Politics, et Cetera

A publication from The Political Forum, LLC

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

They Said It:

In a fair distribution among a vast multitude, none can have much.  That class of dependant pensioners called the rich is so extremely small that if all their throats were cut, and a distribution made of all they consume in a year, it would not give a bit of bread and cheese for one night’s supper to those who labour, and who in reality feed both the pensioners and themselves.  But the throats of the rich ought not to be cut, nor their magazines plundered; because, in their persons they are trustees for those who labour, and their hoards are the bankinghouses of these latter.  Whether they mean it or not, they do, in effect, execute their trust – some with more, some with less fidelity and judgment.  But on the whole, the duty is performed, and everything returns, deducting some very trifling commission and discount, to the place from whence it arose.  When the poor rise to destroy the rich, they act as wisely for their own purposes as when they burn mills, and throw corn into the river, to make bread cheap. . . A perfect equality will indeed be produced; that is to say, equal want, equal wretchedness, equal beggary, and on the part of the partitioners, a woeful, helpless, and desperate disappointment.  Such is the event of all compulsory equalizations.  They pull down what is above. They never raise what is below: and they depress high and low together beneath the level of what was originally the lowest.

Edmund Burke, “Thoughts and Details On Scarcity,” 1795.

 

THE MAN IN THE CEMENT SHOES, REDUX.

It may not be especially easy to remember this now, but twenty years ago, Bill Gates was a tech guru, rather than a pseudo-philanthropist billionaire.  Gates ran the most dynamic company in the country, maybe the world.  He and his comrades-in-arms were changing the face of communication.  They were gobbling up market share, gobbling up competitors, and gobbling up billions in cash and market capitalization.  Gates was a businessman’s businessman, an entrepreneur.  He was an independent thinker and independent operator intent on upending the existing order in radical and radically efficient ways.

But then something strange – and yet entirely predictable – happened.  Bill Gates quit being a tech operator and became a social-political operator.

For years, Gates and Microsoft operated inconspicuously, at least where government was concerned.  He did his job.  Washington did its job.  And everyone was happy – until, that is, Gates became too successful for his own good, at which point government decided that it wanted a piece of Gates’ action.  We described the government’s emergence as a “player” in the tech industry almost twenty years ago, in a piece titled “The Man with the Cement Shoes”:

Attorney General Janet Reno . . . portrays the [antitrust] attack on Microsoft as one waged on behalf of the American people.  Indeed Miss Reno has gone out of her way to assure all would-be critics that her intentions are good; that the antitrust action is simply designed “to preserve competition and promote innovation,” and to protect and benefit “consumers and computer manufacturers.”

Others however, many of whom would appear to be far more intimately acquainted with the economic intricacies of the free market than Miss Reno, have suggested that she is misguided.  These include Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit.

Greenspan didn’t attack the Microsoft action directly, but he wondered aloud during recent congressional testimony whether, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, “antitrusters could conceivably adopt a humbler pose as they set about reordering a sizable section of the economy.”  His exact words were as follows: “I would like to see far more firm roots in our judgments as to whether particular market positions do, in fact, undercut competition or are only presumed on the basis of some generalized judgment of how economic forces are going to evolve.”

The D. C. Court of Appeals was much more direct in its criticism. It reversed a lower court injunction against Microsoft, arguing that “antitrust scholars have long recognized the undesirability of having courts oversee product design, and any dampening of technological innovation would be at cross-purposes with antitrust law.” . . .

[P]rior to the start of the Justice Department investigation of Microsoft, Bill Gates, whose business was “generally unregulated,” was the quintessential example of someone who was “seeking nothing from government.”  Indeed, he considered politics to be, in the words of D. Michel Heywood, an editorial writer at The Columbian (a newspaper published in Vancouver, Washington, roughly four hours south of Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters), “the kind of dirty game that could be safely left to others.”

Even as late as last year, Microsoft employed only four employees in its Washington government-affairs office.  As U.S. News and World Report financial columnist James Glassman once pointed out, this pales in comparison to the 26 lobbyists employed by IBM, the 45 by AT&T, and the 21 by Motorola, all of which have remarkably lower net worth than Gates’ firm.  Nor did Gates care much about direct political contributions.  According to the Washington Times, during the 1995-96 election cycle Microsoft gave less than $100,000 to politicians.

