Accepting the Wrong Direction

March 18th, 2014
in Op Ed

by Fabius Maximus,

We live in the crazy years, but can choose a different destiny for ourselves and our children

Summary: In 1939 the great science fiction writer Robert Heinlein created a timeline, the framework within which he write many of his greatest stories. On it is the period he called the "crazy years". While he got the specifics wrong, that description aptly describes our time. We have made the crazy years. It's our choice, not our destiny. We can change course and put America back on track. We need only choose to do so.

Follow up:

We will have another chance in 2016

The Crazy Years:

Considerable technical advance during this period, accompanied by a gradual deterioration of mores, orientation, and social institutions, terminating in mass psychoses in the sixth decade, and the interregnum.

- Created by Robert Heinlein in 1939; published in Astounding Science Fiction, May 1940

Crazy years are commonplace in human history. Such as ...

  • (a) The 14th century were crazy years in Europe, brought about by a combination of massive social and political changes, plus natural catastrophes (e.g., plague and the onset of the Little Ice Age). For a vivid account of this time ee Barbara Tuchman wrote A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (1978).
  • (b) The French called the 1920s the années folles. (crazy years), the aftershock of WWI and massive social and political change.

Now we're in the crazy years of the 21st century, whose exact starting point does not matter (but will become clear to future historians). That we're in the crazy years is widely recognized, especially among conservatives. Such as this, from Nebuala-award winning nominated science fiction writer John C. Wright. He read this news story:

The criminal case against the first detainee transferred from Guantanamo Bay for trial in a U.S. civilian court should be thrown out because he was denied the right to a speedy trial, defense lawyers argued on Monday." (Reuters, 11 January 2010)

... and said this:

May God have mercy on us, I am not making this up. ... The state, the military, the court system, is treating an Gitmo terrorist like a criminal defendant rather than like a prisoner of war.

Few, if any, of the prisoners at Gitmo were captured on a battlefield; fewer still are agents of a State. So they are not obviously POWs. Fewest of all were captured committing acts of terrorism, so they are only "accused terrorists". Hence the need for a trial of some sort. Wright's comment shows confident ignorance (unaware of why the Judge acted as he did), but not this the judge's rule is crazy. (Update: see his explanation in the comments. Pending further clarification, it makes this an even better example of my point He's an attorney, considering his disagreement with a judge about a technical point of complex law as evidence we're in the crazy years).

This is a commonplace vignette in America, where both Left and Right substitute mockery for analysis - blindness to the reasoning of their opponents. The equivalent on the Left is labeling as "deniers" all who disagree with their forecasts of climate doom (including those defending the work of the IPCC and major climate agencies). These fetters of the mind are a gift to their leaders, preventing communication which might result in compromise - or even new and larger alliances.

Neither Left or Right focuses on the greater madness affecting us all, to which most Americans assent. Together their confidence, blindness and amnesia (well documented in these posts) lead America into the crazy years.


Looking Toward The Future


Power of the Crazy Years explanation

This ties together so many unrelated but important trends (all reported here in the 2700 posts since 2003). Here are three of the many examples; each reader can add to this list in the comments. Note that these are bipartisan projects, most of Left and Right among those cheering.

  1. That we cheered our foolish wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, generations after which 4GW was brought to maturity by Mao - after which foreign armies are routinely defeated by local insurgents. This is part of our mad, profitless, imperial project.
  2. That we allow Second Republic (built on the Constitution) to wither and die on our watch, passed down to our safekeeping after surviving two centuries of perils. We watch a New America arise on its ruins.
  3. That we blithely allow a financial bubble to inflate in America - an astonishing third bubble in 15 years (each with increasingly severe consequences).

The wisdom of our forefathers is our greatest inheritance, which we can recovery anytime we wish to do so. We live in the crazy years by choice. We are here as a result of decisions we know to be wrong but which we lack the will to change. We can do better.

Poll: Wrong or Right Direction
Real Clear Politics, 9 March 2014

For More Information

Posts about Robert Heinlein:

  1. Are our wars driving us mad?, 28 June 2009
  2. How the Soviet Menace was over-hyped - and what we can learn from this, 13 October 2009

Posts about our madness:

  1. Future generations will never understand our shopping madness, 13 December 2008
  2. A look back at the madness that led us into our wars. How does this advice read 6 years later?, 26 June 2012
  3. The world of wonders: Democratic Party takes center, pushes GOP right to madness, 19 February 2013


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