Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The End of the American Century

I have a bone to pick with the Washington Post. A few days back, as some of my readers may be aware, it published a list of some two hundred blogs that it claimed were circulating Russian propaganda, and I was disappointed to find that The Archdruid Report didn’t make the cut.

Oh, granted, I don’t wait each week for secret orders from Boris Badenov, the mock-iconic Russian spy from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show of my youth, but that shouldn’t disqualify me.  I’ve seen no evidence that any of the blogs on the list take orders from Moscow, either; certainly the Post offered none worth mentioning. Rather, what seems to have brought down the wrath of “Pravda on the Potomac,” as the Post is unfondly called by many DC locals, is that none of these blogs have been willing to buy into the failed neoconservative consensus that’s guided American foreign policy for the last sixteen years. Of that latter offense, in turn, The Archdruid Report is certainly guilty.

There are at least two significant factors behind the Post’s adoption of the tactics of the late Senator Joe McCarthy, dubious lists and all.  The first is that the failure of Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions has thrown into stark relief an existential crisis that has the American news media by the throat. The media sell their services to their sponsors on the assumption that they can then sell products and ideas manufactured by those sponsors to the American people. The Clinton campaign accordingly outspent Trump’s people by a factor of two to one, sinking impressive amounts of the cash she raised from millionaire donors into television advertising and other media buys.

Clinton got the coverage she paid for, too. Nearly every newspaper in the United States endorsed her; pundits from one end of the media to the other solemnly insisted that everyone ought to vote for her; equivocal polls were systematically spun in her favor by a galaxy of talking heads. Pretty much everyone who thought they mattered was on board the bandwagon. The only difficulty, really was that the people who actually mattered—in particular, voters in half a dozen crucial swing states—responded to all this by telling their soi-disant betters, “Thanks, but one turkey this November is enough.”

It turned out that Clinton was playing by a rulebook that was long past its sell-by date, while Trump had gauged the shift in popular opinion and directed his resources accordingly. While she sank her money into television ads on prime time, he concentrated on social media and barnstorming speaking tours through regions that rarely see a presidential candidate. He also figured out early on that the mainstream media was a limitless source of free publicity, and the best way to make use of it was to outrage the tender sensibilities of the media itself and get denounced by media talking heads.

That worked because a very large number of people here in the United States no longer trust the news media to tell them anything remotely resembling the truth. That’s why so many of them have turned to blogs for the services that newspapers and broadcast media used to provide: accurate reporting and thoughtful analysis of the events that affect their lives. Nor is this an unresasonable choice. The issue’s not just that the mainstream news media is biased; it’s not just that it never gets around to mentioning many issues that affect people’s lives in today’s America; it’s not even that it only airs a suffocatingly narrow range of viewpoints, running the gamut of opinion from A to A minus—though of course all these are true.  It’s also that so much of it is so smug, so shallow, and so dull.

The predicament the mainstream media now face is as simple as it is inescapable. After taking billions of dollars from their sponsors, they’ve failed to deliver the goods.  Every source of advertising revenue in the United States has got to be looking at the outcome of the election, thinking, “Fat lot of good all those TV buys did her,” and then pondering their own advertising budgets and wondering how much of that money might as well be poured down a rathole.

Presumably the mainstream news media could earn the trust of the public again by breaking out of the echo chamber that defines the narrow range of acceptable opinions about the equally narrow range of issues open to discussion, but this would offend their sponsors. Worse, it would offend the social strata that play so large a role in defining and enforcing that echo chamber; most mainstream news media employees who have a role in deciding what does and does not appear in print or on the air belong to these same social strata, and are thus powerfully influenced by peer pressure. Talking about supposed Russian plots to try to convince people not to get their news from blogs, though it’s unlikely to work, doesn’t risk trouble from either of those sources.

Why, though, blame it on the Russians? That’s where we move from the first to the second of the factors I want to discuss this week.

A bit of history may be useful here. During the 1990s, the attitude of the American political class toward the rest of the world rarely strayed far from the notions expressed by Francis Fukuyama in his famous and fatuous essay proclaiming the end of history.  The fall of the Soviet Union, according to this line of thought, proved that democracy and capitalism were the best political and economic systems humanity would ever come up with, and the rest of the world would therefore inevitably embrace them in due time. All that was left for the United States and its allies to do was to enforce certain standards of global order on the not-yet-democratic and not-yet-capitalist nations of the world, until they grew up and got with the program.

That same decade, though, saw the emergence of the neoconservative movement.  The neoconservaties were as convinced of the impending triumph of capitalism and democracy as their rivals, but they opposed the serene absurdities of Fukuyama’s thesis with a set of more muscular absurdities of their own. Intoxicated with the collapse of the Soviet Union and its allies, they convinced themselves that identical scenes could be enacted in Baghdad, Tehran, Beijing, and the rest of the world, if only the United States would seize the moment and exploit its global dominance.

During Clinton’s presidency, the neoconservatives formed a pressure group on the fringes of official Washington, setting up lobbying groups such as the Project for a New American Century and bombarding the media with position papers.  The presidency of George W. Bush gave them their chance, and they ran with it. Where the first Iraq war ended with Saddam Hussein beaten but still in power—the appropriate reponse according to the older ideology—the second ended with the US occupying Iraq and a manufactured “democratic” regime installed under its aegis. In the afterglow of victory, neoconservatives talked eagerly about the conquest of Iran and the remaking of the Middle East along the same lines as post-Soviet eastern Europe. Unfortunately for these fond daydreams, what happened instead was a vortex of sectarian warfare and anti-American insurgency.

You might think, dear reader, that the cascading failures of US policy in Iraq might have caused second thoughts in the US political and military elites whose uncritical embrace of neoconservative rhetoric let that happen. You might be forgiven, for that matter, for thinking that the results of US intervention in Afghanistan, where the same assumptions had met with the same disappointment, might have given those second thoughts even more urgency. If so, you’d be quite mistaken. According to the conventional wisdom in today’s America, the only conceivable response to failure is doubling down. 

“If at first you don’t succeed, fail, fail again” thus seems to be the motto of the US political class these days, and rarely has that been so evident as in the conduct of US foreign policy.  The Obama administration embraced the same policies as its feckless predecessor, and the State Department, the CIA, and the Pentagon went their merry way, overthrowing governments right and left, and tossing gasoline onto the flames of ethnic and sectarian strife in various corners of the world, under the serene conviction that the blowback from these actions could never inconvenience the United States.

That would be bad enough. Far worse was the effect of neoconservative policies on certain other nations: Russia, China, and Iran. In the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russia was a basket case, Iran was a pariah nation isolated from the rest of the world, and China had apparently made its peace with an era of American global dominance, and was concentrating on building up its economy instead of its military. It would have been child’s play for the United States to maintain that state of affairs indefinitely. Russia could have been helped to recover and then integrated economically into Europe; China could have been allowed the same sort of regional primacy the US allows as a matter of course to its former enemies Germany and Japan; and without US intervention in the Middle East to hand it a bumper crop of opening wedges, Iran could have been left to stew in its own juices until it imploded. 

That’s not what happened, though. Instead, two US adminstrations went out of their way to convince Russia and China they had nothing to gain and everything to lose by accepting their assigned places in a US-centric international order. Russia and China have few interests in common and many reasons for conflict; they’ve spent much of their modern history glaring at each other across a long and contentious mutual border; they had no reason to ally with each other, until the United States gave them one. Nor did either nation have any reason to reach out to the Muslim theocracy in Iran—quite the contrary—until they began looking for additional allies to strengthen their hand against the United States.

One of the basic goals of effective foreign policy is to divide your potential enemies against each other, so that they’re so busy worrying about one another that they don’t have the time or resources to bother you. It’s one thing, though, to violate that rule when the enemies you’re driving together lack the power to threaten your interests, and quite another when the resource base, population, and industrial capacity of the nations you’re driving together exceeds your own. The US government’s harebrained pursuit of neoconservative policies has succeeded, against the odds, in creating a sprawling Eurasian alliance with an economic and military potential significantly greater than that of the US.  There have probably been worse foreign policy blunders in the history of the world, but I can’t think of one off hand.

You won’t read about that in the mainstream news media in the United States. At most, you’ll get canned tirades about how Russian president Vladimir Putin is a “brutal tyrant” who is blowing up children in Aleppo or what have you. “Brutal tyrant,” by the way, is a code phrase of the sort you normally get in managed media.  In the US news, it simply means “a head of state who’s insufficiently submissive to the United States.” Putin certainly qualifies as the latter; first in the Caucasus, then in the Ukraine, and now in Syria, he’s deployed military force to advance his country’s interests against those of the United States and its allies. I quite understand that the US political class isn’t pleased by this, but it might be helpful for them to reflect on their own role in making it happen.

The Russian initiative isn’t limited to Syria, though. Those of my readers who only pay attention to US news media probably don’t know yet that Egypt has now joined Russia’s side. Egyptian and Russian troops are carrying out joint military drills, and reports in Middle Eastern news media have it that Egyptian troops will soon join the war in Syria on the side of the Syrian government. If so, that’s a game-changing move, and probably means game over for the murky dealings the United States and its allies have been pursuing in that end of the Middle East.

China and Russia have very different cultural styles when it comes to exerting power. Russian culture celebrates the bold stroke; Chinese culture finds subtle pressure more admirable. Thus the Chinese have been advancing their country’s interests against those of the United States and its allies in a less dramatic but equally effective way. While distracting Washington’s attention with a precisely measured game of “chicken” in the South China Sea, the Chinese have established a line of naval bases along the northern shores of the Indian Ocean from Myanmar to Djibouti, and contracted alliances in East Africa and South Asia. Those of my readers who’ve read Alfred Thayer Mahan and thus know their way around classic maritime strategy will recognize exactly what’s going on here.

Most recently, China has scored two dramatic shifts in the balance of power in the western Pacific. My American readers may have heard of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Phillippines; he’s the one who  got his fifteen minutes of fame in the mainstream media here when he called Barack Obama a son of a whore. The broader context, of course, got left out. Duterte, like the heads of state of many nominal US allies, resents US  interference in his country’s affairs, and at this point he has other options. His outburst was followed in short order by a trip to Beijing, where he and China’s President Xi signed multibillion-dollar aid agreements and talked openly about the end of a US-dominated world order.

A great many Americans seem to think of the Phillippines as a forgettable little country off somewhere unimportant in the Third World. That’s a massive if typical misjudgment. It’s a nation of 100 million people on a sprawling archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, commanding the entire southern end of the South China Sea and a vast swath of the western Pacific, including crucial maritime trade routes. As a US ally, it was a core component of the ring of encirclement holding Chinese maritime forces inside the island ring that walls China’s coastal waters from rest of the Pacific basin. As a Chinese ally, it holds open that southern gate to China’s rapidly expanding navy and air force.

Duterte wasn’t the only Asian head of state to head for Beijing in recent months. Malaysia’s prime minister was there a few weeks later, to sign up for another multibillion-dollar aid package, buy Chinese vessels for the Malaysian navy, and make acid comments about the way that, ahem, former colonial powers keep trying to interfere in Malaysian affairs. Malaysia’s a smaller nation than the Phillippines, but even more strategically placed.  Its territory runs alongside the northern shore of the Malacca Strait:  the most important sea lane in the world, the gateway connecting the Indian Ocean with the Pacific, through which much of the world’s seaborne crude oil transport passes.

All these are opening moves. Those who are familiar with the rise and fall of global powers know what the next moves are; those who don’t might want to consider reading my book Declineand Fall, or my novel Twilight’s Last Gleaming, which makes the same points in narrative form. Had Hillary Clinton won this month’s election, we might have moved into the endgame much sooner.  Her enthusiasm for overthrowing governments during her stint as Secretary of State, and her insistence that the US should impose a no-fly zone over Syria in the teeth of Russian fighters and state-of-the-art antiaircraft defenses, suggests that she could have filled the role of my fictional president Jameson Weed, and sent US military forces into a shooting war they were not realistically prepared to win.

We seem to have dodged that bullet. Even so, the United States remains drastically overextended, with military bases in more than a hundred countries around the world and a military budget nearly equal to all other countries’ put together. Meanwhile, back here at home, our country is falling apart. Leave the bicoastal bubble where the political class and their hangers-on spend their time, and the United States resembles nothing so much as the Soviet Union in its last days: a bleak and dilapidated landscape of economic and social dysfunction, where the enforced cheerfulness of the mainstream media contrasts intolerably with the accelerating disintegration visible all around.

That could have been prevented. If the United States had responded to the end of the Cold War by redirecting the so-called “peace dividend” toward the rebuilding of our national infrastructure and our domestic economy, we wouldn’t be facing the hard choices before us right now—and in all probability, by the way, Donald Trump wouldn’t just have been elected president. Instead, the US political class let itself be caught up in neoconservative fantasies of global dominion, and threw away that opportunity. The one bright spot in that dismal picture is that we have another chance.

History shows that there are two ways that empires end. Their most common fate involves clinging like grim death to their imperial status until it drags them down. Spain’s great age of overseas empire ended that way, with Spain plunging into a long era of economic disarray and civil war. At least it maintained its national unity; the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires both finished their imperial trajectories by being partitioned, as of course did the Soviet Union. There are worse examples; I’m thinking here of the Assyrian Empire of the ancient Middle East, which ceased to exist completely—its nationhood, ethnicity, and language dissolving into those of its neighbors—once it fell.

Then there’s the other option, the one chosen by the Chinese in the fifteenth century and Great Britain in the twentieth. Both nations had extensive overseas empires, and both walked away from them, carrying out a staged withdrawal from imperial overreach. Both nations not only survived the process but came through with their political and cultural institutions remarkably intact. This latter option, with all its benefits, is still available to the United States.

A staged withdrawal of the sort just described would of course be done step by step, giving our allies ample time to step up to the plate and carry the costs of their own defense. Those regions that have little relevance to US national interests, such as the Indian Ocean basin, would see the first round of withdrawals, while more important regions such as Europe and the northwest Pacific would be later on the list. The withdrawal wouldn’t go all the way back to our borders by any means; a strong presence in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific basins and a pivot to our own “near abroad” would be needed, but those would also be more than adequate to maintain our national security.

Meanwhile, the billions upon billions of dollars a year that would be saved could be put to work rebuilding our national infrastructure and economy, with enough left over for a Marshall Plan for Mexico—the most effective way to reduce illegal immigration to the United States, after all, is to help make sure that citizens of the countries near us have plenty of jobs at good wages where they already live. Finally, since the only glue holding the Russo-Chinese alliance together is their mutual opposition to US hegemony, winding up our term as global policeman will let Russia, China and Iran get back to contending with each other rather than with us.

Such projects, on the rare occasions they’re made, get shouted down by today’s US political class as “isolationism.” There’s a huge middle ground between isolationism and empire, though, and that middle ground is where most of the world’s nations stand as they face their neighbors. One way or another, the so-called “American century” is ending; it can end the hard way, the way so many other eras of global hegemony have ended—or it can end with the United States recognizing that it’s a nation among nations, not an overlord among vassals, and acting accordingly.

The mainstream news media here in the United States, if they actually provided the public service they claim, might reasonably be expected to discuss the pros and cons of such a proposal, and of the many other options that face this nation at the end of its era of global hegemony. I can’t say I expect that to happen, though. It’s got to be far more comfortable for them to blame the consequences of their own failure on the supposed Boris Badenovs of the blogosphere, and cling to the rags of their fading role as purveyors of a failed conventional wisdom, until the last of their audience wanders away for good.


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Nancy Sutton said...

OT - another 'Retrotopia'.. but releasing next Feb at $65... hopefully thousands will be reading yours. Can't wait til an Amazon search turns up both books;)

Unknown said...

That was a great essay; thank you.

Robert Tweedy said...

JMG, you wrote:

"There have probably been worse foreign policy blunders in the history of the world, but I can’t think of one off hand."

I can help here. The one that comes to mind is Wilhelmine Germany's determination to dominate Europe, to include European Russia, via an army that that all Europe feared and a navy that Britain feared. Their foreign policy was based almost entirely on those. We can see where that got us. Some might say that their particular foreign policy was a legacy of Otto von Bismarck. Either way, it was a disaster for Germany Europe and the world. It looks like history is rhyming again.

Jason Heppenstall said...

It's not just in America that the mainstream media has taken a nosedive - over here in the UK it's doing exactly the same thing. I think I noticed about 18 months ago that most stories had degenerated into "Person X said [something offensive Y] causing Person Z to be outraged." It didn't matter what the subject was - it could be politics, sport, arts, or anything else—everything everywhere was suddenly outrageous.

I suppose, on reflection, that maybe this is just a side effect of the legacy media losing its power to the alternative narratives that have stepped into the void. It certainly seems that they are doubling down on this theme of outrage, raving about "fake news" and "Russian hackers" and all the rest of it. I wonder if they realise how utterly silly they are looking.

In other news, I'm happy to announce that my first fiction novel has just been published by Club Orlov Press. "Seat of Mars" is a racy story about a bunch of diverse characters as they deal with a sudden end of the age of abundance. Many of the themes contained within will be familiar to readers of the Archdruid Report, and you'll be relieved to hear that the narrative occupies the broad but sparsely populated area between an ascent to the stars and all-out apocalypse. The book is available here.

Grebulocities said...

Wow, that is quite some list, containing sites from literally every political position not popular with the Washington Post. A quick glance for sites I recognize includes the following:

Left-wing opponents of the mainstream Democratic Party (e.g. Counterpunch, Truthdig)
Libertarians (David Stockman, Ron Paul)
Paleoconservatives (Paul again, a variety of sites with words like "liberty" or "patriot")
Neofascists/neo-Nazis (Daily Stormer, VDare)
Anti-war sites with no other political positions, including sites for veterans who know what war looks like
Conspiracy theorists ranging from Alex Jones to UFO enthusiasts
Collapse blogs from all sorts of political positions
Actual fake news sites
Actual Russian-sponsored sites (RT, SputnikNews)

That is quite some list. I'll be searching through the ones I don't recognize in my ongoing quest to collect all the interesting political views I can. It's so convenient to have all of them in one place like that! Granted I'll have to filter out the neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists, fake news, and uninteresting repeats of positions I already know about, but I'm more than willing to do that. Here's the URL for the list, for anyone who is interested. JMG, I think you should include this link in your article.

Brother Guthlac said...

Media is about market, and marketing. It is very difficult to market "voluntary poverty". About the only motivation that has worked historically seems to be religious; we can call that spiritual to be culturally acceptable today.

Joel Caris said...


First of all, thank you for the shout out about Into the Ruins last week. Very much appreciated, as are all the people who visited, subscribed, ordered copies of the issue, and so on. The response to the project has been really gratifying! And as always, let me urge everyone reading to consider a letter to the editor once you've had time to absorb the material--especially all the fine commenters here! I really loved the letters section in this most recent issue and want to keep that momentum going (I'll probably put a prompt of some kind up on the journal's blog sometime soon, since it worked so well last time).

As for the subject at hand, I have admittedly been somewhat clueless about geopolitics and military affairs for much of my life. Your occasional writings here on the subjects have helped me to broaden my view and have a bit more of a basic grasp. This post is particularly illuminating, clear and concise; I really appreciate it.

I certainly have my concerns about Trump's presidency, but one of the possible silver linings from his election is this exact possibility of the beginnings of an ordered retreat from empire. I'm not super optimistic, to be honest, but it at least feels possible now, whereas before I thought our death grip to the end was largely inevitable. So here's my question to you: do you see any particularly ideal openings at the moment for activism or voter input around this idea? Are there particular pressure points you think are more clearly available with Trump that we might best focus on pushing?

I've been thinking for the last few weeks about political strategy around a Trump presidency. One of my concerns with people on the left and Democrats--of which I'm still more aligned than conservatives and Republicans--is that so many seem to have not even listened to, paid attention, or actually in any way studied or examined Trump and his campaign. I've seen a lot of talking points and expressed concerns about things that many Congressional Republicans stand for or advocate but that Trump himself has aligned in the opposite direction. Any attempts to make the best of a Trump presidency that aren't based in at least some understanding of the man's actual positions and stances (which are in many instances quite different from establishment Republicans) strike me as doomed to failure due to poor strategy. If you don't pay attention to what the man says, how are you going to effectively exploit pressure points between him and Congressional Republicans?

(I should take a moment to note that, yes, Trump has contradicted himself regularly and we simply don't yet know what his administration is going to look like, but I see far too many complete and utter misunderstandings of him from people who freely admit they've never listened to one of his speeches and have barely exposed themselves to him outside of the mainstream media's presentation, as well as liberal media.)

So I'll loop back around. Obviously, part of the strategy is attempting to get the idea of an orderly retreat from empire out into the national conversation, even if that means an end run around the establishment media. But do you think there are other forms of activism or advocacy that might be particularly effective just now? Is the potential for normalization of our relationship with Russia a good place to apply pressure?

Lisa said...

This essay is helpful in understanding the reasons why you feel so strongly against Clinton - your opinions have been difficult for me to understand, since I see no way that Trump could get anything helpful actually done for anyone and I fail to see "policy" as even a thing.

It seems to me that there are cases in which results are better using random chance to make decisions, rather than thoughtful, well-meaning rationales... and perhaps random chance is also better than (posited) good intentions of people who have a fundamentally delusional world view (e.g. economists).

