T Nation

Nationalism and Globalism


Goddamn it. Were there a branch of Mormonism that could accommodate a lapsed Catholic drunk, I may be inclined to try out for this band of ninjas.


IDK about “general”, specialized trades certainly.

Never thought I’d see this,

Now this on the other hand no machine can do,


Well I’ll be damned! That thing is pretty neat.

Looks like I have some words to eat.


When robots and automation take over virtually all of the work, how will we be able to teach and encourage billions of people to aimlessly wander along the information and anonymous communication highways, as their main activity of life?



You’re just lucky I don’t know where you live. I’d bake a plate of little heart-shaped cookies and leave them on your doorstep this afternoon, out of pure spite.

It really was.

That made me smile. You’d find plenty of lapsed Catholics or former drunks among us, Legalsteel. All kinds of people who have gotten over things, or who are trying to.

Thanks. I really like him. He’s the nice one in the family. I’m being completely serious. He’s the nicest person.


Remind me to enrage you at least once a week. I’ll e-mail you my address.


Ah, the old kill’em with kindness routine.


The Davos World Economic Forum will happen this week. The WSJ has an entire section this morning devoted to the World Economic Outlook with all the articles related in some way to the shifting global situation. It’s been a really unsettling read.

We currently have a very divided US. I’ve never felt so much like we’re a nation at war with itself. We have lawmakers boycotting the inaugural, or refusing to recognize the legitimacy of our new president. It’s hard to imagine real strength and leadership coming from a country that’s so deeply divided.

We have Brexit and rising nationalist sentiments across Europe that threaten the EU. When you see the surge in nationalism, it looks like the EU may really shrink, of not crumble. So much seems to be shifting, as both the EU and the US look to pull inward. One of the articles talked about this potentially creating a power vacuum as continued turmoil creates an opportunity for Russia and/ or China to emerge as bigger geopolitical powers. During the financial crisis, we already had the world looking to China to stabilize the global economy. They are sending their first leader to the Davos forum this year.

Anyway, I just see uncertainty on all fronts right now. I wish my own country felt more stable, like Americans were going to pull together on the big global issues. I don’t feel that at all. Thoughts?


The culture war demonizing different opinions has lead us to a nation of bigotry (definition seems to fit the situation you’re discussing: Intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself). Not sure what the solution is, the extremists finally have a voice on the internet and they are always the loudest.


Great point, Drew.


Yes. And a bit off topic, but this is my thread. Mufasa, I put an Op Ed about the partisan divide and Harry Reid up on your ACA thread. In my opinion, much of the ill will that people on the right attribute to the President can be laid on Harry Reid. Honestly, I think he did more to damage relationships between the parties than Obama ever dreamed of. Imagine if we’d have had someone who was more able to reach across the divide in Reid’s position. He was a disaster, IMO. We began to see zero working together on anything, and widening rifts. He was “successful” to a fault, and I think it damaged the Dems going forward, and the perception of the President. Did you like Reid? I’m curious if you saw him as a positive.


I’ll take a look at it, Puff. Thanks!


Indeed. And unfortunately, the PEOTUS has made clear that he sees all the antecedents you mentioned (Brexit, the rise of nationalism in Europe, the weakening of the EU) as good things. (To say nothing of his disparaging NATO, the weakening of which will also contribute to the development of said power vacuum.)

I find myself in the very odd position of rooting hard for certain nominees to the Cabinet of a Republican PEOTUS. I see them as the last bulwark between us and any number of international crises.


Sure thing. You may completely disagree. I wasn’t surprised that @EyeDentist did. I put a couple of other links up there. Sorry to trash up your ACA thread, but I guess we’ve all been looking backward a bit at how it came into existence, and the current lack of bipartisanship and good will, not only on that but on nearly everything. Divided. The dearth of moderate people who still know how to work together for all the people they represent, not just the ones who voted for their party.


Yep. I predict a lot more unpredictable things from Trump. It’s constantly unsettling.

