July 19, 2019

Realignment in Australia / NZ will come from the right, since neoliberalism came from the left

In a recent episode of the What's Left podcast, Aimee Terese mentions in passing why she rarely discusses Australian politics, despite hailing from down under. She says there's nothing going on, that their politics are stuck in the 1990s, and there's no entry point for a genuine left-wing movement. She means populist left or socialist left, obviously the elitist and neoliberal left have plenty of power.

Why is there nothing like the Bernie movement in America, or the Corbyn movement in Britain? Because Australia is like the Mediterranean countries -- France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece -- in that the neoliberal realignment circa 1980 came from the left, which has remained the dominant coalition in politics ever since. And before that, the egalitarian and populist Midcentury era was overseen by a dominant coalition from the right.

Overturning the status quo comes from the opposition's coalition, after they get enough of the dominant coalition to defect. The dominant coalition just keeps on going in one direction, no matter how sclerotic and catastrophic their governance becomes. They are too invested in the system that they themselves built and of which they have been the primary beneficiaries.

So there will never be a realignment beyond neoliberalism that comes from the left in the Mediterranean -- it has already begun with Salvini's right in Italy, and will happen in France when Le Pen wins in 2022. Nor will any such thing happen in Australia or neighboring New Zealand. Realignment from the left will only happen where the neoliberal era has been dominated by the right (America, Canada, Britain, Denmark, etc.).

See the Appendix below for a concise overview of the history of left vs. right dominance during several political eras in both Australia and New Zealand.

No matter how much the blinkered partisans want to make "left" and "right" refer to "good" and "evil" (or vice versa), they are merely variations on a common theme, which is determined by the material laws of history. The wholesome and egalitarian Midcentury came in two variations -- a left version in the Anglo-Atlantic countries, and a right version in the Mediterranean and Anglo-Pacific countries. Likewise the neoliberal hellhole since then has come in two variations -- a right version in the Anglo-Atlantic, and a left version in the Mediterranean and Anglo-Pacific.

So, too, will the post-neoliberal system come in two variations -- left in the Atlantic, right in the Med / Pacific.

Resistance to these laws is futile. The moribund dominant parties of the neoliberal era will be in the impotent opposition status during the post-neolib era, while the opposition parties of this era will shake up their membership and become the new dominant parties. And neoliberalism has destroyed the industrial-scale manufacturing basis of the modern welfare state, as well as destroying the central banks of all major nations. So something new is going to take its place as a whole system. Whether the new order comes from the left or right makes little difference, and boils down to who is currently dominant but fading, vs. who is opposition yet rising.

Concretely, if you're a populist and want to see the replacement of neoliberalism, you must work on forging a realigned left party in the Anglo-Atlantic countries, and a realigned right party in the Mediterranean and Anglo-Pacific. See this earlier post on Brexit and the disbanding of the EU relying on a realigned left in Britain and a realigned right in France (and Italy) -- Corbyn and Le Pen (and Salvini), against Merkel in Germany.

As a pleasant side effect, anti-woke left women like Aimee will find better boyfriend material when they begin allying with the nascent populist right in their countries. Such women constantly complain about what limpdick killjoys the male leftists and libs are, and tell other leftists not to hold it against them if they seek to satisfy their desires with red-blooded guys, who are more culturally conservative -- the personal is not political. And the red-blooded guys aren't going to hold it against women if they happen to be culturally liberal, provided they aren't wokescolding feminazis. It's just the right union as Me Too runs out of steam this year, and guys and girls look to mix it up with each other again.


The neoliberal era began in Australia with the ministry of Bob Hawke (Labor) in 1983, and in New Zealand with David Lange (Labour) in 1984.

Currently, the opposition right is in power in Australia (Scott Morrison, Liberal), meaning the dominant party has yet to enter its ineffectual, disjunctive phase that immediately precedes realignment. That means the earliest that the disjunctive phase could begin would be after the 2022 election, if Labor wins and proves unable to handle the massive economic crisis headed our way (everyone's way). That would leave realignment until 2025, if the Liberal party provides a right-wing alternative to the neoliberal status quo.

In New Zealand, the dominant party is back in power (Jacinda Ardern, Labour), so they could be ripe for realignment if she proves disjunctive. Her party already had to form a coalition government with the populist, immigration restrictionist New Zealand First party (a kingmaking third party last time). Still, in most places, it looks like the big realignment elections won't begin until 2022 or later, so I'd expect New Zealand to enter disjunctive status after their 2020 election, if Labour remains in power, and then realignment to strike in 2023 or 2026, bringing the National party to new dominant status, after they commit to some system other than the neoliberal status quo.

Before neoliberalism, the proto-socialist Midcentury began in Australia with Joseph Lyons (United Australia, forerunner of the Liberal party, both of which were the main right-wing party). They came to power in 1932 after the Great Depression discredited the formerly dominant Labor party, which split in 1931 and delivered a large defection to the newly dominant United Australia / Liberal party, including the trailblazing Lyons himself. Their counterpart to FDR -- the long-serving, tone-setting leader, though not the founder of the system -- was Robert Menzies (Liberal). Their counterpart to Jimmy Carter -- the ineffectual disjunctive leader during the crisis of the 1970s -- was Malcolm Fraser (Liberal). During this 51-year period, only 11 years were governed by opposition prime ministers from Labor.

The story is a little more complicated for New Zealand. Before the Great Depression, from 1890 to 1930, the left was the dominant party (Liberal, then United from its remnants), while the right was opposition (Reform). During the depths of the Depression in the early '30s, the center-left and center-right formed a grand coalition (United-Reform), in order to stave off the further-left Labour party. This meant both the center-left and center-right bore the blame for the Depression, and since the further-left Labour party was the only alternative, they came to power to pull the country out of the Depression, from 1935 to '49. Perhaps if the dominant left (United) had been the sole party in power during the early '30s, their disjunctive phase would have given way immediately to a newly dominant right (Reform).

However, Labour's rule was not a realignment but more of an interregnum, a temporary emergency to get out of the Depression. Realignments are defined by a big chunk of former rivals defecting to the new dominant party, and Labour did not gain massive defections from either the center-left or center-right, despite instituting the Keynesian policies that ended the Depression. Rather, the realignment was the formal merger, not just an alliance of convenience, of the center-left and center-right parties into a single non-Labour party. United and Reform merged into the National party, the right-wing party that began their period of dominance in 1949, which lasted through their disjunctive phase until 1984. The longest-serving dominant prime minister was Keith Holyoake, and its disjunctive ineffectual leader was Robert Muldoon.

The Labour party changed from being a further-left third party, before and during the Depression, to the center-left second party during the Midcentury, an opposition party that only controlled the government for 6 years between 1949 and 1984.

To re-cap New Zealand: the late 19th / early 20th century was dominated by the left, and dominance switched to the right during the Midcentury, with a further-left interregnum during the Depression itself. As of the mid-1980s, dominance has swung back to the left.

July 10, 2019

Reviving the Big Labor - Wall Street alliance of the New Deal

In the comments to a post below, there's some discussion of how the Democrats can bring the working class back onto their side and become the dominant rather than opposition party.

In this comment, I review the argument I've been making for awhile here about how the next New Deal phase of the cycle is still a ways off.

But as for nearer-term solutions, I'll just cut-and-paste the comments here. The first is about how de-industrialization has destroyed the upper tiers of the finance sector, as well as the labor unions and working class, giving them a common cause to unite around. The second is about de-escalating the arms race within the finance sector itself, which was begun by the lower and middle-tier finance orgs circa 1980, not the Wall Street investment banks at the top of the pyramid, who only deregulated as a reaction to those below, 20 years later.

If you want to comment, do so to this post, as the other one is old by now and has a moderated comment section.

* * * * *

Concretely in the short term, unions and populists should highlight to the big banks and central bank how unfair it is that the manufacturers have moved so much production outside the country, where it can't be taxed, leaving Wall Street and Silicon Valley to have to pick up more of the tax tab for funding our government.

And aside from current spending, our government has taken on enormous debt since 1980, compared to surpluses under the New Deal, because mfg owners and their vast working class can no longer be taxed to pay immediately for govt, leading to debt instead.

All that debt will wreck the finance sector -- either by them having to monetize that debt, or by defaulting, either one ruining the credit score of our central bank. Their financial assets become worth a whole lot less (they're denominated in dollars, which become funny-money under such printing schemes).

Also, with less and less real production being done here, the central bank has had to fill the void by injecting more and more monetary stimulus in order to "keep the economy going". But since it's just a bankers' bubble, it's not real, and will pop. That's not an emergency, "lender of last resort" function -- they're being used as an emergency every day for 40 years.

De-industrialization is to blame for that, since industrial-scale manufacturing is an organic and endogenous source of job creation with good wages. No need to stimulate constantly -- only now and again when the credit cycle tightens. (There was not a single bubble during the New Deal era.)

And of course, finance cannot provide the jobs themselves -- they are not labor-intensive, and will never be hiring in large numbers. Only labor-intensive employers can fill the void -- but with de-industrialization, that means shitty service jobs.

Industrial mfg has high profits margins, meaning if employers compete for workers, they have to pass along a lot of that profit to workers in wages. Retail, food, etc., are very low-margin activity, and leave little for employers to pass on. Only industrial mfg is both high-profit margin, and labor-intensive / high employment numbers. That alone can sustain a modern welfare state and economy.

There's likely more to the story, but that's the basic pitch. De-industrialization has thoroughly compromised the finance sector, all the way to the top, in stark contrast to the stable finance system of our industrial mfg heyday under the New Deal.

* * * * *

As for concrete solutions in finance, the increasing precariousness was caused by deregulation since 1980. And that did NOT benefit the big Wall Street investment banks -- they did not get deregulated until the late 1990s.

Rather, early neolib deregulation was about "liberating" the middle and bottom tier financial orgs to claw their way up the pyramid to take on the stodgy old investment banks. Regional banks like Continental Illinois, the entire Savings & Loan sector, hedge funds, private equity (leveraged buy-out, corporate raiding), barely existed before 1980, let alone were they running riot.

That's who was soaring off the charts during the '80s and most of the '90s. It was all fake, so they kept going bust, but for awhile the investment banks did not have to bail them out. Continental Illinois was bailed out by the FDIC, the whole Savings & Loan sector by a special act of the federal government.

