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Tag Archives: decline

Toward A Post-Western Aesthetic

At heart, the problem with Western Civilization is that it falls into the trap of the peacock’s tail striving for constant growth with flashy results but little thought of basic utility, sustainability, or resilience in the face of sudden shocks.

So great is the focus on competing for dominance now that no one has the time to think centuries ahead.

The truth is Western civilization and its philosophy was utterly discredited by the 20th century with its World Wars, Communist mega-states that killed off tens of millions, disasters like the Great Depression and Spanish Flu that the destruction and despair made possible.

Let’s face it, no one really believes in their hearts anymore that the future is good or meaningful and there’s no going back to the way it was.  The mood of the collective subconscious has been pre-apocalyptic since around the year 2000 and now among the most dominant symbols in the modern imagination are zombies that represent social alienation and atomization and evil clowns that represent mass sociopathy and chaos.

Symbol of a society where no one knows their neighbor and has to compete against everyone in a dehumanized rat race. Zombies originally a metaphor among Africans for how slavery took away one’s previous identity.

Symbol of a society where you have to adopt dark triad traits to survive. And our secret dissatisfaction with such a social order. Secretly many of us would just like to watch it all burn but can’t admit it even to ourselves.

The evolution of the West has produced impressive deer antlers but has created a society that is top-heavy and fragile.
The cost spiral started to get out of control with the rise of professional armies and the end of the feudal system until now it costs a trillion dollars to design a new weapon system, let alone manufacture, maintain, or deploy it and nearly a trillion every year to pay for old people and their medical care.  Soon, even all the wealth in the world can’t pay the basic bills and eventually even ever-growing loans can’t fill all the gaps.

Western civilization, with its stock markets, its winner-take-all economic systems and social status markets worships the growth pattern of short-lived weeds that choke the ground in a hurry before winter wipes them all away.  

I would rather worship the growth pattern of lichens that creep slowly, meticulously reinforcing each new growth area against hardship.
I would envision an ideal future civilization as being minimalistic, practical, and durable in its applications of technologies.
 
Extreme disparity in cost is why a single division worth of guerillas can challenge all the world’s great powers in the Middle East, why a guy with an ak-47 riding on a donkey beats a cruise missile or a drone, why a handful of men with boxcutters can shift the course of a nuclear superpower for decades, why an illegal immigrant Mexican roofer can have 3 kids while a salary striver that makes 70k a year can’t even afford 1 kid.
In future warfare, high technology will be limited to targets of appropriate value and low value forces will try to exert stategic pressure that forces cost-inefficient responses.

Much of the vanity of West is its stubborn insistence dating back to Christianity and reinforced by the Enlightenment that man inhabits a different universe than the rest of nature.  In truth the same laws that govern planets, rocks, animals, and bacteria bind humans just the same.

To set the tone for a society that works with the nature of the universe rather than try to defy it, we must begin to imagine what a Post-Western society might look and feel like.
In my next post I will begin to explore a possible aesthetic for such an order, according to my own sensibilities.  

My aesthetic will be austere, minimal, defensive, yet embrace a sort of stark beauty in contrast to a modern civilization of neon-bright advertisements that overload the eyes as high fructose corn syrup overwhelms the palate.

But it also won’t echo the old West cathedrals and row-houses with their straight lines and rigid rectangles, however pretty or pleasing they may be.
My aesthetic will try to appear more fluid, representing a lack of boundaries between man and nature, between intellect and the flesh.  For it’s precisely such dichotomies that gave rise to the West’s most debilitating neuroses.

