So, now what?
The rule of law was taken off life support and euthanized in the US Senate on January 31st, 2020. What does this mean for the future?
There will be an infinite fractal series of spinoffs reflecting the hellishness from the smallest dimensions to the largest. A few things seem obvious, though.
Might now makes right. That’s the only alternative once the rule of law disintegrates, so we’re there.
When might makes right, there can be no trust because nobody knows what’s coming next. It all depends on the whims of whoever has money, guns, and all the attendant power.
Civilization — and I do mean civilization, that’s not hyperbole — depends on trust. Humans live in groups and divide tasks because we’re able to trust each other in very basic ways. Cooking food for a group requires trust, for instance. The cook is in a strong strategic position to just take it all. She (or he) doesn’t because human societies are based on trust.
Cooked food provides much more calories, so we have the energy to build buildings, and invent alphabets, and also do nasty but effortful stuff like organize for war. Contrast that with our near cousins the chimpanzees who could never start down that road because food sharing is minimal among them. When one of them has food, they tend to eat it right quick before some other chimp can beg or steal it away.
Yes, that’s an astronomically oversimplified point, but that doesn’t make it untrue. You get the picture. Civilization is completely based on trust. We have to trust thousands of people not to cheat us so our vehicles actually work, so our buildings don’t fall down on us, so our food is not poisoned. And so our governments will take care of business which allows us to get on with our lives.
You can see that last one eroding away before our eyes, because it’s the highest meta-level of trust and the first one to go.
Now that the Senate has dumped us all into a might makes right society, that trust will erode even faster and farther than it has so far. That means groups of people will hate and mistrust each other more than they already do. That means so-called “polarization” will get worse.
That doesn’t mean the US will fall apart into different countries. Yet. The side with power will be able to continue forcing itself on everybody for a while.
Well, a nonfunctional government means all the accumulating disasters stay unaddressed. The most inexorable of those disasters is the climate crisis. Big economic inequalities, which also destroy trust, we could reverse tomorrow. The climate? Not so much. The emergencies we’re already seeing, the wildfires, floods, famines will pile up more and more. (Have you heard about the locusts in East Africa that flew over from Yemen which had a huge hatch because climate change which people knew about four months ago and which nobody did anything about because war?)
Since people trust each other less and less, their response will be to try to solve their own problems by taking what they can from those horrible other people. Which will do nothing to solve the actual problem of setting the whole and only planet we have on fire.
So we’re now on a bad case scenario trajectory. Just how bad it will get before humans decide to do things differently, who knows. I’m sure it will be patchy. Some places where people still help each other will do better than those that fall for warlords. But one thing is for sure. Maybe soon, maybe in one hundred years, it means the end of the USA.
Unless USians bring back the rule of law. I’m no longer hopeful for November 2020, but that’s our next chance.
I’m glad I live in a blue state with a Dem governor, but that won’t protect me from a lot of Federal acts. Inaction on — no, it’s furtherance of — climate change. Clearcutting and mining public lands. Even more expensive healthcare. Women’s bodily autonomy being ever more limited.
The worst, I think, is that no one can believe anything anymore. Rule of law? Hahahahahaha! Representing the views of the constituents? Hahahahaha! at least among Republicans. Government by the people, for the people, and of the people? Hahahhaha, you naive little sot. Give me your tired, your poor, your yearning to — Get the hell back to the shithole where you came from, garbage people! Voting? Funny how a few thousand votes could’ve made all the difference — if they were counted, and if another 100,000 weren’t dropped off the voter rolls, and if those polling places in majority black population areas weren’t closed. Auditing the vote? Hahhahaha, the software’s designed so that’s impossible.
OTOH, I’m going to hear Meghan Murphy tomorrow night so there is still some reality and freedom of speech.
NW Luna on January 31st, 2020 at 22:44
(Sorry, Earlynerd. The more-than-one-link made WP push it into moderation.)
As somebody who grew up in, at the time, famously corrupt Boston full of backroom Irish pols, I know what you’re saying that the rule of law has been a tad patchy even before this.
Having it happen at the highest and most solemn level, however, is a quantum leap into lawlessness.
And, yup, Luna, the corrosion of trust, = not believing anyone any more, is already massive. And now we’re not going back. It’s people like all of us here, and Meghan Murphy, who nonetheless know which end is up who are going to be the bridge to the future.
quixote on February 1st, 2020 at 19:31
(I put the two in limbo, in case you change your mind. Nothing wrong with them, as far as I’m concerned! The state of everything is enough to give anyone a permanent case of endless screaming.)
quixote on February 2nd, 2020 at 23:19
Hey, Earlynerd, quit worrying! The situation deserves all the screaming it gets.
Lynx, wow, that takes me right back. I really feel homessick to the best of what the internet used to be, before they sold almost all of it.
And Violet Socks. I miss her too!
quixote on February 3rd, 2020 at 21:19
Luna, I hear the misogynists were out in force, harassing people at the Meghan Murphy event!
It’s so bizarre how a bunch of dudes with asymmetrical haircuts and baseball bats can label women violent for speaking up, and then commit actual violence on them …
aaand too many people nod along and agree the women were being so dreadful.
The misogyny is so out there, so invisible to all these Wokesters with their eyes wide shut. It really is the last acceptable bigotry, but do they have to accept it so gleefully?
quixote on February 3rd, 2020 at 21:29
Would you believe I still have a shell account from 2002 or so? And run gopher and Pine on it? This internet oldster sure misses that old world-wide brain, when it -was- a brain.
(But for visuals, yeah, gotta admit a few things have improved. Maybe.)
Earlynerd on February 4th, 2020 at 17:38