Something Is Inevitable - But What?

These last few years, especially the first half of this tumultuous 2020, have been an almost surreal experience for me. Even the simplest facts seem incredible. For example, who would ever have guessed that Donald Trump would become the President of the United States? Whether or not you like his policies, you have to admit that the mere fact of his presidency is highly unusual. I'm not sure there is a historical analogue for it.

It's not just the Trump presidency, of course. There are just so many things about life today that seem strange. America's ongoing military campaigns across the Middle East, a violent historical fact that has depleted our national treasury and strained our military resources, are 20 or 30 years in (depending on where you start counting) and show no signs of abating, even as we descend into an economic depression the likes of which has never been seen before. The United States of America, stereotyped as a bastion of free enterprise and laissez-faire capitalism, is now engaged in some of the most protectionist and mercantilist policies -- not just of the USA's brief history, but also comparatively across contemporary nations. The "socialist" European Union and communist People's Republic of China often give more powerful defenses of free international trade than any public figure in the United States today, other than the usual free-market libertarians who have been around for decades. The Black Lives Matter organization, a publicly Marxist organization with a professed antipathy toward the institution of private property, is the anti-racist organization that has captivated our youth; BLM, rather than any other organization out there. 

Even my fellow libertarians are acting out of type, making arguments for universal welfare schemes and environmental paternalism, arguing against democracy itself, or in some cases defending racism as a human right. 

The common denominator in all of this seems to be impassioned extremism, rather than stoic rationalism. It almost seems to me as though even-tempered and restrained thoughtfulness is just... gone. In its place, even formerly rational people seem to be competing with each other to tackle quirky, zany, and/or extreme ideas for their sheer novelty. 

Is that it? Do people now latch on to the extremes and the quirkiness mostly for their novelty, whereas reasonableness is boring? Or, is it that reasonableness doesn't make the news because it doesn't generate enough popular interest? Something else?

Now, when I look at what's happening around me, I am overcome by a single thought: "This can't possibly go on." It's not sustainable for a diverse country of 350 million to stop trading in the international marketplace while deficit-spending many several Middle Eastern wars and flirting with socialist populism. It just can't continue. It will inevitably end.

The end is inevitable, but how will it happen? Will the United States grow more restrained, reduce its global military presence, reduce its annual budget, seek more inter- and intra-national cohesion, and become a calmer nation overall? Or, is this the beginning of the end of the United States as we know it? 

I honestly don't know.

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