Comment by tonytran2015: A typical whisper of a tyrant is “I love you but if you don’t obey me I will bash you up”.
Comment by tonytran2015: This is exactly why a whole new revolution has to come after all aspiration of the previous one has been perverted by its entrenched managerial class.
Thousands of people in Conservative Inc spent the final years of the Obama administration angling for jobs in what was assumed to be the next Bush administration. Jonah Goldberg’s wife hit the gym and got a makeover assuming she would be in the Jeb Bush White House, but then Trump came along and ruined it all. For “conservative media”, Trump represented thousands of lost book deals, speaking gigs and so on.
The way to think about the managerial class is like a small town. It is really a collection of small towns, linked together by government think tanks, elite universities, and sinecures at nodes in the system. Newcomers are evaluated like the new family in a small New England town. If they fit in, they become part of the community, with all the benefits and responsibilities it entails. Who they are is linked to their membership in the community, so their loyalty is tangled up in their sense of self. …
This is why reform is probably impossible. A reformer is immediately swarmed by flocks of angry insects from the various subgroups in the managerial class. We saw this with Trump, who set upon on all sides. The genuine reformer must battle with many hives of bees attacking at the same time from different angles. Before long he is solely focused on defense, which is what happened with Trump.
Yep. Hard to see how it can be reformed, without wholesale sacking.
… This is a hustle as Gaetano Mosca noted that most of the rationale of democracy promoters is tied up in the inevitability of it all. There is always another group for power to fight for as we have seen since the gay victory turned into a trans fight, but is it inevitable? What we are seeing now in the fight on the left is proof that it is not linear. The left has nearly completed a paradigm shift.
Thomas Kuhn took a wrecking ball to the idea that science is an incremental, linear development and instead is a mass of competing stories where one wins out, explains the world better and…
View original post 846 more words
…Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and disgraced former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale are running the project. Gab founder Andrew Torba spoke to commentator Pedro Gonzalez to explain his interactions with the Kushner sphere during negotiations earlier this year.
“As we told Mr. Kushner’s aides, Gab has no plans to sell our business or to compromise in any way our mission to defend free speech online for all people,” Torba said. “We fully expect the president’s entry into the arena to accelerate alternative technology growth trends and wish the president and his tech team well.”
“They said that they were in ‘make money mode’ and were focused on how they could financially benefit from Gab and change our free speech stance,” he added. “All I wanted to do was give the president his voice back, but Kushner and others in the president’s orbit expected me to hand the keys to the kingdom over to them and change the core mission of Gab. I wasn’t going to let that happen.”
Microsoft Board Members Wanted Gates Gone In 2019 After Investigation Into Sexual Relationship Update (1920ET): In a Sunday night bombshell, the Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft’s board of directors wanted Bill Gates gone following an internal investigation into an inappropriate sexual relationship with a female Microsoft employee. The investigation, conducted in late 2019, was […]
🔵SUBSCRIBE NOW to Epoch TV: http://epochtv.com/ATL 🔴Watch the full episode 👉👉👉 https://ept.ms/3buhfVL “Our profession today is unrecognizable,” says award-winning journalist Lara Logan. A former correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes” and now host of Fox Nation’s “Lara Logan Has No Agenda,” she’s been at the frontlines for years reporting on war zones, gang warfare, Benghazi, and…
It has long been Moscow’s goal to put together some kind of new Yalta agreement or a “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 2.0” to carve up Eurasia, including Ukraine
Russian top officials—in particular, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (RIA Novosti, April 27) and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev (Kommersant, April 8)—have for weeks been talking about the deepening crisis in Russia’s relations with the United States while at the same time expressing some hope that an improvement could still happen. Both Patrushev and Lavrov imply Russo-US relations are as bad as during the Cold War, though with less predictability or mutual respect. Still the two men insist there are no major ideological differences today, since Russia is not trying to destroy the Western way of life by spreading some form of Communism. This apparently implies the present confrontation is superficial and could perhaps be resolved if Washington and its allies curtail their aggressive stance against Moscow as well as recognize Russia’s “legitimate” national security and sovereign rights, including the right to defend Russian-speakers wherever they live. If the US and its cohorts do not stand down, the situation “could get worse than a Cold War,” according to Lavrov (RIA Novosti, April 27)—i.e., go from “cold” to “hot.”
