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I’m suffering an attack of optimism

I’m suffering the sudden onset of optimism.

Don’t worry, the condition probably won’t be fatal or chronic. I’ll be back to my normal, healthy, pessimistic self in a week or two. But meanwhile I can’t get rid of this feeling that everything may turn out okay out there in the world. Well, not everything. But outcomes of the current madness may be better than we expect.

I feel this way precisely because everything’s falling apart.

And all kinds of people are recognizing that everything’s falling apart or has already fallen and can’t be raised back up. That’s the part that suddenly cripples me with optimism. Even people who exist in the thick of our cultural and political insanity are beginning to recognize and respond to reality.


The first thing I noticed is that even some mainstreamish conservative commentators are giving up on serious, respectful opinion writing and resorting to pure mockery and derision — toward government, toward media, toward the cultural insanity in general. Cue Roger Kimball commenting on a rosy piece by NPR’s favorite “conservative” David Brooks (who is generally indistinguishable from NPR’s favorite liberal, E.J. Dionne):

Really, I am delighted to learn that we have embarked on a “journey” through a new American Renaissance. Had I not been told that, I might have naively assumed that the country, which seems to me to be more divided than at any time since the 1850s, was on the verge of implosion. I am so happy to learn, then, that we are in for unicorns and rainbows, not attorneys general warning about “domestic terrorists” and “white supremacists.”

Michael McKenna, in an otherwise serious piece about the consequences of Biden’s 2020 “campaign about nothing” can crack off a dismissive sentence like “The shrinking number of people (mostly journalists) who care about Congress have been glued to their computers and televisions this past week, breathlessly following the twists and turns of the soap opera that is the infrastructure legislation.”

When nutty left-wing commentators claim that millions of people don’t want to go back to jobs because they’re traumatized by “fallout from the Trump presidency, continued police shootings, and the consequences of Jan. 6” — not because they’re being paid more to be unemployed, not because they got a taste of freedom and learned they hate the job culture, not because commutes and co-workers and bosses and cities suck — smart cookies like Charles C.W. Cooke can only ask, incredulously, “Has the average member of the press corps ever actually met anyone in America?”

Continues Mr. Cooke:

This isn’t a conservative-vs.-progressive thing. It’s not a Republican-vs.-Democrat thing. It’s not a coastal-elite-vs.-flyover-country thing. It’s not even a Trump thing. It’s a journalists-vs.-normal-people thing. Outside of the narcissistic and incestuous Thunderdome that houses the American media, it remains the case that people simply do not think in the way that the Beltway-media class believes they do. They are not traumatized by the daily news. They do not make key life decisions based upon the behavior of the president, nor wait for him to leave office before deciding that they are so disturbed that they no longer wish to work. They are not fixated upon the latest congressional MacGuffin or the implications of a given riot or the occasional mistakes of the police. And when they are looking to enjoy a good “cultural drama,” they do not look for it in the same places as the editors of the Washington Post do.

And if you’re an old Alfred Hitchcock fan, you’ve got to agree that “Congressional MacGuffin” is an act of derision right up there with “the shrinking number of people who care about Congress.”

This is not the way professional commentators used to talk about current affairs. This is not “respectfully differing” or intellectual analysis of issues. But nor is is the childish howling of the Twitter mob or the deceptive babblings of CNN or the perpetual hysterical indignation of young New York Times prodigies. This is something much more formidable and telling. This is smart, serious people who have given up taking the current regime or current culture seriously.

This is people who have moved onto the next stage: Understanding that a country’s Great Institutions have become simply … irrelevant.


Even over in that part of society where laughter and levity are forbidden (I speak here of the “woke” and the poor unfortunates in their orbit by happenstance or affiliation), things are cracking apart and both woke insiders and watchful outsiders are beginning to realize it.

Take the LGBTXYZ movement

We have lesbians rightly and righteously objecting to being threatened with extinction by the sudden tsunami of sexually confused adolescent girls (and what adolescent of either sex isn’t sexually confused?) being encouraged by supposedly responsible adults to transform into boys.

