Are We Happy?

Generally speaking, it is easy for you to know if you are happy. While happiness is not a binary condition, you know if you are not happy. You may not be able to describe why it is you are happy, but the lack of complaints is usually a good answer. For the most part, you can tell if your wife and family is happy too. It is once you get past your close circle of friends, that it gets hard to know. Richard Cory, whenever he was in town, seemed like he was living a happy life, but you never can know for sure.

When it comes to society, social scientists have produced an array of measures to figure out if people are happy. These efforts have been financed by government for a long time, because rulers always assume that happy people are docile people. That is not a bad assumption. You never see depictions of rioting peasants, where they are grinning and laughing. Revolts are always associated with angry mobs. Therefore, keep the people happy and you do not have revolts.

For as long as anyone can remember, these measures of societal happiness have been focused on economics. Do people have enough food, housing and medicine? Is the economy growing? Can young people replicate the lifestyle of their parents? Is the gap between rich and poor creating tension? Pretty much all of the measures used to assess how things are going are focused on the bread side of the “bread and circuses” way of framing this issue. History says that is a good way to do it.

I recall walking down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, in the late 80’s, seeing every business with huge “help wanted” signs. It was like they were competing with one another for the biggest sign. Everyone seemed happy about the boom times. I know I was happy, but I was a young man with nothing but green grass in front of me. Still, it was good times and the long winter of the 1970’s was still in the back of people’s minds. It was a great time to be a young man in America.

It is in part why people old enough to have lived through those times, are so sentimental about the Reagan years. Overall societal happiness was also evident in the political realm. Reagan won a massive landslide in the 1984 election and his proxy followed it up with a landslide win in the 1988 election. It is almost impossible to imagine it, but Reagan won states like Massachusetts and New York. Imagine that. There was a brief time when the Roundheads stopped hating everyone else long enough to cast a sensible vote.

This brings me back to the question of this post. The economy was supposedly doing well in the Bush years, yet no one seemed happy about the direction of the country. The neocons were the one exception, but they are only happy when Americans are suffering and dying. The Obama years were equally terrible, in terms of our collective psyche. The economy under Obama was not great, but it was not a depression. It was a long, slow recovery from the damage done by the cosmopolitan bankers in the Bush years.

Now? The economy is booming. Economists are talking about 5% annual growth, which has not happened since the 1980’s. The stock market, despite recent turbulence, has seen massive growth over the last year. If you believe the economists, America is nearing full employment. If you do not believe them, you know that demand is now drawing people back into the workplace for the first time in decades. Wages are even starting to tick up in STEM fields, which has not been true in a generation. We are in incredibly good times.

Yet, no one seems happy. Even a levelheaded and sensible person like me struggles to be optimistic. Everyone I know is glum about the cultural trajectory of the nation. If the fans of Jordan Peterson are correct about his fan base, it means millions of younger Americans are unhappy with the current state of affairs. If the critics of the Dissident Right are correct, it means tens of millions of white people think their country is heading for a bad place. The Left, of course, is trying to burn it all down in a frenzy of rage.

Maybe all of these things really do not matter. Maybe the culture wars and political wars are just the result of a bored people enjoying unprecedented, good times. We are in a post scarcity age, where even the poorest person has more than enough food, shelter and leisure activities. In many respects, we are amusing ourselves to death. It could simply be that humans are built for struggle. When times are good, we look for reasons to create a crisis to against. Maybe we are too happy.

On the other hand, it may be that the reading of history, with regards to social unrest, is incomplete about the causes. The American revolution was not triggered by severe economic troubles. The Civil War was not preceded by a depression. The English Civil War had nothing to do with economic difficulties. Even the French and Russian revolutions were about long cultural trends. The food riots that touched off the revolts were just the final straw. The fabric of those nations was in tatters long before they ran out of food.

It is something to ponder as Trump tries to recreate the 1980’s. That was when he began his steep climb to national prominence as a real estate magnate and public personality. He is a man of the 80’s, a child in the 50’s. Reagan wanted to restore the America of the 1950’s, his salad days, and now Trump wishes do the same. Maybe it will work or maybe it is just the remnant of a dying culture getting together for one last festival. Maybe the ennui is the knowledge that the old America Trump is trying to revive is gone forever.

Maybe we are Richard Cory.

94 thoughts on “Are We Happy?

  1. In many respects we are amusing ourselves to death. It could be that (some) humans are built for struggle..

    So true for my wife and I. She recently lost her job of 35 years to a..(what’s the word? Big company buying all the little ones).
    We are actually looking forward as to how we will use our wiles to maintain our current lifestyle (modest) and/or revising our “amusement” options.
    Really quite exciting.

  2. Happiness is health, the absence of dark thoughts, freedom from obligation, lots of sex, and a painless death.

    A combination of scientific breeding, well-tested psychotropic drugs, and subtle moral engineering can produce all of this.