There's a philosophy where when things are sufficiently gummed up, throwing all the cards in the air and taking your chances with the outcome is a better option than the current situation. You have to have little to lose... probably things will not improve but at least you'll have a different set of problems... a change is as good as a rest?

thecrowandsheep said...

BINGO! I got Archdruid Report BINGO! YAY!

Here is my card:

1. Learning from history
2. Identifying false binary
3. Recognition and acceptance of limits
4. Lampooning mainstream media
5. Analysis of events as they are; not how they should be
6. Pointing out the warm fuzzy vs cold prickly in contemporary language
7. Seeing which way the wind is blowing in current affairs
8. ... er

I've missed something haven't I? For Fukuyama's sake...

Kari Barber said...

Thank you for another excellent essay. You've become my go-to for making sense of things. I wish I could make you "required reading" for everyone I know.

David, by the lake said...

A well-timed and most excellent essay, John. I hope it percolates into the more open portions of the political class, because we need a change in direction and we need it soon.

From what I can see, most of the energy on the leftward end of things appears to be going into promoting the adoption of a popular vote mechanism and dispensing with our electoral college system so that no demagogic populist can ever again be elected President (face-palm).

Minding our own business, harboring our resources, and promoting the welfare of our citizenry seems like such a common-sense strategy...

Gottfried Wilhelm Melvin Hicks-Leibniz said...

A compelling post, John.
I tend to think that a "hard Empirexit" is in the cards rather than a gradual pullback.
Putin smells blood, leaving little doubt in my mind that he will lean back and let Trump muddle through.
Putin is seizing this 2 month window of opportunity to re-shape the future of the ME.
The fallout from however the dust settles in Syria will likely have immediate and irreparable consequences on American hegemony.

latheChuck said...

According to the article linkd below, we have bases in "more than 70 countries". Of course, your figure of "100" is more than 70, but I think maybe too much more,... unless you count the Marine guards at every US embassy. Whether or not to count them is debatable, but I consider them to be more as "armed junior diplomats" than "deployed military force". You could bring home every "advisor" and "liaison", but the country count won't go down until the Marines leave the embassies.

But, in sympathy with Varun's comment at the tail end of last week's comment, it probably doesn't make much difference at this point.

Lucullus said...

It appears that the democrats are not learning from their mistakes as shown by Pelosi being kept in as Speaker of the House along with, presumably, her cronies at the DNC. It appears as though they continue to double down on failure and drink their own coolaid. Glenn Greenwald predicted in an article on the Intercept earlier this month. It appears as though the democrats are destined to loose the next election cycle as well. Perhaps there will be a schism in the DNC.

However, your article brings up bigger issues than party politics. It makes me wonder how much Trump believes the standard MSN narrative. Regardless, I sincerely doubt any politician will level with the people and admit we are in an irreversible decline. Instead of riding the wave, they will fight against it leading to the Assyrian scenario that you detailed.

Ad Attacker said...

Journalistic failures due to adhering overmuch to the sponsor imposed restrictions on journalism!? Thank you, sir, for reiterating what I have been blabbing about for years now!

I've quoted your essays in the past, but this one I will be shouting from the rooftops!

Jim, an Ad Attacker

Phil Knight said...


Archimedes39 said...

Unfortunately, the imperatives of NSC-68 remain in play within US foreign policy centres...mutatis mutandis the seemingly unending era of American Exceptionalism continues to clatter forward. It appears to me that a voluntary - or indeed, peaceful - "stand-down" from post-WWII/Cold War/GWOT militarisation can never be achieved, unless and until there is severe domestic pressures or calamities that implacably demand a redirection of national wealth away from nuturing a massive National Security State to one that is forced to deal with restive local populations and their wants and needs.
The entirety of the leadership of the two major parties, together with the MIC, have a huge vested interest in NOT changing the "We are Number One" mindset..."Full Spectrum Dominance" remains the watchword, as it has almost become a national pathology, immune to remedial treatment.

nuku said...

Excellent wide-angle analysis of the current military/political landscape.
Data Point:
Here in New Zealand, we‘ve just had a visit from the outgoing USA vice-president. Our historic opposition to visits by USA Navy ships, based on our anti-nuke stance, has been ended by the current neoconservative government:
Meanwhile wealthy Chinese are in New Zealand busy buying up everything they can. This is their “bolt-hole” in case things get ugly, and a good place to launder profits from corruption back on the mainland, again with the collusion of the current NZ government.
It definitely feels like the USA, with the collusion of our home-grown neocons, is trying to re-establish its influence in the Pacific.
My gut feeling is the USA Empire is not going to go down gracefully.

Matt Holbert said...

An excellent summary of the state of the world. I recently reviewed the comments at -- the blog of George Mobius. For those of us who are idea people, the commenters inadvertently provide the candy that keeps us from concentrating on the at-hand issues. One of George's commenters provided a link to a presentation from Doyne Farmer. While fascinating, the presentation distracts us from reality -- just as George's to-be-written book will do the same. I cut the video short to write this... We are at a point when we should recognize that Guy M. is correct regardless of how many years we have left. Strive for excellence among other things...

GHung said...

No mention that, while one candidate made the electoral cut, the other received the majority of the popular vote, or so I'm told. Meanwhile, at least one of your loyal readers remains firmly disenfranchised, which would have been the case either way. Not that I'm desperate for inclusion or groupthink this time around.

Meanwhile, there have been plenty of letters to the local paper demanding things like a Constitutional Convention that will return America to its Christian greatness. Not sure the Russians and Chinese worry about that sort of thing either. We got a letter from my Wife's Temple the other day suggesting they may begin sending out their correspondence in "anonymous" envelopes (no Hebrew, etc. on the outside). They want to make sure it isn't discarded as junk mail, I suppose.

Plenty of reasons to be a bit nervous these days, but that ain't my style. Flying under the radar while staying locked-and-loaded seems to make more sense, here in Trump-fanatic country.

Bruno B. L. said...

JMG, so, soon it will be the end of the American Empire. I truly hope you manage do it peacefully, by walking away. I have many reasons to wish that be the case. The first is that less people will die, get injured or lose their livelihood, if a less disruptive path is chosen. The second is that the American democracy was a sight to behold, until it was parasitised by empire. If the US manages to pull away from its empire, it might not only keep what's left of its democracy, it might actually revive it. And having that would be a very good thing, specially in a world ridden with autocratic regimes - as I expect the Chinese-Russian world to be.

wolfbay said...

I was recently talking with my sister about this subject . We came to the conclusion that our country would maintain the empire until it completely implodes or until WW111. We didn't know there were examples in history were there was another outcome. Thanks for giving us hope that another outcome might be possible.

Armata said...

More evidence the apparatchiks running the Democratic Party have failed to learn anything from their recent defeats, just like the Bourbons after the French Revolution. Meanwhile, the Republicans are positively gleeful about Madame Pelosi's re-election. It seems pretty clear to me that barring a major course correction, the Democratic Party is setting itself up for another defeat in 2018, especially if Trump can deliver on at least some of his campaign promises.

Armata said...

John Michael,

There are reports beginning to surface in the Russian media of possible talks between China, Russia and the incoming Trump administration to restructure America’s sovereign debts. As you and others have pointed out, the US government is effectively bankrupt. Trump’s experience in negotiating bankruptcy settlements involving his business ventures may come in very handy at some point in the near future.

Greg Reynolds @ Riverbend said...

Of course the main stream media may be ignoring you because you have unconventional and dangerous thoughts. To list you would direct people to this site. They would become infected and start talking about something other than sports and entertainment. Who knows where that would lead ?


Kevin Price said...

Thanks so much for this one! I've been enjoying this blog for many years now, but studying your work has never felt more important.

On another note, I finished reading your new book, "The Secret of the Temple" today. Wow! I will definitely be rereading. We should definitely spend energy rediscoving that knowledge in this time of decline. Thanks for lots of good food for thought and fuel for action.

John Michael Greer said...

Nancy, yes, I saw that! I've sent an email to the author, offering him a complimentary copy of my version.

Unknown, you're most welcome.

Robert, okay, fair enough. That's certainly in the same ballpark.

Jason, I'm beginning to think I need to do a post on the cultivation of outrage as an addictive emotional drug. Congrats on the book, btw -- I trust you'll be sending a review copy to Into the Ruins to bring it to the attention of deindustrial SF fans.

Grebulocities, it is quite a list, isn't it? The only thing the blogs on it have in common, as I noted, is that they don't buy into the neoconservative groupthink that dominates Washington DC these days. Boris Badenov really gets around...

Brother G., the US did a fine job of marketing voluntary poverty to people during the Second World War, without benefit of religious (or "spiritual") motivation. National survival will do it, too. I personally think that if a president got up on the podium and called all of us to rise to the challenge of an era of national sacrifice and belt-tightening, he'd get a huge positive response and a massive wave of popularity. Why? Because beneath the pasted-on smiles, a huge number of Americans are sick of the lives of meaningless excess that have been pushed on them, and would gladly cash them in for a sense of meaning, purpose, and challenge.

Joel, you're most welcome. Yes, I think that normalizing our relationship with Russia and backing out of kneejerk militarism is a great way to apply pressure. It's also a very good wedge issue for people on your end of the political spectrum to apply; as I noted here two weeks ago, that's a huge issue out here in flyover country, and could be an issue on which the left could reach out to the people who voted for Obama in 2008 and Trump in 2016. The difficulty, of course, is that the left will have to learn from its failures, and as you've noted, an astonishing number of people on your end of things seem unwilling to even attempt that.

Lisa, no, that's not what I'm saying. This notion you have that policy "isn't a thing" makes me scratch my head and wonder what you think politics is about. Let me be even more precise: politics is about policy. It's about what kind of decisions the government is going to make about issues that matter. Should the US confront the Russians in Syria, or negotiate? That's a question of policy. Should the US have a national health care plan, or not? That's a question of policy. Should the US maintain its current trade treaties, or cancel them? That's a question of policy -- and those questions matter. They shape the lives of all three hundred million of us in this country.

I should probably clarify something else, too. I don't feel strongly against Hillary Clinton. I couldn't care less what kind of person she is. I feel very strongly against the policies that she pursued as a senator and secretary of state and advocated for as a presidential candidate. If policy isn't a "thing" for you, may I encourage you to wake up, rub the sleep out of your eyes, and look around?

Crowandsheep, you definitely get a prize -- tonight's gold star, in fact. ;-)

Kari, thank you!

David, every commonsense idea begins as a blasphemous heresy mouthed by some madman on the fringes of society. So the start's been made!

John Michael Greer said...

Gottfried, I suspect you're right, though I hope you're wrong. Certainly the Russians seem to be making the most of the discomfiture of the US political class; if the new administration has the common sense to back away from unnecessary confrontation and draw lines in the sand only where they have to be drawn in the interests of actual national security, there's still plenty of room for a positive outcome.

LatheChuck, duly noted. I'll have to check into that.

Lucullus, we'll see. As I noted in response to Brother Guthlac, remembering how people in this country responded to a call to shared sacrifice in the Second World War, I really do think it's possible that a president who leveled with the people and stuck by his guns might win reelection in a landslide.

Ad Attacker, you're welcome, thank you, and please do shout it from the rooftops!

Phil, highly pertinent. A Chinese naval and air base in the Azores would be a logical next acquisition for them -- I'd also look for a treaty or two with a nation or two in West Africa, and perhaps one of the smaller South American countries with an Atlantic coast.

Archimedes, we won't know for sure unless remedial treatment is attempted, will we?

Nuku, I see things a little differently here. The US is treating New Zealand as a fallback for naval basing, as it loses control of the South China Sea and has to look at the possibility of new shipping routes running south of Australia instead of through the Malacca Straits. So the move to get US naval vessels docking rights in your country is part of the retreat.

Ghung, I didn't mention it because it wasn't relevant to the subject of this week's post. Sure, we have a byzantine system of electing a president here in the US; successful candidates grasp that and work with it, failed candidates buy into their own groupthink. That would be just as true if we didn't have the electoral college and the coastal population centers could steamroller the less populous regions.

Bruno, exactly. It seems to me that getting rid of our empire is the first step toward getting back some of our democracy.

Wolfbay, you're welcome. There really is another choice, and the more people talk about that, the more likely it becomes that we'll take it.

Armata, yes, I noted that. My working guess, unless the Democrats can get past wallowing in their hurt feelings and learn from their mistakes, is that the GOP will add to its Congressional majority in 2018 and, if Trump can deliver on at least some of his promises, he'll win in a 1936-style landslide in 2020.

Barrabas said...

There is intense anxiety among the political classes in Australia with the developments in the Phillipines , and the broader shenanigans in the south china sea . So far Australia has resisted doing burn outs with war ships alongside the u.s near the reclaimed chinese bases. Members of opposition parties are openly proposing to ditch the u.s alliance in parliament , against the backdrop of our biggest military build up since ww2 . Clearly the tom toms are beating . For now we remain a militarily occupied u.s vassal , with west australias resource rich pilbara being largely american owned ($200 billion or so ). We have u.s nuclear early warning and cia base at alice springs , with the shadowy JSOC and marine air sea taskforce in darwin .

Our best bet would have been to ally with the populous Indonesia to the north as a buffer against china , but that ship sailed long ago with the repeated wedges driven by the u.s between us in order to maintain their regional dominance . We are at an all time low with indonesia , their foreign minister recently stating " there are only three things we have to remember with indo- australian relations ...the three B's .... beef , boats and Bali !"
They are currently taking huge infrastructure loans from china and buying russian fighter jets , i guess cordwainer smith had it skun after all. Still , our conservative political class is still sufficiently british and slippery sneaky to be quietly climbing into bed with china while loudly trumpeting the ANZUS treaty , we shall see .
The chinese continue to buy huge tracts of farmland and are shipping a lot of produce directly home by air , from all accounts .

barry_NZ said...

" That’s why so many of them have turned to blogs for the services that newspapers and broadcast media used to provide: accurate reporting and thoughtful analysis of the events that affect their lives. "

I am afraid they turn to blogs (as we all do) for news and opinions that confirm their world views. However bad and biased the mainstream media are, the average popular blog is an order of magnitude worse.

fudoshindotcom said...

Top-notch as usual JMG!

It's long past time for the U.S. to get it's fingers out of everyone else's pie. I hope that will happen before those fingers get slapped, or worse. Taking Hillary Clinton and her cohorts as an example, it may well be that our privileged class is far enough down the rabbit-hole of delusion that no return is possible. Mainstream media does do a fair job of exposing just what depth they've reached. Honestly, did they really expect anyone to believe that the airport meeting between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch had nothing to do with the investigation of Hillary's emails, for instance? That amounts to placing a perfect Muscovy specimen on a table and then expecting to convince us that what we're looking at is, in fact, not a duck at all. Of course this is just my opinion.

John Michael Greer said...

Armata, if that's true -- wow. It would be a very sensible thing to do, and would make it possible thereafter to raise interest rates so that nonspeculative investments could make money again. Still, we'll see. I'll have to wait and see what Boris Badenov has to say about it. ;-)

Greg, the thing is, a lot of the sites on that list are right out there on the fringes with me, and they've just gotten one heck of a lot of free publicity out of it. I feel left out. ;-)

Kevin, thank you! I hadn't heard that copies had already gotten to the public yet -- I just got my first two author's copies a few days ago. (If anyone's curious about the book in question, the details are here.

Old Professor said...

While Trump may not involve us in direct conflict with the Russians in Syria, the military-industrial complex will be well represented in his cabinet and in Congress. I don't foresee any reduction in the military budget, instead Trump wants to expand the Navy, which has long been a primary tool for power projection by Empires. Collapse of the Empire will likely result from financial disasters that lead to some type of new reserve currency, possibly SDRs (representing a basket of currencies) or if it gets really bad, gold. In the end we will simply run out of usable money and will have to shrink our military along with everything else.

donalfagan said...

Somewhat related, from Bacevich:

patriciaormsby said...

Announcing the fourth meeting of the Kanto Green Wizards--and it is going to be an extravaganza, folks!
Date: Sunday, December 4
Time: 12:00 noon to basically sundown.
Place: The Asakawa Kompira Shrine, 1st little mountaintop west of JR Takao Station (A map is posted on the Green Wizards site, and I'll see if I can link to it below).
Bring: something yummy to share (potluck) and dress warmly.
The whole shrine-associated priesthood will be present with their regalia, there will be guitars and singing, and the press, which is showing an interest in the "foreign priestesses" again.
The announcement from Prof. Evanov, who is a main organizer of the community, included:

Caitlin writes, "At the picnic this coming Sunday (Dec 4) a TV
Tokyo camera crew will be filming me and Pat the gaijin kannushi for
some Tokoro George program. Would be great if you could all be there
and share in the fun!! Actually we need to make it look as though we
have some sort of a following so bring your friends especially if they
always wanted to be on TV." Yoko has suggested that we also sing some
songs again. Yoko and I will bring our guitars and we ask anyone who
comes to the picnic to bring their voices!

Varun Bhaskar said...

Archdruid and gang,

I've been watching the American political scene since the elections and subsequent fallout. What we have right are growing political vacuums all over the country. I thought at first that my feelings were just a reaction to finding myself, for the first time in my life, without political representation in my own government, but then I realized that I wasn't the only one. If many of us are feeling this way, that means we're in a situation were there is a ton of space in the political sphere. This much room, this fast isn't healthy.

I think you're right Archdruid, the US dealt itself out of the empire game with this election. The instability we're going to experience internally is going to make power projection impossible. We may just stumble our way out of the control of our empire, but then again one never knows with a demagogue involved. I am not hopeful, because the one thing I know about American culture is that we double down at the worst time. Still we'll see. Maybe we'll be the third great empire to walk away.



rapier said...

I am certain that corporate media will soon adapt to and adopt Trump with little problem. I don't know why you of all people JMG assume a steady march in the same direction. Corporate America has typically been faux liberal since forever in social matters because it was good for business. In Trump you have a president who is perfectly transparent in that he will be good for business if you do deal with him,very bad for business if you don't.

Admittedly it will take some time for content to shift as those who are not team players are ushered out the door. Heck I bet the WaPo will forget all about this Putin is the devil stuff soon enough, unless Trump turns on him. All in all there was never a more perfect marriage than the one Trump can give corporations and really they must be sick and tired of all that faux liberal, diverstiy and kumbaya stuff. Ultimately the marriage of the likes of the Clinton's and Obama was an unnatural one.

patriciaormsby said...

Here is a link to a google map for the Asakawa Kompira Shrine:
My thanks to David Trammel for his work in obtaining that link.
Some photos of the Asakawa Kompira Shrine and its priesthood are here:

And Boris Badenov! I'm laughing so hard I'm having trouble staying upright. Someone over at the Saker suggested getting permission to use him and Natasha as their logo. Now I've gotta go read the article.

kosmodude said...

Here's a piece of vaporware worthy of powering Star's Reach:

How did you know? :^)

whomever said...

Re the Philippines, lets not forget the...complicated history they have with the USA, including one of the nastiest insurgencies the US military has ever dealt with; something that seems to have been completely written out of US history (Seriously: Poll your average American; I bet 99% don't know the US was ever fighting there). In fact the similarities between it and Iraq makes one wonder at the ability of the US military to learn at all.

BTW, the interesting thing to watch is going to be Australia. I'm going to bet money that at some point in the next 15-20 years they are going to realize that as a matter of survival they are going to have to come done on China's side on some sort of US/China issue (I'm Australian, BTW, though have lived a lot of places).

And of course climate change is going to make it all so much worse. 28 million desperate Saudis fleeing a country that imports 100% of its food aren't exactly going to be easy to deal with by anyone. Since you mention Mexico, remember also that oil revenues (Pemex) are a substantial portion of their budget and is in decline. So it's hard to be optimistic there.

Moshe Braner said...

Ad Attacker: Yup, I think that the funding of the media via advertisements is one of the most basic building blocks of our predicament. Almost up there with the creation of money via interest-demanding debt issued by banksters, which I think is the biggest one. Even the "non-commercial" parts of the US media, NPR in particular, have prostituted themselves to what are essential paid advertisements (with the government as one of the "sponsors").

Kevin Warner said...

I regret to say that the Australian media is a lot likes yours. There was much wailing and rendering of garments here after Trump won with both main political parties hyper-ventilating at his win. It was like someone had smashed a lot of rice bowls somehow. Now it has come out that over the past decade our government has donated $88 million to the Clinton Foundation. Wait, what? And this may only be the tip of the iceberg with both political parties playing the same game! What the hell? And we are only learning this now?
I have given up on newspapers here and the TV news is just getting bizarre. When a maybe-Russian airstrike destroys a hospital in Aleppo with the "White helmets" pulling an uncrushed child from the rubble, that is called a story (of sorts). When the same damn thing happens literally day after day, week after week, then one is forced to conclude that the entire city of Aleppo is made up of hospitals and it population made up of children and "White Helmet" rescuers. Uhhh, no! I may be dumb but I'm not stupid so yes, I can recognize a poorly executed propaganda campaign. This is why I read blogs like yours in the hope of achieving historical perspective and having a lifeline to reason and reality.
I regret to say that my own reading is that your political establishment will only double down in the face of cascading failure, both internally and internationally, with the optimistic words ever on their lips "But this time, it will be different!". In other words, everything will continue on until it cannot anymore. When those Americans that live in the coastal enclaves feel the same amount of pain that is felt in the rest of the country, perhaps then the country will decide to change course but by then it will be far too late. I suppose that if the United States ever did dissolve as suggested in your novel "Twilight's Last Gleaming", then it epitaph would have to read. "It never had to be this way!"