But when a big hedge fund, Long Term Capital Management, went tits up in the late '90s, it was the Wall Street investment banks who had to bail it out. Imagine that -- this new breed of finance animal has been unshackled and eating your lunch for 15-20 years, and then when one of them kicks the bucket, it's YOU who has to pay for their enormous end-of-life services and funeral costs!

Immediately after LTCM's blow-up and bail-out, the investment banks demanded that they, too, be deregulated. If the middle and lower tier were unshackled, then the top tier had to be unshackled, too, in order to keep from going extinct at the hands of the upwardly mobile breeds.

It was only then that Glass-Steagall was repealed, and investment banks allowed to form into mega-banks.

That mega-ness directly caused them to blow up and need bailing out, in 2008. One didn't even make it -- Lehman Brothers. Think of it: every fly-by-night S&L from the '80s got bailed out, and now it was clear the upstart hedgies would always get bailed out. But one of the oldest investment banks on Wall Street? Sorry, don't count on it.

Now our central bank has gotten too big to fail, after jumping on a nearly 5 trillion-dollar grenade in order to "save the economy" after 2008. But it still has 80% of the shrapnel embedded in its body, meaning it can't absorb another blast -- and the next blast will be much bigger than 5 trillion. When the current bubble pops, the Fed will have a whole new order of magnitude of liabilities on its balance sheet, in the 10s of trillions of dollars.

And there is no higher bank to bail out the central bank that prints the world's reserve currency. No central bank of Planet Earth. No central bank of the solar system. No central bank of the Milky Way. No intergalactic central bank. No central bank of all parallel dimensions. This is, at last, the end of the line for bubble-blowing.

In order to de-scale the Wall Street mega-banks, we have to level the middle and lower tier of the finance world. That's where all the problems started. Impose regulations that put those actors back where they belong, where they're not challenging the investment banks at the top. Once its safe, the mega-banks can shrink back into Glass-Steagall style investment banks.

Big labor and their workers will have no problem with any of that. They don't thrive from the S&Ls, corporate raiders, and hedge funds -- if anything, they've gotten downsized into oblivion by them (private equity).

It can be sold as "all actors in the finance sector will be taking on a smaller role, and reining in their deregulated free-for-all behavior". But the real action will be caging up the sub-investment bank tiers, who started the arms race in the first place. De-escalation of the finance arms race -- a nice way to sell it to populists.

Again, only Dems can pursue that -- they're controlled by the Wall Street mega-banks and central bank, while the GOP was controlled by the formerly low/mid-tier finance orgs who wanted to take on the big boys from Wall Street (S&L, private equity).

June 29, 2019

No dance rock or garage rock revival during this vulnerable phase, unlike early 2000s, since no 9/11 this time

Earlier posts have covered the similarities between the music of the late 2010s and previous mellow, vulnerable phases of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle. First, dream pop as an indie phenomenon. Second, dream pop's influences going mainstream. And third, the dissonant and spastic turn that dance music takes.

The last mellow, vulnerable phase was the early 2000s, so you might expect to see another incarnation of garage rock revival bands such as the Strokes, or dance rock bands like Franz Ferdinand. But so far -- and there's only 6 months left in the current vulnerable phase -- those two have not materialized.

Why not?

Well, they were not staples of other vulnerable phases either -- the late '80s and the early '70s were not distinguished by these genres. To the extent that there was a mixture of dance and rock, it was dark, emo, down-tempo, and brooding -- glam rock of the early '70s, goth rock of the late '80s, and electroclash of the early 2000s.

That's distinct from the bouncy, upbeat genres of dance rock and garage rock revivals that started in 2002 and lasted into the late 2000s. They weren't as unreservedly upbeat as the music of the manic, invincible phase of the cycle, though. They were clearly marked by the brooding, emo zeitgeist of a vulnerable phase, creating an unusual fusion of brooding and bouncy.

You wouldn't expect to find something that body-moving and carefree during a refractory phase, so there must've been something unique to the early 2000s -- and that was the psychological reaction to 9/11.

I've covered that topic before here, detailing how the 5 years or so after 9/11 looked in some key ways like a rising-crime culture, a la the 1960s through the '80s, rather than the falling-crime culture that had prevailed since the '90s. That post discusses the "postpunk revival," as these genres were called back then, as evidence.

It was not rising violent crime rates from opportunistic individual criminals, but something similar -- a perceived rise in the risk of violence due to organized terrorism. Rising uncertainty about the safety of the near-term future makes us discount the future and want to live more in the moment. That really has an effect when the cause is a decades-long rise in violent crime rates, but 9/11 was such a spectacle that you couldn't help but be affected by it, at least for 5 years or so, until we didn't get any more spectacles and wrote off those risks.

And while there has been no widespread phenomenon or social scene around garage rock and dance rock this time around, there are still isolated songs that have taken a stab at it. They just can't find a broader resonance, since there's been no 9/11-like event to put people in a mood of "the end of the world is coming, might as well party while we still can".

Here's one that sounds like the Strokes reincarnated as a girl band, and another that could be a lost track from Franz Ferdinand's first album (maybe alluded to by "this fire" appearing in the lyrics).

"I Dare You" by the Regrettes (2019):

"Lash Out" by Alice Merton (2018):

June 26, 2019

When GOP replaces Trump as nom, Dems will implode since their focus is 100% Trump

At the Democrat debates tonight and tomorrow, 100% of the focus will be on the single individual named Donald J. Trump -- his evil nature, his coarse tone, his collusion with Russia, his treason, his far-right authoritarian subversion of American democracy, his love of similar far-right dictators (callback to Putin), and so on and so forth.

None of it will have to do with substantive issues. They could focus on healthcare, a major concern for voters, but that would heighten the people's awareness of Bernie being the only one who wants a single-payer system, while everyone else either outright rejects that proposal or dissimulates their opposition. The liberal media will be sure to rush right through that rabble-rousing topic.

Bernie's student debt jubilee is another topic that they'll allow five seconds of discussion on before rushing on -- it's too rabble-rousing, and too unconnected to Trump. The most important issue is to defeat Donald Trump, and restore American democracy to how it used to be.

These braindead morons are in for the shock of their lives when the GOP replaces Trump with literally anyone else (aside from a highly polarizing culture warrior like Ted Cruz). They will wait until late in the electoral season, to maximize the element of surprise. Suddenly, all of the Democrats' appeals to voters will go up in a puff of smoke.

"Vote for us in order to rid the White House of Trump! Wait, what's that? He's leaving after one term, so he won't be in office in 2021 no matter who wins the election? Uh, well, problem solved, I guess, but still... vote for us in order to... uh, prosecute Trump after he's already gone!"

They've been constructing their whole narrative based on the continuing threat that Trump poses in his role as the president -- so, once he voluntarily leaves in 2021, that threat vanishes. They cannot switch their message to one of pure vindictiveness, since that does not present some big common problem that we Americans must all unite together in order to solve. Acting like a bunch of petty vindictive middle school girls is not going to motivate anyone to show up to the voting booth.

After the GOP has preemptively neutralized Trump Derangement Syndrome as a potential GOTV issue, the Democrats will not have the monumental turnout that they did in the 2018 midterms. The seething rage will have no clearly defined target, and they will lose both attentional and emotional energy. There will be even more demoralized voters who stay home than in 2016. No high stakes, no point in leaving the house.

That collapse in Democrat turnout, more than a surge in favor of the Republican -- very unlikely since Trump has failed on his major 2016 themes -- will keep the Rust Belt states still very much in play for the GOP. Trump's replacement does not need to win all of them again -- just enough to clear 270. Ohio and Florida are already in the GOP column at this early stage (and North Carolina is not a blue state). If they get just Pennsylvania, it's over.

Only after the Democrats suffer total shock as the GOP snatches the rug out from under them, and they wake up from their concussion to discover that Trump's replacement has won the election, will they be forced to focus on populist material issues. Targeting individuals leaves the campaign completely helpless if that individual is no longer present, whereas targeting institutional and structural problems makes a campaign robust against the changing of particular individuals in the enemy's leadership.

That will also de-fang their obsession with fascism, Nazis, dictators, far-right authoritarianism, etc. Those systems all rely on a highly centralized command structure, and if we really faced such a threat, why would the purported dictator retire voluntarily after four short years? It's a retarded theory that makes no sense of the world and its problems, and it will lose any resonance that it might have enjoyed, once the so-called dictator bows out.

As usual, the technocratic geniuses behind the Democrat Establishment have absolutely no Plan B, and are blithely certain that Trump will be their rival. They are not even having a big debate over it and deciding overtly that Trump will be their rival, they're simply taking it for granted. And of course the clueless Left has been primarily focusing on the same issues as the neoliberal status quo Establishment -- far-right dictator, Nazi menace, etc. They will be of no use either during the campaign. It will truly be the blind leading the blind.

Only the people who are economically populist and morally conservative seem to have any hint of what is possible, and how to build a campaign that is robust to the potential major shocks. And they are marginalized by their supposed comrades on both the Left and Right, whichever they affiliate more with. It'll be a case of I Told You So after the 2020 election, and then a real effort to forge a real realignment after 40 years of neoliberalism.

I've decided not to rehearse my argument for why Trump will not be the GOP nominee, in the interest of space, but you can read my comments to a recent post beginning here. The evidence is extensive and plain to see, both historical parallels and current events (like the GOP refusing to endorse Trump as the next nominee during their meeting earlier this year).

Aside from all that evidence, just check your intuition -- does Trump right now strike you as someone who's preparing for the electoral fight of his life, or someone who's thoroughly checked out and only looking to save as much face as he can on his way out the door?

June 13, 2019

Bernie surrenders to Biden's comparative advantage - fake Nazi hunting - against his class-first appeal

Way back in February 2016, before Super Tuesday, I correctly predicted the end of the Bernie campaign based on his shift from class-first socialism to identity politics and intersectionality as he went to South Carolina, where most Democrat primary voters are black. He did not go full libtard on phony racial issues, but he did begin talking more about the incarceration rate, police brutality, and other issues that especially affect blacks.

