Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ain't No Tellin'


George Packer's New Yorker article, "The Fall of Conservatism," is competently argued and backed up by evidence both historical and anecdotal, and it's generated a lot of buzz. It's worth reading, but I don't entirely buy it.

Ain't no tellin' what's going to happen. If underlying social and economic conditions were roughly the same as they have been the last 100 years or so then the political system would be predictable. Conservatism would go dormant for a couple decades, like liberalism did from 1980 to 2006, then after a time would reassert itself.

The problem is, underlying conditions are radically changed. This country has lost a lot of power in the last eight years spinning its wheels in Iraq to the tune of three trillion, and is now the world's biggest pauper (which is one reason it's lost quite a bit of that power).

The Vietnam War wiped out our gold reserves. This one was all put on VISA. And now the credit market is tapped out, the great suburban build-out is over, gasoline is unaffordable and will mostly stay that way from now on -- all the sources from which our wealth and power derived are broken or gone.

Maybe a majoriity will turn viciously right-wing under the pressures of poverty and anxiety, wanting to make scapegoats of immigrants or some other vulnerable group. There could be a kind of fascist revolution of that sort. Or on the other hand we might turn to radical environmentalism, and turn on the TV news to see drivers of gas buggies getting pelted with stones, and people turning in their neighbors to the re-ci police for not recycling their paper bags.

There's just no telling.

3 comments:

Joe said...

I am pretty sure that the hard times will cause more conflict between interest groups.

Dave B, a.k.a. catboxer said...

What I'm most afraid of is that people will become hysterical with rage and fear, and look for scapegoats. There could be violent times ahead.

Joe said...

It is a reasonable concern. People get like that when under survival stress.