David, by the lake said...


Thank you for that link! It is fascinating to read about us from an outside perspective. Some of the quotes that stood out for me:

"Elites have burdened [Americans] with $20 trillion in debt, of which nearly $6.5 trillion belongs to foreign states, but the country itself factually never saw this money, never saw it being put to use for development. [Instead], the debt has been used to pay off interest on old debts, and to line the pockets of privileged banks and funds, paying them interest on US debt [accumulated in] quantitative easing programs."

"And the goals of these people are the same ones they pursued as they fought for Hillary Clinton's victory: to delay as much as possible the inevitable, and to preserve the status quo for as long as possible."

Those poor Americans!

foodnstuff said...

John, I've been reading for ages but have never commented before. That post was one of the best, so thank you. So good to have someone to unravel complex situations which I don't get from MSM or friends. Sorry you didn't make the list (I wasn't aware it existed), but look at all that extra reading I have now!

Nastarana said...

About Fukuyama, the American historian John Lukacs said in a review of "The End of History" that he was "appalled to find that Fukuyama is a fool."

I can't but wonder who has been financing neo-con think tanks and journals all these decades? The place to start with the MSM might be to bring a few anti-trust cases against media conglomerates.

Give up the overseas interventions and restore our republic sounds like a meme which could take off. We should repeat it everywhere. A data point: I rent the house I live in from a guy who has a big flag out front of his house and an impressive array of hunting weapons, and I heard him say that we need to stop invading other countries.

Shane W said...

one thing where the Berniecrats could have an outsized effect is in encouraging Bernie to do as he said he would, and make common cause with Trump on the issues that they are in accord. Trump mentioned Bernie getting screwed in the primaries, as well as their similarities on certain issues. Trade, foreign relations, Wall Street/crony capitalism, come to mind. These are issues where the entire establishment, GOP & Dem, is against Trump, and he needs all the support he can get. If someone is amongst the Bernie Bros (and gals), and can somehow plant a bug in their ear that these issues are far too important not to reach across the aisle and work to effect positive change, it could go a long way. I'd love to see a "Nixon Goes to China" redux: "Bernie Goes to Trump Tower" Surely the two New Yorkers can find some accord? I must admit, I'm concerned about some of Trump's cabinet picks, and the way he seems to be selecting strictly w/in the GOP. I'm apprehensive.

Armata said...

Rolling Stone magazine denouncing Pravda on the Potomac’s blacklist as "shameful and disgusting". I wonder if this means Rolling Stone will get added to their list of "Putin inspired Fake News" sites. Boris Badenov sure gets around, doesn’t he?

Armata said...

Speaking of fake news, have any of you seen this scandal involving American-backed hippogriffs in Syria who got caught in the act?

pygmycory said...

JMG, a slightly off-topic datapoint.

Trudeau and his cabinet just approved Kinder-Morgan and Enbridge Line 3 pipelines, although it also banned the Enbridge Northern Gateway and tankers on the north coast. Assorted groups here in BC have vowed to stop Kinder-Morgan, and so my email has been deluged with assorted petitions, letter-writing campaigns etc, some of which I've signed and/or passed around.

Trudeau just broke an election promise to reform the approval process and run Kinder-Morgan through the new. But he didn't reform it, and Kinder-Morgan went through the old process which many here view as a sham.

I'm wondering if he's bitten off more than he can chew, given the amount of unceded First Nations land the proposed pipeline runs through, often the territory of groups that are bitterly opposed to the pipeline.

There's also a BC election coming up in the spring. All told, I suspect things will get interesting here.

Jeff Thomas said...

There is another valid interpretation of Russia's recent military actions that you may be overlooking, which is that Russia is still an empire in retreat, and is increasingly compelled to use "hard power" because their "soft power" tools don't work anymore.

Four years ago Russia had a friendly government in the Ukraine, and while their allies in the Assad regime were facing a rebellion, it was not yet clear that they could not win the conflict on their own. Today, Russia and its proxies are clinging to scraps of Eastern Ukraine, Russia is engaging in expensive military adventurism to try to salvage Syria, and rapidly draining its national financial reserves. And the only real benefit Russia has gotten (aside from a bit of distraction from their internal economic woes) is the ability to continue using a couple of naval bases that they've had for decades.

It is also worth noting of the main reasons that Russia has been able to use air power with impunity in Syria is that the USA has chosen not to provide MANPADS-type weapons to the Syrian opposition - presumably due to the (likely well founded) fear that the leftovers might subsequently wind up in the hands of folks who would use them in ways that the USA wouldn't like very much.

Warren said...

Do the American people think of themselves as Imperial these days or still feel they are just kind of good World citizens? If they are still clueless, will that make it harder or easier to pull back from the Empire? (Warren)

Twilight said...

As soon as I saw the "fake news" meme get started, I told my kids this was their response to all the damage they'd done to themselves during the campaign. Not only were they unable to deliver, but there are signs that revulsion to the non-stop lying may finally be building into some sort of push back. People simply don't believe them anymore, so then these organizations no longer serve any useful function to the masses. In their arrogance they may have destroyed themselves.

I suspect they're having a Wile E. Coyote moment, trying not to look down.

Gordon Cutler said...

JMG, you made the mistake of outting yourself as a moderate Burkean Conservative... No free publicity for you! ;-)

Repent said...

Of course, you are assuming that we have hundreds of years to wind empire down. Your less that favorite online blogger Guy Mcpherson has recently been all over the web with his revised 'Near term extinction' prediction that there won't be a human left alive anywhere on the planet within 10 years or within 3652 days.

Or the equally doomy Hills group presentation that the price of oil is going to zero by the year 2022, because net energy available to society due to peak oil is going to zero by 2022.

Surely you've touched bases both here and elsewhere a hundred times on peak oil, net energy, catabolic collapse and so forth. Still, it is hard not to be skeptical that there won't be a hard landing soon, and that a gradual decline and 'walking away from empire' is the most likely outcome?

patriciaormsby said...

I know better than to be surprised, but the US media are not talking about Trump's proposed gradual withdrawal of help from places like Japan? Good grief! (I really am astonished.) The Japanese talking heads finally gave up jabbering about the TPP over here, and are now going on and on about "what're we gonna do when America goes away?" There is a definite realization that they received quite an impressive service at a very low cost.

I was unaware of China's moves around the Indian Ocean. That somehow has not made the news in Japan, nor has the sudden demonetization and chaos in India. I have been following the Syrian saga for quite a while, being overwhelmed with work this week and on vacation from most of the news, did not realize Egypt had decided to send troops to help Syria. Thank you for filling me in!

I agree with everything you are saying here, and am considering to whom I can send this, who isn't so traumatized by the events of the past month that it wouldn't be salt in a wound. Nonetheless, if they push me hard enough, I will recommend them to read this.

I love how you put a name to the dragon that just suffered a minor defeat and is now angrily lashing out indiscriminately (with the Japanese media now toeing the line again I see): the failed Neocon consensus. Oh, and in congratulating the Saker on receiving the award for journalistic integrity that really counts, I put in a good word for you and also our dear Dmitry Orlov who has also somehow been overlooked for the honor.

Unknown said...

Archdruid Greer, and to the Community at Large

Thank you for yet another insightful and relevant essay on the most important issues of our times. I hope you never tire of leadership, and I hope your lack of prominence on blacklists saves you the trouble of fighting off clueless hackers (much worse than trolls, unfortunately, but luckily also less numerous).

I stopped watching the mainstream media years ago, after tolerating the usual 5 minutes of news followed by sports (which I hate) and weather (here, usually wrong) and traffic (I'm directionally challenged, anyway haha) and then 5 minutes of celebrity gossip, all interspersed with commercials. I finally stopped watching it completely when I learned a lot of the actual news stories are really just more paid advertisements in disguise. I'm sure you've seen the typical segment touting the major medical breakthrough: XYZ Pharmaceuticals has discovered some new medication/technology to treat cancer/heart disease/depression.... guess what? XYZ Pharmaceuticals paid to have that "medical breakthrough" covered on the news. Any time any branded corporation is listed on the news in a positive light, there's a really good chance they paid for the publicity. After I learned that, I stopped watching completely (except when the weather comes on the TV at work, I occasionally stop to watch that... still wrong lol). I eventually switched to noncorporate media like Democracy Now and international news like BBC, RT, and Al Jazeera, but then I realized that life is better without TV, now I get all my news from the most paranoid corners of the internet ;) and of course here, too. I'll occasionally use a mainstream site's online page to fact-check a claim off a fringe site, but that's about it. I did tune in to some mainstream media during the election, and maybe it's because my blinders were off, but I couldn't deal with how partisan the channels were. There was a point in the election when it was clear Hilary was losing badly, and one particular channel kept showing vignettes of the sad Clinton supporters all night, without a single report from the Trump side. Not one. Even when it was obvious she lost. I can't handle that kind of tunnel vision. I had to switch back and forth between channels to create the illusion of total coverage. That was my last night listening to a pundit for what will be a very long time.

Your report of the alliance between China, Russia, and Iran is ominous. We can only hope that Trump drops the neocon agenda and finds other things to do besides wage war. I have hope but only a small hope. While it's so easy to see that the US has been very aggressive in the past, it's very easy to paint the picture of Russia as a victim, an innocent bystander caught in the middle of a terrible mess. I find myself thinking it a lot. We all need to remember that the real reason for the neocon agenda is of course limits, and the US has been using military force to control access to the best remaining reserves of dwindling resources (oil, for example) and therefore influence supply and demand and prices (mainly to drive corporate profits). However, Russia and China are probably even more aware of the position we are all in, as outsiders they have less access to resources than we do and are probably acutely aware of the trajectory of civilization. I don't see many reasons to believe that we have peace in our future. Even if we walk away from the Middle East and leave it to our rivals, get out of the empire business, and start paying full price for resources, we will still be on a planet where a bunch of nuclear powers are fighting over the Middle East's oil or Africa's rare earths or the Arctic's decaying bones. Nuclear fallout doesn't recognize international borders. Be ready for a bumpy ride.

Thanks again for this article and so many articles that create this atmosphere of sober discussion.


Jessi Thompson

Nathan said...

JMG -- obviously you're just using a smokescreen of policy discussion to hide your uncontrollable hatred of identity groups a,b,c...x,y and z. Bigot!

Another talking point the chattering class refuses to discuss is the blowback from their incessant yelling about identity politics for 18 months straight. Perhaps that's the reason "young white men" are coming to see themselves as an ethnic group with their own demands? I see the rise of the alt-right as an analog to the Eurasian alliance -- a bunch of traditionally hostile groups coming together to destroy a common foe, in this case the neoliberal media who insist on calling them the Arch-Villains of History.

Tyrants create the enemies that eventually overthrow them.

Tower 440 said...

Greetings to the assembled Wizardren!
We in Northeast Ohio are following Melbourne’s example by holding well-advertised monthly meetings.
The monthly joint meeting of the Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association, Tower Number 440, and Ruinmen’s Guild, Local 440 will be held at 11:30 AM on Wednesday, December 21, 2016. Our location is Ruko’s Family Restaurant, 9385 Mentor Avenue, Mentor, Ohio 44060, (440) 974-1914. Shining the Green Light! Public Welcome! Tables for Failed Scholars. Look for the table topper with the Green Wizard Hat. Contact us at
Many thanks to John for the posting space on his blog.

EntropicDoom said...

The United States continues its downward slide to oblivion or worse. The critical issues that threaten us are not explored in the shrunken media and objection to the vaulted common wisdom is termed anti-American.
For the military and its readiness to fight impossible wars, the critical issue is getting nothing for all the money spent on weapons systems. As a country and as a culture we can no longer create and manufacture ships, planes or anything military without huge cost overruns and disastrous results. The F-35 Lardbucket program is an insult to our past achievements. The Bradley fighting vehicle was a twenty-year boondoggle. The current crop of Navy ships, including the new Zumwalt class destroyer is a complete failure. From that pit of corruption to the painful reality of how the military is created and used is a national tragedy.
Other departments and other disasters are very apparent. The war of drugs is a failure. The loans to students are mounting to a new height of insanity. Health care is a swindle and a scam. Infrastructure is not getting repaired or replaced. In short, we are a national failure.
The incoming administration will continue the process, begun years ago, that the party coming into the White House scams the nation, installs their own criminals, never goes to prison, and steals everything is can get, through new laws and new programs in its allies favor.
Can we expect anyone or any organization surviving the trial of a presidential campaign to be anything but totally corrupt? The winner will get their chance to pick over the carcass for the next cycle. Some toes will get stepped on and many losers will protest their causes and their point of view to no avail.
In the long run, the United States is spent. Our economic system is bankrupt. The appetite for oil, for gas, for petroleum products is too high to operate in any other way but “happy motoring.” We cannot exist without a gigantic stream of imported oil feeding our cars, our bellies, our houses and our generators. We are addicted to petroleum for vehicle fuel, for home heating, for plastics, for fertilizers and for generating electricity. We cannot convert to any other life style or economic pattern without many changes and a complete national shakeup. America could not declare victory with a few garden plots. Most institutions will not survive the ordeal that is coming.
Russia is currently billed by the media as America's arch-enemy. But Russia has many inborn advantages. Its appetite for oil is much lower. It is a northern country that is not directly in the path of climate change like our seaboard. It can feed itself with food and with its oil. It has an underlying peasant culture that is hardy and strong. Militarily, it is designing and building practical weapons for a fraction of what the US does. Some of its systems are old and less vulnerable to EMP. As a continental power, it is not vulnerable to invasion from outside. A big army tried invasion a few years back and failed. In the past, Russians have been wise.
The US is over taxed militarily with too many far flung commitments and too much spent on graft, corruption and useless weapons. The all-volunteer army is scratching the bottom of the barrel for bodies and would not be able to fall back on conscription. The current American culture will not support a draft. A draft would take years to work out and in the meantime protests would fill the streets. The Navy is building poorly designed, too teched-out ships to fight the next war, at an exorbitant cost per ship.
In short, the US is perched on the brink of cultural collapse, monetary collapse, military defeat and can only rely on increased scams to keep its trajectory. Everything in American life comes down to a scam, a swindle, a steal of resources from the innocent to the more corrupt. The poor are penalized and the rich pretend they are invulnerable to the coming downturn. Buckle up, it's going to be a stormy ride.

canon fodder said...

After checking out the website (is that Prop or Not, or Pro-Porn OT?), I think they have created a site rife with irony and lacking critical thought.

From the FAQ section - Propaganda: “A systematic form of persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for political, ideological, and religious purposes, through the controlled transmission of deceptive, selectively-omitting, and one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels.”

Sounds exactly like most mainstream media these days, and the recent election is a stellar example of it in action.

They never do define Russian propaganda, but do say Russian objectives are “To stabilize their structurally-unstable regime, on the one hand, and to Make Russia Great Again (as a new "Eurasian" empire stretching from Dublin to Vladisvostok), on the other. That means preserving Russian allies like Bashar al-Assad in Syria, breaking up the "globalist" EU, NATO, and US-aligned trade and defense organizations, and getting countries to join "Eurasianist" Russian equivalents instead... Or else.”

In a lot of ways, this sounds exactly like the geostrategic analysis you give in this post, as Russian and China struggle to find a way to counter American hegemony. Funny that the US acting “to stabilize [its own] structurally-unstable regime” is perfectly acceptable, but for anyone else, it’s propaganda.

Further digging may have revealed why The Archdruid Report didn’t make the list (other than it takes more than an honest 5th grade education to read it). It seems many of the sites listed were ones that were linked to, referenced by, or repeat posted by a site called Zero Hedge, and you haven’t been linked by them yet. This site, according to propornot, is ground zero for the Russian information insurgency, and cause for many of the ills in America today. Zero Hedge itself was probably targeted since its listed as one of the ten most popular financial blogs by Time Magazine (I know, sterling endorsement but these people read Time, not Zero Hedge) with page views north of 18m per month, and actually questioned American policy.

Part of what may be happening to the media is a reflection of the bifurcation of culture in America. We are increasingly divided along rural/urban lines and media markets are defined by urban areas. In my little chunk of fly-over America, the media moguls have lumped three cities (towns?) into a single media market, and even that doesn’t crack the top 100 media markets in America. Given that a majority of Americans live in urban areas, and urban areas are left/liberal leaning, it’s no surprise that the media caters to that audience and that advertising market.

As for the media effort put forth by Clinton vs that of Trump. What I don’t see widely published (though it may actually be considered behind the scenes) is that Clinton was a lousy product. I don’t care how much money you pour into advertising, it just won’t sell. Just ask the Coca-Cola Co about their New Coke advertising blitz.

Love the blog, keep up the good work.

canon fodder said...

BTW, the 5th grade comment was not meant to be derogatory. I once read that 100 years ago the Wall Street Journal was written at the 12th grade level, 50 years ago it was at the 8th grade level and 10 years ago had dropped to a 5th grade level. So I was saying your essays are as good as the Journal's, if not better (hence the "honest" in front of 5th grade).

Clay Dennis said...

In a bit of media serendipity" Pravda on the Hudson" ( the New York Times) recently had an article titled " The end of the Anglo American Order." In this piece they seemed to blame Trump and Nigel Farge for the crumpling influence of the American Empire ( though they certainly don't call it an empire). But their focus was on how this was bad because it ment the end of the spread of democracy, progressivism and and goodness for all. The pullback of American and British power is painted as a retreat from all that is good and modern in the world. Such a viewpoint certainly reinforces the point of your essay plus your theory of the senility of the elites. I read enough Boris Badanov powered media, ( RT, Sputnik, Telasur, Press TV, South Asian News, The Saker) to realize that most of the people in the world don't view the shrinking of the U.S. empire as a bad thing. Sadly, the salary class does not even realize that we have an empire and thinks we scoop up 35% of the worlds resources with 5% of the population because we make Iphones and have Disneyland.

Glenn said...

nuku said...

"Data Point:
Here in New Zealand, we‘ve just had a visit from the outgoing USA vice-president. Our historic opposition to visits by USA Navy ships, based on our anti-nuke stance, has been ended by the current neoconservative government:"

That will be good news for my remaining active duty shipmates in the U.S. Coast Guard. New Zealand was always a popular stop for our icebreakers going to and from the Antarctic. The NZ girls were legendary, and more than one marriage resulted from a port stop there. I have fond memories of the Hobart area myself, but always regretted NZ being off the table at the time of my service.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

Edward said...

My millennial son recently told me that the baby boomer generation has made a big mess of things. I am thinking of how the decline of the American Empire follows the generations.

I shared with him about our own rebellion against the Greatest Generation and their hard line attitudes about life and the world. The generation who won World War 2 certainly believed in American exceptionalism and American global hegemony because the American Way had prevailed. The baby boomers accepted the fact of American leadership but didn't value it enough to fight for it or sacrifice for it because we were too busy looking out for #1. The Millennials see how hollow and hypocritical this whole system has become.

I believe that the leaders who will emerge from this cohort will accelerate the trend away from empire. This may be due to their own warm fuzzy ideals rather than geopolitical calculus. Either way, I'm not so optimistic that any pull back will allow for a soft landing, but we will see.

Armata said...

Entertaining whinge from a Ken Wilber groupie entitled "Hillary Clinton's Loss Is Our Loss", writing

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, from what I see, is a highly evolved woman and integral thinker with a great heart and unity vision.

From where I stand, she hardly looks like a shining example of a "highly evolved" spiritual being, especially when you consider Hillary's track record of corruption, sleaze, pathological lying and warmongering. For another entertaining example of clueless affluent liberals bowing down before the Church of Hillary, check out this celebrity Hillary supporter who tweeted

Sorry America, you didn't deserve her.

Or how about this shining example of Bobo idiocy

When people told me they hated Hillary Clinton or (far worse) that they were "not fans," I wish I had said in no uncertain terms: "I love Hillary Clinton. I am in awe of her. I am set free by her. She will be the finest world leader our galaxy has ever seen."

I want to reverse the usual schedule of things, then. We don't have to wait until she dies to act. Hillary Clinton's name belongs on ships, and airports, and tattoos. She deserves straight-up hagiographies and a sold-out Broadway show called RODHAM. Yes, this cultural canonization is going to come after the chronic, constant, nonstop "On the other hand" sexist hedging around her legacy. But such is the courage of Hillary Clinton and her supporters; we reverse patriarchal orders. Maybe she is more than a president. Maybe she is an idea, a world-historical heroine, light itself. The presidency is too small for her. She belongs to a much more elite class of Americans, the more-than-presidents. Neil Armstrong, Martin Luther King Jr., Alexander F*****g Hamilton.

Hillary Clinton did everything right in this campaign, and she won more votes than her opponent did. She won. She cannot be faulted, criticized, or analyzed for even one more second. Instead, she will be decorated as an epochal heroine far too extraordinary to be contained by the mere White House. Let that revolting president-elect be Millard Fillmore or Herbert Hoover or whatever. Hillary is Athena.

The comedy of it all is almost too much to bear without dying of laughter. I think its hilarious in the extreme watching all these affluent liberal yuppies lose it because Hillary Clinton lost the election. All these people are accomplishing is to show the world how deluded, out of touch and irrelevant they really are.