    It would be totally like John Lennon (in his ‘Imagine’ phase) and Nick Gillespie got together and cooked up the perfect world!

    And Instapundit would say: “Faster please!”

  3. Good recent American historical overview, Zman. But . . . when contrasted with all the previous “great empires” – all eventually ending up on the same ash-heap – an ominous foreboding seems “relevant”. From the perspective of this multi-lingual/multi-cultural “galactic traveler”, having [remotely] viewed the “Merkaan box of rocks” externally, I am not at all “buying in to” this nascent [and probably temporary] “economic revival”. As a FIRST-year “boomer” (’46) when the violent mass blood letting and carnage was replaced with ejaculate during mass divine co-minglings of [returning war vet] Man to [waiting] wo[mb]Man; now at 71+, after experiencing war “up close and personal” in ‘Nam (’69), followed by a couple of years of int’l careening – pretty-much ripped to the tits 24/7, culminating in 5 years at BangKwang, Thailand’s notorious maximum security prison, I am now increasingly mollified daily by the thought of being “a little closer to Home”. Considering the “State” of absolutely blatant and pervasive “official” criminality, corp-owned media propaganda, corp/gov-controlled lib-turd academic cry-bullies, AI killer drones/robots, cyber and space weaponry, brain chips, etc, I hope the “almighty Author/Lord” has already “checked me out” – as Jim Morrison was purported to have once not-so-eloquently stated, ” . . . before the whole sh*t-house goes up in flames”, and the radioactive ash begins to settle. Now, as a [daily] repentING and therefore REDEEMed reprobate, it is [continuously] incumbent upon me to both “give Notice” and humbly seek the forgiveness of each and every other very special and unique Man/wo[mb]Man, created in the image of said “Author” and manifested IN to this world, but . . . NOT OF it. Therefore, I entreat ya’ll to be getting the HELLo away from those “coasters”, “citYzens”, nuke plants and GROUNDed on a portion of inland, elevated, RURAL, arable, UN-encumbered/UN-addressed county dirt. Get GATHERed, GUNned, GARDENed, PROVISIONed and . . . S-I-M-P-L-I-F-I-E-D! The “Blessings from the Beginning” are revealed and thereby accessible to the faithfully repentING/REDEEMed/GATHERing RemnantS, fulfilled in daily fellowship of collaborative PRODUCTIVE enterprise and the opportunity to assist/gather other repentING in greater need. And as such . . . relieved, humbled and thankful for sight of One’s salvation BEFORE having – unknowingly – “run out One’s clock”. Hoo-wah.

  4. Well, there’s always the wisdom of Solomon to consider:

    “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life that God has given him under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15

    IOW, reverence God, do the work He gives you and be glad for the blessings He bestows.

    • And do you realize that the vast majority of all human beings at all times are flat broke? It’s not a disease; it’s just one of the things you do.

      So what is your point?

  5. I loved growing up (until my early 20s) in the USA of 1946-1972 (with breaks), but man am I glad left for good, if the comments here are a true reflection of what the place has become. I’m a geez (71) having a daily ball, happy as a clam, living in a mini-paradise spending per month about what a garage rental in Mid-Town Manhattan cost 24 years ago…

    Yeah, there are “brown folks” living nearby, but I leave the keys in my car when I go to the village, don’t lock my doors, l’il grandsons frolic with no fear of stalking pervs… I’m happy and I wish y’all were too!

    • Still looking to justify your choice? I’m good in my neck of the woods. Can’t fix or be apart of the change if we leave.

    • I leave a sign on my house that says “Not home, door unlocked, come on in and steal whatever you want”.

      No takers. So my town is even more awesome than yours. Oh and our “brown people” are only allowed to shine shoes and serve ice cream. It’s our rule – but it seems to work!

      I wish that “y’all” lived my life!

    • Boomer ex-pat crows about having moved to a second or third world country where he can spend his pension to live at an inflated standard. In a separate comment, the boomer expresses smug contempt for anyone who didn’t see the writing on the wall and run away too. “I’ve got mine; so long suckers!”

      You’re a real inspiration, man.

      Did you get lost on your way to a Viagra website? Or are your posts an ingenious satire designed to shine a giant spotlight on exactly the sort of coward who ushered in the collapse of our civilization?

    • When we’re scarce, we’ll be valued- maybe not such a bad future, if the wogs go back to killing each other instead.

    • Try to be happy by realizing that a lie like AA cannot go on forever and how perfectly delightful it is when Truth sees the light of day;-) Reading the article above got me thinking: I am happy ‘most every day, even when Obama was President. It amused me no end to see all the contortions that RINOs and other “bien pensent” (right-thinking) individuals had to go thru to demonstrate how un-racist they were in not noticing the guys incredible lack of gravitas and how his nasty upbringing just about “guaranteed” the spectacular scandal that we now see unfolding with him at its center. It is perfectly hilarious. The good part is that we War Baby/Boomers are departing the scene at a fast clip now, even though Pelosi, Bernie, Biden, Schumer, Kerry, Bush, Ma and Pa Clinton, even Trump, are still around. The Dems have a very thin bench, too, so that’s pretty much guaranteeing my continued bliss! The coast will be clear of all the fuddy-duddies soon enough so that young folks, with exemplars like Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, Seth Rich (sorry), Peter Strzok et al. may assume positions of power for which they have been so well prepared. Hahaha. I couldn’t BE happier!

