How the middle has fallen out of American politics
Like a soggy taco, the bottom has fallen out of America politics. The left and right are going hard while the middle has gone soft. The 'middle' was hypocrisy and lies, but it was still the only thing holding the taco together. Now the whole thing is falling apart.
The big problem is how much the left and right agree. Both distrust the mainstream media. Both are fed up of rapacious elites. Both agree that the government is incompetent and corrupt. While they disagree on what to do, they both agree that things are fucked. This is a very dangerous place for a country to be. Left unchecked, it's fatal.
In response, the limp American 'center' is just furiously hitting ⌘Z, trying to go back to the Obama era of hope and change. So the same old bullshit with better branding. His undead heir Joe Biden is issuing some bullshit statements, failing to fix some roads, and hoping it all goes away. Meanwhile violent shocks buffet the nation, shattering class relations into a violent, unstable sandstorm of atomized human beings. Coups, coronavirus, financial crashes, military defeats, and worse is on the way. As WB Yeats said, "things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world."
The Teleological Taco
Teleology is the idea of the final cause of things, their ultimate purpose (like an acorn's purpose is to become a tree). America's purpose was what Obama called a 'more perfect Union', which was an age-old refrain. As long as the country was getting there (and people were getting richer) people could accept any amount of bullshit along the way. As long as people believed in the American Dream, American reality didn't fall apart. But who believes that shit anymore?
Maybe Obama could bailout the crash in 2008, but what about the crash now? What about the inevitable crashes to come? When the ends no longer justify the means, the means just look pointless and cruel. The entire teleological taco comes apart. You can even see it splitting on a graph:
The American Dream was that you could work a normal job, buy a home, and live a better life than your parents. This simply does not exist anymore. Since the 1980s, America has been economically splitting and the country is now as unequal as the 1920s. That social pressure was only released through world war and the New Deal. Now, almost exactly a century later, the social pressure cooker is back on. It's like refried beans.
Hence even Joe Biden told rich donors: "when we have income inequality as large as we have in the United States today, it brews and ferments political discord and basic revolution. Not a joke. Not a joke. I'm not [inaudible] revolution."
No shit Joe Biden isn't revolution, he's the soggy middle trying desperately to reconstitute itself. But it's far too little, far too late. In 2008, Bush and Obama worked together to bail out capitalism, but that consensus is gone. This time Republicans tried to coup Biden on the way in and are awash in conspiracy theories now.
Biden is trying to pathetically go back to normal, but that ship has long sailed. It sailed in 2008 when America crashed, it sailed in 2001 when America was attacked, it sailed in the 90s when Reagan's bullshit became bipartisan. They keep bailing it out, but at some point the ship's going down. The water rushes over the sides.
Biden is a man of the past and he fundamentally misunderstands this moment. In his remarks to rich donors, he told them 'nothing will fundamentally change' which is the precise opposite of what the mob wants. He said:
"We can disagree in the margins but the truth of the matter is it's all within our wheelhouse and nobody has to be punished. No one's standard of living will change, nothing will fundamentally change."
But things do have to fundamentally change. Disagreements on the margins have become agreed-upon levels of outrage. When Biden said "The truth of the matter is, you all, you all know, you all know in your gut what has to be done" this just isn't true. If those rich donors knew what had to be done, they'd go out and guillotine themselves. The last time America was under this much social pressure Roosevelt passed most of the new deal within 100 days. Biden is wasting most of his term getting foiled by the filibuster.
For a sense of how fucking wrong Biden is, just look at history. Here's I'll put Biden's full (leaked) quote and a passage from Eric D. Weitz's Weimar Germany side by side:
As you can see, the monied elites of Germany tried the same alliance with Social Democrats and it fucking exploded. By trying to preserve their privileges in the political 'middle' they ignored the rage building all around then until it was too late. By being so afraid of change they're just going to get collapse. In Weimar Germany, this rancid political taco ended in violent Nazi diarrhea. America is heading the same way.
Like a delivery taco, you simply can't subject a political taco to violent external shocks and have it survive. In Germany the Weimar Republic really tried reform, but successive shocks of pandemic, war, and repeated economic crashes just made it all come apart.
America is facing the same economic conditions as the 1920s, almost the exact same external shocks, and they're not even trying. They've done the equivalent of throwing takeout into a plastic bag, putting a BLM sticker on it, and kicking it down the road. It's not going to fucking work. It's not working now.
The essence of the Soggy Taco Problem is that the middle loses consensus. The two pillars of American consensus are capitalism and democracy, and both are under attack. The left is like 'fuck capitalism' and the right is like 'fuck democracy' and so the center cannot hold. Hannah Arendt called this agreement between left and right in Weimar Germany a "new, terrifying negative solidarity."
She's describing a feeling that has reached critical mass in America today, that "the most respected, articulate and representative members of the community were fools and that all the powers that be were not so much evil as they were equally stupid and fraudulent."
Hence someone like me and someone on the right both call Joe Biden incompetent and corrupt. We both distrust the NYTimes. We both hate Bill Gates; all for completely different reasons. It is this 'terrifying negative solidarity' of both sides that makes the middle collapse. The left and right may hate each other, but they both hate the middle. And so the bottom falls out. Given that the right is better organized, America society will collapse to the right. So, you know, Nazis again, this time as farce. To paraphrase Yeats, 'Tacos fall apart; the centre cannot hold; violent diarrhea is loosed upon the world.'
I have written (much) further about the dreadful similiarities between Pre-Nazi Germany and Pre-What-Rough-Beast America earlier. These rely on the books Weimar Germany by Eric D. Weitz (Buy/Borrow) and On Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt. You can also just read the Yeats poem Second Coming to get the vibe.