Neo-Tribal Mercantilism

Territory on a map, while important, always has been an incomplete indication of actual power.  Many a sprawling country is composed of mostly mountains and desert.  Land is in the crudest sense just a box of earth and air to contain the real source of a group’s power and identity—its people.  After the emergence of rapid transportation and mass communications during the 20th century, geography no longer means what it used to. We no longer spend our whole lives in a single farming village, immersed in a strong communal culture by default.  No one place is inhabited by just one group.  Even Utah, the holy land of a world religion isn’t even composed of 2/3rds of the faithful it is meant for.  Representatives of every people are found nearly everywhere. We might live in several different cities in a single decade going wherever there are jobs.  The capability of movement invites us to play a lifelong game of arbitrage, going wherever we can get the best deal.  As such, political secession based on geographical affiliation is an obsolete idea.  Lines on maps matter less than the invisible lines between class and breed.  The nebulous things we now call “subcultures” begin to coalesce into something more concrete.  The future leads to neo-tribes that rely on no particular place for identity.  The idea of secession will come to mean cultural and economic separation rather than political and geographical.

In less than a century we have transitioned from being farmers to semi-nomads who drift from place to place with no ties to physical territory or traditional cultures that come from peoples who spent centuries in one place.
Scattered nomads must compete for scarce resources but we aren’t yet allowed to fight directly. There’s still a strong state that maintains a strict monopoly on violence, its functionaries oblivious to fundamental changes.  Under a seemingly placid surface of law and order, emerging factions endlessly trade passive aggressive barbs.
When neither war, nor control of land, or even elections decides conflict between groups, conquest and pillage is wrought through the quieter means of economics.  Commerce becomes war by other means.  Instead of launching invasions, colonies are established by dominating real estate and desirable job markets.  From this struggle to control wealth we see the rise of neo-tribal societies from the ruins of monolithic 19th century nationalism.  Everyone who captures wealth is no longer just a free agent, they become steadily more aware that they are soldiers on the battlefield and every gain they make is also a gain for those most like them.
When we pick up a penny on the sidewalk, we capture a unit of wealth.  If we imagine wealth as territory, the Empire of You has expanded by an amount of value worth 1 cent.  Money can be created any time, out of almost anything, and is just a means of exchange, but whether tender is backed or fiat it represents control over forms of wealth constrained by scarcity.  You have that much more force to bring to bear in pushing the world towards your vision.  Whatever group or culture you are part of also gains by that same amount. This increase in strength represents a loss for your enemies.   For you and your tribe every penny is a tiny piece of ground captured after a charge across noman’s land under machine gun fire and artillery.  Wealth is dear because every scrap of it represents victory against all the opposition in the universe—the pitiless impersonal forces of nature and one’s fellow man.

The 3 Keys To Anglo Success

Anglo societies have succeeded tremendously over the last few centuries, but this success hasn’t meant good lives for individuals.  The secret to Anglo success has been squeezing individual men to work as hard as possible for even moderate levels of success, generating more wealth for the nation as a whole.  Getting the best wine grapes or the best hydroponic pot is about forcing the plants to respond to pressure by trying their hardest and producing their best.  Anglo society, likewise, is built on systematic sexual repression.

1. Picky Women

Through their natural sexual power, women are the de facto police force of culture.  What they desire, men clamor to give them.  Anglo women are among the pickiest on the planet.  Maybe it was the long winters combined with high population density, but whatever the reasons, we know Anglo society is intensely competitive.  If you want to get one plain Jane to consider having your kids, a car and house is the minimum price tag.  As many have noted, this basic entry ticket is no longer any guarantee.  You better stand out in some way and have at least local notability.

The Victorian period never really went away.  Anglo women are still prissy, fussy, picky creatures looking to disqualify all the men around them for a mispronounced vowel or an unfastened coat button. They’re as neurotic and unhappy as they ever were—it’s in their blood. Then as now, they obsess over their waistlines, shrinking away from anything substantial to eat while secretly cramming down starchy biscuits and gallons of heavily sugared and creamed tea.  We still indulge in upper middle class Victorian fantasies of innocent childhood and cute pets dripping with sickeningly sweet sentimental syrup.  What are modern peanut allergies and asthma but the product of Victorian smothering parenting?  What are suburbs but the happy ending of a Dickens novel?

