American Apocalypse: The Case for Divine Retribution


American Apocalypse:
The case for divine retribution

by Justin Raimondo, October 18, 2013

I don’t believe in God. However, I do believe in divine retribution. Without going into the specifics of this somewhat counterintuitive theology, suffice to say here that its central axiom is the idea that actions have consequences. One cannot go on committing evil without reaping a whirlwind or two. Eventually Nemesis overtakes Hubris, and the results aren’t pretty.

This is our future. Or, at least, one hopes it is – otherwise, there is no justice in this world, or perhaps even in the next.

This struck me as I was reading a column by Steve Chapman, a mildly conservative journalist with vaguely libertarian leanings: according to him, people on the right (of which I count myself one) are “addicted to apocalypse.” He takes us through decades of conservative apocalyptic rhetoric, from Ronald Reagan predicting the end of freedom in America due to the depredations of Medicare to Ted Cruz – the liberal media’s villain of the moment – who recently said:

“The challenges facing this country are unlike any we have ever seen. … (T)his is an administration that seems bound and determined to violate every single one of our Bill of Rights. We’re nearing the edge of a cliff. … We have a couple of years to turn this country around, or we go off the cliff to oblivion.” Citing Reagan, Cruz declared: “One day we will find ourselves answering questions from our children and our children’s children, ‘What was it like when America was free?’”

According to Chapman, whose likeness accompanying his column shows him smiling the smile of the self-satisfied bourgeois, this is all so much balderdash, because, you see, Reagan was wrong: Medicare wasn’t that bad (it’s cheaper than Obamacare!), the counterculture receded (not where I live, but whatever), and the Soviet Union faded away (well, yes, just as the apocalyptic Ludwig von Mises predicted). See? Nothing to fear! Good times are ahead! The world is our oyster!

The problem with those grumpy old conservatives, says Chapman, is that “when their dire predictions fail to come true, they keep forecasting the worst possible outcome if they don’t get their way. They seem to need the perpetual excitement of impending doom.”

The smugness of our political class is impenetrable: they believe the system that sustains and rewards them is invulnerable, or nearly so. The society in which they live is, seemingly, a well-ordered one, where – in spite of a few glitches, like government shutdowns caused by evil nihilists and other subversive elements – the machinery of society runs smoothly, interrupted only by occasional burps and hiccups

Yet just beneath the surface, there is a roiling, like some giant serpent crawling mere inches below the cool green grass, making odd curlicues in an otherwise perfect lawn: a message written in an alien cursive, signifying – what?

As the workers go off every morning, lining up at Starbucks and preparing to earn their daily bread, American drones take off from secret silos somewhere in the desert, seeking out their intended victims – and some not intended. As the sounds of normalcy stream in through an open window – leafblowers in the distance, chirping birds crowding around the feeder, children brawling in the schoolyard – the news that the NSA is collecting our emails seems irrelevant. We go about our business, and the political class goes about theirs – the former quite ordinary, the latter quite another story altogether.

A new study shows our noble crusade to “liberate” Iraq killed half a million people. It is impossible to even imagine such a crime: the mind shuts down in the face of those numbers. I can’t even visualize half a million dead bodies – can you? And that doesn’t take into account the sanctions, which killed hundreds of thousands more, mostly old people and children. Nor does it include the number we killed in the first Gulf war – we’re surely up to a solid million dead by now.

Getting away with this is what we call “American exceptionalism.” God (or Nature) punishes evil, eventually – but not us. We’re the exception.

But are we?

Since the end of World War II, the United States has that the numbers approach Hitlerian dimensions. Yes, I know I’m teetering on the edge of breaking Godwin’s Law here, but numbers don’t lie – and it’s getting worse. Since September 11, 2001, the death toll has increased exponentially, and there’s no end in sight.

One could make the case that a self-conscious evil, the sort that revels in its moral inversion and loudly proclaims its transgressive nature at least has the virtue of honesty about it. But that’s not our style: we kill because we’re fighting for Democracy and Freedom and against Intolerance and Sheer Badness. And we believe our own lies, if only because of that warm toasty feeling we get when we repeat them, like hot chocolate quaffed in front of a fireplace on Christmas Eve.

The lies we tell ourselves insulate us from the cold realities the rest of the world must live with, and we convince ourselves we’re safe. Outside the Western metropolis, those Other People suffer coups and depressions, tyranny and terror – but we are immune. Because, after all, we’re Americans – and nothing like that has ever happened here.

Oh, there was the Civil War, but that was a long time ago, before the invention of Twitter. On that occasion the god-hero Lincoln arose to save the nation by jailing his opponents, banning newspapers, and burning down half the cities of the South – but, as I said, all that was Long Ago and Far Away, and now we have inspiring statues and yearly reenactments of the Battle of Gettysburg. And, yes, there was that nasty Great Depression, but the god-hero Roosevelt arose to save us, and now no bank can ever fail because the US government says so, and we have our Safety Net, which may have a few holes in it but whatever.

Don’t worry: be happy – because this is America, and we’re exceptional.

