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Has Anyone Noticed the Anglo World is Collapsing?

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Why Britain and America Are Both Imploding in Eerily Similar Ways

Here’s a tiny question. What would you say a social collapse is? A society about to run out of food and medicine? A country unable to provide the basic necessities of life to people anymore? A place whose government doesn’t function anymore? Fractured and riven peoples — who can’t agree anymore on the basics of social contracts…so there aren’t any?

Now take a look across both sides of the Atlantic. Tell me what you see. Isn’t it eerily, weirdly, frighteningly similar? There’s America — its government shut down for a month now. There’s Britain — paralyzed, broken by Brexit. Both these societies appear completely unable to function in even the most basic ways anymore. Wait — doesn’t all that resemble the list we just made?

(If it doesn’t, let me make it sharper. Britain is literally planning on running out of food and medicine immediately after Brexit. It will. Just how out of touch with reality does a society have to be to furiously cheer on…running out of food and medicine? But that’s where America’s been for a long time now. Shortage of basics, like medicine, education, and decent food, prop up the profits of monopoly predatory capitalists — and for a very long time, Americans, too, have cheered on their own self-destruction.)

So here both great Anglo speaking societies are. They are collapsing now, in eerily, weirdly, hauntingly similar ways. Isn’t that strange? Yet that is because, I think, their mindsets, their attitudes, have never really matured — and now they are obsolete. They cannot really handle the world of the 21st century — having treated the world as their plaything for so long — that they are now having something like one massive psychotic breakdown, retreating into fantasy worlds. Let me draw out the parallels — and then the social psychology behind them — and you can judge for yourself.

The first thing you might notice is that neither of their governments function anymore. At all. In even the most basic ways a government should. America’s, which doesn’t provide anyone basics, like functioning healthcare and retirement anymore, has literally disappeared — all that Britain’s is capable of is pushing for Brexit, instead of dealing with any other priority in society whatsoever.

Now, what’s caused their governments to stop functioning? In both cases, a wall. In America’s case, it is a literal, physical wall. In Britain’s case, it’s Brexit — a wall made of laws and barriers, but a wall nonetheless. So the second thing you might notice is that the cause of total breakdown in both cases is the very same thing: the belief that building a wall will restore the fortunes of these declining societies. Will it? We’ll come back to that question. Let’s continue with the parallels.

In both cases, a set of extremists are now holding their countries hostage over the building of these walls. The third thing you might notice is that the leaders of these societies — people barely worth of the word — are willing to literally destroy everything their societies might achieve for the sake… a wall. In America, a gang of fascists which seized power has shut down the government…and appears utterly disinterested in reopening it, ever. That doesn’t just cause government unemployment, which ripples out and causes stagnation — though it does: it also makes America a global laughingstock, which can’t accomplish anything at all, from tackling climate change to defense, let alone leading the world.

Or think about this. In Britain, the wall is more important than all the following: food, medicine, healthcare, retirement, education, jobs, savings, housing…anything and everything. The wall, in both cases, is the first, last, and only priority of government left — anything and everything is to be sacrificed for the wall, like in some dystopian novel: the old, the young, the harvest, the future, history.

But what is left inside a society that will sacrifice everything for a wall? Do you see the problem? Now, here’s the thing. The majority of Americans don’t want Trump’s wall. The majority of Brits don’t want Brexit anymore. Never mind — nobody cares. None of that is enough — but a majority has never been enough to stop a social collapse. So a wall made of steel — or one made of drones, or one made of uniformed fascists putting babies in cages — the point of Anglo society has now become building walls. Do you see the point? An Iron Curtain is falling across the English-speaking world now.

The fourth thing you might notice is that the wall is about “a deal” — on both sides of the Atlantic. Trump wants a “deal” to reopen government. Brexit is about getting a better “deal” from the EU — and playing a game of chicken with a country’s food and medicine to have it. Somehow, both these nations have ended up fetishizing “the deal” as the first priority of society — not, say investment, climate change, education, healthcare, or life itself. Just…”the deal.”

That tells us something important, I think. A “deal” is a transaction, and it indicates the approach Anglo nations have always taken towards the world. Everything has been a deal — hasn’t it? It has been a transactional, instrumental approach — where these societies are interested in maximizing what they can get, without regard for anyone else, really. The future they have made has always been a series of “deals” — and this approach characterizes the Anglo world above others. First there were the “deals” of slavery. Then there the “deals” of colonialism. Then the “deals” of empire. Then the “deals” of “free trade.” And so on. The Anglos, being an instrumental, transactional culture — people who prioritize money over relationships, power over respect, fear over love — have always worshipped the deal.

You see, we Anglos have a problem. We cannot coexist. We must reign supreme. And that trait is what lies at the roots of the Anglo world’s collapse. Because the 21st century requires all the “co” stuff — cooperation, commitment, partnership. But we do not know to do that — because we are empire builders, gunslingers, sword-swingers. We are not equipped mentally for this century, my friends. We are obsolete — because all we really want is supremacy, not prosperity. Let me explain.

This fetishization of the “deal” has deep roots in Anglo history. Feudalism was a long series of deals. Pledge your fealty to me, and I will protect you. Arise, I dub thee Sir Ownalot — these lands are all yours, and these peasants are all yours to have. This was the model Anglo nations developed — an attitude of what we might call supremacy. It blossomed later, of course, when other races were encountered, into white supremacy. But see the point: it was always about who was on top, who had the most power, who owned whom. Who was that? Inevitably, the one who could do the most violence. From Macbeth to Dubya — what marks the Anglo leader out is his propensity for extreme violence. How else to get the best “deal”? You can hardly have it as an equal.

And that brings me to what the collapse of the Anglo world is really about. Supremacy. Anglos have always believed they are different, special, superior — entitled to own the world, to possess it like a promised land. It’s true that other societies, like India, had castes. It’s true that Europe tried to build empires. But mostly, it failed to rival those of Anglos — because supremacy was never really so much a linchpin of its identity, and it rejected it wholly and fiercely after the last war. It’s Anglos who have always been, and remain the most individualists, instrumental, transactional culture in the world — always looking for ways to maximize their advantage, selfishly, with whatever they can get away with. And that desperate, cloying need for supremacy, which is what made them slavers and colonialists yesterday, is precisely what is undoing them now.

