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The Final Stages of American Collapse

The Final Stages of American Collapse

An historic disaster is now unfolding in America. That might make you chuckle—after all, there've been plenty of those. But this time's different. From here, it appears that America's poised to enter the final stages of collapse. No going back, irreversible, game over level.

What do I mean by that? Just as I predicted, and we've been discussing, consider the following—which should make you shudder.

‘This Is Grim,’ One Democratic Pollster Says"

Democracy Corps, a Democratic advisory group founded by Stan Greenberg and James Carvillesurveyed 2,500 voters in presidential and senate battleground states as well as competitive House Districts.

In an email, Greenberg summarized the results: “This is grim.”

The study, Greenberg said, found that, collectively, voters in the Democratic base of “Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, LGBTQ+ community, Gen Z, millennials, unmarried and college women give Trump higher approval ratings than Biden.”


Now, this isn't about petty politics. It's about, like I said, an history-altering mistake. Do you see what I see in those numbers? Why I say they should make you shudder? Trump's ahead even with the very groups he should never, ever, in any universe, not even remotely, be ahead with. The LGBTQ? Young people? Women in college? Are seemingly ready to...vote for fascism...for the very movement which wants to permanently shatter their basic rights and freedoms? What on planet earth is going on here?

Let's think about young people. Just 40% of them view capitalism positively. And yet they're poised to...vote for Trump. What on earth? Trump's the epitome of capitalism, after all, not even in a substantive sense, but in the sense of late capitalism's endless grift, corrosion, greed, and violence. How can it possibly be the case that the same social group who thinks capitalism's a fairly terrible thing is about to vote for Donald Trump?

But it only gets worse. Think of what it means that Trump's ahead with even the LGBTQ. How is that...again...even possible? We should all know by now what Trumpists think of anyone who's different in any way from the patriarchal norm—especially those who differ from it in terms of sexuality, gender, or self-expression of any kind. We should all know that Trump and his ilk aren't just not exactly friends to the LGBTQ, but some of the worst, bad-faith, burn-the-witch level regressive enemies they can have. And yet...even the LGBTQ are seemingly poised to vote for Donald Trump.

On one level, all this is "about the economy," and we've been discussing that lately. The majority of American households are "cash flow negative"—a statistic so dire that it practically screams The Fall of Rome in a banshee wail across the millennia. But even that's superficial, given the gravity of this situation.

Because all these social groups should know better. How is it possible as a minority, a young person, a college age woman, a member of the LGBTQ community, to be poised to vote for Trump? When I said "historic mistake"—I'm not kidding.

By now, we should all know what happens if Trump gets re-elected, and part of the startling message here is that it doesn't even have to be by way of a soft coup, hard coup, tricks, or even legislative tricks. No, it just appears to be happening outright, in plain sight, a kind of bizarre, delusional, willful march over the abyss. We should all know because Trump's not exactly hiding it–he's screaming it. There's a 1000 page plan to literally reshape every single government department and agency along theocratic—authoritarian-fascist lines. Read that sentence again. Meanwhile, Trump's literally echoing the language and narratives of history's worst demagogues now, speaking of "vermin," promising violent revenge and retribution.

We should all know. Especially those who are at the greatest risk from fascist-authoritarianism, like young people, minorities, and the LGBTQ. So what's going on here, exactly? A game of self-deceit? Willful ignorance? Sheer stubborn, ornery old-fashioned American stupidity? Some kind of collective delusion? How can this be...happening...to this surreal degree? It's one thing for people to "vote against their self interest," but young people, minorities, and the LGBTQ voting for fascism is another thing entirely—in a whole other universe of fatally WTF. Welcome to History's Pantheon of the Greatest Mistakes Ever Made.

Now, it's true that Biden's disappointed all these social groups, from foreign policy, to debt, through to clumsy messaging about the economy, right down to a lack of inspiration especially to young people, to an almost complete lack of hope that things will ever get better. Yet this isn't a way of pleading "but vote for the lesser evil!!" It's not an apologia. It's a set of observations about how societies get to the point of final collapse—young people, women in college, the LGBTQ, minorities...ready to vote for...the very fascism...that's going to turn right around and legislatively, socially, and existentially attack them? Like I said, hitting this stage of collapse, the madness of implosion, should make us all shudder.

The best way to understand this, I think, is through the nearest analog. These days, the prevailing mood in Britain—when it's not sheer despair—is what's come to be called "Bregret." Regret over Brexit, which utterly shattered Britain's future. If the choice were made again today, having understood how ruinous the consequences were to be, Brexit would be solidly rejected by Brits, who are now suffering, and going to suffer for a very long time to come.

So. Nations make mistakes. Nations make Big, Historic, Terrible Mistakes. And then nations regret those mistakes. That's a little inaccurate. It's truer to say: those groups who were at the most risk from the grave effects of radical, irreversible, totalizing choices, and never should have made them, come to regret them intensely and severely. That, without a doubt, is where more or less everyone who votes Trump is going to be, apart from the die-hard MAGA fringe—but especially young people, minorities, the LGBTQ, women, those at the most risk from the fallout of what's to come.