All of that has changed now, of course.  Heywood notes that “Gates seems to be learning,” and is now “plowing [money] into the game about as fast as the law strictly allows.” David Boaz, the executive Vice President of the Cato Institute, wrote recently that Microsoft had “hired four former members of Congress, 32 former congressional staffers or government officials, and the former chairman of the Republican Party [Haley Barbour]. It spent $1.9 million on lobbying in 1997, up 67 percent from 1996.”

Gates has also upped his contributions to individual politicians.  The Washington Times reports that in the 1997-98 off-year election cycle, Microsoft has already made nearly a one quarter of a million dollars in campaign contributions, nearly three times its total contributions during the ‘95-96 cycle.

At the time (and as we noted in that piece), many observers, especially on the Right, believed that the whole point of the government’s action against Microsoft was to draw the company into the regulatory Leviathan, to make Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and the rest part of the Washington-corporatist structure.  The idea, as we wrote then and countless times since, was to extract “rents” from Microsoft; “rent extraction,” of course, being the process by which the government extorts money from private-sector entities in return “for favorable regulation or, in many cases, for the forbearance of further regulation and the maintenance of the status quo.”  Government wanted in on Bill Gates’s billions, and so suddenly Bill Gates had an “antitrust” problem.  Life in the regulatory state, to coin a phrase.

For our part, we weren’t exactly sure that the point of the whole business was to “extort” money (and compliance) from Microsoft specifically.  Sure, we agreed that Microsoft was a target of the corporatist-regulatory apparatus, but we weren’t convinced that it was the target.  Indeed, we thought that Microsoft was actually just the highest-profile tech company the Leviathan could find and thus the best to make an example of.  We put it this way:

Bill Gates, you see, isn’t the Democrats’ fund raising target.  He’s the example.  He’s the guy at the bottom of the lake in the cement shoes; the guy who didn’t pay up.  The Democratic payoff, if we’re right about this, will come from others; those who don’t want a similar fate, or who, like Microsoft competitor Novell, benefit from having Gates in the hot seat. . . .

Popular folklore holds that the basic concept was developed and refined by Chicago mobsters in the 1920s.  They called it the “protection racket.”  A mobster would say to a businessman, “Would you like to buy some insurance against broken windows.”  The businessman would say, “Why, I’ve never had any trouble with broken windows.”  And the mobster would say, “If you buy this insurance, you won’t any trouble in the future either.”

We’ve been thinking a great deal about all of this lately, and especially the part about using Gates as an example, to leverage future payments of tribute from high tech companies.  Three weeks ago, you may recall, we wrote about how Google had become one of the most powerful and high-profile enforcers of Left-wing cultural dogma.  In the weeks since, Google has been the subject of a great deal of negative press, most of it well deserved and some of it specifically dealing with the company’s broad and largely unrivaled cultural impact.  One of the most interesting – and telling – stories involves Google’s impact on the fourth branch of our federal government, the business-government nexus better known as “K Street,” where lobbyists, academics, think tankers, and the rest reside and work in the hope of “influencing” public policy.  London’s Guardian newspaper tells this specific K Street story:

The scholar Barry Lynn worked at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank, for 15 years studying the growing power of technology companies like Google and Facebook.  For 14 of them, everything was, he says, “great”.

This week, he was fired.  Why?  He believes it’s because Google, one of the think tank’s biggest funders, was unhappy with the direction of his research, which was increasingly calling for tech giants including Google, Facebook and Amazon to be regulated as monopolies.

Leaked emails suggest the foundation was concerned that Lynn’s criticism could jeopardise future funding.  In one of them, the organisation’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, wrote: “We are in the process of trying to expand our relationship with Google on some absolutely key points . . . just think about how you are imperiling funding for others.”

Slaughter denies that Lynn was fired for his criticism of Google.  It’s a difficult story to swallow, given that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, along with its executive chairman Eric Schmidt, have donated $21m to New America since 1999.  Schmidt even chaired the think tank for years and its main conference room is called the “Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab”.

Now, we like this story for a couple of reasons.  First, it shows just how much power Google and the other tech companies have bought for themselves in Washington.  Second, and more to the point, it shows just how paranoid Google and the other tech companies are.  They didn’t need to leverage their funding to get Barry Lynn fired.  They didn’t need to do anything at all about Barry Lynn.  Barry Lynn is, was, and ever shall be a non-entity as far as Google is concerned.