Bryan L. Allen said...

Seems to me that the choice of how to end an overextended empire applies to the American Media Establishment too, independent of what the American political establishment does (though they are almost inextricably entangled.) The American media has made it its business to be the arbiter of information exchange in the world, and now that substantial cracks are showing in that façade they appear to have a choice, to rediscover the core of their readership/viewership, or to continue to die the messy death they've been struggling towards. A media that would actually adopt and advance the viewpoint of the American people - wow, what a concept. I am amazed and frankly appalled that the American media throws around words like "Populist" and "Nationalist" as if they carried the same negative connotations as the numerous other words they use for evilly evil evilness (Nazi, Racist, and so forth ad nauseum.) BTW, your analysis is spot-on as usual. Not many in the USA know (as you alluded to) of the Chinese treasure fleets, the voyages of Admiral Zheng He, and how the Chinese turned aside from becoming (for a while) a global empire as did Spain and later England. I've long been fascinated why the Chinese looked down that road but decided: nah. Ah, the Middle Kingdom...

rakesprogress said...

I have been thinking about Mexico, and wondering how sensible is Trump's virulent antagonism toward our southern neighbor. As he calls their citizens criminals, vows to harm mexican families of expatriates, brandishes a mostly symbolic 200 miles of extra fence, and presses for an aggressive new tariff, what is the rest of the world to do?

It wouldn't surprise me if Putin were to put a big care package full of cash and weaponry in tomorrow's post. Would he not relish the opportunity for payback? Would Mexico as a Russian client state not be so much more interesting than the Cuban missile crisis, what with deep US economic entanglements and a long shared land border?

Sensible professional spy that he is, perhaps he's just waiting till after the inauguration. What's the hurry, really?

Or am I reading this wrongly? I'm not a disgruntled Clinton voter taking potshots at Trump, but I'm really concerned about this even as I have always thought NAFTA a horrid mistake.

SJ Bigger said...


First time poster here.

Thank you for saving me from a "waiting on an apocalypse" mindset several years ago. It was depressing.

I could go on and on about how big of an impact you've had on my worldview, but I'll sum it up with a big squeezy hug should we ever meet.

My wife is very anti-Trump. We had endless debates for the last year in which I tried my best to sway her...ultimately to no avail. My #1 argument was that a chance at "sacrificing the empire for the nation" is better than guaranteed "sacrifice of the nation for the empire".

And we now have that chance if we don't sit back and hope Trump does it on his own.

The silent majority has spoken. Will we realize our newfound power and create momentum and movements away from the gloablist/neocon agenda?

My inspiration in posting tonight is to share an unexpectedly optimistic and hopeful interview I listened to yesterday that synchronizes nicely with your essay tonight.

John Michael Greer said...

Barrabas, good for you for remembering Cordwainer Smith's "Aojou Nambien" -- do you know that E.M. Forster, in "The Machine Stops," also had a future Chinese conquest of Australia?

Barry, I don't think you've seen US media. Our news media is considerably worse than the average news-and-views blog.

Professor, the current US navy is very poorly provided with the smaller classes of ships -- so much money has been sucked down the black hole of the Gerald Ford-class carriers and a handful of other high-tech boondoggles -- and one of the consequences of the strategy I'm proposing is that frigates and the like would be far more useful than, say, carriers or littoral combat ships. Thus the naval buildup and a staged withdrawal from global hegemony are entirely compatible.

Donalfagan, thanks for the link.

Varun, the fact that there's so much empty space in the political sphere is a risk, but it's also a profound opportunity. Why do you think I've been hammering on political themes so heavily this year? My political posts get anything up to four times normal traffic, because people are desperate for some alternative to a failed business-as-usual model, and they're certainly not going to get it from either of the mainstream parties. The ideas that seize the public imagination now may be public policy twenty years from now.

Rapier, where on earth did you get the idea that I expect a steady march in any direction at all?

Patricia, I'm delighted to say that Naked Capitalism, one of my favorite Badenov sites, has already featured a Natasha Fatale pinup. It may be an idea whose time has come. "You get moose, I get squirrel!"

Kosmodude, thanks! I simply figured that the heat from decaying nuclear waste would be one of the few long-term energy sources they'd be likely to have around in 25th-century Meriga.

Whomever, three excellent points. You're right about the Phillippines, of course; I know about the US invasion and counterinsurgency war there, but I doubt most other Americans do.

Kevin, I think a lot of people are going to be lining up at the Clinton Foundation asking for a refund...

Foodnstuff, you're welcome and thank you! I think that's a great response, and I'd encourage every one of my readers to go visit a dozen blogs from the WaPo list -- the URL is -- and consider putting something in the tip jar if you like what you read.

Nastarana, oh my. I don't always agree with Lukacz, but he's always worth reading -- and in this case I won't argue at all. Do you have a spare link to that review?

Keith Huddleston said...

I just had the most enjoyable experience. Seeing your new Retrotopia cover made me look through your books, making me click on one which also suggested the Grid beam book, and led to hours of learning Grid beam, Ken Issacs, etc.

Long story short I'm going to buy myself the Solstice gift of Green Wizardry and the Grid Beam Book. I plan to make 2017 the year I really change my nest and garden in a very serious preparation for the Long Descent.

To try to tie this into this weeks topic at the end: I still content this last election was only about how much time we could buy. You seem very optimistic about how much we've bought, I'm more pessimistic -- but the real kicker is that working to make my lived environment a retro-topia is just about the most fun thing I can imagine.

Elros said...

Despite I love and agree with your essays, I think there is a mayor problem with one key point.

I doubt that once US stops menacing Russia and China (Iran.. I do not know enough to make an educated guess), they will start quarrel between them. Putin and Xi proved to be cautious and experienced politicians. And more important, they have some big projects in common: BRICS, Asiatic Bank of Investments (if I recall correctly the name), the high speed cargo train from Shangai to Lissabon, the Asiatic Energy Ring...

But, it is possible that they will no go to the yugular of the US. I hope your country will have a good to reconstruct themselves physically and spiritually.

John Michael Greer said...

Armata, if Rolling Stone -- which published that fake article on campus rape -- thinks the WaPo's stooped too low, that's really harsh. Deserved, mind you, but harsh. Do you think they're mad because they didn't make the list either?

Pygmycory, I remember hearing some remarkable squeals of rapture from my more liberal Canadian friends when Justin Trudeau took office. Like Obama, of course, he talked a great line and then pursued business as usual for the benefit of his rich friends.

Jeff, I'm familiar with that argument, and to my mind it doesn't hold water. If you compare the Russian military response in the Georgian, Ukraine, and Syrian campaigns, what's immediately visible is a steady increase in effectiveness and in the scale and coordination of the units in action. The Georgian action, though successful, was pretty klutzy; Syria has been the opposite. US military observers insisted that there was no way the Russian air units in Syria would be able to maintain an adequate OPTEMP (operational tempo -- basically, rate of missions flown per unit), and then were dumbfounded as the Russian units kept up, for months, an OPTEMP that the US air force can't maintain for more than a short time. That's the mark of an expanding power, not a contracting one.

As for MANPADS, there's another reason the US doesn't provide them to the mercenaries and jihadi militants we're funding in Syria; if they did, Russia could turn around and supply equivalent weapons to armed groups in areas where the US air force is active, and their planes are a lot less expensive to replace than ours!

Warren, it's a weird mix of the two. A lot of Americans still embrace the last scraps of the old messianic fantasy about the US as the world's savior; many can't imagine a world in which the US isn't the most powerful nation on Earth; and yes, the "world citizen" business comes up now and again. Overt glorying in America's imperial conquests is rare in public.

Twilight, that strikes me as a very plausible analysis.

Gordon, no doubt that was it!

Repent, in 2009 McPherson insisted that there would be no cars on the roads by 2012. In 2010, if I remember correctly, he insisted that we'd all be dead by 2015. He's not even right as often as a broken clock -- so, yes, I assume that we'll still be around over a period of centuries. I also don't believe in the Great Pumpkin, by the way.

Patricia, I'm still astonished that they left out Dmitry. He's got to talk to Boris and Natasha, and get himself better publicity from Fearless Leader.

Jessi, I know it's going to be a rough ride whatever we do. I'm hoping that enough people will take constructive steps to keep us away from a worst case scenario. That's a gamble -- but why not take it?

Nathan, funny. As opposed to using a smokescreen of identity politics to prevent anyone from discussing policy, like certain news media I can think of!

Doom, so? Of course we're up against long odds. It seems more useful to me to try to influence the situation in a constructive direction than to sit there coming up with long lists of reasons why there's no hope left in elves or dying Numenor...

Canon Fodder, yeah, I've been linked regularly in Zero Hedge comment threads but not yet in their articles. Oh well. I'll see if Natasha can talk them into running an essay of mine one of these days.

cat said...

Your criticism of the neoliberal agenda is well taken but you should also admit that Trump is a disaster. If you think he is going to do much of anything except grandstanding for working people, take a look at his picks for his government - they are mostly Wall St. elites who were chosen specifically to destroy the very agency they have been put in charge of. So there goes health care, public education, any attempt to deal with climate change, safety and finance regulations, and our national parks. If he can find a way to personally make money off of wars, he will go to war. Wait until he finds out you can make money selling weapons - nuclear weapons, any one? He is going to leave chaos in his wake and it won't be pretty, especially for the working class and poor.

Jeannette Sage said...

Thank you John Michael, for another great post. I try to read you every week, and also the comments, which I often find very valuable. Your blog plus comments from people from many different countries constitutes one of my windows on the world, and I am always amazed how you seem to understand exactly what we, coming from Holland, having lived in several countries among which your own US, and now based in Canada, have seen/see firsthand.

Another window on the world that I try to follow, is the Dutch documentary series, broadcast every week on Dutch television, Backlight (Tegenlicht). One of the more remarkable episodes was one on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Have you heard of it?
Here is the link to the full, English-spoken/subtitled documentary, for those who are interested (46 rewarding minutes):
The Chinese World Order (VPRO Backlight).

The documentary dates from last March. In the meantime, many more countries have signed up to be a member, also Canada:
Canada Ignores Washington's Warnings, Joins China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

neil said...

"Fury" and "rage" are words beloved of the press that rarely feature in speech, and usually seem inappropriate in print. I suspect they're used because they're short.

John Michael Greer said...

Clay, no, no, that's Izvestia on the Hudson! ;-) It's absolutely standard for the people who profit from an empire to insist that the empire is a Good Thing because of all the wonderful moral values it imposes on the rest of the world. Somehow the rest of the world doesn't agree with this, and sees these wonderful moral values as window dressing for the systematic looting of their countries. If you can do so without losing your last meal, you might read Rudyard Kipling's poem "The White Man's Burden," and compare it with the rhetoric currently spraying out of the orifices of the Times; the words are different but it's the same old song.

Edward, I'm glad to hear you and your son have such conversations. That's one of the things that's needed to bridge the barrier of hostility between the generations and hopefully salvage something from the current mess.

Armata, I read the Lennyletter piece earlier, and have been trying to figure out how to comment on it here ever since. I'm still not sure if the author has a panting schoolgirl crush on Hillary Clinton, or if she's projecting her own floridly delusional ego fantasies and overinflated sense of cosmic importance onto the blank screen of a presidential candidate.

Bryan, thank you! I try to include the rest of the planet in my historical analysis, and China's a very rich source of historical lessons, as Spengler and Toynbee both realized.

Rakesprogress, I know. Russia and China both have got to be looking at the chaos into which exploitive trade agreements are driving Mexico, and rubbing their hands together. That's one of the reasons why I want to get the idea of a Marshall Plan for Mexico into circulation, to suggest another way to deal with the disparities along that border. I think it was Mexico's president Porfirio Diaz who said, "Poor Mexico -- so far from God, so close to the United States." Changing the dynamic of the relationship that inspired those words might help ward off some very ugly futures.

SJ, you're welcome and thank you!

Keith, glad to hear it. I'm aware that we may not have that much time, but it makes sense to sketch out options in case we do. Things are moving very quickly now -- I'll be posting something sometime soon about climate change, which is spinning out of control very rapidly at this point -- and so all our choices from here on out are gambles.

Elros, oh, I don't expect quarrels to arise immediately. It may wait, in fact, until both Putin and Xi have stepped down and someone else takes the helm in both countries. That said, remember how fast Russia and the United States went from allies to enemies after the Second World War!

Cat, that is to say, you've picked up all the usual talking points from the media and are chirping them back at me. Trump has already saved more working class jobs in the days since the election than Obama has done in eight years in office, you know. If you don't think that matters to the working classes, you might want to get out and meet some working class people. Beyond that -- well, we'll see, won't we?

Jeannette, yes, I've been following the AIIB story closely -- I'm glad to hear that you're doing so, as it's a hugely important story, a major sign of the twilight of the American empire.

Neil, true enough. Besides which, whipping people up with emotionally loaded buzzwords is a great way to keep them from thinking.

jbucks said...

My first thought when reading about that list of supposedly Russian-sponsored sites, even though there was no evidence that they were Russian sponsored, Russia does have a motive to do so. I hate the feeling that, after I read this post, that I became for a second suspicious of it because it appeared that you did an effective rhetorical trick; first mocking the idea that The Archdruid Report and other similar blogs could be Russian sponsored, and then afterwards proposing the policy that the US should start a 'staged withdrawal of imperial overreach' which would directly benefit Russia (if only in the short term). Of course I realize that this suspicion is precisely the point of releasing the Washington Post list, but once the idea has been planted, you can't remove it from your mind. I'm sure you are expecting comments which accuse you of this.

I've anyway become suspicious over the years of the media because of how it often acts as a form of advertising (all the Best Of 2016 lists are out for films, books and music - go and buy them for Christmas! Articles in travel sections are often paid for by tourist boards of the various featured countries, etc etc) and I've been particularly disappointed by my newspaper of choice's reaction to the US presidential election.

The only response, it seems, is to read as much history and older books as possible, which is what I've been doing anyway over the past couple of years, but I just wanted to express the bad taste in my mouth about the release of the Washington Post list.

HalFiore said...

You know, it's entirely plausible that the mainstream US media did, in this election, and generally do, a crappy job of covering the issues that are most relevant to the lives of US residents, while at the same time, evidence could very well exist that the Russians and possibly other internal or external actors were active in feeding disinformation directly through sources such as social media, iffy foreign "news" sources, and, dare I say it, blogs. The two suppositions in no way contradict each other.

The problem I see occurring here, and frankly why I have stopped reading most blogs, and am slowly losing faith in this one, is that there develops a tendency for substituting normal sources of information for what looks to me like uncritical acceptance of "alternative" sources strictly for their, well, alternativeness. I know it's a fine distinction to maintain, but the combination of credulity of pretty dubious sources with an unfortunate tendency to become rigidly attached to an internal narrative of one's own creation leads to a syndrome I've come to internally refer to, borrowing from our esteemed host, as "senility of the blogosphere." It's a echo-chamber path I've seen too many blogs go down. It's downright tragic to see in one I've come to value as highly as this one.

The "free press" guaranteed by the Bill of Rights is an institution which has always had it's flaws, and has hit some pretty deep lows during it's history. As I said, it often does a pretty bad job, but has generally served, to a discriminating reader, and in the long run, to give as fair and accurate a picture of reality as any institution ever devised for the purpose. Yes, there has always been a bias toward those with the resources to "buy ink by the barrel," but it has, over time, developed methods for sourcing information and ensuring some modicum of accuracy that is being lost in the "new" media.

Dare I say it's one of those human institutions that Burke would have defended?

One would be a fool to accept the narrative presented by any segment, or to make judgements on anything read or viewed in the media without ample time to digest and allow other evidence to be brought forth. But my experience is that some amount of thought and a wide enough availability of sources generally provides as accurate a picture as one could expect. It would be nice if our system of learning was designed to train minds for the sort of critical thought needed. The best we can do is train ourselves.

Clay Dennis said...

Another great peice from" Ivestia on the Hudson "(NYT) came out yesterday by one of the Democratic Elites favorite court jesters Paul Krugman. It was titled something like" 2 million white males just voted themselves out of health insurance" The jist of the article was that these trump voting schumcks just cost themselves their wonderfull health insurance. No mention or awareness of skyrocketing premiums, Collapsing State individual programs or ridiculous dedectables. Just like the rosy view of the empire the view of Krugman and his ilk are that the affordable care act was nothing but goody goodness and would have gone on forever getting better and better if these darn voters had not spoiled the party.I think at this point ,the staff from the old Ivestia are in retirement somewhere, angry that we are linking them with something so tawdry as The Times.

Vedant said...

Chinese are extremely skillful strategic planners indeed. They are using excess cheap capital of US, thanks to low interest rate, to finance their own trade and industries and spending their own capital on such strategic treaties with countries you mentioned. Currently , US capital is more used for revival of Chinese economy than US.

HalFiore said...

And as a long-time radical it's dang hard to see myself defending an institution that I've so often seen abused to serve deceit, but in my old age I've come to realize that some standards must be maintained. The new sources can be a great window to previously hard-to-find information and opinions, but I fear the consequences to our ability to self-govern of the amount of rank untruth that is now so widely distributed. Anyone with a facebook account knows what I mean.

Warren said...

Thanks JMG! I have been reading the current posts and comments since someone linked a post of yours (re Hillary iirc) and planned to not post until I caught up on the back issues here (up to 2008 so far) and over in the Well. Ah well too late to not post now!)

"A lot of Americans still embrace the last scraps of the old messianic fantasy about the US as the world's savior; many can't imagine a world in which the US isn't the most powerful nation on Earth" ... I have a Witness friend who believes that America and England are the pairing from Revelation after the Romans (I always thought the split Roman sides fit the model fine) and cannot conceive of or discuss the possibility a world where either those two are not in charge or the world is over and the Millennium is on. *sigh*

"Overt glorying in America's imperial conquests is rare in public."

Which is unfortunate in a way ... Up front aristocraticies (of whatever title) have expectations from the people on them and codes of behaviour and often responsibilities to those 'below' then. We 'just plain folks' type rulers seem to have all the benefits and few of the responsibilities. Even a common Brit away from home knew he, in a small way, represented the Empire (like his forebears in Roma) but Americans seem to have no idea why anyone could, would, and especially should hate them ...

HalFiore said...

"Trump has already saved more working class jobs in the days since the election than Obama has done in eight years in office, you know."

Saw this when my screen refreshed after I posted my comment, and I apologize if I'm taking more than my share of comments, but I almost burst out laughing.

So who's picking up the talking points from the media now? That narrative has been run to death by the Associated Press, but when you dig into the story, it's not so clear. It appears one company agreed to, at least for the time being, eliminate only half of the jobs it was planning on cutting, in exchange for which Trump agreed to not push for a tariff on imports. You know, the one thing he proposed that could actually have an effect on the job losses from foreign competition. The thing you were talking about last week being a good idea.

Yes, policy means something, but only if you can believe a word someone says. And that comes down to that other thing, character. You know.

look sie said...

I want to thank the Archdruid for helping to spread the word regarding the WaPo's vile and pathetic attempt at thought-control. It is quite simply one of the most appalling attempts at censorship in modern times. We might laugh at the stupidity and desperation behind this crude act but it is, in fact, a very dangerous development that hints at something very sinister indeed. In the same vein, while I can appreciate the unintended humour inherent in the lament for Hilary Clinton's loss as cited by Armata, I think the people who pen such nonsense are more dangerous than pathetic. it's my belief that they are doing their very best to lay the groundwork for a civil war. We have our own useless echo chamber here in Canada in the Toronto Globe & Mail. It claims the mantle of "Canada's National Newspaper" and, surprisingly, still allows reader comments. It's quite apparent that the peasants up north feel the same way as their American counterparts and the centre cannot hold for much longer.

Mark Luterra said...


Thank you once again; though I much enjoyed the Retrotopia series I have to say that I am reading more aptly now that you are commenting on current events and - as you say - things are moving very quickly.

My thoughts this week gravitate to two factors that are "different this time" - namely nuclear weapons and multinational corporations. I would like to read your ideas of how they will come into play in the context of the impending collapse of US global hegemony.

I suspect that nuclear weapons make a total empire collapse (i.e. defeat on US soil) unlikely. The US may engage in some brinkmanship but will not actually fire any ICBMs in support of any proxy war. However, in the event of a Pearl Harbor-style invasion, all bets are off, and I'm sure Putin and Xi know this very well.

The effect is more difficult to predict, but I suspect that global corporate structure may allow the US to be economically subjugated while maintaining a political ruse of sovereignty. There is surprisingly little outrage (both in the status quo left and right, and among Trump supporters) against the ongoing cozy relationship between big business and government. With his appointment of Goldman Sachs' Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary, Trump is following directly in the footsteps of Clinton, Bush, and Obama with nary a finger pointed. When you couple this with the exponential trend of Chinese buyouts of US corporations, it is not difficult to foresee a future where Chinese-Russian interests guide Washington decisionmaking, with no military defeat or direct government meddling. I also see it as likely that any prolonged economic depression in the US will be ended not by a make-work program from the bankrupt US government, but rather by the employment of underutilized, cheap US labor by foreign-based multinational corporations with more or less the same effect.

kristofv said...

I find it telling that you hardly include Europe in your analysis, saying it is an important region but nothing more.

