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  • The Moral Pendulum, The Political Pendulum: Upswings Happen

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on July 19th, 2013 (All posts by )

    One of the things we mention in America 3.0 “that distinctively conservative type of pessimism that seems almost to enjoy the prospect of an apocalyptic end to all that is good and true in the world,” and the “doom and gloom” purveyed by many Conservative and even Libertarian thinkers.

    We are brash enough to claim that we know better, and that there is a hopeful future for America. The quote at the beginning of our book has many meanings:

    Nobody knows
    what kind of trouble we’re in.
    Nobody seems to think
    it all might happen again.

    Gram Parsons
    “One Hundred Years From Now” (1968)

    One meaning is that the authors of America 3.0 have some idea of what kind of trouble we’re in. We also have reason to think “it all might happen again,” meaning that America will reinvent itself and have a new age of freedom and prosperity.

    This is especially true of my friends who are religious or cultural conservatives. All too often, they seem to believe that the United States is doomed, and deserves to be. This is odd for people who are religious, and who should know that God’s capacity to intervene in history is no less than it has ever been.

    As we have been speaking about the book in the few weeks since it was published, we have found that people want to have hope. They say things like, “oh, God, I hope you are right.” Others are almost offended, demanding that we admit that the country is finished, and that we are mental cripples for thinking otherwise. If the American story is going to have great new chapters, but we have to make them happen, no one can sink into a warm bath of despair and slip beneath the surface, gurgling “I told you so!” Everyone is going to have to get ready to live through “interesting times,” in the Chinese sense, and participate in a contentious and difficult new Founding Era. If you are already tired, that seems like a lot to ask! But time waits for no one, we don’t get to pick which decades we will live in, and God Almighty knows better than we do what we are capable of and what should be demanded of us!

    Many people seem to be in the grip of the historical fallacy that the future can be predicted by making straight-line predictions based on existing trends. But this is wrong. There are trends, which provoke counter-trends. There are movements that provoke resistance and reversal. There are declines that provoke reconstruction.

    In particular, the moral tenor of society, which we do not say much about in the book, can change, and will change.

    Moral reforms and deteriorations are moved by large forces, and they are mostly caused by reactions from the habits of a preceding period. Backwards and forwards swings the great pendulum, and its alterations are not determined by a few distinguished folk clinging to the end of it.

    Sir Charles Petrie, The Victorians
    Epigraph from The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson

    The Diamond Age is a major influence on America 3.0. In it, among its many riches, is a depiction of a society that arises on the wreckage of our current world.

    The restoration of America, at every level, is up to us. Economics and politics, the focus of our book, are hard. Moral and spiritual restoration, which are beyond the ambit of our book, are even harder.

    But remember: If something can’t go on, it won’t.

    Be happy. And look for opportunities to get to work on building America 3.0.

     

    20 Responses to “The Moral Pendulum, The Political Pendulum: Upswings Happen”

    1. Bill Brandt Says:

      Many people seem to be in the grip of the historical fallacy that the future can be predicted by making straight-line predictions based on existing trends. But this is wrong. There are trends, which provoke counter-trends. There are movements that provoke resistance and reversal. There are declines that provoke reconstruction.

      In particular, the moral tenor of society, which we do not say much about in the book, can change, and will change.

      One think I have noticed through the years is that when predicting the future people seem to think linear.

      Since this is the way things are becoming, this is the way they will continue to evolve, or so the thinking goes.

      But I do believe to change this course things will be ugly for awhile. But then things will get ugly if we continue this course, too.

    2. Mike K Says:

      I know I’m probably the worst pessimist here. I was amazed that Romney lost and that worries me. I didn’t see all the “inside baseball” stuff going on. I started a read a book about the Romney campaign but it got too depressing. Michael Barone has an article about the GOP way of choosing a candidate but I don’t see any improvement coming.

