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"People lost faith in institutions as corporations, unions, government and even churches all proved unable to respond adequately to an economic and political shift that was much larger and more significant than anyone realized."
 
Economics and Compassion

Why the roots of populism lie in deindustrialization – something which peaked in the early 1980s.

"Like radioactive waste, deindustrialization has a half-life."

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[ A Sudden Change in Attitude ]

Every four years, the white working class gets a fresh round of attention from candidates and the media. At campaign stops in Rust Belt cities, candidates promise to fix the economy, while pundits yet again claim that white working-class voters are the key to election victory.

The pattern is being repeated this year, but this time, both the news media and social media seem especially baffled by the attitudes and behavior of working-class voters.

[ Deindustrialization Returns ]

As a number of commentators have noted, the roots of this year’s populism lie in deindustrialization, though some seem baffled that white working-class people are still troubled by either NAFTA, which went into effect in 1994, or the loss of industrial jobs, which peaked in the early 1980s.

[ Perspective: Economic vs Social ]

In the NYTimes, David Brooks suggested that working-class people should not be so strongly affected by the economic hardship of deindustrialization. After all, he suggested, it’s not as if life in a coal town was ever easy. What he and others don't realize is that deindustrialization was never only about economics. Its economic, social & psychological effects continue for decades after plants close and across generations, affecting the worldviews of younger people who never worked in steel mills or auto plants.

[ Precarious Re-employment ]

More than three decades after the waves of plant closings that made deindustrialization international news in the late 1970s and ’80s, people living in former industrial areas still feel the loss of good jobs. Many have found work, some still in manufacturing, but they earn less and, in many cases, their hours have become less steady; they’ve been forced to pay more for health care; and the work itself has become less meaningful – in part because workers are more conscious than ever that it might be temporary.

[ Loss of Community ]

The half-life of deindustrialization plays out socially too. The social networks that developed around industrial work have fragmented. Some people moved away in search of work, while those who stayed lost the daily interaction with co-workers. Once-solid neighborhoods became marked with empty lots and abandoned houses, and local businesses closed up or kept changing, undermining the sense of stability and connection that makes communities strong.

[ Loss of Identity ]

People lost faith in institutions as corporations, unions, government and even churches all proved unable to respond adequately to an economic and political shift that was much larger and more significant than anyone realized. Over time, communities internalized these losses, and many places like Youngstown, Detroit and Flint continue to wrestle not only with the loss of their economic base but also with a loss of civic identity.

[ Isolation and Internalization ]

Individuals have also internalized these struggles. For some, decades of economic struggle and the deterioration of community have brought a sense of isolation, so that people feel that they can depend only on themselves. Sociologists suggest that many working-class people are now defining their identities through what she calls “therapeutic narratives,” stories about their individual triumphs over personal traumas like family dysfunctions, drug addiction or the struggle to get through college while working full-time.

[ Painful Resentment ]

For others, the half-life of deindustrialization brings a more painful perspective. They see themselves as losers, as people who, for reasons they can’t always articulate, somehow deserve nothing more than a low-wage, insecure job and persistent economic vulnerability. And for some, as we’ve seen in so much election coverage, the displacement of deindustrialization is now surfacing in the form of anger and resentment – of politicians, of immigrants, of those who seem to be thriving in the contemporary economy.

[ Surfacing of Hidden Dis-ease ]

Like the effects of radiation poisoning, the injuries associated with the half-life of deindustrialization may remain hidden for a long while, surfacing only when they take more serious form. Over the past year, we’ve begun to notice how deindustrialization is, over the course of decades, generating both real illnesses in the form of rising rates of suicide, drug addiction and death and a kind of social dis-ease, a sense of having been excluded from the America that once seemed to offer white male industrial workers real opportunities to gain the economic stability and social position embodied in the American Dream.

[ Lack of Attention towards Suffering ]

As this campaign season rolls on, we will likely continue to see educated elites try to diagnose the white working class. Too often, especially in social media, that takes the form of denigrating their intelligence and character. If Hillary Clinton wins in November, many who are now trying to understand the attitudes and experiences of the white working class will turn their attention elsewhere. But the anger and frustration that animates so many of Donald Trump’s supporters will not go away when this election ends.
Every four years, the white working class gets a fresh round of attention from candidates and the media. At campaign stops in Rust Belt cities, candidates promise to fix the economy, while pundits yet again claim that white working-class voters … Continue reading
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"A united front response to Trump is possible, but won’t happen by itself. Building these anti-Trump coalitions on the local level, immediately, will require organizers proactively reaching out to other groups for collective action." 
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"... Part of the mythology that tries to cover up the history of the United States." 
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"Trump is a fraud, as was Clinton. The point is not to replace one fraud with another, but rather to transform a system that makes fraud into an essential component rather than a rare anomaly." 
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"As noted by out-going Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid: “President-elect Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as his top aide signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest level in Trump’s White House…" 
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"Wherein the strange attractor at the end of time obliterates banality..." 
Can a psychedelic theology explain Trump’s ascendance?
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Contradictions and Collapse

With the rise of once poor countries, like China, US imperial power has been declining for decades from its peak, but is it about to collapse?

