13.2.18

FOURTH TURNING ALERT.

David Brooks is now fretting about the end of the "two party system."  That's an interesting choice of topic for Abraham Lincoln's birthday, but there it is.
Back in the 1990s, there was an unconscious abundance mind-set. Democratic capitalism provides the bounty. Prejudice gradually fades away. Growth and dynamism are our friends. The abundance mind-set is confident in the future, welcoming toward others. It sees win-win situations everywhere.

Today, after the financial crisis, the shrinking of the middle class, the partisan warfare, a scarcity mind-set is dominant: Resources are limited. The world is dangerous. Group conflict is inevitable. It’s us versus them. If they win, we’re ruined, therefore, let’s stick with our tribe. The ends justify the means.
It's possible to over-think this. "Win-win" is the division of games from trade. "Win-lose" is what follows from majority rule. (Yes, even a compromise is a loss for somebody, why else did it take a civil war to change the much-misunderstood three-fifths compromise on apportionment, or the Missouri Compromise?)  Mr Brooks's problem is really the problem of Elite Consensus, which is to say, relying too much on politics and too little on trade.
Eventually, those who cherish the democratic way of life will realize they have to make a much more radical break than any they ever imagined. When this realization dawns the realignment begins. Even with all the structural barriers, we could end up with a European-style multiparty system.

The scarcity mentality is eventually incompatible with the philosophies that have come down through the centuries. Decent liberals and conservatives will eventually decide they need to break from it structurally. They will realize it’s time to start something new.
Perhaps, rediscovering limited, separated, and enumerated government powers is a place to start.

Mr Brooks, on the other hand, seems incapable of answering Anthony DeBlasi's simple questions.  "Americans have been waiting for that better tomorrow promised by politicians since any one of us can remember. What is holding up the delivery? Could it be a loss of moral muscle that stymies the will to follow through on the dictates of conscience?" That's also incomplete, in that "moral muscle" and "dictates of conscience" can turn into a win-lose situation (particularly to the extent that dictates so followed are neither emergent nor confer evolutionary advantage.)

Win-lose thinking is also present in this Medium complaint about the establishment media.
The election of Donald Trump, and the press reaction to it, has exposed a harsh truth — the Free Press no longer serves the American people. The Free Press is the only American institution that does not have a system of checks & balances, because it was established to protect the people from power. Now, the Free Press protects the power from the people. I can think of no greater betrayal in all of civilized history than this. The people are now left with no one to help them fight against the elites, since all the elites (society, academia, media, and political) are allied against them.
That's over the top, but it's not totally wrong, and Mr Brooks doesn't seem to recognize it. Moreover, "fake news" might be provocative speech, but provocative speech isn't the same thing as fisticuffs.
The danger, for them, is that they still cannot (or will not) understand just how many Americans absolutely loathe them. Just how many Americans see right through their lies. Just how many Americans are quickly reaching the point where they will no longer tolerate being talked down to, being condescended to, by this class of simpering elites who think they know whats best for every American. This spineless caste of pretentious braggarts who disdain all those who would dare question their ‘betters’. They should have seen the signs with the reaction to the Gianforte Body Slam incident, but they refuse to believe that they could ever be in the wrong.

I fear that this is all reaching a flash point, and we’re sitting on a powder keg.
Perhaps a strategic withdrawal by the Wise Experts might be in order.

That might be the Deeper Meaning of Jeffrey Tucker's message.
[S]ocial justice warriors of the left and the nationalist identitarians of the right... agree on the main point that immutable human characteristics embody the of life and that these traits constitute the only political drama that really matters. They have become warring tribes, uniting in their mutual loathing on liberalism, which is the view that society can manage itself in harmony provided it is left alone by governing authority.

These tribes seem to have near-total dominance of media, movies, and elite culture. It is a daily clash of mutual recrimination. Who is the biggest victim? Who has inordinate power and needs to be taken down? What group identity should emerge from the struggle on top? What freedoms should anyone really have at the end of the struggle? Truly the media has become unbearable because it mostly consists of struggles over this question as if this were the one and only narrative worth thinking about.

Incredibly, these groups don’t mention (with any consistency) the elephant in the room: the state itself. Here is the real source of oppression and exploitation of everyone regardless of sex, gender, race, religion, or ability. The state works to pit people against each other, as a way of distracting the public from the misdeeds of its tax, regulatory, and penal system. So long as we not looking at the real source of the problem head on, and are rather looking at each other in a dog-eat-dog struggle, society cannot improve.

In a free society, harmony can exist between people.
Put simply: trade unites, politics divides, and elites keep getting things wrong.  Here's how Mr Tucker summarizes.  "It might be the case that bad ideas come from the top down and good ideas from the bottom-up, as a general expectation and principle. That seems to cover most use cases, until the point comes when [classical] liberal intellectuals [distinct from Court Intellectuals hoping to become Wise Experts -- ed.] become hugely influential in academia. We’ll wait a long time for that to be the case."

I repeat, because repeat I must: Perhaps, rediscovering limited, separated, and enumerated government powers is a place to start.

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