      Romney should have been the best candidate as far as the media was concerned. He is moderate, far more so than any of the others. Yet he was savaged and lied about with no resistance from the media. Candy Crowley, an alleged “fair” media type, participated in an ambush laid by Axelrod who gave her a transcript of a Rose Garden speech so she could pretend to “correct” Romney on an item now widely seen to have been correct as he said it.

      Biden played the clown in the VP debate and was never chastised by the moderator.

      Our politics are just not serious and this “Facebook generation” is obsessed with minor social issues like gay marriage or the Zimmerman trial. We are careening into a fiscal crisis that will resemble the Weimar Germany experience.

      We have wonderful potential and I agree with many of the things the authors wrote. My review of the book is here. I just have my doubts that we can push through the blob which is impeding our future. Shale gas and nuclear power should insure much of our future. Militant Islam will wither as it runs out of fuel, especial Saudi money. We just have to hold the line, like we did with Russia. Will we ?

      The illegal immigration thing will be solved by Mexican reform, if it happens. I have known Americans who retired to Mexico for 40 years. The biggest problem is corruption. Mexico is a feudal state. Millions left Europe in similar circumstances and some of the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe were not much better educated. The difference is the welfare state and the social breakdown, especially the education system.

      Teddy White was a Jewish kid in Boston whose father was a tailor. But he got a chance to go to Boston Latin school and then to Harvard. He had no place to study at home so he did his studying in the Oriental Studies library and got interested in China That directed his career.

      Are those schools for poor kids still there ? I don’t think so. The schools the black kids go to are awful and there is no will to change them. The Teachers Unions are as destructive as the slavery that took a war to end.

      Anyway, I hope for the best. For you folks and my kids and grandkids. I doubt I will see it and that is just as well.

    3. VXXC Says:

      “Others are almost offended, demanding that we admit that the country is finished, and that we are mental cripples for thinking otherwise. ”

      Translation = let’s lay down and die without a fight.

      Don’t bother more than once trying to raise they who wish to be corpses, animated or not.

      It’s enough they stay out of the way.

      They get no seat at any council now, during, after until they commit to the cause. That should be made clear…anyway…

      Mind you I don’t think hold the line is all we’ll be called on to do, what line anyway? We would need to establish a line to hold.

      We are ruled by insane and capricious evil children looting us as a conquered province. Those are the serious ones. The socially minded dictate frivolity and fashion with royal prerogative. Our finances are the harbinger of doom.

      They.Gotta.GO.

      Quis Vincit Optimati adepto partibulo.

    4. Mike Doughty Says:

      Mike K, I’m not quite as old as you and I see things somewhat similarly. I’m reading the book now and I too agree with many of the things that I’m reading. My problem is that I wonder if there are enough people that see things clearly enough to make even part of this happen, or if the tipping point to chaos has already been passed. We have a political class that knows the current situation can not be sustained, yet they do little or nothing. You said that “The schools the black kids go to are awful and there is no will to change them.” This is true for a great many things. It seems that there simply aren’t enough people with the WILL to act. As a people, we know what needs to be done, but won’t do it. I too hope for the best, but I’m also trying to prepare for the worst.

    5. ErisGuy Says:

      I don’t believe America is dead; I believe liberty is dead. America will be more prosperous (for some) and more technologically advanced, but the government tyranny will grow.

    6. PenGun Says:

      Your simple minded “ghod is on our side” conservative philosophy is so out of step with what is happening in the world that you naturally feel, threatened by, and confused about, what is replacing you as a way forward.

      Your numbers are dwindling. Thank the Lord.

    7. Lexington Green Says:

      PenGun, you have your decent moments. This isn’t one of them. What are you even talking about, man? Who said anything about God being on any political side? Read the book and weigh in intelligently, which you are capable of.

    8. Mike K Says:

      PenGun doesn’t need to read anything, let alone books. He knows how he feels and that is right in step with that “way forward.”

