“I always knew it would be a pandemic.”

A friend asked me today, how did we get into this mess?

It was clearly a rhetorical question.  But since I’m a jerk, here is my answer:


First, we elected a president who dissolved the NSC pandemic unit in 2018.

He also dissolved a lot of other Very Important Things, so if not this pandemic, something else awful was going to happen eventually.

Then the pandemic hit.

Many governments (ours) were given a significant warning of what was about to occur, and ignored these warnings.

When pressed, governments that didn’t want to lose face (ours) pretended that nothing was really wrong.

When it became apparent that this ostrich-with-its-head-in-the-sand strategy would lead to the deaths of—and this is a conservative estimate—millions of Americans, the President was forced to backpedal and take the threat to his presidency seriously.

Then the pandemic showed us all the limits of economies that depend on perpetual “growth” (Thanks Malthus).

Too little, too late efforts to slow the pandemic shut down retail, travel, and restaurant industries.

People stopped buying things.

Growth was no longer possible.

When everyone stopped working and buying things, everyone who believed in money couldn’t help but admit there must, at the very least, be less of this invisible substance.

The stock market immediately crashed and will crash further, because money doesn’t exist, it merely exists insofar as we all believe it exists.

All that is solid melts into air (Thanks, Marx).

Now we will see how long we have to stay in this state of capitalism-in-suspension before we revert to (and probably not in this order):

1) A barter economy (I’ll give you this good, if you give me that good);
2) A socialist economy;
or 3) ~~ and this one will probably come first if we have to wait long enough ~~

Is this a Marxist Revolution?

Or will we be able to recover with a significant market reset?

I think the answer to that question will ultimately be correlated to how long we are expected to stay at home.  But I’m not economist.  Or an epidemiologist.  I’m closest to a historian, sometimes.  I’m just a post-doc who studies apocalypse who really hopes his post-doc still exists when all this is said and done.

Categories: Trump, Uncategorized

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4 replies »

  1. I’d take it back a step or several. This has been a long time coming. Trump is just a trigger. But many other things could have served the same purpose. If not covid-19 and Trump, it just as easily could’ve been something else. It wasn’t going to continue much longer. What this triggers is a whole other question. All that is clear is that much will change.


      • Here is all that I meant. There is a larger context. Events don’t come out of nowhere. There are the failures of Trump himself. But the populist uprising that got Trump elected is the result of the growing inequality, eroding democracy, failure of political leadership, etc.

        Our society has been in decline for longer than I’ve been alive. It’s just most people weren’t paying attention until recently, as the decline was gradual like slowly boiling water. A crisis forces us to see what has been happening, even though it all began long before the crisis.

        If we don’t understand how we got here, we are unlikely to understand how to extricate ourselves and how to seek a new path. So, how did we get here and what does it mean? As you wrote four years ago:

        “I feel apocalyptic. Or maybe, as Tim Morton has argued, the apocalypse already happened a long time ago. And this is just another symptom, another spasm of it. […]

        “We just saw how the Democratic Party, through its own astounding incompetence, can fully face plant versus the weakest candidate the Republican Party has put forward in a century by undermining the democratic primaries and thoroughly failing to kindle any sort of excitement in their tepid, safe, uninspiring nominee.”


        I’m not sure what generation you’re part of. But, like Morton, I’m a GenXer and a child of the late Cold War. Maybe that contributes to why I agree with him that, in a sense, the apocalypse already happened and we are now experiencing the delayed results, the deferred costs. It was a long time coming and now here it is.

        We should keep in mind that people have been warning about this for decades. Then again, left-wingers have been warning about the direction of American society for generations or even centuries. But some pretty specific predictions were made as far back as the early 1990s when I was in high school.


        That is what is implied by stepping back. We need to seek ultimate causes and long established patterns. That requires both an overcoming of historical amnesia and much soul searching as a society. Trump is a symptom, a spasm. That doesn’t make him any less dangerous, of course.


      • Ah! This all comes down to my misunderstanding of what you meant by “step back.” I took it to mean I ought to “step back” (or “tone down”) my apocalyptic post. Yes, as a historian / time theory guy I am all about taking any given issue another step back or two on the time line. I see we are more on the same page than less. Thank you for clarifying.

        Liked by 1 person

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