      • I, too, hated Obama’s policies and thought he was a real putz, but what are ya gonna do? As I told my nephew when he was having a bad time of it over Christmas, all you really are in control of is where you live, what you do, who you surround yourself with, how you treat them, and how you allow them to treat you. That’s it.

        Beyond that, it’s the Monty Python song, “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life”.

      • Lord, I want to see it when it comes.
        I’ve seen the heights, and may see the Fall- to live in such historic times!

  6. We can only suppress our instincts so much. I think the big mistake is for the elites to try to turn us all into panda-men. Eventually the predator will try to get out of the cage.

    I’m a big believer in the theory that a lot (if not all) of what the neo-cortex does is interpretation and presentation for the rest of the brain. It is analogous to a GUI. It offers up symbols that help us to express to others the outputs coming from the older, more instinct-guided parts of the brain.

    So in one era, the symbolic justification for conflict might be religion. In another it might be political ideology. This time around the reason might be gender or some other prog lunacy, but underlying truth is that something developed over 3.5 billion years of evolution is telling us its time to fight.

    • I hope you are right, but I don’t know where the human material is going to come from to take up the gun when (and if) the time comes. On the other hand The Diversity is no great shakes and the Lefties are just as weak and hollowed out as the rest of the population. Perhaps that means it will be a tossup at worst.

      • A bunch of soy boy’s from Buzz feed took a testosterone test. recently The highest one there scored lower than an average 85 year old man!

        Hugh Hefner RIP for example would have scored more than any of them a few years ago

        Its repairable and some on the Left have a little more (AntiFa for example) but they’ll rely on non White janissaries and dumb white “law an order” types to fight for them

        let you and him fight is the way these rabbits work

        Breaking that network up will enable the Right to win handily

        Longer term baring some kind of dystopia , until some kind of widespread suffering is everywhere, its not going away

        “Rabbitry” and “Soy Boys” are likely an evolutionary adaptation to abundance

        if you are interested in this theory more read the Anonymous Conservative

        He’s a bit eccentric at times but his R/K selection theory seems spot on,

  7. I don’t really buy that the economy is good, it I accept that it may be that the area I live in is overpopulated beyond its natural economic carrying capacity.

    All I have to base this on is the year I hit the job market was during the hallowed Clinton economic boom and the job market in my locale sucked big time.

    • I am a child of the Fifties, and it is pretty clear now that the rot was well established by then. Those squeaky clean and well-dressed kids from the ’50s you see in old advertisements were the Woodstock Generation. Now for my grumpy old man comment: It is too bad 50 helicopter gunships could not have been diverted from Vietnam to handle Woodstock.

      One thing I notice now is the lack of good looking young white people. They dress oddly, have odd body shapes and mildly uncoordinated body movements. Young girls look frumpy and middle aged, and they don’t smile much. Young boys are mentally and physically weak and stupid, and they seem proud of it. Of course there are exceptions. BTW, I don’t live on the coasts, I live in the heart of Flyover Country.

      Additionally, the demographics have changed for the worse, and there are now too many people in the U.S., far too many. The population is somewhere north of 300,000,000; nobody seems to know, or care. The political class has gone nuts, all of it. We have a Republican governor and a Republican legislature in my formerly hard-core Democrat state, and they would have made Adlai Stevenson and Eleanor Roosevelt proud.

      I don’t think some economist’s idea of a ”good economy” can paper over these realities. Luckily I will be dead soon, but I weep for people like me and for the long journey of my undistinguished (but good, at least IMO) Anglo Saxon family, which seems to have culminated in a dead end. Again, I realize this all may be Old Man Syndrome expressing itself.

      • All the people on earth can fit into Texas, three per smallish suburban house and lot, room left over for parks. The US is not and never will be over populated, it will be mis-populated. Is.

        The Founders took their Montesquieu very seriously and, as Montesquieu saw it, the one thing a republic cannot be is large. Alex, Jimmy, and John made ingenious arrangements for this workaround, which have since been run over like Alf Landon. Plus, no republic can survive women’s suffrage, much less universal suffrage. I encounter a bracing new example every day. Burke famously said there’s a lot of ruin in a country. Reagan made the country ambulatory for the clowns of seven electoral cycles. Trump, with a better effort, might get us three. That would be great.

        • More is not better

          and in any case we don’t have limitless energy and materials to feed that bloated utopia .