In turn, Western leaders, including US President Joseph Biden and his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, have been talking about stabilizing relations with Russia. While insisting Moscow must pay a price for its “bad behavior”—alleged cyberattacks, election interference, human rights violations, aggressive actions in Ukraine and so on—the West has expressed the desire to work with the Kremlin on subjects of mutual interest, like nuclear arms control, fighting Islamist terrorism, controlling the pandemic, tackling global climate change and so on. In Washington, many believe China, with its growing economy already almost equal to the US, is potentially a much more formidable foe than the stagnating, oil and natural gas–exporting Russia with its limited financial and industrial resources. Top US officials are working with the Kremlin on fixing a date and place for a possible Biden–Vladimir Putin summit, sometime in June 2021 and somewhere in Europe (Interfax, May 6). The negotiations have turned out to be complicated. Moscow has indicated “interest” but has not yet fully committed to the meeting. Still, there is hope such a summit could defuse growing tensions or at least postpone (if not prevent) a major outbreak of fighting with Ukraine. As the summit is being prepared, the Western powers hope Russian forces gathered on the Ukrainian border may eventually withdraw.
Tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats between Moscow and the West, along with Russia’s recent restrictions preventing “unfriendly nations” like the US from hiring locals to help run their embassies in Moscow, have left diplomatic relations in tatters. The US embassy stopped issuing non-immigrant visas to Russians in Moscow, and its effectiveness as a representative of the US government has been diminished. Lavrov said he offered Blinken the “zero option”—to reverse all restrictions imposed by both sides since 2016, including the seizure by the US authorities of Russian diplomatic country residences close to New York and Washington (RIA Novosti, April 27).
Apparently, Moscow’s overall idea of mending fences is a grand “zero option”—returning to things as they were before 2014. The Kremlin expects the West to end all sanctions or at least most of them. Russia, in turn, would lift its anti-Western restrictions, while at the same time keeping Crimea and a foothold in Donbas. Seasoned and decorated Russian (Soviet) diplomat Grigory Karasin (71) was for, many years, a state secretary and deputy foreign minister. In 2019, Karasin was moved from the foreign ministry to the Federation Council (upper chamber of the Russian parliament)—appointed senator representing Sakhalin Oblast, while continuing to work to keep open an unofficial channel of negotiations with Tbilisi. In March 2021, Karasin was elevated to chair the Federation Council’s Foreign Relations Committee. In an interview after his promotion, Karasin expressed the need for Russia and the West to negotiate a new Yalta-style accord—like the 1945 summit between Josef Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, who together de facto carved up Eurasia into spheres of interest at the end of World War II. According to Karasin, Yalta-1945 provided stability and predictability to generations of mankind, “though it was criticized.” A new “Yalta-2021,” could do the same and prevent another world war. Putin is promoting that idea by proposing a special summit of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, according to Karasin (Kommersant, April 12).
It has long been Moscow’s goal to put together some kind of new Yalta agreement or a “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 2.0” to carve up Eurasia, including Ukraine (see EDM, February 26, 2015), but apparently, Karasin spelled out this political priority a bit too bluntly. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact has been significantly rehabilitated in Moscow in recent years, though it is still assessed to have been a bad deal with an untrustworthy enemy. In contrast, “Yalta” was an antifascist summit that may have bad connotations in Central and Eastern Europe, but certainly not in Moscow (Rosbalt, January 16, 2020).
