Why Trump’s administration will do a ‘Jimmy Carter fade’ and nationalist economic ideology will fail
By GL Charpied © 2017
The impeachment of Donald Trump is a liberal feminist wet dream. Liberal because we on the left of the political spectrum cannot believe a semiliterate bloviating buffoon of such destructive inclinations would be elected president. Feminist because women feel victimized yet again by an electorate (half of which is female) would vote for ‘…anyone but a women.’ Now that he and his clown posse are in we must find a resolution that will satisfy both the predispositions on the left, the passionate pleas of women, and the firm desire on the right and follow all procedures required to satisfy political moderates. There are precedents for impeachment (Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and William Clinton), but, with the exception of Nixon, who left office in the face of likely impeachment, the others came close but were not (i.e., Clinton and Johnson for poor judgement, and Reagan for inattentiveness). Ridding us of the economic nationalism of Bannonist-Trumpism is another story. With its parallels to Leninist-Stalinism’s economic autonomy, it’s barely conversant ideological tenets, and inherent support for fascism, Bannonist-Trumpism will more likely follow a shallow curve of rise and decline because of its sloppy intellectualism. The shocking result of last year’s national election has turned into shocking daily and weekly revelations that make our president appear childish and authoritarian. Let’s look at the twin issues of impeachment and nationalist economics to better understand how each might resolve in the near future.
Why not impeachment?
Impeachment is a remote eventuality for several reasons. First, it is a tool of political accountability. By that I mean impeachment was designed by framers of the Constitution to address a political question. As such it has laws and a political process designed to protect an office holder from what would appear as a Constitutional ‘coup,’ were no evidence of violation of public trust to exist. Further, there needs to be an objectively demonstrated systematic pattern of abuse of the office’s powers and a clear breach of expected individual ethics. Otherwise there would be an undermining of Constitutional rule. Additionally, the person holding the office of the president would have to be shown to be unwise in a manner that places America’s welfare at risk. He would also necessarily have to be shown to be clinically insane, that in some way his behavior was reckless in his daily actions that prevented execution of the duties of the office. Second, it isn’t necessarily a negative that a president has no government experience. Ultimately the worse that can happen would be a mistake prone presidency (as we have seen presently). But with an adequate clique of advisors this issue might be modulated were the person willing to take advice and consent to follow. Third, and of more concern, is the issue of business ownership and the potential to use the office for personal gain. Expectations of what are emoluments and what to do to avoid appearance of misdeeds are clearly stated as Constitutional expectations of the Emoluments Clause. There expectation that the office holder divest them self of external business involvement to avoid conflicts of interest. Presently most polls have President Trump at around 40% approval for several reasons, but one is skepticism over his 3rd world deportment because of his imperiousness over divestment, his withholding of tax records, appearances of an unfair business practices environment by specious continuation of control his business interests from the White House. And there is the likelihood of nepotism where his family is given unofficial appointments as White House ‘advisors.’ These several concerns may add up to a pattern of missteps, as though Trump had something to hide in his failure to meet compulsory disclosure. Fourth, President Trump appears unaware, or at least insulated, from the three problem areas discussed above that place his administration in harm’s way. The likelihood that he and his advisors underestimate the threats because of hubris or narcissism plays into the hands of his detractors and may be taken together as signs of a personality ill-equipped to discharge his duties. The persistent displays of grandiosity, flouting the authority of the co-equal governmental offices and the lack of understanding that he needs relations with his political party and Congress (from the extremists such as the Freedom Caucus to the moderates he disparages), and expressions of unrealistic fantasies (e.g., size of the crowd attending his inauguration) are potential signs that he has difficulty commanding himself and, by extension, the details of the office. Fifth, at this time, the Republican Party has control over both houses of Congress, in part a resultant of years of district ‘gerrymandering.’ It is not out of the question that he benefited from a biased the Electoral College as a consequence. But that does not prevent a president from ouster were the factors discussed above come into play and combine with political party revolt.