"Johan Galtung, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated sociologist who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, warned that US global power will collapse under the Donald Trump."

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[ Accurate Track Record ]

The Norwegian professor at the University of Hawaii and Transcend Peace University is recognized as the ‘founding father’ of peace and conflict studies as a scientific discipline. He has made numerous accurate predictions of major world events, most notably the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

Galtung accurately predicted the 1978 Iranian revolution; the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989 in China; the economic crises of 1987, 2008 and 2011; and even the 9/11 attacks—among other events, according to the late Dietrich Fischer, academic director of the University Center for Peace Studies.

[ Accelerated Existing Prediction ]

Back in 2000, Galtung first set out his prediction that the “US empire” would collapse within 25 years. After the election of President Bush, though, he revised that forecast five years forward because, he argued, Bush’s policies of extreme militarism would be an accelerant.

After the election of Trump, I thought it might be prudent to check in with Galtung to see how he was feeling about the status of his US forecast. Galtung told Motherboard that Trump would probably continue this trajectory of accelerated decline—and may even make it happen quicker. Of course, with typical scientific caution, he said he would prefer to see what Trump’s actual policies are before voicing a clear verdict.

[ Prediction Model: Contradictions ]

Galtung has doctoral degrees in both sociology and mathematics, and some decades ago developed a theory of “synchronizing and mutually reinforcing contradictions”, which he used to make his forecasts. The model was based on comparing the rise and fall of 10 historical empires.

In 1980, Galtung used his theoretical model to map the interaction of various social contradictions inside the Soviet empire, leading him to predict its demise within 10 years.

“Very few believed him at the time, but it occurred on November 9, 1989, two months before his time limit, 1990.”

[ Collapse of the Soviet Empire ]

For the USSR, Galtung’s model identified five key structural contradictions in Soviet society which, he said, would inevitably lead to its fragmentation—unless the USSR underwent a complete transformation.

In the case of the USSR, the main structural contradictions were as follows: the working class was increasingly repressed and unable to self-organise through trade unions (ironic given the country’s Communist pretensions); the wealthier ‘bourgeoisie’ or elite had money to spend, but nothing to buy from domestic production, leading to economic stagnation; Russian intellectuals wanted more freedom of expression; minorities wanted more autonomy; and peasants wanted more freedom of movement.

The model works like this: the more those contradictions deepen, the greater the likelihood they will result in a social crisis that could upend the existing order.

Eventually, as the highly centralised structures of the Soviet empire were unable to accommodate these intensifying pressures, the top-down structures would have to collapse.

Galtung later began to apply his model to the United States. In 1996, he wrote a scientific paper published by George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution warning that “the USA will soon go the same way as previous imperial constructions… decline and fall.”

[ Transition: Reactionary Fascism ]

But the main book setting out Galtung’s fascinating forecast for the US is his 2009 book, The Fall of the American Empire—and then What?

The book sets out a whopping 15 “synchronizing and mutually reinforcing contradictions” afflicting the US, which he says will lead to US global power ending by 2020—within just four years. Galtung warned that during this phase of decline, the US was likely to go through a phase of reactionary “fascism”.

He argued that American fascism would come from a capacity for tremendous global violence; a vision of American exceptionalism as the “fittest nation”; a belief in a coming final war between good and evil; a cult of the strong state leading the fight of good against evil; and a cult of the “strong leader”.

All of which, Galtung said, surfaced during the Bush era, and which now appear to have come to fruition through Trump. Such fascism, he told Motherboard, is a symptom of the decline—lashing out in disbelief at the loss of power.

[ American Structual Contradictions ]

Among the 15 structural contradictions his model identifies as driving the decline, are:

- economic contradictions such as ‘overproduction relative to demand’, unemployment and the increasing costs of climate change.

- military contradictions including rising tensions between the US, NATO, and its military allies, along with the increasing economic unsustainability of war.

- political contradictions including the conflicting roles of the US, UN and EU;

- cultural contradictions including tensions between US Judeo-Christianity, Islam, and other minorities.

- and social contradictions encompassing the increasing gulf between the so-called ‘American Dream’, the belief that everyone can prosper in America through hard work, and the reality of American life (the fact that more and more people can’t).

Galtung’s book explores how the structural inability to resolve such contradictions will lead to the unravelling of US political power, both globally, and potentially even domestically.

[ Trump Policies as Power Decline ]

Trump has made clear that he thinks US troops are still needed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even proposed sending more troops to Iraq. He also said that we should have ‘grabbed’ the country’s oil. But he has also heavily (and incoherently) criticized US military policies.