Though, is the West and, in particular, the Biden administration ready to sign on to a Yalta-2021 at all? Moscow may be growing restless to secure a deal soon and has signaled it will not wait much longer for Washington to recognize the need for a geopolitical compromise. Forcing through a Yalta-style deal in 2021 would, therefore, seem obligatory. The problem with the planned Biden-Putin summit may not be the venue, but the true agenda; and for the Russian leader, it will be important to be able come to the table and talk from a position of strength. Putin has been brandishing an array of new nuclear superweapons since 2018 and claims Russia has become a “world leader in modern weapons” (see EDM, April 22). In its nation-wide mass mobilization of “over 300,000 soldiers” and of heavy weaponry in March–April, under the pretext of “battle readiness tests,” Russia sought to demonstrate its ability to fight and win a big conventional regional war with Ukraine, while ready to take on the US and its allies in a global (nuclear) conflict (Militarynews.ru, April 29). But this saber rattling seems not to have moved Washington an inch toward accepting a Yalta-2021 or Molotov-Ribbentrop 2.0 agreement.
The “dumb” Americans, as Lavrov now crudely calls them, do not understand (RIA Novosti, April 8). And the Kremlin is left wondering whether the troops still left along the Ukrainian border following their “battle readiness tests” might need to demonstrate their capabilities in real combat for the upcoming summit with Biden to be a success. Though if Russia further invades Ukraine, would Biden be willing to meet Putin at all?
(c) The Jamestown Foundation
The origin of COVID: Who is Culpable? By Nicholas Wade. At last, a real reporter has investigated in depth and written it up without fear or favor.
Its death toll will soon reach three million people. Yet the origin of pandemic remains uncertain: The political agendas of governments and scientists have generated thick clouds of obfuscation, which the mainstream press seems helpless to dispel. …
As many people know, there are two main theories about its origin. One is that it jumped naturally from wildlife to people. The other is that the virus was under study in a lab, from which it escaped. It matters a great deal which is the case if we hope to prevent a second such occurrence. …
It was initially blamed on natural causes by a self-interested group of likely miscreants:
From early on, public and media perceptions were shaped in favor of the natural emergence scenario by strong statements from two scientific groups. …
It later turned out that the Lancet letter had been organized and drafted by Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance of New York. Daszak’s organization funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. If the SARS2 virus had indeed escaped from research he funded, Daszak would be potentially culpable. This acute conflict of interest was not declared to the Lancet’s readers. To the contrary, the letter concluded, “We declare no competing interests.”
Peter Daszak: “I have no conflict of interest”. Hard to imagine a more brazen lie.
Virologists like Daszak had much at stake in the assigning of blame for the pandemic. For 20 years, mostly beneath the public’s attention, they had been playing a dangerous game. In their laboratories they routinely created viruses more dangerous than those that exist in nature. They argued that they could do so safely, and that by getting ahead of nature they could predict and prevent natural “spillovers,” the cross-over of viruses from an animal host to people. If SARS2 [covid-19] had indeed escaped from such a laboratory experiment, a savage blowback could be expected, and the storm of public indignation would affect virologists everywhere, not just in China. …
A second statement that had enormous influence in shaping public attitudes was a letter (in other words an opinion piece, not a scientific article) published on 17 March 2020 in the journal Nature Medicine. Its authors were a group of virologists led by Kristian G. Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute. … [Their arguments] grounded in nothing but two inconclusive speculations, convinced the world’s press that SARS2 could not have escaped from a lab.
The media are easily fooled by authority figures, if it meets their political bias. Like in climate change. And like in climate change, other scientists dare not speak up:
Science is supposedly a self-correcting community of experts who constantly check each other’s work. So why didn’t other virologists point out that the Andersen group’s argument was full of absurdly large holes? Perhaps because in today’s universities speech can be very costly. Careers can be destroyed for stepping out of line. Any virologist who challenges the community’s declared view risks having his next grant application turned down by the panel of fellow virologists that advises the government grant distribution agency.
The Daszak and Andersen letters were really political, not scientific, statements, yet were amazingly effective. Articles in the mainstream press repeatedly stated that a consensus of experts had ruled lab escape out of the question or extremely unlikely. …
Virology was an accident waiting to happen:
Why would anyone want to create a novel virus capable of causing a pandemic? Ever since virologists gained the tools for manipulating a virus’s genes, they have argued they could get ahead of a potential pandemic by exploring how close a given animal virus might be to making the jump to humans. And that justified lab experiments in enhancing the ability of dangerous animal viruses to infect people, virologists asserted.
