The Age Of Extremes Necessitates Extremism By Peter West (Resident Fanatic)

     Examining posts from overseas sites, you cannot but notice that their concerns are not about economics, the constitution or other red, white and blue issues, but survival of the engulfing chaos. They are warning us of a savage storm approaching. The wise will open their eyes and prepare now. Remember the story of Noah? 2 Peter 4-6: “For … God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them deep into hell, placing them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; … He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, among the eight; … He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction, reducing them to ashes as an example of what is coming on the ungodly …” That’s something to think about while enjoying the last dregs of Western consumerism/materialism/affluence, because our modernity makes Sodomorrah look sweetly clean by comparison:

“Anyone with eyes can see that the mercury is rising across America. The riots that follow the deaths of folks like George Floyd and now Jacob Blake, the current violence in Kenosha, Seattle’s lawless autonomous zone, the movement to ‘defund the police’, the anger behind the surge of ‘cancel culture’ — the nation’s social fabric is suddenly stretched taut and starting to tear at the seams. Is it any surprise that gun sales are up 72%(!) vs last year, with first-time buyers driving a material percentage of that increase: According to a report by the Washington Post, the National Sports Shooting Foundation says that first-time gun buyers played a heavy role in the increase.  Women and black Americans have also shown interest in arming themselves this year. “Nearly 5 million Americans purchased a firearm for the very first time in 2020. NSSF surveyed firearm retailers which reported that 40% of sales were conducted to purchasers who have never previously owned a firearm,” the organization said in its analysis, which tracked background checks associated with the sale of a firearm reported by the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System. “This is a tectonic shift in the firearm and ammunition industry marketplace and complete transformation of today’s gun-owning community,” said Lawrence G. Keane, a senior vice president at the foundation. “These first-time buyers represent a group of people who, until now, were agnostic regarding firearm ownership. That’s rapidly changing… This rise in public ire is something we’ve been warning of for years here at While there are many serious injustices that exist in today’s society, we believe the root cause for the majority of them lies in the misguided and frequently immoral policies perpetrated by the Federal Reserve and Congress — policies that reward the already-rich at the expense of the general public. 2020 has revealed this truth clearly in the response to the covid-19 pandemic. With the $5+ trillion unleashed between the monetary and fiscal “rescue” stimulus efforts, the battle cry from our “leaders” has been: Defend the rich!  Despite an unprecedented decline in economic activity, asset prices have more than recovered their losses and many are now back at all-time-highs in what has been the shortest-lived bear market history.”

“The year 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture. Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president. But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months. Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population - not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves - that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges.

But the data are nonetheless stunning, in terms of both the depth of the social and mental health crises they demonstrate and the pervasiveness of them. Perhaps the most illustrative study was one released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month, based on an extensive mental health survey of Americans in late June. One question posed by researchers was whether someone has “seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days”— not fleetingly considered it as a momentary fantasy nor thought about it ever in their lifetime, but seriously considered suicide at least once in the past 30 days. The results are staggering. For Americans between 18-24 years old, 25.5 percent — just over 1 out of every 4 young Americans — said they had. For the much larger group of Americans ages 25-44, the percentage was somewhat lower but still extremely alarming: 16 percent. A total of 18.6 percent of Hispanic Americans and 15 percent of African Americans said they had seriously considered suicide in the past month. The two groups with the largest percentage who said yes: Americans with less than a high school degree and unpaid caregivers, both of whom have 30 percent — or almost 1 out of every 3 — who answered in the affirmative. A full 10 percent of the U.S. population generally had seriously contemplated suicide in the month of June. In a remotely healthy society, one that provides basic emotional needs to its population, suicide and serious suicidal ideation are rare events. It is anathema to the most basic human instinct: the will to live. A society in which such a vast swath of the population is seriously considering it as an option is one which is anything but healthy, one which is plainly failing to provide its citizens the basic necessities for a fulfilling life. The alarming CDC data extends far beyond serious suicidal desires. It also found that “40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder (TSRD) related to the pandemic (26.3%), and having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3%).

     Thus, in an age of extremity, is it any wonder that the philosophy of extremism is here. The next post cites academic Peter Turchin’s book Ages of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History, who has some informative things to say on this topic.

“The cycle starts when the number of radicals is low and that of moderates high. Few naives are radicalized because they rarely encounter a radical, and the radicalization rate is low, thanks to the presence of many moderates. For the next 25 years the number of radicals continues to stay low, and the overall society enjoys a period of internal peace and stability. However, and more ominously, during this period the number of moderates declines as moderates retire from active political life. There are few new moderates because they arise only when radicals become disenchanted with radicalism, and the levels of political violence are too low to cause such disenchantment and, anyway, there are few radicals to convert into moderates. As a result, around the midpoint of the peaceful phase the number of radicals begins to increase, although initially very gradually. Meanwhile, the number of naive individuals grows, primarily due to moderates retiring and new individuals becoming adults. Around year 25, however, naives start turning into radicals in increasing numbers. The growth of radicalism enters an autocatalytic phase (more radicals means greater numbers of naives becoming exposed, while fewer moderates cannot exert a dampening influence on this process). The numbers of radicals explode, so that the second half of the cycle is characterized by elevated sociopolitical instability.

Sociopolitical instability reaches a peak around year 40 and then starts to decline. This decline is because increasing numbers of radicals become disenchanted, as a result of high levels of political violence, leading to the rise of moderates. By the end of the cycle (year 50), the moderates reach their peak. Their collective influence results in the suppression of radicals, radicalism and instability, signaling the start of a peaceful phase (and the beginning of the next cycle). The main lesson from this modeling exercise is that it is not necessary to assume there are distinct (or even self-aware) “generations”. Generations arise as a side effect of age structure and the dynamics of social contagion. Thus, most individuals who become adults during the peaceful phase (the first 25 years of the cycle) will never become radicals or moderates. Thirty years into the cycle, over 80 percent are naives. On the other hand, individuals who enter adulthood during the next 25 year period, the instability phase, have a high chance of becoming first radicalized and then “burnt-out”, and make the transition into moderates. Half or more of those cohorts who are in the young adult stage during the acceleration phase of instability (25-40 years into the cycle) will travel the radicalization-moderation path.” 

     Thus, it is likely that we are in the disintegration part of the game of civilisation, even considering secular sources. The question is whether the coming disruption will be so severe that there will be no quick recovery if at all, so that this is civilizational collapse. At present, each day there is some new horror, like this attempted rape in public on a New York City subway.

     Here are some videos to help you get up to speed at the end of days:



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Sunday, 23 June 2024

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