The Significance of the Russian Revolution

Peter Turchin

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Today is one hundredth anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia. The armed uprising against the provisional government, led by the Bolsheviks, began on the night of November 6/7, 1917 (October 24/25 according to the Old Style) and culminated in the storm of the Winter Palace the following night.

The October Revolution was an event of truly planetary significance, “ten days that shook the world.” Its immediate, and catastrophic, impact was on Russia. The two Revolutions of 1917 (February and October), the bloody civil war, and the establishment of the Stalin dictatorship imposed enormous costs on the Russian society, both demographic (tens of millions of people were killed, died of starvation and disease, were imprisoned in labor camps, or emigrated) and cultural (for example, resulting from the suppression of Russian Orthodox Christianity).

The Revolution also had long-term impacts, and not all of them negative. It transformed the ramshackle Russian Empire into the Soviet Union, which became one of two world superpowers after 1945. Most importantly, pre-revolutionary Russia was one of the losers in World War I, but the Soviet Union won World War II. This victory was exceedingly costly for the generation of my parents and grandparents, but my generation was the beneficiary of it. Certainly, had Germany won, I would have never become a scientist – my generation, at best, would supply illiterate serfs to the German overlords (this is not an exaggeration, check this article in Wikipedia). Instead, the generation that grew up in the Soviet Union during the 1960s and 1970s was, on balance, the happiest (and the healthiest) one in the last century. This assessment may sound strange coming from a son of a dissident, who was exiled from the Soviet Union in the late 1970s. However, it is confirmed not only by subjective memories, but also by objective data on population well-being.

The impact of October 1917 ramified far beyond Russia. The Russian Revolution was an inspiration to China’s communists, so it also transformed that most consequential nation in Asia (and probably in the world later on in the 21st century). The Chinese Revolution eventually ended the hundred years-long disintegrative period and propelled China back to the rank of world powers. Today, of course, CPC might as well stand for the Capitalist Party of China. Nevertheless, it was the Chinese Revolution that brought to power the currently reigning “Red Dynasty”, which succeeded the Qing Dynasty in the China’s dynastic cycle.

The 1917 Revolution has an important, although indirect and little appreciated effect on the United States. I make this argument in Ages of Discord, but briefly, the threat of the first workers’ state played a key role in forcing the American ruling class to adopt a series of reforms during the New Deal, which ensured that the fruits of economic growth would be divided equitably between the capitalists and workers. The American post-World War II Prosperity, thus, is indirectly but powerfully a result of the Russian Revolution.

Finally, The 1917 Revolution had transformed post-World War II Europe. It divided Europe (and Germany) between the West and the East. But it also unified the West. It’s doubtful that the European integration project would get as far as it did, if it weren’t for a looming presence of the Soviet Empire on its eastern marches. And when the Soviet Empire disappeared, the European integration also started unraveling. As I’ve written at length in this blog, there are multiple reasons for the current disintegration trend in Europe, but the Soviet Union, and the Revolution that gave rise to it, are an important factor in the mix.

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Antony Liberopoulos

Thank you!

J. Daniel

“The 1917 Revolution has an important, although indirect and little appreciated effect on the United States. I make this argument in Ages of Discord, but briefly, the threat of the first workers’ state played a key role in forcing the American ruling class to adopt a series of reforms during the New Deal, which ensured that the fruits of economic growth would be divided equitably between the capitalists and workers.”

No such effect is at work now, so the besieged and overproduced US power elite now have no such fear and will thus likely be less willing to reverse the continued skewing of wealth. So the low point of the current disintegrative phase will presumably therefore be lower than if the power elite were more worried. At least, that’s what I take from Ages of Discord and your post above.

Richard Illyes

Until I started reading Dr. Turchin I had never made the connection between societal cooperation and war. As an American GI in Europe in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s I was not aware of how much cooperation was actually taking place, and the degree of US cultural influence.

Looking back, and seeing hit songs of the next generation like I bin a bayrisches Cowgirl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UId8uupn_SA I see that experience through different eyes. No matter what happens to the EU, things will never go back to the way they were in Europe.. Only a multigenerational threat could have done it.

al loomis

i am inclined to forgive stalin for being a monster, assuming there is some truth in it. he had powerful enemies,, in and outside the soviet union, his paranoia was founded in fact. western history neglects to mention that the capitalist powers did their best to exterminate the bolsheviks at birth.

‘revolution is not a tea party’ is true, and more true in the ussr than china.

