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.