Quotable (#224)


When Bannon listed the administration’s central purposes, the first two were unsurprising: “national security and sovereignty” and “economic nationalism.” But then came the third: the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Bannon explained that officials who seem to hate what their agencies do — one thinks especially of Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who has sued it repeatedly to the benefit of oil and gas companies — were “selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.” […] Thus did Bannon invoke the trendy lefty term “deconstruct” as a synonym for “destroy.” […] This is a huge deal. It reflects a long-standing critique on the right not just of the Obama and Clinton years but of the entire thrust of U.S. government since the Progressive Era and the New Deal. …

It’s getting extremely hard for libertarian-types to simply dislike this regime.

ADDED: On regime media-strategy technology guru Robert Mercer — “… his basic politics, I think, was that he’s a rightwing libertarian, he wants the government out of things.”


More on Thiel’s Girardian machinations at the Business Insider:

On a deeper level, perhaps Trump fit into Thiel’s grand historical plans. Here was a man who would disrupt the runaway mimesis caused by globalization, which encouraged people around the world to compare their lives to everyone else’s.

The thesis is certainly neat.

Previous (extended) ruminations on the topic linked here.

Quotable (#214)

Calm realism from Shadi Hamid:

I could try to explain what I think our nation is, but I can no longer be sure if tens of millions of my fellow citizens would agree. But I cannot simply take solace in the fact that soon there will be more non-whites and therefore more people who share my ideology. This is a recipe for more conflict, not less. […] Well before Brexit and the rise of Trump, Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev wrote that “threatened majorities — those who have everything and who fear everything — have emerged as the major force in European politics.” They feel threatened in the United States as well; the only difference, perhaps, is that they do not have everything but still fear everything. Yet as demographics inexorably shift, both the perception and reality of this “threat” will only grow. Unless something changes, American politics will continue to collapse along ethnic lines.

Malthus was Right

The global wealth distribution is predictably spiky. That’s mostly because scarcely anyone owns anything:

… it does not take that much to get into the top 1% of wealth holders. Once debts have been subtracted, a person needs only $3,650 to be among the wealthiest half of the world’s citizens. However, about $77,000 is required to be a member of the top 10% of global wealth holders and $798,000 to belong to the top 1%. So if you own a home in any major city in the rich North on your own and without a mortgage, you are part of the top 1%.

This looks like what you’d expect if population — at the global level — expanded approximately to the resource limit. (There are no doubt cuddlier interpretations out there.)