So, I think this conflates “shared experience” with “state capacity” in ways that are worth spelling out explicitly.

Let me try to do so briefly.
The reason is that COVID was (and is) absolutely the largest shared experience felt by Americans since World War II. It affected every walk of life.

*Sports events* got cancelled, which is about as big a deal as it gets in modern American culture.
And yet at the same time there was emphatically *not*—with one major exception—the same kind of state-directed mobilization like in World War II that dramatically affected and indeed reshaped peoples’ lives.
The one major exception, of course, was expanded UI, but that was an explicitly *temporary* program that is now being rapidly phased out, precisely because its architects neither want nor are realistically able to challenge the cheap labor paradigm of the service economy.
Moreover, even where there is the political desire to do something—the vaccination campaign, for instance—it’s conducted through complex public-private partnerships and implementation is done through voluntarism.
Voluntarism not because it’s more effective policy. Voluntarism not even necessarily for ideological reasons. But voluntarism because the American state does not have the capacity to compel its citizens to get vaccinated.
The contrast with France and Germany, which have highly vaccine-skeptic populations but which are getting vaccinated nonetheless because of compulsion from the the state, is dramatic.
But of course this is also a remarkable contrast to America during World War II—or, for that matter, during the Depression—where state capacity to address the various crises was effectively built and exercised.
State capacity compelled and shaped mass experience during that period.

State capacity, or rather the lack of it, shapes mass experience today.

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More from @DavidAstinWalsh

21 Jul
*nods head approvingly at comment* ImageImage
Although I wouldn't put it past FBI informants for this particular group to assume they had the tacit political backing of their handlers.
I say this as someone who has read angry letters between the FBI and informants in groups ranging from the CPUSA to the John Birch Society basically telling them to stop bragging to people they're FBI agents.
Read 5 tweets
20 Jul
If you can reach an altitude in Microsoft Flight Simulator, it's not really space.
Jeff Bezos's vanity project couldn't even fly as high as Mercury-Redstone, a pretty fucking low bar.
The whole point of THE RIGHT STUFF is that nobody outside of the aviation community gave a shit about suborbital spaceplane flights when astronauts and cosmonauts were spending days in orbit and the space programs were shooting for the moon.
Read 4 tweets
20 Jul
*whisper* this is why I'm skeptical of professional skepticism
I'm not saying that UFOs are alien spacecraft piloted by Nazi Bigfoot men here; I'm just saying that the "professional skeptic/debunker" community has a deeply right-libertarian strain of politics, and you don't have to look very hard to see it.
Like, it struck me as notable that the big debunker of the recent UFO report was some guy who made a lot of money in software before deciding "now that I'm rich, I'm going to devote myself to debunking UFO conspiracy theories."
Read 6 tweets
20 Jul
Listening to the latest @KnowYrEnemyPod and @MatthewSitman raises an important point: you have well-connected guys like Curtis Yarvin and Michael Anton openly talking overthrowing the government in a way that the segregationists at NATIONAL REVIEW never did in the 1960s.
Of course, there *were* people on the right -- people who had cycled through the conservative movement! -- who were openly talking about that in the 1960s and 1970s.

George Lincoln Rockwell, William Luther Pierce, Willis Carto, Revilo Oliver, etc.
None of them came close to holding real political power, but this is where the white power movement in the late 20th century comes from!
Read 8 tweets
18 Jul
Ah, yes, THE PATRIOT, the movie where British soldiers are depicted committing Nazi-esque war crimes against white Southerners who do not own slaves, thank you very much.

No whiteness issues there at all, no sir.
I haven't seen THE PATRIOT in years but if I remember correctly there's only one white character in the movie who is explicitly a slave owner, and he's portrayed as a bigoted redneck.
And of course the one enslaved character earns his freedom fighting with the white Southerners against the British.

Dunmore's Proclamation's is, of course, never mentioned, and the 100,000 enslaved people who voted with their feet to join with the British aren't, either.
Read 4 tweets
14 Jul
One of the best things about newspaper digitization is that it’s now actually possible to identify crank letter writers from the 20th century and sketch out their biographies. It can be very revealing.

I’m going through James J. Kilpatrick’s John Birch Society crank letter file, and I came across this one.

It’s totally unremarkable—there are literally hundreds of letters like it—except that the author, James R. Baroffio, has a relatively uncommon name.
So, I ran his name through and found a 1964 news story about him from his hometown paper.

College of Wooster graduate, class of 1954, Army Corps of Engineers veteran, MSc geology from Ohio State, worked for Standard Oil, PhD geology Illinois 1964.
Read 11 tweets

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