Impeachment is difficult
For impeachment to be effected under the 25th Amendment, section 4 (1967), the president can be removed when unable to discharge powers and duties by agreement of the vice-president, his cabinet, or Congressional body (with 2/3s majority). In another scenario a physician has the power to adjudge that the president’s health, in his/her professional opinion, and who have a duty to warn, as diminished to where capacity or fitness to discharge the power and duties are significantly impaired. Specifically, the question needing an answer is whether the president is dangerous? Is his behavior grossly pathological, does he display inattention or indifference to his office, and does he not understand limits of powers and nature of his/her mandatory duties? There are times when subtle manifestations of political impairment manifested by a psychiatric disorder where the psychiatric physician, who also has a duty to warn, recognizes psychological impairment (referred to as the ‘Goldwater rule’). However, no action can be taken because of ‘talk show’ diagnosis. There cannot be a diagnosis without a proper examination (i.e., Personnel Reliability Program psychological test or proper medical survey). In the case of psychological impairment the question to the address is whether the president is making boasts or threats of violence? Here there are examples where candidate Trump urged his followers to commit violence on his opponent, openly approved torture, invited a foreign government to engage in political espionage, was discovered to have committed sexual offenses, admitted tax evasion, openly embraces polarization through support of racism, and, has, while in office, propagated serial falsehoods. These offenses, for the person holding the office of President, can be construed as a threat to Constitutional rule over presidential behavior expectations. It must be understood by all that once impeachment is committed to it is without appeal. There are no do overs. Yet removal is considered ‘contested’ and will remain a clouded outcome if a strict political process isn’t followed.
Simply being a ‘mold breaker,’ President Trump proclaims, isn’t sufficient reason to call for impeachment. On the one hand, unless one gets down to the brass tacks of day-to-day duties being a mold-breaker has a short half-life if legislative success doesn’t occur and there is no popular support. Were one to carefully examine the record it is clear that Trump is more of a ‘disjunctive’ character (one who reigns over end of party’s orthodoxy) rather than disruptive, where disruptive, in business jargon, enables a transition from regime to another. This is something we’ll address below in our discussion of Rich Higgins’ email. Certainly, there is nothing so far espoused, published or trumpeted that is anywhere close to the kind of program, for example, Martin Luther’s ‘95 Theses’ posited in 1517 that challenged the Catholic Church. Donald Trump and his political advisor, Steve Bannon, lack intellectual rigor of Lutheran disruption. They have no apparent obvious constructive intent and appear only to give lip service to the house cleaning of an establishment they consider iniquitous. A disruptive program requires a discreet plan and real reforms as Luther proposed for Catholic hierarchy.
Threats that make for demise
Trump family ‘deals,’ including wealthy and politically connected foreigners (i.e., Russians) may turn out to be an Achilles heel for the Trump Administration. These dealings may involve a recent past of suspect transactions in his and his family’s real estate and corporate sales made discoverable when records are likely subpoenaed during any of the several investigations now underway. There is a trail of taxable events with Russians and others may reveal conspiracy to defraud if not totally transparent. Since Trump’s GOP nomination, 70% of the sales of property have been to shell companies. In fact, Attorney General Robert Rosenstein’s 17 May 2017 order that gave Robert Mueller commission investigative purview includes anti-laundering laws specifically sets out guidelines for the examination of suspicious business activity in the form of currency transaction reports, suspicious withdrawals and deposits, and unusual changes in ownership asset patterns directly related to the Trump family. Even if Trump refuses to turn over these documents, Mueller’s commission can rely on Treasury Department Databases. However, examining emails and tax returns will require a judge’s approval at each step. Even so, the key question that brought the special counsel into being was whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence electoral outcome. The appearance of special consideration in dealing with Russians would add weight to the overall picture.
If President Trump and Steve Bannon were to look at the historical record they would find that the kind of scrutiny President Trump is now under (i.e. House of Representatives, Senate, and an independent counsel investigative commissions) always leads to more scrutiny; scrutiny that may spiral into crisis when liabilities of poor popularity, lack of Congressional of political party support, and a pattern of behavior that draws into question competency (i.e., lying, incredible statements, amateurish threats and vows of retribution, ultimatums, an enemies list), may conspire to torpedo his presidency. An another historical example may be helpful. President Jimmy Carter, although Cater is Trump’s stylistic and moral opposite, Carter’s tendency for micromanagement and frequent overruling his advisors on issues he had little expertise created a contentious environment that alienated his cabinet, advisors, and ultimately Congress to the point of reducing his effectiveness to execute the powers and duties of his office. The great promise of Carter’s presidency ultimately petered out. Another, less obvious factor, and one Trump and his advisors may not be aware of is political context of regime change. Reaganite ideology and its neoconservative impetus is no longer viable, and neither is white nationalist nostalgia a new conservative movement. Bannonist-Trumpism lacks a broad viable base from which to draw support. In fact, Bannonist-Trumpism is a fanciful collection of claptrap, crapulous conspiratorial nonsense, a misreading of history and the current pulse of the national sentiment and important items now before us. Bannonist-Trumpism will have difficulty seeing how its minority of true believers will formulate a new conservative ideology, or similar ideology. By placing emphasis on executive orders President Trump displays power but not legislative accomplishment. His campaign pledge to reenergize manufacturing and destroying what Bannon views as a greedy and feckless established elites and moneyed brokers systemically looting society requires more than one-hundred and forty characters and Brightbart conspiratorial You-Tube videos. As proof that Bannonist-Trumpism lacks a clear plan is reading the misguided conspiratorial claptrap of Rich Higgins circulated email.