It was the attempt to "do both" -- socialism and identitarianism -- that scuttled his challenge to Hillary Clinton. Any mention whatsoever of identity groups plays directly into the hands of the Establishment neoliberals like Clinton, whose entire appeal is identity politics -- either alone, or mixed with left-ish economic promises (that never materialize, which is the whole point of distracting with id-pol).

Bernie's comparative advantage was class politics, not id-pol, and who knows how well he could've done with Southern blacks by focusing like a laser on how materially poorer they've gotten over the past 40 years, including under Obama.

And lest anyone doubt how much I had predicted that far in advance, go read that post and see that I correctly called Trump as the GOP nominee, Trump as winner of the general election, the main issues being economic populism and party realignment, Trump leaving aside GOP id-pol (which Cruz took up instead, and massively failed even with GOP primary voters), demoralized Sanders supporters not turning out for Hillary in the general, defection of Sandernistas to Trump (10-15% of Bernie voters ended up voting Trump), and the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin and Michigan being central to this upset victory.

It didn't take a genius to figure all of that out so far in advance -- it just took someone who wasn't a complete retard, and someone who has not been a braindead partisan masturbater their entire life. That's why the events that unfolded during that electoral season took the Very Serious Thinkers all by surprise -- most of them barely have 3-digit IQs, and the rest are emotionally crippled partisans who produce and consume punditry as a form of therapy.

So now it saddens me to see these events happening all over again leading up to 2020, arguably in a worse form than four years ago. Bernie himself, his political circle, and the Democrat electorate in general, have only further minimized the class politics of his 2016 campaign and ramped up the id-pol hysteria that only favors the status quo candidate, now Biden instead of Hillary.

A socialist like Bernie can only halfass id-pol and intersectionality -- if voters are primed to want that, they will go with the unadulterated real deal, the neoliberal Establishment. Nazi hunting benefits CIA liberals for whom that is their specialty -- Jake Tapper, Evan McMullin, and their political vehicles like Clinton and Biden. That is not anywhere close to Bernie's specialty, so such voters would never choose him over Biden.

In a way, Bernie has already entered the concession stage of the campaign, and moved beyond advancing his own distinctive brand of politics, to re-purposing that branding in the service of the themes that will dominate the Establishment's general campaign.

This shift was decisively signaled by Bernie's speech on democratic socialism this week, although the changes have been building for awhile. Back in 2017, Bernie's speeches would only deliver a throwaway line about Russia / Putin / Mueller, another throwaway line about bigotry, and still made sure to emphasize the need to reach out to and convert Trump voters, who were not Nazis but desperate people whom the neoliberal economy had utterly failed.

By now, those speeches are unrecognizable, and would get him instantly canceled by the entire Democrat base -- moderates, libs, leftoids, and anarcho-LARPers, all of whom are shrieking about Trump and his administration representing a sudden and uniquely fascistic threat to the very foundations of America as a nation and to the democratic form of government.

To cater to this demand from the emotionally broken voters themselves, Bernie's campaign has subordinated the class politics of socialism to the neoliberal goal of distraction by Nazi-hunting. In the dem-soc speech, the entire dramatic tension comes from the sudden, rising threat of far-right authoritarianism not only in the US but all over the world. That is the main faultline that separates good from evil, light from dark, Us from Them. It's just like it was in the 1930s. Will humanity save itself as it did back then, or will we lose the war and perish for good as democratic nations?

In this narrative, the whole populist economic appeal is merely a means to a Nazi-hunting end -- just as FDR implemented the New Deal and beat Germany in WWII, so too can we only rely on a New New Deal implemented by Bernie to defeat the worldwide neo-Nazi menace. The improvement to our material standard of living and social solidarity is just a pleasant side-effect of the far more existentially crucial battle against far-right authoritarianism. This is the antifa-cation of Bernie's message over the past several years.

First, the history is completely wrong. Nazi Germany was not a sudden out-of-the-blue threat -- Prussia had been an expansionist nation since it became a kingdom in 1700, after Central Europe had recovered from the Thirty Years War. In the 18th century, they were led by an Enlightened absolutist monarch (Frederick the Great), and had clearly reached major power status by 1870, when they quickly knocked out France in the Franco-Prussian War, and unified the formerly fragmented German states. After reaching their peak around the time of Bismarck, they lost WWI and suffered devastating punishment by the victors. The Nazis were just the last desperate attempt to salvage Prussia's former greatness, and they lost even more decisively than they had in WWI, and were now de-militarized and indefinitely occupied by the military of the main victor (the US).

That centuries-long geopolitical expansion is the whole reason that the Nazis were a threat to anyone outside of Germany. Nobody cared about right-wing authoritarians in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and the Slavic Balkans because none of those nations had been expanding for centuries. The only other source of fear at the time was the Empire of Japan -- another state that had been expanding geopolitically for centuries.

So in the early 21st century, where the hell are these expansionist empires who might actually threaten Americans or others, supposing that far-right authoritarians were to take over their government? Nowhere in Europe, nowhere in the Americas -- other than the US itself -- nowhere in Africa, nowhere in Central or Southern Asia, and nowhere in Eastern Asia. China has been ruled by the left, not the right, since the Communist era, and they are not expansionist -- and even if they were, that would only threaten mainland Asian nations, not America. Its economic miracle is entirely the gift of Western manufacturing cartels using it as a cheap labor colony for off-shoring, as they have de-industrialized their own economies.

The only expansionist nation that is run by religious and militarist right-wing authoritarians, and that continues to pose a threat not only to their neighbors but to the American people -- is Saudi Arabia, expanding since circa 1750, but clearly past their Mid-20th century peak (just like us). In fairness, Bernie's speech does mention Mohammad bin Salman as one of the far-right authoritarians who threaten the world, and who Trump has allied himself with (as has every American president since the Cold War).

But unlike Nazi Germany vs. Europe or the US, the Saudis are a client state of the Pentagon, so all we need to do with them is cut them off as part of the unwinding of the impotent American empire. Socialism is neither here nor there for countering the radical Islamic threat of the Arabians.

Nor was socialism integral to defeating Germany in WWII. It wasn't only the US that had a proto- or quasi-socialist government that arose during the Great Depression -- so did Britain and France, and yet they were powerless to stop Germany. Yugoslavia had an effective Communist-led resistance to Nazi occupation, but they were not crucial in defeating Germany outside of the Balkans. It was the Soviets who did the heavy lifting to defeat Germany. It was not their Communism that helped them defeat Germany, but the fact that they were a large-scale expanding state themselves, as were the Americans. It was geopolitical trends of expanding vs. contracting states, not their internal control by the socialist left or the conservative or fascist right, that determined the outcome.

And of course, the US mostly sat out WWII in Europe. Bernie's speech reinforces the Cold War-influenced Boomerism that America joined the Allies in WWII to defeat the Nazis on account of their being violent racists, and that we were mainly responsible for their defeat. Back on Planet Earth, we only joined WWII after Japan -- not Germany -- attacked one of our Pacific Island colonial outposts. Japan's expansion in the Pacific was on a collision course with our own westward expansion toward the Pacific.

We were not expanding into Europe, so the Germans posed us no imminent geopolitical threat -- and so we let the Europeans fight amongst themselves, swooping in to the power vacuum afterwards to make it a colony (NATO, Marshall Plan, supporting EU, etc.). We infamously turned back boats of Jews fleeing the Holocaust, sent our military very late during the rise of the Nazis, and played a minor role in the West compared to the Soviets' major role in the East. Right after the war ended, we helped install the right wing in power in Germany and Italy, since they were preferable to the social democrats who might be sympathetic to the Soviets.

With Germany out of the expansionist picture, it was only Russia who posed us any geopolitical threat as we expanded into occupying Europe. Just like that, we went from attacking Nazis to attacking the Nazi-attackers. It had nothing to do with right vs left, identity politics, or anything like that -- only cold hard geopolitical matters of who was expanding in a region in which we were also expanding, and who we would be on a collision course with.

Bernie's speech glorifies militarism and imperialism, keeping American Boomer brains ever focused on the one war where we played a decent role, and ignoring the other wars that America fought under the New Deal Democrats. Why doesn't Bernie hype up the Korean War, Vietnam War, support for the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, etc.? Not only because those wars all failed to bring the regions under the US sphere of influence -- and so would painfully remind Boomers that the US military is past its WWII peak -- but because they would discredit his speech's premise that we can somehow contain a "socialist militarism" to only the good wars. If we subordinate socialism to militarism, it will be utilized even where we are clearly the evil ones -- as the Great Society president did in Southeast Asia -- because militarism is amoral, looking only at geopolitical expansion and contraction, not what any of the state actors stand for.

By fundamentally miscasting the sources and results of the New Deal, Bernie's speech fails to re-ignite support for it with today's voters. The triggering event was the Great Depression, not the German invasion of Poland. The forces leading up to the triggering event were laissez-faire economics, not Prussian geopolitical expansion. The elites who ushered in those forces were the robber barons, not the Nazis. The main victory of the New Deal was a rising standard of living, increased solidarity, a more stable economic system and business cycle, and a more egalitarian distribution of wealth, not German military defeat and occupation. And the main losers were the industrialist elites, not former Nazis.

In the ham-fisted attempt to stitch together these two entirely separate narratives, the speech does mention the latter-day robber barons (oligarchs) who dominate our 21st-century society, but casts them as villains primarily for allying with the supposed far-right authoritarians who are on the rise across the world, and only secondarily for their policies of bailouts for the rich, austerity for everyone else. In the speech, it is the far-right authoritarians, not the oligarchs, who represent the imminent apocalyptic threat -- so the robber barons are reduced to the role of fascism-enablers. Hardly the ringing endorsement that the neoliberals would give to the Jeff Bezoses and Walton families of the world, but still minimizing their role and obfuscating about who and what are the real threats to the common good in 2019.

At the big-picture level, Bernie's speech was hardly different from Hillary's speech about the Alt-Right and right-wing authoritarians led by Putin, which was a reliable sign of her demise at the polls a few months later. Bernie's speech only differs on the proposed solution to the threat, not what the major threat is. And again, if he portrays far-right authoritarianism as the major threat and campaign theme, voters will rush right into Joe Biden's creepy embrace. Being the global policeman for liberal values is the Establishment's specialty, not Bernie's.

