2009 July 19 Sunday
John Derbyshire Champions Pessimism
If the Derb's analysis of America's future is correct (collapse in 2022) then he's going to show how being a pessimist is a winning strategy. Yes, pessimism could well turn out to be the road to success. Society's decay is no reason to be pessimistic about one's own prospects if one can bet correctly on a pessimistic future. What am I talking about? The Derb's book coming out in September: We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism. Better order in advance in case the collapse comes early and book production stops in early October.
Without some political outlet for the conservative temperament, though, I doubt that American civilisation, or the US, can survive beyond (to take the date I actually use in my text) 2022. So I haven't been very seriously misrepresented.
DIA: Why 2022? What's going to cause this rather rapid downfall?
Mr Derbyshire: In my book I mention Andrei Amalrik's 1969 essay (later a book) "Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?" He was looking forward 15 years. This inspired me to write a column in 2007: "Will the United States Survive Until 2022?" also looking forward 15 years. That's all. I mention this in my book and follow up with some remarks.
Read the "Will the United States Survive Until 2022?" essay for an outline of the arguments he developed into a book. His points about declining solidarity and declining social capital sound correct to me. At the same time, some shocks are headed our way. The list of countries past peak oil production keeps getting longer. When the amount of oil produced starts declining every year the effects will make our current recession look like a boom time in comparison. The resulting economic decline is not by itself sufficient to cause the US to plunge into a civil war if the American people feel closely bound and trustful of each other. But there's the rub. Mutual trust and the sense of shared identity are going down.
We are suffering a declining ability to even discuss our problems frankly. I keep hoping that will change. So far it has only changed in parts of the blogosphere.
Since the book doesn't come out for a few months I haven't read it. I did add it to my Amazon wishlist about complex systems and resources. So if you want me to read it there it is to order.
Update: Suppose the United States really will break up some day. Racial divisions seem necessary to make that happen. Can racial strife really ramp up that much in 13 years that the US could break up in 2022? If so, how? Seems to me a stronger program of racial preferences would be key to making that happen. We might get that. All it would take is a couple of Republican retirements from the US Supreme Court while Obama is in office. Then another Democrat elected in 2016. By 2022 the legal environment could pretty much make equal protection a dead doctrine.
But that legal environment does not strike me as sufficient to cause a civil war. Whites will be a minority of youths and youths do most of the violence. Plus, whites would need a strongly believed intellectual justification. So far most are cowed into very weak opposition to racial preferences. They are afraid of getting called racist if they demand fair evaluation of individual performance rather than equal outcomes for groups (which of course is what the Left demands and claims anything short of that is racist). The liberal mythology still reins unchallenged unlike its right wing religious equivalent. If and when whites become less bashful about asserting their interests (rather like other ethnic groups) even then I expect responses to take forms other than civil war and break-up of the United States.
So what's a realistic scenario for civil war? I don't see one myself. I expect decay.
Update II: Okay, still exploring the whole collapse of the United States idea. Another way American society could fall apart is if some other ethnic group decides to go for an ethnic nation. Well, which group would that be? Hispanics? Blacks? Brazil hasn't split up. Why would the US? Granted, we may become a low trust society. But plenty of low trust societies haven't broken up into smaller countries. Might a Mexican secession movement develop in the southwest?
Then there's just plain collapse. Okay, can a financial collapse ala the Great Depression happen? That seems the most plausible. The US dollar could cease to be the global reserve currency and that transition could cause financial convulsions as foreigners try to convert dollars into goods and inflation skyrockets and the US government hits acute funding problems. Will that happen? That strikes me as the most plausible collapse scenario. It would be helped along a great deal by a long term downward trend in oil production. Could a financial crisis bring anarchy to some US cities?
We're in trouble: John's bound to be right about something eventually.
I'd say Derb is an optimist if he thinks we'll last until 2022.
John's bound to be right about something eventually.
Be nice, Greg. Your inner meanie is all hanging out!
I know John Derbyshire, to some extent, in that we argue heavily on a closed list for a few years. I found him to be intellectually lazy and bloodthirsty - told him so, too. Naturally, I asked him for a blurb for my book, since I figured that years of heartfelt insults ensured that any favorable review he gave would be sincere. I was not disappointed.
I had heard about the spat between you and Derb on Sailer's HBD list. I had always wondered which specific issues you guys would have these heated arguments about. But it wasn't a surprise to hear that you found him to be "intellectually lazy." He always seemed more of a dilettante riffing on different things he found interesting, rather than seriously thinking about issues. Though I think he'd be the first person to agree with this assessment. As far as the "bloodthirsty" bit, I suppose you mean the the nonchalant attitude he seems to have about bombing other nations and peoples.