Modern neurotic middle class Anglos do a fine job of keeping the tradition alive as sweat beads on their brow whenever someone uses the wrong fork, grit their teeth whenever someone forgets to say ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’, or rush to clean out every last dust mote from their house and turn on the Enya music on low volume before one visitor arrives.

While women of other cultures get just enough wealth to have kids, and then have them, Anglo women demand every man build her a bower to her precise specifications until it becomes a never-ending Babel.  The kids never arrive. The insufferable females that once drove men to conquer the entire planet do little more than foster barren marriages in an age of birth control. If this was once the impetus behind Anglo greatness, it’s now a central cause of its decline.

White women are also more selective, neurotic, and bitchy than any other kind because being picky was necessary for survival. If you just need a wet hole, chasing white women doesn’t make any sense.  Until you’re an elite man, you can almost always find a better deal in the arms of a dark-skinned woman. Any British soldier of the Victorian period sent off to the colonies would readily attest to this.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

2. Prudery

Anglo culture has long been intensely prudish.  For at least a couple centuries, Anglos have been taught myths of courtly love instead of real skills in getting laid.  This trend started to catch on in the middle ages and by the late 18th century, we have Jane Austen.
Prostitution is kept to the margins or outlawed as much as possible.  Fanatical devotion to depriving men of sexual outlets outside of the official monopoly is perhaps the foundation of Anglo dominance.  It’s all part of the plan to have men work their little hearts out for just a little taste of honey.

They would have removed liquor too if they could have so that a workhorse’s only solace in life would be the act of mounting a homely plow mare as his reward for spending every waking minute destroying his competitors.  As it is, alcohol, especially binge drinking, plays a special role in Anglo culture as almost the only (grudgingly) accepted vice.  Possibly even the most straight-lace Anglos would go insane without the alcoholic outlet.  Even Victorians could more readily indulge in tobacco and opium than our modern SWPL prudes.  Today, with even alcohol less tolerated, binge eating takes the place of binge drinking as possibly the last permitted vice.

I’ve always wondered that Westerners created a science of economics yet never applied the same principles to sexual markets.
It’s a testament to the stubborn prudery of Anglo nations that there never was a ‘sexenomics’ until enough disposable males had access to mass networks. Even when it came to the sciences, prude Anglos and like-minded Westerners felt compelled to strategically cover up one particular area with a well-placed fig leaf.

3. Snobbery

You’re not white until you earn $30,000 a year, and that’s just entry level. To really be white, European blood is not enough.  You better have the car, that house in the suburbs, and the obligatory white collar job complete with white rumpled-up button-up shirts and ill-fitting khakis. You don’t have that, forget it. You’re what was once known as a “scalawag” today more commonly called “trash.” Part of the Anglo formula for success is casting out those who don’t make the cut.  If they can’t be gotten rid of in distant colonies or wars, make them live and breed in a separate underclass.

Are you white trash?  Don’t try to deny it just because you have that useless degree.  It pays to own up to it.  If you’re realistic, you’ll see you have more interests in common with Mexicans and blacks than with your overseers and the planter aristocracy.

Hard experience has taught me a key truth.
White” is a social, cultural, economic movement.
European is a group of related ethnicities that share common traits, pale skin among them.  Getting the two confused leads to endless strife.  Until you understand who you really are, you can’t live life as you should.

Conclusion

Many seem to mourn the decline of the old Anglo culture, but I for one am happy to see it go.  It always was just another exploitative system that took advantage of men with limited access to information.
The classic Victorian Anglo culture can’t continue to exist among a population of males informed of market conditions on the internet—it has become obsolete.

Even Ben Franklin in the 18th century lamented that white men fled over the Anglo socio-sexual Berlin Wall to live with the Indians whenever they could.  If anything, this problem was just one more reason Anglo society and the Indians couldn’t co-exist.  That Franklin’s very name means “Freedman” a peasant who beat all the odds and made it into the very small skilled middle classes speaks for itself.