And why, pray tell, is Barry Lynn irrelevant to Google?  Well, mostly because he’s a tiny, little fish, and Google has made nice with much bigger fish, much farther up the aquatic food chain.  The Guardian continues:

While the big banks and pharma giants have flexed their economic muscle in the country’s capital for decades, there’s one relative newcomer that has leapfrogged them all: Silicon Valley.  Over the last 10 years, America’s five largest tech firms have flooded Washington with lobbying money to the point where they now outspend Wall Street two to one.

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon spent $49m on Washington lobbying last year, and there is a well-oiled revolving door of Silicon Valley executives to and from senior government positions. . . .

[Google] spent just $80,000 on lobbying in 2003.  Today, its parent company, Alphabet, spends more on lobbying than any other corporation – $9.5m in the first half of 2017 alone and $15.4m the previous year.  In 2013, the company signed a lease on a 55,000-square-foot office, roughly the same size as the White House, less than a mile away from the Capitol Building.

And it’s not just Google. Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft – which was hamstrung by its lacklustre early efforts to court policymakers – have been pouring money into Washington.

“They are overwhelming Washington with money and lobbyists on both sides of the aisle,” said Robert McChesney, communications professor at the University of Illinois.

Here we would like to point out two happy coincidences.  The first is that the expert cited here by the Guardian, Robert McChesney, just happens to share the last name of the expert we cited in pour original piece on Microsoft 19 years ago.  Fred S. McChesney is one of the world’s foremost experts on rents and rent extraction.  And twenty years ago, he penned a book on the subject – Money for Nothing:  Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion – warning that the “high tech” industry would be the next great frontier in government rent extraction and corporatist cooperation.  We have no idea if the two professors McChesney are related.  But we do know that Fred, the economist, was pretty darned prescient.

The second happy coincidence can be found above in the second quote from our original piece, which notes that a company called Novell stood to benefit from the government’s actions against Microsoft.  Throughout most of the 1990s, Novell owned the former king of word processing programs, WordPerfect.  In 1995, Novell developed a glitch-riddled version of WordPerfect for the new Windows 95, and when it failed, blamed Microsoft for anti-competitive practices.  Novell’s complaint loomed large in the Justice Department’s decision to bring its antitrust action against Microsoft – the metaphorical tossing of Bill Gates and his cement shoes into the Potomac.

And would you like to guess who the CEO of Novell was while Novell was egging the government on against Microsoft?

If you guessed Eric Schmidt – the current CEO of Google – then give yourself a big pat on the back!

Funny how that works out, isn’t it?

In response to Google’s ham-handedness of late, some observers – on the Right and on the Left – think that it’s about time that the federal government steps in with some antitrust actions against the new big tech elite, starting with Alphabet, Google, and Schmidt.  Everyone seems to think that trustbusting worked so well the last time that maybe we should give it another chance.  As the Guardian notes, the Democratic Senator and presumptive 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren summed up the sentiments among some factions in Washington in May, insisting that “ “It is time to do what Teddy Roosevelt did: pick up the antitrust stick again.”

Now, on the one hand, we don’t think that’s likely to happen, at least not in any significant way.  Google et al didn’t buy all that support for nothing.  On the other hand, if it did happen, if, somehow, the trustbusters took power reenacted Teddy’s danse macabre, it would be a disaster for everyone.  It is important to remember here, we think, that Teddy’s trustbusting wasn’t a success by any means.  Indeed, it proved to be the means by which the Big Government and Big Business consummated their working relationship – much to the detriment of the nation, of its people, and of its republican form of governance. Teddy Roosevelt did more to facilitate rent seeking and rent extraction in American governance than any other person.  To imitate his actions now would put the final nail in the coffin of American self-governance.  (The following is a brief excerpt from our forthcoming book: Know Your Enemy, A History of the Left.)

At this point in the narrative, [J. P.]Morgan et al, begin their metamorphosis from being aggressive supporters of laissez-faire economics to being proto-socialists who, along with their successors ad infinitum, would henceforth seek to take full advantage of this new partnership with the kleptocrats in Washington. . . The courtship began in June 1902, just a few months after the aforementioned meeting, when [Morgan confidant George W.] Perkins called on the White House to ask Teddy if he could arrange for “some safe plan for us to adopt” a merger between several major American flag shipping lines and British Leyland in order better compete with the other leading British line, Cunard.   Teddy recognized this request for what it was, i.e., a bid for détente, and he did not challenge the combination.  Clearly, he thought he had Morgan where he wanted him.