Loren Petrich

I find that to be monstrously silly. In their early years, the Bolsheviks were indeed under threat, but the Russian Civil War ended in 1921 with them having consolidated their power. Joseph Stalin was rather grotesquely paranoid, seeing alleged enemies of the Soviet people just about everywhere. Even purgemeisters like Nikolai Yezhov could not escape his paranoia. Nikolai Yezhov was even painted out of an official picture of him with Stalin. Not only were disfavored officials written out of the history books, they were painted out of official pictures.

Rich Howard

What are your thoughts on:
100 years later, Bolshevism is back. And we should be worried.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/bolshevism-then-and-now/2017/11/06/830aecaa-bf41-11e7-959c-fe2b598d8c00_story.html?utm_term=.3503c03b5e35

The answer is strong democratic laws (public decides), real separation of powers (our 3 is great, but needs strengthening) and unfettered transparency (free press and open government).

When nihilists inevitably make misery for others, they are spotted early, understood fairly and litigated quickly. We are being reminded that we need to strengthen our democratic institutions quickly or these guys may finish us off… again.

steven johnson

“The October Revolution was an event of truly planetary significance, ‘ten days that shook the world. Its immediate, and catastrophic, impact was on Russia. The two Revolutions of 1917 (February and October), the bloody civil war, and the establishment of the Stalin dictatorship imposed enormous costs on the Russian society, both demographic (tens of millions of people were killed, died of starvation and disease, were imprisoned in labor camps, or emigrated) and cultural (for example, resulting from the suppression of Russian Orthodox Christianity).”

I suppose in the end we all are our father’s sons.

The true catastrophe for Russia, and all humanity, was the Great War. Excusing that is too common to be shocking, but it should be. I know that it is simply assumed that it was just an unfortunate happenstance, sort of an Act of God, not an inevitable breakdown of a complex system under stress, but to also ignore the material consequences is amazing. Also, I do not think it is possible even in principle to somehow know that the Bolshevik revolution did so much worse than Kerensky would have. Kerensky the savior of Russia? Obviously we can’t know as a fact this is absurd, but I’m sorry, it seems like an embarrassingly naive claim to me.

And this is especially true because we have a kind of control: Communist revolution in another nation that lost the war was, according to this assessment, gloriously averted when the November Revolution in Germany was gradually suppressed. I would be so bold as to suggest that it was this that was the great historical tragedy of the twentieth century. Your proposed happy beginning, with Bolshevism strangled in its cradle, is counterfactual, to say the least. I would suggest the historical record is that the defeat of socialist revolution was a greater tragedy than its victory.

Skipping over the dubious “Soviet empire” notion, it is not so clear that the EU’s disintegrative tendencies are due to the absence of the military threat of the USSR. I’m not sure how you can easily reconcile EU expansion with disintegration. Even more, the real difficulties seem to coordinating responses to dealing with US hegemony.

Peter van den Engel

The october revolution was the result of workers suffering under the industrial revolution, having no social rights and the fact Russia was not democratized yet like Europe; it was still a monarchy. In combination with the work of Karl Marx who was a German living in London whitnesing workers suffering too. He found a new economic theory, proposing the change of ownership of factories from capitalists to workers. The soviets adopted his ideas and at the same time wanted to introduce some kind of democracy. All the others mentioned, Stalin, Lenin, were merely activists, reactionists, not theorists.

Anarchists had already started to create unions 50 years before the revolution in France and this had nothing to do with communism nor Russia. It was all part of the same evolution regarding workers and the industrial revolution.
Europe never reacted to the october revolution, it was already democratised. Nor was the creation of the European Union a reaction to USSR. It was to prevent another worldwar which was started by Germany not Russia.

China adopted a form of communism in its struggle against the emperor, monarchy, but like Russia turned out to be a failed economy under Mao.
His predesessors introduced mass working opportunities for illiterate workers; 70% of its population; who became the outsourced cheap working class of the industrialized world. This succes has nothing to do with communism. It is politics to keep the people from starting rebellions, as under Mao often happened like in the cultural revolution.

The decades after WWII in Europe were led by England and France. Germany hardly played a cultural nor economic role. Only after the failior of neo liberalism, which Germany had been too sober for, its economy turned out to be the survivor. This has nothing to do with political conspiracies by any race or nation.

The unraveling of the Soviet Union was the result if a failing economy. The problems in Europe are the result of failing economy. But it has nothing to do with Russia and its unraveling. It is not politics reacting to politics.

