Updated: Oct 27
In 1787 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philly were exiting Independence Hall, when a group of citizens asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government the delegates were giving the new nation. He supposedly responded either "A democracy if you can keep it" or, more likely, "A republic if you can keep it." Just over 234 years later, as the Republican Party-- both the leaders and over-wrought, generally low IQ base-- increasingly gives up on democracy, and lurches towards authoritarianism, it is time to wonder if we can keep it. Last year, 74,216,154 voters (46.9%) decided they wanted 4 more years of Donald Trump, rather than a relatively inoffensive, milquetoast status quo Democrat. Today, according to the most recent weekly YouGov poll for The Economist, 41% of registered voters-- and 81% of Republicans-- say they have a favorable opinion of Trump... yes, after all that's happened, a favorable opinion. Do these people deserve a democracy? Do they even understand what it is? Or care?
As if that wasn't bad enough, 70% of Republicans say Biden was not legitimately elected and 22% of Republicans say they think Trump will be "re-instated" as president before the end of 2021. Trump ha been busy transforming the Republican Party into a QAnon party, replete with scores of QAnon candidates. At the crackpot assembly of QAnon sociopaths in Las Vegas over the weekend-- For God & Country: Patriot Double Down-- Big Lie supporters, candidates and elected officials who Trump has endorsed were a major feature, from Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem to Michigan's certifiably insane Secretary of State GOP candidate Kristina Karamo.
Trump’s decision to endorse QAnon-affiliated candidates because they support his lies about the 2020 election has further mainstreamed the dangerous movement within the Republican Party.
“Trump is less concerned about whether these candidates support QAnon than he is about whether they support the Big Lie, and whether they will be in a position to help him if he decides to run again,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, a QAnon and political extremism expert and professor at Queens University in Canada.
The liberal watchdog group Media Matters has identified 45 people already running for Congress who’ve promoted QAnon theories, as well as eight gubernatorial candidates and many more legislative candidates. Most are fringe candidates who won’t win their primaries, much less their elections. But the sheer number shows how deeply QAnon has sunk its teeth into the GOP.
Among the current Republican members of Congress, propounding ignorant QAnon devotees, Lauren Boebert (CO), Mary Miller (IL) and Marjorie Traitor Greene (GA), are among the loudest Big Lie proponents in DC-- and all likely to be reelected next year. In Republican world these aren't fringe candidates; they're the heart of the GOP-- along with lunatics like Madison Cawthorn (Nazi-NC), Matt Gaetz (Child molester-FL), Paul Gosar (AZ), Louie Gohmert (TX), Mo Brooks (AL), Ronny Jackson (TX), Jody Hice (GA) and Andy Biggs (AZ).
Mo Brooks is an extremist and Trump sock puppet from Alabama. He was one of the House members-- in a bullet-proof vest-- urging insurrectionists to resort to violence during the early stages of the coup. He should have been arrested, tried for treason and shot. The country would be much better off. Instead, he's going to be a secessionist senator from Alabama. Today, AL.com reported that although he claims he didn't help Trump plan the coup he "could not say whether his staff interacted with two anonymous Rolling Stone sources-- only identified as an organizer and a planner of the Jan. 6 rally and other protests-- because he had not spoken to them about it. 'Quite frankly, I’d be proud of them if they did help organize a First Amendment rally to protest voter fraud and election theft,' Brooks said of his staff."
Yesterday Umair Haque published a disturbing and very serious piece, We’re Living Through the Collapse of Liberal Democracy. "We are living," he wrote, "at the tail end of the single greatest series of social experiments in human history... We are beginning to have indisputable proof of an age old question, one of the most ancient of all time. How should human beings live together? What is the most successful and desirable form of political economy? What actually yields eudaimonia-- lives well lived? And what only leads to dysdaimonia, meaning lives badly lived, meaning anger and rage and despair and distrust, which culminate, ultimately, in the hatred and brutality of social collapse?" Sound like a familiar description of any society you're aware of?
[T]he 20th century saw four Grand Social Experiments in different forms of political order, one after the other. The first was Soviet communism. The second, following it, was German fascism. The third was American and British liberal democracy. And the last and final one was European and Canadian social democracy.
What results did those Grand Social Experiments yield? Well, we know about two of them. They failed disastrously. German fascism ended in World War, holocaust, atrocity, and Germany’s own ruin-- not in eudaimonia. It was the first to fail, and the shortest lived. That left three forms of political order still testing these grand experiments of how people could and should best live together: communism, liberal democracy, and social democracy.
By the late 80s, Soviet communism, too, had failed. Its track record was pretty disastrous, too. It hadn’t caused World War-- but it had led to everything from famine to totalitarianism. By 1990s or so, the Berlin Wall finally fell, as stifled East Germans sought freer, more prosperous lives. That set in motion the chain reaction of Soviet collapse.