The European leaders talk very big and arrogant towards Russia feeling safe under the American protection-umbrella, without the political unity and military power to back this up. Putin clearly thinks the Europeans have double standards (obviously they do) and I hope Russia won't be provoked enough to see for themselves if it is all bluff or not.

Some see the Ukraine crisis and the Brexit as deliberate USA policy preventing a strong EU-Russia axis emerging. As often stated on this blog, you don't need a conspiracy as an explanation when incompetence suffices. The EU has done a remarkable job of destabilizing itself through their handling of the Euro-crises. I wonder what will remain of our self-image and status of being the moral soft power in the world and the greatest peace project in world history, when the global power centra continue their eastward shift and the umbrella goes away.

Who is more in denial? The imperial heartland that doesn't want to admit its empire is going away or the vassal states not wanting to admit their guaranteed overlord protection is no longer so.

Chevaliermalfait said...

"don't try to catch falling knives" heh

Ramaraj said...

Dear JMG,

Note: Do not put the comment through if you don't like the idea.

Thanks for the great post. If you feel you are missing the free publicity offered by the Great Russian Propaganda List, we can help.

The site has a page listing how to volunteer info on "Propaganda Sites".

"2) Volunteer to help hunt down other Russian propaganda outlets by sending an email to (our domain)"

If you say yes, each of us readers of The Archdruid Report can send an email 'reporting' this blog, and put you in the list in no time.

What do you say? ;)


grisom said...

JMG, if I may recommend a reading, you would probably enjoy Scott Alexander's ecological analysis of outrage as a complex parasite.

Phil Knight said...


I'd also look for a treaty or two with a nation or two in West Africa, and perhaps one of the smaller South American countries with an Atlantic coast.

Well, one of my idle musings has long been that the Argentinians will be very disappointed to witness the Falklands passing into Chinese hands.

David from Normandy said...

Good morning M. Greer.

Thank you as usual, but something you wrote disturbed me:
"That’s why so many of them have turned to blogs for the services that newspapers and broadcast media used to provide: accurate reporting and thoughtful analysis of the events that affect their lives."
I'd like to point that some blogs are, in their own fashion, as unaccurate and unthougtful and insincere as the worst narrative-oriented mainstream medias.
I don't think you personally fall for the binary thinking "official=evil independant=good", but some people do, sincerely thinking they enlighten themselves, while all they do is choosing a different dogma.

2 times, in the past year, I ran into informations (military ones, which I happen to follow a little bit) on alternative information sites, that were so grossly and embarrassingly false that it kind of discretided the rest of the blog.
When you realize that a blog contains information that false about a subject you know enough of, you begin to question informations you don't know that well: "if they can be mistaken so much about a subject I know, how can I trust them about subjects I do not know? Worse, what if they are not mistaken but downright liars?"
I don't cite these internet sites on purpose, I'm not here to bash, but I can look for the links if you want.

And there is what I call the "guru problem": when you try to point to people that they should apply the same healthy caution about their favorite information site, that they do apply to mainstream medias, I've been confronted by reactions you're very familiar with: indifference, despise, denial, bad faith... the anger of the outraged faithful.

If it's not clear, I want to say that I don't think at all that you fall in the dishonest category. If I was, I wouldn't read you, even less comment.
But, as any blogger, you are exposed to the, ahum, adulation of your followers, and that can distort one's perception.

Sylvia Rissell said...

Many months ago, before a highly contested presidential election, JMG assigned the task of picking an art/craft and identifying highbrow 'trash' vs 'lowbrow' and identifying some sort of middle.

So, I'm ignoring this week's topic. Here is my essay.

In the observation of bluegrass music played on Sirius XM's "Bluegrass" channel, I have made the following observations:

1) Covers of traditional tunes by modern musicians.
2) traditional tunes played and recorded in the '30s, '40s, and '50s.
3) Modern compositions played by modern musicians.

My categories of the modern compositions are as follows:

A) 'Highbrow trash' mentions either songs or artists listed in category 2, above. Sometimes many of them in one song! So "Bill Monroe for Breakfast", which describes a happy rural family listening to the radio, is in this category. This allows the 'higbrow' listener to show off his/her knowlege of the traditions.

B) 'Lowbrow trash' describes depression era rural life (trains, moonshine, fiddle music, Mom's cooking, willing country lasses) as completely positive. The 'lowbrow' listener enjoys happy distraction from the reality of current rural living.

C) 'Middlebrow' describes the same as above, but with a mix of tragedy, or going home to find the old home empty. The 'Middlebrow' listener gets the full nostalgia package, and a distraction from the reality of current city living.

D) Murder fantasy, fictional descriptions of killing a spouse/lover and burrying him/her somewhere. (Traditional tunes include songs based on ACTUAL murders, but that does not seem to be the case for modern lyrics)

tldr; I expect Shane W to school me shortly. :)

Fred the First said...

The media keeps beating the drum that this is the "post-truth" era and how unfair it is that Trump tweets whatever he wants. I can't even listen to them anymore, none of them, not even NPR on the radio or AP newswire stories. For decades reporters took whatever "talking points" were said and then gave their "spin" to it and shoved it at us. There are many people who repeat the media like its gospel, but there are also many people thanks to blogs and people's first hand accounts, now question everything reported.

This twisting of reality even happens at our local council meetings when the local newspaper reporter comes. I sit through the whole meeting, jot notes. Read the story in the paper, and out of let's say seven issues discussed and voted on, one issue is featured and the background and context are flat out wrong, quotes by people are the gist of what they said but certainly not the exact words used, and the whole article is written with this angle to get residents angry.

The reporter claims he is doing his best, and there is no accountability. The reporter is being paid $25 a story as a contract position, not a full-time salary job and what does he care what he does to the community?

And now I'm realizing in writing all this that a resident writing up what happens at council meetings and publishing it on a blog would actually do something for the community. goal for 2017.

Jerry Silberman said...

John Michael,
This column makes sense, as always, but even if it could happen, I am far less sanguine about the implications of staged withdrawal..The commodities on which US consumption depends, and with regard to which our economic power has imposed extremely advantageous terms of trade, all become very different items if we relinquish that power, resulting in a dramatic decline in available consumer goods, rising prices, etc. much faster than is happening now. Freeing up the resources invested in the military it seems to me would not compensate.
China, in particular, faces the problem of maintaining the US as a massive market for its production from a none too stable economy, while contesting for political power. Given the limits of resources and the capricious but increasingly expensive impact of climate change, doesn't catabolic collapse impact the entire global economy, albeit unevenly?

Mary said...

@ShaneW, based on my little microcosm of the political world, I don't hold a whole lot of hope there. I was a fairly early member of Jackpine Radicals (JPR), a site that made the WaPo list. JPR was formed by a small group of "BernieBros" who were being slowly evicted from the Clinton-sponsored Democratic Underground (DU). JPR was dedicated to getting Bernie nominated and, failing that, pushing his policies. Shortly after the election, in the wake of the DU hack, JPR was overrun by suddenly homeless Hillary-voters and supporters in what appears to have been a coordinated coup involving "sleepers" and the owners. The "BernieBros" who had dared to strategically vote Trump in order to keep Clinton's warmongering out of the WH are now only welcome there by censorship. The most rational and well-reasoned of the moderators was removed from his duties and replaced by 2 newcomer Hillary-supporters. And so a core group of Berniebros -- the very ones who want to work with Trump where we can -- have been effectively silenced at JPR.

Iow, the 2000 or so Bernie supporters I personally know of are in disarray and there appears to only be a small core (~50 that I know of so far, although I suspect more within the overall group) who have re-grouped elsewhere to push working with Trump and staying focused on issues rather than personalities.

Kevin Warner said...

Off message here. A coupla days ago in one of your replies you came out with an absolute zinger of a fact i.e. "The best estimates I've seen for the carrying capacity of the Earth -- its maximum permanently sustainable population of human beings -- max out around 2 billion." Of course the brutal logic of this is that as time goes by, there will be no longer room for about five billion of us.
I was wondering if down the track you could post an essay listing several such little-known but vital factors that will shape our post heavy-industrial future such as that one on our planet's carrying capacity. I do not mean by the way, the obvious ones as such as lack of economically retrievable oil but less obvious factors that will determine our descendants lives. For those of us interested in future Space Bat competitions, it may also provide some sorely needed ideas about what facts to shape our stories around.

Paulo said...

Excellent essay, JMG. While reading I sparked back to a presentation given by an English historian who was speaking on the Gulf War at our local college. He predicted the neo-cons had over-reached, and would usher in the end of the American Empire. He talked about what that same experience meant to England post WW11, and his final comment was, "Relax, you'll get over it. Life goes on and can be lived well.".

I wanted to reply to two posters, Pygmycory and Ghung. Cory....I live on the BC Coast (Sayward). I have made two predictions over the, that Northern Gateway would not be approved, mostly because of the Haida and their resolve. Two, that Trudeau would do as he was told and squeeze in the Kindedr Morgan twinning to Burnaby. I now will risk another prediction. I believe that the only pipelines that will be built will be the enlarged/revamped to Wisconsin, and a new version of Keystone XL. Trump/Pence will push the Keystone through. I believe that Vancouver area protestors and local Natives will stop the Kinder Morgan push west. Oh, it might be started in Alberta, but it will never be finished. It will make the Clayquot logging shutdown of the '90s look like childs play. When Burnaby's mayor talks of laying down in front of dozers.... And don't forget the Ernie Creys of the world. First Nations (Coast Bands) will go nuts about this. Plus, there are so many folks these days not working, manning the blockades 24/7 is not an issue. Hell, I may even take my old retired bones across the pond and carry a sign or two.

Ghung, this under-the-radar flight of ours has been a very very satisfying way of life, hasn't it? On Monday we are expecting a rapid arctic outflow. The worst I have been through saw 100kt winds out of the inlets, ('89?). I remember watching the temps drop 15C in just a few hours. You could see the ground freeze. We kept our aircraft fleet operating by coating all cables and bearings with a coating of grease mixed with salt. We had over 20 logging camps to evacuate. (God forbid...what a mess to cleanup when the thaw finally arrived!!). Anyway, this monday we are supposed to drop from 5C to -10C. The wood-fired sauna is nearing completion. Today, I am installing the chimney and flashing. My wife and I will be sipping some homemade plum wine in the sauna Monday evening. A toast for you all:-)

Christopher Henningsen said...

Reading about the countries receiving aid from China, I am reminded of Yannis Varoufakis' book, "The Global Minotaur". Its thesis was that a major reason America was so successful in the postwar period because it recycled its surpluses by building up the German and Japanese economies, which in turn provided demand for all those surplus goods it was producing. Nowadays of course, America no longer has a surplus and is a net importer of cash.

Apparently Varoufakis believed that Europe would have been better off recycling its own surpluses in house rather than sending them to Wall street, and was soundly rebuffed. But I wonder whether the Chines communist party took note...

Mister Roboto said...

This most recent election has been characterized by some very heavy-handed "psy-ops" that have been remarkably effective in manipulating the thinking of a large number of people that I would have thought should know better. But that unabashedly McCarthyite article in The Washington Post, which is nicely deconstructed and skewered here, here, and here, really seems to me to represent the neoliberal-neoconservative-consensus faction of the Deep State that is perpetuating this manipulation completely "jumping the shark". (Anyone unfamiliar with this term should avail themselves of a Google search.) Seriously, the "Propornot" piece is the sort of ham-fisted bungling I would expect from a teenage popular-kid in school who thinks he can get away with anything because he is supposedly "all that". But I guess it only goes to show the desperation one will observe when the arrogance bred by unquestioned power and influence finally receives a well-deserved challenge.

Greg Belvedere said...

Speaking of the "brutal tyrant" label, I have found much of the media's response to Fidel Castro's death entertaining though predictable. I won't deny his regime did some pretty horrible things, but many people in and out of the media have talked about his actions as the height of atrocities while ignoring the fact that US imperialism easily caused more death and suffering in latin america alone. You can see that many in that region agree by the way they responded to his death. Noam Chomsky recently argued that the reason the US had moved to normalize relations was because it had become so ostracized from the rest of the Americas and was in danger of being shut out of regional conferences etc. I'm curious how well you think Cuba is set up to deal with peak oil and the other crises we face. In some ways their economy is a disaster, but there are parts of it that are somewhat self-sufficient and retro.

The Washington Post article came to my attention when I read Glenn Greenwald's piece on The Intercept about it. He pointed out how a piece that warned about fake news came from a group that seems to have popped up over night and provides no information about its members or their credentials. Greenwald has had some good work about the red-baiting going on during this election cycle.

Sleisz Ádám said...

Thank you for this thoughtful post.

An organized retreat from the global hegemony seems to be a very challenging task for the US. I think it is worth doing but still... It might be late to avoid serious crises. The alliance in the Middle East is already in disarray while Europe and even Japan would probably implode on their own. The withdrawal needs the support of the stronger side in some of the regional conflicts but the US mostly promoted the weaker actors for decades.

If Trump decides to alleviate the pressure by the way of a Russian rapprochement, then Western Europe can find itself in the unfamiliar role of irrelevancy quite quickly. Eastern Europe, on the other hand... Interesting possibilities.

averagejoe said...

As usual a great article of what’s going on. I don’t know if you read the Guardian and one of its few decent writers George Monbiot, but he has just written a brilliant article about Trump’s hand picked ‘pro’ climate change advisors/staff.
If Trump’s intension is to aggressively bolster climate change, he is going about it the right way. So regardless of whether he scales down the empire, it’s going to be pretty irrelevant to the challenges faced. You will be aware of the crazy temperatures that have been observed in the Arctic this winter so far. Things are developing fast.

SCA Heretic said...

With all due respect, I find your response to Cat's comment to be somewhat dismissive and condescending. I am working class, and I find everything about Trump to be repugnant, as do most of my coworkers.

Elros said...

Estimated Mr. Greer, I'm glad to coincide that problems between Russia and China will start eventually, despite their projects in the present. And the importance of a figure can not be underestimated (Khrushev is an example on how you can start destroying a nation from within- and sever ties with China).

However, for the timespan the US need to recover is unlikely that Russia and China will fight each other.

Jack Boot said...

Spot on, as usual.

Nietzsche put it best:
"Counsel as conundrum: If the bonds are not to burst, we must try to cut them first."

Nastarana said...

Mr. Greer, the Lucaks review of Fukuyama I have in a book, Remembered Past: John Lucaks on History, Historians, and Historical Knowledge (ISI Books, Wilmington, DE, 2005) The citation in his notes reads:

Review of The End of History and the Last Man, by Francis Fukuyama and The Democracy Trap: Pitfalls of the Post-Cold War World, by Graham E. Fuller. Chronicles, December. 39-40. 1992.

I doubt this could be found online. I could loan you the hefty book via snail mail if you like.

I don't always agree with Lukacs either. He is a conservative Catholic, an unrepentant imperialist who harbors a nostalgia for Austria Hungary and the vanished world of the European haute bourgeoisie. What is it about conservative Catholic intellectuals and Austria-Hungary? As far as I am aware, the best that can be said of the later Hapsburgs is that they seem to have meant well.

"28 million Saudis in a country that imports 100% of its food" That, of course, is why they were financing the Clinton campaign. We get to be their bolt hole. Watch for a bidding war between wealthy Chinese and wealthy Saudis for American farmland.

Dear Elro, about China and Russia not going for the jugular of the US. No, not for a while, they still have too much to lose. Neither nation wants to see its citizens who live here illegally expelled and China wants to stave off tariffs as long as it can.

Renaissance Man said...

I expect that one major factor has been the conglomeration of various forms of news outlets over the past 30 years, as more and more independent news outlets get absorbed into fewer (6 at the current count) corporate umbrellas that control content.
The same problem has been occurring in Canada, and, indeed globally and the Murdoch news empire, for example, now encompasses the globe, leaving only a few sources of news to illuminate inconvenient facts. Sadly, those sources are themselves so partisan as to define untrustworthy. There used to be foreign correspondents all over the place, now fewer and fewer.
Having looked at the end of empires, I am not sanguine about the U.S. choosing the gentler withdrawal policy, even if Mr. Trump's election survives the possible vote audit.

Eric S. said...

Well, that mostly pretty much covers the question I asked last week, while opening the door to more. It seems like there’s a distinct possibility we may have avoided a Twilight’s Last Gleaming style crisis in exchange for something else. But what does that say for the stack of dominoes that is connected to American power in the rest of the world? One of the major arms of the US Military Industrial Complex has been NATO, and the Western Empire has been not just US led but has been led by a dominant alliance of North America and Western Europe (which is of course experiencing its own internal strain re: Brexit). Would a shift of US policy toward more domestic concerns and towards a deepened diplomatic relationship with Russia strain the US relationship with the other NATO member nations?

The other thing that’ll be curious is the role that an ascendant Russia and a declining US would have in shaping the future of the United Nations. I recall during the election campaign, leaders in the UN being concerned about the possibility of a Trump presidency bringing the US closer to Russia and thereby deflating the major backing to a lot of their posturing towards Russia in recent years. I know they’ve been a big supporter of some of America’s more aggressive policies towards Russia, such as the no fly zone over Syria, sanctions regarding Russian control of Crimea, etcetera and has been a vocal critic of Russian foreign policy, while being fairly supportive of whatever the US does, so which is the more likely outcome there? Will it push Russia to the center of UN international policy, or will the balance of power remain more or less the same with the US pushed to the same fringe Russia currently occupies in the UN, being subject to international sanctions and having peacekeeping forces sent to settle internal disputes (I’ve already heard talk about the possibility of UN peacekeeping forces being sent to Standing Rock if that situation isn’t resolved peacefully).

And then, of course, there’s the fate of the United States’ own internal empire: both the economic power exerted by the coasts on the south and Midwest, and the overt colonization that continues to be exerted on the First Nations peoples. How long can that continue? There are definitely some precariously stacked cards ready to fall in the Post-American Century.

Re: The Washington Post article: One of the things I found most interesting about that was the way it targeted not only right wing news sites, and crazy conspiracy theory sites, but also websites devoted to various new-age and earth-centered alternative spiritualities.

Re: News: Which international news sites would you say are the most reliable? (Russian propaganda or not, I wouldn’t exactly consider anything from that list a reliable news source… at best they’re useful for tasting the winds of popular opinion.) But a lot of international news sites I’ve looked at just copy and paste from CNN and translate it, are so focused on local news that I can’t glean much that’s directly useful to me all the way over here, or is every bit as or even more hot-headed opinion laden than what I find over here. I’ve found an Egyptian news site that has lengthy, thorough stories with lots of background that I glean for a lot of my international news, but that’s not much diversity. What are the top sources you get your own news from?

Karim said...

Greetings all!

Always a pleasure to read your geopolitical essays John!

Thinking of the US empire, it seems to me that Trump, being President Elect, is now in a privileged position, for what ever he does will determine the fate of the US over the long term. Either a planned withdrawal, minimising damage for many or clinging to Empire and triggering a cascade of catastrophic events for the US and the rest of the world.

It might be an exaggeration but Trump appears to be president at a pivotal moment in a pivotal nation, the US. A man of destiny is he?

Should we telegraph that to him?

Jay Dee said...

Long-time reader, first-time commenter as the idiom goes. Many thanks for your weekly insights and belated thanks for your Retrotopia narrative. I look forward to reading it, just as I did Twilight's Last Gleaming. Regarding the latter, I consider the Trump/Pence brand to be nearly as prophetic as Weed/Gurney, with Trump standing for great wealth and bluster, and Pence being the UK plural of penny, representing destitution.

Seeing the recent rumblings regarding the appointment of secretaries of state and defence, I don't hold out much hope for a managed withdrawal. Query: if the trade agreements are a good part of the 'imperial wealth pump', is their dissolution possible without crashing the imperial tribute economy? Also, I recall you saying that US national debt should be regarded as tribute as well, as its repayment is only lip service. Trump certainly has talked about 'renegotiating' the debt (to his credit, he knows a thing or two about bankruptcy). Wouldn't doing that also end the tribute economy?

Dammerung said...

In the longer term, the propaganda war is already over and has a decisive victor. Does anybody imagine that the under-18 crowd is turning to Fox News or MSNBC for its view of the world? Hilarious! But they're not uninterested in the political process, so where do they turn? Why, to tumblr if you're nuts I mean leftist, or /pol/ if you lean right. Officially of course you're not supposed to show up there at all if you're underage, but there's absolutely no enforcement mechanism, and it's not exactly a secret that we have a lot of edgy teens coming by to absorb our maximum edge. We're raising a significant chunk of Generation Z to be post-ironically fascist. A bunch of larping Nazi Egyptian-frog-worshiping wizards have seized the memes of production. We did it by accident, blindfolded, and with one hand tied behind our backs. The legacy media is like those dinosaurs from The Land that Time Forgot - already dead, just too stupid to fall over right away.

Maybe it's my confirmation bias speaking, but the way we see it, we knock out propaganda on 8/pol/, it filters down to 4/pol/, then down to reddit, and from reddit into the normiesphere. It's pretty crazy to see something you had a hand in making echo back to you by some Joe Sixpack on Faceberg. This is the new reality of media and it's going to be quite amusing to see how it effects the political process as these kiddos reach voting age.

Sorry if this came through multiple times, the comment form is acting weird.

DaShui said...

I think I heard an obscure blogger say something like this before. Does anyone have any idea?

Mark Rice said...

If it is any consolation, I could not find the Vineyard of the Saker on that list. And the Saker is genuine Russian propaganda.