The problem with a repressive system is that it collapses as soon as a better alternative becomes available or can even be imagined!  The Anglo system took over the entire world, an impressive feat.  But I am an individual, not a monolithic society.  I care about getting the best deal for myself, just like the men who fled to Indian tribes in colonial America.
Any new system that lasts must take the interests of human beings into account.  In an age of information, no longer can deception be the foundation of a social order.

How Trends In Education Forecast the Decline of the Roman Republic

“If we bear in mind the principles that governed the education of young men in Rome…
These derived chiefly from tradition, from the way in which the son of a country landowner gradually adapted himself to his father’s lifestyle accompanying him on journeys, observing everything he did, and then attempting to do it himself under his father’s supervision.  It amounted essentially to learning by observation and imitation…
This kind of education was continued in the city too, above all in politics, the chief sphere of activity for members of the nobility.

The nobility appreciated the importance of this largely practical patriarchal education.  This is clear from an edict issued by the censors in 92 BC, banning recently opened schools…

We have been informed that certain persons there have instituted a new kind of training for the young…the young who attend their schools are said to spend whole days in idleness.  Our ancestors determined what children should learn and what schools they should attend.  This new fashion, which is at variance with the uses and customs of our ancestors, neither pleases us nor appears to us right…

Whole days spent at school turned young noblemen into schoolboys, alienated from practical life and forced them into idleness.  Instead of being confronted as individuals with models to be emulated, they were thrown together with their own kind and with teachers.
The young gentlemen were offered little that could command their respect…
What probably told most heavily against the schools was that they estranged the young from their natural environment…

Preparation for adult life did not allow the growing boy much chance to enjoy a carefree childhood and youth.  Many demands were made on him, but this meant that at an early age he was taken seriously.”

Caesar: A Biography
Christian Meier, 1982
Excerpts taken from pages 58-60

My Commentary:
Observe how today’s education system infantilizes young adults, separates them from the adult world, and leaves them with other young people as their role models instead of mature people who’ve gone out into the world and accomplished.
The result is a petty royal court culture in schools ruled by a few top athletes and cheer leaders who’ve never done anything to earn their high stations.  What lesson does undeserved adulation for an aristocracy of useless socialites teach growing children about merit and hard work?
A republic that adopts such a system goes into decline as it slips into this indulgent debauchery, wasting its human capital before it’s even budded.

Does the Decline Make Statistical Sense? Does the American Way Make Financial Sense?

The American economy is worth 15 trillion, still over twice as big in absolute terms as a distant 2nd place, China a desperately poor nation with a huge population…
But is that wealth proportionally useful compared to other places?
If we consider GDP by purchasing power parity, China with many times more people still has only 75% as much relative wealth as the US.

The US national debt has passed 100% of GDP but the US remains one of the worlds most reliable debtors: 2% of GDP, 7-8% of Federal Revenue more than pays off all the
interest each year.  The federal government spends 4x as much each on social programs and the military!
The American debt burden would not impress struggling European powers during the Napoleonic wars.
Nations like Japan are far worse off with close to 150% GNP in national debt or Greece at 200%. Germany isn’t that much better off at 85%

The net US trade deficit is by far the largest in the world at about 450 billion, but another 30-40 billion a year of exports could plug the gap and the difference still pales in comparison next to the massive size of the US economy.

The numbers tell us that the US is a monster, yet those of us who live there are experiencing relentless and accelerating decline.  How do we explain this against awe inspiring numbers?
After all even a US in relative decline is still surpassed only by the entire EU.

Here’s some reflections on reconciling the reality on the ground with the statistics?

Virgin Bride: Unbuyable

Wife: Average income just an entry ticket to the arena

Girlfriend: Average income just an entry ticket.

Job Security: Unbuyable

House: At least $200,000 (realistically far more paid after interest, no one can afford that out of pocket)

Car: At least $10,000 if new. (realistically far more paid after interest, no one can afford that out of pocket)

Rent: At least $600/month, $7200/year even in cheap areas after utilities and fees.

