International Man: Is There Hope for the US?

Here’s another article from Jeff Thomas at International Man – Is There Hope for the US?

For the entire lives of anyone under the age of seventy-five, the US has been at the top of the heap in almost every way. For decades, it had greater freedom, greater prosperity and higher production than any other country in the world.

America was a cornucopia – the centre for innovation and trends in technology, the arts and social development. And today, many Americans, even if they complain about changes for the worse in their country, come back quickly to say, “This is still the greatest country in the world.” Or, “Everybody is still trying to come here.”

Well, truth be told, neither of these knee-jerk comments is accurate any longer. But even those who have come to that realisation tend to resort to the inevitable fall-back comment: “Well, whattaya gonna do? It’s just as bad everyplace else.”

And yet, this is also inaccurate. Throughout the history of the world, whenever a country had entered its decline stage, others were in the process of rising up.

And this is just as true today. There are countries where prosperity and production are far greater than in the US and, increasingly, countries where the key ingredient that made America great – Liberty – is present to a far greater degree.

In fact, this is the one characteristic of America that’s most rapidly in decline. This is especially true in 2020, when a virus has been used as a justification to dramatically increase governmental dominance of the populace.

It matters little whether the US had a hand in creating the virus, or whether it was merely co-opted as an opportunity to expand control.

The result has been heavy-handed governmental meddling in medicine, business and personal freedoms.

As regards the latter concern, the odd halfway measure of personal movement control is not great enough to keep a virus from spreading, but it has been sufficient to collapse businesses, create record unemployment and make it impossible for some people to feed themselves.

In the bargain, it has served as an ideal cover story for an economic collapse that had been inevitable. The government can say, “Don’t blame us for the collapse; it was those naughty Chinese and their pesky virus that did it.”

The decline is not an accident. It’s a planned demolition. And it’s going well. For those who actually pull the strings, profit will be made from the unfolding crisis. Not for everyone, of course, but most certainly for those few who are creating it.

But many say that the US is waking up, that its citizenry are coming to the conclusion that the Deep State – that corporatist ruling class that are made up of governmental and big-business leaders – has increasingly destroyed the prosperity, production and liberty that once existed and replaced them with massive debt, an exit of production to other countries and a vanishing middle class.

And they’d be entirely correct. The endgame for the once-great US Empire is now underway, and over the next few years, we shall bear witness as it tumbles downhill.

So, what are Americans to do?

Well, my belief is that – as is always the case when a country declines – the populace will divide into several groups.

The first group, which will be by far the largest, will increasingly grumble, but ultimately do little or nothing to save themselves. They will go down with the ship.

The second group will say, “We don’t have to accept this.” They’re the preppers, the ones who have a store of food and have been stashing away guns and ammunition. They’re the folks who are seen at the corner bar, saying, “If they come for me, I’m locked and loaded.”

Their friends nod in agreement, but in fact, if a trained and outfitted SWAT team were to arrive on their porch, there would be very few who would succeed in getting off a single shot, and for those who did, their remaining life would be brief.

On the more thoughtful side of this group would be the third group. They would also say, “We don’t have to accept this,” but their choice of a solution will be to “work within the system.”

This is a much larger group – the ones who wait for each election as though it holds a solution. Each time, they’re disappointed. If the party they supported is elected, the winners somehow fail to return the country to the free society it had once been. If the other party is elected, the decline only accelerates.

Incredibly, the lightbulb never seems to go on for this group. They never get to the point of realisation that, “Oh, I get it: neither party has any intention of returning the country to a state of liberty. The only question is which group of pretenders gets to be in charge of the decline this time around. Either way, I lose.”

It could be said that this is the most tragic group. They’re sincere and dedicated. They endlessly hope that a solution is just around the corner, without there being any actual substance for their hope.

The commonality in all three of these groups is that they all end up as casualties. They may differ in their approach to the decline, but they’ll share in the loss of their wealth (however large or small) and their liberty.

But there’s also a fourth group – those who leave. Their numbers are small and they tend not to make a large impact on the consciousness of the other three. In fact, they’re never even mentioned by the media. It’s as though they don’t exist.

So, let’s step back a few centuries. America was founded by a hardworking assortment of settlers who came from several countries in Europe. In their home countries they witnessed oppression – limitations to both their liberty and their ability to create a good life for themselves and their families.

They were independent-minded and self-reliant. They carved out lives in the wilderness and later built towns, then cities. But all the while, they hung on to their core belief of independence and liberty.

