The author is a prominent American social critic, blogger, and podcaster, and one of our all-time favorite pessimists. We carry his articles regularly on RI. His writing on Russia-gate has been highly entertaining.
He is one of the better-known thinkers The New Yorker has dubbed 'The Dystopians' in an excellent 2009 profile, along with the brilliant Dmitry Orlov, another regular contributor to RI (archive). These theorists believe that modern society is headed for a jarring and painful crack-up.
You can find his popular fiction and novels on this subject, here. To get a sense of how entertaining he is, watch this 2004 TED talk about the cruel misery of American urban design - it is one of the most-viewed on TED. Here is a recent audio interview with him which gives a good overview of his work.
If you like his work, please consider supporting him on Patreon.
Unlike the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren doesn’t radiate contempt, loathing, and horror at the task of mingling with the hoi polloi. Rather, she has become famous for staging lengthy sessions after campaign speeches to pose for selfies with her fans. The selfie-seekers, you will notice, are all women. It’s heartwarming as all get out. This is at the center of Senator Warren’s strategy for winning the next election: to cadge all of the women’s vote and become the President of all the women of the United States.
It’s a shrewd strategy, to turn the election into a gender-bonding contest, but elections have turned on equally fatuous premises, probably more often than not. Paradoxically, the lumbering President Trump, with his bay window belly, mystifying bouffant, fourth-grade vocabulary, and grab-them-by-the-pussy approach to romance, scored 53 percent of women’s votes last time around. Perhaps that was more a reflection of his opponent’s titanic loathsomeness than of Mr. Trump’s charms. But it only underscores Ms. Warren’s gambit: all she has to do is swing a generous majority of American women over to her side.
She is, in many ways, an exemplar of her sex. She’s made the best of her corn-fed Oklahoma looks. At 69, she capers energetically around the hustings in spanx and Nina McLemore jewel-toned, popped-collar jackets as though she were America’s yoga instructor, an appealing addition to her previous career as a distinguished Harvard law professor. She scores well on the feelings and sharing index, qualities that most men can only caricature. (Claiming to be a Cherokee was a forgivable way of sharing — sharing useful identities for career advancement.)
And she has a palpable edge of anger about all the swindles and injustices in American life today, especially those spawned on Wall Street by the financial patriarchy — hey, who can argue with that one? If she has a husband (she has, Harvard law prof Bruce H. Mann) he might as well be hiding under a rock.
Ms. Warren’s big sell at this point in the campaign is Medicare for all, nationalized single-payer health care. The appeal is obvious: for one thing, other civilized countries manage to provide it for their citizens. And despite the counter-claims that “people like their health insurance,” the world has probably never seen such a pitiless, odious racket as the current system in the USA.
Ask the schnooks forced to take their kids to the emergency room who end up stuck with bills for $6000 for a few stitches. Ms. Warren proposes a new system that would turn medicine into something more like the motor vehicle bureau with doctors — if you could find any doctors who would willingly sign on, which I doubt. And, of course, because it evokes such strong feelings of maternal sympathy, Ms. Warren also avidly raised her hand to support free health care for illegal immigrants, too, as a companion piece to the Democrats’ open borders policy.
Ms. Warren might win the nomination and even the election just on that portfolio of qualities, especially if the economy goes in the tank under the Golden Golem of Greatness, where it is apparently headed as I write, if you look at dismal car sales and the stats on plummeting world trade. There’s more than a year before the election for that scene to worsen. In the event, though, President Warren would be stuck on-the-job in a second Great Depression much worse than the one of the 1930s.
I doubt she could FDR her way through it. America back then still had plenty of everything except cash money. Lots of oil, ores, factories, and well-regimented workers. Now we’re officially $22 trillion in debt. The remaining oil costs so much to get out of the ground it’s bankrupting the oil companies. The ores are gone. The factories stand in ruin. And the workforce has degenerated into various mobs demanding something for nothing. The coming disposition of things will be less a depression than a long emergency of permanent contraction, and even Ms. Warren’s zesty grandmotherly charms may not avail to preserve the civil order under those conditions.
The picture I draw is admittedly severe, but what troubles me as much is the prospect of a civil war between the sexes. Things are already bad enough, as witnessed this week by the latest campaign by The New York Times to take down Judge Kavanaugh in the sensationally mendacious reporting by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly. The educated class of American women is earning a reputation for dishonesty and wickedness every bit as bad as the patriarchy they inveigh against. And believe it or not, men are still out there, even some heroic ones, and they won’t stand for this nonsense forever.