Anglo culture has always been driven by this belief: we must be the best. You can still see it today. I must live my best life, be my best self, do my best work. Then we will be a nation of the best. What other kind of nation is there worth being? Don’t only the best — the strongest — survive? I must be better than everyone else. In the whole world. They must admire and respect and fear and desire me. I must be the dominator. I must own them, or at least control them. I must have the most. I must be supreme. That is the Anglo mindset, my friends. It is all we do, really, in Anglo societies, if we are honest.

But what happens when a culture whose deepest underlying belief is that they must reign supreme over the whole world finds, one day…they can’t? That the world doesn’t want aggressive, selfish, violent empire-builders anymore? Bang! Implosion does. And that is what this special moment in Anglo history is really about. The collision of this deep seated need for supremacy with the reality of a world in which Anglos are no longer supreme. No longer the best at…anything.

The world’s best food comes from Europe. The best cars, Germany. The best democracy, maybe Switzerland. The best art and fashion, France and Italy. The best literature, maybe Japan and France. The best economies and societies, Scandinavia. What are Anglo societies best at anymore? Nothing, my friends. Nothing at all. But the more interesting question is what were they best at? The unfortunate answer is: violence. They conquered the world through violence. Through armies and navies and drones and bombs. If they hadn’t had those things…would the world have fallen at their feet? Would it really have bought British goods in the industrial age if Britain’s navies hadn’t forced China to sell its silks, for nothing? Would the world really have bought so much American cotton and tobacco if slaves hadn’t been around to pick it, for free? You see my point. The rise of the Anglo world has everything to do with violence. It is how they attained supremacy (and when I say supremacy, I don’t just mean “racial”, I mean “needing to dominate others and control them”, I mean superiority in all aspects.)

So the primary need of Anglo culture, its social psychology, is supremacy, being above everyone else. And the only way we know how to get it, how to achieve it, when it can’t be had so easily, is through sudden explosions of violence. Think of the fake war in Iraq. Think of the long centuries of slavery and colonialism. Think of the strange histories we tell ourselves in America and Britain — that our rise had nothing to do with our violence, our cruelty, our weapons, but only with our kindness and ingenuity, even while we were the last slavers in all the world. Do you see how the lie reveals the truth?

So now here we are — throwing a very special kind of tantrum. We cannot have what we need most anymore. To reign supreme over everyone else. To have the very best “deal” of all. Why won’t you give us a better deal, cry the Brits to the EU? We’re special! The EU laughs. I won’t open this government until I have a better “deal”, bellows Trump. I’m special. Nobody knows what to do. Aren’t we special, after all?

In both cases — when we can’t reign supreme, we will throw a massive tantrum. We will build a wall. We will close our eyes tight as we can, to shut out a world in which we are not the rulers and masters anymore — just equal partners, if we would like to be. But we would not like to be equal, you see. To a mind which needs supremacy for validation, for self-worth, because it believes otherwise it is nothing at all, to be treated as an equal is the most horrific thing of all. I cannot be equal if I need to be supreme. Then I am the greatest failure of all — just like you. But you are my slave, my possession, nothing. The mindset of supremacy can never accept equality. The wall is the only thing defending us from this difficult truth — so what happens when we can’t even have that? Bang! Meltdown.

So if we can’t have the wall, we cry, then we will simply burn it all down. We will let our societies run short of food and medicine. We will shut down the government. We will throw hundreds of thousands out of work. We will let everything fall apart. We will set fire to the house of democracy, to the pillars of democracy, to the rafters of history. Nothing will be left — but that is alright. At least we will have our wall to protect us. We need these foolish, foolish walls to defend us from the truth that Anglos can’t reign supreme anymore. That our identities are forged solely on supremacy. We need protection from the truth, my friends. We need it so badly, that we’ll burn our very own houses down just to have those walls.

The world is not our plaything anymore. And such a world has no place for supremacists anymore. For Brexiters politely pretending they are not white supremacists and Trumpists proudly declaring they are. For walls and Iron Curtains. The world is not happy to be exploited by violent empire-builders for beads and trinkets anymore (it never was, my friends.) Such people, such mindsets, such attitudes are obsolete. It isn’t just they who don’t want to be part of the world — the world doesn’t want, them, either. That is why the EU is not riding to Britain’s rescue — much to Britain’s shock. That is why nobody much cares about Trump’s wall, but mostly just laughs at how foolish Americans are to let all this go on.

The world does not want people who sneer, shout, and build walls when they cannot have grand empires to exploit anymore — so that they can protect themselves from the uncomfortable truth of their own inability to have supremacy. It wants mature people, grown-ups, adults, who are willing to treat others as true equals, as genuine partners, in authentic relationships — not just transactional “deals”. It wants countries and nations it can rely on, count on, be with. So we can all come together and solve the great problems of a new century. Climate change, capitalism, inequality, stagnation.

Go ahead and build a wall, the world laughs, entertained mightily by the karmic spectacle of the tantrum-collapse of the very nations who enslaved, exploited, colonized it for so long. LOL! Could anything be more fitting, ridiculous, and satisfying than the colonizers and slavers locking themselves in the basement — while their very own house is on fire? Ahh, sweet justice, at last.

Perhaps it says, too, in its gentler moments, something like this. Don’t you understand that building a wall around a collapsing society is like building a flood barrier around a house on fire? All it means is that no one and nothing can help douse the flames. All it is is a prison for those inside. All it is is a way to keep grandiose, narcissistic fantasies of eternal supremacy alive — you can admire yourself in the glow of flames, and pretend they don’t cost the wood of the house of prosperity. But what happens when all that’s left is ashes? What do you with a wall built around cinders, anyways?

But we don’t understand any of that. Not enough of us, not fast enough, and certainly not with enough passion and fury to change much of anything. And that, my friends, is because we do not even understand ourselves. We are the eternal supremacists, us Anglos. And until we surrender to equality, there will be no mercy for us from a future made of dust.