Normal people understand that there are no far-right authoritarians in power anywhere, other than perhaps Saudi Arabia, that no such movement is even afoot in the US, and that a handful of right-wingers posting anti-Jewish memes on Twitter doesn't matter. Even the occasional mass shooting of a synagogue is not enough to make normal people assess the threat as equivalent to radical Islam, responsible for orders of magnitude more deaths in recent memory (9/11). Mass shootings in general get attention, but there are too many to keep track of, and most do not involve identitarian motives.

With the antifa-cation of his message, Bernie's campaign has boxed itself into advocating for the 1% rather than the 99% -- the 1% of the population who are deranged libtards that binge-consume Rachel Maddow (if Boomers) or blue-check Twitter (if Gen X or Millennial). And by casting Trump as a far-right authoritarian, and by casting socialism as a prophylactic against far-right extremism, he's implicitly condemning a big chunk of Trump voters as fascist enablers. No different from Hillary's "basket of deplorables" speech about what voting for Trump amounted to, whatever their motives may have been.

You cannot run on such a polarizing message and fight for the great majority. Instead, the main source of divisiveness has come from the insane liberals and leftoids. Trump united a large coalition thought to be impossible for a Republican to unite by 2016, whereas the Democrats were then, and sadly still are now, railing against any end to the pointless culture war.

Most of Trump's crucial voters (distinct from kneejerk GOP voters) are ready to defect, in the wake of his utter inability to get anything done in office (indeed, everything has gotten worse that he promised to make better). The only candidates who Tucker Carlson is even remotely excited about are Bernie, Tulsi, Yang, and Warren -- all Democrats, and those whose economic values are left rather than right.

But they aren't going to go through all the costs of yet another seismic campaign unless it's at least as good as the last one they joined. And one that subordinates economic populism to global-scale Nazi goose-chasing is not that campaign. I'm still sticking with Bernie, because he's still the best choice in 2020, but he's not going to get the same level of sympathy from Independents and Republicans that he did in 2016, if he keeps up this antifa-cation bullshit. Nothing short of a total overhaul on these issues will improve his campaign's already dim prospects.

The Bernie movement's goal always had to be sidelining the hysterical freaks and converting Trump sympathizers -- conservative GOP-ers looking to abandon the sinking ship of Reaganism, as well as Independents who hate both parties -- and signing up and organizing those who normally just sit out the primary or general election. Otherwise, the same ol' Democrat voters would nominate the same ol' neoliberal candidate like Clinton or Biden.

They have chosen partisanship and left purity above getting contaminated by ritually unclean Trump voters or disaffected non-voters, and they are getting shellacked by the Establishment because of it. Bernie struggles to crack 20% in polls, while Biden does not fall below 30%, and that gap has only gotten worse since Bernie rolled out his campaign in February. Their realignment will not happen until at least 2024, and if they continue to refuse alliances with those necessary to win, they can forget about '24 too.

The only glimmer of hope is that the upcoming recession will be a Great Depression-level catastrophe, so painful that it forces the libtards to stop masturbating to their Nazi-hunting fantasies, and train their sights squarely on the real-world threats of laissez-faire, oligarchy per se, and inequality, uniting the great majority of the country in that fight to bring back order after decades of teetering neoliberal chaos.

Their fantasies are luxuries that can only be afforded during comfortable times, and so far the current economic bubble has yet to fully burst. If they were working-class, they would have been mired in hard times for awhile now, but they are all professional-class strivers who have benefited massively from Obama's re-inflation of the info-economy bubble.

Once the global central banks are no longer running the printing presses, the venture capitalists who fund their online media outlet will cut them off, and they will have to move back in with their parents in flyover country, bye-bye Brooklyn. Only when they are materially forced to re-join the human race will they be able to pursue a humanizing political project like socialism.

June 5, 2019

Brexit requires Corbyn - Le Pen (and Salvini) alliance of realigners to defeat status quo Germany

Britain's decision to leave the EU has so far turned out to be as successful as America's decision to build a wall on the southern border, exit Afghanistan, and narrow the trade deficit.

That's because the intended vehicle for these changes was the very party that started the mess in the first place -- the Conservatives in Britain under May and the GOP in America under Trump, each the disjunctive descendant of neoliberal pioneers Thatcher and Reagan. Like bloody hell a systemic realignment would come from the party that has benefited the most from the status quo, by founding and sustaining it all along.

These regime dynamics are what's missing in the recent discussion of Brexit on the What's Left podcast. Aimee Terese and Benjamin Studebaker correctly point out how Britain is in no position to take on the entire rest of the EU -- they're a far larger bloc than even a major member like Britain. So no matter who is sent to negotiate on behalf of the Brexiteers, they will never receive favorable terms from the EU.

The Conservatives, or any Brexit party that amounts to a spin-off of the Conservatives, is guaranteed to fail because their own party has benefited the most from neoliberalism, including EU integration. Labour, once realigned under someone like Corbyn (a Eurosceptic from the left), would face less headwinds from their own party's elite sectors.

But the point remains that Britain cannot take on the big bad EU all by itself. However, this assumes that the EU is monolithic and without its own tensions, especially the potential or actual realignments among its major members, all of which are pointing toward disintegrating the EU and trying to salvage economic nationalism (proto-socialism) from the Mid-20th century.

Italy is already on its way toward such a realignment. The dominant coalition during the neoliberal era there -- and elsewhere in the Mediterranean, including France -- has been the left, whereas the dominant coalition during the more egalitarian Midcentury was the right. (In Italy, it was more centrist, but when the opposition is the Communists, the centrist coalition is the relatively more right-wing of the two.)

Salvini hails from the right, but has struck a deal with the left on the welfare state -- agreeing to a wealth transfer from the prosperous North to the poorer South, in the form of a "citizen's income," in return for pursuing a more nationalist program on immigration and EU membership.

Most would dismiss Italy as a partner in an anti-EU coalition along with a Labour-led Brexit movement, because it is so heavily indebted and not in a strong position to dictate terms. Still, its GDP is 4th among Europe (after Germany, Britain, and France), and its population is also 4th behind those countries. It is not a minor country, but its debt levels leave it more at the mercy of its peers, especially the German banks. But Corbyn should still pursue an alliance with Salvini, even if it will not by itself deal the fatal blow to the EU.

That would require pitting the two other major, not-so-indebted countries against each other -- France and Germany. There is currently almost no Eurosceptic political movement in Germany, and it's not surprising since that country has benefited more than any other from the EU system. Why radically alter what has been working so well for you? They are a distinct 1st place by GDP in Europe, and much of that is real productive output -- industrial-scale manufacturing, not only financial services. That massive weight and ability to make its own real stuff gives it an outsized advantage over the other countries.

So, that leaves France as the nation to partner with for the Brexiteers. Studebaker mentions this possibility, but doesn't pursue it to the logical conclusion -- that Corbyn must form an alliance with Le Pen. As a Mediterranean country, France has been led by the left during the neoliberal era, in contrast to being led by the right during the proto-socialist Midcentury. That points to the right being the coalition that will realign the system away from the current regime, and clearly that will be the National Rally led by Le Pen, which unlike the other right-wing parties of this era, has decided to defend and expand the welfare state, in return for a more nationalist approach to immigration and EU membership.

There is a national election in France due for early 2022, and already the opinion polls show that Le Pen has closed the gap with Macron by 20 points compared to the last election in 2017. Back then, the status quo left candidate Macron won by 66 to 34, while recent polling shows him only winning 56 to 44. There is a major recession or even depression that will strike in the early 2020s, so we can expect those numbers to flip in favor of Le Pen by election day.

Even if the central bank of the US holds off on triggering the recession until after the 2020 US election (far from a certainty), that still leaves over a year for it to impact the 2022 national elections in France, Britain, and Germany.

In Britain, that would mean the end of the Conservative dominance during the neoliberal era. Already opinion polls show Labour + Brexit at about a 50% majority outright. The major trend there is the Brexiteers splitting off from the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats splitting off from Labour. If Corbyn can get those who have left the Conservatives over the single issue of Brexit, then the realignment will be a done deal.

They will need some reassurance, though, and partnering with Le Pen and Salvini will convince them that he's not just a partisan do-nothing, but serious about transforming the system with bipartisan support. Such an alliance would also convince voters that Corbyn could actually deliver the goods on Brexit, unlike the Conservatives, who would not be caught dead partnering with Le Pen or Salvini (UK Conservatives are the status quo party, not the realignment party).

Only by partnering with like-minded leaders in France -- and Italy for good measure -- could Corbyn pull off a Brexit deal with favorable terms, since his delegation would not be facing a monolithic EU delegation, but one fragmented into Germany on one side and Britain, France, and Italy on the other.

"Like-minded" leaders in France and Italy will not be from the left, who are the dominant status quo party in the Mediterranean. In the southern countries, Corbyn must partner with Eurosceptic populists from the right -- the only option to choose from in that region. He might like it if realignment were coming from the left in France, but it is not. Quite the opposite, the left is the source of the disjunctive defense of the status quo, namely Macron.

"Left" and "right" are only minor variations on the theme of the zeitgeist. Neoliberalism has been implemented equally by the right (in the Anglo countries) and the left (in the Mediterranean). Before that, proto-socialism was implemented equally by the right (in the Med) and the left (Anglos). As we transform the system, realignment will come equally from the right (Med) and the left (Anglos).

That is what the task at hand is -- major realignment of the system, not just switching from one variation to another within the same regime. The Corbynites' job is to find other Eurosceptics who will be the ones in charge of the new regime in their countries over the course of the 2020s, whether they are on the left (the Bernie people in America) or the right (in the Med).

I've already predicted that realignment in the US will have to wait until 2024, since the Democrats are not ready to surrender their braindead partisanship and pick off the populist Trump voters (ewww, disgusting contamination from ritually unclean scum). That is true for both the Democrat elites as well as the common voters, both of whom are poised to pick Biden over Bernie during the primary. This is like the two terms of disjunctive rule that preceded our Civil War, the only other time in our nation's history when polarization has been this intense.