Perhaps the best example of the ideological underpinnings of Bannonist-Trumpism is the political position paper disseminated by Richard Higgins as an email titled ‘POTUS & Political Warfare.’ Published from the National Security Council’s Strategic Planning Office (the same office Richard Perle and his clique of Reaganitie neocons used as platform to push rationale for the invasion of Iraq). Higgins’ position statement reveals Bannon and Trump’s White House as being in a ‘siege mentality’ due to its chronic battles with media, intelligence agencies, GOP leadership and Congress. Higgins, a staunch Trump supporter and Bannon loyalist, contends that Trump is an ‘…existential threat to Marxist memes dominating prevailing cultural narrative…’ Accordingly, the narrative provides the President with all the ammunition he needs for his daily tweets. In Higgins’ ‘manifesto’ the Marxist memes consist of: [a] media (‘opposition party’ to Bannon) as mechanism to implement Trump’s downfall, [b] ‘the academy’ of intellectuals and scientists as a key conduit creating future adherents to cultural Marxist narratives (essentially any intellectuals Bannon considers as ‘left’), [c] a ‘deep state’ of intelligence agencies persistently leaking information unfavorable to the White House, [d] global corporatists and bankers without morality exploiting populations worldwide and undermining our national protections, [e] the Democratic Party and its national committee acting as a counter-state enabling, through execution, sustaining efforts and protection of cultural Marxist programs, while facilitating expansion of the deep state, [f] Republican Party and its national committee leadership unwilling to challenge the left on its ‘identity politics’ agenda (sexism, racism, and homo- or Islamophobia are key issues Steve Bannon believes he can use to take over American politics); for Higgins and Bannon identity politics undermines the Constitution in some way (not described), and, lastly, [g] inattention to the efforts of Islam to divide America and infiltrate our society to establish ‘Sharia law.’
The above, and a raft of other professed reasons given for the present state of presidential affairs, are directly from Brightbart websites and altright blogs. They are also Bannonist-Trumpism tropes of nationalist economics. In imposing Bannonist/alt-right /Brightbart/4-chan, etc. ideology in his narrative Higgins exposes the weak heart of White House mindset and its globalist/Islamist conspiracy agenda. It is also a common practice of nationalist economics to bully any listener (tenor of Higgins’ email), by casting government, the GOP, the DNC, and, frankly any one disagreeing with Banonist-Trumpism, as implacable enemies who won’t conciliate their position. This kind of thinking hardens resistance and becomes self-fulfilling rhetoric. Since Trump was openly and ‘furiously’ displeased with Higgins’ NAS ouster, it is not too farfetched to comprehend that Higgins’ conceptual ‘world view’ is endorsed by President Trump. Further, the Islamophobia-driven Muslim travel ban created by Steve Bannon and signed as an executive order by President Trump that caused a furor, in part because of its reflection of naive political incompetence, similarly reveals a like mindedness among Higgins and Trump. By all reports, the Muslim ban was done without consultation of anyone outside Bannon’s circle in his White House advisory role. The sheer hubris of Bannon’s over-ruling exemptions was an intentional seismic provocation in an effort at pugilist parochialism and protectionism, something Higgins’ email mirrors.