Umair
January 2019


Has Anyone Noticed the Anglo World is Collapsing? was originally published in Eudaimonia and Co on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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cjheinz
11 hours ago
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Good point.
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(Why) America Needs a Mother

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Why the Future is Feminine

It happens every day. I can’t stop myself. I see a little baby somewhere — at the shop, at the cafe, at the park. Something comes over me. I start making funny faces and giggling and babbling in baby talk. “Who’s a little cuty pie? YOU ARE!” All the mommies suddenly look over at me, alarmed, protective, baffled. Who’s the scary guy in the leather jacket and combat boots and sunglasses…cooing over their precious baby? Is he some kind of criminal? IS HE GOING TO STEAL MY BABY?

My partner laughs, embarrassed — and leans in, explaining — “I’m so sorry. He needs a baby! We’re going to have one this year. He’s like middle aged woman now! His ovaries are raging! It scares me, too!” The mommies laugh, suddenly getting it. I roll my eyes and say, “I object to your gendering!” Nobody laughs at my stupid joke. They’re busy playing with the adorable little one by now, who’s smiling and laughing. Reluctantly, at this moment, I admit to myself that I really do need a baby. Me. Didn’t I used to be…be…cool? Now I just want to change diapers. What the…?!

Now, my partner, after reliving this scene endlessly, came up with a joke. It goes like this. “I’m going to be the daddy,” she laughs, “and you’re going to be the mommy.” After all, I’m the one that stays home all day (OK, I go out to have coffee and give talks and meet with publishers and so on, but mostly) — while she goes to the hospital in the morning and tends to the ill. So who’s going to take the little ones out for a walk with the puppies? Who’s gonna put them all in the bath afterwards? Who’s going to pile everyone into the minivan and take them off to ballet, art, sports, the mall? Who’s going to make them drop them off at school after making them breakfast? Me, me, me — I sleep when the sun rises anyways, because the sunlight can kill me.

I’m going to be the mommy. The guy in the battered biker jacket and the sunglasses with the skull ring. The vampire. Funny, no? But it’s doesn’t just make us laugh — and maybe you too — because it inverts gender roles (though it does), while also negating them. It’s funny because it cuts to the heart of a few great human truths — ones which we still gender, so I’ll use the words “mommy” and “daddy” in this essay, but you should understand that just as I can be the mommy, so a man can be a mom, and a woman can be a dad, and anyone can be both, and neither, too. That doesn’t mean, though, that we don’t have to make difficult choices — and that making those choices is up to each of us in the same way. Those truths go like this — I’m going to be very, very reductive for simplicity’s sake, and then we’ll expand them.

Daddies provide, but mommies nourish. Daddies discipline, but mommies nurture. Daddies teach us how to fight, but mommies teach us how to relate. Daddies send us forth, but mommies hold us close. Do you see how these things are all opposites — how while maybe one person can do both, nobody can really do both at the same time, except maybe a superhuman? Mommies and daddies are two very different roles that human beings play in that way. Maybe it’s true, as some leftists today claim, that such distinctions don’t matter anymore. I think, though, that they do. You can be a woman and be a daddy, or a man and be a mommy — or even play both roles — but it’s more or less a certainty that every human organization, from a family for a society needs both roles to be played, for healthy people to develop. Why? Because through this interplay of opposites, the contradictions and paradoxes of true growth develop: the gentleness of true strength, the empathy to withstand another’s suffering, the wisdom of knowing one’s own ignorance, the humility to lift others up, the courage to kneel.

Families need mommies and daddies. And so, my friends, do societies. What do mommies do? They nourish us, don’t they? Daddy might put earn the money — but it’s momy who fires the hearth, bakes the bread, and so on (even if he’s a man, like me). Mommies nourish us in the truest ways of all — emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. Daddies are the rationalists and the skeptics, who winnow away at us, disciplining us — mommy’s job is just to feed us full of things that nourish our minds, bodies, and souls. What happens when a society doesn’t have a mommy? Have you ever wondered? (Does that sound like an absurd question in this day and age of radical gender politics? It’s not to me. I think moms matter much more than we think.)

All of that brings me to America. The truth is that America is starving now. It is severely malnourished. Financially and economically — 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. But that’s the least of it. Emotionally — suicides are skyrocketing, depression is soaring, everyone’s on some kind of anti-depressant. Spiritually — people are so desperate for their souls to be nourished they’re turning to Ancient Aliens for meaning. Socially, relationally, culturally — people don’t trust one another anymore, they have a hard time relating to one another, even seeing one another, like a family turned upon itself.

America is starving in all these ways — economically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, relationally, culturally. And that is because for a very long time now, it has had a series of strong, tough, macho daddies, each competing to be more stoic, stern, calculating, ruthless, and commanding, all of whom played the textbook daddy role — but no mommy anywere in sight, to transform all this into genuine nourishment. First there was Nixon, then Reagan, then Clinton, then Bush, then Obama. (Do you see how weirdly and neatly, too, all this matches how the American conception of the ideal dad changed, too?)

(Yet even the most “modern” of all these men, Obama, was still very much a daddy — a provider, rationalist, a protector, a savior, a punisher, a maker of wars. He was not so much a nourisher, a nurturer, someone who looked deep into our eyes and saw our hurt and pain and soothed it away, someone who cleansed us and told us it was OK and laughed when we’d made a mess — but someone who held us accountable and called on us to go out and accomplish great things. He was a softer dad, in that way — but still very much a masculine, macho one, oriented to achievement, status, respect, power. Again let me stress — I’m not saying all men are dads.)

Where were the mommies in all this? Can you think of anyone at all in society who played the role of the mommy? The one that I’ll have to play with my little ones, and maybe you do with yours? Dad tells us how to fight and scrape and survive, which weapon to wield, and whom to swing it at. Mommy teaches us how to exist and suffer and relate and be and touch and hold and love. Mommy nourishes our soul by teaching us these things. Daddy helps us withstand our fear. Mommy soothes our fear away. But where was our mommy? Perhaps you find all this politically incorrect, offensive, outdated. Very well, let it be. But does it explain something vital, missing in America for too long now?