With this rationale, they have recreated the 1918 flu virus, shown how the almost extinct polio virus can be synthesized from its published DNA sequence, and introduced a smallpox gene into a related virus.
These enhancements of viral capabilities are known blandly as gain-of-function experiments. …
Virologists started studying bat coronaviruses in earnest after these turned out to be the source of both the SARS1 and MERS epidemics. In particular, researchers wanted to understand what changes needed to occur in a bat virus’s spike proteins before it could infect people.
Researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, led by China’s leading expert on bat viruses, Shi Zheng-li or “Bat Lady,” mounted frequent expeditions to the bat-infested caves of Yunnan in southern China and collected around a hundred different bat coronaviruses. …
Shi returned to her lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and resumed the work she had started on genetically engineering coronaviruses to attack human cells. How can we be so sure?
Because, by a strange twist in the story, her work was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). …
The grants were assigned to the prime contractor, Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance, who subcontracted them to Shi. …
Shi set out to create novel coronaviruses with the highest possible infectivity for human cells. …
The approach could have generated SARS2-like [covid-19 like] viruses, and indeed may have created the SARS2 virus itself with the right combination of virus backbone and spike protein.
It cannot yet be stated that Shi did or did not generate SARS2 in her lab because her records have been sealed, but it seems she was certainly on the right track to have done so. …
Daszak was possibly unaware of, or perhaps he knew all too well, the long history of viruses escaping from even the best run laboratories. The smallpox virus escaped three times from labs in England in the 1960’s and 1970’s, causing 80 cases and 3 deaths. Dangerous viruses have leaked out of labs almost every year since. Coming to more recent times, the SARS1 virus has proved a true escape artist, leaking from laboratories in Singapore, Taiwan, and no less than four times from the Chinese National Institute of Virology in Beijing. …
Before 2020, the rules followed by virologists in China and elsewhere required that experiments with the SARS1 and MERS viruses be conducted in BSL3 conditions. But all other bat coronaviruses could be studied in BSL2, the next level down. BSL2 requires taking fairly minimal safety precautions, such as wearing lab coats and gloves, not sucking up liquids in a pipette, and putting up biohazard warning signs. Yet a gain-of-function experiment conducted in BSL2 might produce an agent more infectious than either SARS1 or MERS. And if it did, then lab workers would stand a high chance of infection, especially if unvaccinated.
Much of Shi’s work on gain-of-function in coronaviruses was performed at the BSL2 safety level, as is stated in her publications and other documents. …
“It is clear that some or all of this work was being performed using a biosafety standard — biosafety level 2, the biosafety level of a standard US dentist’s office — that would pose an unacceptably high risk of infection of laboratory staff upon contact with a virus having the transmission properties of SARS-CoV-2,” [says Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University and leading expert on biosafety]. …
Three people working at a BSL3 lab at the institute fell sick within a week of each other with severe symptoms that required hospitalization. This was “the first known cluster that we’re aware of, of victims of what we believe to be COVID-19.” Influenza could not completely be ruled out but seemed unlikely in the circumstances, he said. …
The natural emergence theory simply has no supporting evidence. While technically possible — by a long series of mutations and coincidences — it is incredibly unlikely.
The two closest known relatives of the SARS2 virus were collected from bats living in caves in Yunnan, a province of southern China. If the SARS2 virus had first infected people living around the Yunnan caves, that would strongly support the idea that the virus had spilled over to people naturally. But this isn’t what happened. The pandemic broke out 1,500 kilometers away, in Wuhan. …
When you look for the fingerprints of a similar transition in SARS2 [from animal, adapting to human], a strange surprise awaits. The virus has changed hardly at all, at least until recently. From its very first appearance, it was well adapted to human cells. …
The uniform structure of SARS2 genomes gives no hint of any passage through an intermediate animal host, and no such host has been identified in nature. … Proponents of a lab leak have a simpler explanation. SARS2 was adapted to human cells from the start because it was grown in humanized mice or in lab cultures of human cells, just as described in Daszak’s grant proposal. Its genome shows little diversity because the hallmark of lab cultures is uniformity. …
Neither the natural emergence nor the lab escape hypothesis can yet be ruled out. There is still no direct evidence for either. So no definitive conclusion can be reached. …
But it seems to me that proponents of lab escape can explain all the available facts about SARS2 considerably more easily than can those who favor natural emergence.
