This is the way the world… is

10% of the world’s countries experience violent regime change once a year on average. In middle income countries regimes last 12.5 years on average. 90% of the world’s countries could expect a political revolution, coup d’état or violent change in a human lifetime. Throughout history, that number has been even higher especially when you include the risk of foreign invasion.

Trump is not the Mongol hordes.

My great-grandparents fled the Nazis, my grandfather’s brother was sent to a Gulag, my parents grew up in the anti-Semitic Soviet Union. I’m incredibly lucky to have grown up in first-world democracies, but good things aren’t the default state of the world. Good people need to work hard for good things, and sometimes there are setbacks.

What struck me the most about today is how inevitable someone like Trump seems in retrospect. There was no jihadi terror attack this week, no freak blizzard in Detroit keeping democrat voters at home. And to be honest, the candidate was barely electable. And still, the people who wanted Trump got their wish. They were always the (electoral college) majority, now we just know that it so.

The world didn’t become worse today, we just found out that it was like this. If you were a naïve optimist like me and didn’t anticipate this seriously enough, you were wrong. I was wrong.

If you’re in shock that Trump won, I am writing this to help you confront the denial. Yesterday, I asked you to overcome your anger. If you want to bargain about the state of the world, I recommend doing so by donating to an effective charity and actually changing the world for the better.

It’s OK to be depressed for a while. I recommend gin and Civilization VI. For an extra challenge, try to win a cultural victory while maintaining open borders and free trade with all the other civs.

But, it would be nice if we could all get to the acceptance stage pronto, the world needs people who have their shit together. These aren’t the biggest stakes our generation will face in our lifetimes, and we should cast off naïve optimism if we are to do better in the future.

What is true is already so.
Owning up to it doesn’t make it worse.
Not being open about it doesn’t make it go away.
And because it’s true, it is what is there to be interacted with.
Anything untrue isn’t there to be lived.
People can stand what is true,
for they are already enduring it.

Eugene Gendlin

12 thoughts on “This is the way the world… is

    1. This is from the Weingast podcast. If you look at how long a political regime lasts on average, for the US it’s 240 years and counting, and that’s a huge outlier, #1 or #2 depending on how you count Britain. For 10% of the countries it’s 1 year, and for the next 50% (11th-60th percentile of countries by regime stability) it’s 12.5 years. So there’s nobody around the world who should confidently expect a stable political regime throughout their lifetime, let alone one that elects only leaders they approve of.


      1. Okay, sorry should have read the transcript before asking.

        But, now that I have, I understand that Mexico, Argentina and India are examples of countries in the middle-income group, and the group they belong to have an average length of regimes lasting 12.5 years. But, that sentence in your post was confusing to me because India has had a regime lasting 69 years now (same country, peaceful turnover of leadership, since 1947). Perhaps Mexico and Argentina are good examples, I don’t know?


  1. I was already concerned about the rising tide of ethnonationalism in the west. Now I’m additionally and separately concerned about the POTUS potentially being exactly what his supporters want him to be.


  2. I mostly just feel a cruel bitterness because I know that it’s very unlikely anything he can do will negatively affect me as a cishet white woman living in Massachusetts. (Legal weed yay) Doubt my job will be hurt don’t think he’ll be cutting the defense budget. Even my Estonian best friend is in college in Wales so who cares if we honor NATO

    So on the one hand I could take solace in that but only if I forget to care about anybody I don’t know personally. But then I don’t know any Trump voters personally either so I’d be sorta trading off one group’s happiness for another without knowing either.


    1. I feel exactly the same way. I am usually very unsympathetic to identity politics, but today when I see minorities walking down the street with a worried look I think “I feel really bad for you because you are really afraid”. It’s that emotional empathy thing again, hard to get rid of.


  3. Let me intoduce you to few Trump voters whim I know personally. It may not change the way you feel now but the way you think later.
    1. Successful american doctor who thinks that Obamacare destroys the healthcare system,
    2. Columbia professor who believes that Obama-produced extra layer of bureaucracy kills American high education system.
    3. Fellow of Livermore National Lab who believes that the federal government stifles the growth of energy industry which could be one engine of growth.
    Incidentally, 2 and 3 are outstanding scientists. All three are very much past caring how many more lies Trumo peddled relative to Clinton. They believe all politicans lie. What they know for sure is that with Clinton there is zero chance their main concern will addressed. With Trump, there is a slight chance. Needless to say, they don’t watch TV or read press.


    1. There’s no need.
      1. I am quite aware of the anti-Democrat arguments. I made many of them on this very blog.
      2. I have been speaking against the prevailing stereotypes leftists have of Trump voters for months.

      In fact, my natural optimism is already reasserting itself. Trump is reconciliatory! The markets are up! There are no serious riots! What I actually want to do here is to fight against my natural optimism. I want to confront the fact that my optimism gave me an emotionally distorted picture of the world. I was willing to bet on Trump at 1:4 this summer, but I never emotionally anticipated his election. And when there’s a bigger issue at stake, I can not afford to be naive or expect that “someone will take care of it”.

      In a few days I’ll be an optimist again. Right now, I want to suffer the emotional impact of being wrong and learn a personal lesson about how the world is. I will not internalize this lesson if I immediately start looking for silver linings to distract myself, even if the silver linings do in fact exist.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it might be good for some people re-read how to understand elections. This is important to keep in mind as is the distinction between “They were always the (electoral college) majority” and “it is a crime to think any differently then the caricature of a Trump supporter” (I may be using an absurd exaggeration here).

    Donald Trump has never held political office before. This is the first time in American history that the President won’t have held public office (or flag military officer if you’re not counting that) in any capacity before assuming office. A large number of things are possible. Some of them are scary and some of them aren’t. I could talk about some of the possibilities but, especially for those who didn’t think that Trump could be elected president, one should prepare oneself for the scary possibilities but don’t come to any conclusions or take any reversible actions until it is known what Trump will actually do as President and how he will do it. So many people have been certain about things this election (including professionals) including being sure they know who Trump really is that nobody should trust any judgement until Trump actually starts doing things as President. I won’t trust any predictions at this point.

    The people you know personally are still the same people today as they were yesterday. Physics still works the same today as it did yesterday. There have been race riots the last two years in the United States and there will continue to be race riots. There is an organization attempting to use science to figure out how to be the best people possible that has enthusiastic support. Anything that could be said negatively or positively about the United States yesterday are still the things that can be said negatively or positively today. The narrow victory of President Elect Trump should adjust one’s opinion on the state of the United States less then most people would adjust their opinion.

    I think I’m just rephrasing what Jacob said but I don’t want to assume that I am.


    1. That’s a good point. The election showed that the median voter dislikes a crazy anti-establishment candidate with unknown policies a tiny bit less than they dislike a 100% establishment candidate with Democrat policies. And we knew exactly that a week ago, it’s just that now we get to feel it.


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