Domestically, Trump has promised to deport 11 million illegal migrants, build a wall between the US and Mexico, compel all American Muslims to sign up to a government register, and ban all Muslim immigration to the US.

For Galtung, Trump’s incoherent policy proposals are evidence of the deeper structural decline of US power: “He [Trump] blunts contradictions with Russia, possibly with China, and seems to do also with North Korea. But he sharpens contradictions inside the USA”, such as in relation to minority rights.

On the one hand, Galtung said, Trump might well offer an opportunity to avoid potential conflicts with great power rivals like Russia and China—on the other, he may still, stupidly, fight more unilateral wars and worsen domestic contradictions relating to minorities.

Motherboard asked Galtung whether he thinks Trump would speed up his forecast of “collapse”, or slow it down.

Even if we give Trump the benefit of the doubt, he said, and assume that he “prefers solving underlying conflicts, particularly with Russia, to war—in other words for the US not be imperial—then yes, that still speeds up the decline from above, and from the center… Of course, what he does as a President remains to be seen.”

[ External Collapse: American Empire ]

But what exactly is collapsing?

“An empire is more than violence around the world,” said Galtung. “It is a cross-border structure with a center, the imperial country, and a periphery, the client countries. The point about imperialism is to make the elites in the periphery do the jobs for the center.”

The center country may be a dictatorship or a democracy. So for Galtung, the collapse of the US empire comes “when the periphery elites no longer want to fight US wars, no longer want to exploit for the center.”

For Galtung, a key sign of collapse would be Trump’s attitude to NATO. The President-elect has said he would be happy to see NATO break-up if US allies aren’t willing to pay their dues. Trump’s ‘go it alone’ approach would, Galtung said, accelerate and undermine US global empire at the same time.

“The collapse has two faces,” said Galtung. “Other countries refuse to be ‘good allies: and the USA has to do the killing themselves, by bombing from high altitudes, drones steered by computer from an office, Special Forces killing all over the place. Both are happening today, except for Northern Europe, which supports these wars, for now. That will probably not continue beyond 2020, so I stand by that deadline.”

[ Internal Collapse: United States ]

US break-up?

But this global collapse, also has potential domestic implications. Galtung warned that the decline of American power on the world stage would probably have a domestic impact that would undermine the internal cohesion of the United States:

“As a trans-border structure the collapse I am thinking of is global, not domestic. But it may have domestic repercussion, like white supremacists or even minorities like Hawaiians, Inuits, indigenous Americans, and black Americans doing the same, maybe arguing for the United States as community, confederation rather than a ‘union’.”

Galtung warned that the decline of American power on the world stage would probably have a domestic impact that would undermine the internal cohesion of the United States.

[ Opportunity for Revitalization ]

Galtung is not pessimistic about his forecasts, though. Having always seen the collapse of the “US empire” as inevitable—much like the collapse of the Soviet empire—he argues that there is real opportunity for a revitalization."

The American republic is characterised by its dynamism, its support for the ideals of freedom and liberty, its productivity and creativity, and its cosmopolitanism toward the ‘other.’

Might Trump help revitalize the American republic?

Galtung’s answer is, perhaps, revealing: “If he manages to apologize deeply to all the groups he has insulted. And turn foreign policy from US interventions—soon 250 after Jefferson in Libya 1801—and not use wars (killing more than 20 million in 37 countries after 1945): A major revitalization! Certainly making ‘America Great Again’. We’ll see.” That’s a big if.
We talked to Nobel Prize-nominated Johan Galtung, who predicted that someone like Trump would win the US, and that it will trigger a decline in power.
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In An Ugly Election Result, Hate Surges Online https://www.propublica.org/article/in-an-ugly-election-result-hate-surges-online

ProPublica will be covering hate crimes in the coming months — who commits them, where they happen, who should be tracking them. Readers with tips or other information please contact reporter A.C. Thompson at A.C.Thompson@propublica.org.
Has Trump emboldened extremists? Some disquieting early returns.
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Time will tell... 
I jolted awake, or rather I was jolted awake, by the Northridge Earthquake on January 17, 1994. I drove bleary-eyed down the 210 freeway to the 118, careening off expansion joints that had become steps. Less than a...
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"We've done it before, and we can do it again." 
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"What’s happening is that more people are simply aware of what’s going on and who their real enemies are, the bigshots in the deep-state establishment who have no political affiliation and who control just about everything." 
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"Trump’s election will inevitably give rise to strong opposition in the streets, perhaps even sparking a much needed revival of the left across the US, which based on the success of the Sanders campaign is far from dead." 
One of the most confounding aspects of Donald Trump’s election as 45th President of the United States is that in the space of a year – indeed less than a year – a man with zero political experience…
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