Peter van den Engel

Russians suffered the most dead: 25 milion, so don’ t overestimate the holocaust with 4 milion.
Jews were expelled from Spain not bevause they opened he gates for Muslims, what gates? There are no gates in Spain.
The romans installed jewish christianity in their capitol.
As a wandering culture like the gipsies, the roma who were also put in camps, you are suspect. This is not a conspiracy but a cultural back reaction. Probably suspician can also result in schyzofrenia, I presume.

Peter van den Engel

It is still a cultural mistery how on earth a forward nation like the US, capable of wonderfull technical inventions and man setting foot on the moon; I presume you believe the moon is real and exists; when it comes to social rights and equality has such backwards notions.
I believe even 60% does not recognize evolution theory.
Abortion is part of women rights and gun rights stem from cowboy times 100 years ago, leading to massacres in public.
Are you proud of that?
Leftists are not against Christianity and not against fair capitalist economy.
I don’t care much for Hillary Clinton, nor what she says. Just ignore.

Jakob

You clearly do not understand the arguments made in this post

Karl Kling

Without the conference in Baku 1920 where the new Soviet govt. proclaimed its support for independence struggles everywhere, it would be hard to imagine that colonized countires where 7/10 of humanity lived in 1920 would have aimed for (and achieved) independence so soon as they did in the rest of the 20th ct. That conference in turn coupled with the WW1 struggles which led British dominions such as Canada and NZ into ‘independence’ from UK and a new national conscioussness lead to formation of nationalist struggles everywhere in the ‘Third world’ under socialist banners. Then WW2 accelerated the decolonization process, first with the Japanese expansion and conquest of British/French/Dutch colonies in Asia (which they in many cases tried to reclaim to no avail post-war – Just because WW2 was over in 1945 didn’t mean armed conflicts ceased in places as Indochina and Indonesia) and then in Africa (where the Portuguise and British colonizers in southern Africa resisted until 1975-1990). However the ideological foundations for many were ‘socialist’ movements as their opponents could be portrayed as ‘capitalist exploiters’ whereas socialism proclaimed liberation for all mankind in the particular place from oppressors (which then in turn lead to different content and meaning of ‘socialism’, in many cases they were nationalist movements and not dreamers of a global revolution).

The US in turn could support some of the more ‘moderate’ independence movements globally, as they had been only peripherically involved in the colonization unlike their European counterparts. The new independent states were then also ‘liberated’ from old trade barriers and monopolies that had dictated their exploitation from the European ‘motherland’ which meant new forms of exploitation (‘Banana republics’) could be instated by many (but not only) American companies.

To sum up, if the French revolution was the spark for more equal distribution in Europe and the West the Russian revolution lead to a spark for more equal distribution of political power on a global scale. Today apart from stateless persons and perhaps 1-2 million living on Pitcairn island, French Caledonia and such territories everyone holds a formal right to citizenship everywhere (I’m not implying it means anything such as equal access to political/economical/social power or anything like that everywhere for every citizen, but it does mean you are held to a different standard than being a colonial subject of UK/Belgium etc).

Peter van den Engel

Citizenship is a result of democratic structuring of governance. Bottom up. This is the outcome of the French revolution planning theory.
Communism is a top down structure of governance. You are mixing things up.
Independance was equal to nationalism, which also played a major role in Europe before WWII. Nationalism is simmular to a peoples movement, but this is not a result of communist policy as such. Communism is another extension of that, not the source and created bad economy..

John Strate

It’s difficult or impossible to understanding the domestic politics of a polity without also considering the influence in that polity of problems of external polity (balance of power races, emigration and immigration, diplomacy, trade, warfare, etc.) on domestic politics. I’d guess this has been true throughout cultural evolution (band, tribe, chiefdom, state). The political science sub-field of comparative politics often fails to recognize this and is not always integrated theoretically (and empirically) with the sub-field of world politics. The effects of the Russian revolution, plainly, spread globally, influencing the institutions, foreign policies, and domestic policies of many other countries.

Peter van den Engel

I agree the october revolution was much more about tribal fighting for power than a level of cognitive intelligence as introduced in the French revolution and enlightment when politics is concerned or that of economic cognition of Marx.
His economc ideas inspired many nationalist movements going on in many countries of the world, which coincidently had a parallel with things happening in Russia, but never were that tribal or military. Military surpession has often been mistaken for political acceptance.