Here on the left coast I have a well educated friend who has not figured out how much our media is propaganda. He did not know the moderate jihadists we are supporting in Syria are Al-Nusra.

The deplorables in flyover country are further along in seeing though the domestic propaganda than the educated "elites" in urban coastal cities. My mind is boggled. Am I prejudiced against deplorables?

I find I now read the New York Times the same way I read RT news or - well - Vineyard of the Saker. OK The New York Times is not as bad as the Saker but you get the idea. My mother told stories of here childhood in WWII where they would listen to local German radio stations and listen to the BBC. They would then try to guess what was really going on given the Nazi news was saying X and the BBC was saying Y.

With the list of 200 Russian propaganda sites, the "respectable" media is trying to regain control of the narrative. I am not sure they get put the toothpaste back in the tube though.

NZ said...

JMG- As long as the equation, American national interests= American corporate interests remains strong in the public sentiment, many of the level headed, and essential actions you outline will be difficult to achieve. The danger is that most people just look for a leader, or savior to relieve them of their suffering. In a sense, take the easy way out and don't undertake the hard work of educating themselves to the things that really matter. I see the Trump presidency as a long needed opening, however small or fragile, to begin to broaden the meaningful discourse so badly needed in American society. This dialog of ideas and understanding is the only force that can begin to reduce the neocon influence that is destroying the country. In the meantime, find truth and carry on.

I think you are correct that the MSM will not be the place where that dialog takes place. The first step in educating oneself is to unplug form the corporate propaganda machine, and many are discovering that pathway. The internet is currently providing an alternative outlet for information, but how long will that last? Seems like the combination of relentless neocons and the shortsightedness of multinational corporations are bent on locking down the flow of information or at the bare minimum, have the ability to shut it down at will. However disastrous and counterproductive this lockdown would be, I take some satisfaction in the though that public meetings to discuss and become more informed will return to prominence.

What will be interesting to watch is how Trump handles the public meetings he has scheduled and how those public appearances will change over time. Will they be chances to rally the strength of the population to achieve positive national goals for all, or will they be another form of social control, used by special interests to control the population and divert dissent. Corporations are not bad in themselves, it is what they are used for that is dangerous and destructive.

On a side note, I watched the explosion of Elon Musk's Space X rocket with Facebook's Satellite aboard as payload. This happened back in September, but I missed the story back then. The story tied in very nicely with your last post and commenters looking for examples of complex technology failure. Seemed like fitting end to the hubris coming form those two.

Christopher Edwards said...

One of the ways that the United States shoots itself in the guts, is that it is reflexively hyper competitive. E.G., Russia annexes the Crimea and moves into the Ukraine, and the U.S. with all the gusto of a Super Bowl goal line stand rushes to judgement, and exclaims, "They can't do this!". Then the U.S. positions its linebackers all through the Baltic States in the form of Nato Defensive posturing like what is going on in Estonia at the moment, with U.S. troops staging mock live fire field battles 70 miles from the Russian border. My point being that if the U.S. were less reactive, i.e., less competitive, then "we could all just get along" a bit better.

Chris Edwards

BoysMom said...

If you need to know how to lobby effectively on the grassroots level in the USA, you could look to how the home schoolers do it. With an estimated now 1.8 million of us (which is about as dubious a counting as you'd expect of a group whose density among the population varies pretty widely according to state laws and doesn't much trust the government), we're pretty good at getting legislation passed and rejected by hassling, er, lobbying our state and federal legislators. We have group legal representation for many of us through HSLDA (which is unabashedly Christian of a particular stripe, and doesn't get anything like universal membership of home schoolers) which is important for folks going up on a shoestring against the government and big entrenched and well-funded interests (Teachers' Union). HSLDA used to be single-issue and it's been very disappointing to see them change. One key to their previous successes is that HSLDA uses many tiny subscription payments from individuals who want representation if they get taken to court over home schooling to provide representation for the few who do, not donations from other parties which is the current popular model.

Note that it's taken us since the seventies to get to where we are today. If there are shortcuts, I don't know what they are. But as an effective grassroots movement, it's a pretty well-recorded one, and I think could be copied by any one-issue group. (The idiots who want us to lobby about marriage, abortion, or whatever are trying to sow the seeds of destruction of the movement, and I don't think they even realize it.) I grew up in the middle of this, and I've watched the states all come to different ways of legalizing home school.

Jason B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n=ro said...

I guess, the Washington Post doesn't take archdruids very seriously. What a great priviledge that is! :)

DE Prof said...

Big media also applies its personality-based programming to the political sphere when it is time for elections and such. George Bush was the "guy you'd like to have a beer with", in contrast to Al Gore's wonky, unsmiling persona. Bush of course turned out to be a dim-witted substance abuser with little interest in the job he had for 8 years, just interrupting his many vacations to sign off on the PNAC agenda. In 2008 the president was marketed as a young, progressive outsider whose election would by itself signal that the nation had cleared a major hurdle. He's turned out to be just another Bush family adoptee, giving the treasury to the MIC and saddling us, probably permanently, with the worst healthcare system in history. But he has a photogenic family and soothing baritone, so shut up about the torture and drones! I hope that at some point real news sources overtake TV and print propaganda with respect to influence on actual issues, but it's a long way off IMO.

Jeannette Sage said...

Thank you John Michael, for another great post. I try to read you every week, and also the comments, which I often find very valuable. Your blog plus comments from people from many different countries constitutes one of my windows on the world, and I am always amazed how you seem to understand exactly what the undercurrents in society are, and then the virtuosity with which you can describe them.

I loved your word "barnstorming"!

Another window on the world that I try to follow, is the Dutch documentary series, broadcast every week on Dutch television, Backlight (Tegenlicht). One of the more remarkable episodes was one on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Have you heard of it? It is spreading its wings throughout the whole world.
Here is the link to the full, English-spoken/subtitled documentary, for those who are interested (46 rewarding minutes):
The Chinese World Order (VPRO Backlight).

The documentary dates from last March. In the meantime, many more countries have signed up to be a member, also Canada:
Canada Ignores Washington's Warnings, Joins China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

onething said...


You seem to find that black list funny, but maybe it is the first iteration of an intended crackdown on journalistic freedom and freedom of speech.

Karl Brantz said...

History is just wonderful! From the Assyrian empire to the classic hyperinflation of Zimbabwe: it is all a swirling, kaleidoscopic show that is both viewed as entertainment and feared as calamity by the audience, most of whom are completely unaware that they themselves are the playwright, actors, set designers and director of this bizarre reality show. But just who are the producers of this clever sparkle and flash that so engrosses and enthralls the wide eyed and utterly susceptible audience? Ahh, now THAT is a subject ripe for playwright's quill! If our hero is to drain the swamp, must he not first discover the identity of thr swamp's creator? It's financiers? After all, swords cannot put paid to shadows, nor can arrows pierce the black heart of smoke. The villain of the piece must whip aside his cloak and be revealed for catharsis to reign victorious; for the curtain to fall to tumultuous applause. If the actors are but paid marionettes, the script but false and hollow chatter then the work will have been in vain, the reviews merciless, the investors ruined, the theater darkened. The answer, of course, is as old as the history in which we are enmeshed. He who pays the piper calls the tune, as it were. In our present, but fleeting, moment in the arc of history, look to that merry band of ancient money lenders and war mongers currently known as "neocons" to raise the curtain, light the stage and pen the vain but innocuous line that our actors will mouthe. Oh, the swords and arrows, the screams and the spurting blood are real enough, the hapless victims quite dead indeed, the cacophonous cries of mourning true in timbre. The audience, however, sees only a play; a momentary diversion from their soft and silky lives of warm hearth and fortress keep. They cannot hear the distant approach of their own brief strutting turn churning the dust, coming down the darkened road. But coming it is.

William McGillis said...

The December issue of Harper's includes an article called "The New Red Scare: Reviving the Art of Threat Inflation" that explores US scapegoating of Russia. It might be of interest to some readers of the ADR.

Bill Ding said...

Speaking of Rolling Stone, they just published an interview with Bernie who says,

"There are areas where people like me could work with him: rebuilding the infrastructure, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, re-establishing Glass-Steagall, raising the minimum wage. Those are ideas that we can work on. Now, was he being totally hypocritical and just saying whatever came to his mind that he thought could attract votes? Or does he believe that?"

pygmycory said...

JMG, I thought Trudeau was going to betray more promises to ordinary people than to the rich and powerful even before he was elected, and this is unfortunately in fulfillment of one of my January predictions for this year. I wish that I was wrong about that one...

RAnderson said...

Trump has saved more working class jobs since the election than Obama has in 8 years? That seems a bit hyperbolic. One can imagine that saving the US auto industry might qualify as saving more of those jobs than keeping Carrier from moving to Mexico. So far his cabinet choices don't bode well for diminishing the influence of Wall Street, imo. said...

Excellent post John.

You are spot on regarding the failings of the US corporate media. I followed the US elections closely and was appalled by the coverage of the mainstream media which systemically failed to report key issues which should have been discussed and was totally hostile to the Trump campaign. It was embarrassing.

Personally, i follow a broad spectrum of media sources, including foreign media like the Guardian, Spiegel, Telegraph, Spectator, New Statesman, Breibart and Politico as well as "alternative" sources like the World Socialist Web Site, zero hedge and financial sense. Interestingly, I have found the business online sources (Reuters, Bloomberg and FT) as a more reliable source of coverage of politics than the traditional legacy media like the New York Times etc.

I suspect that the slightly more balanced coverage of the business geared media is because their clients require accurate reporting of politics as it plays a key role in investment and financial decision making! For those, on this blog, who have criticized John's critical comments on legacy media, I suggest you have misunderstand his point.

The point is to take a critical but open minded viewpoint on all news media used, whether it is legacy or alternative. Blindly following a particular strand of "alternative" news reporting is just as unhealthy as religiously believing whatever corporate spin the NYT or Washington Post publishes on a daily basis.

Regarding your interesting geopolitical analysis on the state of the American empire, i fully agree. President elect Trump has a great opportunity to reshape foreign policy and make a start on a partial withdrawal of American global commitments, something I have predicted on my forecasting blog, here;

Contrary to some on this forum, I am cautiously optimistic about Trump. Clearly he needs to keep his cards to his chest as he hasn't been formally inaugurated yet and he is aware that the Deep State's tentacles roam deep. However, the early signs are positive, with the scrapping of the trans-pacific trade deal a strong sign that Trump means what he says and is prepared to take on the vested Washington interests.

I also see that Trump is starting to deliver on his commitment to help the Rust Belt. Those who sneer at his attempts to save jobs should re reminded that President Obama during 8 years in office made little to no attempt to protect jobs for American workers. It looks like Trump will try and help the Rust Belt communities who got him elected.

So, its early days but so far it appears promising.

John Michael Greer said...

Jbucks, of course that was the point of the WaPo article -- to paint any policy choice that doesn't buy into the neoconservative agenda as Boris Badenovism. As it happens, though, I haven't yet been accused of being a Putinist fellow traveler, or what have you.

HalFiore, if you read my post as an attack on the existence of a free press, you misread it. My point is precisely that the US mainstream media has fallen down on the job and is no longer fulfilling its traditional role; that's why people are paying less and less attention to it. I'd honestly prefer to see the media doing its job -- that is to say, reporting and analysis, rather than cheerleading for whoever pays the most.

Clay, Krugman is amazing, and I don't mean that in a good way. I read him when I'm not sure how far elite cluelessness can go.

Vedant, true enough.

HalFiore, I agree -- some standards must be maintained. It's because the mainstream US media has failed to maintain even the most basic standards that people are turning to other sources to get the information and analysis they need. That's all I'm saying.

Warren, exactly. It's precisely because Americans have convinced themselves that they don't have an empire that they manage their empire so badly.

HalFiore, if the AP has been saying that, it's news to me -- I don't read US media unless I can help it. I simply added together the death of the TPP and the two big corporations that have cancelled their offshoring projects, compared it to the big fat nothing the working class has gotten from Obama, and drew the logical conclusion. If that offends you, sorry, but there it is.

Look sie, oh, granted, there's a lot to worry about in the bizarreries Armata quoted. Still, it's also remarkably silly, you must admit.

Ursachi Alexandru said...

"Winding up our term as global policeman will let Russia, China and Iran get back to contending with each other rather than with us."

Over the longer term, a revived rivalry with China and Iran over influence in the Far East, Central Asia and the Caucasus could also leave Russia with less resources for its expansionist ambitions in Central and Eastern Europe. They would have to stretch themselves just to hold on to what they've got. If the US is to gradually retreat from this region, I can see some potential benefits to Russia-weary countries like Romania, Poland and the Baltics, at least in theory, if that leads to a revival of Russia's traditional rivalries.

RAnderson said...

Also re: working class jobs, DT has not exactly proven to be a friend of unions, whose decline in the past 60 years has been pretty much precipitous. Doubt he'd readily embrace unionization among those who would most benefit: retail, childcare, fast food, eldercare and the like. He's also certainly not been a friend of all the small businesses he's cheated over the years, as well. IMO his so called espousal of the working class was merely part of his a cynical strategy to get elected, and will quickly evaporate as soon as the oligarchs get their claws into him. with Mnuchin &c it has already started.

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Excellent, well written essay--and provocative. Could our empire devolve productively?

Still, I'm waiting for (perhaps I missed it) one of your cogent analyses about how Trump, Putin, Xi and all their pals are part of a trans-national global elite. I believe that a different wealth-pump will occur in which the basically stateless global elites maintain their cushy lifestyles against all others, similar to what the elite Mayans did in a time of great drought.

The web of billionaire funding --including the astroturf tea party supported by the Kochs, and media outlets such as Breitbart funded in large part by the Mercer family,among other things--that got Trump elected, and the fact that now they and other fossil fuel/wall street interests have got people being assigned to significant government positions is telling.

The idea seems to be that they can "adapt" to and possibly "exploit" climate change, and thus can continue enriching themselves by working really hard to exacerbate it--and who cares about all the regular folks deeply affected by it. I do not excuse global elite Democrats here, either. As all the rest of us keep arguing about identity politics, those folks continue to win.

I just think there's more going on here than meets the eye regardless of what our preferred media outlets might be, or what our preferred flavor of politics is. On a personal note, I find that reading a variety of on- and- off line media sources augmented by serious books and not watching TV (as someone else mentioned) helps develop independence of thought.

Thomas Prentice said...

Some Fun:

Craig Timberg
WaPo Pravda-on-the-Potomac
1301 K Street NW,
Washington DC 20071

Dear Herr Heil Goebbels:

My friend John Michael Greer who writes the commiepinko Archdruid Report on Wednesdays is quite annoyed that you have not included him on your list of commiepinko subversive publications. Please correct this infraction immediately, if not sooner. His url is

Moreover, since I was too young to make the Nixon enemies list, which disappointed me greatly, I am tremendously irritated beyond words issuing in a frothing spew from my mouth that WaPo left my commiepinko Facebook page off that same list. Please correct this unconscionable infraction at your earliest convenience. My Facebook url is

Meanwhile, I hear the Walmart is having a sale on both consciences and empathy. You might want to snag ‘em before they sell out.

You know, sell out, you know. I am sure you are familiar with the term.

Warmest Personal Regards,

thom prentice phd

cc: Martin Baron, Editor, WaPo, Pravda-on-the-Potomac Marty: This? After Spotlight? Really? Really!

John Michael Greer said...

Mark, that's why I've never predicted a conquest of America. The devolution of the US empire, if it happens by force, will be a matter of proxy wars and regime change operations, along the lines I sketched out in Twilight's Last Gleaming. As for multinational corporations, I disagree with the standard analysis that sees them as major players in their own right. Look back at the way that Russia poleaxed foreign multinationals, and you see the wave of the future.

Kristofv, agreed -- it's a tossup between them, and I don't imagine the rude awakening is going to be welcome in either case.

Chevalier, heh indeed.

Ramaraj, why, I couldn't possibly recommend that any of my readers do that, could I? ;-)

Grisom, thank you -- I'll give it a look as time permits.

Phil, also a possibility!

David, understood. Please note that I didn't say that all blogs, or even most of them, offer accurate reporting and thoughtful analysis. I said that people were turning to blogs to get those things, because increasingly they can't be found in the mainstream US media. Of course it's buyer beware in the blogosphere, with inaccurate stories all over the place -- but the same thing's true on the mainstream news media here.

Fred, that sounds like a very good project for the new year!

Jerry, it's not a matter of withdrawing from empire or not doing so -- at this point, it's a matter of doing so voluntarily in a controlled fashion, or doing it involuntarily as a consequence of sudden crisis, very possibly with next to no warning at all. Given the choice, the controlled withdrawal is much less disruptive. One way or another, it's going to be a rough road -- the question is purely how to make it a little less rough than it will otherwise be.

Kevin, I'll consider that.

Paulo, exactly. It's a normal historical process, and can be made easier or harder, but one way or another most of us will live through it.

Christopher, that's a good point. Of course the difference between recycling surpluses in a Marshall Plan and recycling them via Wall Street is that in the former case, you actually produce something other than profits, and the result is increased economic stability; in the latter, you feed speculative bubbles and that's it, resulting in instability. I hope the Chinese are paying attention to the distinction.

John Michael Greer said...

Mister R., I think they may have jumped not only the shark but the whale, the dolphin, and the plesiosaur to boot!

Greg, yes, I noticed that. Was Castro a dictator who presided over human rights violations? Sure. Does the United States have any business pointing fingers? I recall someone saying something about a mote in your brother's eye and a beam in your own...

Sleisz Ádám, oh, granted. Again, though, it's not a matter of whether we retreat from empire, it's a matter of whether we do it via deliberate withdrawal or sudden collapse.

Averagejoe, I'm aware of that. We had a choice earlier this month between one candidate who offered lip service to climate change and another who was open about ignoring it. Since nobody in American public life is willing to talk about what's going to have to happen to stop dumping CO2 into the atmosphere, we're going to face the kind of mess I've discussed repeatedly in this blog -- and neither party's candidate in the election would have done a thing about it.

SCA Heretic, I spend time with a lot of working class guys these days, and all of them are Trump supporters; I've also met a lot of Clinton supporters who not only have never had a conversation with someone in the working class, but talk about the American working class in terms I can only describe as hate speech. Your mileage may vary, but that's been my experience, and that's what was behind my comment.

Elros, they don't need to fight. They just need to start competing with one another for allies and spheres of influence.

Jack, true enough.

Nastarana, thank you! No need to lend; I can get it via interlibrary loan, and will do so promptly.

Renaissance, and of course that's a huge issue.

James M. Jensen II said...

Since Castro was brought up, something I've been thinking about for a while now:

One thing I think that's needed right now is the sophistication to understand the difference between a megalomaniac and an ordinary warlord. Stalin, Mao, and N. Korea's Kims provide examples of the former, while Putin and Castro strike me as more the latter; perhaps Castro is a borderline case.

The sophistication is needed to understand why many people can praise them highly while many others hate them so fiercely. Where a megalomaniac thinks of their people as little more than tools to advance their own power and agenda, a warlord's results are more genuinely mixed: they can be genuinely beneficial for a substantial portion of their people, while also being brutally evil to those who oppose them.

The ability to both respect a leader for the benefits they bring to their people without ignoring the atrocities they commit against their enemies strikes me as a useful one just now. Demanding purity is a fool's game in politics.

inohuri said...

off topic

It may be that the Green Party is in revolt about Jill Stein vote recounts.


George Soros behind the Hillary Clinton lawyer working with Jill Stein on voter recount

Raymond Duckling said...

The New Yorker has twisted the knife:

"But, as harmful as these phenomena[1] might be, the prospect of legitimate dissenting voices being labelled fake news or Russian propaganda by mysterious groups of ex-government employees, with the help of a national newspaper, is even scarier."

[1] The spread of misinformation amongst American people by Russian intelligence services.

inohuri said...

Chinese expansion in Mexico makes more sense to me than Russian. The Chinese have lots of money yearning to escape. Mexico needs to export much more to China. If the Chinese started businesses in Mexico maybe they could export back home.


Mexico's exports to China amount to $5 billion USD each year while Mexico's imports from China amount to $66 billion USD with a difference of $61 billion USD in China's favor.

Clay Dennis said...

A new explanation for the failure of Hillary circulating among people i know that are middle aged or older members of the progressive establishment is that it is all the fault of the millenials. That the empire is crumbling, Hillary losing etc is all the fault of the Millenials. They didn't abandon Bernie and Climb on board with Hillary like the were supposed too, They didn't get with the program of the mainstream media and read news on facebook and reddit. They have resurected articles from earlier in the fall that smoosh together various attitude poll results to show that milenials are less concerned with democracy than their elders and might even be in favor of military rule. Because as you know the collapse of the empire is really about those schucks around the world rejecting the goodness of democracy and human rights.

My response is perhaps the younger generation would not be so negative if they had not been saddled with massive student debt, a disfunctional health care system, poor job prospects and paying ss and medicare taxes that only go to feather the ngests of the boomers. No wonder they did not get on board with the status quo. I tell the folks I know in this group that what they better worry about is when the millenials figure out how badly they have really been chumped they will come for them with torches and pitchforks.

gwizard43 said...

Thanks JMG, for another incisive, persuasive and troubling post.