Today, they’re still revered as being the backbone of what made America great. And this view is accurate. Yet, today’s Americans are nothing like them. None of the three groups above thinks like them, although the middle group would like to believe they do, merely by owning guns. They’re not independent-minded. They’re not self-reliant.

The key here is that the founders of America recognised that there was no chance that they could change the corrupt and controlling systems they were born into in Europe.

So they left Europe and started over elsewhere.

The fourth group are following a similar path: Seek out a destination where the government does not yet have the power to rob you of your wealth and freedoms.

The choice is a simple one. If you value your liberty – the ability to make your own decisions and to keep more of what you’ve earned – pack your bags and go.

International Man: The American Revolution—The Sequel

Jeff Thomas at International Man writes The American Revolution—The Sequel from his perspective outside of America.

The US is the most observed country in the world. Since it’s the world’s current empire (and since it is beginning its death throes as an empire), it’s fascinating to watch.

Those of us outside of the US watch it like Americans watch TV. It’s like a slow-motion car wreck that we observe almost daily, eager to see what’s going to happen next. We criticise the madness of it all, yet we can’t take our eyes off the unfolding drama. It has all the excitement of a blockbuster movie.

  • The national debt is, by far, the highest of any country in history.
  • The economic system is a house of cards, getting shakier every day.
  • The government has become mired in progress-numbing fascism and increasing collectivism.
  • The government is aggressively creating the world’s most organized police state.
  • The majority of the population have become wasteful, spendthrift consumers who apathetically hope that their government will somehow solve their problems.
  • The media consistently misrepresents international events, prodding the citizenry into accepting that the ongoing invasion of multiple other countries is essential.
  • The most popular candidates for president (both parties) are the candidates that are the most egotistical, out-of-control blowhards who preach provocative rhetoric rather than real solutions.

Still, most Americans retain the hope that, somehow, it will all work out.

Hope Is a Desire, Not a Plan

There are growing numbers of Americans who have accepted that the US is unravelling rapidly and is headed for a social, economic, and political collapse of one form or another.

Some talk of a new revolution (but hopefully a peaceful one, of the Tea Party sort). Some imagine that, if they can store enough guns and ammunition in their homes, they might be able to make a stand against government authorities. Others mull over the idea of organised secession by some of the states. A small, but growing, number are quietly leaving for more promising destinations.

Except for the last of these, most of the “hopes” are understandable, but any attempt at a “Second American Revolution” is unlikely to succeed.

Why? Well, just for a start,

  • The power of the US state is far greater than that of King George III in the late eighteenth century.
  • The present US state would be fighting on its own ground, not some continent thousands of miles across the ocean.
  • The US state is committed to the concept that it dealt definitively (and forever) with the concept of secession between 1861 and 1865.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that a breakup of the union, or complete removal and replacement of the government were possible in the US. What then?

Well, unfortunately, here comes the really bad news for those who hope that the US could start over as the free nation it was in its infancy:

  • In the late eighteenth century, America was a largely agrarian collection of colonies. Colonists had to work hard just to survive, so the work ethic and self-reliance were paramount in the colonists’ makeup. They were a brave people who were accustomed to providing for themselves and physically fighting off those who would challenge them.
  • Colonists received no significant largesse from the British or local governments. No welfare, no social security, no Medicare or Medicaid, no benefits of any kind.
  • Colonists made their own daily decisions. They had no government schools or media telling them what to think or what choices to make. They relied on common sense and self-determination to guide their decisions and actions.

Today, of course, the opposite is true. Less than 2% of Americans are involved in agriculture. A mere 9% are actually employed in the production of goods. They are rarely directly involved in their own physical protection (Most, if not all, combat is overseas and fought by defence contractors or those who voluntarily serve the military).

Most Americans receive benefits of one type or another from their government. Most recipients regard these benefits as “essential” and could not get by without them.

Most Americans receive their opinions from the media. Although this is not apparent to many Americans, it’s glaringly clear to those outside the US who can only shake their heads at the misinformation proffered by the US media and the wholesale acceptance of this “alternate reality” by so many Americans.

But what bearing does this have on what the future would be for Americans if they were to become determined enough to either remove their entire government or, alternatively, for some states to secede?

There have been many revolutions in the history of the world, both peaceful and otherwise. In the case of the American Revolution of 1776, the colonists themselves were largely self-contained as a people and possessed the ideal ethos to succeed as a productive country.