I'm sure polarization is also bad and rising in Europe, but it cannot be as awful as it is here. The proof is that Italy has already kicked off its realignment -- and Italians can rarely agree on anything, especially regarding wealth redistribution from the North to the South. The Yellow Vests protests in France have been bipartisan or nonpartisan, and the original Brexit campaign was similarly bi/non-partisan. If they can forge the alliance by the 2022 elections, that will allow a cascade of realignments to be set off in Europe ahead of our election in 2024, which ought to be when we realign under a Bernie-style Democrat party.

Partisan self-indulgence will not only derail any attempt to become the new dominant coalition in one's own country, it will also prevent the international alliances necessary to wield enough collective leverage against the status quo.

June 1, 2019

Made-to-order robo-gf archetype appears as guys retreat during vulnerable phase of cultural excitement cycle

Recent posts on the archetypes of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and the supportive sex worker have looked at what types of women appeal to men during the restless warm-up phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle, as they feel like coming out of their shells and may need a little coaxing from those types of women.

But what types appeal to them while they are still in a social-emotional refractory state during the vulnerable phase? Rather than want to be drawn out, they want to hunker down and escape from their social world. This leads them to prefer make-believe women, blank slates customized to their tastes, so that they don't have to deal with the messy real world and all the social sensory overload that would entail, while still enjoying at least a simulation of a girlfriend.

The focus here is not on all kinds of female robots, but only those who are playing the social role of a girlfriend. They may or may not be physically intimate with the male character.

Why a customized, blank-slate robot instead of a real person with a fully formed personality? Because a woman with her own personality cannot be altered, and the man must adapt his own fully formed personality to hers, and she to his. Unable to change each other, they have to figure out how to work together despite not fitting each other precisely like puzzle pieces. The initial work done in a relationship is learning who the other person is, what makes them tick, and so on. All of this social-emotional effort is too much for someone in a refractory state. A blank slate that is customized to his tastes obviates all of that effort, and makes the relationship feel tolerable.

I'm only counting examples from mainstream or popular works, since I'm sure there are nerds who are portraying such types in paperbacks, b-movies, and animes all the time. Sci-fi and fantasy genres aren't the most popular genres, so movies featuring these types are not too common in any period. But when they do show up, they are clustered in the vulnerable phase.

During the current vulnerable phase of the late 2010s, there was Ex Machina, the Westworld TV series, and Blade Runner 2049 (unlike the female replicants in this one and the original, Joi is a blank slate, made-to-order girlfriend).

During the early 2000s, there was Simone and a re-make of The Stepford Wives.

During the late '80s, there was Weird Science and Mannequin.

During the early '70s, there was the original Westworld movie and the original Stepford Wives movie. Technically, The Stepford Wives came out in early 1975, though the novel it was based on came out in 1972. You can either count that story as from the first half of the '70s, or as the smallest of deviations from the pattern (off by 44 days, compared to the phase length of 5 years).

During the late '50s, The Twilight Zone was the only mainstream sci-fi / fantasy outlet (for movies, these genres didn't get big until the '60s). And sure enough, there was an episode from 1959, "The Lonely," whose central plot device is a robo-gf.

I couldn't easily find any examples from the early '40s, though again the genres were not that popular back then, and there was no TV. Perhaps there was a hit radio program like The Twilight Zone that had one, I don't know.

But from the late '20s, there was the first and most iconic example -- the robot from Metropolis.

There are two possible exceptions -- like the original Stepford Wives, not much of a deviation, though, missing the cut by one year.

In early 1990, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation ("Hollow Pursuits") revolves around a crew member withdrawing to the make-believe world of the Holodeck where he re-programs the personalities of female characters who look like his attractive colleagues, so that they fall for him.

Also in 1990, the protagonist's butt-kicking babe sidekick in Total Recall is supposedly programmed as part of his fantasy vacation. I'm not sure this fits the category of a make-believe entity, though. The company messes with your brain to implant a false memory of your fantasy, similar to programming your dreams. It's not an actual thing he's interacting with in the real world. It's akin to specifying what kind of call girl he wants to show up to his hotel room, only in a dream-world. Also, the movie is ambiguous about whether or not the protagonist really goes through with the memory-altering procedure, so this woman may be a real person after all.

I'm excluding Her from 2013's manic phase, since the female-voiced operating system that the protag develops feelings for is not a blank slate that he customizes to fulfill his fantasies. She has her own personality, goals, and willfulness, and he has to learn to adapt himself to her as much as she must adapt to him. This is more of an "odd couple" pairing, specifically the fish out of water type, which showed up in another fantasy movie from an earlier manic phase -- Splash from 1984. But that may be the topic for another post.

May 27, 2019

Denmark leads the way on left realignment toward immigration restriction and anti-globalization

Denmark's political regime cycles are similar to our own in America, as well as Canada and the UK (though not our Anglo cousins of the South Pacific). These regime cycles are the opposite of those in the Mediterranean (including France), which have seen the same overall outcomes unfolding, but with the dominant vs. opposition status of the left-wing and right-wing coalitions switched around.

In Denmark, the neoliberal era since circa 1980 has been led by the more right-wing of the two coalitions, beginning with Prime Minister Schluter in 1982. The left coalition led the government during the 1990s (Poul Rasmussen) and the early 2010s (Thorning-Schmidt), but they did not overturn the basic neoliberal order begun by the dominant right-wing side -- similar to Clinton and Obama during our Reaganite era.

Before this era, it was the left who was the dominant coalition, going back to Stauning's rule in the late 1920s. He was like FDR here, and also won one election after another during the Great Depression. We can call these regimes proto-socialism. In Denmark, that order ground to a stagnating halt during the 1970s, just like it did everywhere else. The end of that era was presided over by an ineffectual would-be reformer of the dominant coalition, Jorgensen, who was like our Jimmy Carter.

Toward the end of the current neoliberal era, a populist attempt to radically reform the system from the right appeared from seemingly out of nowhere -- the Danish People's Party, which enjoyed major success not only in Danish parliamentary elections, but also in their European Parliament elections, in the middle of this decade. They supported the incumbent Establishment right-wing government, similar to how the supposed Trumpian populists have generally bent the knee for the Establishment GOP after Trump took office.

The DPP has collapsed, just like the "Trump movement" has here, with some going back to the Establishment right, and others back to the mainstream left -- like what the Obama-Trump voters will be doing in either the 2020 or 2024 election. We just saw the DPP get wiped out in the European Parliament election, and they are poised to do poorly in the upcoming Danish general election in about a week. Imagine if Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller tried to run for office right now, instead of in 2016. They'd go nowhere.

However, those who flocked to the DPP because they were dissatisfied with the status quo have only returned to the mainstream left party, the Social Democrats, because they have realigned their positions on the economy -- greater social democracy -- and on immigration -- heavy restriction of legal immigration, all but ending asylum, and forcing cultural integration among those who do get in.

They have linked the two parts ideologically by saying it's about protecting the vulnerable in society that the Danish government has jurisdiction over, responsibility to, and influence over -- namely the working and middle classes of Denmark, not foreigners and not the rent-seeking elites who want cheap labor immigration. It is a classic Social Democrat position, not a contradiction.

This is not the same party from 5-10 years ago, when it was more like the Democrats under Obama. But that is because the regime dynamics have changed -- they are no longer in the consensus phase, since the attempted populist changes of the DPP have dealt a fatal blow to the popular mandate of the dominant coalition and their continuing of the nearly 40-year neoliberal agenda.

The mainstream left can no longer win by simply promising neoliberalism with progressive values -- they have to go where the voters are, and they want to reclaim the egalitarianism that has been eroded by neoliberalism, and they want Denmark for the Danes. That is not to say, bombing the hell out of foreign peoples, but just keeping their society homogeneous so that it can continue to operate smoothly, instead of becoming fragmented into atomized and alienated individuals by immigration of drastically different foreigners.

The left has stolen the major issue for dissatisfied voters from the right-wing party -- immigration and inequality, which always go together. (See our own Gilded Age inequality linked to Ellis Island immigration, then our New Deal egalitarianism and closed-border immigration policies, and then our return to Gilded Age / Ellis Island outcomes since the Reagan Revolution.)

As a result, they stand ready to clobber the weak and ineffectual right-wing coalition in the upcoming general election, and the figure responsible for forcing this realignment on immigration, Mette Frederiksen, will become the Prime Minister (the youngest ever, a late Gen X-er, and a woman). The closest figure in the US would be Tulsi Gabbard, although Tulsi focuses less on the immigration aspect of anti-globalization and more on the anti-imperialism aspect (a more pressing concern for a declining major global empire like America, and unlike Denmark).

Bernie has a far greater chance of winning than she does, of course -- I mean that the situation in Denmark is as though Tulsi were poised to win her party's nomination and the general election in a landslide. I keep saying our disjunctive phase is going to last at least two terms, so this outcome will have to wait until 2024 in the US.

We also see how useless the Greens have been in Denmark. They have higher numbers than earlier in the century, but they are still a small minority, and they have fought against the new immigration restrictions proposed and implemented by their fellow left-wingers in the now realigned Social Democrats. They are trying to push for the "New" Left positions of 1968, which heralded the downfall of the working-class paradise of the Midcentury, the rise of libertarianism during the '70s, and the neoliberal hegemony of the '80s and afterward. As long as they get concessions on cultural laissez-faire, they are content to take more economic laissez-faire.

The closest thing we have to the Greens here is the DSA, whose representatives in government -- AOC, Tlaib, and Omar -- are only capable of pursuing neoliberalism with progressive values, rather than stealing the anti-globalization issues away from the failed Trump movement (i.e., anti-imperialism, anti-immigration, and re-industrialization).

Bernie is distinct from them in being a moderate on social-cultural issues (most notably on gun rights) and for having been on the record opposing open borders as a libertarian oligarch's policy, not one for the working class. If he and his people could push even harder for the immigration positions of the Danish Social Democrats -- the Scandinavian model for what he supposedly thinks socialism should look like -- they would wipe out the stagnant GOP in the coming years, stealing the disaffected populist voters who chose Trump over Clinton.

If they're not going to call for a shut-down of immigration, they at least need to call for a shut-down of the American empire. And a return of off-shored manufacturing to American soil. The longer they punt on these major issues, the longer they delay the realignment and prolong this stagnating disjunctive phase. Ignore the affluent rad-libs of the DSA in Brooklyn and the Bay Area, and focus on the working class of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee. Legions of Trump voters are willing and eager to defect, but only to a realigned Democrat party -- not the one of Obama or Clinton.