America needs a mommy. America is starving because no one has nourished it in decades. No one has nourished it because America has not had a mommy. And it is why America’s most suddenly successful political figures now are all mommies. Now, many of them are women — so I want to emphasize again I’m not saying they’re “female” or even “mothers”, and I’m definitely not saying they must be “likable” and so on, diminishing them as objects of consumption again — wrong, nourishing is difficult work. I’m saying that they are playing very, very different roles than America’s leaders have been allowed to (stern, violent, domineering, and so on) — maybe ever.

Take AOC. Have you seen how conservatives are weirdly obsessed with her — in a kind of creepy way, that proves they’re secretly beguiled by her, attracted to her, and they hate themselves for it? It’s not because she’s pretty or thin or whatnot. What they are attracted to in her is that she is becoming America’s mommy. What they hate about themselves is that they need one. And what confuses them most of all is that they have only been taught to ever see women as virgins or whores — not adult human beings, whether men or women, as mommies and daddies. AOC’s stunning success is because she is finally nourishing America. With new ideas. With encouragement. With meaning, belonging, truth. She is doing just a good mother does — brushing our tears away, cleaning up our messes, telling us we are still good and loved and wonderful. (I wonder if I’ll be up to that task as a mommy myself, sometimes.)

AOC utterly confounds and bewilders Republicans because they don’t understand why, or even that, they need the mommy in her even more than they hate the woman in her (even more than they desire the virgin-whore they want all women to be.)(Even when she insults Republicans back, there’s a spirit of fun, isn’t there? A kind of feeling that she’s helping them grow, too — not just trying to hurt them, or spite them. That’s mommy. AOC’s nourishing America emotionally, intellectually, relationally, socially, filling up that hole in it soul — and she’s the first one in a very long time to do it. She is mothering us, wounded little children that we are, back to sanity and health again.

Hillary tried, a little bit — but the media painted her as the opposite of a mommy. The opposite of a mommy is not a daddy. It is the vampire mother, the witch, what the alt-right will deride as a succubus (LOL, is this the 13th century, guys?) The central idea is that this woman is not a mother, a nurturer, a nourisher — but the opposite, someone who will suck away your vitality, power, and strength. American media failed to protect Americans from fascism — and one major reason is painting Hillary as the parasitic, malevolent, imperious vampire mother (but her emails!) — is one of the most hated and feared of all archetypes.

Elizabeth Warren is a mommy, too. Literally, I think. Just like AOC, she’s in the role of America’s mommy. She’s nurturing a starving nation. For example, nourishing it with new ideas — German corporate governance, let’s go beyond Medicare for all, the government should make drugs. She’s expressing the disappointment and anger and fear it can’t quite seem to voice, still, nurturing it just like a mommy teaches a child to emote. She’s standing up for the higher stuff of human life — the physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, social health of human beings, not just their profitability. She’s an archetypal mommy — and that explains her stunning rise, too.

Please understand. I’m not saying something like “all these people are biological women who are rising to power, therefore they are mommies!!” Not at all. Quite the opposite. I am saying these people, who happen to be women, have the only truly transformative ideas around — because they are the only ones stepping into the role of society’s mother, which means something like “someone who is ready to nourish and nurture a set of human beings the way they desperately need to be fed, with meaning, purpose, belonging, truth, and dignity.” (Now, men can do that too. At least I hope they can, otherwise my future is toast.)

You see, the next wave of American ideas cannot come from daddy-figures anymore. Take the example of Paul Ryan. It’s ridiculous to think of him as dad — he’s the ultimate example of what it means to be failed daddy. He was meant to protect us — but he didn’t, here we are, hurt and afraid. He was meant to provide for us — but he didn’t, here we are, poorer. He was meant to teach us how to stand up for ourselves, but he didn’t — here we are, fighting each other, instead. That’s why Paul Ryan is a scorned name in America now — his ideas didn’t work didn’t work because Americans don’t need to be taught daddy things anymore. What good is it being a rich family if everyone’s bickering over who’s going to sell today’s silver? If we send our little ones to schools where they’re shot? Where, when little Johnny struggles in life, we take away his healthcare and education and chances? When we don’t care about each other anymore — only what we make, or worse, can take? Would a decent mom let any of that happen? I’ll have to be on my guard. Because that’s what happens when a society grows imbalanced, when daddy’s values prevail over mommy’s, instead of each balancing the next. Which, incidentally, is why we need families, too.

Americans are malnourished and starving now, emotionally, socially, relationally, politically, because they’ve had too many daddies, and too few mommies. Independence and self-reliance without mommy’s nurturing values of care and empathy quickly become violence and selfishness. Discipline and accomplishment, like building taller skyscrapers, quickly become cruelty and greed and contempt, without mommy’s values of humility, meaning, and purpose. See how these precisely describe Trump? If vampire witch is what happens when mommy goes toxic, then emperor-king, authoritarian-dictator, is what happens when daddy does. It tells us a society has an intense, single-minded competition for the toughest, strongest dad, that boiled over and exploded into an abusive dad — instead of having a mommy.

The future really is feminine. The next wave of great American leaders — probably even global leaders — in my estimation, will be mommies. Like AOC and Warren. That doesn’t mean they’ll be women, or even that they’ll be “female” (whatever that’s allowed to even mean anymore), and it doesn’t mean they’ll be little flowering daisies, or tender helpless victims competing for male desire. Quite the opposite. It means they will stand up, with great dignity and courage, for nourishing and nurturing human organizations, from great to small, even as large as whole societies, in ways deep, enduring, and truer than money, power, and violence can ever do — emotionally, intellectually, existentially, socially. Less Venus, more Athena, Persephone, Electra. Maybe there will be a few men among them, too. Justin Trudeau isn’t Canada’s daddy — he’s it’s mommy. Macron failed because he tried to be France’s daddy — only he’s not really a very good one, and France doesn’t want one, anyways. Theresa May is trying to Britain’s sternest, toughest, most disciplinary daddy — but it’s not working, because, just like America, the UK has had too many of those, for too long, by now, and is starving for nourishment.