If Trump ascends back into the Presidency—and it's beginning to look inevitable, just as I predicted, and we've been discussing—it's going to be a colossal mistake. A history altering one. Let's talk a little bit about what'll happen, the bitter seeds of regret which are being sown today.

The economy? It's going to go south, incredibly fast. That's because global funds, investors, other nations, are hardly likely to trust...Donald Trump...with the debts America owes them. Cue a sovereign debt crisis—but the Republicans and Trump don't care about that, so America'd probably fail to repay its debts, which would trigger a global financial crisis that'd make 2010 look like a walk in the park. Sounds abstract, but within months that'd trickle down to the average person, turning today's cost of living crisis into something far, far worse, as unemployment spiked, incomes fell further, and interest rates not to mention prices soared.

But even that's barely the beginning. Prices are surging now because of climate change. For example, India stopped exporting grains last summer. That's a long run trend which most are already struggling with. Trump, though, wouldn't just give up on fighting climate change—he'd embrace the old industrial economy with a vengeance, and that'd accelerate all these climate risks now exploding through the system. See how insurers just pulled out of Florida and California? Now imagine a world where the fight against climate change is a memory. Good luck with any sort of vaguely not-implosive economy in that world.

Then there are the social consequences. The best way to understand those is with the most obvious example. Caesar and Rome. What happened in Rome, exactly? Impoverished, humiliated, the average Roman turned to populists, abandoned and neglected by the Senate, which came from an "aristocracy," or in modern terms, elites, or just more simply, the mega-rich. Figures like Caesar seized upon the people's feelings of rage and trauma, struggling for bread while patricians built huge palaces—and used it to gain a new source of power: popularity. Famously, of course, Caesar crossed the Rubicon, to "get things done," the Senate ossified, paralyzed, bickering, useless, to the people's roaring approval–and on that day, Rome began to fall.

That's all ancient history. Or is it? There's no going back from another Trump era. That would be the end of American democracy as we know it. It's not true to say we don't know what would happen next—sure we do: this is a figure who already led a soft coup, and then a hard coup, attempted to overturn an election, and impose martial law. There's very little doubt that democracy would be over—and that isn't just in the sense of "elections," it's in the deeper sense of "freedoms and rights." Who'd have them? How many would exist? Already, women face severely curtailed rights of expression, association, movement, speech, post-Roe—now imagine how far that could go for all those at-risk social groups, and how fast.

But even that fails to do justice to it all. You see, for all its faults and flaws, America's still the world's only real remaining power. For it to no longer be a democracy—even in the limited sense of the word it's always been—would be a shockwave echoing through history. Perhaps not at Roman levels, because of course Rome lasted longer—but in our time, our age, our context, with just the same magnitude. To see democracy fall in this historic way would almost surely be a sign that something like a dark age is now rising.

So how should we interpret all this? Is Trump's return inevitable, which is the way it feels, to many, now? Nothing in history's inevitable. But forces matter. And the forces America faces—which it created for itself—are like hurricanes. Decades of poor choices, based on crackpot economics, have left the average American literally impoverished—remember, the majority are "cashflow negative." Meanwhile, America failed to create a modern social contract, with expansive public goods, or "safety nets." American life is brutal, Darwinian, dog-eat-dog, no room for mercy, and so norms of rivalry and adversariality and endless competition gave way to open hostility, and then to hate. Elites, meanwhile, repeat the line: "but the economy's booming!," and it is—but only for them, because they've looted it.

All these forces almost invoke a Trump-like figure. In much the same way that Rome's decades of underinvestment in public goods, and overinvestment in war and conquest, looting by elites, rampant inequality, led to falling living standards, which sparked populist rage. Caesar, in other words, was the man chosen by history to fulfill the destiny of demagogue. But it was Rome who authored that destiny herself, through her mistakes.

Trump's the man chosen by history to fulfill the destiny of demagogue, too, and in the same way, it's mistake upon mistake, folly upon folly, which authored that destiny. If it hadn't been Caesar—who knows, perhaps it would've been Mark Antony, or someone unknown to us today yet, because the need for a demagogue was there, thanks to these grand forces of destiny and history. In the same, Trump's ascent to power is about a role waiting to be filled.

So is that "inevitability"? Even in Rome, perhaps the Senate could have gotten its act together. Or perhaps people could have come to their senses. Who knows? Ifs and buts don't write history. There's only one certainty when it comes to history, which is that we should learn from it. Ancient, modern, and even recent. That's why it's so troubling when we see that even young people, the LGBTQ, and minorities are poised to vote for Trump: they've already forgotten what happened last time. Inevitability—such as it is—is made of self-deceit. The fetters of willful ignorance. Chains of folly.

It's hard to say just why something so surreal could even happen, in the end, despite all the theories and ideas I've thrown at you, from history to economics to politics. Why would...young people...the LGBTQ...minorities...vote for fascism? Why would you set fire to your own house? Why would you choose your own subjugation? Take your own rights and freedoms away? Give the worst sorts power over you, which they're sure to abuse, because they openly plan it already?

All we can say, really, is that when we see such things happen, a nation is at the glittering precipice of the final stages of collapse.

This, my friends, is what ruin really is.