Civil War II by Thomas Chittum.
An interesting read. And yes, I believe a financial crisis has a very good chance of bringing anarchy to cities. This country is 3 hot meals and a missed welfare check away from going crazy.
The US will collapse before countries such as Germany and France. Sweden will collapse before Norway. At least Norway has oil and a small population.
Too bad the US cannot deal with the unemployed by putting a large portion of them in "labor market political activities" as that requires a lot of social capital. Many people bad mouth the German Democratic Republic for allegedly lowering living standards. At least there you had a make-work job at a VEB. Maybe Obama would save the day with protectionism and converting GM and Chrysler into VEBs with immensely overstaffed plants.
On the energy front I'm sceptical - it's been known for decades that nuclear can solve the 'energy problem' at a stroke - only the political will is lacking.
On the 'racial front', just consider this virtually all the big cities eg Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Detroit etc etc have gone majority non-White and barely a squeak was raised by whitey, so why do you think the reaction will be any different when the whole country goes brown?
- The battle was fought and lost during the Kennedy/Johnson administrations (which incidentally put a man on the moon 40 years ago in those heady times, of which I'm too young to remember), when whitey threw in the towel and the 'civil rights' movement get everything they wanted and more.
Now, basically you can't put a broken egg back together again.
My own theory is that since America's Whites came from all sorts of diverse European backgrounds they never really had the sense of 'blood and soil' nationalism that you see in Europe, where at timews of national distress people instinctively think of their neighbor as being their 'brother'.
The esteemed Prof. Kevin MacDonald has some very interesting theories which I will not court odium by even mentioning let alone endorsing here.
That is something that is less appreciated, even in the human biodiversity crowd. Of course, it is easy to see why too many hispanics and blacks would destroy social capital, but I did not fully appreciate the effects of white "diversity" as it also precludes the formation of strong social capital as they came from different European nations such as France, Germany, Scandinavia, and so on.
Randall, do you have any insight about white diversity and its affect on social capital?
While I'm not deeply informed, I agree with A Prole re energy. It seems to me that even the automobile battery tech we have now should suffice to avert things like hot 'n heavy oil conflicts with China, or a peak oil depression with 30% unemployment. Sure, it would be pricey to convert everything to batteries running off coal or nuclear. Railroads might have to replace trucking, largely - also expensive. And the range of batteries is limited. Still, how is this "the end." Suppose we wind up having to recharge for some hours after driving 50 miles, and also pay 2x as much for cars - for this, civilization will come crumbling down?
Many people bad mouth the German Democratic Republic for allegedly lowering living standards.
Allegedly? When I read the day's comments I never know where the comic relief is going to come from.
You've yet to answer my question about why it pains you so to not live in a Scandinavian welfare state. What are you missing?
I blacks and hispanics opt for their own countries, whites will be much better off. Also, both countries will rapidly descend into chaos and become failed states.
You're wasting you're time. Aki Izayoi aka Hell Kaiser Ryo aka whatever new name he uses is an imbecile.
Enuf, I was wondering whether anyone else recognizes Aki_Izayoi as HKR. His signature love of the European welfare state makes him unique among my commenters.
I liked the HKR name better. I can never remember the spelling of Aki_Izayoi and if he told me what it means I've already forgotten.
Some would dismiss Mr. Derbyshire’s pessimism as a stigma of age; however, younger whites are also sensing loss due to changing political, not economic, currents. While at the beach yesterday, a young friend remarked glumly how American marketers and advertisers have depopulated American television commercials of whites, especially white males. She is a college math teacher and young mother of three. "Yes", I sighed, "television programming is also being dumbed down". "Your only real entertainment alternative’, I said, ‘is to stop watching television and browse the Internet." Another math professor who happened to be ethnic Chinese remarked that she wished white males would regain the levers of political power, since she is nervous about our present direction.
His outline is nothing new; we already know a multiethnic country is unstable.
Americans-that is white Americans-are fixated with libertarianism and "we're an immigrant nation." The Frank Ricci demographic, although hated by everyone else, will simply not give up their trust in a just society where everyone is an individual. Even if the US were to face a serious of financial blows and hbd known to all, Ricci and Co. would still be standing on the street corner reciting Emma Lazarus.
I'd go with simply decay. Even if America keep its current technological competitiveness, education standards, crime rate we would still look sub par come 2022 in comparison with coastal Chinese states. Another Japan-like country with half a billion. Yes, an authoritarian, undemocratic, racist communist country with higher standards of living in most regions would embarrass American liberals completely. Individualism works when it works. Multicultural Brazilians have a superior philosophy to conformist Koreans? Sure whatever.
