The Roaring 20s

Okay, my very minor piece about revisionist history in the UK is clearly not going to cut it in terms of what the fuck is going on right now. So for the sake of this, the Hatstand, as my own electronic journal,[1] I figured I’d better make a summary.

Now, I’m going to keep it real, and disclaim that most of this is shit that’s happening in the US, not here in Finland. But make no mistake, where the US leads, the western world will follow – at least until the US fails once and for all. Is that coming? Ehh, for some reason my gut is saying no on that, but I am by no means any sort of expert.

Some of this crap is hitting places like the UK (no longer part of the EU) and Europe in general, and all of it is worrying, but I have never been so happy to live in the Nordics and I have never been so worried about the steady erosion of the things that are making me happy to do so. Our social systems appear in constant danger at the hands of the centrist parties both inside the government and on the opposition. And the less said about the fucking Perssut, the better.

Yes, we have right-wing authoritarian white supremacists in our government, at least in the opposition party. So far it’s been okay, they are imploding over the current situation because they simply cannot face the reality of a leftist socialist green government actually managing to handle things and do a good job without brutalising brown people. But anyway.

So what have we got in these new Roaring 20s?

Well, we have a worldwide increase in income inequality and a massive rise in billionaires (and soon trillionaires?) who do not pay taxes. That means class warfare and revolution from the proletariat. The more the system becomes unbalanced, the less recourse the people have to fix it due to rigged machinery, the more violence becomes inevitable. This has been going on for a long time. Is it reaching boiling point now? Does it signify change is on the way or does it just mean another step along the path?

Connected to this, we have a global economy on the brink of collapse, or at least that’s the threat we seem to see from conservatives who want us all to “get back to work” and “return to normal.” Of course, taxing the mega-wealthy would not only make this go away, it would turn this planet into a fucking utopia. But then, so would admitting that we’ve let this whole “money” concept get out of hand. Whatever it is, there is a recession, a depression, and mass unemployment. And it looks like the Elysium-dwellers have realised they need drones to make their riches meaningful. As I’ve pointed out before, the overlords will survive the global pandemic and the global recession due to their hoarded resources, but the former running rampant is the safer bet than the latter, for their largely imaginary wealth.

We have a rise in right-wing and authoritarian governments across the globe. This is interconnected with all of these other problems, both a symptom and a vector. A fearful and ignorant population faced with apparently insurmountable threats will turn to populists and totalitarians who promise to handle things. If, in the process, they can handily demonise a group that a large portion of the population have been wanting to demonise forever, well. That’s very much part of the package. This has been at once sensationalised and done at a slow creep, it’s very difficult to see it happening in some cases. A Reich has not been set up and death camps have not been – okay, in the US they have. But anyway. It seems pretty clear-cut to me, that if “antifa” is labelled a terrorist organisation,[2] that gives fascist governments free rein to arrest anyone who disagrees with anything they do. This dovetails perfectly with the creeping policies of a great many national governments regarding “terrorism” in the past couple of decades.

We have a global pandemic. Covid-19 seems to be dying down here in Finland, but we’re keeping an eye on cases and they still appear to be dropping (double figures now as far as I know) as we re-open things. It’s practically gone from Australia, I heard that a couple of schools re-closed due to cases spiking, and a ship from Iran was crewed by some folks who tested positive but they are now in quarantine (“at the taxpayers’ expense, harumph!”), and New Zealand has been downright depressing in its amazing handling of everything – everything – on this list. If I had to move anywhere from Finland, it would be New Zealand. Elsewhere in the world, Covid-19 still very much seems to be a huge problem, but our attention-spans are only as long as the media is letting them be. It’s up to us to remember shit for more than a week, even if new horrible things happen every week.