    9. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

      The important long term thing to remember is that we have been here before and survived (and flourished). Reading Amity Shlaes “Coolidge” I was impressed with the degree to which progressivism (almost to the point of open socialism) was supported in the post WWI era. I was also astonished at how quickly order broke down in Boston with the police strike (and how strict city gun laws were). Coolidge had begun to see the inconsistencies in Progressive ideas and fell back on his rural Vermont independence. He won public support from personal character and trust, not gifts. Hoover squandered this and lead to FDR. We succeed by maintaining rule of law, don’t let any level of government ignore this. The IRS will penalize John Q Public for minor errors, do the same thing with government.

      This is the big issue in so-called immigration reform. People want to come to the US for personal freedom and low corruption/rule of law. To blithely ignore longstanding law which is neither racist or putative on immigration is a slap in the face of every American. It then becomes a tool for any corrupt politician to use just as it is in other countries.

    10. Grurray Says:

      People intuitively understand that we’re on an unsustainable path. They’ve also been conditioned into a cycle of dependency on the very institutions paving that path. The paradox has got to be unsettling.

    11. PenGun Says:

      Let me put it another way. Your right wing, conservative, anti liberal movement is finished. It just does not know it yet.

      Your numbers are dwindling and you are in a minority in America now. This means the attack strategy which is now the norm in politics is just your only real way forward. The tea party take over of Republicanism in Congress ensures it will do nothing and the non brain dead can see the obstructionism and ill will the tea party brings to the table is their main purpose.

      You are steadily losing support. If you do not understand this fact then the world will be a confusing place.

    12. Grurray Says:

      I don’t think you are reading the same thing everyone is.

    13. Mike K Says:

      “Your right wing, conservative, anti liberal movement is finished. It just does not know it yet.”

      PenGun, I tend to agree with you. The difference between us is that the left is also finished and doesn’t know it. In fact, we are heading into a storm with almost no one knowing what to do. We can say cut spending and economize but the politics of that are shown in Greece. What will probably happen is massive default, starting with the blue model cities and states, but the end result will be a new beginning by the whole of western society. China may be able to survive without selling us stuff but I doubt it. The American model has grown beyond the ability of the workers and producers to support the drones. Canada might be OK as the government there has much more sense than ours the past 25 years. It does depend on us for markets, though.

      What comes after, I don’t know. I’ll probably be dead anyway. I have no desire to live to the 103 my mother reached. She lived a wonderful life even though she lived through the Depression and World War I and II. She had her intellect intact until the last six months. She did hate to give up martinis when she was 99.

    14. Lexington Green Says:

      PenGun, what is finished is the 20th Century legacy state, which is out of money, put of ideas and out of credibility. It is not so much doomed as already dead. Every attempt to push it farther hastens the day it fails completely. Your dream that the USA will fade away is never going to happen.

    15. PenGun Says:

      I want one world. Nothing else makes much sense to me. I would like to see all countries fade away.

    16. Lexington Green Says:

      PenGun, take a look at Emmanuel Todd’s work. The diversity of cultures in the world makes the prospect of no government, or universal government, unlikely for a long time and possibly forever. In the meantime, government limited to the scope of its limited competence will have to suffice as a goal.

    17. Mike K Says:

      PenGun, would you mind pointing out the number of non-corrupt governments ? You wish for one world ? Does that mean the UN ?

      Or would you prefer anarchy ?

    18. PenGun Says:

      I expect it to take anywhere from 100 to 300 years but I’m sure we will eventually get there.

      We have an entire universe to deal with, fighting with each other is dumb.

    19. Mike K Says:

      You can have 100 years. I’ll take another 8 or 10 and be satisfied.

    20. Lexington Green Says:

      “… anywhere from 100 to 300 years …”

      On that time scale, you may be right.

      The cultures of the world are converging, as Tood reports, convincingly. How that will play out is impossible to say. But the next few centuries should be enough to complete the process.

      I will be LONG GONE and completely forgotten by then!