Besides, all that heat and smoke should be seen as distraction and as being a page from Karl Rove (career opportunist and ‘dirty tricks’ political operative who views ideology as a tool in his role in frequent ‘voter suppression’ campaigns, and as Fox News commentator). The distraction is necessary to ‘feed the base’ in order to gain traction for economic nationalism and preserve their toehold on power while expanding Bannon’s reach through the office of the President. For Bannon, and apparently Richard Higgins and Donald Trump, the ideology of economic nationalism is an article of faith and composed of quasi-religious tenets. Bannonists see themselves as crusaders fighting to redeem a corrupt country betrayed by feckless and greedy leaders. Since the feckless and greedy are sufficiently corrupt, they are not redeemable (making the kind of distinction Muslims do when discerning the infidel [salvageable and therefore convertible] from the apostate [irredeemable, only fit for execution]) thereby setting the initial goal of economic nationalism as ‘…destroying all establishment…’ Such an agenda is nothing short of the same extremist rhetoric of Islamic State’s proclamations repeated on-line daily. Further, the outspoken inability of Bannonist-Trumpism to withstand challenges (i.e.,‘…if media does not understand ‘truth’ it should keep its mouth shut…’) is further indication of its limited role in political discourse, and is not dissimilar to past totalitarian states like the Leninist-Stalinism of the Soviet Union (i.e., control of media, quashing dissent, achievement through proclamation, etc.)
Bannonist-Trumpism and Lutherianist-Protestantism
Perhaps one final historical comparison will help in understanding why Bannonist-Trumpism’s nationalist economics will not work is to look at the author of the Protestant Reformation and his battle with the Catholic Church. Globally, we celebrate the life this year of Martin Luther (1483-1546). Luther was a biblical scholar of great intellectual rigor who was a believer in tenets of Catholic Church catechism. However, he was deeply distressed by what he perceived to be a feckless priesthood and greedy Church leadership. He both denounced and set a plan, in the form of a tract titled ’95 Theses’ in which he excoriated the Church for its sale of indulgences (indulgence guaranteed a purchaser a place in heaven, no matter the life one led), many other crimes and misdemeanors, and outlining reforms. Luther saw indulgence sale and priestly behavior (i.e., slothfulness, fornication, wastefulness, inattentiveness to duties, etc.) as the two most corrupt and corrupting aspects of a church in trouble. Luther believed the Church needed a good house cleaning only, not destruction. Luther was promptly assailed by the Church as a heretic and threatened with excommunication. However, there was a huge undercurrent in Western European society that agreed with Luther’s 95 Theses. Another important aspect of his ‘revolution’ was his cooperation with those who supported his thesis and his fairness on both sides of the debate. In his defense he was an effective defender against all challenges, which he welcomed. Rather than eschewing those who did not see eye-to-eye with him he sought to educate rather than shut them up. He also took full advantage of the then new technology, the printing press. Consequently, his base grew over time. Luther had no desire for destruction, but inadvertently his protest became a prolonged war between Catholics and ‘protestants.’ The bloody revolution that ensued he worked to stave off. Yet when the protestant reformation ended Catholicism remained much the same and adherents to Protestantism organized new religious sects across Western Europe. In the final analysis, today, Lutheran Protestantism is seen as a progressive movement.
Bannon, on the other hand, is not scholarly, rigorous, nor are his beliefs grounded in anything more than the tenets of agnotocistic* conspiracy (i.e., sweeping generalization that all ‘…government is corrupted by moneyed brokers, that all political parties are broken, and that all established governmental agencies are debased …’), and that all must be destroyed. Bannon and his acolytes, like Donald Trump and Rich Higgins, have done little more than create an agnotocistic ideology and a retrenchment of old ideas. It is an intellectual vacuum of academic sloppiness and mean-spirited thinking. Bannonist-Trumpism is unable to cope with any but a limited, uncritical base through an Internet collective who soak up the nonsense without offering a credible plan of what will replace what they plan to destroy. Bannonist-Trumpism is regressive rather than disruptive, making Bannon and Trump disjunctive characters unwilling or unable to establish a new and content-worthy movement as a goal. It is likely that, without some solid thinking, referenced by history, and a little political philosophy underpinned by Constitutional mandates, Bannonist-Trumpism will fade away as have so many past populist movements. By use of any of historical lessons Steve Bannon and his claque might have modulated their conspiratorial haste and muddled thinking and not overlooked alternative ways in developing a true departure from Reaganite neoconservative ideology. Whatever it is that itches Bannon, it is neither a dose of progressivism nor a dollop of reform-mindedness. If reform and progress insights were part of the agenda they might have tempered their ardor for destruction and guided their hand in establishing a new and meaningful movement.