Now, American pundits predicted at this time-- the mid '90s or so-- what was then called “the end of history.” Every nation was to become a liberal democracy. That was the telos, the endpoint, of an “evolution” of forms of political order-- the apex of a hierarchy. That was because, quite naturally, looking around, American pundits only saw one surviving form of political order-- their own. They saw European and Canadian social democracy as fads, aberrations, cute toylike things-- certainly not deserving of serious respect, consideration, understanding.
The Soviet Union was therefore expected to become like…America. A liberal democracy. Instead, it splintered into warring tribes and factions at its edges. Yugoslavia became the Balkans became a genocidal war between ancient tribes with old grudges and hatreds. Russia, meanwhile, didn’t become a democracy-- it became what it is today, an authoritarian state pretending to be a democracy, a counterfeit democracy, a source of global tension, its people still brutally repressed, its politics a laughable spectacle.
...America’s descended into a kind of dystopia that’s renowned the world over. Texas has placed bounties on women’s heads… turning any man who wants to be into a vigilante…while Trumpism firmly believes that Trump won the election, but it was “stolen” from him, and the attempted coup of Jan 6th was perfectly justified, if not a tourist event.
And that’s barely scratching the surface. The fact, which anyone can observe, is that Britain and America are collapsing. Just the same way that the Soviet Union collapsed before them. In fact, the very same forms of pathology now afflict them, too-- the weird doublespeak, meaning the way that Brits aren’t allowed to say “Brexit did this to us,” or Americans can’t criticise “capitalism.” The weird ignorance that plagues these societies, too-- they seem to have no idea that they don’t have to live this way, fighting bitterly for medicine, healthcare, retirement, a little bit of money. The way intellectuals-- cloying for power and money-- normalize all this, and shrug happily. The way corrupt politicians stand in the way of any kind of reckoning, let alone progress.
America and Britain are collapsing. That’s not my opinion. It is an empirical fact. If we look at any social indicator, it’s plummeting-- and it’s going to keep doing so. Literally any one, from trust to real income to optimism to confidence to income to health. These are societies whose standards of living are falling off a cliff. Britain’s plunge has been more sudden, while America’s been in free-fall for decades at this point, to the point where a kid in West Virginia now has the same life expectancy as a kid in Bangladesh.
This is what a collapsing society is. Prolonged, catastrophic declines in standards of living point to badly, fatally broken structures and institutions. Which structures are broken? Society’s structure itself-- the middle class in America, once vaunted and famous, is now one giant underclass, bitterly fighting each other for tiny amounts of money with which to pay off the interest on debts (“medical debt,” “student debt,” “credit card debt,”) whose principal haunts them beyond the grave. Americans are paupers now-- and nations of paupers tend to end the same way that Weimar Germany did: they turn to fascism.
Structural collapse becomes institutional and normative collapse: as a society’s middle class falls into poverty, it chooses demagogues, who legitimize not just norms of hate, violence, and brutality, but a whole rule of law and government based on them, too. That’s Trumpism, and it hasn’t gone anywhere. The shocking implosion of America’s middle class around 2010 predicted all this. This is what a collapsing society is-- and Britain, growing rapidly poorer by the day thanks to Brexit, cardboard cutouts of food replacing actual food at the supermarkets-- how Soviet is that-- is following America’s footsteps, right behind it.
...Liberal democracy did not work, just like communism and fascism before it. It might have worked a little better, but that’s not saying much. Liberal democracy is ending in self-destruction and collapse, just like communism and fascism, too.
Let me pause for a moment. There are only really a handful of liberal democracies on earth — and America and Britain are their chief exemplars. What does liberal democracy mean? Broadly, it means that public goods are to be privatized. Because nobody deserves anything from the social surplus as an inherent, constitutional human right. They might deserve the right to carry guns, sure-- but a portion of the social surplus, meaning healthcare, retirement, income, a place to live, etcetera, as constitutional rights? Forget it. Everyone is to “stand on their own two feet,” and not be a “liability.” Society is to be ruled by competition, the more intense and brutal the better, which is the machine that winnows the wheat-- the talented, ruthless, cunning, amoral, indifferent-- from the chaff. Even the average person is better off this way, because all those Nietzschean ubermen are the smartest and cleverest and most productive, who lift up everyone’s living standards, with wondrous “innovations” and ideas and creations.
...Remember, the 20th century saw four Grand Experiments. Now we know-- know-- that two have failed, fascism and communism, and the third, liberal democracy, is collapsing just like the other two, before our very eyes. That only leaves one Grand Experiment. The one in social democracy?
How’s that one doing? Ah, now we come, at last, to something good. That experiment is a runaway success. An empirical, factual success. Canada and Europe enjoy living standards which rise, year after year, and that fuels political stability, cultural expansiveness, and social solidarity. People aren’t at each other throats like they are in America and Britain, or were in communist Russia or fascist Germany-- because they’re too busy living eudaemonically, their lives improving year by year, which staves off the anger, fear, despair, and rage which coalesce into the hatred, brutality, and cruelty which culminate in social collapse.