The Upswing

Impeccable timing.

I saw Robert Putnam’s new book The Upswing on how America rebuilt its lost social capital which bottomed out in the Gilded Age in the bookstore last night.

While I obviously haven’t read the book yet, I am sure Putnam’s book is about what Peter Turchin has described as “Age of Discord I” and how it ended in the Progressive Era. This happens to be the period of American history which I have been researching for the past few months.

It might seem odd that social capital was overall on the rebound during the Victorian-to-Modern transition, but a number of important things happened in this period that pulled the country together just as this new cultural rift between modernists and traditionalists was forming. Immigration was steadily restricted in 1907, 1917, 1921, 1924 and 1927. The 16th Amendment was passed which established the income tax which eventually led to wealth redistribution during the New Deal. The economy exploded in the Roaring Twenties and America developed a consumer economy. The Great Depression and World War II were massive challenges that had the effect of uniting the country and restoring confidence in government. In particular, the South and West began to industrialize during World War II and millions were lifted out of poverty. Finally, the federal government focused on the economy and foreign policy in the Great Depression and World War II instead of more polarizing racial and cultural issues.

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  1. Imagine if someone advertised their website as a platform for populism and nationalism.

    Then imagine that same person having fantasies about prancing around in the 1890’s being a Victorian intellectual who looks down on the unwashed masses.

    Imagine claiming to be a populist and then posting positive articles promoting H.K. Menchken’s views that all of us are basically shit and if you’re not an elite, you don’t matter.

    How would said site be any different than any globalist-promoting website except with a “Victorian” spin to it? Populism? Nationalism? Where? I can’t find it here.

  2. we rebuild by not acquiring materialistic shit, but rather devoting more resources to the well being and education of kids. spend less on gadgets and cars, more on travel. Consider yourself an employee of an as yet formed government, and conduct yourself accordingly. Outsiders have a place here because we continue fighting our own cousins and countrymen, the same dumb mistakes of the last 1000 years.

  3. Here is part of an essay by historian Dr. Vito Caiati on soy conservative David Brooks with excellent additional comments by Maverick Philosopher (Dr Bill Vallicella):

    ” 1. The essay is entirely descriptive rather than analytical in that it presents various economic and sociological findings and trends, but nowhere does it offer an explanation for them. Like [Rod] Dreher, Brooks is content to offer merely the symptoms of a deep crisis rather than to explore its causes, which to me seemed inexorably bound up with the nature and motions of contemporary American capitalism. Thus, he rattles on about the decline in social trust, linking this phenomenon to the upsurge in financial, emotional, identity, and social insecurity among broad sectors of the American population, especially the young and the lower middle class and working class poor; however, all these trends, destructive of social unity and trust, float on thin air, their emergence requiring [Brooks thinks] no elucidation.

    To analyze them would require him to delve into the corrosive force that contemporary capitalism, which by its very nature is deleterious to the survival of traditional forms of the family, community, and polity in America. One has merely, for example, to reflect on the acceleration of social time (technological and social, including rapid social change and the dizzying pace of life), the contraction and distortion of social space (the former expressed in the gutting of small and medium commerce and the export of entire industrial sectors, with the accompanying hollowing out of established modes of life and the latter expressed in the hyper development in privileged geographical enclaves and underdevelopment elsewhere), and the hyper-commodification of sexuality (disastrous for traditional familial and conjugal relations and Judaeo-Christian moral precepts) that are generated by the process of capitalist accumulation today.

    In other words, one cannot shy away from a critical examination of what American capital, global in its reach and interests, has done and is doing to our national civic and political institutions. I have to do a lot more reading in this area, but I am convinced that it is crucial that conservatives abandon their nostalgic romance with capitalism, since the object of their affection, an earlier moment in the history of capital, competitive or at least largely national, has long since passed and has been replaced with something far different in kind and inimical to their interests and values.”

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