          In the real world the Earth’s biosphere is not in great shape and while not to the level of the Malthusian Green’s think, it is in a lot of trouble. Lets not make things worse so multinational corporations and a pathological elite can get richer

          People, real people not abstract consumers or “population” at least those with decent IQ;s don’t enjoy living in warrens. You can tell from actual demographic figures , not a single heavily populated, urban nation has replacement fertility and an average IQ in the 90’s or above. None.

          The closest exception can think of is Mexico and its highly rural and the Indios might not meet the IQ requirement or be growing anyway

          Real meaning for humanity means a consistent multi-generational culture, living among people you know and with traditions.

          The global consumer culture is the reason the developed world is sick, anything that gets in the way of consuming is destroyed or-subverted .

          The sooner it goes the better for all of mankind

        • “The US is not and never will be over populated”.

          Not if the dems and their GOPe surrogates have their way. I predict 700 million ‘Americans’ by the end of the century.

          • if people actually Singapore wouldn’t have a population crisis . Its safe clean orderly and rich

            However it has as of 2015 a total fertility rate of 1.24 despite massive state intervention . People don’t work like that

            Also the median IQ globally is in the 80’s , the Median White and East Asian in the 100 range give or take,

            That’s not awesome capital no matter what and it cannot be improved. The West cannot get above 105 or so no matter what efforts we make.

            This is the wrong raw material for complex “rat warren” societies

            Population decline so long as the White percentage is high is a very good thing and if the human race gets to I don’t know 2 billion or less, everyone will breathe a sigh of relief and ecology will improve

            My guess is it will achieve this eventually anyway but lower TFR with closed borders is measurably more pleasant than a die-ff from famine or plague

            well not to the money junkies, they’d rather people suffer later so they can have more electronic ones and zeros they can’t use.

          • well sure, Its really up to the Right if the political system fails, they are going to have to nut and start shooting

            Its working right now so nobody think I’m advocating that . Right now soap box and ballot box are working and if they can be pushed hard enough despite the Lefts chronic “ends justify the means attitude.” victory can be achieved

            If it can’t simply do to fraud whether they’d rather horde guns for “the day” that will never come or just accept chaos and suffering and mass death for a better future for someone else is up to them

            A Serenity Quote here and yes without irony the Operative is a black guy

            This is how the Globalists think in in some ways how we will have to be if it foes bad. Right now we can be the plucky protagonist getting out the signal but things are subject to flux

            The Operative: I’m sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault?

            Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: I don’t murder children.

            The Operative: I do. If I have to.

            Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Why? Do you even know why they sent you?

            The Operative: It’s not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.

            Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: So me and mine gotta lay down and die… so you can live in your better world?

            The Operative: I’m not going to live there. There’s no place for me there… any more than there is for you. Malcolm… I’m a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

            None of us want to be a monster and if it happens none of us will live long enough for a better future but if they/we aren’t selfish we can get it for someone else.


            Right now to reiterate, Ballot and Soap boxes still have a chance. use them not the cartridge box

      • I agree about the dearth of good-looking young people (under 30s esp). The kinds of boys I would have mad “crushes” on back in the late 50s – early 60s don’t exist, it seems. These guys were cute, athletic and hot to trot. We girls were kept on our toes. Lots of competition in many ways: academics, sports, “popularity” and not a lot of adult fussing with us as our parents had better things to do. As an 8th grader I got to go into NYC by train with a couple of friends and see “My Fair Lady” on Broadway. Same for New Year’s Eve on Times Square a couple of years later. Travel in packs, no problem. Some real adventures were had!! Also, driver’s license at 16 was a treasured privilege. Don’t remember any accidents or seat belts in those big hunks of steel;-) Well, maybe a few “early” marriages, but things generally worked out OK.

          • Saw that, too, and memorized every song on the album. Can still sing most the verses today. “Seventy-six trombones led the big parade, with a hundred and ten cornets close behind. . . .” Great times!

      • Ivar;
        Also a child of the ’50s. Correction: *Some* of those ‘squeaky clean, well dressed kids of the ’50s’ became The Woodstock Generation.

        The tragedy is that they were The Cloud’s Kids, by in large, and there was a pretty complete failure of generational transmission of the previous ‘republican virtues’ to them. Not entirely sure why, but cultural subversion by closet Marxists in The U’s played no small role.

        • Lots of truth to this, the Universities were pozzed as far back as the ’30’s, E. Merrill Root was almost run out of his school by being pro-McCarthy. The rot has been going on for a long time.

          • Din;
            Absolutely_! Vietnam put the Cloud/Dirt divide into sharp focus for those of us caught in the middle. If you were Cloud spawn you could skate out of serving in that war if you wanted via the many, many options available to the connected.

            I had some respect for the Dirt-located dodgers who ran to Canada. Unlike the skating ‘betters’ they actually put their butts on the line in opposition to the war. Nobody knew then that Jimmy Cater would pardon the lot of them in the late ’70s.