But this has rarely been true in history. Whenever a people have been heavily dependent on the State in one way or another, they had become accustomed to receiving largesse at the expense of others. This is a major, major factor. Such a group is unlikely in the extreme to either produce or elect a Washington or a Jefferson. They almost always choose, instead, to fall in behind someone who promises largesse from the State. In choosing such leaders, the people are more likely to receive a Robespierre or a Lenin. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

The pervasive difficulty here lies in the erroneous concept that there can be a return to freedom whilst maintaining the dependency upon largesse from the State. The two are mutually exclusive. Those who seek a return to greater freedom must also accept that “freedom for all” means an end to the State being empowered to steal from one person in order to give to another.

Or, as stated by Frédéric Bastiat in the mid-nineteenth century, “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavours to live at the expense of everybody else.”

Whether the US continues on its present downward progression, or if it breaks free in a bid for greater freedom, the eventual outcome is likely to have more to do with the collectivist mindset of the majority than with the libertarian vision of a few.

Editor’s Note: Right now, the US is the most polarized it has been since the Civil War.

If you’re wondering what comes next, then you’re not alone.

The political, economic, and social implications of the 2020 vote will impact all of us.

International Man: Six Reasons Why the Wrong Party Will Win the Most Important US Election Since 1860

Doug Casey at International Man writes his thoughts on the 2020 election in Six Reasons Why the Wrong Party Will Win the Most Important US Election Since 1860

The upcoming election may be the most important in US history. At least as important as that of 1860, which led directly to the War Between the States. In 2016 I believed Trump would win and placed a money bet on him. This time I’m not so sure, despite Trump’s “incumbent advantage” and the fact the Democrats could hardly have picked two worse candidates.

I see at least six reasons why this is true, namely:

  • The Virus
  • The economy
  • Demographics
  • Moral collapse of the old order
  • The Deep State
  • Cheating

The consequences of a Democrat victory will be momentous. Let’s look at why it’s likely.

1. The Virus

Despite the fact COVID is only marginally more deadly than the annual flu, and the fact it’s only a danger to the very old (median death age 80), the hysteria around it is changing the nature of life itself. It’s proven much less serious than the Asian flu of the late ’60s or the Hong Kong flu of the late ’50s. And not even remotely comparable to the Spanish flu of 1918-19. None of those had any discernable effect on the economy or politics. COVID is a trivial medical event but has created a gigantic psychological hysteria.

The virus hysteria is, however, a disaster from Trump’s point of view for several reasons. None of them have anything to do with his “handling” of the virus—apart from the fact that medical issues should be a matter between a patient and his doctor, not bureaucrats and politicians.

First, the virus hysteria is severely limiting the number and size of Trump’s rallies, which he relies on to keep enthusiasm up.

Second, more people are staying at home and watching television than ever before. However, unless they glue their dial to Fox, they’ll gravitate towards the mainstream media, which is stridently anti-Trump. People who are on the fence (and most voters are always in the wishy-washy middle) will mostly hear authoritative-sounding anti-Trump talking heads on television, and they’ll be influenced away from Trump.

Third, older people have by far the heaviest voter turnout, but roughly 80% of the casualties of the virus are elderly. And over 90% of those deaths are related to some other condition. Be that as it may, fear will make older people less likely to vote in this election. The COVID hysteria will still be with us in November. Older people tend to be culturally conservative and are most likely Trumpers.

Fourth, in today’s highly politicized world, the government is supposed to be in charge of everything. Despite the fact there are thousands of viruses, and they’ve been with us thousands of years, this one is blamed on the current government. Boobus americanus will tend to vote accordingly.

2. The Economy

Keeping his voters at home is one thing. But the effects the hysteria is having on the economy are even more important. The effect of COVID on the economy should be trivial since only a small fraction of the relatively few Covid deaths are among people who are economically active.

Presidents always take credit when the economy is good and are berated when it’s bad on their watch, regardless of whether they had anything to do with it. If the economy is still bad in November—and I’ll wager it’s going to be much worse, despite the Fed creating trillions of new dollars, and the government handouts—many people will reflexively vote against Trump.

In February, before the lockdown, there were about 3.2 million people collecting unemployment. Now, there are about 30 million. So it seems we have over 30 million working-age people who are . . . displaced. That doesn’t count part-time workers, who aren’t eligible for unemployment but are no longer working.

The supplementary benefits have ended. If they return, it will be at lower levels. The artificial good times brought on by free money will end too. It will be blamed on the Republicans.

Worse, the public has come to the conclusion that a guaranteed annual income works. This virus hysteria has provided a kind of test for both Universal Basic Income and Modern Monetary Theory—helicopter money. So far, anyway, it seems you really can get something for nothing.