It seems to me that it would be a real service to the world, at this present moment, for an individual steeped in historical analysis to identify those dynamics that led to Britain and China (and perhaps other cases) relinquishing empire voluntarily - what separated them from the cling-by-the-fingernails cases?

For example, were there political factions in each, or other institutional agents, that pushed for such a response? Perhaps a sizable segment of the elite that had not gone senile and saw what was coming? Or was it more of a bottom up model, or a mix?

I'm thinking of a Tainter-like analysis, applied to those rare cases where empires chose to go gently into that good night. I'm not well equipped for such an endeavor, but I can think of at least one who is. ;-)

David, by the lake said...


I forget which comment you replied to above, but you said something along the lines of "that is why I'm working to get this idea out there" and I suddenly realized that this is how one changes policy. Winning control (or supposed control) of positions of power is secondary. One can influence policy indirectly and over the longer term by injecting ideas into the public space and repeatedly having those necessary conversations. Not unlike magic (and perhaps this is where your training has aided you), it requires patience, will, and persistence.

Suddenly, my possible roles in this process take on a whole new light.

As a side note, today is Dec 1st and I took out nomination papers at city hall today for another run at city council. I have until Jan 3rd to collected the needed signatures to qualify for the ballot in April. As with each year in our city, three seats are up, all at-large. Last year was a good learning experience and I will be applying some of the lessons this time around.

tolkienguy said...

Nice essay, JMG!

I still think you are being a little too sanguine about Trump though. Overturning the entrenched status quo in favor of some other ideal requires one to have, well, ideals in the first place, and Trump has shown no sign of that. Furthermore, if you look at his prior business career, he actually doesn't show many signs of being a good businessman-he started off with a fair bit of property from his Dad and managed to go bankrupt three times. Indeed, the only thing he's shown above average-and indeed, I would say genius-level-skills at is generating good publicity for himself. This article actually gives a pretty good look into his personality:

Quite frankly, the man shows no sign of being committed to any ideals, much less the decidedly counter-mainstream ones presented here (not using this term as an insult-I consider myself very counter-mainstream). On the other hand, he shows a great ability to figure out what people want to hear, say it, and thus get them to go along with him. Even on foreign policy he's been rather inconsistent-he's espoused isolationism at times, but at other times talks about "bombing ISIS into the stone age". Quite frankly, I don't think he has any real idea of what he's going to do after he takes the oath, and (much like Bush), is going run a rather confused, directionless foreign policy until some clique of advisors gains his confidence, and thus control over his actions. With Bush, it happened due to 9/11. Don't know when it will happen with Trump, but I'm sure it will happen, and I think there's a better than even chance the winning clique will be very neoconservative in flavor. As to why I think this, here's another good article, this one from the (Hehe) Badenovsphere.

Basically, that article is about how a lot of Trump's "Pro-Russian" advisors are also really, really anti-Iranian-and thing is, Iran has become about as important to Russia over the last few years as Saudi Arabia is to the US. Cutting Iran loose would cost Russia a lot of influence in the Middle East, without any immediate way to gain it back. What happens when Trump gets into office, cancels the Iran nuclear deal, and draws us into an escalating game of brinkmanship with Iran, with Russia siding with the Ayatollahs? To refer to Twilight's Last Gleaming, Trump looks like a very good candidate for Jamison Weed.

And also, his treasury secretary is a Goldman Sachs alum. Do you really think a Goldman Sachs alum is going to reinstate Glass-Steagal? This is starting to look like a re-run of a story we've seen very recently, which started when a legion of puppy-eyed young idealists, including myself, marched into voting booths across the country to propel Mr. Hopenchange to the Oval Office. I think its going to end the same way too.

One last thing-please do that climate change blog post. Surely you've heard what almost happened to Gatlinburg a couple days ago? Having been there, I wouldn't have mourned its destruction too much-it's a tourist trap of the worst kind-but it was still quite shocking, and the drought the South has been having contributed to it. Not to mention the "thousand year flood" that befell my birth city of Columbia last year-all of these things may have a natural cause, but we're seeing way to many of them for my taste.

John Michael Greer said...

Eric, yes, all of those are factors. One way or another, Europe is going to have to cover the cost of its own defense, and so it's no wonder they're upset -- the relatively lavish welfare states of northern and central European nations are only affordable because the US pays for their defense. The UN -- well, we'll see what happens to it. As for news sources, I use a very broad range of non-US websites, depending on the subject. I like to balance competing biases against each other -- for example, in international events, compare what BBC and RT have to say, then bring in a couple of news sites from the countries actually affected, and draw your own conclusions; the results seem to reflect what's actually happening tolerably well.

Karim, his chief of staff apparently already holds that opinion, so a telegraph may not be necessary.

Jay Dee, the tribute economy is going away one way or another. It can be closed off in a deliberate fashion, giving the US economy some time to adjust, or it can be cut off by sudden crisis, but one way or another it's ending -- the abandonment of the dollar as the medium for international exchange, and its replacement by bilateral currency deals, has been signalling that one for years now. Thus you're quite correct; the tribute economy is ending, and the coastal cities of the US that have thrived on it are going to be in a world of hurt in the decades ahead.

Dammerung, maybe the frog god did it. Have you considered the possibility that the deity in question might actually be the Great Old One Tsathoggua? ;-)

DaShui, fascinating. If they go ahead with that, it might actually help, too!

Mark, the reason Les Deplorables get it is simply that the contrast between what the media says and what they see around themselves in flyover country is too vast to be ignored. In the bicoastal bubble, it's still possible to mistake the media's story for a vague reflection of fact.

NZ, exactly. It really is anyone's guess how this is going to play out, but at least the bipartisan neoconservative consensus seems to be cracking at last.

Christopher, square on target. Yes, exactly.

BoysMom, that's an excellent point, and thank you for bringing it up. Anyone else interested in learning how to organize to make change happen, instead of simply waving signs and being ignored? Here's your example.

Jason, well, we'll see, won't we?

N=ro, no doubt!

DE Prof, oh, granted. Listening to people rabbit on about this or that candidate's personality makes me roll my eyes. As I noted earlier, I couldn't care less about what kind of person a candidate is; I want to know how he or she will vote on the issues that matter to me.

Ethan La Coursiere said...

I'm certain I don't have to mention by this point my sanguine opinion on your writing style, Mr. Greer. However, I do have one thing to ask you: have you ever considered a career in politics? Certainly, your massive intellect and wisdom would help immensely in the difficult task of easing the US down its curve of decline instrad of taking the hit all at once.

John Michael Greer said...

Jeannette, you're welcome. You mentioned offlist that your earlier attempt to post this didn't go through; oddly enough, when I scroll up between Cat and Neil above, there it is. Is it still not there when you check?

Onething, of course it is. That's why satire is an appropriate first counterstrike -- the one thing I can do at this stage of the game is to assist Pravda on the Potomac to make a fool of itself publicly. (Not that this is hard, mind you.) If it accelerates, I (along with other bloggers who are or might be targeted) can move to other tactics.

Karl, a nice colorful bit of rhetoric. Thank you.

William, thanks for this! Glad to see the magazines starting to return fire.

Bill, and if Sanders and other Democrats who are opposed to militarism, destructive trade agreements, and some of the other issues involved work with the incoming administration, they may well be able to get some quid pro quo on other issues important to them. That's how politics used to be done, before it froze up into gridlock.

Pygmycory, well, there you are.

RAnderson, er, you forgot to mention the death of TPP, which would have accelerated offshoring, and Ford's decision not to offshore one of its production lines to Mexico.

Lordberia, I'm neither optimistic nor pessimistic about Trump. I think it's reasonable to wait and see what he actually does in office before passing judgment. Some of the actions he's already taken seem very promising to me, others are disappointing -- but that's par for the course. As quite a number of others have commented, at least we seem to have dodged a shooting war in Syria...

Ursachi, that's a very good point. Western Europe may suffer as a result of a US pullout, but eastern Europe might benefit quite a bit.

RAnderson, I never said he was a friend of unions. I said that he was going to benefit the working class. Cynical or not, he's not stupid; if he wants to be reelected in 2010, and all the evidence suggests he does, benefiting the working class is his ticket to a landslide.

Adrian, I'm far from sure I agree with that analysis. While there's a class of rich people who think of themselves as a transnational global elite, I've come to think that they have much less power than you or they believe, and they -- like pampered aristocracies more than once in the past -- may find that a new and more muscular ruling class has shouldered them aside. More on this in a future post.

John Michael Greer said...

Thomas, funny. I like it.

James, that's a valid point, of course. A lot of people these days have a one-dimensional notion of dictatorship, and equate all dictators with one another; you're right that there's a lot of variation.

Inohuri, interesting. We'll see how that plays out.

Raymond, and now a second magazine returning fire! Interesting.

Inohuri, yes, but the geopolitics works either way.

Clay, oh bright gods. So the Democrats, who just lost one election by spending all year screaming insults at people who voted for their guy in 2008, are now going to double down by screaming insults at a generational demographic they've got to win over to their side if they're ever going to win again? I'm beginning to wonder if the Democratic Party has a death wish...

Gwizard43, in Britain's case they were pressured into it by the US. China's another matter -- I don't know the literature well enough to be able to say what drove it. Hmm -- I foresee a lot of reading ahead.

David, exactly! Congratulations; you win tonight's gold star for getting it. Good luck with the upcoming campaign.

Tolkienguy, as I noted in response to an earlier comment on this post, I'm neither optimistic nor pessimistic about Trump; I'm willing to see what he does once he actually gets into the White House. Given the ratio of heat to light in the media about him right now, I know that's rare. As for climate change, it's in process; the short version is that we were locked into drastic climate change by the time Obama finished his first term, and it's already happening. If you live within fifty feet or so of sea level, you should relocate to higher ground as soon as you can.

John Michael Greer said...

M Smith (offlist), oh, I know. if I knew how to teach people to read what's written, without overlaying it with a sticky paste of assumptions, I'd do it, trust me.

pygmycory said...

@gwizard43, in Britain's case, it might have something to do with the classical education common among the elite, and the fascination with the roman empire. At least some people were asking if their empire was likely to go the same way as Rome's.

Apart from that, I'm not sure.

Mario Incandenza said...

I remember reading somewhere - can't remember where - a proscription for just this sort of graceful retreat from global empire. It involved ceding much of Asia to China, and letting them, Russia, and Europe squabble over the Middle East. The US, blessed by wildly good fortune in being protected by oceans to east and west, a giant friendly nation to the north, and Mexico (a wonderful nation and people, and no threat to the US in any way) to the south. It could retain the entire western hemisphere as a sphere of influence. Surely that ought to be enough? A little enlightened self-interest in our dealings throughout Latin America (unlike the decades-long orgy of coups, torture, and iron-fisted imperialism that characterized the Cold War years) and we could find ourselves in a more-than-enviable geopolitical position.

Alas, I have zero hope that our institutions, including the national security establishment, the press, and the many powerful tentacles of the military-industrial complex, are remotely capable of the sort of self-awareness and long vision that would be required to transition to such a state of affairs. Pretty sure we're destined to go down in history with the kickers-and-screamers...

Shane W said...

First off, I hate to be pessimistic about American calls to shared sacrifice, but the last time that was tried was Carter's "malaise" speech, and it was so widely panned, criticized, led to questioning Carter's sanity, and drove a full-fledged flight from reality and into the Reagan counterrevolution. "Malaise" went down as a precedent never to be repeated! Have things really changed that much, JMG, since "malaise" that we're willing to take another look at calls to shared sacrifice? BTW, are Trump's videos a modern-day form of FDR's "fireside chats"?
Regarding Mexico, is it really that bad? I thought they were doing better than us, economically. I thought that, plus a lot of intangibles, was what was driving the reverse migration of so many Mexicans back to Mexico. Is that not accurate? Are they going back in spite of even worse economic conditions at home?
I'm not sure what's going on w/India, but how come no one seems to want to use India as a wedge against China? I'm particularly disappointed in their Commonwealth partners (Canada, Australia) cozying up to China. Particularly Australia--I mean, they're right across the Indian Ocean from India.
I appreciate the post about the Greens, I certainly smelled a rat there last week when it was posted, and I'm gratified that not all Greens are on board with it. I knew it was Stein pimping for Hillary and doing her dirty work.
I don't know that much about bluegrass music. I actually wish I knew more!

Dammerung said...

JMG, I actually saw a post just the other day that suggested that /pol/ is what it would look like if a normal internet forum were touched by an Elder God. You should drop by sometime, maybe create an OP about environmentalism. The only thing I can promise you is that you will be accosted with the ravings of madmen, but that seems like it's half of the job you do, anyway.

Shane W said...

Regarding Trudeau, I'm just too distracted by his looks to pay attention to anything he is saying. "Did he just say something about First Nations?" LOL

David, by the lake said...

With respect to media and messaging and total disconnects, I need to share this. I don't know that I'm a fan of Ms. Conway, but she totally nailed it in this exchange.

latheChuck said...

I apologize if this is a double-post. It seems that the hosting site doesn't actually respond gracefully to use of the "preview" feature. Having previewed my post, pushing the "post" button threw an error message, so I don't know whether or not the post went through. (Fortunately, I was able to copy the content into an external buffer, from which it was recovered for this post.)

When our host mentioned (last week?) that a period of free trade (facilitated by the British Empire) concluded with the Great Depression, and that a new era of free trade began a few decades ago (trade opening with China, NAFTA, etc.), I started pondering the personalities involved. I started reading the biography of President Herbert Hoover.
Hoover was a Republican, but was not liked by his 1-term predecessor, Coolidge.
Trump is a Republican, but was not promoted by the Republican elites.
Hoover was wealthy, with mining interests around the world.
Trump is wealthy, with real-estate interests around the world.
Hoover, like Trump, had never been elected to any office before the Presidency.
Hoover donated his presidential salary to charity.
Trump has said that he'll take just $1 in salary.
Immigration was a contentious issue in the years just before Hoover was elected (1924 McCarran Act limited immigration from "undesirable" regions).
Racial issues were tense in the 1920s, with a resurgent Ku Klux Klan claiming 9 million members.
Income inequality reached a peak during the 1920s, approximately the current level.

The stock market boomed for several months after Hoover was elected.
US stock indices have boomed since Trump's election.

(I think you can see where this is going...)

Armata said...

More interesting info coming out about Pravda on the Potomac and it's primary source for the "fake news" propaganda piece it ran, including an embarrassing child pornography scandal involving the man behind Propornot.

It would appear to me that WaPo is at least as guilty when it comes to disseminating fake news and propaganda as the people it has been loudly accusing of being Russian agents and stooges.

Candace said...

@ Nastarana
Re: Funding Think Tanks

This is one perspective. I thought it was a pretty good discussion of where the libertarian groups get money
Dark Money
The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
by Jane Mayer

HalFiore said...


Oh, I'm hardly offended, as I discerned no sort of attack on me or anyone I care deeply about in anything you wrote, though I would say you were a bit harsh on Cat. I think it was fair to point out that, actually I can now say all of the news items you cited have been reported extensively and not particularly critically by rock solid mainstays of the "MSM." If you did not know that because you make it a practice not to expose yourself to the media that, after all, still bring most people their news, well, all I can say is that it's hardly an excuse. Especially when you are lambasting them for the quality of the news they report, apparently sight unseen.

Here's the site I usually start with, mainly because my internet connection is data-limited and it's easy on that resource:

Nothing sexy, edgy, alterntivy, or groovy in any way. Just the boring old AP feed that supplies front pages in communities all over the country. Where the vast majority of us learned about, and were immersed in, months on end of Clinton's handling of her e-mail accounts, health speculations, allegations regarding the Clinton foundation, and all you could ever want to know about a mild, downright Victorian epithet, "deplorable."

You could look it up.

Of course, I don't stop there.

What bothers me a bit is you seem to have glossed over the main point I was trying to make in my first comment. Latching onto news and commentary from sources which have few verifiable credentials other than the ability to open a blogspot account, while willfully ignoring more traditional sources seems to me to be a recipe for a narrow type of groupthink to emerge. Add to that being cheered by near-sycophantic followers every week, and it's not hard to see how a lot of dubious answers could begin to make sense.

I did not think for a minute that your criticism was of a "free press." It's a lack of discrimination and critical questioning I'm concerned about.

I'm just reporting what I have seen in various online "communities," becoming ingrown to the point of the hall of mirrors I think I might have alluded to. I think there's a danger in that, and it looks to me like you are in the process of falling into it.

Donald Hargraves said...

A couple points:
1) As for Liberals doubling down, many of them are ready to openly give up on the Great Lake States and hunker down on the coasts (and New England). Not so much the writers (I've posted so many articles calling for the Democrats to regain its focus on Workers that I can no longer laugh) but the rank-and-file urban liberals who want the interior of the nation to die.

2) Sanders has been playing the long game for the past couple years. The Democratic Party has hopefully been infused with a pro-labor, truly leftist group of new voters and volunteers, and he's willing to deal to get some of what he wants (instead of separating for purity's sake, never mind getting nothing). Whether there's enough time … that's the Billion Dollar Question.

zach bender said...

you do realize that what kept carrier in indiana was seven million in tax incentives. and you do realize that taxation in indiana is far from progressive.

Rita Narayanan said...

Probably the first time in history that a group of liberal thinkers/leaders/writers/artists propagating an egalitarian world considered themselves ** God* :(

throughout history either such persons were the definitive elite or earned their spurs...yet others were crucified.

it is the hypocrisy of modern liberal humane thinking that gets to me...underneath the beauty & dance lies the ugly feet of the peacock.

Thanks for all the hard work & best wishes for 2017.

Arnold.Faustus said...

In your other blog you talked abount Entryism. I suggest bringing that here for discussion and fleshing out how
outside groups operate to usurp groups from their original focus

John Michael Greer said...

Ethan, er, thank you, but I'd rather be boiled in oil. I wouldn't mind, were the possibility not so unlikely, getting a position at a think tank or developing strategy and legislative proposals for somebody who might actually do something with it, but electoral politics? That's way outside my skill set. I'd be miserably bad at it, not to mention miserable.

Mario, I know there's going to be a lot of resistance. Still, the common sense of today's politics was once the ravings of some eccentric out on the fringe.

Shane, you don't present it as malaise. You present it, as FDR and Churchill did, as everyone standing up and doing their part in the face of an imminent threat, and you frame it as heroism, not as cardigan-wearing dorkhood. (Not that I have anything against cardigans, mind you.) As for Mexico, well, the regular readership of this blog has fair number of citizens of Mexico, so I'll toss the question their way: are there ample jobs at decent pay available for the Mexican working class now?

Dammerung, I've been there rather more than once; I lurk on a lot of unlikely forums, all across the political, cultural, and social spectrum of the net. It's a useful way of gauging the state of collective consciousness, which is a lot of what I use for my predictions. As for an OP, hmm. No time soon -- I'm up to my eyeballs as usual, this time finishing another Latin translation -- but I may consider it at some point.

David, yep -- nailed it.

LatheChuck, good. A historical parallel is always welcome here. Now we'll see whether it continues to follow that curve.

Armata, no argument there. By the way, you might want to add this bit of bizarrerie to your collection of strange utterances by Clinton supporters. The ecstatic identification of followers with a leader they think can do no wrong, to the extent that their identities merge into that of the leader....where have we heard of that before?

HalFiore, so noted, but you've missed the point of my response. I don't get my news from blogs. I sometimes use aggregator blogs on specific themes to direct me to news stories -- the latest climate change news, for example, shows up much more regularly on certain blogs than in the mainstream media -- but most of my news comes from overseas news media that still maintain some degree of integrity. I do visit US news media from time to time, as I've pointed out here, so my criticism isn't "sight unseen," as you claim; I do it when I want to find out what the party line is this week, and then go elsewhere to find out what actually happened.

Thus I didn't happen to catch the story you mentioned; I was probably too busy watching Trump play the media like a fiddle -- this latest business about flag-burning, for example, was great political theater, not least because Clinton cosponsored a bill in the Senate calling for exactly the same thing, and Trump has therefore set his critics up for another round of charges of hypocrisy. As I noted back in January, the guy's not dumb.

Kfish said...

Slightly off topic, but this report of an interview with a Russian security advisor is interesting:

Right down the bottom, the report directly states that hydrocarbons are running out and renewables will not replace them. Very blunt talk for a news outlet.

John Michael Greer said...

Donald, and if they give up on the upper Midwest they're going to lose national elections until they change that strategy. I really do wonder if the Democratic Party has a death wish. Sanders is a refreshing alternative; you're right that he's in it for the long game, and he also understands politics. I hope he manages to pull the Dems' collective head out of an anatomically unlikely orifice.

Zach, of course I realize that. That wasn't my point. A thousand people who were going to lose their jobs still have them; the community in which most of them live will now be able to keep its stores and bars and public schools open -- and to most of the people that are affected by that, that's all that matters. If you want to get them to care about regressive tax systems, you have to meet the needs of their day to day survival first. It astonishes me that so many people on the left seem to have lost track of that. On the other hand, if you want to build a movement for social change that includes factory workers in Indiana -- and if you want change to happen, that's not something you can neglect -- you now know where to start...

Rita, thank you. You've actually clarified something for me; I've been watching the histrionics, the narcissistic insistence that every vote against Clinton was a vote personally and deliberately directed against each individual who supported her, and the rest of it, and wondering about the sources of it. Of course you're right; the culture of egolatry, the overt worship of the individual's ego as God (or Goddess) that's become pervasive in quite a few corners of US pop culture, has got to play a significant role there.

