America It Will Be Bad, By Peggy Noonan

“You can’t see all the world’s weapons and all its madness and not know that eventually we will face a terrible day or days when everything will depend on our ability to hold together and hold on. Maybe it will involve nuclear weapons, maybe an extended, rolling attack on the grid, maybe bioterrorism. But it will be bad; there will be deep stress and violence. The great question in those days, under that acute pressure, will be:   Will we hold together? Will we suffer through and emerge, together, on the other side? Which is another way of saying:   Will we continue as a nation, a people?

“My belief is that whatever helps us hold together now, whatever brings us together and binds us close, is good, and must be encouraged with whatever it takes.

“If these are your predicates — America in cultural catastrophe, and hard history ahead — you spend your energies on a battle not to make government significantly smaller, but to make it significantly more helpful.”

— PEGGY NOONAN, speechwriter and special advisor to President Ronald Reagan

WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 4-5, 2019, p. A13

12 thoughts on “America It Will Be Bad, By Peggy Noonan

  1. I have had dreams about being attacked and hiding in the mountains since I was a little girl. Maybe it was just my age of the nuclear bomb. But in the dreams we had lost the grid and had to learn to live like the first Americans. I fear we may be brought to that.

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    • I too remember those days of duck and cover, and bomb shelter signs near the basements of every public building, back in the 50s, at the beginning of the Cold War. Were we naïve, or what, thanking that we could escape a nuclear war by hiding under a desk, or in the basement? We sort of adjusted to living with that fear after a few decades, Bonnie. When nuclear war did not come, it was like the boy shouting “wolf“ lesson. If you keep shouting a warning, and it doesn’t happen, everyone believes it’s a false warning. And then when it really happens . . .

      Now, the fear of apocalypse is back, and it’s pervasive. When someone as mainstream conservative as Peggy Noonan picks it up, you know it’s real. Internet platforms such as YouTube are full of every manner of wild apocalyptic prediction. I think I will try to write a post and make some sense of it all. But really, Peggy Noonan‘s column in the WSJ, of all places, covered the subject as sensibly as possible. I will post a few more excerpts from what she said. She has some wise policy advice, but I doubt that either political party, or anyone running for office, has any interest in wise policy at this moment.

      Your dreams about hiding in the mountains are quite widespread in our culture. Believe it or not, more than a few people, thousands and thousands probably, are actually adopting something like that as a lifestyle. Lots of folks living on the move, Especially on Forest Service or BLM out west. People living in vans, travel trailers, even cars and tents. It’s true. Other people buying secluded land, living in cabins and trying to learn to grow their own food and live a subsistence lifestyle. You can watch endless videos about their experiences on YouTube. It’s ironic that most of them want to live “”off the grid” escape the feared big brother who can now follow everyone’s location by their cell phone or other technology. But these same people are eager to stay in touch via the Internet, cell phone, YouTube. What a strange, paranoid World we live in.

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      • I’m not alone in my dreams. There is a whole community. Many in the SCA where people learn how things were done before electricity. I recognize them when I run into them. Strange…huh. Dreams of past life or future life?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We are living in times of Extremes.. And the days are looming faster than ever where we will be tested even more..
    Thank you for sharing John… Glad to spot you in the reader while I am navigating it.. 💜

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  3. It will be one person and one family fighting for survival and they don’t need a big government looking for survival, too. I don’t look forward to the time when our “tower of babel” will fall — but it’s evident that it’s coming. I regret that my grandchildren will be the ones left to suffer.

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    • Yes, if the extreme right succeeds in starving the beast and killing government, we will no longer have rule of law, it will be law of the jungle. Civilization will descend into anarchy. I believe you are quite right that when anarchy comes, each individual and family will be fighting to survive. You could say that both Peggy Noonan and I believe it is better to pay taxes and have effective government than your preferred alternative of fighting for survival in a state of anarchy. I wish your grandchildren good luck.

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      • You miss the point. When you have big government, and there is a catastrophy, it isn’t there to help; it’s there to take so that it can survive another day.

        Perhaps the truth is that humans will always be destined to put the Stalins, Hitler’s, kings and emperors in charge and wonder how in hades they ended up being oppressed yet again.

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  4. Good point about government. I’ll have to think back over the long arc of history. Humans have had governments of one kind or another for thousands of years. Governments have never been perfect, so humans have constantly, over the centuries had revolutions and such to try to evolve better forms of government. I have to look at history and see if we are making any progress in that direction. My first thought is that the American Revolution, for instance, created a government that was better than the situation that existed in the colonies previously. But of course, the U.S. Government like all others has never been perfect.

    It presents a complex question: would it be better to destroy government completely, or better to continue working to improve it? I’d also have to look back over the development of political philosophy, which has never been a strong point for me. My sense is that as soon as humans made the transition from wondering hunters and gatherers to staying in one place, farming, and then living in small towns and cities, we needed A formal structure of cooperation, a way to live near each other with a degree of safety. Civilization requires government. I doubt that civilization can exist without government.

    As you suggest, human nature on it’s own means every individual or family fighting against every other individual. I think that can work if the number of families is small and widely spread out, having little contact. But with large populations living in close proximity, some law and order is necessary. Imagine busy streets with no stop signs or traffic lights. How would that work?

    There have certainly been many horrible tyrants. But people always try to struggle forward to better government, rather than descending back down into total chaos. Sorry, I’m rambling.

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    • Hi John:

      Without going too in depth, from an historical perspective, I believe that even with the imperfect government we have, it is still preferred over no government, where people are left to fend for themselves. Doesn’t anyone watch The Walking Dead? We all know what happens to the weaker people in an environment where ‘only the strong survive.’ Without the protection of government, the aged, disabled, children and others who don’t have weapons or other ways to survive, will soon die. Is that the life we all want to live? Where we survive by taking the food, housing and resources of those who can least protect them. I know that there will be some who say that happens now – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer – but, that is a simplistic way to look at life.

      I will stick with government and work from within to make it better and more responsive!

      Ron

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      • Thanks for your sensible perspective, Ron. It’s good to hear your voice so loud and clear, even if it is in writing. I miss all my friends in Maryland. Very sad that Jim Mathias is no longer in the Senate. The E. Shore is so deep red it feels positively hostile. The Florida county I live in, Pasco, is majority Republican, but somehow Republicans here are not so bitter as ON the MD Shore. Many places in FL voted for Obama twice, and then swung heavily to Trump. They could just as easily swing back. People here seem to be openminded and willing to consider alternatives.

        Of course I agree with you about the absolute necessity of government. I think people everywhere have desired government, since the dawn of civilization. And steadily looked for ways to improve the quality and justice of government. Obviously, we’ll never wipe out all corruption or achieve perfection. But I can’t think of any time in history, or any philosophy, where anarchy was seriously advocated by more than a tiny fringe.

        Having trouble figuring out why both apocalypse and anarchy have suddenly become fashionable. Maybe entertainment such as the Walking Dead is part of the explanation. And the dangers of nuclear war and terrorism are certainly real.

        I recommend Peggy Noonan’s column as valuable reading. She wrote it as a comprehensive but concise set of policy recommendations for sensible Republican conservatives. I think it could just as easily be adopted by centrist Democrats. We desperately need to restore ourselves to orderly democracy, and functioning institutions that can have wide respect and legitimacy throughout the country.

        Good wishes to all in MD,
        John

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