            The actual Woodstock attenders were pretty much just apolitical dropouts and druggies.* The protests, OTOH, were lead by Red Diaper Babies and the usual true-believing malcontents that crop up in every generation. But the main numbers were made up of ‘radicals of convenience’** who had not much ideological opposition to America or the war, they (and more importantly, their parents) just didn’t want their Cloud-centered life plan messed up. As evidence: Just as soon as Nixon ended the draft and then the war, all the protests went away, poof, just like that.
            *The grounds of Yasgur’s farm would have had to be the size of Yellowstone Park to have held everybody who claimed that they had attended Woodstock after the fact emerged in the media that it was cool somehow.

            ** Provided convenient rhetorical cover by campus closet Marxists. These Marxists were unhappy at the time that ‘the revolution’ fizzled out. But the weeds they planted burst into flower in the Clinton years.

      • Yeah, well, I’m a child of the 50s too (headin’ for 72) and with all due respect I’m not weeping for anyone who didn’t read the handwriting on the wall and do something about it. My adult children are doing well, my little grandsons live in a Spanish-speaking equivalent of Pinehurst, NC way back when, boys aren’t weak tits, girls (and women!) are pretty, life’s great, thanks! Old Man Syndrome is a USA and European thing.

    • I agree – I keep hearing about this booming economy, yet I know more college grads who can’t find a job today than when I graduated back int he ’80s. We keep being told things are great/getting better, but not really seeing it or feeling it. Thus, cognitive dissonance creating unhappines.

      • There’s a stereotype about Pinehurst? A golfing town full of half dead white people and the Aryan children of SOCOM officers?

      • Who cares if quality and prospects suck- everybody will be happy once they’re woke and aware. Of course.

  8. I have a brother in law who’s mentally handicapped. He’s one of the happiest people you’ll ever meet along with lots of others like him.

    Every once in a while the media pulls out their happy-ometer and measures that some ultra-pc European country who is poorer than the US is much happier. I wonder if they just happen to be closer to the mentally handicapped.

    The nature of being driven or motivated is to see the situation you’re in now, decide you’re unhappy with it and try to change it.

    If I ever find myself in a nation of happy people I might try to figure out if I’m really just surrounded by abject morons.

    • Nice. As a history major I was certainly aware of the cycle of rise and fall all empires go through. The 10 generations thing is interesting.

    • This work also suggests that the third “Fourth Turning” is the one you don’t come out of very well. Right where we are right now.

  9. The jury remains out on the role of economic trends on the French Revolution. Tocqueville makes the point that the long term trend was for improvement, others, citing unemployment brought about by the Eden-Vergennes treaty make opposing points. The main trigger was the state of finances (France was broke).

    If you take Pierre Goubert seriously when he says that the real rift lay between a composite elite made up of upper bourgeoisie and old nobility against everyone else, you have something similar to what we see here now. The French elite didn’t really have a problem with the way things were, they just wanted to be in charge. Any appeals to lower classes were mere power plays. Thus you had the situations where parlaments were demonstrating against decrees of the king, them being sent into exile, and returning to popular acclaim when they won, or a compromise was reached. Declaring that the king nor his assemblies of notables had any right to change how taxes were structure or collected, and saying that this was the role of an Estates General, had a popular appeal in that the Third Estate would have a say, but their intentions were revealed when they insisted on the Estates voting by order, not by head, in the manner of the last one held in 1614. In doing so they revealed their contempt.

    If you throw out the bad harvests and severe winters that accompanied all of this, the coinciding food riots and Great Fear would not have happened, and the appeals to the urban lower classes to fetch the king back to Paris would have fallen on deaf ears. And what’s more, even if they had successfully gained power, there would have been no night of August 4 when they denounced feudalism (while keeping the most important rights of theirs intact). Again, they had no problem with the system as it was, they just wanted to be the ones running it.

    Which brings us to today. We have a system hurtling toward bureaucratic and managerial absolutism. The only flaws we have are the fact that people can still vote. Our elites use any crisis to increase their power and make elections less important for determining the direction the country as a whole takes. They have made electing senators a national, rather than a state issue by making them popularly elected, rather than appointed by state legislatures, thus big money wins every time. Ditto for congressional seats, although these remain a bit more parochial in the good sense.

    The last election of president was a big poke in the eye to these people, and they meant to get it overturned. Like the French elites, that top spot keeps them from total power, and they would rather destroy the country than give up a chance at that total power.

    • My view on the French Revolution, is that it was a combination of: Decrepit management of the old feudal system, an emergent new elite (Robe versus Sword), global changes brought on by commerce and industry, an antiquated financial system, diversity of the population and bad luck.

      Societies are systems with lots of complimentary parts. Changes at one end to remedy a defect can set off unexpected chains of events. France at the revolution was not a homogeneous people. Most did not speak French in their homes. This was not an issue when these disparate people were not dependent on one another. By the time of the revolution, a new method of ruling the state was needed. But, good old fashioned class rivalry, ambition and stupidity played their role.