Maybe all the above is just foolish and idle — even retrograde — thinking, in these times when we’re supposed to dispense with gender and sexuality and the rest of it, in the name of pure unbridled anarchy among human desires. Yet I think we often miss the point. Mommies and daddies will always be with us — whether or not genders and sexes or even traditional families are. Even if, one day, like me, your mommy, the one who’s taking you for a walk in that frilly pram, cooing adoring baby talk at you, is a big scary bearded guy in a battered leather jacket, combat boots, and sunglasses.

Umair
January 2019


(Why) America Needs a Mother was originally published in Eudaimonia and Co on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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cjheinz
2 days ago
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I for one welcome our new female overlords! Go @AOC!
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India's population growth will come to an end: the number of children has already peaked

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This blog post draws on data and research discussed in our entry on World Population Growth and Future Population Growth.
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cjheinz
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Top 10 Basic Income Articles of 2018

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As a moderator of the /r/BasicIncome subreddit, I read a lot of links every year about UBI, probably around 100 per month. Once again, as I did last year, I've compiled a list of the ten articles/papers/reports I consider the most important to read out of everything published this year. Please bookmark, read,and share away!


10) "The Role of Luck in Life Success Is Far Greater Than We Realized" by Scott Barry Kaufman for Scientific American

My first selection for this list is one that never even mentioned the words "basic income" but as you'll discover in the following excerpt from it, there's no other conclusion to reach than that a basic income would lead to far more meritocratic outcomes, which in my opinion is an extremely powerful argument for basic income.

The best funding strategy of them all was one where an equal number of funding was distributed to everyone. Distributing funds at a rate of 1 unit every five years resulted in 60% of the most talented individuals having a greater than average level of success, and distributing funds at a rate of 5 units every five years resulted in 100% of the most talented individuals having an impact! This suggests that if a funding agency or government has more money available to distribute, they'd be wise to use that extra money to distribute money to everyone, rather than to only a select few. As the researchers conclude,"if the goal is to reward the most talented person (thus increasing their final level of success), it is much more convenient to distribute periodically (even small) equal amounts of capital to all individuals rather than to give a greater capital only to a small percentage of them, selected through their level of success - already reached - at the moment of the distribution."

Essentially, without basic income, "mediocre-but-lucky" people tend to be much more successful than "more-talented-but-unlucky" people, and the most successful people of all tend to be those who are only slightly above average in talent but have a lot of luck in their lives. With basic income, because people with skill and talent have the resources to not suffer disastrous bad luck, they are able to rise above those with less skill and talent whose luck would prevent them from disaster.

It turns out that unconditional basic income functions as universal good luck!

9) "The New York Times Gets the Finland Basic Income Story Wrong" by Matt Bruenig for People's Policy Project

If it's one thing that had the potential to drive me crazy in 2018, it's all the misinformation spewed onto the internet from all over the place about Finland's basic income experiment, including from the paper of record itself, the NYT. Matt Bruenig does an exemplary job in this article of not only correcting the record by fact-checking the NYT, but going underneath it with survey info, to show that even the idea that the people of Finland have somehow turned their back on UBI is wrong.

No, Finland did not cancel their experiment. It was a two-year experiment from inception that took place over 2017 and 2018. The data is now being evaluated and we'll know this year what happened in 2017, and we'll know the final results of the entire experiment in 2020. This information is directly from the experimenters themselves.

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8) "The Great Equalizer: What Dolly Parton and a Tennessee Wildfire Can Teach About Universal Basic Income" by Daniela Perdomo for In The Mesh

In late 2016, a forest fire in Tennessee burned down about 1,000 homes, and in response Dolly Parton came to the rescue of the newly homeless victims with $1,000 per month for five months followed by an additional (and entirely unexpected) $5,000 check in the sixth month for a grand total of $10,000. The results of this basic income were then analyzed by Stacia West. You can read her full report here, but this article is a summary of that report. A 10-minute video documentary was also made, which you can watch here.

Basically, basic income increased resiliency to disaster by helping everyone get back on their feet faster by providing people with what they needed most - cash to self-determine their own priorities. The following excerpt really says it all:

“It was very rare, I can almost get a tear. I just — to talk about it is one thing, but when it happens to you…,” Don Daily trails off for a moment. “I can get a little emotional about it, because it’s just not the way it’s supposed to work, and it did. It did. Saved people’s lives. If nothing else, up in their head where they could keep going on. Just take those next steps.” Daily says the checks were important because we live in “a money world,” but that just as valuable was the freedom and dignity he experienced. And he finds the Gatlinburg community has changed: “People are helping people who weren’t helping before. You can’t buy that.”

7) "Nearly Half of You Reading This Have Bullshit Jobs" by Nick Romeo for the Daily Beast

There was a lot of coverage in 2018 of David Graeber's book Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, which I absolutely recommend reading in full, but I liked this article about it best because it was a nice in-depth interview with David himself that functions as a solid summary of the book for those without the necessary time to read the book itself.

Learn about flunkies, goons, duct tapers, box checkers, and taskmasters, and consider not only the depth of the problem of a system that's creating entirely unnecessary work, but also how important unconditional basic income is to finally escaping said system.

6) "Universal Resource Inheritance" by Dan Larimer

It's been interesting watching Dan Larimer, creator of BitShares, Steemit, and EOS deepen his understanding of basic income over time, from his posts on Steemit about UBI, to this essay on Medium where he essentially makes Thomas Paine's argument on a worldwide level. As a libertarian you can see his dislike of taxation and welfare, but you can also see his immense dislike of natural resource-based domination. To square these, he suggests a UBI funded by a 5% annual tax on wealth, not based on need, but based on everyone's rightful inheritance of natural resource wealth redistributed every year over an assumed 100-year lifespan. His main premise is natural inheritance and the challenge of making sure each generation, including those not yet born for thousands of years to come rightfully inherit their share of the Earth.

This is a great essay to share with those most hardcore of conservatives and libertarians who shout that taxation is theft while entirely ignoring the theft of the Earth by those who claimed it as theirs long ago. It also should be read by everyone in the blockchain/cryptocurrency world.