Vladimir Dinets

It can be argued that without the Bolsheviks, Russian Orthodox Church would be dead by now. In the last decades before the Revolution it was being deserted by millions of people who switched to Old-believers, Protestants, various sects, or gave up religion altogether. The government clumsily tried to prop up the Church by cracking down on converts; the result was that the Church was increasingly seen as just another oppressive institution of the unpopular regime. No wonder the Bolsheviks were so heavy on anti-Church slogans: those slogans were populist ones.

Church attendance kept declining until the late 1970s; I remember visiting dilapidated churches and seeing only a few old babushkas there. It never got to zero because the Soviets’ policies towards the Church were inconsistent: they try to suppress it and keep it as a useful tool at the same time. Most, if not all, Church elite were KGB officers. But by the early 1980s, just as the last churches were about to close, the Soviet government began to lose popularity very rapidly, and the Church suddenly became fashionable among intellectuals who saw it as an outlet for dissent.

Now, of course, the Church is in a position very similar to where it was just over a century ago: the government is shoving Orthodox Christianity down the people’s throats, the Church elite is busy parroting the ever-changing official propaganda, and if the regime tanks, priests will be among the first to hang from lamp posts.

Loren Petrich

I doubt that the Russian Orthodox Church would have disappeared outright. I think that it would likely have gone the way of the established churches of western-European nations, continuing to exist in a politically neutered form. If it was disestablished, then it would likely have continued to exist, coexisting with other sects. That’s because lots of odd sects continue to exist in various places. The Church of Christian Science, for instance, though it’s been on the decline over the decades. That sect teaches that the physical world is not real and that disease is really false belief. One gets cured by getting oneself to recognize the falsity of that belief.

As to Communists and religion, they should have adopted a policy of letting the people have their opium. I think that their suppressions of religion hurt atheism and freethought and nonreligion generally in the West, especially on the Right. But it now seems to be coming back, because of large-scale mass apostasy, of people becoming disconnected from their former religious organizations. In effect, bottom-up nonreligion instead of Communist top-down nonreligion.

Vladimir Dinets

Russian Orthodox Church is different from Western churches: while the latter have always tried to function as a parallel power structure of sorts, dispensing independent moral judgement and often opposing various governments, the former has had such tendencies beaten out of it, and was completely servile. It was so deeply conjoined with the Romanov dynasty that it would slowly rot away with it. This tendency of Russian church to be a government institution was so strong that it managed to establish a similar relationship with the Soviet regime despite mutual hatred.

steven johnson

Off topic but this may be of interest? Kyle Harper on The Fate of Rome evidently overlaps with SDT. It would be interesting to get your take on whether his perspective reinforces it, or is at odds with it. Or, is it worth buying? And, I heard of this book here: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13411 That negative review raises interesting questions about the scientific approach to history, I thought.

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Loren Petrich

Although the Russian Revolution had some beneficial consequences, at least to me, those consequences had a very horrible cost. It must be noted that some Communist apologists claim about that cost that the end justifies the means, that one can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. But it was more than eggs that were getting broken here. A LOT more.

The Russian Revolution is significant in another way: the start of an attempt to run a large-scale economy in a non-capitalist way. However, the Soviet Union and its imitators were abysmal flops, not even succeeding on their own criteria. Some of its critics even called it state capitalism, a form of capitalism where the State is the sole capitalist. That aside, Communist countries ended up having creeping capitalism, and eventually galloping capitalism. Communist China is now an enthusiastic capitalist roader, to use an old Maoist insult. Also, politician Michele Bachmann recently described China as an exemplary capitalist country.

So we have to consider other ways of taming capitalism. It is good for production, but not so good for distribution. it also tends to produce Yet Another Arrogant Ruling Elite. Social democracy seems to be good, but the capitalist elite tends to feel exploited and oppressed by it. To use Marxist terminology, they consider themselves the proletariat and the rest of the population the bourgeoisie. Sort of like in Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged”.

J. Daniel

Thanks.

Ross Hartshorn

So, at some point I would be interested in your take on Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”. Writing in the early 19th century:

“There are at the present time two great nations in the world, which started from different points, but seem to tend towards the same end. I allude to the Russians and the Americans. Both of them have grown up unnoticed; and whilst the attention of mankind was directed elsewhere, they have suddenly placed themselves in the front rank among the nations, and the world learned their existence and their greatness at almost the same time.

