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.
Who knew that these mid-cycle days of the long emergency (i.e. the collapse of techno-industrial economies) would feature the willful abandonment of reason by the thinking class of Western Civ, and America extra-specially? Reminder: the basic catalyst for collapse is over-investments in complexity with diminishing returns. The rest follows from there.
Another name for diminishing returns is blowback. The Internet is certainly the most complex assembly of human thought in human history and it is blowing back ferociously on humanity in ways that are far from obvious. It has set in motion countless recursive feedback loops of misinformation, disinformation, and ideas that are simply bad in the sense that they don’t comport with reality. Hence, the new elastic meaning of the concept known as “truth.”
Capital T Truth used to be mankind’s conduit to reality. To even state it that way now may invite censure for sexism, since the word “man” has lately been burdened with toxic overtones; while the concept of sexism itself is tinged with the unreal notion that the hard-wired tensions between men and women should not be allowed to exist and must be abolished. That’s how hopelessly complex it’s getting. The divorce between truth and reality is nearly complete now that everybody has his/her/zhe’s own truth, and the facts are just ornaments subject to rearrangement within anyone’s own story.
The stupendous failures of authority driving America to political collapse are one manifestation of these dynamics, and one that might concern the thinking class, if it wasn’t so busy mind-fucking itself and everybody else. For instance, that most recent example of non-inclusive “truth” known as the Mueller Report. That hallowed document states unequivocally that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s email server in 2016.
In reality, there is no evidence of that being true. Neither the FBI nor Robert Mueller and his own investigators made any attempt to conduct a forensic examination of the DNC’s servers. They left the job to an outfit called Crowdstrike, a DNC contractor, and Crowdstrike’s “conclusions” were conveyed to the FBI and Mr. Mueller in a half-assed memo from the DNC’s lawyers. Anybody notice the embedded interests there? No one connected with these authorities ever even deigned to interview Julian Assange, either, and he was the one person on earth who might know for sure how those purloined emails came to Wikileaks.
Another whopper staring the credulous thinking class in the face is the obvious fact that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign colluded with Russians. Mr. Mueller left out of his report the fact that two Russians present in the infamous Trump Tower Meeting of 2016, Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, were in the service of Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS “oppo research” company, hired by the Clinton Campaign and progenitor of RussiaGate, in particular the janky documents known as the “Steele Dossier.” Would you consider that a material omission? I would. How is it that the news media shows no interest in these matters? I suppose because it is not their truth.
Mrs. Clinton’s additional dealings with Russians — and the choo-choo train of cash money they rode in with — reached a high tide during her tenure at the State Department, when her foundation hauled in more than $150-million from Russian business interests alone (that is, from oligarchs), not to mention the mere half-million in walking-around-money that husband Bill received for giving a single speech to a Russian banking group. How is it that a Secretary of State trafficked in so much grifted loot without raising any red flags for institutional auditors?
America’s relationship with authority is in grievous disrepair with Robert Mueller as exhibit-A — a would-be Moses-like figure, only with feet of clay and a head rotting like the proverbial fish of institutional corruption. He announced in his May 29th “news conference” — in which he refused to entertain questions — that he preferred not to testify in any further inquiries about his Special Counsel investigation. What a cheeky fellow! It was, perhaps, a message to Reps. Nadler, Schiff, and comrades on the various congressional committees to (hint hint) not even bother calling him. But Mr. Mueller was, after all, a mere employee of the US Department of Justice, not a herald of God Almighty. I rather imagine that the Attorney General, Mr. Barr, has a few additional questions he would like to ask his “old friend.” Will Mr. Mueller, this Greta Garbo of jurisprudence, coyly demur? And on what basis, exactly? I don’t think he can get away with it.
The complexities of RussiaGate make all previous government scandals look as simple as Pin the Tail on the Donkey. The Internet will prove to be both its doing and its undoing. The much abused and perverted official “truths” of the matter were amplified by the Internet. And, of course, these “truths” were enlisted in service of Mrs. Clinton and the rogue bureaucracy looking to defend her (and themselves) at all costs. The cost turns out to be the dismemberment of thinking itself in America. It is now taken for granted that anyone who persists in thinking for him/her/zheself will be tossed out of the Internet’s large “social media” arenas in Mark Zuckerberg’s and Jack Dorsey’s quest to purify history.
They will not succeed. But they have certainly succeeded in needlessly antagonizing Russia, shoving foreign policy debate into sequestered game rooms that are at once halls-of-mirrors and echo chambers, and making the world a much more dangerous place. There is also a pretty fair percentage chance that America is too far gone intellectually to sort all this out.