5) "Basic Income or Basic Services" by Simon Duffy for the Centre for Welfare Reform AND "Universal Basic Services and how it compares to Universal Basic Income" by Jack Perry for Ideas For Today

I'm listing two here because I recommend reading them both, and I like sharing them both. It's hard for me to say which I like better because they're both great looks at UBI vs UBS, but they each compare them in different ways. Simon's is more of a big picture vs. big picture breakdown of the two, and Jack's is more of a detailed breakdown of each service compared to cash. Read them both, bookmark them both, and share either one when someone suggests a bunch of free goods and services would be a better option than providing people with any cash to pay for goods and services.

As Simon concludes his piece with, "UBI is not a silver bullet in the fight for social justice - but it is at least a real and definable bullet. UBS - at least presented as an ‘alternative’ to UBI - looks like a blank."

4) "The Labor Market Impacts of Universal and Permanent Cash Transfers: Evidence from the Alaska Permanent Fund" by Damon Jones and Ioana Elena Marinescu

This was my favorite paper of the year involving new research in support of basic income. Through the clever creation of a "synthetic Alaska" (a kind of alternate universe Alaska that never introduced it's annual cash dividend) Damon and Ioana cleverly tease out an estimate of the impact of Alaska's Permanent Fund Dividend since its start in 1982. The results? Basically, a bit less-full time employment neutralized by an increase in full-time employment through a stimulated economy, in addition to a 17% increase in part-time employment. If you think providing everyone with a financial floor will lead to economic devastation brought on by less stuff getting done, Alaska's long-term provision of cash to everyone proves you wrong.

3) "Smart money: Why the world should embrace universal basic income" by Annie Lowrey for The Globe and Mail

I feel that every year this list requires the best new UBI summary, something to use to introduce people to the idea. That book this year is Annie Lowrey's "Give People Money", but that article in my opinion is what Annie wrote here through a Canadian context for the Globe and Mail. It's got historical background. It's got evidence with newly created charts. It's even got a few quotes from me. Annie got a lot of media coverage in 2018 for basic income through her book's publication, and until you read it, at least read this.

2) "The Desire For Work As An Adaptive Preference" by Michael Cholbi for Autonomy

I read so many things about basic income that are just mostly the same thing remixed in all kinds of ways, so it's really refreshing to read something that really makes me think and reflect on basic income in a new way. This is one of those few that manages to be something novel and thought-provoking. In it, Cholbi makes the case that our desire for work is a behavioral adaptation born of unjust conditions where we have no choice but to work. This understanding is an important consideration as we look at policies designed around automation. People will want to keep working even as there is less need to work, so besides basic income, we need policies that help shift society away from a maladaptive desire to work work work, by pursuing policies like shorter working weeks and lower retirement ages that reduce work.We must consciously "un-adapt" from a work-centered society, and that means also avoiding solutions like JG which perpetuate work-centricity.

We are foxes and leisure time is our grapes. With the rise of automation, it's time we stop looking at leisure as sour, simply because for centuries, we were forbidden from enjoying it.

1) "Basic Income, Not Basic Jobs: Against Hijacking Utopia" by Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex

I don't think there was any link I shared more in 2018 than this link, and it remains one of my absolute favorite breakdowns of the job guarantee versus basic income debate. In this 13,000 word tome of logic and rational thought, Scott obliterates the notion of a jobs guarantee being better than a basic income guarantee. Those who read every word of this and conclude UBI sucks and that unlimited government job creation is a superior response to the automation of labor are simply living somewhere other than reality, or are hiding their true reasoning, possibly even from themselves.

If there's one thing about basic income published in 2018 that you can't not read, it's this one.


Bonus Link: If there's one article of my own among those I've written this year that I'd select for such a list, it's probably The Monster's, Inc. Argument for Unconditional Basic Income, which also got turned into an 11-minute video essay if you'd prefer to watch it instead of read it.

Cheers, and here's to 2019 being an ever bigger year for the basic income movement than 2018!


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cjheinz
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Our President is the World’s Most Powerful Child

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The World’s Most Powerful Man is America’s Angriest Child

The Twisted Psychology of Malignant Narcissism

Imagine you were the most powerful person in the world for a second. Yes, really. What would you do? Would you go out and sail the world on your luxury mega-yacht? A fleet of liveried servants serving you fine cocktails? Or would you, perhaps, try to solve great and pressing problems like climate change and mass extinction? Or would you devote your days — and your powers — to answering the Really Big questions, like “why are we here? where did we come from?”

That question is also a test of your maturity. Your development as a full human being. A psychologist might call it your moral or emotional development. If you are still immature, then you will be concerned, mostly, with selfish things — yachts, wardrobes, toys, possessions. If you are mature, you’ll be concerned with allocentric things — things that benefit others more than they benefit you. Why is that? The selfish things are just indirect routes, to love, meaning, truth, belonging. They are ways to try and buy it. We fail, mostly — and then we learn we must earn it, with allocentric things. Then we mature. Now — remember the question: you’re the most powerful person in the world. What do you do?

Here’s what the most powerful man in the world is doing. He’s building walls to protect himself from the other kids he’s still afraid of. He’s lashing out as violently as he can when he doesn’t get what he wants — shutting down the government wholesale to get the feeling of power he needs. The only time you or I have ever seen him smile genuinely, by giving anything at all to anyone, is when he can…buy all the McDonald’s in the world. Don’t you think that’s strange? Funny? Weird? I do. It reminds me — eerily — of a child. Doesn’t all the above remind you of a kid trapped in an adult body? It should.

Our President is a child. He is what happens when moral, psychological, and emotional development stalls at childhood, twisting in on themselves — and so adulthood is left stillborn. He is a regressed, distressed, infantile mind in a man’s body. Can’t you see it, even, in his walk, when you really think about it? (Now, there are those who will say that’s unfair to children — or, conversely, that calling a man a child elides responsibility. I don’t think either is the case. An adult can take responsibility for acting like a child — and should. And there’s little that’s more dangerous than a vengeful child given the trappings of adult power — which is my point, in a way: do we really judge the character of our leaders anymore? Or just hand power to the ones who make the most childish promises to us, too?)