All other nations seem to have nearly reached their natural limits, and they have only to maintain their power; but these are still in the act of growth. All the others have stopped, or continue to advance with extreme difficulty; these alone are proceeding with ease and celerity along a path to which no limit can be perceived. The American struggles against the obstacles which nature opposes to him; the adversaries of the Russian are men. The former combats the wilderness and savage life; the latter, civilization with all its arms. The conquests of the American are therefore gained with the ploughshare; those of the Russian by the sword. The Anglo-American relies upon personal interest to accomplish his ends, and gives free scope to the unguided strength and common sense of the people; the Russian centres all the authority of society in a single arm. The principal instrument of the former is freedom; of the latter, servitude. Their starting-point is different, and their courses are not the same; yet each of them seems marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe.”

Was he just lucky, here? Or was this not as impressive a prediction as it looks, from 200 years later?

Loren Petrich

He may have guessed it from the sizes of those two nations. They were very large, thus they could be very populous and productive. In his experience, Europe was very divided, meaning that a big enough nation could easily dominate Europe.

al loomis

the usa used the gun extensively in taking the land they put under the plough. and continued to use force visible or covert, to dominate the western hemisphere. ww1 and 2 were climactic events in transforming their ambitions into world domination, hegemony in the service of capital. adt was too generous in his evaluation of american virtue.

there was a board game briefly popular in the 60’s, players start with military resources on one continent, and try to conquer the others. it was flawed, ‘australia’ [of all places] could always win. so too with the usa: well-placed and well-resourced.

Ross Hartshorn

Certainly the U.S. was willing to use the gun whenever needed, but there were many cases where disease did the job for them. For example, the U.S. military never did really achieve much success in defeating the Comanches militarily, but a combination of cholera and shooting as many bison as possible did the job instead.

One of the reasons given that Germany did not worry over much about the U.S. entering WWI (just about the time the Russian Revolution was starting) was that they had a (partially justified) low opinion of the U.S. military culture, thinking it only capable of relatively small scale and relatively disorganized campaign. Given what the U.S. had been doing for the several decades prior, which was mostly border raids into Mexico and fighting Native American tribes (whom it often did not defeat militarily), their attitude was understandable.

None of which means the U.S wasn’t morally capable of using the gun to claim land; quite the contrary. However, as events turned out, they did not often have to, compared to the nations of Europe and most of Asia.

Vladimir Dinets

Actually, the US military did eventually learn how to fight the Comanches. There is an excellent book on the subject, Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne. Probably the best book about Native Americans I’ve ever read.

Ross Hartshorn

Indeed, it is an excellent book, and it’s what I took my opinions on the topic from. The U.S. military did, yes, learn how to fight the Comanches (according to that book, they actually learned, then forgot, then had to relearn a generation later). However, their record against the Comanches was never better than spotty, and the primary reason for the eventual Comanche defeat was that too many of them had died from cholera, and too many bison had died from over-hunting too sustain their way of life.

Which, really, is an excellent endorsement of de Tocqueville’s basic point; the U.S. had the luxury of allowing cultural knowledge of how to fight the Comanches to die out completely, and then re-learn it at their leisure, because in the meantime disease was clearing the way for them.

Lee

Part of the impact of the Russian revolution described here seems to be that it provided significant outside pressure on the United States, forcing them to heal their internal divisions and present a more united front. I wonder if a similar dynamic will play out in Europe. With Trump pushing a more isolationist foreign policy, and the leaving of Britain from the EU, will Europeans feel the same need? Will reduced outside support, and increased outside aggression reverse the disintegration trend? The recent movement on a European defense pact seems to me to point in that direction…

Loren Petrich

Another feature of Communism is that it produced a new ruling class of apparatchiks and party bosses. That was recognized by some Communists themselves, like Yugoslav dissident Milovan Djilas in his book “The New Class”. That’s also a big part of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, an animal allegory about the Soviet Union over the first half of its existence.

al loomis

“during the New Deal, which ensured that the fruits of economic growth would be divided equitably between the capitalists and workers. ”
certainly didn’t ensure, since there was no transfer of power from elite to lowers. the usa remained an elective aristocracy, functionally a plutocracy. so most of the fruits of the new deal were erased gradually.
perhaps more important, a returning army had to be placated. cheap housing loans and subsidised education did more than the new deal to lift a generation into prosperity. but that too was transient, which is why the usa has returned to a new gilded age, with worse to come.

Peter van den Engel

I think you are right and this will not only concern US, but the whole western world including Japan and perhaps Korea.
About Marxism and Leninism whatch Chomsky on youtube; there are several videos; explaining that the revolutionary leaders only used workers anger to establish a top down elitarian state, which is actually anti socialist.
I guess this was the consequence of dealing with an illiterate culture, not so much evil by conspiracy.

