17/11/2023 lewrockwell.com  9 min 🇬🇧 #237423

Collapse of Trust in American Institutions

By  Doug Casey

 International Man

November 17, 2023

International Man: According to a recent Gallup poll, the American people's confidence in their leaders and most important institutions has collapsed to the lowest figure ever recorded.

Americans have never been more distrustful of the federal government, big business, the media, the education system, science institutions, the medical establishment, big tech companies, and law enforcement.

What is your take?

Doug Casey: The distrust is well deserved. Of course, if you want to see a real collapse of confidence in institutions—and the institutions themselves—we might look at Haiti. This is what happens when a society is on the ragged edge of a revolution, a civil war, or a societal collapse.

Traditions, common ethical standards, and civil institutions are what make a society livable. When they disintegrate, you're looking at chaos. It can happen anywhere. Civilization is a relatively thin veneer in a Hobbesian world. In the US, it's happening because the society's institutions have been captured by Woke, collectivist, busybody, and Statist philosophies.

The people promoting Wokeism, and the like, want to destroy the current basis of society—pretty much as the Maoists did during their Great Cultural Revolution. They want to overturn the trust, traditions, and cultural beliefs that bind society together. Perversely, as they succeed, they'll say that the US is headed toward anarchy, which, of course, is completely untrue. It's headed towards chaos.

Anarchy, as many readers know, simply means the lack of government, the lack of a coercive State on top of society. Anarcho-capitalism and unregulated free markets are not only workable, but optimal, when people have confidence in their society and institutions. They're often confused with chaos and nihilism, their philosophical opposites, which are taking over our society.

International Man: Here is a specific breakdown of the data from Gallup. What do you make of this data?

Doug Casey: I generally have limited confidence in polls. And even less now,  as society breaks down—which, paradoxically, is just what the polls show. Everybody is reverting to their tribes or their individual silos. The US is much less of a cohesive society than it used to be.

The things listed on the chart are important elements of our society. It's clear that confidence in institutions has dropped a lot.

I think there's a correspondence with the late COVID hysteria, which tore the fabric of society and polarized people. Before the whole fiasco, including the vaccine, is over, it could turn out to be one of the biggest disasters in modern history.

I'm not surprised to see all these numbers dropping just in the last three years.

International Man: As we can see in the chart below, Gallup breaks down the data by political party. What is your take?

Doug Casey: You can see that the Democrats are pro-political, State-oriented things. The Republicans tend to be more individualist-oriented.

From an economic point of view, the Democrats like socialist and collectivist ideas, and the Republicans tend to prefer capitalist and free market ideas. The Dems are favorably inclined towards coercion; the Reps are more inclined towards individual responsibility. But very few of either group have thought these things out with any intellectual rigor; their beliefs are based mainly on gut feelings and emotion.

The poll lists "independents," which is a meaningless catchall. Independents could include anyone from AnCaps, libertarians, and classical liberals to communists, Maoists, and neoNazis.

That said, the numbers represented here pretty well correspond with my own experience and what I see.

I think Reps have more confidence in the Supreme Court right now, mainly because they more or less control the Supreme Court. I'm sure if the Dems controlled it, the situation would be reversed. As for the Church and organized religion, the Reps are more traditionally oriented than the Dems, so, of course, the Dems have less confidence in the Church. The same goes for the police. Right now, they defend a reasonably free status quo, but if the US devolves into a police state, they'll defend that new status quo. The Reps are currently pro-cop—but that could change. After all, the FBI seems to think MAGA people are potential terrorists…

Interestingly, nobody trusts big business. That makes a lot of sense because big business is so hooked up with the government. They're like a dog and its master. Sometimes, the master kicks the dog, and sometimes, the dog bites the master, but you're not even sure which one's which. Big business isn't run by entrepreneurs. It's run by suits, the kind who thought the Bud Light ad campaign was a good idea. They endorse DEI and ESG. They're unprincipled whores. Only a fool would trust Big Business today.

It's interesting that people still have confidence in the military. That, however, will soon evaporate, since "diversity hires" are now in control, from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense, to the commandants of the services. In fact, the military has been ostentatiously promoting trannies and gays, while talking down straight white guys from the South and the Midwest who have always formed the its backbone.

You can rest assured confidence in the military will collapse along with its effectiveness.

It's gratifying that confidence is still relatively high for small business. That's one of the few areas where owners have skin in the game and interact face-to-face with customers.

