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Eudaimonia & Co. - January 21, 2020

"How did America become the world’s largest economy, at least for a time? It wasn’t because of neatly-suited Mad Men, or their pretty, depressed housewives, or computers, or any of the rest of it. America rose to power on the backs of slaves. Who picked the cotton and tilled the fields and so on. All that created enough of a social surplus that rich whites could then begin to formalize this thing called “capitalism”, in newly created “stock markets”, like on Wall St. But without the towering social surplus created by slavery, American capitalism would never have had much…capital in the first place. That surplus was only a “surplus” because…well..slaves are people who don’t get paid, just abused, exploited, and then die."

A lunatic President who just made a Space Force…that wears desert camouflage…tweeting about being the “best in the universe!!”…on his way to meet the leaders of the world…where he’ll deny climate change is a threat (never mind a burning…uhhh…continent.)

Masked, armed men waving machine guns and chanting neo-fascist slogans massed on the steps of a state capitol — on the anniversary of a society’s major civil rights leader…who was gunned down to death.

An opposition who’s trying that President for…minor-league bribes…not, for example, putting children in concentration camps after tearing families apart — what the last living Nuremberg Prosecutor has literally called a “crime against humanity.”

50% of people working “low-income” jobs that’ll never go anywhere…75% who struggle to pay the bills…80% who can’t raise a tiny amount for an emergency…all of them, more or less, will die indebted— buried under debt they have never been able to pay off. Who do they “owe” to? A tiny handful of men who are richer than kings or dukes or barons of old.

What the?

This is what a collapsing society looks like, my friends. America, here and now. The story of American collapse is a grim and strange one. America’s simultaneously the globe’s laughingstock, bully, nightmare, villain, tragedy, and bad joke. And yet the strangest part of it all is how little Americans understand their own collapse — or whether the world has really learned the lessons therein.

American collapse is the most spectacular global event since Soviet collapse. The implosion of one of the world’s great powers, into lunacy, despair, catastrophe. The cataclysmic, bizarre, surreal suicide of a society.

So what brought America this unbelievably low? A toxic cocktail of crackpot economics, deranged intellectuals, spineless leaders, insanely greedy elites, predatory billionaires, a right that turned fascist, a left that thinks pronouns matter more than concentration camps, a middle class that never cared to vote for its own betterment, and a working class that never understood that, to its elites, it was just a commodity, to be used and abused. Nobody’s really blameless in America. Every social group has played its part in American collapse — save perhaps the most abused of minorities. Short of them, though? Collapse is a burden laid at everyone’s doorstep.

Let me take some of those elements one by one.

The most powerful force behind American collapse was crackpot economics. Soviet collapse happened because of failed economics, too — the Soviet Union was unable to provide basics for its citizens, hence the famous breadlines. That’s exactly where America is, too: unable to provide the basics of life for its citizens anymore. Hence, cratering life expectancy, among other things. Consider all the things Americans are short of: basic medicine, like insulin, for which there’s a booming black market. Healthcare, which nobody can afford, if it’s available at all. Retirement — which is nonexistent. Decent food and drinking water are in shortage in much of the country, which have become food deserts, or have poisonous, carcinogenic water (no, it’s not just Flint.) Then there’s the big one: money. The average American dies in debt now precisely because he never has enough money to pay the bills — and that’s because a tiny number of people are so ultra rich, the Bezoses and Buffetts and Zucks, that they could fund the entire education budget…multiple times over…all by themselves. What the?

Just as in the Soviet Union, the basics of life have are in constant, perpetual shortage in America — even for nominally middle class people. The result is that basic things are astronomically expensive. When I tell my European friends how much a piece of fresh fruit or a cut of decent meat costs in America, they’re astounded — the price isn’t just a few percent more, it’s usually four or five times as much. But everything you need to live a decent life is in shortage in America: medicine, money, retirement, and so on. Why did America end up with shortages of everything? Because its crackpot economists thought capitalism was the answer to everything, never understanding that capitalism has no incentive whatsoever to sell people things that aren’t as profitable as humanly possible — and every incentive to create artificial shortages which jack up prices. It’s not a coincidence healthcare is so expensive — and no one can really get it. It’s a relationship.

Hence, the second great force of American collapse: culture. Crackpot economics can only go so far — a people have to be foolish enough to swallow it. The only things you can buy cheap in America, ironically, are TVs and guns. That’s not a coincidence — it’s a giveaway: that American society is premised on violence, which American economics has been a polite justification for. If we put it in equations — it’s OK, right?!

What do I mean by that? Americans find it oh so controversial when I say: “violence is the single force that runs American life.” But consider what it means to live a life where you know — know — that if you lose your job, you’ll lose your healthcare, that even if you have it, if you get seriously ill, you’ll probably lose your home, that if you want to keep a roof over your head, you have to keep your head down and be abused and demeaned by someone called a “boss” for an unfair share of what you produce, that if you want to educate your kids and retire, that’s an impossibility. All those things are forms of violence — very real violence — used as a mechanism of sociologists call “social control”: to keep people obedient. Weary. Afraid quite literally for their and their loved ones’ lives, health, sanity, safety. So they never step out of line.

Americans don’t understand it, but tying healthcare to jobs, being made to choose between medicine and your life savings, being forced to pay off unpayable debts forever, or else — these are all very real forms of violence. When mafias make people make these choices, we call them “extortion” and “blackmail” and “intimidation.” For some reason, when corporations do — and economist cheer them on — we call it “capitalism.” But there is absolutely no difference between them whatsoever. Life, health, prosperity, longevity, safety, are all very much at stake. ...
Read full commentary at Eudaimonia & Co