We have “traditional” lesbians and gays being condemned as anti-trans bigots (by their fellow LGBTetc activists!) for preferring to have relationships with people born to their own sex. Stop and think about that for a minute: fellow LGBT+ activists hating on lesbians and gays for … being lesbians and gays. And gaslighting the Ls and Gs by telling them they’re the haters.

We have female athletes rightly and righteously outraged over competitive male wrestlers being accepted into the Olympics as female wrestlers (the link is the Babylon Bee version of the news, which tends to be one completely accurate step ahead of the real news).

And we now even have white (oh, the shame) LGBTetc. event organizers objecting to BIPOC-LGBTQRSTUVW event organizers charging them “reparations fees” to participate in LGBTetc events.

(Of course the poor, reasonably objecting would-be participants white oppressors were quickly told to shut up and performed the standard groveling apology. But still. There’s a movement starting here.)

It’s the People’s Front of Judea vs the Judean People’s Front all over again. And that’s just a single example from the endless “woke” intertribal wars.

It’s a Monty Python world and we’re simply at our outer limits of trying to take it all seriously.


Of course there are still fools commentators “on the spectrum” who who can’t bring themselves to understand that the Old Order is over. Or to laugh at the madness. Yet in being so serious in their hopes to reform the unreformable, they render themselves laughable.

Case in point, Michael Walsh, writing in the sweet-but-staid Epoch Times (the Readers Digest of modern protest publications). Talk about a man who doesn’t understand the real condition of the world! A man whose 1950s-style hopes make him unintentionally comical in this corrupt, broken, and hopeless age.

Want to know what point one — point one! — of his “Blueprint for Taking the Country Back” might be? Brace yourself; this isn’t from the Bee:

The first order of business … is to get a grip on the Republican Party and make it conform to the will of the people by expelling via primary every Republican who voted to impeach or convict Donald Trump during the two impeachment farces.

Easy-peasy, right? And brilliant — ’cause of course nobody, ever, has tried reform-from-within-the-system before and we can be sure Mr. Walsh has the perfect secret recipe for making it work. We’ll just go right out and do that in a jiffy, Mr. Walsh. Then we’ll get right in line to complete steps two and three (reforming elections and choosing the “right” candidates).

I don’t know who Mr. Walsh is (though he does have cap-C Credentials). But he surely doesn’t know what even the hilariously wonderful, but not-as-impressively published John Wilder (who also has a plan for restoring America) knows: that culture precedes politics.

Better yet, when politics becomes corrupted (but I repeat myself), then finally plops into well-earned irrelevancy, healthy culture carefully steps around politics like a proper society matron from a New Yorker cartoon steps around a stinking pile of poodle poo on a city sidewalk.

And that’s exactly what’s happening now. Healthy individuals are recognizing the pile of poo that is contemporary reality and stepping around it.


People have been pushed farther than they’re willing to go. They’re sick of being asked to worship “science” but not practice the questioning and skepticism at the heart of actual science. They’re sick of being told that in the last five or 10 years their cherished and stable traditions have abruptly become “hatred.” They’re sick of being told that they’re either evil oppressors or hopeless victims simply because they were born with a particular color or ethnicity — and even more distressed at having their children taught that. They’re sick of being told that merely disagreeing with TPTB means they’re “terrorists” or purveyors of “misinformation” who deserve to be censored. They’re sick of being told that fiery riots are “mostly peaceful.” They’re sick of being asked to pretend to believe that muscle-bound weight lifters are women, that mothers are mere “birthing persons” and that men can menstruate. They’re sick of being told that Joe Biden has a working brain and is the greatest president since FDR. They’re sick of being told that governments can spend made-up money forever and thus enable an “American Renaissance” or a “Great Reset” that (really, seriously, we mean it) will be good for the peasants as well as the gazillionaires who are engineering said rebirths and resets for their own obvious benefit.

They’ve had it. Millions of people are recognizing that their brains simply won’t stretch that far.

