In a memorable and pithy passage from The Sun Also Rises two characters are discussing insolvency. One to the other: “How did you go bankrupt?”
The reply, “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
That’s a good description of our current fix. With national debt north of $20 trillion and Covid and its attendant “remedies” driving the economy into a hole, we might well feel that we have left ‘gradually’ behind and will be arriving at ‘suddenly’ quite, well, suddenly.
Of course, just as there is more to life than money, America’s penury is more than mounting business failures, rising unemployment, and declining GDP. You could say that the US is in personal insolvency, or to put it another way, we are experiencing a bankruptcy of the national soul.
Though such a term might sound ephemeral, it has identifiable causes and effects. The wellspring of this rot is the corruption of many of our institutions, leading to an attendant corruption of the culture.
The prime suspects in this scenario would be the media, the academy, and government. While there is a host of aiders and abettors the aforementioned might be considered the big three. To wit...
The media - From Watchdog to Lapdog
The media, in this context, means primarily the mainstream, or “legacy,” news media, and, secondarily, social media, with popular culture, aka: “Hollywood” doing an enviable job of enabling the whole mess.
In the last decade there has been no more spectacular collapse than that of mainstream media. This is an institution that has in wholesale fashion abandoned its traditional - and vital - Fourth Estate role. The press in American society has always been there to hold accountable all who wield power. It has been there to play the role of skeptic, to seek out the facts in the service of discovering truth and presenting it to the public in a dispassionate, unbiased manner. As an agent of transparency and bulwark of freedom the press has historically earned a high degree of social trust. That legacy has been squandered.
The mainstream media, speaking generally, have embraced wholeheartedly, and without embarrassment, the role of propaganda outlet for one political party, the Democrats. This has been an epic fail. It is a national disgrace with tragic implications for any democracy which can only survive when the citizenry is informed.
The change has been so obvious, and so brazen, as to take the breath away. The mainstream media have not only become a mind-control tool, but they also play de facto censor. Through the abuse of their considerable powers the media determine which stories get covered, and which don’t. They determine how the stories they select get covered, and how they don’t. The bias these days is clear: The objective is not truth. It is the creation, and reinforcement, of a narrative grounded in identity politics. It is not about following the facts where they lead with an open mind. It is about the pursuit of an agenda in service to dogma.
Reinforcing the mainstream media’s mission is new technology in the form of social media, aka “Big Tech," which is (un)regulated as a de facto public utility, but lately has felt no compunction about putting its thumb on the scale. It has mimed the media’s arrogation of power by anointing some while silencing others. In concert with the mainstream media, Big Tech, controlled by a handful of billionaires, not only brainwashes the American mind, but arbitrarily de-platforms those who do not hew to the narrative. By doing so it achieves an artfully selective “curating” of what information even reaches public awareness. By choosing to silence certain voices - to the advantage of other, competing voices - the oligarchs running our emergent techno fascist corporatist state are building an animal farm world, where some are clearly more equal than others.
Hollywood, meanwhile, eases the task of the popular media as it is the gateway drug leading into the propaganda maze. We stew in a celebrity culture, which elevates witless actors to positions of authority on the political issue du jour. In fact, most of these people are clueless and uninformed egoistic mortals who can barely articulate without a script. It doesn’t matter. Hollywood’s “entertainment” conditions the impressionable minds which have been enslaved from an early age by the vacuous dazzle of visual, screen- based imagery. This is the cultural marinade that young people grow up in, and it defines their future intellectual trajectory.
The Academy - Brainwash U
As with the media, higher education has done a complete 180. It, too, has been fully repurposed for political purposes. Such quaint notions as free speech, academic freedom, and rigorous scholarship have been displaced by a monoculture of deconstruction, cultural relativism, and grievance. The result is rampant stupidity and a fevered search for scapegoats. Superstition and paranoia emerge in the form of reflexive triggering, and a consequent demand for safe space against the dreaded microaggression.
The academic culture of narcissistic fragility has been enabled and encouraged by the professoriat and the educrats who preside over and within their decadent institutions. They happily charge their students a king’s ransom for a half baked education, and just as breezily wash their hands of any blame when their graduates emerge from college loaded with debt and fail to find meaningful work
American campuses are being converted to re-education camps where thought is coerced and ideological conformity is rigidly enforced. History has been erased, replaced by presentism. Cultural literacy doesn’t matter - because all cultures are equal and the so called “dominant” culture has been demonized as “toxic” or “problematic.” Objectivity, truth, and knowledge are in the process of being branded “white,” and therefore smacking of “privilege” with all its retrograde variants. These labels serve as handy memes when it comes to reinforcing the prevailing orthodoxy and demonizing the other.
