Why We're Underestimating American Collapse

If you mindlessly imbibe your social-media-sanctioned news feed from the palm of your hand, then you could almost be forgiven for thinking everything is awesome (with perhaps a nod to your implicit feed's bias that things would be 'awesome-er' if "the other side" just got out of the way).


However, if you have your eyes opened matrix-like to the real world surrounding you, the number of divergent and dissonant headlines begins to leave you questioning the reality of exceptional America... record stock prices, record homeless, record wealth, record food stamps, and so on...


But as Umair Haque, via Eand.co, writes the rot goes deeper and is far graver.

When we take a hard look at US collapse, we see a number of social pathologies on the rise. Not just any kind. Not even troubling, worrying, and dangerous ones. But strange and bizarre ones. Unique ones. Singular and gruesomely weird ones I’ve never really seen before, and outside of a dystopia written by Dickens and Orwell, nor have you, and neither has history.

They suggest that whatever “numbers” we use to represent decline - shrinking real incomes, inequality, and so on - we are in fact grossly underestimating what pundits call the “human toll”, but which sensible human beings like you and I should simply think of as the overwhelming despair, rage, and anxiety of living in a collapsing society.

Haque lays out five examples of what he calls the social pathologies of collapse - strange, weird, and gruesome new diseases, not just ones we don’t usually see in healthy societies, but ones that we have never really seen before in any modern society.

America has had 11 school shootings in the last 23 days.

Why are America kids killing each other? 

Why would people abuse opioids en masse unlike anywhere else in the world?

How did America’s elderly end up cheated of dignity?

And that is my last pathology: it is one of the soul, not one of the limbs, like the ones above.

Americans appear to be quite happy simply watching one another die, in all the ways above.

Read more here...


As Umair notes, If these pathologies happened in any other rich country — even in most poor ones — people would be aghast, shocked, and stunned, and certainly moved to make them not happen. But in America, they are, well, not even resigned. They are indifferent, mostly.

Haque's ominous view of our world concludes

American collapse is much more severe than we suppose it is. We are underestimating its magnitude, not overestimating it. American intellectuals, media, and thought doesn’t put any of its problems in global or historical perspective — but when they are seen that way, America’s problems are revealed to be not just the everyday nuisances of a declining nation, but something more like a body suddenly attacked by unimagined diseases.

Should the world follow the American model — extreme capitalism, no public investment, cruelty as a way of life, the perversion of everyday virtue — then these new social pathologies will follow, too. They are new diseases of the body social that have emerged from the diet of junk food — junk media, junk science, junk art, junk economics — that America has fed upon for too long.

Read Umair Haque's full essay here...