And they’re asking, “Why the heck should I even try or pretend to try to stretch my brain to accommodate obvious nuttiness? Who benefits? Definitely not me. Definitely not the people and things that matter to me.”

Commentators are laughing and mocking. Ordinary people are taking action. Lots of individual and community action. They’re stepping around that big stinking pile of poo that is government, that fetid mass that is the media, that oozing diarrhea that is wokeness — and getting on with living in and re-shaping real reality.


William S. Lind’s Barometers of Legitimacy are all giving ominous readings. But the very fact that they are ominous, and more people see that, means more of us are free to act creatively rather than remain stuck. No, nobody in their right mind wants Fourth Generation warfare (Lind’s area of expertise). What we do want — and need — is to get unstuck from silly, vain hopes of willing hopelessly broken systems to work for us. And we’re doing it.

What was well outside the Overton window short years ago, what only us wing-nuts believed and respectable people sneeringly dismissed, is now commonplace.

Among other new or growing trends, small secessions are happening everywhere, as Daniel Greenfield describes. Suburbs are seceding from cities (or aiming to), counties from states, and states from themselves. Greenberg’s got a lot of hopeful stories to tell. He’s wrong, though, when he says the smallest secessions are being committed by school districts.

The smallest are being committed, every day in increasing numbers, by potentially millions of individuals — commentators, professors, office workers, blue-collar job holders, entrepreneurs, writers, doctors, congregation members, students, you name it — who wake up, look around, and say, “Whoa, this is getting too weird; I’m out of here.” They may not know whether we’re living in a joke masquerading as a wannabe totalitarianism or a wannabe totalitarianism masquerading as a joke. They may not even be able to identify or articulate precisely what’s wrong. But they know it’s nuts and they want to go sane.

And so they do.

And so — despite all the chaos and danger still ahead, and all the likelihood that we’ll endure social, intellectual, and cultural collapse long, long, long before we see true renaissance — I’m optimistic.

For the moment, anyhow.


  1. Granny
    Granny June 23, 2021 9:37 am

    Bravo! Bravo!
    Such a gift you have Claire!
    I, too, am optimistic, but along the lines of “there are more of us than them”. Also, the corporate “We” have decided “they” are irrelevant. Also… if we could secede from Washington DC, an endless circus of narcissistic psychopaths, we’d all be better off.

  2. Val E. Forge
    Val E. Forge June 23, 2021 9:39 am

    You make some valid points, Claire.

  3. Comrade X
    Comrade X June 23, 2021 10:39 am

    young lady I want to get on my rooftop and shout this is your greatest ever, but that would be out of character for me so I won’t.

    Just imagine if you can, the current TPTB having a future conversation on how they blew it when it was it in their grasp, they had it all, their usurper in control and completely under their power, troops in the street, the power of misleadia 99% in control, just about every institution or major corporation carrying their water, no real organized opposition that they haven’t totally discredited, so many of those they look at as rubes believing whatever the scare du jour they wished to push from Global warming, plandemic, to white terrorist, they really had it all, so how could they have failed?

    Methinks a once great man may have said it;

    You can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

    You know what I think what may have been their biggest mistake, the one that was their key nail in their coffin, when in their religious zeal that they actually destroyed the institutions they controlled by destroying their validity.

    And once a person realized that this is not true (you pick the lie) then it was easier to realized that that wasn’t either. Too bad TPTB couldn’t have used that power for good and not evil, just think of all the suffering now and into the future that could have been avoided.

    Oh well it is what it is, don’t ya know?

  4. kentmcmanigal
    kentmcmanigal June 23, 2021 11:50 am

    I will not be a part of the lies just to make w0ke people– who wouldn’t like me anyway– feel better. “There are FOUR lights!”

  5. Claire
    Claire June 23, 2021 11:53 am

    Wow, thanks for the cheerleading, ComradeX.

    Just imagine if you can, the current TPTB having a future conversation on how they blew it when it was it in their grasp … they really had it all, so how could they have failed?