May 24, 2019

Deep cut Friday: "Crazy in the Night" by Kim Carnes

May 22, 2019

Supportive sex worker archetype shows up during warm-up phase of excitement cycle

Related to the post below on the rise of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl during the restless warm-up phase of the cultural excitement cycle, this phase also sees the appearance of the emotionally and socially supportive sex worker (usually a prostitute, sometimes a stripper).

This is a distinct sub-type of the "hooker with a heart of gold" archetype. The general category includes examples that are simply non-stigmatizing or humanizing portrayals of prostitutes -- perhaps they are savvy businesswomen, sources of excitement for the ho-hum world the movie is set in, maternal or sisterly figures to other female characters, etc.

My focus here excludes these merely sex-positive portrayals (such as Ophelia in Trading Places or Lana from Risky Business), which seem linked more to the manic phase and its sex-positive flavor of feminism. See this review post on how feminism changes according to the phases of the excitement cycle.

The type here is one who helps the male character come out of some negative social-emotional state, akin to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl who serves as a nurse to a sick patient. She is a stabilizing rather than anarchic force for him.

He tends to help her rise out of a sunken state as well, typically by getting her to leave her emotionally degrading and socially isolating line of work. This rules out cases where they enable each other's negative tendencies, to their mutual ruin (Leaving Las Vegas).

As a more taboo character, this type does not appear as frequently as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but the timing is still the same.

During the early '60s, there was Irma la Douce, which shows most clearly the congruence between the two female character types -- it was a re-uniting of Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and director Billy Wilder, who had collaborated on Manic Pixie Dream Girl movie The Apartment just a few years earlier.

During the late '70s, there was Taxi Driver, whose prostitute character is not the typical hooker with a heart of gold, but that just goes to show that it is not her internal motivation or personality that fit her for the role -- but rather how she interacts with the male character, and re-directs the course of the plot and his character development.

She initiates the redemption arc for the protagonist. Up until they meet, his breakdown had been heading in increasingly anti-social directions -- vigilante violence against robbers, nearly assassinating a political candidate. She gives him a more pro-social outlet for his anger, as he sets free an underage hooker from her pimp and brothel, allowing her to return home to her family in a wholesome, non-shithole part of the country. And unlike his doomed date with the adult Betsy, whom he cluelessly takes to a porno theater, his relationship with 12 year-old Iris takes a paternal form, and he struggles to protect her from, rather than expose her to, degeneracy.

During the early '90s, there was Pretty Woman, the most well known of this type, that needs no further comment.

During the late 2000s, there was The Wrestler, whose sex worker was a stripper rather than a prostitute, and who does not actually have sex with the male character. She does try to help the protagonist turn his life around, although to mixed success -- she does get him to reconnect with his estranged daughter, but he ultimately goes back into his dangerous line of work and chooses to do himself in.

Just before the warm-up phase began in 2005, there was a less successful movie with this type in 2004, The Girl Next Door. There was also a less successful form of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl movie from 2004, Garden State. But we don't see this in other final years of the vulnerable phase ('89, '74, '59, or at least so far in 2019). They just got the itch for those character types slightly early in 2004.

To wrap up, what connections do the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and emotionally helpful hooker have in common as individuals, aside from their role in nursing the protagonist back to health? Both are socially marginal -- dorky, awkward, and quirky, or earning a living in a taboo line of work. And they are utterly unknown to the protagonist at the beginning of the story -- she's not a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or a non-blood family member. She seems to come out of nowhere, as though from some alternate reality, making him feel like she's been sent like a guardian angel.

Such a background is necessary in the context of the excitement cycle phases, since he has been in the vulnerable refractory phase for several years now, and still associates his own world with unwanted contact, and from which he is withdrawing to avoid further pain. Then only a person who comes from outside of his own world, which has made him sick, can be treated as safe enough to enter into social and emotional contact with him. If she comes from opposite land, then she will have a light enough touch, and an airy enough presence, to not weigh him down and make him feel over-stimulated like the women of his own land.

This is the central source of irony in the two character types -- if anyone would be likely to physically and even sexually over-stimulate a man, and to have an earthy and physical rather than ethereal presence, you'd figure it would be a hooker. And if anyone would be likely to over-stimulate his social emotions, you'd figure it would be a manic pixie type rather than a boring quiet wallflower type.

But again we can resolve this paradox by looking into the context of the excitement cycle phases -- if he, and just about everybody else, are still in the refractory / emo phase, then someone who comes from a more sexual background, or who has a more cheerful disposition, will appear to be from a different phase of the cycle (namely, the manic phase). Coming from a different phase of the excitement cycle might as well be like coming from a different society altogether, especially opposite phases like the manic and vulnerable phases.

If she's from an opposite phase, she's from an opposite world, and therefore unlike the women of this world, who cause him enough stress that he's retiring from them, and so contact with her would not be painful or over-the-top. These marginal types from opposite land are the only ones who can coax him out of his shell as the refractory phase bridges into the warm-up phase of normal energy levels.

May 21, 2019

Manic Pixie Dream Girl arises in warm-up phase of excitement cycle, to coax guys out of their vulnerable-phase cocoons

As the vulnerable phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle winds down this year, and we enter the restless warm-up phase in 2020, I think we'll see the return of an archetype that we haven't gotten to hang out with since the last warm-up phase, during the late 2000s -- the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

I'm using that term to refer only to those who play a kind of nursing-back-to-health role for the male character. Just being quirky is not sufficient, and neither is being a free-spirited foil to a buttoned-up stiff. The point of that term was originally to highlight male characters who were in some way sick, down in the dumps, in a funk, or otherwise not normal. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl served to bring them back to a normal, healthy, positive, lively state. She is a stabilizing force.

This is distinct from the archetypal woman in a screwball comedy, whose wacky antics are more of a destabilizing force to the orderly life of the male character. Can he handle being dragged so far out of his comfort zone? Can the odd couple manage to find something in common? These questions depend on the theme of a normal person being thrown for a loop -- not an unhealthy person restored to health.

And for the male to merely be sober, buttoned-up, etc., that is not a form of sickness -- he must be in a real funk, clearly not his usual self. It could be an acute sickness, or a chronic sickness -- something that is curable by a nurse. It cannot be an inborn and immutable personality trait of being drab, risk-averse, and so on.

Looking over the iconic Manic Pixie Dream Girls, they almost all cluster in the warm-up phase of the excitement cycle: the early '60s (The Apartment, Breakfast at Tiffany's), the late '70s (Annie Hall), the early '90s (L.A. Story, Joe Versus the Volcano), and the late 2000s (Elizabethtown, The Last Kiss, Yes Man).

In their social context, these characters are helping guys to make the transition out of the previous vulnerable phase, when they're in a refractory state and would feel social contact to be painfully over-stimulating, and into the warm-up phase, when their excitement levels get back to a normal baseline. (Not yet taking off into a spike of invincibility, which takes places during the following manic phase.)

Social relations during the warm-up phase have a kind of caricatured, ritualistic quality -- they're like doing simplified warm-up exercises before taking on a real sport activity, or doing simplified dances with easy-to-follow rules, before being spontaneous on the dance floor. The point is not to fully reach the mature form of the social relation, but simply to drag the person out of their overly sensitive refractory state, and get accustomed to relating to others all over again. Once they're comfortable with that, then they can do the real thing during the manic phase, when their energy levels can really take off.

That's why it doesn't matter that the Manic Pixie Dream Girl has a flat, hollow, or caricatured personality -- she's not the final girl that he's going to get into a long-term relationship with. She's more of a training-wheels girlfriend for guys who haven't ridden a bike in awhile, so she does not need to be fully realistic and possessing an in-depth personality, set of goals of her own, etc.

Her childlike qualities are similarly disarming, designed to convince a guy who's over-sensitive and in an emo phase, that she couldn't possibly hurt him or demand too much contact from him. It's an adolescent form of attraction, but that's only because during the refractory state, the sexes regress back into a juvenile state where they are put off by the icky, annoying, even dangerous opposite sex. First they need to work their way toward adolescence, during the warm-up phase, and then they can go for a more mature kind of relationship during the manic phase.

She is willing to spend all this energy coaxing him out of his shell because she, too, has left behind the vulnerable phase and is ready to start mixing it up with the guys again. Their women's intuition tells them that, after five years of being taken for granted at best and ghosted or maligned at worst, guys are going to need a little playful encouragement to reassure them that it's safe to come out and interact with the girls once again.

No point in apologizing, casting blame, or otherwise wallowing in what went on during the vulnerable phase. That was then, this is now, so come out of your shell already, I promise we're harmless and fun-loving.

When viewed in its longer context, the archetype doesn't seem so bad. It's not immature, stunted, etc. -- it's not being held up as the ideal, it's only a temporary practice girlfriend, between the two otherwise unbridgeable states of a social refractory period and a fully developed mature relationship.

And she's not temporary because he's just using her to kill time before he finds someone more three-dimensional -- it's because she's playing the role of nursing him back to health, and that recuperation only takes a certain period of time, not forever. Once that role of hers has been completed, there she goes, and he can find someone real to get into a mature relationship with.

These archetypes spring up right at the outset of the warm-up phase, to act as a bridge, rather than at the very end of the phase, so I expect to see another crop of Manic Pixie Dream Girls no later than next year or the year after. The #MeToo attitude has already started to run out of steam, which means they'll have to start picking up the pieces from what they've wrecked over the past five years. They will no longer view all romantic interactions with men as "emotional labor," but will enjoy getting to know them again.

I'll end this survey with a deep cut from a pop star who would go on to specialize in the decadent disco themes that emerge during the warm-up phase, and then really turn up the energy levels during the next manic phase (before more or less disappearing during the current vulnerable phase). At the opening of the last warm-up phase, before Zooey Deschanel had popularized adorkableness, here's a 20 year-old waif-like form of the singer of "I Kissed a Girl" and "Roar".