It’s documented that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were doing gain-of-function experiments designed to make coronaviruses infect human cells and humanized mice. This is exactly the kind of experiment from which a SARS2-like virus could have emerged. The researchers were not vaccinated against the viruses under study, and they were working in the minimal safety conditions of a BSL2 laboratory. So escape of a virus would not be at all surprising. In all of China, the pandemic broke out on the doorstep of the Wuhan institute. The virus was already well adapted to humans, as expected for a virus grown in humanized mice. It possessed an unusual enhancement, a furin cleavage site, which is not possessed by any other known SARS-related beta-coronavirus, and this site included a double arginine codon also unknown among beta-coronaviruses. What more evidence could you want, aside from the presently unobtainable lab records documenting SARS2’s creation?
Proponents of natural emergence have a rather harder story to tell. The plausibility of their case rests on a single surmise, the expected parallel between the emergence of SARS2 [covid-19] and that of SARS1 and MERS. But none of the evidence expected in support of such a parallel history has yet emerged. No one has found the bat population that was the source of SARS2, if indeed it ever infected bats. No intermediate host has presented itself, despite an intensive search by Chinese authorities that included the testing of 80,000 animals. There is no evidence of the virus making multiple independent jumps from its intermediate host to people, as both the SARS1 and MERS viruses did. There is no evidence from hospital surveillance records of the epidemic gathering strength in the population as the virus evolved. There is no explanation of why a natural epidemic should break out in Wuhan and nowhere else. There is no good explanation of how the virus acquired its furin cleavage site, which no other SARS-related beta-coronavirus possesses, nor why the site is composed of human-preferred codons. The natural emergence theory battles a bristling array of implausibilities.
The records of the Wuhan Institute of Virology certainly hold much relevant information. But Chinese authorities seem unlikely to release them given the substantial chance that they incriminate the regime in the creation of the pandemic. Absent the efforts of some courageous Chinese whistle-blower, we may already have at hand just about all of the relevant information we are likely to get for a while. …
Who is responsible?
There are two obvious levels of responsibility: the first, for allowing virologists to perform gain-of-function experiments, offering minimal gain and vast risk; the second, if indeed SARS2 was generated in a lab, for allowing the virus to escape and unleash a world-wide pandemic. Here are the players who seem most likely to deserve blame.
- Chinese virologists. First and foremost, Chinese virologists are to blame for performing gain-of-function experiments in mostly BSL2-level safety conditions which were far too lax to contain a virus of unexpected infectiousness like SARS2. If the virus did indeed escape from their lab, they deserve the world’s censure for a foreseeable accident that has already caused the deaths of three million people. …
- Chinese authorities. China’s central authorities did not generate SARS2, but they sure did their utmost to conceal the nature of the tragedy and China’s responsibility for it. They suppressed all records at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and closed down its virus databases. They released a trickle of information, much of which may have been outright false or designed to misdirect and mislead. They did their best to manipulate the WHO’s inquiry into the virus’s origins, and led the commission’s members on a fruitless run-around. So far they have proved far more interested in deflecting blame than in taking the steps necessary to prevent a second pandemic.
- The worldwide community of virologists. Virologists around the world are a loose-knit professional community. … virologists knew better than anyone the dangers of gain-of-function research. But the power to create new viruses, and the research funding obtainable by doing so, was too tempting. They pushed ahead with gain-of-function experiments. They lobbied against the moratorium imposed on Federal funding for gain-of-function research in 2014, and it was raised in 2017. The benefits of the research in preventing future epidemics have so far been nil, the risks vast. You might think the SARS2 pandemic would spur virologists to re-evaluate the benefits of gain-of-function research, even to engage the public in their deliberations. But no. Many virologists deride lab escape as a conspiracy theory, and others say nothing. They have barricaded themselves behind a Chinese wall of silence which so far is working well to allay, or at least postpone, journalists’ curiosity and the public’s wrath. Professions that cannot regulate themselves deserve to get regulated by others, and this would seem to be the future that virologists are choosing for themselves.