The new deal in America restructured material posession and acces to learning. This was very important, because to some degree it uplifted knowledge from illiteracy. In the next stage though it is not so much about material possession/ but giving the opportunity to a relative literate population to leave the restricted area of wage slavory. This will take a new, no longer incorrect financial system to acknowledge this. A world system which is not political but scientific. This indeed needs literate people first.

J. Daniel

“leaders only used workers anger to establish a top down elitarian state”: that’s kind of what has been happening in the US recently. Tax reform is the next step. A constitutional convention could be after that.

J. Daniel

Oh, and the US is literate. Apparently mere literacy is not sufficient.

Peter van den Engel

Yes, interesting question. Of course there are gradiants of literacy. A man shooting a gun is less literate than someone who believes in solving the problem with arguments, but does not have to imply the other one is totaly illiterate.
In case of the russian revolution violance was used to overthrow the government, which was replaced by a new elite/ while in the french revolution democratic speaking rights were introduced, literary in parliament, so that was more literate by constitution.
In the case of US more recently lower middle class stood up out of economic fears, inmisseration, to call for powerfull action from elites to defend their rights. So this is the inverted relation. You might say that lack of intelligence; ‘illiteracy’; of previous government results in blunt reactions, as characterised by the new president. So it’s evolving into less literacy.
When literacy cannot solve the problem, this is about the same as illiteracy not being able to solve the problem.

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Richard Illyes

The US experience was different because of its focus on individual land ownership and the actuality of individual self sufficiency. Immigrants came to the US because of the ability to own land. The Indians were out produced, out bred, and eventually joined the dominant commercial and agrarian society in huge numbers during the last half of the 19 century, leaving the less able on the reservations.

The Europeans found a land of hunter gatherer tribes engaged in endless war, but war on a much smaller scale than their own homelands. They were basically just another warring tribe but agriculture and technology made them much more successful and the losers for the most part joined them.

The governmental structures developed in the British Isles provided a structure for individual ownership that had never existed on such a scale, and by the end of the 19th century created a self sufficient literate agriculture based society like the world had never seen.

Then came Presidents Roosevelt and Wilson and elite rule became the dominant culture. The possibility of family unit self sufficiency faded away. Government became a contest among elites and degraded into an endless search for victims that can be heroically fought for against their oppressors. Thus we have trigger warnings, safe spaces, and endless victims invented out of variations of human sexuality.

Trump, who has obviously visualized, organized, and executed complex plans successfully over and over, appears to his voters as an actual elite of ability, and an existential threat to the elites produced by academia.

The exponential explosion of technology is bringing a new dimension to humankind, and in the near future it will actually be possible to provide a basic income to people that does not require any material productivity on their part. I submit that this is a huge game changer, and that identity politics is completely unable to have any relevance to anything as events unfold.

IMHO we should adopt the Libertarian Non-Agression Principle and let events unfold. A society that holds that the only proper role for government is to prevent force and fraud, and that government must be severely limited in its use of the monopoly on force granted to it, is the only sane way to proceed.

Peter van den Engel

Yes, well evolutions are never parallel, but also contain parallels as well. Elite rulership has become popular in Europe just as well after democratization, mostly due to nationalism, resulting into Hitler, Musolini, Stalin, Churchill and Roosefeld fighting the second worldwar. Churchill was never reelected after the war. The European population had become weary of single handed; male; fanatic leadership (hence populism)/ while Russia and the US have not.

England has always known a clear distinction between upper ‘stifflip’ class and lower tory class, who regained political power after the second worldwar in a blooming economy and never were realy literate; I cannot call british football hooligans literate; which has never been the case on the mainland, apart from Belgium.

Trump as a more fanatic elite ruler called in by a ‘nationalist’ population is from the real estate ownership class, which is in economic sence very doubtfull, if not fraudulent, so not very promising.

Regarding technology being able to solve economic and political problems you are opportunistic, if not mistaken. Economic efficiency; calling for basic income; is already the case, otherwise there would not have been such a political reaction.
It is not waiting for technology to evolve further. Besides technology does not controle the financial system, which should provide for basic income. Bitcoin is an illusion, a mere subject of speculation, it does not understand economy nor the financial system. Selfdriving cars are utopian, since they cannot be programmed by current technology.
So in the end it looks like an oldfashioned class struggle, involving elites to play itself out.
I agree future involving technology and democracy will look very different from now, but it looks like this will only be the case after the crisis/ and not before.