"Simple" by Katy Perry (2005):

May 13, 2019

Incrementalist Democrat voters more risk-averse with GOP incumbent, less inclined to take a chance on Bernie than in 2016

Not everyone who voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary was a committed Democratic Socialist. A decent share may favor such policies and stick with him through thick and thin. But another decent share may bail on him this time around -- not because they've had a change of heart on what a better vision for America looks like, but because they believe that such change can only take place in single steps, with no leap-frogging allowed.

In 2016, the context was eight years of Obama, and the signature identity politics victory -- gay marriage -- made Democrats, and Republicans, believe that the progressive trend would only continue. No Republican would ever be elected president after the disaster of the W. Bush years.

Having eliminated the right-wing threat, the only question was how far and how quickly the progressives would push the inevitable trend. Maybe now they could finally get some action on economic populist issues, not just cultural and social issues.

A good share of Bernie's 2016 voters felt comfortable enough in what Obama had accomplished for the center-left of the party. Now it was time to take it to the next level.

But after the Trump admin has derailed those plans, these incrementalist voters feel like they've been sent back to square one. Obama's achievements have been erased, as an evil Republican is back in the White House genociding the gays, blacks, Muslims, and immigrants all over again. (Fact check: Trump is letting in legions more illegals than Obama).

If you believe that change can only proceed one major step at a time, then the next major step made by Democrats will be used up on simply getting back to where they believe society was under Obama, now that they're in hell under Trump. Only then can their next major step be another Bernie-style movement to pursue populism, rather than just having the central bank inflate another tech bubble, and re-shuffling the soldiers in Iraq over into Afghanistan.

Going from Trump to Bernie will feel like too great of a change to attempt in just one step. They are thinking in conventional left-right terms, where Trump is on the right, Obama or Biden are in the center, and Bernie is on the left.

If they thought about it in terms of populist vs. elitist, or realignment vs. status quo, then the Trump admin should be bringing them one step closer to Bernie, not setting them back. Trump campaigned on realignment, on material rather than culture war issues, and flipped states that should not have been possible.

He has delivered very little on those campaign themes, though, so that leaves the door wide open for a populist realigner like Bernie to swoop in and steal those issues for the Democrats. That door would not have been left open if Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio had won the 2016 election.

But if you're an incrementalist, you don't see the history of realignments where a massive change happened swiftly, a la the Reagan Revolution, the New Deal, the Lincolnian Civil War era, the Jacksonian takeover, or the Jeffersonian triumph. They take the big picture to be settled, so that the only open question is left vs. right within the governing paradigm.

To them, Trump is not a would-be populist realigner whose logical successor would be Bernie, after failure to deliver -- he's just another right-winger in the Reagan era. Taking the neoliberal Reaganite paradigm as fait accompli, the goal is only to shift from right to center to left within that paradigm. And since Trump is on the right, that means the next step must be the center -- boom, Biden's your uncle. Perhaps after a term or two of Biden, then we can talk about another Bernie-style challenger to move from the center to the left.

The relative lack of enthusiasm for Bernie among the very people who supported him just four years ago, gives me flashbacks to the first W. Bush term. The Nader campaign was seen as an acceptable risk to take after two terms of Clinton -- after all, Gore was going to win, not that idiot from Texas, so what's the harm in indulging in a little lefty activism for Nader? But after Bush won, a fair number of Nader's prominent supporters not only refused to do so again in 2004, they outright begged him not to run again, like Michael Moore.

In 2000, you would have been going from the center (two terms of Clinton) to the left (Nader). But after Bush interrupted those plans, suddenly the society was set back to the right. In 2004, the only possible move was to the center, with Kerry, and not two major steps to land over on the left with Nader or Dean. Nader did far worse in '04 than in '00, and yet this centrist strategy still failed to get their guy into the White House.

Frightened risk-averse incrementalists will account for Bernie doing worse in the 2020 primaries than in 2016, although with a crowded field he could still end up in first place, despite having a smaller share than before. But if the incrementalists who backed Bernie in '16 concentrate on Biden rather than split up among a variety of other non-candidates like Beto or Buttigieg, Bernie's run will be over.

The split-up outcome is still possible. The latest Emerson College poll shows that among Bernie's 2016 primary voters, one-quarter have abandoned him for either Beto or Buttigieg -- both of whom would satisfy an incrementalist's desire to have a centrist for 2020, just not the centrist who's a zillion years old. By contrast, only about one-tenth of his 2016 voters have defected outright to Biden. This poll was biased more towards younger generations, so it's more revealing of Bernie's core support base of post-Boomer generations.

The main point is to not assume that Bernie's supporters in 2016 were all die-hard populists who will mount an equal or even stronger onslaught against the status quo, after an entire term of a right-wing Republican president. A big-enough chunk of them are going to want a centrist, to move one step at a time, and the biggest unknown is whether they'll split up their votes among a variety of centrists -- almost everybody but Bernie -- or converge on Biden specifically.

If you're trying to convince people to vote for Bernie, but you sense they're an incrementalist, they might not be persuaded to stick with Bernie. In that case, agree with them, and direct them toward any of the multiple other centrists aside from Biden, joking about how there are still centrists who aren't a zillion years old, which will resonate with Gen X and Millennial Bernie voters from 2016 who are getting nervous about him for 2020.

May 12, 2019

DSA: Democrat SJWs of Astoria

Feel free to pass this phrase around without attribution.

For those who are not following the frustrated realignment on the Left, you might think the sudden surge in membership of the Democratic Socialists of America reflects a trend toward socialism.

But their biggest bump was not during the 2016 primary season, owing to Bernie's campaign, but after Mother Hillary got her ass whooped by the mean old bad man. They are mostly reactionaries against the (also frustrated) realignment that Trump tried to usher in on the Right.

They couldn't care less about de-industrialization, which is why they were still deeply asleep while both Bernie and Trump were savaging NAFTA during the primary stage, but then shit the bed and sounded the alarm when the anti-NAFTA candidate defeated the pro-NAFTA candidate in the general election. Even those who did slam NAFTA during the primary, like Rashida Tlaib back when she was helping out the Bernie campaign with the UAW in Detroit, have shut their mouths about it now that they've taken office in the Congress.

Ditto for the anti-interventionist candidate defeating the pro-interventionist candidate (not that those goals have actually materialized). They don't care. Only Islamophobes think Al-Qaeda is a serious threat to anyone -- they're just a boogeyman and scapegoat that right-wingers use to get cheap votes. So making a big deal about breaking off the Pentagon and CIA's support for the jihadists threatening to take over secular Syria -- yikes, sounds kinda problematic.

To them, the explanations and the areas of focus are the same tired old identity politics of the neoliberal era: everyone I don't agree with is a racist, Nazi, white supremacist, white nationalist, literally Hitler. Trump is an out-of-control authoritarian, not some impotent fool cockblocked by his own party and the federal institutions. And of course, he could only have won if a big enough chunk of the American electorate were also white nationalist authoritarians.

The DSA style themselves as radicals outside the two-party system -- they are die-hard Democrat partisans.

They style themselves as promoting socialism -- they are promoting SJW-ism.

They style themselves as representing the broad working class -- they represent (perhaps downwardly mobile) professional-class elites in gentrified neighborhoods of the richest cities on Earth (AOC's constituency).

If any form of socialism is to succeed, these re-branded SJWs must be mocked, ridiculed, and driven out of the political arena.

Bernie-supporting populists will have to hammer out an economics-first creed -- or economics-only -- that anyone must adhere to if they want to join the movement. Normies would not be repulsed by that -- they hate identity politics! But it would do a hell of a lot to keep out those who not only distract from the root causes of our problems but in an ethnically polarizing way.

May 8, 2019

Monotheistic socialism will replace polytheistic identity politics and American imperial cult

This is a broad and intricate topic, so I'll be writing about it in more digestible pieces. I'm also just making these connections, based on some recent readings, so these ideas are all still inchoate, and I can't write down the entire thing all in one go.

Here's the basic outline, though.

America is not just an expansionist state but a transnational empire, so we look to earlier empires for clues about how things will go after ours enters its first major crisis or disintegrative stage.

The most well known example for general audiences is the Roman Empire. For the historical summary, I'm drawing on The Triumph of Christianity by Bart Ehrman. The structural-functional roles played by religion are my own views, though they're straightforward and must be mainstream enough in the sociology of religion (not being an expert there, I don't know the names of whom to cite).

As the Roman state expanded into a transnational empire during the first two centuries AD, it incorporated the gods of the peoples and nations that it subjugated. That made it easier for the imperial center to administer the periphery -- it's easier to extract whatever you want from it on a material level (tax revenue, food, minerals, babes) if you let them continue with autonomy on the non-material levels (language, religion).

At the same time, the subject peoples must also worship the civic gods of the imperial center, such as the Emperor himself. This does not conflict with worship of local gods -- it's an addition, not a substitution, just to make sure the subjects prove their loyalty to the empire, and not only loyalty to their own local group.

This polytheism did not mean everyone worshiped the same large number of gods -- it was mix-and-match, based on who you were loyal to at various levels of societal complexity. There were gods of the family or household, neighborhood, city or town, region, nation, and ultimately empire. And there were various gods who oversaw good fortune in various domains of life -- harvest, childbearing, war, travel, and so on. If your material subsistence was more dependent on travel, you focused more on the patron gods of travelers than other people did.

While this religious pluralism, headed by the imperial cult, served as a glue that held together the expanding empire for its first two centuries, that reversed during the Crisis of the Third Century. That's when Christianity starts to make major strides among Roman subjects, and it culminates in the 4th C., when the Emperor Constantine converted and later the Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the official state religion of the empire. At the same time, the 3rd C. saw the only period of intense state persecution of Christianity, unlike the earlier practice of tolerance and pluralism.

Unlike the pluralist approach during the rise of the empire, Christianity, which took off during the empire's decline, was monotheistic and exclusivist -- you could only worship one god, and the other so-called gods did not even really exist. You could not be both a Christian and a devotee of the imperial cult, or of the polytheistic array of sub-imperial gods. That disloyalty made it a direct threat to the imperial powers, leading them to crack down on it, especially during the desperate climate of fragmentation during the 3rd C.

But no empire holds together forever, and the decline of the Roman Empire allowed for the flourishing of Christianity.