A few weeks later, Perkins received a call from Rockefeller Jr. whose brother-in-law, one of three sons who inherited McCormick Harvesting Company, wanted to buy the firm’s major competitors but had been warned that their plans could run afoul of the Roosevelt trustbusters.  Perkins suggested that they should hire the House of Morgan to help with the transaction.  They did, and, of course, the merger of five of the nation’s six largest manufacturers of farm equipment into a firm called International Harvester went unchallenged by Roosevelt, just as Perkins had assured Rockefeller it would.

The following September, Teddy gave the speech in which he explained that his future actions against the various trusts would be entirely subjective, or more specifically, that he himself would judge the legality of trusts not on size but on whether or not they “behave badly.” . . . Then, sometime during the next year, Morgan became, to borrow a phrase from author Andrew Sinclair, “Roosevelt’s bagman in the taking of the Panama Canal.”

As we have noted many times before in these pages, the only solution to all of this business is LESS, not more government.  There is simply no way to regulate a freer and fairer economic into being.  If the government chooses to punish one company or one sector, it will do so to the benefit of others, ultimately reinforcing the iron triangle that favors government elites – elected and bureaucratic – and their well-connected supporters.  The losers, as always, are the people, the economy, and the erstwhile unalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

If Eric Schmidt goes in the drink in the next few months, you can bet he’ll be wearing cement shoes.  Which is to say that you can also bet that there’s a bigger target on the horizon.

 

ANTIFA, WHITE SUPREMACY, AND THE OTHER ELEPHANT.

As you may recall, last February, when they first made themselves known as the violent face of the anti-Trump “resistance,” we categorized and discussed the members of Antifa.  Specifically, we took them at their word that they are “anarchists,” explaining that anarchism isn’t a small government cousin of libertarianism, as too many observers believe, but a big government cousin of Communism:  a violent, angry, destructive ideology dedicated to the obliteration of hierarchy as well as traditional governance, but hardly concerned with the individual and his natural rights.

In the few weeks since Antifa and a few white supremacists clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia, others have tried their hand at identifying both the makeup and the motivation of this brutal, Leftist response to Donald Trump.  Some have rightly called them the real fascists in this struggle.  Others – including now the Department of Homeland Security – have called them domestic terrorists, people concerned only with intimidating the public in order to advance their ideology.  Still others have called them, essentially, spoiled children, just out killing time – and killing a few “racists” here and there as well.  Among those who adopted this last position was National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, who wrote last week that both the white identity thugs and the Antifa goons are dumb and otherwise idle kids being kids.  Specifically, he wrote:

I do think there’s a tendency to take all of these people too seriously.  Put aside the question of whether Antifa is “morally indistinguishable” from neo-Nazis, as my friend and colleague Marc Thiessen writes.  Also, leave aside whether they’re ideologically similar.  It seems to me the elephant in the room people that keep breezing past is whether or not these people are psychologically similar.  I remember when Antifa types first started showing up on television breaking stuff, setting fires, punching people, and the like, my wife said, “Those are just idiot boys looking for an excuse to break stuff and get in fights.”

Can anyone really dispute that this is a huge part of what’s going on with all these radicals on the left and the alt-right?  A big swathe of the bad things that have happened over the last 10,000 years can be attributed to hormonally charged young men pulling stupid crap.  Yes, yes, before the feminists get mad at me, plenty of young women have done stupid crap, too (indeed, there’s a weird school of thought that thinks it’s a great triumph when women live down to the lowest standards of men, but that’s a subject for another time).

If you want to get all Darwinian about it, you could chalk it up the common behavior of male chimpanzees and humans alike of getting into fights to impress females.  If you want to get all Moynihanny about it, you can blame the degradation of families and fatherhood.  Or you can blame secularization, or the ennui that comes with late-stage capitalism, or the frick’n influence of Nietzsche or Mr. Rogers.  The point is young people, particularly males, love to create drama, defy authority, and anoint themselves the heroic warriors of their tale.

Perhaps surprisingly, we think that there is a great deal to this, that Goldberg has touched on a very important aspect of what is happening among the idle youth of America.  Young people are stupid.  Physiologically speaking, their brains aren’t fully developed and they have neither complete control of their impulses nor a particularly well formed understanding of consequences.  And thus has it always been.