We have race war. This, of course, is almost entirely linked to the class war because race and class (and money, by the way) are socially-imposed and reinforced constructs and the “minority races” are kept in the lower classes by design. When that design is threatened, the authoritarian governments crack down in defence of their interests – corporations and the billionaires who run them. In the case of the US riots, the race and class wars have met in a perfect storm, the disenfranchised and frustrated of all colours standing together against murderous militarised police. I’m deeply concerned for the safety of my friends, and the violence is the least of it. The pandemic is not adequately contained or controlled, and mobs are forming. I see activist friends (contrary to the conservative Covid-19 Hoaxer line of “oh, so now suddenly there isn’t a pandemic?”) reminding and warning protesters to mask up and continue practicing safety measures, but it’s a bit hard when you’re in a crowd or being mowed down by a police tank. I want to thank Damon and Aaron for their firsthand perspectives here. Australia is not doing much better here, with the rioting and protests in the US casting an uncomfortable light on the brutal treatment of Aboriginals in custody (and in general).

Speaking of race and class wars, what’s going on in Hong Kong? Anti-government protests, violence, polarised views and mass misinformation. I’ve been following it as much as I can but I don’t have any eyes there, sorry to say. It seems to be another symptom of the issues sweeping the world.

We have a rise in anti-intellectualism, the veneration of ignorance disguised as free thinking, and an erosion of trust in science and education in general. It is no longer enough to be a trained expert with experience. Your knowledge can be dismissed as fraudulent and practically any crackpot conspiracy theory dreamed up can be corroborated by a Google search. This has turned the Covid-19 threat into a disaster, and you can quite clearly see it divided country by country along precisely these lines. Places where “my ignorance is equal to your knowledge” have been fucked in the arse by this thing. Sadly, those places are ‘most everywhere … and there are other places, places where “the glorious leader’s words are equal to God’s”, and we don’t even know what’s happening in those places. *cough-cough-cough-Russia-China-North-Korea-Saudi-Arabia-cough-cough-cough* … don’t worry, it’s not a dry cough. Anti-intellectualism is a key underlying exacerbating facet of everything I’ve listed (and yes, I’ve saved the worst for last). If you don’t have education, you lack the critical faculties to approach a problem and deal with information. And education is a privilege. We can’t look down on those who lack it – we can only condemn those who are denying them the opportunity.

And I firmly believe that the full fury of the climate crisis is still to come, and it is going to make all of these issues look like a fucking joke.

[1] I used to write a diary in paper books. Still plan on it from time to time. I started in the early ’90s and stopped, amusingly, right after getting my first Internet connection a few years later. There was a bit of a gap then, until 2005 when I started the Hatstand, but I did check back in on the diary once or twice and attempt to fill in what I’d missed. Always seemed like a lot, when you leave it five or ten years between entries. When the time comes for me to resume keeping a journal with pen and paper, that’s when part of me thinks I’ll be acknowledging that things are really falling apart.

[2] There is no official group, like the Poor Boys or ISIS, called “Antifa” that can be accurately labelled as a terrorist group. In a way, this makes it a perfect (if not definitive) terrorist group … but it also means anyone who says they are anti-Fascism can reasonably be dropped under the umbrella. Some of these people are violent and criminal and need to be stopped. But don’t pretend for a second that this won’t be used for political purposes.

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26 Responses to The Roaring 20s

  1. stchucky says:

    Here’s an interesting counter-point.

    It’s interesting to read, and backed up by Damon’s more liberal-grounded viewpoint. People are helping each other out and getting through this, and that’s wonderful to see. It’s nice to be reminded that people are really peaceful and decent unless really put up against it. That’s what society is for. Does this peaceful and day-to-day response mean nothing will change? Maybe.

    I certainly think the more white and conservative you are (as the guy in the Quora link confesses to being, and fair play to him), the more prone you are to downplay what the police are doing here. Of course he feels safe. He’s invincible. He has nothing to lose but the exclusivity of his privilege. No, he doesn’t even risk losing the privilege itself. And I think he realises that, which is why he’s being chill about it.