      • It was the first time intellectuals with their fancy proto-Marxist theories got the chance to run an entire nation (the same people who now want to run the U.S.). That’s why things went so off-the rails so fast.

      • All true without changing my point. Paris was France. That’s where the revolution took place. If power had remained dispersed, no revolution. Or there would have been several, each with it’s own character.

        You don’t have to hold power in order to be corrupted by it, but having a bit sure gives some people a taste for it.

    • Doc;
      Another parallel between the US now and France during the ‘Ancient Regime’ is the mutual contempt between those on top in the imperial capitol and those just below in the provinces. Louis XIV was able to get popular acceptance of absolutism (which sounds crazy to modern ears) because he and his courtiers were competent and the people were tired of the disorders of the Fronde (civil wars in favor of feudal rights) where the King finally crushed the great nobles after years of strife with the help of the bourgeouse:

      But absolutism only works well when the central power is competent. After ~120 years of absolutism this had failed pretty completely. In no small part this was because signals of trouble are stifled by the courtiers and a second rate monarch begins to live in fear of plots. Incompetent rule by seeming idiots while they trample what you see as your ancient liberties as a provincial noble is a great generator of contempt. And it must be reciprocated by the courtiers else they’d have to admit you have a point and, not coincidentally, reduce their cash draw.

      • One of the main reasons centralization “progresses” is because of dissatisfaction with the portion of the hierarchy immediately above oneself and a desire to appeal to a higher power to overrule it. Then the cycle repeats.

        • Nicely illustrating Severian’s profound point. That is what we are seeing today.

          Can the alt-white create an attractive, ambitious managerial class?

  10. You nailed it with the maintenance level statement. If I can live as well as my parents did, with the ability to rise with my own efforts and my children have that same forecast then we are good. I’d pay 30% to ensure that deal perpetuates.
    But no. They won’t leave me, or that unspoken social contract, alone. Being a huge fan of efficiency, I vote prince Humperdinck and we will skip to the end. Nothing short of a KT level extinction will suffice now. Because if it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing Correctly.
    Hienlien told us in his brilliant playbook, Starship Troopers. And guess what doubters, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than dead alien ghosts in a volcano or soi -infused Canadian psychiatry giants winning diarreah of the mouth contests on you tube.

  11. We can all feel it. The good times are beginning to end. We’ll get maybe seven more years of growth, if Trump wins in 2020. But there are too many signs of impending collapse, once we crest the hill, it gets bloody.

    The low taxes will end as social spending accelerates, the national IQ will go down and quality of life with it, the overextended military will snap. The post-WW2 American Empire is cracking. We are the last of the weak men.

    In this cycle at least, life goes on.

  12. Good column. I read Jim Penham, Biohistory: Decline and Fall of the West, and he has a very compelling hypothesis of the life-cycle of civilization. Basically, we are at the end of a nice run and the collapse is inevitable. There is always something to replace it that has more vigor. I’ll leave that to you to see who that might be.

  13. In many respects, we are amusing ourselves to death. It could simply be that humans are built for struggle. When times are good, we look for reasons to create a crisis to against. Maybe we’re too happy.

    I’m convinced this is true. Here’s what I wrote recently:

    Just as mechanical systems run into physical limitations beyond which they don’t work, there is probably a point beyond which human societies simply fail to hold themselves together and self-destruct. Human’s are odd creatures, and thrive when faced with hardship. The capacity of humans to overcome the most appalling conditions and adapt in order to survive is incredible, matched only by our ability to constantly seek to improve our lives. There is an optimum level of stress for humans: too much and we can’t function beyond the basics to stay alive, but too little and we become equally useless.

    • Watch what happens to your dog or cat living that sedentary domestic life. The dog occasionally starts peeing everywhere, tearing things up, or barking at nothing. The cat suddenly runs around like its tail is on fire, attacks your ankles for no good reason, or starts peeing on everything. We have some of that baked into us, too.

  14. I’ll admit that the impending demographic shift weighs on me quite a bit. I first heard about back in college (late 1980s), and even cheered it in a way in the early 2000s when I was on the left and read things about how the browning of America would finally allow us to get Scandinavian style democratic socialism. Then the “late Obama age collapse” (as Sailer calls it) happened, and it became real clear that post-white America was not going to be one big happy multicultural family. I actually think most non-whites aren’t really all that optimistic about the future of America either, despite the SJWs telling us that while white’s ship is sinking, everyone else’s is rising. On some level the people who came here wanted to live in a country where whites basically ran things. If not, why not stay where they were? I’ve seen polls that non-white immigrants show high percentages against open borders. I think this is why, though they can’t really admit this since they are happy to play the victim card while it lasts.