    Although I’d love to hear that conversation, I don’t think the current TPTB have, or will ever have, the self-awareness to understand how they screwed up. I believe that conversation is more likely to be held by future intellectuals (probably planning some new totalitarianism of their own) analyzing the errors of powers past.

    But you’re right; they destroyed the very institutions they relied upon for their authority.

  6. Claire
    Claire June 23, 2021 11:56 am

    Thank you, Val E. Forge and Granny.

    Granny, I always enjoy both your cheer and your additions to the dialog:

    Also… if we could secede from Washington DC, an endless circus of narcissistic psychopaths,

    I think we can. I think we are. I don’t think this secession will go any more smoothly than the last big one did. But I think it’s happening.

  7. Fred M
    Fred M June 23, 2021 12:01 pm

    Claire this is one of your best! And our country and worlds’ condition is best summed up by the Peoples Front of Judea video…or is it the Front for the People of Judea…or is it the Judea Peoples front…?

  8. Claire
    Claire June 23, 2021 12:27 pm

    Kent and Fred — Thank you and AMEN.

    I get more of a kick out of that clip from Life of Brian with every year that passes.

  9. larryarnold
    larryarnold June 23, 2021 4:04 pm

    You know what I think what may have been their biggest mistake, the one that was their key nail in their coffin, when in their religious zeal that they actually destroyed the institutions they controlled by destroying their validity.

    Agreed. And I think I know how they did it.

    Everything was going their way in mid-2016. The first Black president was wrapping his second term, they controlled a MSM that was still largely trusted, academia and the other institutions were doing their job, and Hillary was about to get her turn to push the narrative. So the Democrats did what they had always done before an election, they stirred up their base to get out the vote against the “Racist Republicans.”

    But Hillary fumbled. Yet that isn’t the turning point.

    The real screw-up occurred when, instead of following the plan they had used after previous elections, cooling off and letting their base supporters settle down, the Left kept up the stirring. They kept the base riled for three years of Trump Derangement.

    Come 2020, George Floyd became the spark that ignited what was already volatile. In big cities where Democrats had been promising Hope and Change for half a century nd only delivering Hope, BLM and Antifa exploded. We had mostly peaceful demonstrations for a year, and counting. The Left lost control of their cities, in some “occupied zones” literally, and everyone saw it on the nightly news until polling showed it wasn’t being blamed on Trump.

    (PR Hint: If you are pretending demonstrations are “mostly peaceful” choose a camera angle that doesn’t show looted and burning businesses in the background. Viewers look at that and wonder what else the media is lying about.)

    Schools shut down in response to Covid, and a lot of parents got a good luck under the hood of the education industry. Red states opened early, and the Left’s doom predictions failed to materialize, yet they doubled-down on Blue state shutdowns. Then there was the blatant hypocrisy of governors flaunting restrictions they put on others.

    Meanwhile, the half of the people living in the Liberal bubble still believe all the turmoil is caused by the other half, the white supremacists who don’t exist.

    In January of 2021 Democrats took control of the House, the Senate, and the White House. That was their last chance to back off and let everyone go back to sleep. Instead, they were still so angry they threw a hissy fit over January 6.

    After that they went hard progressive, including executive orders that directly shafted people who voted for them. And they still can’t control their base.

    So now everything is coming unglued. What the MSM preaches no longer reflects what people see for themselves. For some reason parents of all shades aren’t happy when they find out teachers are segregating their children into White oppressors and Black oppressed. And so forth.

    Pandora’s box is well and truly open. But, like Claire, I remember what came out of it last.

  10. Stuart
    Stuart June 23, 2021 5:58 pm

    Optimism: a temporary condition that has been successfully treated with single malt* and binge watching CNN.

    *several bottles of good Bordeaux have also been shown effective in several studies

  11. Claire
    Claire June 23, 2021 6:05 pm

    larryarnold — That was a freaking brilliant analysis, and eloquently put, besides.

  12. Comrade X
    Comrade X June 23, 2021 6:07 pm

    +1 on everything Larry said!

  13. Claire
    Claire June 23, 2021 7:04 pm

    Optimism: a temporary condition that has been successfully treated with single malt* and binge watching CNN.