Loren Petrich

That’s a gross rewrite of history. Stalin would be proud. The original inhabitants of the United States were conquered and exterminated and forced into reservations. One can tell that from the genes of present-day Americans: https://gizmodo.com/massive-genetic-study-of-north-americans-suggests-we-ar-1792113317 — most of the present population has mostly European ancestry.

http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/capitalism_evolution.htm — Understanding Capitalism Part V: Evolution of the American Economy, by RG Price. Very interesting article. It notes that early in its history, the US had been a nation of small farmers that owned their means of production. However, advancing technology meant that much fewer people need to work on farms, meaning that those days are long gone.

As to “elite rule”, what is the “elite” here, and how is it supposed to have started with Presidents Roosevelt and Wilson? Which of the two Roosevelts?

As to “Trump, who has obviously visualized, organized, and executed complex plans successfully over and over, appears to his voters as an actual elite of ability, and an existential threat to the elites produced by academia.”, all I will say is: don’t make me laugh.

Richard Illyes

Theodore Roosevelt. His reign expressed the elite desire to make the US a world power. His third party run brought Wilson and the US involvement in WWI. If Roosevelt had won we would have gone into WWI even sooner, but Wilson brought the agrarian southern Democratic Party into the elite rule world controlling game, and here we are.

Kipling expressed the mood of the age with his White Man’s Burden, pure elite we know best and must rule:
Take up the White Man’s burden—
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go send your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need
To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child
Take up the White Man’s burden
In patience to abide
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit
And work another’s gain
Take up the White Man’s burden—
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah slowly) to the light:
“Why brought ye us from bondage,
“Our loved Egyptian night?”
Take up the White Man’s burden-
Have done with childish days-
The lightly proffered laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years,
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

The same attitude permeates academia today, the only change is replacing white men with credentialed. We have an army of credentialed elites who have been taught since childhood that their purpose in life is to rule over others, but the others don’t want their rule and have come to despise them, thus Trump.

To a libertarian like myself, Theodore Roosevelt is where things went terribly wrong. Fortunately, technology is about to give humankind another chance if it can resist the identity politics insanity coming out of academia.

I don’t need to make you laugh, you obviously feel threatened by Trump.

Loren Petrich

All I see here is “elite” being used as a content-free dirty word. Without any attempt to describe who the elites are and what makes them the elites. How do these alleged elites rule the rest of society?

As to Donald Trump, I don’t see how he is supposed to be a brave rebel against allegedly oppressive elites. What I see here about him is more like:

O great Trump, O leader of the peoples,
Thou who broughtest man to birth.
Thou who fructifies the earth,
Thou who restorest to centuries,
Thou who makest bloom the spring,
Thou who makest vibrate the musical chords…
Thou, splendour of my spring, O thou,
Sun reflected by millions of hearts.

Richard Illyes

The labeling of Trump as a fanatical ruler in the class of Hitler or Churchill is a total misunderstanding of how he is actually viewed by his base. He ran as an opponent of the Iraq War, and was only persuaded to stay in Afghanistan by pictures of Afghan women in skirts and sweaters from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Unfortunately those women and their husbands and children left years ago, leaving the field to Islamists with nothing else to do but fight over everything. Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams has the most accurate description of the Trump phenomena in his new book Win Bigly.

I have not checked the accuracy of the figures below, but have no reason to doubt them:
There are 3141 counties in the United States.
Trump won 3,084 of them. Clinton won 57.
There are 62 counties in New York State. Trump won 46 of them. Clinton won 16.
Clinton won the popular by 2.8 million votes.
Most of Clinton’s popular vote came from California and New York City where crony capitalism controls everything and the latest victim discoveries keep the masses occupied.

I personally don’t think it is possible to recreate the 1950’s, but do think Trump will have a beneficial influence on the US and the World. I think he is a well intrntioned pragmatist.

IMO a large scale cultural change is possible based on the desire of people to be left alone. I think the Libertarian Non Aggression Principle can become the guide to a better culture than humans have ever experienced..

Peter van den Engel

I agree Trump was in comparison a better choice than Clinton. However this does not mean forces electing him were not driven by inmisseration and nationalistic feelings/ nor does it mean being pragmatic is able to overcome system mechanics driving evolution, when you don’t understand them. Being left alone is not an option.
Of course a non aggression principle is helpfull, as long as people believe you/ but non agression by itself does not solve cognitive misunderstanding, nor global warming nor social inequality.