- The US role in funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology. From June 2014 to May 2019, Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance had a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, to do gain-of-function research with coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Whether or not SARS2 is the product of that research, it seems a questionable policy to farm out high-risk research to unsafe foreign labs using minimal safety precautions. And if the SARS2 virus did indeed escape from the Wuhan institute, then the NIH will find itself in the terrible position of having funded a disastrous experiment that led to death of more than 3 million worldwide, including more than half a million of its own citizens.
So now what?
If the case that SARS2 originated in a lab is so substantial, why isn’t this more widely known? As may now be obvious, there are many people who have reason not to talk about it. The list is led, of course, by the Chinese authorities. But virologists in the United States and Europe have no great interest in igniting a public debate about the gain-of-function experiments that their community has been pursuing for years.
Nor have other scientists stepped forward to raise the issue. Government research funds are distributed on the advice of committees of scientific experts drawn from universities. Anyone who rocks the boat by raising awkward political issues runs the risk that their grant will not be renewed and their research career will be ended. Maybe good behavior is rewarded with the many perks that slosh around the distribution system. And if you thought that Andersen and Daszak might have blotted their reputation for scientific objectivity after their partisan attacks on the lab escape scenario, look at the second and third names on this list of recipients of an $82 million grant announced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in August 2020.
The US government shares a strange common interest with the Chinese authorities: Neither is keen on drawing attention to the fact that Shi’s coronavirus work was funded by the US National Institutes of Health. One can imagine the behind-the-scenes conversation in which the Chinese government says, “If this research was so dangerous, why did you fund it, and on our territory too?” To which the US side might reply, “Looks like it was you who let it escape. But do we really need to have this discussion in public?”
To these serried walls of silence must be added that of the mainstream media. To my knowledge, no major newspaper or television network has yet provided readers with an in-depth news story of the lab escape scenario, such as the one you have just read, although some have run brief editorials or opinion pieces. One might think that any plausible origin of a virus that has killed three million people would merit a serious investigation. Or that the wisdom of continuing gain-of-function research, regardless of the virus’s origin, would be worth some probing. Or that the funding of gain-of-function research by the NIH and NIAID during a moratorium on such research would bear investigation. What accounts for the media’s apparent lack of curiosity?
The virologists’ omertà is one reason. Science reporters, unlike political reporters, have little innate skepticism of their sources’ motives; most see their role largely as purveying the wisdom of scientists to the unwashed masses. So when their sources won’t help, these journalists are at a loss.
Another reason, perhaps, is the migration of much of the media toward the left of the political spectrum. Because President Trump said the virus had escaped from a Wuhan lab, editors gave the idea little credence. They joined the virologists in regarding lab escape as a dismissible conspiracy theory.
The same dynamic as in climate change.
Lies, incompetence, ambitions — and now 3 millions are dead. It’s over a year, and only now is the truth emerging, via persistent individuals blocked at every turn by government.
No wonder the Chinese Government lost its nana and is punishing Australia so much now, for suggesting a proper international investigation into the origins of the virus. Very sensitive. Now we know why.
Our Latin American Future. By Helen Andrews.
Venezuela is a good place for us to start, because as late as 1980 it was the most prosperous country in Latin America and the one everyone expected to make the leap to First World status any day now. Argentina, Chile, Colombia — all have played the same role at one time or another.
Intervals of stability and wealth created the impression abroad that the country would soon leave behind the cliches of Latin American political instability, only for those cliches to come roaring back as the country collapsed back into the usual cycle of coups and civil wars.
One reason for this chronic instability is the absence of a middle class. There is no Latin American country where the middle class makes up a majority. … Even professionals like doctors avoid taxes by dealing in cash. The qualities that make a middle class so desirable for political institution-building — predictability, law-abidingness, intolerance of corruption — don’t necessarily apply.
