Is the country in trouble? Not yet. But if you aren’t a little worried then you haven’t been paying attention. As it stands, our economy is facing a looming recession and our political bodies are facing the rise of post-modernism/socialism. The former can be brutal albeit abbreviated, while the latter can be existential and lasting.
The Looming Recession. Recessions follow economic expansion like night follows day. In its simplest form a recession is caused by an excessive expansion of the market. Technically a recession is when there is two succeeding quarters of negative growth. A recession ends when there are two succeeding quarters of positive growth. The last recession – the Bush/Obama recession – began in the latter part of December 2007 and ended in June of 2009. (The recovery from that recession was the slowest in history and was caused exclusively by the repressive economic policies of then President Barack Obama – unemployment remained tragically high and growth staggered along at below two percent per annum for most of Mr. Obama’s tenure. While there was a constant increase in employment it took Mr. Obama until almost 2015 before the nation recovered just the jobs lost during that recession.)
Given the complexity of today’s markets and the effects of globalism, it is difficult to predict the exact cause or the exact timing of a recession. Be that as it may, the current economic expansion has been going on for almost ten years and in July will become the longest expansion recorded. All that tells us is that a contraction is likely to occur sooner than later but not when. Some economic indicators seem to predict a contraction in the latter part of 2019 or early 2020. But the most likely scenario is that the European Union, with its increasingly weak economy, will slip into a recession before the end of the year and then China will have to own up to its own economic problems. Those two events are likely to draw the United States into it. (If a recession begins in 2020 you can count on the Democrats to blame President Trump’s policies and not the socialist policies and unrestricted immigration that have prevailed in Europe over the past thirty years.) It would appear that the recession is likely to be mild unless Congress makes it worse.
Post-Modernism and the new Socialists. But even a harsh recession will be mild compared to the effects of the creeping post-modern politics and socialist economic policies. Post-Modernism is a movement that began in academic circles as a means to explain away the consistent failures of communism/socialism since their founding. It is populated by former communists and socialists who have reigned in academia without accountability. It has been adopted by so-called activists who are still trying to understand why others succeed where they have failed – this is their excuse. AllAboutPhilosophy.org in a twisted sort of way offered the following explanation:
“Postmodernism is difficult to define, because to define it would violate the postmodernist’s premise that no definite terms, boundaries, or absolute truths exist.”
It is a form of nihilism which rejects everything that brought Western civilization out of the Dark Ages – advancements in art, science, industry, government, engineering, technology, medicine, etc. It has made its way out of academia and into the streets where mob violence (e.g. Antifa, Occupy Wall Street, Earth Liberation Front, the Eugene anarchists) has become its raison d’être and jabberwocky its explanation. And from there it has been adopted by the new Far Left liberal/progressive wing of the Democrat Party and was in full display during the Senate confirmation of Supreme Court nominee and now Justice Brett Cavanaugh.
One of its adherents is Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Mr. Booker is long on rhetoric and short on accomplishments. During the Cavanaugh hearings, Mr. Booker addressing Mr. Cavanaugh’s accuser stated: “I believe your truth” and repeatedly thanked her for “her truth.” And therein lies the problem. “Truth” is not subjective; it is objective. It is not individually stylized; it is universally applicable. However, in the view of post-Modernists, like Mr. Booker, truth is malleable – it is personal.
In the post-Modernist there is no absolute truth. That means that anything is true if you believe it to be true. Or nothing is true because you have not embraced it as “your truth.” In either instance, the conclusions are rather benign until you step into a society where others take the same point of view – all they believe is true, and all that they don’t believe is not true. So how do you resolve the disputes between your truth and their truth? Suppression of free speech where “safe zones” are created to avoid contrary points of view. Denial of forums for speech that does not agree with liberal/progressive point of view. “Dog whistles” for differing points of view. Public schools and academia dominated by group liberal/progressive think. And politicians silenced by fear of being labeled racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic or any of the growing list of pejoratives embraced by liberal/progressives as an excuse for not debating the issues. Remember, in a post-modernist world attacking the credibility of your opponent frees you from ever confronting the validity of his or her arguments. Witness now how often the new socialist denounce others as racists or homophobic or Islamaphobic. They never respond to the facts or logic of others; they just denounce them, e.g. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-NY). And it frees them to speak authoritatively about subjects about which they lack any knowledge – when called out for their errors, they respond by labeling the opposition with slurs.
In the end that leads to confrontation – physical confrontation where might makes right, like the Antifa movement. And the confrontation escalates to repression by the dominant tribe. Witness Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and the socialist/communist regimes of Russia, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. In each instance those who differed with the regime were denounced as traitors and revisionists thus attacking the person rather than the ideas.
Not surprisingly the policy positions of these new socialists are identical to the failed positions of the socialists/communists who came before them – free government programs as a placebo to the masses, redistribution of wealth in the name of fairness, and repression of education, speech and thought in the name of protecting the masses from having to deal with divergent points of view.
The result is crushing poverty (Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras). Everyone is equal – equally poor, equally without hope for advancement, equally denied nutrition, health care and education. But there is always the exception promised us by Animal Farm – some pigs are more equal than others. In every instance those who have seized power live handsomely while the masses suffer.
There is a form of socialism practiced in Europe in which their remains private ownership, individual initiative and meritocracy, but still tightly controlled by the government through regulation. That is the essence of the European Unions governing body. It has resulted in stagnant economies, little innovation and prices well in excess of the real cost of production. It is the reason that the European Union has been verging on an economic recession for years.
The Warning. The reason I have said the country is not in trouble yet is because neither the looming recession nor the ascendancy of socialism has taken hold yet. The great problem is that when the recession begins, the irresistible and irresponsible promise of free everything by liberal/socialists and spurred on by their socialist allies may drive voters to abandon historical common sense and bring the new socialist to power in America. Once there the inevitable slide toward economic ruin begins. If it were otherwise America’s major cities – all governed by liberal/progressives – would be monuments to success rather than the garbage dumps they’ve become. The burden of poverty lays mostly on the shoulders of people of color who have been fooled into believing that the welfare state is the best they can expect and that they need to keep the liberal/progressive – and now the socialists – in power.
Mr. Obama introduced us to the effects of an intrusive government smothering free enterprise – stagnant growth, high unemployment, low workforce participation, and a migration of new job opportunities to other countries. Although he was unable to press his policies forward after his first two years when Republicans gained control of one of the houses of Congress, he still kept his foot on the air hose of economic growth through stifling regulation and claimed it was all “the new reality.” Full throated socialism as being promoted by Democrats in Congress will make Mr. Obama’s tenure look like a walk in the park.
The point here is that unless the American people wake-up to the growing tide of socialism – and I believe they will – the great American experiment will end soon.