Confidence in the medical system—predictably, I think—collapsed further during COVID. How can anyone maintain confidence when it acts on political and economic, as opposed to medical and scientific, values?

Since the inception of Obamacare, medical procedures have become much more expensive and much more bureaucratized. Effectiveness and confidence in it will continue to degrade.

Democrats naturally have more confidence in organized labor. An anticapitalist mentality is kind of their thing. Same with public schools. The party differences here amount to a permanent fault line.

International Man: It's not just trust in institutions that is collapsing. Trust between people is also falling.

What are the social and political implications of this?

Doug Casey: It seems that about 200 is the number of people that you can know reasonably well on a face-to-face basis. That's about the size of a typical military company, or if you wish, a small tribe. We seem wired for face-to-face contact with a relatively small number of associates.

But even that's falling apart in today's world, and we all find it vaguely disorienting. It's partly because reality has become heavily electronic. People spend so much time on their electronic media, hearing what people in the world at large—people they've never even met—are supposedly saying, that they're justifiably uncertain what to believe. They're no longer talking to people in their basic clan or tribe as we've done for hundreds of thousands of years.

We're finding that we may share very few values with the world, which we experience mainly through television, mass media, and social media. So, of course, you have less confidence in other people. They're electronic avatars, not real people. We know that we're all just faceless members of "the masses." It's alienating.

Meanwhile, the State has become vastly more powerful and pervasive because of mass culture. Its nature is to try to make things happen with force and coercion. It's always making more and more rules with penalties. Anyone can rat you out remotely, including people who might've been part of your local clan or tribe. As indebted workers, cogs in the industrial wheel, we're easily corrupted. You justifiably feel that you can't trust anybody—least of all some faceless institution.

The ultimate consequence of all of this? The breakup of the large conglomeration called the United States. Its citizens used to share more or less common religious values, culture, traditions, and trust in its institutions. They no longer do. It's going to fly apart.

It's an excellent bet that the US will cease to exist in its current form. Certainly in a hundred years, probably in 50 years, maybe even less than that. Very possibly through secession and civil war. Financial and economic collapse are in the cards. Probably WW3 as well. It's going to be unpleasant and inconvenient. The same is true for most countries in the world, to a greater or lesser degree. I think we're looking at generalized chaos for at least the rest of this decade.

If we were still America and still had solid traditions and trustworthy institutions, I wouldn't be too worried. But we're not. We've devolved into a degenerate empire. The US of the 21st century is looking a lot like Rome of the 5th century.

International Man: In the US and, more broadly, the West, long-standing institutions seem to be collapsing simultaneously.

In your perspective, are they connected in some way? Where are these trends headed?

Doug Casey: A lot has to do with the financialization of the world. And urbanization as well.

A lot of it also has to do with an active effort on the part of socialists. Not just Marxists, who are overtly violent and destructive, but democratic Fabian Socialists, who organized to corrupt society and its institutions in a kinder and gentler way. Although they wouldn't say "corrupt." They would say they only want to "transform" the world's institutions. And they've generally succeeded.

Governments, the media, academia, the entertainment industry, corporations, and philosophy in general are all oriented toward Fabian socialist values. This is the root of the problem.

Among its many consequences is recurrent "lawfare," now being used against Trump et al. Say what you want about him, but it's obvious that the hundreds of thousands of laws on the books are being selectively used to prosecute him and his supporters, like the Jan 6 victims. It's funny and perverse that modern-day Jacobins are using the apparatus of a "democracy" to destroy the idea of democracy. Of course, as an AnCap, I don't much believe in political democracy, but that's a different subject.

Not only is lawfare running wild, but "cancel culture," which sends enemies down the memory hole, much the way it was in Stalin's Soviet Union. "Deplatforming" an opponent is so much easier than debating the merit of his ideas. The Left, Statists, and nihilists want to destroy traditional American culture and values.

They're succeeding because they have moral power. They're viewed as righteous, which is why they've been able to capture the idealistic younger generation and universities.

I hate to sound so bearish, but the trend is clear and still in motion. In fact, it's accelerating downhill, with only a few weak countermeasures to slow it down. Incipient countertrends, like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, have been quashed. Speak up too loudly, and you may find no bank will accept your account without explanation, as happened to Nigel Farage.

Therefore, I don't think countertrends that might pop up will likely go anywhere. The great trend of society is accelerating downhill. It will hit bottom eventually, of course, but that's sometime in the future. I fear the spirit of the century is not on our side. So, hold onto your hat.

Reprinted with permission from International Man.

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