You guys might like this Op Ed from the WSJ today. Well, Raj and Zeb wouldn’t like it but I think the rest of you might. He mentions NATO and Germany.
Bret Stephens, Trump’s Bonfire of Pieties -

"Will his nasty rhetoric shake things up or crack their already shaky foundations?This column has previously observed that few things are as dangerous to democracy as a demagogue with a half-valid argument. The president-elect has offered at least a half-dozen such arguments, and that’s merely in the last week.

First we had Donald Trump’s press conference attack on CNN’s Jim “You Are Fake News” Acosta. Then a salvo against the pharmaceutical industry, which, he said, is “getting away with murder.” Mr. Trump also accused intelligence agencies of leaking a smear against him, asking in a tweet: “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

This was followed by an interview with British and German newspapers, in which Mr. Trump called NATO “obsolete,” dismissed the European Union as “basically a vehicle for Germany,” and threatened to slap a 35% tariff on BMW for wanting to build a plant in Mexico.

Oh, and the feud with John Lewis. The congressman from Georgia had accused Mr. Trump of being illegitimately elected on account of Russian meddling. Mr. Trump fired back on Twitter that Mr. Lewis should spend his time fixing his “crime infested,” “falling apart” district in Atlanta.

Say this for Mr. Trump: He has no use for pieties. Mr. Lewis is routinely described in the press as a “civil rights icon.” The next president could not care less. Wall Street Journal Republicans believe that business decisions should be left to business. As of Friday those businesses will do as Mr. Trump says. NATO? Too old. The EU? Not salvageable. The fourth estate? A fraud. The folks at Langley? A new Gestapo.

All this baits Mr. Trump’s critics (this columnist not least) into fits of moral outrage, which is probably his intention: Nobody in life or literature is more tedious than the prig yelling, “Is nothing sacred anymore?” Liberals intent on spending the next four years in a state of high-decibel indignation and constant panic are paving the way to Mr. Trump’s re-election.

But the main reason the president-elect’s attacks stick is that they each have their quotient of truth.

Mr. Trump is not wrong that NATO’s European members don’t carry their weight. He isn’t wrong that the EU is in deep trouble no matter what he says. He isn’t wrong that Mr. Lewis’s attack on the legitimacy of his election was out of line, or that the congressman’s courage in the 1960s should not insulate him from criticism today. He isn’t wrong that drug companies price-gouge.

Nor is he wrong to be infuriated by BuzzFeed’s publication of an unverified opposition dossier regarding his Russia ties. He isn’t wrong, either, to suspect that outgoing CIA Director John Brennan may have leaked that the president-elect had been briefed on the contents of the dossier. In his previous incarnation as President Obama’s top counterterrorism aide, Mr. Brennan developed a reputation as a leaker and spinner of the first rank.

But the opposite of not wrong isn’t necessarily right. There’s a distinction between “unverified” and “fake.” There’s a difference between BuzzFeed’s unethical decision to publish the unredacted dossier and CNN’s appropriate efforts to report on what Mr. Trump knew about it. To complain that our European allies don’t spend enough on defense is one thing. To conclude that NATO is obsolete is a non sequitur, reminiscent of the old joke about lousy food and small portions.

These aren’t just ordinary fallacies. They are a systematic effort to discredit a broad set of foundational institutions, at home and abroad. The aim is not reform. It’s revolt.

Do mainstream journalists tend to have a liberal political bias? Sure. But when Mr. Trump tags them as “the disgusting and corrupt media,” he is making a different point: Down with the whole lot of them. Was Angela Merkel foolhardy to open Germany’s arms to a million refugees in a year? She was, but with Mr. Trump it has become a pretext to predict, and cheer, the end of the liberal order in Europe. It might be possible to dismiss Mr. Trump’s “Nazi” smear of the intelligence community as another case of rhetorical excess. Except that he has already made plain his indifference for intelligence briefings and his disdain for judgments that don’t square with his policy goals or his personal vanity.

For supporters of the president-elect, all this may be a refreshing turn away from the stale certainties of the Obama years. When things need shaking up, there usually isn’t a nice way of doing it. A good result might be worth a hurtful word.

