Fun Weekend Reading: A Terrifying Spate of Articles About the Looming Future

I’ve seen the future, brother, it is murder. This week’s disquieting reading. 

Look, it’s a beautiful weekend near me. Most of Chicago is downtown, at the Cubs’ parade, celebrating what could be the single-happiest day in the history of this fair and tortured city. Good for them.

Me? I’m far away from it all, physically and emotionally. I’m reading terrifying articles for your benefit. And now I’m sharing them with you, to ruin your mood as well. That sickening feeling you have when thinking about next week? It’s the right one to have. As Cohen said, “the blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold, and it’s overturned the order of the soul.”

So here: the future. The breaking of the ancient western code.

Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic: Donald Trump Is the First Demagogue of the Anthropocene“.  As climate change leads to desertfication, overcrowded cities, hunger, poverty, violence, war, and refugees, we’ll begin to see more “leaders” standing up to these changes, rallying increasingly desperate and angry people against the others. You see its outlines in UKIP, the National Front, and other parties (and you can argue ISIS and other millennialist groups). But Trump personifies what is coming as the world changes and with it, all our political realities. You could argue that the refugee crisis in Syria, which is already remaking the Middle East, Europe, and possibly America, is the opening salvo.

Eric Loomis, Lawyers, Guns, and Money The Last Election of the 20th Century“. A short blog post with a great discussion below, Loomis (talking about a lecture by John Nichols) talks about how automation, especially in driving, is going to be an enormous deal, very soon. There will be incredible job loss and a shifting economy, moreso than we’ve seen before. Roughly 1 out of every 7 people in the workforce is employed, somehow, in the transportation system. Almost 3.5 million people are truck drivers in America and another 5.2 million non-drivers who still work in the industry. The ideals of the 20th-century–steady employment, a middle-class–have already been eroded. Shipping was one of the last few steady jobs someone with limited education could get, and it is increasingly automated. It will soon be even more. Uber is already using self-driving trucks to deliver terrible beer.

It’s hard to say the impact this will have on our politics, except that it is coming, before 2020. Like with climate change, our broken system is unable to even talk about it. The Democrats barely talk about this; Republican less so, but only one party is poised to reap the benefits of populist economic dislocation (as George Packer discussed so well).

Jonathan Chait, New York, “The GOP’s Age of Authoritarianism Has Only Just Begun“.  Oh yeah: about that party. They’ve pretty much accepted authoritarian white nationalism as their SOP right now. Chait examines why this is, and just as frighteningly, how that doesn’t mean they’ve given up on anti-populist economics. Trumpism and Ryanism are very close, and they are willing to accept any manner of constitutional destruction in order to further cut down the social safety net, lower taxes on the rich (and only the rich), and deregulate the environment. Disallowing minorities to vote, rolling back civil rights, and trampling over women’s bodies are just the cherries on the top.

So yeah: less social safety nets and fewer worker rights, including the final destruction of unions. This will hasten the job losses for the disappearing middle class, pushing them into even mdesperationtion, which somehow makes the face of the party–xenophobic reaction–even stronger and more appealing. And the further destruction of the environment makes every problem worse, and brings the darkened hordes to our doors even while it dries up the west and pushes more people into cultural confusion.

Enjoy the weekend!


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