I sure do miss that guy.
Making predictions is like dressing in a clown costume and handing meringue pies to passers by. We all do it even though the future is not merely unknown but unknowable. Ask the dinosaurs of 66 million and 33 years ago—Alvarez’s date was published in 1980—how the beach party scheduled for the next day at Chicxulub worked out. Oh that’s right, you can’t, they were all flash-barbequed. So much for simple continuity, much less long term extrapolation. That said, we can predict with sufficient confidence that a truck falling off a cliff will hit bottom, and pretty much when and where. If it doesn’t, we have bigger problems than a predictive miss.
Predictions, if they’re to be understood at all, are to be understood backwards. They comment on the present without directly, you know, commenting on the present. The commenting part is not optional. It is in fact inescapable. Most science fiction is also commentary, the time displacement or alternate reality being bedazzlement to reorient the reader. It’s calculated to evade his prepositioned defenses long enough for The Message to get through intact. Movies are less subtle, we willingly check our disbelief at the door, and it remains suspended unless something blatant disquiets it.
Plain ol’ predictions are more simple minded, more the “trouble with a T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for POOL” school of commentary, an exercise in connecting dots most of which don’t actually exist. Finally, predictions are like subatomic particles, each one has its anti-particle, both spring from the same source, both are equally valid—and equally not valid. Pollyannas and noble thinkers hew to the one, the pragmatists and battle scarred the other. With all this in mind, or not, we begin.
Constitutional fundamentalism will dominate the 21st century like the New Deal and the New Left dominated the 20th. The one party two-party system is already understood to be profoundly incestuous and irredeemably corrupt. Worse, DC’s actions say it believes the populace to be its enemy. The populace finds less reason to doubt them every day, so DC’s blatant disregard for natural rights and Constitutional guarantees is being challenged as never before, and mere accommodation at the margins is laughably insufficient for the growing ranks of the newly converted.
The movement grossly underestimates itself. To their credit, DC knows better. The ruling class understands this administration may be the last of the wooly mammoths. They’re not looking to defeat constitutionalism, they’re looking to survive it and dominate it. Look for the patricians to decorate the lampposts with their own cadets in a dramatic lunge for absolution and acceptance.
The next Great Depression is happening now. As in the ‘thirties, everything is getting better with the single exception of everything. The stock market as a price discovery mechanism is defunct, Detroit and three dozen or so smaller municipal bankruptcies have shown Munis are no longer credible, and the Federal Reserve has gone about as far into the marshlands as it can and found—more marshland. Now the final notice is in the mail.
Look for rising interest rates to tank the economy, and suddenly so. It’s the same leverage used for the bogus rampup, except working in reverse with a gravity assist. Look for a 25 to 35 per cent drop in real GDP from here, an unexampled calamity. Also expect dollar emergencies to come closer together until they drag it into outright repudiation. DC’s clout and credibility rest squarely on the dollar. Where it goes, they go. All else is blather. Even telephone tappers don’t work for nothing.
It’s said every agency wants to be a police force, and every police force wants to be an army. This is a spectacularly bad idea. In the beginning the municipal police were manned with casual labor in the lower reaches, little more than bailiffs with street duty. Professional law enforcement meant the sheriff—originally: the shire reeve—one of two ancient offices inherited from England, the other being the coroner. There were no police when the Constitution was ratified. Over time they’ve come close to the internal standing army art the founders feared and warned against, and with creeping federal captivity, an army of national occupation.
The schisms within the police over this, and between the populace and the police, are deepening proportionally. In DC’s mind the necessity for an open transformation is getting urgent. Look for a Night of the Long Knives during some crisis or another in the coming years, to purge rogue elements and promote efficiency, natch. Then look for trouble when the people understand the thin blue line has melded with the thick blue line and “protect and defend” means protecting and defending DC—from the people.
There’s every reason to believe the 21st century will be as eventful as the 20th. It’s foolish to expect good outcomes, much less depend on them. Even this little distance in time shows the last century was about Great Leaders building make believe worlds and forcing everybody to live in them until they either died from the consequences or the regime did. It’s no coincidence modern states use prodigious resources to count heads and keep tabs, or that survivalists think a lot about escape and evasion.
In the west the first years of the 21st century have been about disengagement. Much of “collapse” doomers point to is disengagement without sanctioned reengagement elsewhere. The slo-mo dissolution of the EU and back-to-the-land survival communities are examples from the macro and micro ends of the scale. But a trend does not a future make. The future is made the same way a glacier is made, one snowflake at a time. From there on, where it goes is up to the glacier.
Aside from being a true visionary, Remus also had a beautiful way with the language, didn’t he? Since I couldn’t find any way to excerpt it without blunting the overall impact, I just lifted the thing wholesale from WRSA, for which I extend my humblest apologies. In a way, I’m happy that Ol’ Remus didn’t live to witness the current flea circus. On the other hand, though, we could surely use a man of his extraordinary gifts along about now, even moreso in the dark, dark days to come.