Arnold, I'll consider that.

Kfish, good heavens. That's impressively honest. Thank you.

Nestorian said...

"Trump has already saved more working class jobs in the days since the election than Obama has done in eight years in office, you know."

That's not really true: You're forgetting about the auto-industry bailout that Obama engineered. So far, at least, that beats what Trump did with Carrier by a couple orders of magnitude.

Unknown said...

Hi, I was referred to this site by a friend as a good alternative news site. Judging by this one I'd have to say pretty good. One thing that bothers me though is that I don't see any mention of Israel, Zionism, Palestinians or AIPAC etc? Is this a deliberate policy? It just seems odd to me when these topics are such a huge part of what's happening in the world? Thanks. I'll be back.

Matt Heins said...

It has become almost impossible , in my OldNet comfort zone to respond here,in a manner I have become used to, because your traffic has become so great.

First, congratulations to you for getting such play, as I'm sure both you and I are pleasantly astonished looking back now ten long years. Second, eternal respect to you in your sometimes heroic efforts to respond directly to the flood of replies.

So, late in the game, I would like to reinforce a point you made to Amarta in re the identification cult that has weirdly risen to support the notion that Queen Hillary, that total avatar of decaying American Empire, is somehow also the avatar of Feminist Social Revolution. In the link you recently posted, not only does the author subsume her own personality as you point out, it is also not possible to dispute her assertions without subscribing, or joining, her net grouping.

Those who do not join are un-persons.

It is true Nazi or Stalinist perfection!

To join you must be approved.

If unapproved, you do not exist, what you say is not recorded, the perfect echo chamber.

As one of those countless and nameless people who argued that this world of BS was inevitable if FreeNet principles did not win out in my youth oh so long ago, I wish to thank you, from the heart, for maintaining this tiny space that still glows with the suffused and fractured light of what so many good people once dreamed and worked to build in such hope.

It is hard to contemplate, I was once one outlier thinker and contributor of this great and auspicious new awakening of Humankind that some were beginning to call "The World Wide Web", which would enable humanity, free it from all boundaries of evil and nation-state, and now I see near-total dissolution or co-optation by those same evils that we had set out to destroy. Our Beautiful Dream was as doomed as all Utopians' are, it seems.

But, by some miracle, or rather, the resoluteness and strong faith of its minder, ADR has stayed the course. You have completely survived the horrible takedown. It has made me, a lapsed Lutheran, actually turn to your own Druidic faith. I am working through the Druidry Handbook now. Drawing much strength from it.

From reading your blogs I have come to a coinciding notion:

The conectivity that I see as so important for peace and decent society can be had without the Internet at all. I only thought the net was essential to it because I started out a net geek.

Thanks, matti.

latefall said...

@JMG re developing strategy and legislative proposals
As chance would have it, this just fluttered into my inbox with a couple of people* looking for a final partner to complete the team:

"The Energy Systems Catapult is procuring a package of professional services / systems engineering and consultancy work whose output will assist stakeholders within the energy community to make better informed strategic, policy, investment and operational decisions.

The supplier(s) will propose the philosophy, principles and broad methodologies by which the energy community can map out transition pathways towards key milestones in the future of the energy sector."

[...] of transition pathways to best deliver future UK energy needs in an affordable, secure and de-carbonised manner."

@Phil Harris or others in the UK based commentariat would perhaps also know people who may be interested? Deadline is Dec 19th.

*As I understand it at least one party is currently based in Cluj, Romania. Just in case you want to lay the groundwork for another move. ;)

NZ said...

JMG- Concerning the public and the "media"- I think it will be very interesting- and revealing- to follow Trump's planned public speaking tour. Will he use this opportunity to bring the people together in a positive way for all or will the platform be turned into another vehicle to misdirect the energy and public sentiment to follow the corporate line of empire.

Most people have forgotten the true power of public meetings and have allowed themselves to be misdirected into meaninglessness. What do people have now- sports and music events based on massive consumerism. Talk about a win/win for the corporate oligarchy.

Thinking back on the Obama years, he started out drawing massive crowds with soaring rhetoric of change and motivation. He really is a great orator. But then immediately upon entering office, betrayed all his words. The crowds diminished, and he was left with using his soaring rhetoric in digital form over conventional media, where the words just add to the numbing excess of passive consumption- or people rightfully tune out.

In the back of my mind, there is a hope that Trump might- just might- be a public figure that surprises everyone. A catalyst, if you will, that disrupts the boiling cauldron of American Empire in such a way that our nation's path can be changed. How Ironic, and wonderful it would be.

Doc Tim said...

I believe the primary thing differentiating you from some of the noted "propaganda" site is your recognition of in your own word a "vast middle ground". Having friends and family who frequent many such sites I've seen a consistent pattern of throwing the baby out with the bath water:
Recognize some issues in regulation process of big Parma doesn't mean any "natural" unregulated supplement is better. Recognize that all media sources has a narrative that any reported news gets tied too and that money can influence stories in the US too doesn't mean that any story differing from MSM is truthful.

What we need more of is more critical thinking where people can recognize potentially competing narratives, evaluate news in the context of these and differentiate between narrative differences and things that are factually false.

I'd say you largely do a good job of this. On a closing note, it would be interesting to hear your take on the "post-truth" world, not some much in the dangers we ignore the our current consumption and relationship with the natural world, but in the more acute form displayed lately.

Lawfish1964 said...

Your post gave me a great deal of hope of some kind of peace in the middle-east, and perhaps a withdrawal from empire. However, upon learning that Trump is appointing General James "Mad Dog" Mattis as secretary of defense, my hope is now dashed. Mattis is a die-hard war-monger who never saw a war he didn't love. I would love to know your perspective on this appointment, JMG.

Phillip Allen said...

"[...]a military budget nearly equal to all other countries’ put together [...]

While the data presented in this link are based on the under- and mis-reporting of military expenditures in the US budget, using official figures the US is responsible for 37% of world spending on war in 2015. Still grotesque, of course. See

Luciddreams said...

Thank you for providing us with a realistic, well informed, and believable account of the world we have right now. Knowing what is true and what to believe about our world has gotten so difficult that at times I just feel the best option is to plunge my head into the sand, and concentrate on what I can do in my own little life regardless of the world. Alas, I'm not able to do that. The truth about the world has always been of utmost importance to me. The truth against the world.

At any rate, I know of nowhere else to come and get a dose of real news. You provide that, and that is unfortunate for our nation. By that I mean that the televised news should be providing the news. MSM is the mouthpiece of the Corporatocracy that runs this country. The only thing you can rely on with the MSM is that they are at best bending the truth with professional propaganda, and at worse lying.

So again, thank you for what you do here. Your weekly update really does help set my course through this murky ocean of deceit. In our world, what you do here has become invaluable.

Brother Guthlac said...

"the US did a fine job of marketing voluntary poverty to people during the Second World War, . National survival will do it, too."

* In an acute, visible crisis, yes. Even JFK's "Ask what you can do for your country" had some effect. This, however, calls for a very long term commitment.

"I personally think that if a president got up on the podium and called all of us to rise to the challenge of an era of national sacrifice and belt-tightening, he'd get a huge positive response and a massive wave of popularity."

* Would be a wonder to see if it could be done without going down the Weimar America track. As you point out above with Shane "malaise" didn't work, even if Carter was right. Hard to see how to phrase "there is no brighter future ahead" as a broad rally cry.

David, by the lake said...

@Donald, JMG

The conversations I've seen re forgoing the Midwest have coupled that with focusing on gains in southwest red states on the back of the demographic destiny argument. So, trading the Rustbelt for TX, AZ and the like. Any way you slice it, I think we are looking at a resurgence of the old issue of regionalization which plagued the Union from the start, albeit in a new form.

donalfagan said...

More "We'll see' bait:
Trump, the Dragon, and the Minotaur

Scotlyn said...

@JMG, you said to Brother G: "I personally think that if a president got up on the podium and called all of us to rise to the challenge of an era of national sacrifice and belt-tightening, he'd get a huge positive response and a massive wave of popularity. Why? Because beneath the pasted-on smiles, a huge number of Americans are sick of the lives of meaningless excess that have been pushed on them, and would gladly cash them in for a sense of meaning, purpose, and challenge."

I definitely think so too... providing, and this is a biggie, that the president (and associates) volunteered to show the way and lead by example.

gwizard43 said...

In an earlier post, JMG, you mentioned 'purity politics' as an example of a dysfunctional activist behavior routinely practiced by the Left, that causes otherwise potentially successful single-issue campaigns to collapse. I'm not sure if the following is an example of that, or of quasi-entryism - now realizing it's not always easy to distinguish between the two:

Patricia Mathews said...

Re " this bit of bizarrerie ". It came to me to imagine the reaction of a professional class black man with the same amount of mileage on him as our poster above in 2008, if Obama had lost.

He would not, of course, have used the hyper-emotional girly-girl language seen in that link, nor the Feeling Type identification of "I am him and he is me." But if the same sort of parade of, in this case, race-based insults, missed opportunities, and being in physical danger just going about his business hadn't flooded his mind, I'd be greatly surprised. IF it hadn't his his gut as hard, I'd have been surprised.

Of course, he'd have expressed it in more properly masculine language, and probably a lot more profanely, than our blogger above, but the reaction would have been similar. Perhaps somewhat more cynical.

And the intense ethnically based identification with public figures isn't all that off track. Remember when minority kids were kept in line by "Anything one of ours does wrong reflects on all of us? And will bring negative consequences down upon us?" I certainly remember Jewish kids being kept in line that way, back in the day! So that one flamboyant fraudster going to jail would have a whole bunch of people feeling the stigma.

Finally, let me note that feeling type females do often tend to exactly that sort of extravagance of speech and feeling of emotional identification - you see it most clearly in the area of love and romance, to the bafflement and dismay of their practical or rational type partners, but it is a recognized expressive style of my own sex. And, let me add, a lot more socially acceptable than the flood of profanity a man might express parallel feelings with.

Clay Dennis said...

Oops, the Democratic party is not finished offending all their potential future voters yet. Yesterday they decided that it was Jill Stein and those who voted for the green party in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania that caused the defeat for Hillary. Apparently the final vote tabulations show that the total number of green party votes in those states was approximatly equal to Clintons margin of defeat. So it was those dastardly green party voters who were at fault, maybe they were taking orders from Boris Badanoff too. In fact it was the hubris that assumes that all green voters would automaticaly vote for Clinton in the absense of Jill Stein that is the real cause of the election defeat, and also the decline of the empire.

Varun Bhaskar said...


Fill the mental spaces with our ideas, the streets with our actions, and we may just get something unexpected. I like it! Let's hope we have enough time.





Joel Caris said...


Yeah, I see some positive signs on the left but then a lot of avoidance of real issues. I was disappointed to see Pelosi reelected House leader, though not surprised, and we'll see how the Senate shakes out. Of course, it's hard to tell which direction all this will take until Trump actually takes office and begins work with Republican majority. There's still SO MUCH that's unknown right now, it's almost impossible to see the course of all this. On top of that, I wouldn't be surprised to see a major crisis--most likely economic, but there are plenty of sketchy variables lurking out there right now--throwing a wrench in everything at some point over the next four years. It sure will be interesting!

Regardless, I plan to apply my small bit of pressure here from the left and keep a sharp eye out for whatever openings there are. If they pop up at other points of the political spectrum in which I'm comfortable entering, I'm not afraid to shift around a bit. But my affinity still lies more on the leftward end of things, so I'll work on making my mark over here for the time being. In the meantime, I'm keeping my eye on some of the more interesting upcoming members of the party. I have more to say in my comment to Shane below, but I'm more intrigued by Tulsi Gabbard all the time; my best way-out-on-a-limb guess at this point is that she runs in 2024, most likely after a second Trump term.

Joel Caris said...


One of my planned moves is simply contacting my local reps (all Democrats, here in Portland) and telling them where I would like to see them work with Trump and where I would like them to oppose him if he should move forward on some of his promises. Sending that on to Sanders with a not that I supported his campaign and am open to supporting him again in 2020 if I feel it's worth it, and should he run (probably a long shot) would be a good idea, so thanks for that.

I've been watching Sanders' moves with interest. He seems to be bouncing around a bit and I'm curious to see where he settles. I don't know if he has any thoughts of running in 2020--I kind of wonder if even he knows right now--but if he does, that certainly complicates his path a bit. And even if he doesn't, I imagine he wants to see someone new in office come January 2021, so he's likely trying to figure out how best to move with Trump on issues he can get behind and how best to oppose him at the same time. That's a tricky balancing act.

On a somewhat related note, I continue to watch Tulsi Gabbard with a lot of interest. Her recent unapologetic meeting with Trump and her involvement in the Standing Rock showdown is intriguing. She's clearly aiming to go national and I'll be shocked if she's not running for President at some point in the next several cycles. I'm just curious how quickly she'll throw her hat in the ring and what path she settled on to get there; the usual ascension up the ranks, in which case she would need to angle for a Senate position, Governorship, or some kind of national appointment, or just a jump straight from the House now that Trump has blown the lid off the idea that you have to first hold one of those higher positions before you can run? I wouldn't be at all surprised to see her running in 2024. Heck, I'd be impressed with the chutzpah but wouldn't rule out 2020 if Trump implodes, though I somewhat doubt he will.

As for your concern on his cabinet, I don't disagree. On the other hand, I want to see what they all do. The thing is, Trump essentially is an Independent, even if he ran as a Republican. He has to build his cabinet out of something, and the likelihood that it isn't going to involve a fair number of people already in positions of power is unlikely. The question really becomes whether or not they go in and exert power reflective of their own stances and ideology, or if they follow instructions from on high.

I still think Trump is a very smart politician with a solid grasp of the views of much of this country and a desire to remain popular for various reasons: reelection, legacy, pure ego. He's working with a Republican party establishment that overtly supports a number of policies that, if enacted, would likely reign fire on them from a lot of voters. So what's he going to do?

It's going to be a very interesting four years. I hope in more good ways than bad, but we'll see.

Varun Bhaskar said...


I think I can answer the India question. They still haven't established anything resembling a united vision. The main opposition ideology is entrenched in the ideology of western liberalism, and is dying a slow painful death. The ideology in power is entrenched in a desire to industrialize along Japanese or Chinese lines. Until there's a rise of a different economic ideology, and a focus on integrating local government with the national, I wouldn't expect India to be a major international player. India is also entering it's first 80 year crisis, so whatever comes out the other end is going to determine the role they play.



Raymond Duckling said...

> are there ample jobs at decent pay available for the Mexican working class now?

In a word, no. There's a problem of statistics spinning, where Government claims to have created record number of jobs in some period of time, but reality has more to do with companies poaching skilled workers from each other, or other cases where there are layoffs and most affected workers do actually find jobs elsewhere (usually at lower pay). The point being that the government counts how many new jobs are created, but not how many where lost. Still better than the most economically depressed areas in the USA, but not a panacea.

What there is, is a huge informal economy; old data claimed it was about 1/3 the size of the formal economy, so I'd not surprised if it was about 1/2 by now. People coming back from the US do have at least some savings, that can be stretched to live for several months here (in my town, USD$1,000 per month is a profesional or low-level manager's salary), they usually have better skills and attitude than the locals (having added to the baseline Mexicat traits everything they learned while working abroad), there's also their network of friends and relatives that pass word around and allow them to establish themselves as freelance workers.

There's also the issue of cost of living. If you are already unemployed or struggling to bring in enough business to stay afloat, it makes no sense to remain in the high cost town and see your hard earned dollars evaporate. You go back to your parent's town and wait for the storm to pass (or so would think anyone who thinks the US downturn is a temporary thing).

Bob said...

Off topic
My question with regards to Guy McPherson is: Is he doing harm or good?

Whether his prediction is correct or not is relatively uninteresting to me. My choice is to take his message at face value and see how it affects me now. Or to reject it and observe if that affects me.

I'm grateful for having heard Guy's message. As with Trump, people's reaction will not be mutual!

Crow Hill said...

JMG: “Egyptian troops will soon join the war in Syria on the side of the Syrian government.…” : According to Al Ahram online: :
Sunday 27 Nov 2016: No Egyptian troops in Syrian territories:

"The Egyptian foreign ministry denies reports in Lebanese media that there are Egyptian troops aiding Al-Assad forces in Syria. "These claims exist only in the imagination of those who spread them," Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in media statements, adding that Egypt was committed to the principle of "non-intervention in other countries' internal affairs."

Eric S.: I’d be interested to know the name of the Egyptian website you’ve found.

Effra said...

First time poster here.

The first thing I thought when I read that disgraceful WP article was I bet Archdruid is annoyed he doesn't have the honour of being on that list and so I had to laugh when I read your opening paragraph this morning.

I had someone send me a link to the WP piece this week as if it were proof I was mistaken when I made a comment in a public discussion a few weeks before the election about the absurdity of Hillary Clinton proclaiming in the second debate that the Russians were endeavouring to fix the election when if taken seriously such a scenario in the event of a Trump victory would require a coup. I have pretty low expectations these days about the coherence of the arguments most self-identifying liberals make but this new Russian fake news narrative to delegitimate anyone who has their eyes engage in some simple observation of the actual world is dismal even by recent standards.

Here's honouring you anyway for how unsparing your observation is.

pygmycory said...

@JMG and everyone else:

Here's a message to the Washington Post you can sign, complaining about that McCarthy-like article.

Grim said...

"“If at first you don’t succeed, fail, fail again” thus seems to be the motto of the US political class these days, and rarely has that been so evident as in the conduct of US foreign policy."

Example 2: Supply side/Trickle down/Voodoo economics. This had pretty much run it's course by the end of the Reagan years. George HW Bush understood this and the tax increase he approved set the stage for 10 years of shrinking deficits. Then along comes HW's neocon son and not only did he and congress double down on that failed policy, they have done so at every opportunity since. Obama has been so consistent with Bush the lessor's economic direction that Bush the lessor might have well had 8 more years.

President elect Trump's economic team does not appear to be the kind of people who do anything other than continue this failed economic policy. I'm holding out judgement on the foreign policy side.

David, by the lake said...

@Clay Dennis

I was one of those nefarious WI voters and was just the other day castigated for it. "How does it feel to have wasted your vote?". To which I replied, "My vote was hardly wasted. Hillary did not win." I will admit to some schadenfreude, even though it is not constructive.


No doubt a product of our ongoing and wonderfully low tech conversation!

inohuri said...

Unknown said...

Hi, I was referred to this site by a friend as a good alternative news site. Judging by this one I'd have to say pretty good. One thing that bothers me though is that I don't see any mention of Israel, Zionism, Palestinians or AIPAC etc?


For those who have not I suggest reading this blog from its beginning Wednesday, May 03, 2006.
Navigation is on the right side of the page. Click on a year then month.

"as I was folding up my robes, a kid about eight years old came into the little alcove where the presenters stashed their gear, looked up at me and asked, "Are you a real Druid?"

"Half an hour later, as I walked home through Oregon rain, the question still burned. "

Dmitry Orlov said...

Russia and China have a lot of love for each others' culture, and the links between the people in the two countries are constantly doubling. I seriously doubt that these two countries will cease cooperating and start squabbling if the US stopped being an irritant. Similarly, relations between Russia and Persia (Iran) go back many centuries and nothing that a flash-in-the-pan entity like the US could possibly undo a millennium of being neighbors. The US used to serve as a model for other countries to admire and emulate; that is no longer the case. And the new model to admire and emulate is... Russia. This is going to be very hard for Americans to get used to.

Tony said...

@ the recent Unknown, this is the only writing about Israel I believe our host has readily addressed:

Armata said...

John Michael,

Thanks for the link. I agree with you and Look sie that while a lot of this stuff coming from some of Hillary Clinton's more butt-hurt supporters is just plain silly, some of it is disturbingly reminiscent of certain political cults of personality that arose in the 20th century from both the far right and the revolutionary left. We know what poisonous fruits many of the resulting regimes produced.

There are quite a few people on the left who have legitimate concerns about where things are headed and even though I am a conservative, a working class white from flyover country and a Donald Trump supporter, I share many of those same concerns. But this new-found reverence for the Fuhrerprinzip on the part of many Hillary supporters and others on the left is rather disturbing and something we should keep a wary eye on.

Armata said...

More on the Cult of Kek.

zach bender said...

i will assert that whether they know it or not, for the people who kept their jobs at the carrier factory that is not in fact "all that matters." it matters that this was a bribe, funded by regressive taxes. this reinforces arrangements that are harmful to the working class. and i do not think it is elitist to say they should learn to know better. if your entire life is so centered on holding on to a particular job that you feel you can ignore the larger mechanisms, you are a slave.

anyway, my point was trump did not "save" these jobs.

Yvonne Chireau said...

I saw that statement too and nearly spit out my coffee. But as you know, the archduid is a magician.

4threvolutionarywar said...

My prediction is that the American "Left" is going to go straight down the Russia-Trump-Conspiracy rabbit hole just like it retreated into conspiracy theory during the Bush years.

It will be a fun Troll and everyone is invited to sign up now with the KGB.


Armata said...

David Goldman ("Spengler") on how the Clintdubyobama administration's Middle Eastern policy has driven Turkey into the arms of Russia and how America is being frozen out of the Turkish sponsored peace negotiations in Syria.

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