At the same time, however, we think that glibly glossing over of such things as “secularization, or the ennui that comes with late-stage capitalism, or the frick’n influence of Nietzsche or Mr. Rogers” is a terrible mistake.  It’s one thing to say that kids in 1848 were violent and aimless just like today, or that kids in 1968 were violent and aimless, just like they are today.  But it’s something else altogether to dismiss the other elephant in the room, the fact that people in previous eras channeled their violent rage into a specific (or several specific) causes.  In 1848, conditions for the proletariat were, in fact, pretty crummy.  And in 1968, the United States was, in fact, engaged in a major war half-way around the world, with no real substantive moral aims or purposes and yet a great deal of death, destruction, and heartache.

And the “kids” today are fighting for . . . well . . . who knows?

We imagine that Goldberg knows, deep down, that there is something more to this than just kids being kids, given his references to secularization and Nietzsche.  The simple fact of the matter is that the violent goons of the Left and the Right today are poseurs.  The violent goons of yesteryear were revolutionaries or radicals or even, in rare cases, freedom fighters.  Their contemporary successors, by contrast, are less likeable, less sympathetic Dons Quixotes, out riding on donkeys and tilting at windmills.  And this means that they are potentially more dangerous than their predecessors.

We have written at least twice before about the dangers inherent in contemporary nihilism, in the end state of the “secularization,” Goldberg dismisses.  Roughly three years ago, in a piece on the rise of Western jihadism, we discussed the subject as follows:

Nihilism is a complicated and complex philosophical concept.  The heart of it, though – both linguistically and metaphysically – is nihil, the Latin word for “nothing.”  Nothing is real; nothing is important; nothing matters; nothing can be known; nothing is good; nothing is evil; nothing . . . well . . . is.

As any schoolboy knows, nihilism as a philosophical notion is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche, who notably pondered the concept, its causes, and its cures.  We suppose we’ve bored you with enough of our thoughts on Nietzsche over the years, and so we’ll spare you a long and ponderous dissertation on his examination of nihilism.  As luck would have it, such a dissertation is unnecessary anyway, since perhaps the most important impact of Nietzsche’s thoughts on nihilism was the effect that they had on Martin Heidegger, the 20thcentury German philosopher, Nazi backer, and patron saint of postmodernism.

Heidegger, through his interpretation of Nietzsche’s nihilism, effectively fashioned what we understand today as postmodern thought and especially postmodernism’s examination of reality, values, and truth.  In brief, Nietzsche’s interpretation of the purpose of being and thus the value in being helped form the foundation of Heidegger’s “da-sein” (i.e. “being projected into Nothingness), which, in turn, helped form the foundation of postmodernism’s critique of objectivity and objective reality . . .

James Foley was executed by a man who spoke with a London accent and who was most likely a British citizen.  British intelligence estimates that there are more British Muslims serving in the militia of the Islamic State than are serving in the British armed forces.  Young men from all over the Western world – the United States, Canada, France, Australia, and especially Great Britain – have decamped to the Middle East to take part in the Islamic civil wars and to train for jihadi operations against their native lands.  After 9/11, Americans, Brits, and others were told to be leery of suspicious characters.  It will be infinitely harder to spot these characters when they look and sound just like everybody else.

The problem of the Western jihadist is likewise the problem of Western civilization.  Western morality and even much of Western religion has devolved, over the last century or more, into little more than the complicit rationalization of contemporary values.  The great moral tradition of the West has largely been jettisoned in favor of a contemporary, situational ethic, a moral system that values nothing so much as non-judgmentalism and which offers very little, if anything, by way of spiritual transcendence.

Confronted by this spiritual nothingness, many people, and many young men in particular, choose to forsake their decadent culture for something more traditional, something that offers a real and fixed belief system.  All too often, those who are best at marketing and promoting the solidity of their beliefs also happen to have rather perverted and sadistic beliefs as well.  All of which is to say that young men who are encouraged to believe in nothing often find themselves drawn instead to something.  And that something is far too often a primitive and violent misinterpretation of reality.