    Not sure I agree with him that the press is doing disaster porn of this. It doesn’t look like that’s necessary.

    • This marks the first time I have ever shared a Logan Paul video, or praised him. But holy shit, this is excellent, and it is a HUGE deal. The video actually is Rational National, but it features a Logan Paul clip.

      This is a game changer. I would have never expected this rich, white, privileged moron to speak in this way. But he did. Damn. I’m sorry Logan, I was wrong about you.

  2. Damnit Hatboy, there you go again. You covered everything I could possibly think of and left me nothing to say. So: pluswon. There’s my contribution.

    Also, I’m ready to watch it all burn now. Just putting that out there.

  3. Damon Holston says:

    fuck, i just wrote an entire post and accidently closed the window

  4. Damon Holston says:

    And it was cathartic and I feel better having said it and now I have to try and remember what I said.

  5. Damon Holston says:

    Basic gist is:

    I have not been able to find the emotional wherewithal to post in the last few days. The events since May 26th have left me completely wrung-out.

    Aaron, thanks for the videos. Having seen all those videos previously on social media the impact is only increased when they are put together. Luckily there have not been any more instances of brutality since then and the video can go right in the time capsule as is. My concern is that your sentiment about watching is all burn down will literally happen. I don’t want that.

    @bootsriley (Revolutionary/rapper/filmmaker) is a great follow, he is posting pictures of small town USA protests. He has a breakdown of “the game” down the feed. It lays out many of the points you make in your earlier reply, but it is still worth checking out.

    Hatboy, the link you posted is pretty accurate in it’s description of what it is like around here and I agree with most, if not all, of what he says. Here is another link detailing the events of last week in my neighborhood.

    The ongoing events have been inspiring and nauseating in roughly equal measure and often I find myself feeling physically ill from the stress of it all and must turn away for a moment. This is followed by guilt for not bearing witness. Self-care is very important, but how do you watch fluffy TV when so many are out there every day fighting for their future? I have a future, I have money, I have privilege. Is that fair? Do I deserve it? Difficult to say, I worked really hard to achieve what I have, obviously I benefited from my skin color, upbringing, social standing, monetary status, sex, but that doesn’t discount my contribution either. It can be more than one thing, I just try and stay conscious of how that affects others and help where I can. Having always branded myself a cynic and pessimist I find the way I am affected by this to be surprising and maybe I’m not those things, maybe I’m actually an optimist and a romantic and I use the pessimism as a shield for my true feelings.

    Never having been particularly active politically I have been making an effort to get involved in donations, advocacy, petitioning, moral support, etc. because it is unlikely I will be on the front lines unless something else happens. The movement needs support in many ways, not every one can be in the field.

    I appreciate the support both have you have offered, like I said in other posts, I’m usually more of a lurker than participator and this is much cheaper than seeing a shrink. I’m finding that the malaise I have felt in my life may just be an unwillingness to be a part of the community at large (whether online or irl) and finding ways to join and contribute will be the new way forward.

    • Damon, thanks for your great, thoughtful responses here. I can see you are a good person, and we’d be friends IRL if we had the chance, maybe we can talk more off the blog and stay in touch. I’m always looking for truly decent humans in these times. Takes a lot of searching.

      What I would say to you about your being disturbed at my thoughts of watching it “all burn down” is, look, I’m sorry but I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough for a long time. I’m not sure your context, how long you’ve been politically active, your age, etc. But I’m 43, wife and 2 kids, all of whom are horrified and depressed at this shitty ass country America has turned out to be, especially since Trump was elected. It’s been a slowly dawning horror for them, whereas I knew this was just the last symptom of a long-lasting disease. We aren’t going to stay here if Trump wins again. We may not stay here if he loses, we’ll see. As much as it pains us and as hard as it would be to relocate at this stage in life, we’ll fucking do it.