In times of societal instability it is difficult to resist the natural urge of group identity to mitigate ‘in-group’ ‘group think’ that foster progressive social decline. Evidence-based actions drawn from science and reasoned decision making combined with progressive leadership is much harder to do. It is difficult to maintain societal ‘goodwill,’ address pressing issues of climate change, population growth, resource depletion, and the growth of inequality in times of decline of progress. It is easier during these times for the minority views of Bannonist-Trumpism and its economic nationalism to foster uncooperativeness and loss of generosity that a stable, functioning typically society embodies. Administrations hostile to a progressive societies find justifications to ‘deregulate’ what they don’t like and make promises of ‘fast growth and jobs for all’ without defining how either will be achieved. Interestingly, these are the justifications for undoing Obama legacy, with its heavy dollop of racism the Trump Administration agenda established. President Trump’s pull-out of the Paris Accords and rescinding EPA Clean power Plan (EPA chief Scott Pruitt goal of ending ‘war on coal’ and staffing EPA advisory councils with industry scientists), attempts to overturn NAFTA and other international trade agreements, rescinding open market policies of manufactured goods and product importation restrictions, and so on, will likely lead to growth of monopolies and market manipulations because the kind of kind of corporate lawlessness economic nationalism encourages. Rising inequality and corruption of electoral and legislative processes will likely give impetus to the wealthy finding ways to spend their money on special interests and repository issues.
Theodore Roosevelt, a turn-of-the century progressive president, showed that government regulations actually provided for safety, transparency and competition by removing cheating, lying, and fakery. Regulation benefits all of society and business. Let’s be clear, however, that regulations don’t always work. They can delay innovation, choke off risk taking, and empower some groups over others [i.e., pharmaceutical industry and insurance providers over consumers, hospital corporate decision making over physician treatment planning, and stymy patient choice-driven competition). Regulations can also be gotten around, for example in a process known as corporate ‘regulation capture’ (i.e., use of legal stratagems, information control through advertising, and ‘brute force’ lobbying with plain old threats to future electoral success of Congressional members to influence legislation). But less regulation, or restrictive reactionary regulation, leads to less stability, more uncertainty and reduced consumer benefit. The likelihood that Donald Trump will be impeached is small unless he commits some undeniable breach of ethical or criminal conduct. The likelihood that the destructive policies of Bannonist-Trumpism agenda of economic nationalism will go forward will depend on whether we commit to a needlessly confused ideology or, because of it, engage in a needless war. What we need is more attention to the details of the duties and powers of the presidential office and less grandstanding pretense.
What is needed is the kind of progressive thinking Alexander Hamilton, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt implemented each with goals of what was best for public welfare and the purposes good government. See Note 1 and 2. Public hue and cry, however, is not an antidote to the dystopic Trumpean Dark Age his inaugural address presented. It is worth mentioning that throughout US history presidents have had advisors and confidants upon whom they rely on for advice, counsel, and likely testing speeches. George Washington had Alexander Hamilton. Both Washington and Hamilton were progressive, imbued with post-Enlightenment thinking. Hamilton was an honest negotiator. Neither honesty nor enlightened thinking are features found in Bannon and Trump. Nor is the sheer magnitude of Bannonist-Trumpism Orwellian ‘newspeak’ underlining its authoritarian pretensions overcome with a myopically managed and shrill media. There is one last point I think is important to mention. If Trump is in any way a reflection of the mindset of business men, then we have a lot to fear from the business community when it comes to good governance than anyone imagines.
* Agnotocism derives from the Greek word for ignorance, or ‘…not knowing,’ a neologism coined by Robert Proctor (1995), and elaborated by Proctor and Boal in series of papers in the early 2000s; predicated on establishing ‘…[d]oubt as [its] product since it is the best means of competing with ‘…a body of fact…’ that exists in the mind of the general public; misleading information (agnotocistic) is as valid as concrete information (epistemologic); agnotocism serves as the basis of real politik, political press statements, marketing and sales advertising, propaganda, yellow journalism, and fake news, and results in …structured apathy … through the social construction of ignorance; often used as a means of establishing controversy.