The President is not a sociopath. He is a malignant narcissist. A sociopath isn’t interested in your approval, validation, or love. Serial killers aren’t out on the streets mowing down people and posting pics on Instagram (as much as Hollywood wants them to), hoping for likes. They kill in the privacy of sheds and basements. They are satisfying a different need — not love, but the numb, icy rage of those who are literally dead inside, having been murdered themselves. A narcissist, on the other hand, needs to be the center of the world — because he is desperately afraid of his own emptiness. He must have all its attention, interest, regard, concern. Obsessively, relentlessly, perpetually. Nobody else can be allowed to have any at all. So all narcissists are stuck at a stage of development where, like little children, the must be the only ones. Until they are, they can’t move on. But what adult can be the center of the whole world? And even if you are —even if you are literally its most powerful man — can all its fear and attention ever be enough, since the world will never be your parent? What if it’s not? What if that’s the hypothesis the Trump years are really testing?

When we say that a person is a narcissist, what it really means that they are stuck at an infantile stage of development. When we are little people, and our primal needs for love and respect and dignity are met, only then we can give them to others, since we internalize them for and in ourselves. But if they are not given to us —if we don’t have good parents ourselves — we may well spend the rest of our lives trying to take or seize them, however we can, with money or power or sex. We may go to the ends of the earth seeking the unconditional love and respect we should have had from our parents. But who will give it to us now? How are we to “get” it? What if it can’t be enough even if we do get it?

(And yet nobody has perfect parents, do they? So one of the greatest challenges of growth is learning how to soothe that wounded child in you — then you become a mature, loving adult, instead of staying an infant, lashing out, envious, enraged, jealous of anyone else who is loved. The truth is that nobody’s adult self doesn’t have a child that isn’t still hurting, deep inside.)

Still, it’s harder for some people than others. Imagine that your parents regard you as a little trophy. They applaud you when you “win” — but when you don’t, they call you a loser, a failure, a disgrace. Such a child is likely to become a malignant narcissist. They are essentially being told they can never be loved —their worth is always held only in comparison to others — therefore, all that they can do is be feared. If you’re told you’re a loser and a failure unless you’re the dominant one, you internalize such an attitude, don’t you? Yet the price is that never learn how to grow. You are still desperately after the love and respect of your mother and father — that is what you will really seek in every interaction with anyone thereafter — but you will only know how to demean, abuse, and vilify people. You will be caught between an obsessive, cloying need for attention — but an equally furious compulsion to belittle and hurt and put down. Is any of this sounding familiar?

So the malignant narcissist, having foreclosed on the possibility of love, can only now settle for fear. For threatening and bullying people to pay some kind of emotional tribute to him. He must be all-powerful, all-feared, since fear has become a substitute for love. It is in that sense that malignant narcissists are often said to be “emotional vampires” (though as a real life vampire, I object, we’re nice) — they’re feeding on your fear. But that’s only because they’re terrified, inside, of not even being able to settle for being feared.

All this is why, if you think about it, the President is weirdly obsessed with kids. Not with loving them — with getting us all to fear them, with destroying them, with annihilating them. He talks incessantly about how little refugee children hold the power to destroy whole societies. He displays absolutely no sympathy for kids shot at schools, kids without healthcare, more and more kids in poverty. Why is that? In his mind, they are rivals. They are the loved children that the trapped, unloved child he still is is still jealous of. He envies them so deeply it is his primary motive in life to defend himself against these feared and hated enemies. But who envies a child but someone who never got to be one? Hence, the President’s most feared enemy isn’t Russia (LOL) — it’s little kids. Hence, too, such a person would be easy pickings for any intelligence agency which flattered and adulated and appreciated him as the best one, the only good one, and so on — just like that missing parent. Think about all that for a second. What does it say about the psychology of the most powerful man in the world?

Hence, our President thinks the way to become a “safer” nation is to build walls. To keep little kids. They protect him from these feared and hated enemies — little kids. They are his most dangerous threats, psychologically — that’s why he’s obsessed with them — but they have nothing whatsoever to do with the safety of Americans (a lack of healthcare, for example, does.) But because the President is still competing with all these little kids for the love he will never have — he’ll do anything at all to “protect” himself from them. He’ll build a wall around a whole country if it means the other kids don’t get to come and play. The price, of course, is that we are trapped in that bizarre, upside-down world along with him.

So a narcissist — especially a malignant one — is trapped. He is in in perpetual rivalry not just with the whole world, for its attention — but with its most vulnerable, it weakest and littlest, because no one else, he feels, is ever a greater victim than he is. He will always say that he “got the bad end of the stick” or “never got enough credit” and so forth — because nothing, in the end, can make up for that lack of love that was absent from the very beginning. He always feels scorned, unwanted, rejected. It is the only real emotion there is — fear. And it must be dispelled by being feared.

That is why the President sees himself the greatest victim in the whole country, maybe the whole world — not the poor guy choosing between chemotherapy and his mortgage, or the student struggling to pay off her debts — the President, who owns a gilded tower on Fifth Avenue. It is where his astonishing lack of empathy or respect or dignity all come from: the victimhood of the malignant narcissist. It’s as if the malignant narcissist spends his whole life trying to get the world to see what he himself cannot — he was failed so badly as a child that his whole life long, nobody else is allowed to be one. Or a good parent, either.

(At this point, you might ask — very well, but how does the malignancy, the wish and desire to hurt others, develop? Think carefully about the above. What is a tantrum for, if not to instill fear? Some parents are absent, some parents are cloying — but some really seem to think their kids are never good enough. Such a kid grows up feeling an intense sense not of abandonment, but of inadequacy. Yet if you sense that coldness in your parents, what do you do? You destroy the other, better, kids — and then you destroy all the other good parents, too. If you imagine yourself to be the greatest victim of all, and you are in competition with even the weakest in society — like little children fleeing war and famine — for attention, for validation, for respect, then you will want to hurt many people, all at once — all those that love them, too.)