      Also I hope you aren’t one who minds profanity. I suggest not letting it bother you. Anyway.

      So, I’ve been worried, stressed, angry, sad about this country for about 15 years now, as Hatboy can attest. I’ve tried time and time and time again to be a part of something that can change it. And I’ve seen that fail over and over and over and over. As it just did when the DNC crushed Bernie again. All to put a demented center-right Democrat in the White House. What’s the fucking point of anything anymore? Biden has literally promised nothing will fundamentally change. Maybe he’s changed his mind by now, maybe he hasn’t. Maybe he has no mind, plenty of evidence that’s the case, or maybe he does. Probably what he wants won’t even matter, that’s how messed up our system of government is.

      So, I would ask you, what is it you don’t want to see burned down? What is great in America at this time, worth saving? I’m not saying people, or genuine small businesses, should die. But everything else, you tell me what you’re protecting. What you’re worried about.

      Because all I see is trash. Sorry but there it is.

      • Damon Holston says:

        Thanks Aaron, I would be happy to make an acquaintance with you. What part of this wonderful country do you call home? I’ll be 43 in a few weeks, wife, no kids, just pets. Similar feelings about possibly relocating, I hear New Zealand is nice and doesn’t have COVID-19.
        Not sure what you meant about profanity. I’m no prude! As a matter of fact one of my Mom’s favorite stories was how in pre-school when we were listing words that ended with -it I suggested shit to the teacher who, to her credit, acknowledged it and wrote it on the board before erasing a few moments later. It took a concerted effort as an adult to swear less.

        When you say burn it down I now envision the Green War that our host wrote about. It is almost as if you could just about touch it. That is terrifying, I don’t want to see the end. Not a burning of systems and symptoms but a literal scorched earth Biblical apocalypse that affects every single person on earth. I know you don’t mean that people or small businesses should die, I fear that is precisely what will happen.

        Then again if we don’t change the world today it is (a) going to literally burn anyway or even if we do change the world it is (b) see a.

        You are right that status quo is no longer going to cut it, a realization that has become more obvious to me this past week or so.

        It’s abundantly clear that people suck, yet that is who I would save because people have ideas and many stand the test of time. That is almost certainly idealistic, is that wrong? Probably, since we are basically drowning rats in barrel and the only remaining idea we will have will be survival at all costs. I don’t care about saving stuff, you can always build something else.

        Be well.

      • Hah, well sorry about the reflexive profanity aside…I have a few people in my life who overreact to that and can’t pay attention to anything else when it happens. Online too, so I wanted to preempt if I could. Fucking glad it doesn’t bother you!

        I’m in Northern VA with my wife, 2 teenage girls and 4 cats, also dreaming of New Zealand. I think we’ll all have to fight it out Highlander style since we can’t all move there!

        ahstenor is my address
        Using the google mail service
        So if you write out the email address you’d expect based on that information you can reach me. Don’t want to write it out fully online.

        I think the system will break first, but maybe that’s too optimistic. I always hope that this time, THIS time for sure, the change will come. But I’ve been impressed with the longevity of the protests this time. And the pandemic is shifting a lot in society as well, not all of it good of course. But I just have to hope we can break this system, and we should. There isn’t much good in America anymore.

        We’ll lose some people, of course, but I think we’ll save so much more of us in breaking the system than if it persists.

  6. Damon Holston says:

    One other thing to point out about Stephen’s post is he left out the fact that the North side of Minneapolis which is overwhelmingly black was largely left to fend for themselves the entire time, yet suffered very few arsons because of strong community based organizing and defense. They are used to the police not being there. They also lag behind the Lake Street area in donation funding and investment though it is becoming closer with more targeted messaging. Minneapolis was purposely zoned to segregate and divide and has long been neglected by the city. So yeah, it’s still racist that Lake Street would get all the attention from the media and tourists when there are other places that also deserve attention.