Education: 16 years to satisfy basic prerequisites, consuming at least 6 years from age able to enter workforce. Possibly more than a decade with higher degrees. A doctor or successful lawyer may earn a lot but has to compensate for 10+ years of working part time or not at all. Filling a big black hole of years of tuition + living expenses.

Children, Family Before Age 30: The price is a life of grinding poverty.

How much just to break even?  A couple million dollars earned over a couple of decades? Even if everything goes as planned, break even by middle age?

The simple truth that stares us in the face: The “normal” lifestyle with house/apartment, car, job doesn’t make financial sense.
It entails a huge expenditures of time and energy in a desperate bid to break even.
In the past, people may have had prospect of having a family and securing their genetic futures, but now even this basic reward(readily available to many poor peoples all over the world) is elusive.

Just a glimpse at these basic expenses shows us that rent seeking, fees, tuition, royalties, interest on assets and payments is where wealth can actually be made.

Right now what keeps people going? Fear that the only alternative to the “break even track” is to live in true uncertainty of survival.

The United States remains fantastically wealthy on paper yet is the average person’s life essentially any different than the average across time and place?

Is someone in a poorer country who can hope for a genetic future in their reproductive prime, surrounded by supportive family, with an ancestral home to live in, a family trade to aspire to, in fact, better off?

Are Americans as atomized individuals a whole that’s less than the sum of its parts?
Are Americans despite their unprecedented wealth undermined by backwards and wasteful social institutions and culture?

Or is the present trend of declinism as the numbers suggest, a misguided fad?

Insights on this matter?

How Microsoft’s Human Resources Culture Drove Away Talent

“Microsoft’s implementation – “stack ranking”, a bell curve that pits employees and groups against one another like rats in a cage – plunged the company into internecine fights, horse trading, and backstabbing.

…every unit was forced to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, then good performers, then average, then below average, then poor…For that reason, executives said, a lot of Microsoft superstars did everything they could to avoid working alongside other top-notch developers, out of fear that they would be hurt in the rankings.

Employees quickly realised that it was more important to focus on organisation politics than actual performance:…”

LINK

One of the commenters on this article, a ‘mikesmith’ gives some real food for thought by challenging current conventional wisdom about the ascendancy of STEM.

“I was particularly struck by the very last line, quoting Jobs: ‘Microsoft never had the humanities and liberal arts in its DNA.’ That is so insightful and so true, and says so much about why Apple is now the world’s biggest company. And it’s now fundamentally an arts company, nont a tech company. Sure it has to have great technology. But the purpose of the technology is to sell the arts products. It’s the products created by musicians, writers, filmmakers and others sold on iTunes that is financing Apple’s growth.

And it’s not just true about companies but about countries as well. Those that prosper in coming years will be those that promote the arts, the humanities, the liberal arts. Education in those areas should be a country’s number one priority, and those countries that do that will be the leaders and will have the most prosperous economies. People who study business and technology simply aren’t capable of coming up with the creative ideas. They are good at bean-counting, or finding ways of making the creative peoples’ ideas work better, but they shouldn’t be in charge and they certainly shouldn’t be receiving the bulk of the investment. It’s the artists and the creatives who matter, who now generate the ideas and the profits. Consider how much economic activity just two artists, Tolkien and Rowling, have generated in the past decade. Huge streams of billions, stemming from the work of just two artists! And they will continue for decades.

I’ve read numerous articles in this paper and others recently that young people are studying business and the sciences more than the arts and the humanities. That is just disastrous, both for the individuals and for their countries. And I feel so sorry for those young people who have been brainwashed into thinking that that’s the way to go. There’s no future for them. They should consider well Jobs’ insight, it’s quite brilliant.”

The Decline of the Traditional Job

The original Luddites were quick to grasp the long term implications of the industrial revolution as they saw their living vanish overnight.

The ‘job’ as generations from the 19th century onward have known it has gradually been decreasing in importance and reliability.