Who does the President lash out at most, hardest, most violently? It’s eerie when you think about it: it’s anyone who resembles a mother or father figure, isn’t it? It’s Elizabeth Warren, speaking to the country like a healthy adult, nurturing it, one might even say, mothering it. It’s Hillary, who did much the same, in a more commanding way still. It’s Barack Obama, everyone’s favourite uncle. It’s Joe Biden, the country’s bumbling grandpa. And so on. The President’s hottest rage is reserved for those who are good parents to the nation, at an unconscious level — it couldn’t be more obvious when you think about it for just a moment. The moment they ask him to grow up — wham! Out come the insults, the tantrums, the jibes. They are the hated good parents he never had, will never be wanted by, and can never become — the ones who offer unconditional love. He can never have it. They must be destroyed. And that is yet another giveaway that our President is still really just a rejected, fearful, angry child.

When does an abuser — abusers are most often malignant narcissists, since sociopaths don’t really form relationships to begin with — lash out the most violently? When the wife, the girlfriend, the partner makes the mistake of saying “why can’t you just grow up? why are such a child?” either explicitly or implicitly. Wham! When the partner steps into the role of parent, especially if they suddenly seem to switch from the good parent the abuser never had, to the bad one he did have — they set off an explosion of rage. He lashes out, often violently. He becomes pure aggression, seeking to destroy the thing that has hurt him most — not just his own bad parents, but also everyone else’s good parents. Sound familiar?

If it doesn’t, let me summarize. If you’re a malignant narcissist, you need to a) destroy all the other kids, who are your rivals b) destroy all the other good parents, who reward theirs with the love you can never have c) be the only one left standing in the world, which d) you must empty of love, since why should anyone else have it if you can’t? Hence, the whole world can burn down — and you’ll cheer it on. You’ll welcome the apocalypse — as long as it means you’ll be feared along the way, since you can’t be loved. You’ll hurt and harm and destroy everything you can. Your life’s mission becomes to annihilate all the forms of love — whether dignity, truth, grace, respect, meaning, warmth, kindness— you possibly can. After all — who has ever given you any?Does that sound familiar yet? It should.

Having a leader of a society who’s trapped in an infantile state of development is a truly dangerous thing — because such a person’s mission in life is to annihilate every last shred of love that they can. Who else was such a leader? Hitler, of course. Stalin. Mao. All sought to become the stern, controlling parents they once had — but all that was just a mask for the child inside who only knew one way to relate to the world: desperate to be feared, if he could never be loved. You see, to have a parent who cannot only treats you as a prize or a trophy can be even more damaging than having an absent parent — the child forecloses on the possibility of unconditional love, of any real self-worth. But a child who is never allowed to be a child will end up an adult who lashes out at the very idea of adulthood, too.

Sometimes, people get trapped in immature stages of development. Malignant narcissism is just one such malady. And when they are elected to high office, the result is disastrous. The onus is on us to be better judges of character my friends — to know when we are dealing with children trapped in adult bodies, and mature, functioning adults. It’s not enough for us to condemn a malignant narcissist. What good does that do? What if all the fear in the world isn’t enough — because the emptiness, the lack of positive self, in the narcissist is insatiable? Do you see the problem?

Remember when I asked you what you’d do if you were the most powerful person in the world — and then pointed out that’s a sign of your level of maturity? What level of development is our President at? At this point, you might laugh. Don’t we all know the President is a child? Perhaps, perhaps. But I want you to see the truth inside that for a moment. Our President is a child —of a certain kind. One who was taught that he would never be able to earn love — but at least he could earn fear. And children like that — who are so deeply, badly wounded inside that they cannot ever leave their childhood behind, forever seeking what they can never have — become malignant narcissists, lashing out at everything around them, destroying whatever they can, just so, that, maybe, finally, someone will say, smiling: “Look what a good boy you are!” Maybe, just maybe, if you destroy all the love in the world — then, at last, someone will think you’re good enough.

Umair
January 2019


Our President is the World’s Most Powerful Child was originally published in Eudaimonia and Co on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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cjheinz
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8 years old.
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Experts: The Only Way to Save the Planet Is Nuclear Energy

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We simply can't decrease fossil fuel usage quickly enough to avoid climate catastrophe without leaning heavily on nuclear energy, according to two experts.

Going Nuclear

The world needs to rethink its plan for addressing climate change.

That’s the assertion of political scientist Joshua S. Goldstein and energy engineer Staffan A. Qvist. On Friday, The Wall Street Journal published an essay in which the duo argues that we can’t address the global climate problem as quickly as needed using just renewables such as solar and wind.

We do have a viable way to avoid climate catastrophe, though, according to these experts — and it centers on a lot more nuclear energy.

Too Slow

Even if every nation implemented renewables at the same pace as Germany, a world leader in the space, we’d only hit about one-fifth the global target for clean electricity. At that rate, it’d take 150 years to fully decarbonize the planet, according to Goldstein and Qvist — but numerous climate scientists estimate we only have about three decades before we hit a climate tipping point.

And even if we could implement wind and solar at a quicker rate, they’re both inconsistent sources of energy that require large segments of land.

“What the world needs is a carbon-free source of electricity that can be ramped up to massive scale very quickly and provide power reliably around the clock, regardless of weather conditions — all without expanding the total acreage devoted to electric generation,” wrote Goldstein and Qvist. “Nuclear power meets all of those requirements.”

Get Schooled

According to Goldstein and Qvist, misguided fears about nuclear energy have prevented its growth. When people think about nuclear energy, they think about the Chernobyl disaster and radioactive waste.

But the number of people who died as a result of the Chernobyl disaster — which the experts claim was the only fatal nuclear power accident in 60 years — pales in comparison to the number who have died as a result of other, nonnuclear industrial accidents.

The amount of waste produced by nuclear energy is also far less than the amount of equally toxic waste produced by coal and other fuels.

“An American’s entire lifetime of electricity use powered by nuclear energy would produce an amount of long-term waste that fits in a soda can,” the pair of experts asserts.

Ultimately, they argue, we need to destigmatize nuclear energy and incorporate it into efforts to avoid climate catastrophe quickly and broadly. According to Goldstein and Qvist, “It’s the only strategy that adds up.”

READ MORE: Only Nuclear Energy Can Save the Planet [The Wall Street Journal]

More on nuclear energy: Bill Gates: U.S. Leaders Must Embrace Nuclear Energy

The post Experts: The Only Way to Save the Planet Is Nuclear Energy appeared first on Futurism.

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