  7. Damon Holston says:

    On a different note, any book recs from either of you? I just reread Annihilation for the third time and the newest Murderbot book from Martha Wells. Both are fantastic, the Murderbot character is incredibly well written. If you are in to modern American authors similar to Pynchon or Foster Wallace I would highly recommend A Naked Singularity by Sergio de la Pava. His opening chapter where he describes the public defender side of the New York court system is very relevant to the current upheaval in the country. Later he talks to Ralph Kramden through his TV.

    Couple more recent reads i enjoyed:
    All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders
    The Gone World – Tom Sweterlitsch

    • Oh I love Murderbot! Hatboy, by the way, these are very short books, by a female author, and they are a LOT of fun. Highly recommended.

      Damon, I would recommend you check out Ann Lackie. Start with her “Imperial Radch” trilogy. The Radch are a genderless society, everyone is “she”, though they do interact with other worlds’ cultures that still differentiate gender. It’s quite interesting, and the main character is a lot of fun. In fact you’ll draw some Murderbot parallels.

      I haven’t heard of those other books, I know Pynchon of course, but none of the others. I generally only read Sci Fi and Fantasy, don’t enjoy much else. What about you?

      For more of that type of book, I highly recommend “A Fire Upon the Deep” by Vernor Vinge, which has been turned into a series, I was happy to discover.

      And Hatboy’s books are REALLY good. Not sure if you’re here because of those, but you should read them! and there’s a LOT now!

      • Damon Holston says:

        Double agree to Murderbot. Outside of Sci-fi I am a huge Faulkner and McCarthy fan. Detective novels, Jo Nesbo, Walter Mosley, others.
        I’ll check out the Vinge book.

    • stchucky says:

      Thanks for the tips, will take a look (although my reading time is limited). My go-to book recommendations are Nick Harkaway (The Gone-Away World, Angelmaker), Scott Lynch (The Gentleman Bastard series, incomplete), and a surprising number of people don’t read Stephen King and Alastair Reynolds so they’re always fun.

      The rest of these comments are really nice to read, if “nice” is the word. Cathartic, like you said. I’m gonna have a think about it some more and get more thoughts down if I can. For now, well, you brought up the Green War so that’s really where I’m at right now. I just hope it’s that far in the future. The collapse of social media and the infosphere will probably come first, but the worldwide web isn’t something we can put back in the box. It will be around for the long haul, for better and worse.

      I consider this place, and the conversations we have, to be part of the better.

      • Damon Holston says:

        I will check those books out. I have already read all the Lackie trilogy and enjoyed them. Of course I have read Stephen King extensively, as previously mentioned in other post threads I count the Dark Tower series as one of my absolute favorite reads ever. Probably read it close to a dozen times.
        Outside of the book about Hatboy’s butt I think I have read everything else (more than once).

        Here is my origin story –

        Once upon a time a man stopped reading. He had been voracious is his younger life, blocking out all else while ingesting as many written words as possible. A hungry caterpillar if you will. He read so much and so fast people assumed he couldn’t process and comprehend what was in front of him, yet when asked for plot details could Cliff Note the entire book from memory. As he became older and a transient lifestyle took over books became an ill afforded luxury. Partying was the only way to find enjoyment. One day he settled down and picked up where he had left off. After reading everything on the shelves at home a new quest was in the offing, where will I find a new book to read? To the internet!

        Hey Googs, what is on the short list (it may have been the preliminary list) for Hugo and Nebula awards this year?
        Bad Cow? That’s a weird name for a sci-fi book, what is about?
        Oh, you’re not sure. An angel named Barry you say. Hmm, lets give it a shot.

        The triptych of stories made the man laugh repeatedly and cry occasionally, it turned out it wasn’t just about Barry, in fact Barry was barely in the book, but there were aliens and gods who the story really revolved around. He had to know if the was more out there. Much to his surprise Bad Cow (I might like this book most of all because it was disjointed and weird) was the first book in a series, but the author had more, so much more, to offer. Books about a merry band of space travelers on the lam and their misadventures.

