Recently, Walter Russell Mead wrote an outstanding article in Tablet titled “You Are Not Destined to Live in Quiet Times.” It’s about the paradox—and great dangers—of technological progress: “Human ingenuity has made us much safer from natural calamities. We can treat many diseases, predict storms, build dams both to prevent floods and to save water against drought, and many other fine things. Many fewer of us starve than in former times, and billions of us today enjoy better living conditions than our forebears dreamed possible. Yet if we are safer from most natural catastrophes, we are more vulnerable than ever to human-caused ones.”
Another excellent podcast Bari. I would like to take issue with the notion that populism is fueled by people who want elected leaders that are more similar to themselves.
I think this is fundamentally incorrect. Populism is on the rise because the ruling elite is incompetent. They repeatedly make decisions that defy the best interests of large swathes of the electorate. Whether it’s net zero, Covid, even infrastructure - the ruling elite has repeatedly devised policy that not only doesn’t work, but makes us more impoverished.
I don’t think people want leaders who look more like themselves. They want leaders who actually look different from each other. Politicians may represent different parties, but they’re all the same. They almost all come from law and finance, and other than small differences, think exactly the same.
The US is an outlier because there are some difference between the parties. If you look at Canada, Britain and the rest of Europe, traditional parties don’t offer different visions. They are the same. There is no one to vote for unless you support the neo-liberal, progressive agenda.
Mead asks what can be done about huge student debt and housing prices in California. The answer is to get the government out of the way!
As soon as the Feds starting subsidizing college education through the student loan program, costs started going up and up much faster than inflation.
And in California, the state government makes it very hard or even impossible for builders to build new homes by imposing overbearing regulations, zoning laws and environmental impact studies. It's all about supply and demand. Increase the supply and prices fall. California artificially keeps the supply of new housing down. No matter what you do, you cannot circumvent the law of supply and demand. It operates even in communist countries, with devastating results.
The nihilism is coming primarily from the men who are living in a society that attacks masculinity, makes dating horrifically difficult and risky for them and offers few paths towards achieving the American dream, which was attainable up to my own generation X. Masses of restless, disaffected, misanthropic men who have no hope for a better future, whether economically, spiritually or sexually, is a recipe for a revolution.
I think a MAJOR point was misinterpreted in the discussion on populism. As described, it's a political feeling of the lower classes not wanting to be ruled by the upper classes because they're "not like me." I don't think that's it at all. I know a lot of very well educated people (myself included) who consider themselves populists at this point. What we are saying to our government is this: "I don't care who you are, what class, what level of education -- what I want is someone who is competent and who understands what my daily life and struggles look like." This is why so-called elites keep missing the boat. I was especially taken by the notion of Bari at a dinner party with her guests discussing politics and foreign policy. They all take that freedom for granted, the right to say what's on their minds, because they are on the "right" side of policy. Yet their very efforts are expended every day in trying to stop the average American from having that same freedom of discussion. Yup, I see real hard times ahead when the people trying to "understand" what's happening in America can't get past themselves to really see the truth at all.
Fascinating discussion. Mr. Mead has me thinking in some new and different ways.
If I may, and I love you Bari, but I was taken aback by the image of you crying into your pillow in 2016 when you learned that Hillary didn't win. I can't believe you would have wanted her to be president. I had already cried my eyes out when I realized our choices were "worse" and "worser"! I am not a Trump supporter myself, but I fully believe Hillary is corrupt and would have been disasterous for the country. It was a terrible year having to choose from two terrible candidates. Replublicans had so many positive potentials and it is hard to fathom how Trump, with his personality and ego, got it. But, I think the adults in this country have been fully fed up with left wing elitists and their totalitarianism and that's what drove the Trump wave. They did not want same-old, same-old. I have yet to hear anyone of the left take any responsibility for how it turned out. Anyway, as always, thank you for all you are doing to bring us worthy conversations and for including we, the people, in them. I wish your new organization every success. I'm sure you'll have it as long as it maintains the highest journalistic integrity.
I generally shy away from interviews with politicians, but Rep Mike Gallagher would be a great interview on Honestly re: China.
Bari wonders why Wall Street and other corporations embrace the CCP despite their despicable behavior. I suggest reading The Thirty Tyrants article on Tablet Magazine from 2021
George Friedman wrote a book, The Storm Before the Calm, that forecasted the turbulent 2020’s based on two cycles in American history. I’m a huge fan of it.
It is verified insightful and comes to a clearer conclusion to this same concern.
George runs a geopolitical subscription service called Geopolitical Futures. I subscribe to it.
Bari should think of doing a follow up or connected podcast with him.
I'm very anti- anti-china... I think Xi has done many great things for his country and for the people living there. I see us going to a senseless war over semiconductors in Taiwan, but we'll frame it as democracy-saving in the media. and it just grosses me out because many US troops that have loved one's at home will die all at the expense of American empire. I guess who cares about the One China Policy... Just kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
If you want many of the answers to the questions brought up in this podcast, then take the time to watch the video linked below entitled "Why America will have its French Revolution" made by a Gen Zer. As a firm Gen Xer myself, it was highly enlightening and made me understand what my two boys are going through.