Belmont Club

The Second Wall

One of the retrospective revelations of the 2016 election was that many millenials voted for Trump because they were worried about the future. “A new study … by the Millennial Impact Report … found that millennials had considered education to be the most important topic during the election … however, this changed when respondents were surveyed between Nov. 9 and Nov. 14. The survey showed employment and wages were the primary concern for millennial voters.”

The study also showed roughly 80 percent of all millennials surveyed said they voted in the election. In addition, the survey showed that the number of millennial voters who said they voted for Republican candidate Donald Trump nearly doubled postelection compared to those who said they were voting for him before the election. … Most millennials who gave their rationale for voting for Trump said he had the highest possibility of improving the economy since he was a businessman.

They had reason to worry.  The Associated Press cites a study based on Federal Reserve data showing that “millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage of life, despite being better educated”.  They are on track to be poorer than their parents despite all that progress.

The analysis being released Friday gives concrete details about a troubling generational divide that helps to explain much of the anxiety that defined the 2016 election. Millennials have half the net worth of boomers. Their home ownership rate is lower, while their student debt is drastically higher. …

Andrea Ledesma, 28, says her parents owned a house and were raising kids by her age.

Not so for her. Ledesma graduated from college four years ago. After moving through a series of jobs, she now earns $18,000 making pizza at Classic Slice in Milwaukee, shares a two-bedroom apartment with her boyfriend and has $33,000 in student debt. …

The generational gap is a central dilemma for the incoming presidency of Donald Trump, who essentially pledged a return to the prosperity of post-World War II America. The analysis also hints at the issues of culture and identity that divided many voters, showing that white millennials — who still earn much more than their blacks and Latino peers — have seen their incomes plummet the most relative to boomers.

Millennials, having been assured they were winning each of the last 8 years in Obama’s term, looked up at the final score and suddenly noticed they were 50 points behind.  The shock drove at least some of them to Trump.  Americans are not alone.  According to the International Labor Organization “global youth unemployment is one the rise again”.   Nowhere are prospects more catastrophic than in southern Europe where youth unemployment is an astonishing 46.5% in Greece, 43.6% in Spain, 36.4% in Italy and 25.8% in France.  Only 3 countries in the EU have figures below that of the US: the Czech Republic, Netherlands and Germany.  Europe, according to a study cited by Josh Lowe of Newsweek, is creating a “lost generation” of people who will never know what it is to hold a job.

Across the EU as a whole, young people are in their worst position for a decade, the report says.

Three broad themes lie behind the worsening position of young people, the IF says. The 2008 recession had a devastating impact, particularly thanks to increasing government debt and youth unemployment. The rapid ageing of Europe’s population is also a factor, as it places a larger economic burden on younger workers. The IF also cites the failure of EU members to “secure their future competitiveness” by “transitioning to high-skill, low-carbon ‘knowledge economies.’”

The Central European youth, having lived between both worlds, may be the first generation in history to intuitively guess that the socialism which failed in the East is also collapsing in the West.  We have seen the future and it sucks.  Central Europeans are turning to both nationalism and newer forms of politics — turning to anything to replace the orthodoxies that no longer work.

Brussels may be trying to charm younger voters with a plan to hand out free InterRail passes but in parts of the Union, that offensive may be too little, too late. Across Central Europe, young voters are moving further right on the political spectrum than their elders, with many expressing disenchantment with the European Union. …

The causes of the bleak future are easy to understand but difficult for the liberal project to accept.  The West has spent its past and borrowed on its future to buy votes in the present. Now the the millennials are stuck with the bill. Giant deficits, unfunded welfare systems, crushing student debts have come down on them just like anyone who spends more than he earns.  It’s the betrayal that must hurt most.  The were told it was OK.  Socialism would square the circle on the volume.  Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman assured the public there would be no problem.  After all, “the Great Depression wasn’t ended by the intellectual victory of Keynesian economics … what put a decisive end to the slump was World War II … this story is what led me to facetiously suggest that we fake a threat from space aliens, to provide a politically acceptable cover for stimulus.”