Roughly a year later, in the wake of yet another spree shooting (by a young male, nonetheless), we revisited the idea of nihilism and the role it plays in contemporary violence.  In this case, we were more specific about the effects and about the difference between contemporary violence and the “kids will be kids” school of thought.  To wit:

The link between young men and violence has long been established and is about as close to proven as anything in the social sciences can be.  Young men are prone to violence.  And in every generation, a certain percentage of those young men are going to deviate from societal norms and become a rather serious threat to society and its stability.  As a general rule, over the last couple of decades, crime has dropped significantly in this country, and violent crime has dropped even more.  Crime waves that experts expected never materialized, and most of the nation’s biggest cities remained among the safest in the world.

At the same time, though, the incidence of young men turning to mass murder and committing heinous acts of violence nevertheless became a far more pronounced phenomenon, dominating the public consciousness and driving a political agenda.  Unfortunately, this paradox – dropping crime rates but increased frequency of high-profile spree shootings – is explained at least in part by the fantasies that a handful of these young men create to compensate for the lack of real meaning or real human contact in their lives, to offset the nihilism that plagues their existence.

Psychologists who have studied violence in young men and especially young men’s willingness to forsake everything they know, everything they’ve been taught, and everything they might otherwise believe about right and wrong, say that there is a set of shared circumstances and “revelations” that link spree killers and self-radicalized terrorists.  Faced with emptiness of their own lives, isolated from many of their contemporaries, and desperately in search of something substantive to give their lives meaning and purpose, young men – and especially young men who find refuge on the internet and in social media – tend to create fantasy lives for themselves, alternate realities in which they not only find the meaning and purpose they crave, but do so in heroic fashion.

The blogger and journalist Robert Beckhusen has written on this subject often, noting that the ties that bind spree shooters and self-radicalized terrorists are both numerous and consistent.  Young men confronted by the social and spiritual emptiness of their lives and society, default to what is often called “heroic modeling,” or “heroic doubling,” which is to say that they take on a symbolic cause and kill not just to slake their own bloodlust, but to exact revenge for a whole class of people with whom believe they find common cause.  Just after the spree shooting in Isla Vista, California in May of last year, Beckhusen interviewed, Roger Griffin, a professor of Modern History at Oxford-Brookes University in the UK and the author of Terrorist’s Creed: Fanatical Violence and the Human Need for Meaning.  Griffin explained the phenomenon of “heroic doubling” and “symbolic” murder as follows:

[I]n the mind of the killer, they’re not just killing someone as the sole purpose of the destruction.  They’re killing someone symbolic of something more general, which is also meant to send a message to the survivors.

What I theorize — is that what happens psychologically — the person has undergone a process whereby a rather confused, pained, ordinary self puts on a sort of mask, which turns them into an actor — or a protagonist — in a personal narrative drama. . . .

In his avatar double, he achieves the ability to run and fight.  I believe that’s a very powerful metaphor for what happens in the process of heroic doubling.  Because the person who’s previously felt impotent and had no agency . . . is made to feel potent and have agency returned to him by adopting this mission.  So in that moment, he becomes a heroic version, or avatar, of himself.

In our estimation, you can add antifa thugs and white identity goons to the list of young people who are motivated to commit acts of violence by a deep, innate desire to do and to believe in something.  White people aren’t discriminated against in this country, and there is no real “blood and soil” reactionary movement.  Likewise, there are no real anarchists looking to “smash” an oppressive hierarchy, and nor is there any real, substantive social injustice against which to rage.  Rather, on both sides of this fight we have a bunch of bored kids who desperately want something – ANYTHING – to fight for, to give their lives meaning.

We won’t pretend that the dumb kids of today are as collectively threatening as the dumb kids of 1848 or 1968.  Obviously, playing hero is fun, but it is less so and less severe when there are no real stakes involved, when the “dragons” are mere windmills.  At the same time, given this general “ennui,” as Goldberg puts it, those who do find something real and substantive in which to believe – either through exposure to the tenets of a radical faith like jihadi Islamism or through mental illness – can be very dangerous and far more deadly than your average rambunctious 18 year-old.

Random violence – even that perpetrated by “kids” – can be every bit as terrifying and disruptive as the large-scale institutional variety.

Copyright 2017. The Political Forum. 3350 Longview Ct., Lincoln NE  68506, tel. 402-261-3175, fax 402-261-3175. All rights reserved. Information contained herein is based on data obtained from recognized services, issuer reports or communications, or other sources believed to be reliable. However, such information has not been verified by us, and we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness, and we are not responsible for typographical errors. Any statements nonfactual in nature constitute only current opinions which are subject to change without notice.