    But surely there must be some cure for optimism that doesn’t involve reducing the optimism sufferer to suicide.

  14. Myself
    Myself June 23, 2021 7:28 pm

    I see very little reason for optimism, the people in power today are the same people who’ve been in power and they’re getting everything they want.

    Yes the U.S. will fail, every empire does sooner or later, it will likely break into several quasi independent republics, each will be a tyranny and they will likely be in a constant state of war with each other.

    The Powers That Be will still rule, the people will be less free, and most will be claiming some sort of victory over all those “other people”

  15. -s
    -s June 24, 2021 4:02 am

    A brilliant post! Your ability to see the near and not-so-near future remains impressive.

    This bout of optimism will most likely pass, buried under the relentless tsunami of decay, destruction, and dysfunction. But the reasons for optimism you identify will remain, and grow stronger. As the numbers of people choosing small succession grow, the ability to find them, meet them, and forge new friendships and alliances grows exponentially.

    While there will certainly be dark times before true renaissance, with optimism, hard work, and just a little bit of good luck the darkness may pass more quickly than any of us presently think possible.

  16. Jeff2
    Jeff2 June 24, 2021 5:53 am

    Awesome review, Claire, and I agree. I have been seeing the same things and feeling very good about it. The only thing that I don’tunderstand is why TPTB pushed it this far. I don’t think they are dumb or backward thinking. I think there is some “event” coming that they know they can’t stop. I think it will change the face of the world in ways we cannot imagine. I think it must be close, in timing, or they wouldn’t have pushed things to these ridiculous and untenable positions. I don’t know if it is terestrial, cosmological or something I can’t even imagine. But these people haven’t ruled the world for a thousand years, just go all-in on a terrible position.

    I continue reading, learning and watching.

    Thank you so much for all that you bring to our little world.


  17. Silent H
    Silent H June 24, 2021 6:10 am

    Brava, Claire! I’ve read that this is exactly how ancient Rome finally fell. The people lost faith in their institutions, no longer believed in them, and simply walked away. The parallels to our situation now are stunning.

    I myself, like many here, operate outside the creaky, confining systems as much as possible. Makes for a much freer and enjoyable life.

  18. Jolly
    Jolly June 24, 2021 7:04 am

    TLDR: The Left got impatient.


  19. Toirdhealbheach Beucail
    Toirdhealbheach Beucail June 24, 2021 3:49 pm

    The difficulty with most revolutions is that they actually have no idea where to end and, when they have consumed their perceived foes, they then begin to devour each other. The current spectacle of “Who is the more pure idealist about ?” is as hilarious as it is pathetic. In the end, they devour themselves, the Midgard Serpent always eating its tail.

    I cannot meaningfully speak about liberal commentators, but your read vis-a-vis many Convservative commentators is spot on. They are very much stuck in the mold of purging the party to a time where the previous incumbent did not exist, as if somehow the last previous Administration to their liking (now 12 years gone, mind you) was the highlight of their movement.

    But that belies the underlying problem, which you so aptly illustrate: they still believe in the system.

    And that is what is failing, the belief in the system. When science is science (except when it is not), when inflation is transitory (except when everyone can see it), when freedom is the highest good (except when it must be restricted except for those of the current Zeitgeist), when the experts and government can see none of these things – people have a right and indeed a duty to question the legitimacy of those who proclaim to be “experts” in the practice of all of the these things.

  20. John Wilder
    John Wilder June 24, 2021 9:33 pm

    Never give up. That’s just what the bastards want. Wait, am I quoting you to you?

  21. Comrade X
    Comrade X June 25, 2021 7:37 am

    But was that a quote from you to you to you?

  22. Glenfilthie
    Glenfilthie June 25, 2021 8:19 am

    I wish I could share your optimism, Claire. But – the idiocy and lunacy of the current age has been foretold for the last 20 years. Anyone with half-arsed critical reasoning skills should have seen this coming decades ago.