Once trust is gone, you have a low trust society:
Laxity where rules are concerned, which turns up everywhere in Latin America from taxes to traffic, is one symptom of a broader problem: low trust.
In high-trust societies, street crime and corruption are rare and people are willing to submit disputes to authorities for adjudication in the belief that they will be treated fairly.
Low-trust societies, on the other hand, are characterized by what Robert Kaplan calls “a cacophony of negotiation in place of fixed standards.” Neither laws nor their enforcers are assumed to be impartial. Family dynasties are common in Third World politics precisely because where the baseline level of trust is low, people are more likely to rely on family relationships where there is at least a presumption of trust.
This does not mean Latin American politics has no regard for laws. On the contrary, laws are a popular tool. But they are just that, a tool. Politically motivated prosecutions are used to target opposition figures. Elected leaders are subject to impeachment while in office and judicial hounding after they leave. …
This merry-go-round of incarceration heightens the stakes of each transfer of power.
USA from 2015:
The backdrop of American society was already looking more Latin American before Donald Trump showed up. The middle class ceased to be a majority in the United States in 2015.
In some parts of the West coast, inequality has already reached Latin American levels. Those same regions are also the furthest along the road to Third World levels of public disorder, as exemplified by CVS closing stores in San Francisco due to rampant shoplifting that neither the police nor the courts will punish. California’s elites are converging on the same solution Latin American elites worked out long ago, isolating themselves from lawless elements by building their own private security infrastructure — that, and emigration.
Trump brought some qualities of Latin American politics to the White House. He relied on relatives to staff his inner circle. … He spoke the language of braggadocio and insult rather than neutral bureaucratese.
But it was the Democrats who put Trump through two specious impeachments, including one just days before he was scheduled to leave office anyway, making the whole process obviously symbolic and sapping impeachment of its remaining sense of gravity. No longer a once-in-a-century emergency measure, impeachment is becoming just another political weapon. Nor are Trump’s legal troubles over now that he is out of office. In the end it may not be the orange caudillo, but his opponents, who did more to push us down the path of Latin American instability. …
Soft, shambolic, corrupt totalitarianism:
In the United States, our idea of political tyranny has been shaped far too much by the Cold War. We assume that an American dictatorship will take the form of suffocating Slavic totalitarianism.
In fact, we are far more likely to slide into a Latin American type of dysfunction, which is shambolic, not claustrophobic. Opposition is ineffectual but tolerated; no one accomplishes anything by grumbling about the ruling elite, but no one goes to prison for it either. The government doesn’t go out of its way to oppress its enemies, unless it feels threatened. Otherwise it just enjoys its monopoly on power, rewards its friends with favors, and gets less and less effective at basic service delivery. That’s isn’t a dystopia, just typical Third World crappiness. …
Bringing the third world to the USA via immigration and corruption at the top:
Already America’s cities are starting to look like the Third World. When I moved back to D.C. after half a decade in Australia, I was surprised to find public restrooms were a thing of the past. Every café bathroom was locked and passcode protected — one more little convenience sacrificed to rising squalor.
Parts of California already look like favelas. Chicago’s carjackers are starting to rival Bogotá’s. Soon we may see homegrown equivalents of “car watchers” to make sure our vehicles aren’t stolen and armed private security guards outside office buildings and department stores like they have in Brazil. …
America’s political spectrum is a relic of the society that used to exist here. That political spectrum was not designed to tackle Third World problems of disorder and inequality. …
We have already seen a rise in conspiratorial thinking. Whether Trump supporters are right or wrong that the deep state conspired with the Democrats to harass and ultimately overthrow an elected president, the result is the same: cynicism and lowered expectations for political standards of behavior.
We have already had as many impeachments in the last two years as the country had in its first two centuries. Trump may soon become the first former president to be indicted. If Latin American politics is our future, we are already well on our way.
Better Latin America than the Soviet Union, I suppose. But why can’t we have the old USA back?