    The YouTube Skeptic community keeps crowing about how they “won” against the SJWs because they made fun of all the SJW cliches. But I get very little sense that SJWism has truly been damaged. Just look at the latest crop of Super Bowl commercials. We’re going to keep watching the country get brown and have media show it even browner than it is (to get us used to it, I guess). And I think there will be more and more rancor and unrest in this country as the POC fight among themselves (and against whites) for political power and territory within the US. So *that’s* why I feel glum anyway.

    • “On some level the people who came here wanted to live in a country where whites basically ran things. If not, why not stay where they were?”

      Although I enjoyed your reply, I must point out that this quote illustrates the problem of individualism run amok. The reason is no mystery: the migrants are on a voyage of Conquest. Not identical in means, but certainly in ends to those before. They were never coming to be in a nation run by whites (individual exceptions not withstanding) but rather to take what cut of the resources they could grasp for their own people.

      Much to the dismay of the IQ civic identitarians, such as Steve Sailor, evidence is fast accruing to the docket that even high functioning minorities who pantomime individualism very effectively are in fact not the least bit concerned about the overall health of a multiethnic society. When it comes to the multicultural project, whites alone have a majority of believers while everyone else (including white elites) cynically plays along to accrue for themselves.

      This, as you suggest, is the soul of the unrest in the white population. The right increasingly wants to regain control over America for legacy Americans while the left increasingly feels frustrated that legacy Americans won’t let go and allow the world to pour in and deliver on all the promises the left has made. Unease is not knowing if the will to survive is stronger than the zeal of the progressive faith.

      • I agree to most of this, but every single Asian Indian that I have known (quite a few) seem to seize on the idea of being an American and lifting up America. They seem to be the single group that broadly understands the opportinities and privileges that accrue to living here. The Vietnamese, too, though they seem to often quickly lose their kids to the Western rot over time. The rest of the Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans) are more a hit-or-miss affair. Those from the rest of the World seem to mostly act as pure economic mercenaries for themselves and their own, as you point out.

  15. The Left wasn’t purged vigorously in Fifties, which was about the last chance to do so with any success. The refusal to fight a culture war then sees us waiting for the massive real civil war to begin in our time.

    • There is always room for round #2 or the sequel This time we finish the job.

      Long term though baring genetic engineering , a reverse “Pretties” scenario which we don’t have the knowledge for the “R” selected people will be back time and again since its a natural response to high levels of comfort and security.

      The cruel essential fact is that people have far more nature and less nurture or free will for that matter than they think they do.

      Its also nearly impossible to build a social model that resistant to R selected subversion , Monarchy was about as good as it got and its subversion was well on the way by the Renaissance , once prosperity kicked in a bit and population recovered enough after the Black Death

      • I always found it amusing that polite society insists on a 50/50 split of nature vs nurture. The notion is childish in it’s simplicity but it’s the line the intelligent are expected to hew.

    • He was a child of the 50’s, not a baby of the 50’s. I was a child of the 80’s, with almost no memory or attachment to the 70’s, even though I was born in 73. The 1980 olympics, the iran hostages and the election of Reagan are about the first news items I remember and actually understood in the current events context.

    • I was born three weeks after Trump in NYC as well, save that it was in Manhattan instead of Queens. Trust me, bro’, he and I are children of the 50s, when NYC was truly the center of the known universe and the best place imaginable to have grown up, particularly if your family had a summer house on the shore. He’s rich, I ain’t, but I’m comfortable and far from NYC, living in a place in which the USA 50s are in many senses alive and well. Y’all would be very fortunate if that era could be revived; sadly, it can’t be.

  16. I am personally unhappy as I see the country I grew up in getting torn apart, making me worry about what institutions and traditions that I revered and grew up with will be passed on to my progeny.

  17. In the 80’s it seemed okay to have unadulterated fun. Music, sports, girls, school, cars – they were all more fun probably because politics wasn’t a big deal in our lives. Now I’m getting nostalgic.

    And with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe out there as the perfect example of why communism sucks, there was a hard-stop on how left-wing our politicians would go.

    • Yes, there was a lot to be said for the “80’s. It was, as some guy over at Counter-Currents put it, “The last golden Indian summer of America”, and there’s a lot of truth to that. I now know that, even then, there was a lot wrong with America, that many of the things that are destroying our country today were gestating even then, but there was still a lot right with it. Trump (and Drake and I) are fully justified in wanting to go back to those days.

      The only problem is, you can’t. There is no rewind button in life, or in history. But we can bring to birth the better future that was latent in that America, the one that the Left is terrified of and is trying so hard to kill, and that’s the task of the Alt-right, to take guidance from the past but, like a shark, always move forward.

      The Future belongs to us, if we have the guts to take it.

    • The 80’s was possibly the last decade of getting anything done without crushing regulations and high employee taxes. In 1980 I was 25 years old and building my own houses as a general contractor with money I borrowed from a local bank. My piers in the business were young as well. Today at 62, I am still in real estate and clearly notice that all the new houses are being contracted by old guys, or maybe a few 40 year olds. Many years earlier my grandfather, armed with a 6th grade education, started a concrete company at age 19 and it flourished. I am not being nostalgic. Something is clearly not right these days. If it’s regulations and entry burdens keeping the young out, that can be fixed. If its lack of motivation, then we are done for.