It worked until it didn’t.  Youth unemployment turned out to be just deferred unemployment, the can big governments kicked down the road until the road ran out. We may be living through an enormously important period: the collapse of Gramscianism in the West.  If Eastern socialism died with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the Western version may at last be crumbling before a monumental wall of kicked cans.   The Gramscian termites ate through the institutions and found with their last triumphant bite that they had eaten it all.

Its demise will leave an historic hole in Western civilization.  For good or ill the Left was the West’s familiar: the wheedling family bum, what we defined ourselves through and in opposition to.  Without the Left neither the 20th century, the EU or the American progressive project is even comprehensible.  It was the future that never happened, the madness over which mankind walked the narrow path of nuclear destruction yet which framed the debate. Now it is passing from the scene with all the drama of an empty ramen wrapper on the sidewalk.

The great locomotive of history is out of gas and we have to walk the remainder of the way wherever it is that the road leads. It’s demise marks the fall of a great civilizational cathedral.  Once Lenin’s key invention the Bolshevik party stood ready at all times to seize the initiative on any issue and turn it into a vehicle to seize power.  It told you what to think on every subject.  Only the Jihadists had the same capability. “How did the Syrian uprising become dominated by jihadists?” asks one author.  How?  In the same way the Bolshevists once did: through  quasi-religious commitment, a professional cadre, money and guns.

The slow degeneration of Bolshevism leaves the modern world with only their near peers the Jihad on the field of hard religious conspiracy,  the last faith with a sword.  Even Carlos the Jackal converted to Islam rather that than join the “fruit juice and sandal” version Orwell mocked and which alone remains. Without the Left’s control of the organs of Western capitalism they would be hard pressed to win a straight fight against the jihad, for the Leftist Cathedral has long ago gaslighted itself.

The reason “populism” has been such a catastrophe for the Left is it leaves them with no comparative advantages. They’re not hard enough to return to the sword and they’ve run out of Other People’s Money.  Perhaps that once great historical project will be memorialized by what the New Republic called David Brock’s “creepy letter” to Bernie Sanders craving forgiveness in exchange for a job. “Today, Brock published a letter to Bernie Sanders, imploring for a unified front against Trump. He states, ‘I will do all I can to fight the Trump Administration, but I need help from those in the position to resist through our democratic institutions.'”

It’s come to that. Give me a job and I’ll say anything.  In this hope of employment Brock joins thousands of progressives who find there’s “a vastly smaller job market for their skills” in 2017.

The job market is about to get even more crowded for Washington Democrats, as thousands of Obama appointees join the hundreds of Clinton campaign staffers looking for employment.

There’s rarely been less demand for their services.

For the Left the future is not turning out the way they hoped.  They have failed to transition to ‘a high-skill, low-carbon knowledge economy’. The millennials would understand.

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Code Warriors: NSA’s Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union, Author Stephen Budiansky – a longtime expert in cryptology – tells the fascinating story of how the NSA came to be, from its roots in World War II through the fall of the Berlin Wall. With access to new documents, Budiansky shows where the agency succeeded and failed during the Cold War and a series of appendixes explain the technical details of Soviet codes and how they were broken. An essential and timely read for all who seek to understand the origins of the modern NSA.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt. A well-researched examination of human moral impulses that gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts.

The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, Author Christopher Lasch asks the question: Can a society survive when a significant portion of its elite have forsaken its founding principles? He blames America’s current problems on a default by its educated elite – their loss of moral values, and their abandonment of the middle class and the poor – and calls for a return to community, schools that teach history not self-esteem, and a return to morality.

The Punic Wars, by Adrian Goldsworthy. An account of the struggle for supremacy between Rome and Carthage (264-241 B.C., 149-146 B.C.) whose outcome had far-reaching consequences for the Western world. Follow the fighting on land and sea; the terrible pitched battles; and such generals as Hannibal, Fabius Maximus, and Scipio Aemilianus, who finally drove Carthage into the ground.

For a list of books most frequently purchased by readers, visit my homepage.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with your friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
The War of the Words, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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