Bremmer, I, Time Magazine
Five world leaders less popular than President Trump
Strassel, K, Wall Street Journal
Scalias all the way down
Kelly, E, USA Today
Parallell Russia probes collide
Penzenstadler, N, & S Reilly, USA Today
Russia inquiry could expose Trump secrets
Friedman, T, The New York Times
The Trump doctrine
Osnos, E, The New Yorker
End Games – What would it take to cut short Trump’s presidency
Graff, G, Esquire Magazine
The inconvenient comrade
Graves, L, The Guardian
The Wall Street Journal’s Trump problem
BBC News – US & Canada
Russia – The ‘cloud’ over the Trump White House
Bright, S, BBC News - Trending
After Trump, ‘big data’ firm Cambridge Analytica (CA) now working in Kenya
Rajan, A, BBC News – Entertainment & Arts
Fox News, Hannity and the meaning of collusion
Smith, D, The Guardian
How Trump’s paranoid White House sees ‘deep state’ enemies on all sides – Bannon fervent belief America at risk from ‘Opposition’
Douglas, L, The Guardian - Opinion
Steve Bannon is calling shots in White House – That’s terrifying
Nuwer, R, BBC News – What If… Comment & Analysis
How Western civilization could collapse – Precipitating factors in place
Levin, S, The Guardian
Steve Bannon brands far right ‘losers’ and contradicts Trump in surprise American Prospect interview
Suri, J, The Conversation
Trump administration plans to peel back regulations may lead to ‘robber baron’ era
Zuchar, A, BBC News – US & Canada
Why Trump thinks he can win on race
Cornwall, W, Science News
Trump’s EPA has blocked agency grantees from serving on science advisory panels – Here is what it means
Rangappa, A, The Hill
Mueller isn’t all powerful – We need an election interference commission
1995Procter, R, The Cancer Wars, Basic Books, NY Introduces concept of agnotocism, willful misleading argument with inten to to confuse and contend false information is valid opposition factual one
Is there more history might tell us?
Centrifugal and centripetal forces
Lesson for Bannonist-Trumpism is that Western society, its established governments, its rules and regulation, are like the spinning wheels of bicycle. It’s the centrifugal force that keeps the bike of state upright and powers economic growth. Regulation and agencies that work within a rule-based structure further stabilize society. Most of the laws and regulations that governs day-to-day operation of society are derived from a legal system and its courts, legislation, maths and sciences, and an historical record as a rational view of progress (i.e., people, ideas, innovations and inventions). These are aspects of governance Bannonist-Trumpism dismiss. If Steve Bannon had taken time to examine scientific accounts he would have found hints of factors precipitating collapse of civilizations that would add clarity and solidity to his nationalist economics pretensions. He would have found more than sweeping generalizations that all government is corrupted by moneyed brokers, broken political parties, and established governmental elites. For example there are four factors authors point to as contributing to civilized society’s decline. They are: [a] persistent and growing inequality (1/2 global population lives on $3/day), never mentioned by Bannonist-Trumpism, [b] growing number of elite hoarding wealth and resources as consumers (10% global pop. cause as much greenhouse gas as 90%), [c] declining labor fit enough to support for elites (insufficient resources for growing population like education, housing and transportation) and there is little opportunity through re-training or re-education to assist the majority of society by those disinclined to give rather than take, certainly not mentioned by Bannonist-Trumpism, and, lastly, l[d] extrinsic factors such as climate change and ecological strain diminishing productivity (declining potable water, oil reserves, arable land, etc.), not even on the radar of Bannonist-Trumpism. To make the decision to alter the trajectory of society one needs political and psychological insights like those above and a desire to seek solutions in advance of occurrence and in spite of short-term expense and short-sighted pogroms. Clearly Bannonist-Trumpism does not give any consideration to evolving factors now on the horizon.