The optimistic scenario: Mr. Trump’s blasts will get NATO to spend real money on weapons. Maybe they will also get intelligence officials to reconsider leaks against their civilian masters, get companies to think harder about the social effects of their decisions, and get editors to raise publication standards.

I fear another scenario. Mr. Trump’s genius for tearing things down will not be matched by an ability to build things up. Half-valid points will not be made whole. In the bonfire of discarded truisms and broken institutions will lie more than the failure of one man’s presidency."


I don’t know if you’ve seen this, PP, but please check it out if you haven’t. (Note that one author is a fellow at the Brookings Institution, and the other is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.)

If it’s tl;dr for you, here are the two most salient paragraphs:

"We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."


That actually sounds like @smh_23 . Not kidding or ripping on it, but noting that the phrasing is very similar to his.


Thank you. I read it, and also looked up their book It’s Even Worse Than It Looks and some of the reviews. Just a note on Mann and Ornstein. The article you put up got shared around the web like wildfire, since Mann is a respected writer for a conservative leaning think tank, but even Slate called it out as “this isn’t what you think folks” because people assumed he’s a once conservative Republican who has seen the light. Not so. It’s less exciting to say, “Look everybody! Two life-long Dems wrote an article about how it’s all the Republican’s fault!” That doesn’t make much news.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t smart people we should listen to. BUT it’s not as sexy as it sounds. The Economist did a pretty favorable review of their book, talking about their ideas for solutions, while pointing out that they are seem unable to see their own bias…so. Of course, many policy wonks could write an article about how gridlock works that would look every different from this, but I’m curious enough about their ideas to want to give it a look so thank you. Please let me know in our book thread if you’ve read it or decide to pick it up.

Just another way of thinking about gridlock. Some of this is going to be the nature of things. Let’s imagine that we have a ten point scale for some issue, and we agree that we’re currently at a 5. Maybe it’s something like public education for kids k-12. Let’s imagine that the progressive party wants to extend that down to daycare from birth or extended it upward to cover college. The conservative party is always at a disadvantage in that any compromise means moving from 5. The only hope of people who like 5, is to see things move to an 8 more slowly. If we look at how humans think about compromise and change, and how often humans like to say “yes” instead of “no,” the Conservative party is always at a disadvantage. Any compromise tends to move up the scale. As we look at our history, or really any advanced country, government will grow, but it may grow more slowly. It’s very unusual for a 5 to become a 4. In that sense, I can imagine Republicans being rightfully blamed for more gridlock, less compromise. That might be a legitimate position, depending on what we’re taking about.

From The Economist review, “…Mann and Ornstein are in danger of committing the very sin they decry in the Republicans. That is, they deny the legitimacy of a party with whose policies they vehemently disagree. It is plainly true that today’s GOP has veered away from a (very rough) bipartisan consensus on the size and role of the state that has prevailed for many decades. But if it really does want to lead a revolution against big government or the whole legacy of the New Deal, it has every right to do so.”


Oh, gosh. @smh_23 writes political prose. When he’s worked up about something it starts to turn into poetry. The barbs often make me smile, even when they are aimed at people on my side of the aisle.

BTW, I haven’t seen @Aragorn or @countingbeans since the first of the year. I know beans if often super busy with tax season, but this forum needs critical mass to be interesting, and for me to feel like I’m learning something. I may have to find another forum to follow, as much as I really like some of you, and some of the bright people who have posted here in the past. I can’t get excited about the lightning round Trump talk going back and forth between raj and zeb (who I thought had been banned for trolling everybody under different user names).


@Powerpuff …this is absolutely outstanding…thank you for those insights.

This might not be the right thread; but I wanted to respond to you about Reid and the article you posted. There is no question that Reid (and Pelosi) are “Politicians Extreme”…and that they (among MANY others) are responsible for the Partisan divide.

However…much like you posted above…while Reid and The Gang are certainly “wrong” and a major part of the problem…does not make McConnell and his Posse “right” (no pun intended)…like partisan’s like Zeb would have you believe.

What I am feeling now is that the partisan divide is only going to get wider and wider. We are already seeing signs of that. And the President will be a major contributor to that worsening division.