I suffer from ostalgie Randall. Look up ostalgie.
"I'd go with simply decay. Even if America keep its current technological competitiveness, education standards, crime rate we would still look sub par come 2022 in comparison with coastal Chinese states. Another Japan-like country with half a billion. Yes, an authoritarian, undemocratic, racist communist country with higher standards of living in most regions would embarrass American liberals completely. Individualism works when it works. Multicultural Brazilians have a superior philosophy to conformist Koreans? Sure whatever. "
I really think the embrace of globalization and immigration alone would make the US even worse than the German Democratic Republic in the 80s. Oil and resource shortages would add to the misery. I suppose most people would suffer from "ostalgie" then.
Regarding societal decay, in Japan adult children retreat in their rooms and become hikikomori because of crappy domestic job market, and it is considered to be "societal decay" there. I wonder what will be "societal decay" be if they imported a lot of low-paid immigrants or the job market is clogged with many baby boomers without retirement savings and children.
As the separation of ethnic groups progresses, it is also possible that an extreme right political political movement might flourish, and ultimately start a reaction violent reaction. Is this possible? I would like to hear your opinion and predictions. My prediction is that there might one day be a new segregation system similar to the situation 100 years ago. There will be no voting for non-whites, and the US will become isolationist, both politically and even economically.
"Hispanics? Blacks? Brazil hasn't split up. Why would the US?"
Randall, in Brazil the blacks, mestizos, and whites all speak Portuguese, so at least they've got the "glue" of a common language to hold them together. Spanish is being forced on us (mostly against our will, I might add) by our political, business, media, education, and religious elites through out-of-control immigration and federal policies requiring that native-language services be offered to anybody who's happened to wander across the border 20 minutes ago.
Canada periodically flirts with disintegration due to the animosities between English and French speakers, and Belgium looks like it could split apart also. We should not be so arrogant to think that it could not happen to us, although in the long run cutting loose non-English speaking parts of the country might actually be a good idea.
Did you use to live in East Germany? Or any other socialist country?
Sgt. Joe Friday,
Suppose Spanish speaking peaks in the US and then declines. Does the US avoid a break-up in that case?
I can't see us breaking up along color lines. Blacks and Hispanics haven't shown any inclination to want to dominate an entire state. All latinos in the country could move to California now and basically "own" the state if they wanted to. An Arizona, New Mexico or Nevada would be a cake walk. But no such effort has ever been attempted - nor would they want to, since their income derives overwhelmingly from whites. For blacks the situation is even more pronounced, being heavily dependent on transfer payments, subsidies, employment and set-asides granted by the white majority. So absent a rather violent and distasteful pogrom by whites against NAMs, I can't see how such a division could occur.
Whites though could end up splitting along quasi-ethnic lines, something like Hackett-Fisher's 4 folkways.
---Enuf, I was wondering whether anyone else recognizes Aki_Izayoi as HKR. His signature love of the European welfare state makes him unique among my commenters.
I liked the HKR name better. I can never remember the spelling of Aki_Izayoi and if he told me what it means I've already forgotten.---
Not hard to peg who he is. Every comment he makes reads the same. Like I said, an imbecile. Now there's that hikkomori shit again.
I think I'll rename myself now. The new name will reflect an anti-immigration bias (which is appropriate for his blog), and will show my affinity for global macro hedge funds.
I meant to say "this" blog.
I suppose some states could at some point decide to thumb their noses at Federal law and start aggressively slashing benefits and eliminating affirmative action policies, etc., in hopes of driving out NAMs. But most blacks didn't even leave the south under Jim Crow, so not sure that would work. I'm having trouble imagining a scenario of how we might divide along ethnic lines.
"But most blacks didn't even leave the south under Jim Crow, so not sure that would work." Unlike SPWLs Low-income people go where the work is, and put up with limited social freedoms and political incorrectness. Blacks did start leaving the South once work opportunities opened up in northern factories. Look at South Africa, where Blacks poured in during the Apartheid era, despite all the social restrictions. Only middle class people (whether 20th century homesexuals or 17th century puritans) move for socio-political reasons.
My 2cents worth is that states (especially mid-western ones) that have white majorities will strive to keep their populations at over 50 percent, and introduce policies to discourage non-whites from migrating to them. This won't be particularly difficult in a low-growth era, when people will be more cautious about moving to an area where they aren't guaranteed a social safety net.
The problem won't be a lack of will by the states, but determined opposition from central government, which stands to miss out on huge amounts of tax revenue. However, if things continue to get worse the political tide will turn against central government and they will have to give the states more authority to make their own decisions or risk states like Texas pulling out of the union.