        Hey Amazon, how much are the books?
        Free, huh. What is the harm in checking them out?
        Hey, these are good too! Lets read them all.
        Maybe I should give this guy some money.
        Your receipt has been emailed.

        Turned out he had blog too and gave away more stories related to his books, sometimes he gave away almost entire books. If the man didn’t thank the author or offer praise and criticism he was worried the author may quit posting and eventually writing this massive odyssey.

        Fast forward to today.

        Lets go! I need more to read.

        Thanks Chucky.

        p.s. that is how i found all the other books i listed except for a Naked Singularity. The Gone World, Annihilation and All the Birds are both sci-fi mixed with uncanny and horror.

      • stchucky says:

        Aw shucks, thanks man. And yeah, as I was writing my Stephen King recommendation I thought I was probably missing something and you’d mentioned before about the Dark Tower series. I think I’m just about ready to re-read that again, but maybe I should read something new in between. So these recommendations are all gravy.

        I’m so pleased you liked Bad Cow! I’ve had angst about it forever. It’s part of a long setup for the series that takes place between Bad Cow and Greyblade, but first I have a few other things to finish. You’ll be pleased to hear that Gabriel (the other Gabriel, without the wings) just sent me my first cover draft for The Last Days of Earth and now I am super pumped to get that finished. I’m closer to finishing The Last Alicorn, though, with four-and-a-half short stories left in that one before it’s done. Most of it is here on the blog already though.

    • stchucky says:

      Now I am on my computer instead of my phone, and I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend some of my peers.

      (wow, those links turned out weird … let me just edit those real quick)

      First, almost obligatory, I recommend Lucas Thorn’s books (mostly available on Kindle). They’re pulp hack trash of the worst kind, full of bad puns and brutal violence. I rather enjoy them but I’m biased. They’re quick and easy to read, so if you don’t enjoy them you’ve only wasted a few hours anyway.

      Michael McClung is also pretty great, I’ve only read the first three of his Amra Thetys series but they’re really good fantasy fare.

      I’ve sort of made a vow to myself that when someone I know is writing stuff, I need to plug it because that’s all I want anyone to do for me, anywhere they are. We’re all in this together.

      Toisto has a bunch of reviews and stuff if you want to just randomly browse and find good opinions on arts and entertainment. Not a book, but as soon as Mr. Bloom branches into books I will plug it (he’s published a story in Helsinki Noir, worth a look).

      On that subject, I’d recommend some of my Finnish peeps but their stuff is pretty obscure and often in Finnish. Never Stop is alright if you can find it anywhere.

      And of course my cover crossover buddy Renee Spyrou is always good for a bit of urban fantasy hack-and-slash-and-sexy-times. Edpool does a chapter reading on YouTube if you want a sample:

      That’s about it for my authorial loyalty spiel right now. Get our stuff cheap if you can. Thorn’s stuff is often free. The pay-off is, if you like it, you win. If you don’t like it, you haven’t wasted too much time and money and so you don’t need to resent me. *grin*

  8. OK so as of right now, New York protesters can be indefinitely detained in prison thanks to this judge.

    Can I say “burn it all down” NOW? Every aspect of the government is resisting to defend their stance that cops can murder us on the street.

  9. Hey check this out! This is…I hesitate to call it beautiful, but in a certain way it…shit just watch it ok? 1 minute.

  10. Another video. Daniel Greene came out and said it, now, and he always avoids being political on his channel:

    I grew up in Georgia and I wasn’t lied to about US History like he was. But he’s about 15 years younger than me, and I know the right-wing has been working VERY hard to whitewash (literally) US History lately.

  11. And one more, here’s a twitter thread from a “good cop” about just how he was treated for trying to do the right thing. It’s harrowing. This is why we can’t have nice things:

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