Yet economics doesn’t make exceptions: all are subject to its immutable laws. We used to know this, but sometime around the 1930s we lost this knowledge because remembering it was inconvenient. The banks were failing: the bubble of the 1920s had popped and reality – economic reality – had set in. How to insulate ourselves against the pain of deflation? The anesthetic of governmental action was applied in huge doses and the patient seemed to recover: but the underlying illness lingered.

We owe it to ourselves,” they told us, and they are still singing the same song after all these years. Those antediluvians who insist otherwise are simply doomsayers, grumpy old reactionaries who want to spoil our fun: when we need more money we just print it. So what’s the problem with raising the debt limit? After all, our moral debt dwarfs our monetary one, and yet here we are, safe and sound – no lightning bolts have issued forth from Heaven, no plagues of boils or infestations of frogs have blighted the country.

I won’t deliver a long lecture here on basic economics: there’s no room – and, really, no need. Because any ordinary person can see what is wrong with this picture: one cannot consume more than one produces. The average American used to understand this: the American political class, on the other hand, has always had its own arithmetic, one founded on the very same “exceptionalist” doctrine that has steered our foreign policy on its present mad course. Bound by no law but that which they legislate, Washington’s reckless hubris defies the laws of nature and the gods themselves. In short: they’re begging for that lightning bolt, as did Icarus – and look where he landed.

Oh, but in Chapman’s World, all is calm, all is right, and if it’s not – well, take that pill the doctor prescribed for the nameless all-pervasive anxiety that hangs over this paradisiacal scene. You’ll feel better in a minute….

One response to “American Apocalypse: The Case for Divine Retribution

  1. As Brit Hume recently explained (while explaining why people such as Ted Cruz and Mike Lee were so desperate) even under Ronald Reagan the “onward march of the American left continued”.

    Both culturally (the breakdown of such institutions as the family) and economically (with about half the entire population now dependent upon the government – where indeed are the “self reliant people that conservatives thought the American people were”, no longer any “exceptionalism” here), the left marches on – and did so even in the 1980s.

    I could spend a lot of time arguing about the Civil War (in which the Confederacy was actually worse in the Union – both in economic policy and in term of Civil Liberties) or the Middle East (where the various population groups of Iraq and so on will slaughter each other – whether or not the United States gets involved), and what Justin says about South East Asia (Vietnam and so on) shows ignorance to an extreme degree. But to argue over such things is to miss Justin’s central point – this central point being that the United States (like the rest of the West) is in an unsustainable position.

    And Justin is quite CORRECT about that

    The entitlement state (for example the growth of Medicare and Medicaid from five billion Dollars to many hundreds of billions of Dollars) is unsustainable. About half the entire population of the United States (like other Western nations) now either works for the government or is dependent upon benefits.

    And whilst we are talk of benefits we must also remember Wall Street (and the City of London and ……), the time when banking was, basically (there was always abuse at the margin), about investing real savings in productive industry are long over. Today banking (and so on) is about borrowing (newly created – from nothing) money from the Central Banks (such as the Federal Reserve) and lending it out (normally back to the government itself) at a higher rate of interest.

    This is not a business this is WELFARE – just as much as someone getting Foodstamps is on Welfare.

    Jamie Dimon (and so on) are Welfare people – they just wear expensive suits, No one should have been surprised when the big Wall Street people came to Washington D.C,. and all sang from Barack Obama’s sheet – “you must raise the debt limit – or the sky will fall and the world will end”.

    Why? Is not 17 TRILLION in debt enough? Why should not the Federal government not just spend the money it takes in taxes, why does it have to spend vastly MORE than it takes in? In reality the sky would not have fallen in had the debt limit not been raised, nor would there have been any “default” – the government would simply have had to spend no more than it takes taxes (not borrow yet more money).

    But the Welfare Queens of Wall Street did not say that – they said exactly what Barack Obama wanted them to say. And this is no surprise – as Wall Street (like the City of London) is now totally dependent on government subsidies (see above) and totally controlled by regulations.

    There are now thousands of pages of regulations (in the United Kingdom as well as the United States) covering “financial services” – anyone in this area must be violating some of the regulations (because there are so many of them). Think about that that……..

    If you are in financial services (as recently as the early 1980s this was nothing much to do with government in Britain, “The City” was a series of private clubs and so on that had their own rules, not government rules – but no longer) you are dependent on government subsidies (from Central Banks such as the Bank or England or the Federal Reserve) and you MUST be violating some regulations (because there are now so many of them – many of them contradictory) so……

    If you (the Wall Street banker) do not say what the government wants you to say – they can bankrupt you (no more five thousand Dollar suits) and they can, most likely, put you in prison as well (for violating some regulation or other – and you must have done so) – so you are likely to say anything those in power want you to say.

    You are actually less likely to speak freely than someone on Food Stamps and Medicaid.

    So both at the bottom and at the top – the “independent, self reliant people” no longer exist (at least not in the numbers they once were), they have been subverted (corrupted) and undermined.

    With half the population now either working for the government or dependent on benefits, and the financial system a credit-bubble joke, the United States is just as doomed as the rest of the West.