We’ve tried reducing to 40 hour work weeks, we use schools to keep young people off the job market for years.
We’ve adopted a truly Keynesian economy that devotes most of its efforts to useless pyramids and intangibles rather than producing concrete things, if only to keep people occupied and keep wealth in circulation.

Yet we’ve reached a point where even these measures are failing to create a job market that can distribute wealth enough to create a stable society.

I cannot help but conclude that we are approaching an age of small scale entrepreneurship because that’s how increasingly more people are going to have to make their money. In some ways it is actually an age of opportunity where more people will be free agents rather than hirelings. And perhaps society will actually benefit from vast numbers of useless pyramid builders being freed up to do things that actually yield a net positive effect.

If the payoff from scarce jobs does not outweigh the inconvenience and strain of being lorded over by bosses, alternatives become more attractive.

An initial consideration for finding a solid source of wealth, a viable business concept.

Does it have an economic “moat” that makes it difficult for competitors to challenge you or can anyone set up shop overnight?

Here’s a rundown of the types of economic moats.

No Longer A Superpower: Why Venice Went Into Decline

“IN the early 14th century, Venice was one of the richest cities in Europe. At the heart of its economy was the colleganza, a basic form of joint-stock company created to finance a single trade expedition. The brilliance of the colleganza was that it opened the economy to new entrants, allowing risk-taking entrepreneurs to share in the financial upside with the established businessmen who financed their merchant voyages.

Venice’s elites were the chief beneficiaries. Like all open economies, theirs was turbulent. Today, we think of social mobility as a good thing. But if you are on top, mobility also means competition. In 1315, when the Venetian city-state was at the height of its economic powers, the upper class acted to lock in its privileges, putting a formal stop to social mobility with the publication of the Libro d’Oro, or Book of Gold, an official register of the nobility. If you weren’t on it, you couldn’t join the ruling oligarchy.

The political shift, which had begun nearly two decades earlier, was so striking a change that the Venetians gave it a name: La Serrata, or the closure. It wasn’t long before the political Serrata became an economic one, too. Under the control of the oligarchs, Venice gradually cut off commercial opportunities for new entrants. Eventually, the colleganza was banned. The reigning elites were acting in their immediate self-interest, but in the longer term, La Serrata was the beginning of the end for them, and for Venetian prosperity more generally. By 1500, Venice’s population was smaller than it had been in 1330. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as the rest of Europe grew, the city continued to shrink.”

LINK

The Truth Behind Unemployment Numbers?

First,

Simplepolitiks discusses the 7.8% unemployment figure set forth in the presidential debate and tries to figure out how well official unemployment figures correlate with real unemployment.

Second,

10 Reasons Why The Latest Unemployment Numbers Are No Reason To Cheer addresses the numbers of people who have effectively dropped out from the officially recorded labor force, numbers for underemployment, and numbers of people who are employed but struggling with their bills on the wages they are making.

One finds people arriving at similar conclusions in Simplepolitik’s comment section and in the No Reason For Cheer article:

The unique conditions that resulted in a large American middle class have disappeared because American laborers are now in direct competition with people across the planet, many of whom can survive on much lesser wages because of their locally lower costs of living. Employers can be counted on to pay as little for labor as they possibly can.

The natural tendency will be towards an oligarchy of a few rich who control the money and the resources, the natural state of human history while 1945-1990s was a freakish exception to the norm.

I, however, see this as being at odds with all the new technologies that make abundant information and the means of production available to independent private citizens.
If jobs cease to be profitable or reliable for the average person, many will drop out of the game and turn to a gift economy of social favors with their immediate clan or turn to small scale grey market entrepeneurship.

As I discussed in a previous post, Southern Italy’s underworld was born as a reaction to incompetent rulers levying heavy taxation and today it also thrives as a reaction to a horrible economy and high taxes.
If the payoff becomes low enough or jobs are simply unattainable, grey and black markets can surge in importance.