This seems to be a general feature: inclusive and pluralist during the rise of a transnational empire, to glue together the subjects of a newly united political-economic power, and then exclusivist and not tolerant during the empire's break-up. It allows for some kind of continuity during the disintegration at the material level -- we will still all be following the same exclusivist religion, despite belonging to now separate and smaller nations. Then sometime after that stage, the unity of the religion begins to fragment itself, and regional camps with their own idiosyncrasies evolve, bringing back a kind of pluralism, albeit not under the umbrella of a single polity as before (e.g., Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic).

There's a parallel from the Ottoman Empire, which was religiously tolerant and pluralist during its rise (the millet system), and then saw the seeds of Islamism begin to grow during the empire's declining stage of the 19th C. Once the empire broke up circa 1920, exclusivist transnational Islamism took off in its former colonies (e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and by 1980 in Turkey itself), but not in places that the Ottomans failed to conquer (Iran, where a pluralist Shia council is in control, or Saudi Arabia, where the militant Salafi jihadism took root, rather than the peaceful political infiltration model of the Muslim Brotherhood, who are their bitter rivals).

Other examples from Muslim history include the pluralism of Al-Andalus during the rise of the Emirate of Cordoba (the Umayyad dynasty's branch that ruled Iberia), which gave way to intolerant and exclusivist waves during the decline (the non-Umayyad Almohads on the Muslim side, and the Catholic Kings on the Christian side). Then there was the pluralism of the Fatimid Caliphate, whose decline and replacement by foreign mercenaries (the Mamluks) saw the emergence of bitterly exclusivist schools of Islam led by, e.g., Ibn Taymiyyah (from the Hanbali school, and inspiration to today's exclusivists and fundamentalists within Islam). In fact, the founders of the Hanbali school themselves flourished during the declining stage of the Abbasid Caliphate, which during its golden age had been pluralist (to incorporate the newly subjugated Persian bureaucrats and administrators).

With that historical and sociological background, let's look at the current situation.

America has been an expansionist empire since its independence, and it began the unification of the 13 Colonies by upholding religious liberty, where various forms of intolerance of certain sects was permitted before. During our rise, an imperial cult grew up -- sometimes called the American civil religion. We worship our Constitution, flag, and supposedly temporal leaders as though they were partly or fully divine, unlike the other advanced nations.

Crucially, this is a distinct religion -- not Christian. We have never said, "In Jesus we trust," or "One nation under Jesus," our flag and other sacred national symbols do not feature a cross, and none of Jesus' or Paul's messages have been at the forefront of the attempt to "put religion back in society" (at best, it's the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament). When we say "God," we're using a weasel-word generic label, "god," but to refer to the patron god of our nation / empire, who provides for and protects us, his chosen people.

He only influences the lives of other people on Earth to the extent that we Americans bring our political-economic rule to them (whether we go over there or they come over here). By implication, other peoples have their own patron gods, who are not as badass as ours is, if they lose to us -- or who rely on tricks and cheating to block our patron god from helping us win, as we deserve to.

That is not the God-the-Father-of-Jesus from the New Testament -- or else there would be some connection to Jesus -- it is not Jesus Christ, and it is not the Holy Spirit. It's a standard patron god of a nation from any old polytheistic society.

The people we subjugate must worship our civil religion, whatever else they do or don't do in religious affairs. Muslim, Christian, Hindu, who cares? As long as you pay material tribute to the imperial center, and pay your symbolic respects to its patron god and imperial cult, our leaders don't give a damn what religious beliefs and behaviors you have. That's equally true for people we occupy and for immigrants here.

Conversely, if you refuse to submit materially to the empire, or if you blaspheme against its patron god and civil religion, you will get persecution and punishment, to coerce you into subject status.

Aside from our imperial cult, there's a wide variety of religious beliefs and practices that fall under the term "identity politics". Some of it is local patron gods for various ethnic groups under our control, some of it is gods who influence our fortunes in the different domains of life (love, sex, marriage, food, child-rearing, etc.). These come in left-wing and right-wing forms, but the polytheistic strand is strongest on the left.

There is a never-ending competition to add more and more gods to worship -- first it was just the pro-black god, then it was the pro-Hispanic god, perhaps generalized into an anti-racist god. Then it was the feminist god, and the gay god, and the tranny god, the vegan god, the environmental god. This is just like the inclusive, pluralist polytheism of the Roman Empire -- worshiping one does not preclude you from worshiping any combination of the others. In fact, most people do worship several of these divine forces.

They worship them to stay on their good side and receive good luck in their personal lives -- and to smite their enemies in their personal lives. These are like the capricious amoral gods of a pre-monotheist society, who can either act for good or for evil, and it just depends on how fervently you worship them, whether you'll be the recipient of their favor or the target of their destruction.

What is the fate of the American imperial cult and idpol-ytheism?

Our empire has been breaking up since our peak during WWII, after which we lost the Philippines and Cuba in short order (both of which we had won by conquest during the Spanish-American War), and we have lost our ability to control "our own backyard" of Central America (none of the right-wing death squads won during the 1980s, and the economic nationalists took over instead, not to mention our repeated failures right now to topple Maduro further south in Venezuela). Aside from losing what we used to have, we have failed at our endless attempts to gain new spheres of influence, all on mainland Asia (North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, etc.).

As our empire declines and fragments on the political-economic level, the tolerant and pluralist tendency will go up in a puff of smoke. It will be replaced by an intolerant and exclusivist moral order -- one whose practitioners cannot worship any of the other gods that are around currently. That could take the form of a resurgence in Christianity, but that religion has been on the long-term decline since the Industrial Revolution.

Rather, the monotheistic replacement will be "socialism" -- in quotes because, like early Christianity, it encompasses several strains and is not a mature ideology or program for structuring society. But unlike all of the forms of identity politics, it makes an exclusivist demand on its adherents -- notwithstanding the fleeting heresy of "intersectionality," everyone understands that socialism is "class-first" (technically henotheist, worshiping one god above other gods) or "class only" and "economic reductionist" (strict monotheism). Marx and other materialists hold material conditions to be the base, and social-cultural features to be the superstructure that stems therefrom.

Again, there will be some diversity of opinion, as with any new religion, but it's clear to see that socialism is not tolerant of elevating other gods to equal status with its own, if it even holds those other gods to exist in the first place. That is unlike all the other leftist, or rightist, forms of identity politics -- being an antiracist allows you to be a feminist, a pro-gay, and a pro-tranny activist. They all have equal standing. Even when identity politics elevates one over the others (henotheism), it does not deny the existence of the others, let alone try to stamp them out, blaspheme against them, and so on.

Socialism makes everything in the moral ordering of society about material conditions, primarily economics. And now, beyond denying equal status to the other gods, it blasphemes them as false gods altogether -- tools of the ruling class to perpetuate the elite material dominance over the masses. This insight of the socialists became especially clear when presidential candidate Hillary Clinton barked back at the class warriors: What is breaking up the big banks going to do to end racism, sexism, and homophobia?

Identity politics serves as a glue to hold together an overly complex empire, which has already begun to come apart. You can't glue it back together, so going forward fewer and fewer people will see any point in trying to enforce identity politics. Nations and ethnic groups under the empire's rule will fragment, and identitarians will be out of business.

As socialism delivers a superior result for people's everyday lives (likely beginning with universal free healthcare), relative to antiracism, feminism, etc., people will start to ignore those impotent gods and only worship the one true socialist god. The one who alone can deliver the goods.

But that also means that socialism is an existential threat to the imperial cult and to idpol-ytheism. Socialists do not revere the patron god of the American empire, and they deny the power or existence of the identitarian gods. So, just as the establishment severely cracked down on Christians during the Crisis of the Third Century, so will ours crack down on socialists as the seams of the empire really start to come apart. There were occasional persecutions of Christians during the rise of the empire, just as there was an occasional Red Scare here during our rise (circa 1920 big-time, and less so during the McCarthyite 1950s). But they will really ramp up during the next pronounced stage of imperial collapse.

Christians could not persecute pagans during the Roman Empire, and socialists cannot persecute the civil religionists or the identity politics people today. Antiracists, feminists, etc., are mainstream and dominant, though not for a whole lot longer. But for now, it's clear who can get their lives ruined -- those who blaspheme the identity gods, not those who blaspheme the materialist / class / economics god.

After we get through the collapse of the American empire, and its former constituent nations and/or regions of the US gain political-economic autonomy, there will be a flourishing of exclusivist socialism. You didn't need to belong to the Roman Empire to be a Christian, and you don't need to be a subject of the American empire to be a socialist and enjoy its superior benefits. Maybe then the socialists will persecute the identity politics heretics, but that's way off in the distance for now.

And after the initial wave of united socialist zeal, it will eventually fragment into regionally appropriate camps, much like the regional camps of Christianity. "Socialism in one country".

And of course, there will be left-wing and right-wing forms of socialism, depending on which coalition is the dominant or opposition for its phase in the regime cycle. During the proto-socialist Mid-20th C., some nations were left-wing socialist (UK, US) while others were right-wing socialist (the Mediterranean). At a bird's-eye-view, they were the same -- populist economic nationalists, only with the military more in control for the right-wing version, and the finance sector in control of the left-wing version.

Left-wingers will have to accept that de Gaulle's France was not a fascist Nazi nightmare, nor was Christian Democrat Italy, both nations whose left-wing party (the Communists) were in the opposition status. They were (proto-)socialist, just run by conservative military types rather than liberal financier types as in the US and UK.

That is the major project for the short-to-medium term -- reach out to normies and right-wingers to unite around monotheistic socialism. Downplay the American civil religion, at least in its imperial cult form, and banish identity politics as false gods preserving the empire. Christianity, Islam, and other major exclusivist religions were missionary and evangelist, converting most of their members from outside the original group. Socialism will never materialize if it is restricted to left-wingers, even those who reject identity politics. As in the New Deal, it needs support from normies and conservatives (the American South consistently voted for New Deal liberal presidents). Socialist mayors did not preside over entire cities during the Progressive Era by only turning out left-wingers on election day.

The monotheist appeal of socialism allows it to transcend all other ideological barriers, unlike antiracism, feminism, etc. It is the only moral vision to unite enough of a society around it to transform it for the better.