The sheep and their spineless, well-paid overlords are in charge now. Dogma and cant thrive in these anti intellectual hothouse grievance cultures. Driving present day academic thought is the belief that life is about power, and little else. It’s about “victims” and their “oppressors.” And to right the balance all we need to do is be more inclusive, tolerant, and diverse. And if we are not then, of course, our inherent racism and white fragility is on display.
So which side are you on? Black or white? Us or them? Nuance, subtlety, and critical thought have been erased - along with history. It’s all about taking sides. It’s about settling for simple answers to complex questions because that’s all these modern minds can handle. So much for academic inquiry. So much for tolerance, diversity and inclusivity.
Government - The New Leviathan
Once upon a time the United States had a functional government. It provided services with reasonable efficiency, limited its purview, and more or less lived within its means. That day is long gone.
Maybe the slide began on January 21, 1961 when JFK famously said, “ Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Maybe people heard him wrong that day. Maybe that was the day when people actually started asking what their country could do for them, rather than the other way around.
The big slide began with LBJ. His Great Society ushered in an era of massive growth in government spending with a bureaucracy to match. The centerpiece of this largesse was LBJ’s grandly named War on Poverty which to date has spent more than $20 trillion “helping” people. The War on Poverty was the first of these grand marches that have led nowhere (to be followed by the Wars on Drugs, Cancer, Terror, and so on.) These have all been centralized, top-down, one-size-fits-all solutions to problems that are granular, grass roots, and all too human in nature.
What the War on Poverty yielded, for all the heavy lifting, was a not so great society. Its targeted populations are now more beset by poverty, dependence, loss of self esteem than ever before. But such a grand failure hasn’t stopped government from continuing this ignoble quest, for what matters now is not the benefit to the client - but to the provider. Government has become a big and profitable business for those inside the ever growing bureaucracy. Government employment is a sweet gig. It pays well, the benefits are nice, and you’ll never get fired.
Ditto for elected office. Make it to Congress, and you’re almost sure to keep your seat for as long as you like. Just keep doling out the grift and graft to the folks back home.
The result is that government these days has very little to do with public service - e.g. actually helping people. It’s a cynical game of self service. It’s a heavily larded jobs program for people seeking job security who are quite content to work in an arena where performance is rarely measured and the bottom line means squat.
If you’re looking for proof look no further than what happened between 2016 and 2020. Donald Trump came to Washington as a total outsider, the first non politician or military figure ever elected to the presidency. Moreover, he had never before even held public office.
So the bureaucracy (aka the Administrative State, aka the Deep State) was aghast. It felt threatened. It saw Trump, an unknown quantity, as a mortal threat that had to be excised - through radical surgery. What followed was unprecedented, a rolling coup conducted against the interloper/ invader conducted by the Deep State in collusion with the Democratic Party. Throw in the unceasing resistance against Trump by the Democrats in Congress and the mainstream media and you get the idea how tightly the Deep State clings to its existence
The response to Trump amounted to nothing less than a massive immune response the part of the body politic. The invader had to be met aggressively - and repelled at any cost.
The Fix - Starve the Beast
The only way out of an addiction is to starve it, step away, surrender to a higher power.
Tune out and turn off the mainstream media in favor of sensible information sources - thoughtful alternative journals, intelligent observation on the Intellectual Dark Web (IDW.) This is where smart, inquiring, freedom loving people go for their information. Despite the heavy hand and watchful eye of the Big Tech goons the IDW will continue to flourish as a place of free thought. It is an oasis now. It will be the civilizational node of the future.
Do not buy into - and enable - the scam of “higher education.” Do not donate your hard earned dollars to be pissed away, nor send your progeny off to be indoctrinated. Seek out colleges where free thought lives, or send your children to trade schools where they can learn the joy and dignity conferred by skilled manual labor.
Pay as few taxes as legally possible. Pay as little attention as possible to the national government. Reground yourself in your locality. Keep politics at arm’s length.
And finally. Transcend. Go back to church. Or connect with Source. Cultivate a spiritual life to rise above the venality of the present day. There is light ahead.