Examples of societal collapse
Examples of societies that have or are collapsing are abundant if one were to rigorously examine history. For example:  Syrian population growth, prolonged drought combined with shifts in rain fall patterns and temperature increase (climate change?) led to water shortages and the fall of agricultural production. Farmers and their children, men specifically, abandoned unproductive soils and moved to urban areas, areas already filled with discontent and desperation, seeking employment. An undercurrent of persistent ethnic tensions led to poor and low wage worker violence. Combined with poor governance (e.g., neoliberal water subsidy elimination policy) and despotic rule augmented the road to civil war.  As the 3rd century dawned Rome’s distant conquests required the doubling of the army and the development of an expensive cavalry. These were added to the cost of provincial bureaucracies and their courts and defenses. The success of previous land invasion, rather by sea, required increasing land transport which was a far greater cost compared to sea delivery. These fiscal demands combined with an induced intrinsic fiscal weakness from debased coin of the realm (inflating its value but not purchasing power) weakened Rome’s ability to pay its way. By the time of the early fourth century Visigoth sack, Rome was teetering.  There is an alternative to sudden collapse and that is a progressive decline, or ‘fade out.’ Fade outs occur when world events machinate to cause the state to fail not keep pace with the world obligations outside its borders. Beginning in 1918 the U.K., facing distant pressures from its colonies as bureaucracies there provided diminished returns on investment, the smooth operation of the state began to decay. Its ‘friendly’ nature as reflected in its somewhat ‘progressive’ agenda towards Indian immigration disappeared. Inequality grew as the wealthy established legislation (e.g., ‘corn laws,’ partition laws fencing limited access to farm lands and sheep and cattle grazing) to consolidate their holdings at expense of the rest of society as shifting economics and societal values impaired elites clout. They became consumers without a means to consume. Their estates were then consumed by debt. Taxation, to fund a bankrupt state’s role for border protection and the welfare of its people, desperate and powerless peers, and demands of weakened colonial governance, further depleted individual resources as savings flat lined and infrastructural work was sidelined. By World War II, Britain was in sunset and barely able to withstand the Nazi’s assault that was coming.
What sustains societies?
It requires ‘energy’ (resources, effort, etc.) to maintain a complex, ordered state. It cannot be changed by fait, proclamation, or executive order (or even the oxymoronic notion of total destruction of what exists), where reasoned thought would at least show the potential for unintended consequences. Traditionally, even under the onslaught of 1980’s neoconservative movement adherence to the necessity of science, maths and well-thought out regulation would minimized overall destructive tendencies of their rise to power. There are ‘tectonic stressor’ that buildup, nonlinearly and unseen that rupture abruptly (i.e., ‘black swan’ events such as volcanoes, droughts, fires, storms/floods, acid rain, etc.) that seemingly overnight overload stabilizing mechanisms. The suddenness of black swan events wreck an imperfect balance the state has on those stabilizing mechanisms. Between 2008 and today several of these unanticipated black swan events have occurred (i.e., 2006-8 economic fall, rise of ISIS, Brexit vote, socioeconomic demand of immigrant ‘load’, and the disjunctive impact of Bannonist-Trumpism). It is not unlikely these jolts are leading to societal disequilibrium. Patterns that a disequilibrium exists and that societal instability is on the march, can be witnessed in the form of migrant populations begin arriving in Europe, via an African-Middle East route, then to more distant lands of opportunity. When indigenous populations see themselves as threatened or marginalized civil unrest evolves as those confronted by inequality most (i.e., the low wage working poor, ethnic or religious minorities, etc.). Immigrate load in countries taking them in fosters unfavorable sentiments (i.e., so-called ‘in-group’ perception). The tendency to blame ‘outsiders’ for problems within a stable state grows and kneejerk policies are imposed that further set society towards instability. Kneejerk policies, typically restrictive because of in-group dissatisfaction and fear, add to destabilization because they are short-term populist fixes. In-group identity strengthens opposition to ‘sharing,’ widening the inequality gap, and pushes legislative agenda by populist leaders towards isolationism under a banner of ‘nationalism.’ It is in this context authoritarian government’s rise defining it brand of nationalism in terms of rejectionism, economic, racism, or otherwise. Concomitantly, evidenced-based information is rejected, research is dismissed, and religion begins expanding its imposition of secular politics with excessive pressure on decision making, leadership becomes increasingly reactionary. Ultimately, liberal Democratic societies may give way to something like the Chinese model of strong-man centralized state. If Bannonist-Trumpism is allowed its head, without modification or imposition of rational rigor, and take its natural course we may have additional self-induced black swam moments along with climate change, geologic events, global civil unrest, and unabated inequality. Thomas Piketty, who’s 2014 tome, Capital In the 21st Century, believes that all of the potential aspects of present day society that will likely destabilize society is an increasing economic inequality given impetus by Reaganite necons in the 1980’s, which induced loss of upward mobility and decline of societal fairness.