders, and all the others until the davos men stop trying to micromanage the human race. The author’s basic point that human society, like nature itself, is too complicated to be managed and run efficiently from an office building in Brussels or Washington, stands. The elites have become so isolated in their ivory towers that they’re making objectively stupid decisions, and they’ve made the obvious stupidity of an obvious buffoon like Trump seem acceptable simply by comparison and a lack of alternative. The US was in a state already in 2016 where basically anybody who was willing to confront the elites directly, name names, and break down the guardrails that the so-called ‘international rules based order’ had laid down could have probably won either nomination. Trump did, Sanders very nearly did. The elites not only failed to stop the populist movement, they failed to understand it at a basic level. Everything they’ve done since Trump got elected has told me they have no idea what they’re doing and are no better than a bunch of trained monkeys or a poorly trained AI. They’re not competent and they’ll eventually be defeated by someone who is competent or more likely someone marginally less incompetent than they are, which is pretty much where we are with Trump.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
24 days ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Much as I dislike him (spoiler alert) I admit he energetic, charismatic, and unpredictably clever even at age 77. But I don’t think he’s competent to run an ethical business, let alone lead a nation.
There’s no such thing as constructive populism? (I’m genuinely interested in a pretty full answer, because I think you’ll have a good one).
What about a non-partisan, non-anger-fueled reform movement?

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
26 days ago

Another Adam Smith enthusiast, clearly.
What a great article. Thank you.

Richard Huw Morris
Richard Huw Morris
26 days ago

‘The stickiest of wet dreams’ oh my oh my if only I could use language the way this guy does. Epic.

David Harris
David Harris
26 days ago

“The one remedy they have to offer is global coordination by vast bureaucratic structures that erase the lines between government, corporate, and non-profit sectors. The mere fact that it hasn’t worked yet does nothing to slow them down.”

aka Communism…

John Riordan
John Riordan
26 days ago

“That doesn’t mean that human beings can’t co-create a relatively stable, successful, thriving order in the world. It just means that this project is best pursued on a local level, relying on personal experience, folk wisdom, and close attention to local conditions. That’s exactly what the managerial aristocracy can’t provide — and why world domination keeps slipping through their fingers.”

I’m going to add my own item to the list in question: free markets. What Greer lists here are the characteristics of bottom-up change driven by cooperation between people at a personal level, within the basic social and legal parameters required for free markets to work.

Based on what else I’ve read from Greer previously, I’m guessing he might resist this, seeing markets as part of the capitalist, elitist system he expertly criticises here. But actually that’s corporatism, not capitalism, and in any case what I’m defending here is the free market dimension of capitalism, not necessarily the institutions of finance, governance and political economics typically associated with it.

One other thing that is worth observing here is that communications technology – ie the web – has redefined the meaning of the word “local” in ways that are useful to the ambition Greer describes – we can still trade with people in China, for instance, in ways that retain the important elements of personal trust and meeting of demand that used only to be possible with those physically local to us. So Greer’s ambition to destroy globalism doesn’t necessarily mean we need to lose the benefits of globalisation as a price doing so. Geography no longer separates producers and consumers of specialised products, so the danger that localisation of production and consumption might lead to a collapse in prosperity can be eliminated this way.

Laurence Levin
Laurence Levin
26 days ago

Fredrich Hayek figured all this out years ago in explaining why, among other top down strategies, Communism will fail for sure. I think Hayek is unpopular today is because his message, that global control is impossible, is anathema to the elites who desire to control the world.

Stephen Feldman
Stephen Feldman
26 days ago

Growth concrete style is all the plodding Trumps and Bidens understand.

Nanda Kishor das
Nanda Kishor das
26 days ago

“Crackpot anthropolatry”! LOL

Mark epperson
Mark epperson
26 days ago

Fabulous! I have had hundreds of conversations with folks, some well-meaning, some not on this very subject. The great majority were boomers and early Xer’s who believe EVERYTHING can be measured, dissected, ordered, and appropriate algorithms can solve EVERYTHING. I have always been a proponent of the Chaos theory.
Of course, algorithms work very well in several areas but then they don’t. The author references Mr.Harari going south over the rejection of his theories reminds me of Hillary Clinton’s reaction when ALL of the polls, pundits, elites,bureaucrats, media fawns, and financiers all assured her and us that she was going to be elected. She didn’t behave very well and didn’t have the class or moral courage to admit defeat.
These folks won’t either and they will want to take their revenge, just like her and the Democratic Party with all of their “elites”. That will be the next war.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
26 days ago

The managerial class want to do everything for us, except leave us alone.

Madas A. Hatter
Madas A. Hatter
26 days ago

Wow! Ka-pow! Suddenly I’m not as half as scared of Trump as I was. (Sorry for Ukraine, although who knows what Trump will actually do when he’s elected, which, thanks to Biden’s massive ego, he will be.)
While his thesis is both appealing and convincing, at least one of his reasons is off-target. “…human intelligence is not some kind of nature-transcending superpower; it is simply the set of cognitive processes our ancestors evolved as they sought to find food and mates and avoid predators” Not true. Actually our intelligence evolved as system to understand phenomena and exchange information. That this ultimately served the purpose of mating, eating and avoiding predation does not mean that this was all that we used our intelligence for and if we had we would still be foraging for a living. To say, for example, that we only sought to understand and predict weather to enhance our chances of eating would be a gross oversimplification – things like comfort came into it as well.
He is not wrong, but he does paint with too broad a brush. And I do wonder what local, folk-wise solutions will prevent the Thwaites ice shelf falling off Antarctica and rapidly raising sea level by a few metres. The flaw in his thinking is that the causes of disaster in any given locality are likely to originate half a globe away in an untroubled region.

Martin M
Martin M
22 days ago

“….which, thanks to Biden’s massive ego, he will be.”
Yes, you have to admit one thing about Trump – he is almost completely devoid of ego.

McLovin
McLovin
26 days ago

Very illuminating and enjoyable. But weren’t global institutions created as a response to catastrophic wars in the 20th century?

Nathan Ngumi
Nathan Ngumi
20 days ago

Very insightful and thought-provoking.
“This inability to grasp the rejection of global order is quite a recent phenomenon, especially considering that the entire project of an international order planned and managed behind the scenes by an economic and political elite only dates back a little more than a century.” – Well, it depends on how far back you choose to look for evidence of delusional global order pretensions. Alexander the Great’s Brotherhood of Man, Julius Caesar’s Pax Romana, various European Empires, etc.
Yuval Harari and his Davos bosses will be in for a rude shock as the chaos in the world grows and no one pines for an AI-powered global government to save them from their troubles by creating a nanny state that pampers them.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
16 days ago

Very fine commentary, worthy of Hayek (“The Fatal Conceit”).