Looking at present trends, I definitely do not see job numbers returning to any 90s status quo.
However, I also see a gradual reduction in the importance of the traditional “job” as people adapt by relying heavily on the internet, tribal support networks, and small businesses.
Jobs suck anyway, so I wonder if in the long term this might actually represent an improvement in overall quality of life for millions of people?

US Leaning Towards Third World: No Electricity In the Capital

The air was heavy and oppressive with searing humidity as a cloud-swollen night sky boiled with lightning. It was about 11 PM, Friday June 29th, 2012.

As I prepared to leave for my job on the night shift, a massive wall of wind smashed into the neighborhood. The ponderous tree tops instantly accelerated into a frenzy; lights flickered and then died. Oh well. I shrugged. The same exact thing had happened again just a few days before. At work a generator had activated in response to the outage. The lights had been dim, an emergency light flashed on the ceiling, an alarm buzzed endlessly. Employees putting in hours of overtime far into the night had been frantically rushing back and forth hauling hundreds of pounds of meat and seafood off to the large freezers. As I performed my typical menial labor, I couldn’t shake the feeling I was a heroic protagonist trying to aid Soviet defectors aboard the Red October or busy fighting my way out of a research facility after an experiment gone horribly wrong.

This time was worse.
Even as I approached the door the streets were flooded within seconds. I grabbed a rain coat before wading out into the deluge but it provided little real protection.
This wasn’t rain as you would usually think of it. It did not fall. Rather, it was flung to the earth. It foamed and roiled as it struck. As I made my way to the metro station, I was actually thankful that the power was out. Swaying power cables were all around me and so was lots of water.
As I made the short walk, I was nearly forced to my hands and knees by the sheer force of the gusts. By the time I arrived, I was soaked through and had to wring out my socks…

Some geniuses who must have known hurricane force winds are not uncommon in the mid-Atlantic summer had decided on a brilliant way to implement an electrical grid: A random spaghetti of power cables running sloppily from house to house, many going right through the tree tops. Whenever a high wind arose, fast moving tree branches were sure to send broken power cables flying everywhere.
As it was, extensive localized damage was to be expected but this was somehow the least of it. Somehow stations and substations went down all at once. There was no backup plan nor any kind of temporary generator. Of the local power company’s 700,000 customers, over 400,000 were suddenly without electricity.
3 million people across the entire East coast and Midwest were without power.
The storm, while violent, had barely lasted half an hour as it passed through.

All this had happened in the midst of one of the worst heat waves ever recorded in the area. Temperatures soared into the triple digits.
I lived a full 3 days without access to electricity in these conditions. All of my perishable food spoiled and of course I couldn’t cook anything. In the worst of the heat, I had to sleep on a small stretch of cool concrete floor in the basement by the washing machine.

As I write this, there are still more than a million without power.
Perhaps a million people will be facing Independence Day without any electricity at home. In some places, 4th of July celebrations have already been canceled.

There’s no reason any of this needed to happen.
Things go wrong from time to time. Storms arise. But a massive breakdown of critically important infrastructure at the first sign of trouble tells us important things:

-The socially adept but incompetent have triumphed.

-If you’re just one of the peasantry you aren’t nearly important enough to be supplied with reliable utilities. Too expensive to plan a reliable system and maintain it properly? How much do you suppose it collectively cost ordinary people for all the inconvenience and spoiled food? The whole thing could be seen as a big ‘fuck you’ from the rich.

-Social atomization has progressed so far that the ability to work together to create functional public resources has vanished.

-The one thing a country like the US has long had in its favor: It’s been a decent place to settle for awhile and make some money. Reliable infrastructure is one of the key lubricants of commerce. If these basic services become unreliable, everyone has to spend their time and resources planning around it. The whole society becomes poorer. We have a phrase that’s often used to describe a society like this: ‘third world.’

-Loss of face and legitimacy. It is an embarrassment when a ‘developed’ country can’t even sustain an electrical grid in its Capital City.
The present system’s Mandate of Heaven is eroded that much more.

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