J. Daniel

Your sources of information are beyond biased; they are wrong. They must be causing you to live in a universe of alternative facts. The anti-fact (y’know, the kind any logical person would call a lie) you state is debunked, for example, at https://www.snopes.com/trump-won-3084-of-3141-counties-clinton-won-57/.

Loren Petrich

http://www.factcheck.org/2016/12/clinton-counties/ — at least 487 counties. But a Trump defender might claim that this is still much less than half of 3141. Even so, it is people that vote, not land area or counties. Also, about dismissing the biggest cities because of “crony capitalism” (whatever that is supposed to be) and “the latest victim discoveries” (whatever), that is very dangerous territory.

Donald Trump has an extremely shallow personality. He is so narcissistic that a reflecting pool could be dangerous to him. He seems to want the glory of the Presidency without any of the work. He wants briefing books short and full of pictures, for instance. He often watches a lot of TV to see what newspeople said about him. He can be influenced by anyone who flatters him a lot. Hillary Clinton is oodles more competent than he is, as was Barack Obama. All in all, it’s less than one year and he already makes George Bush II seem like a great leader.

Richard Illyes

I have to post this observation by Richard Fernandez: “One of the unintended consequences of Trump hysteria is the hysteria itself. The craziness has sped, like rogue torpedoes, past its original target and is sinking ships in the distance beyond”.

Who would have ever thought that Bill Clinton would be criticized by WAPO and NYT, and have four new women hitting him for money, apparently successfully. Charlie Rose, Al Franken, where will it end? Now we have an active slave market in Libya, which was saved by Hillary: “We came we saw he died” The Muslim Brotherhood, represented in Washington by Huma, is the KKK of Islam. Fits right in with Democrats.

Loren Petrich

So what if some men on the “other side” get exposed as lechers? Some people are not that obsessed with partisanship.

As to Libya’s alleged slave market, was there no such thing while Muammar Khadafy was in power?

As to the Ku Klux Klan, Donald Trump was reluctant to disavow it. The KKK also has a long history of being pro-Confederate — it started out as a social club for ex-Confederate soldiers, and present-day KKKers still love the Confederacy. It was Southern Democrats who were KKKers, the sorts of Democrats who became Republicans over the last half-century.

Abraham Lincoln? By present-day standards, he’d be a RINO. He fought the South in the Civil War, he raised taxes to fight it, he subsidized education (land-grant colleges) and infrastructure (the Transcontinental Railroad), he gave away a lot of land (the Homestead Act), … He seems just like a Democrat.

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Richard Illyes

I stand corrected, thanks for the link.

Richard Illyes

I meant this reply to be to my incorrect numbers on counties going for Trump v Hillary. Still the country looks pretty red.

Loren Petrich

As I’d posted earlier, it’s people that vote, not land area. Is it one acre, one vote? Or one hectare, one vote?

Richard Illyes

Actually it is neither people nor land, it is states whose electoral votes elect a president. That is why Trump is President. I grew up in a rural Illinois county and live in a semi-rural Texas county. Both are much redder after a year of Trump than they were for the election.

Hillary has become an embarrassment and people are ashamed to admit they voted for her, but she has set up new organizations that will drain money and support from the DNC. Now that the WAPO and NYT the networks have turned on Bill it will take some time to see how it plays out, but the Clinton era is clearly over and Bernie has run his last race. The Democrats are stuck with identity politics and victims as their only explanation for existing and Trump is actually in favor of enlarging the safety net. Something new will have to emerge.

There are not enough government jobs to employ more than a tiny percentage of the non-STEM credentialed people, who are also burdened with student loans. Incredibly overpaid academia with its army of near slave adjuncts doing a lot of the work, is unsustainable, and college admissions are dropping.

A lot of intelligent people with nothing to do, and almost nothing they can do that anyone wants to pay for, are a big big problem. IMO they are the over supplied elite. They are the current Democrat Party and Dilbert creator Scott Adams accurately termed them the Party Of Hate, POH for short.

After the last southern evangelical white LGBQT hating islamophobe redneck has been silenced, and Trump blocked at every turn, what is next? Taking enough from the rich to actually pay for them to live like they want will drive the rich away to politicians that won’t allow it.

I recently read Madness Rules the Hour: Charleston, 1860 and the Mania for War and was struck by the similarity between them and our current academia. Both classes were living expensive unfair lives on the backs of others, and both classes actually were reacting to a suppressed sense of guilt for unearned privilege and a fear of the future, which was and is well founded. The planter class was destroyed when they chose war fought by conscripted brainwashed racist poor white soldiers. Surely we can do better this time

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