  18. Trump is facing an impossible task in trying to revive the America of Ike and Reagan, but that doesn’t mean that his presidency will necessarily be a failure. Trump’s historical role is not to save the old, but to give birth to the new. He of course does not realize this, but he wouldn’t be the first great man to misunderstand exactly where his greatness and mission lie. Trump will probably be the last President of the United States as we know it, and that’s a good thing – even though Trump would certainly not agree.

  19. Perhaps unhappiiness IS the natural human default — the condition in which we function best (if most … unhappily). And perhaps this is why the LEFT is so effective and pervasive — they’ve figured out how to be “happy” in their extreme unhappiness ….

  20. Civil wars happen when the middle classes feel their aspirations are being systematically stifled. For all their wealth and power, Washington et al were mere colonials; the slave power conspiracy was holding folks back in antebellum America; the Roundheads had all the money but none of the influence; the Commies in Russia were the lone educated men in a sea of fools. (Whether true or not, all these are how they saw it). Ditto America 2018 – you can have everything you could conceivably want, but it’s obvious that you’re a prole for all that. You’re not even allowed to have Unapproved Thoughts in the privacy of your own home (and there is no privacy, and it’s not your home, it’s the bank’s). The only solution to a structural problem is to tear down the structure. It’s not going to end well.

  21. The problem is when we speak truth – that Christendom, western civilization, Europeans, and Men did the great things – arts and sciences – the SJW shame squad comes out calling us racist, sexist, etc.

    The best analogy is Theoden and his ashen look when under Saruman’s spell with Wormtongue talking to him. Once the spell was broken, the great man returned. There is no happiness in a slow, suicidal gray satisfaction and contentment, which is what Wormtongue provided. And there is happiness in doing work, including battle. Not the sweet ice-cream, but the savory steak.

    What has happened with Trump is that it has turned into useful anger (whch I distinguish from the cardinal sin of Wrath). And that feels good. What has been bubbling up from generation Z to the Millenials, etc. is a realization that it is okay to be alt-right. Maybe not Richard Spencer, but people are noticing (((who))) is leading the shaming chorus, and the actual bad behavior down to barbarity (Philly) and wakes up that Almost All Whites Are Like That – civilized, perhaps too much for their own good, but a little multiculturalism can fix that as it has in the past. We were the Celts, and Goths, and Vikings.

  22. Economics is just one metric and even that I don’t buy how supposedly good it is. Full Employment with crap wages. ( you may want to modify your opinion on the current stock market).
    Culturally we suck, and most commenters here know it. It’s basically all we talk about.

    The old conservative bromide to cultivate your own garden is still the best advice. Enjoy and cherish family, friends and if you have a community, that too.

    • Bravo. I’m sick of the “grow or die” element in what is called ‘conservatism’. I heard Rush Limbaugh today on the topic of ‘maintaining America’s greatness’. I’m so tired of all that. I really don’t care if ‘our’ economy grows or not, or if we have better missiles than the Chinese, or if 90% of the billionaires on earth are American.

      The old, weird America is still out there, the forgotten land of the Eric Hoffers who read and think and stack lumber or pick fruit.

  23. It’s the media and social software that is making people unhappy. Turn off all the horror and ugliness from the MSM and all of a sudden the world is an Ok place to be (at least in the US). Maybe after the midterms, and the dems getting annihilated, will persuade the media to start playing happy tunes…

    • I so hope you are right about the midterms but the recent loss in Missouri and the loss in Alabama has me concerned that our side is getting complacent. The left is fired up, hates Trump and will turn out in massive numbers. A great economy and the ongoing FBI scandle may not be enough to turn our side out.

      • There was a good article by Tom Bevan about how it won’t help the Dems to win the House in 2018. Normally I am skeptical about these types of arguments, and believe it is always better to win. He makes good points though. Dems won’t be able to pass anything, and will get blamed for it. We already have our big tax cut. They want an immigration “fix” much more than we do. We can just keep deporting illegals. Conservative judges will still get through the Senate, which is likely to stay Republican. But most importantly, the Dems will overreach with impeachment, and it will backfire in a big way, insuring Trump wins in 2020.

        • Good article. I still hope though that they retain the House. To me the Senate is more important though given judgeships.

          • I think that Trumps positioning of The American Party v. the Non-American party is masterful. His use of social media to by-pass the globalist press is also fun to watch.

    • It’s true. If I just walk down the streets of my little town, wander along the old rail beds, chat with my neighbors, enjoy a few beers at the local pub, keep my old dog happy with rawhide treats, read books, and watch old TV shows on YT, I’m “living life” and that’s a pretty sweet thing.

      To accept that you aren’t Genghis Khan or George Soros – that’s the beginning of wisdom.

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