An important note here: Trump—whatever his virtues—is an economic ignoramus. He’s supported both helicopter money and artificially low-interest rates since he’s been in office. But especially now, because he knows it’s all over if today’s financial house of cards collapses on his watch.

I’ll wager that, out of the 160 million work-force Americans, 30 million will still be out of work by voting day. The recognition that the country is in a depression will sink in. The virus hysteria was just the pin—or sledgehammer, perhaps—that broke the bubble. But that’s another story. What’s for sure is that the average American will look for somebody to blame. As things get seriously bad, people will want to change the system itself, as was true in the 1930s.

The only economic bright spot for Trump is the stock market. But it’s at bubble levels. Not because the economy is doing well, but because of the avalanche of money being printed. Where it is in November is a question of how much more money the Fed will print, and how much of it flows into the stock market. Even then, there’s an excellent chance it could collapse between now and the election.

For reasons I’ve detailed in the past, the economy is now entering the trailing edge of a gigantic financial and economic hurricane. The Greater Depression will be much different, longer-lasting, and nastier than the unpleasantness of 1929-1946. And people vote their pocketbook. Bill Clinton was right when he said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” If stocks fall, it will compound this effect. A high stock market just gives the illusion of prosperity. And, at least while stocks are up, contributes to the atmosphere of class warfare. Poor people don’t own stocks.

3. Demographics

Since the gigantic political, economic, and social crisis we’re in will be even more obvious come November, people will want a radical change. Since that—plus lots of free stuff—is what the Democrats are promising, they’re likely to win. But there are other factors.

The last election was close enough, but now, four years later, there are four more cohorts of kids that have gone through high school and college and have been indoctrinated by their uniformly left-wing teachers. They’re going to vote Democrat overwhelmingly.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), and people like her, are both the current reality and the future of the Democratic Party—and of the US itself. She knows how to capitalize on envy and resentment. The Black Lives Matter and Antifa movements have added the flavor of a race war to the mix. Racial antagonism will become more pronounced as whites lose their majority status over the next 30 years.

Nobody, except for a few libertarians and conservatives, is countering the purposefully destructive ideas AOC represents. But they have a very limited audience and not much of a platform. Arguing for sound money and limited government makes them seem like Old Testament prophets to Millenials. Collectivism and statism are overwhelming the values of individualism and liberty.

It’s exactly the type of thing the Founders tried to guard against by restricting the vote to property owners over 21, going through the Electoral College. Now, welfare recipients who are only 18 can vote, and the Electoral College is toothless.

For the last couple of generations, everybody who’s gone to college has been indoctrinated with leftist ideas. Almost all of the professors hold these ideas—as well as high school and grade school instructors. They place an intellectual patina on top of emotional, fantasy-driven leftist ideas.

When the economy collapses in earnest, everybody will blame capitalism. Because Trump is rich, he’s incorrectly associated with capitalism. The country—especially the young, the poor, and the non-white—will look to the government to “do something.” They see the government as a cornucopia.

A majority of Millennials are in favor of socialism, as are so-called People of Color. By 2050, whites will be a minority in the US. A straw in the wind is that a large majority of the people who commit suicide each year are middle-class white males—essentially, Trump supporters. The demographic handwriting is on the wall. Trump’s election in 2016 was an anomaly. No more than a Last Hurrah.

4. Moral Collapse

There’s now a lot of antagonism toward both free minds and free markets. A majority of Americans appear to actually support BLM, an openly Marxist movement. Forget about free minds—someone might be offended, and you’ll be pilloried by the mob. Forget about free markets—they’re blamed for all the economic problems, even though it’s the lack of them that caused the problem. The idea of capitalism is now considered undefendable.

Widespread dissatisfaction with the system is obviously bad for the Republicans and good for the Democrats, who promote themselves as the party of change.

It used to be pretty simple—the Republicans and the Democrats were just two sides of the same coin, like Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Traditionally, one promoted the warfare state more, the other the welfare state. But it was mostly rhetoric; they were pretty collegial. Now, both the welfare and the warfare state have been accepted as part of the cosmic firmament by both parties. The difference between them is now about cultural issues. Except that polite disagreement has turned into visceral hatred.

The Dems at least stand for some ideas—although they’re all bad ideas. The Republicans have never stood for any principles; they just said the Dems wanted too much socialism, too fast, which is why they were always perceived—correctly—as hypocrites. Antagonism between the right and the left is no longer political or economic—it’s cultural. That’s much more serious…(continues)