    You need to study the people doing this. Allow me to present my credentials: elderly liberal parents. A daughter that is a militant lesbian social justice warrior. My inlaws are mostly “public educators” that are flat out marxist shills. Suffice it to say, I know what these people are like and how they think.

    You are not going to reason with them. You will never make an argument where they hear you out, and politely change their mind. When things go wrong in their worlds, they will never sit back and say. “I wonder what I did to cause this, and how do I fix it?”. They will find somebody to blame – probably a white male minding his own business but magically responsible for endemic racism, homophobia, and global warming. They will act on all that too.

    I will get optimistic when we actually start shooting and jailing these people – hopefully before they do it to us.

  23. larryarnold
    larryarnold June 25, 2021 10:55 pm

    The Left got impatient.
    To some extent. But now they’re riding the tiger, and they don’t have a way to get off.

    Progressives believe they can know all the answers without understanding the questions.

  24. Rob
    Rob June 26, 2021 12:29 am

    The old soviet saying about there being no truth in Pravda is completely true of the media today.
    On the insanity of wokery and gender “issues” historians of the 23rd century will marvel at how, in the 21st century, not only was mental illness left untreated but actually encouraged by the media, government and even the medical profession! The will regard it as key moment in human history of collective delusional behaviour.

  25. Joel
    Joel June 26, 2021 8:24 am

    I will get optimistic when we actually start shooting and jailing these people – hopefully before they do it to us.

    How about just ignoring them? That’s something any individual can do; doesn’t take any collective action.

    The people in charge only matter as long as we agree that they’re relevant to our lives. Sometimes they can force us to obey for the moment – or to be sneaky in our disobedience – but they can’t force us to care what they think or believe their constant lies. How did the Soviet Union fall? No F-15s or nukes were involved.

  26. Comrade X
    Comrade X June 26, 2021 10:18 am

    One thing I do think has happened; TPTB have pissed off a lot of people and seem intent on increasing that number.

  27. larryarnold
    larryarnold June 26, 2021 6:39 pm

    The people in charge only matter as long as we agree that they’re relevant to our lives.

    True, and I expect for most of the commentariat, valid.

    But my daughter and son-in-law have two ten-year-olds, two full-time jobs, mortgages, car payments, etc. Not so easy to ignore TPTB there. They watch what their school boards are doing, and pay some attention to local politics.

    What they did do is vote with their feet, moving from Honolulu to a red area of Georgia, once because it became obvious Hawaii was no place to raise kids. A lot of people who live where I do are here for the same reason.

    I sort of wish the Census was this year, instead of counting where everybody lived April 1, 2020. One candidate for Jeff2’s “event” is that progressives are starting to feel lonely, noticing that their productive neighbors now live somewhere else.

    TPTB have pissed off a lot of people and seem intent on increasing that number.

    That’s a fairly long-term trend. There was the whole #walkaway movement trending before YouTube deleted it. Those people didn’t go away. But as Clair started this thread, now more people are seeing through the smoke and mirrors. The message is fraying as the contradictions multiply.

    Over on BabylonBee there was the meme:

    ‘You’ll Never Beat The Government With Just Guns,’ Says Party That Also Believes Government Was Almost Toppled By Unarmed Mob On January 6.

    Even more effective than ignoring them, is laughing at them. They have no humor defense, since we just as readily laugh at ourselves. A C&W band will get an ovation for “Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.”

  28. Dom Liberty
    Dom Liberty June 29, 2021 8:28 am

    Well stated as always, Claire. I, too have noticed individuals “checking out” of the enslavement to normalcy bias regarding the cultural and political “systems” currently disintegrating in the streets. (The stepping around poodle-poo may be the *greatest* analogy evah)

    I do worry about what comes next while experiencing the same optimism as you though…

  29. Old Printer
    Old Printer July 4, 2021 10:35 am

    From an old guy who’s had his differences with you, I applaud your optimism and agree wholeheartedly with it. Yes, people are fed up with the insanity and more importantly,are moving on in a positive direction, away from the failed political institutions that have been hamstringing their lives. Brava!

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