Low Trust America

People talk about America becoming a “low trust society,” but what does that mean, exactly?

The normal take is that in a low trust society, there are low interpersonal moral standards beyond the tribe. So is the future of low trust America a Balkan-like tribal warfare state, or is it something else?

I actually think what we will see is an appeal to paternalism to a much greater degree:

This is much, MUCH worse. In America (and other western countries), bloodlines don’t hold loyalty. The tribe is not the tribe; rather, it is an artificial construct of ideology, dogma, and political alignment that, combined with the breakdown of consistent rule of law, makes the society one in which you can trust virtually NOBODY.

The only people who you presumably can trust are those who think just like you do – at least if you are on the right, which may change as things escalate – and that is difficult to verify quickly. In the past, you could count on your family having your back because what impacted you negatively would also impact them negatively.

Has this changed?

In short, yes. The family safety net has been replaced by state mechanisms, and those state mechanisms are increasingly geared away from the local and toward the imperial.

Recent discussions I’ve seen of the idea have correlated collectivism with low trust and individualism with high trust, but this is either misleading or flat-out incorrect. Trusting others in your culture is a form of collectivism – just not economic collectivism. You recognize strangers as fellow members of your nation or tribe, and thus worthy of trust and respect. You assume they have a similar upbringing to you (in the past, it was so similar it counted as shared experience), along with similar values (in the past, they were the same), and similar views of morality (universal law).

In most economic collectivist societies, specifically, those who have large welfare states or modes of socialism operating in them, the normal interpersonal bonds that are relied on at the local level, that are necessary for your community to operate and prosper, are no longer cultivated. Of course, this means those same values are not then brought up to the next order of organization.

You have no bond with your neighbors, and so you have no bond with strangers, either. In a sense, the family or tribe is the state itself.


This year has seen a smattering of stories from the UK regarding people calling the police on their neighbors because they had family over for dinner. The Wu-Flu might have been the point of sale, but the nanny state is the store itself. Expect more things like this in the US.

Think about the past. Your neighbors were your friends and compatriots. You went to church together. You watched each others’ houses when someone had to travel. You fought side-by-side when war came to your country.

I’m sad to say, this world has passed away for most of us in the west. Perhaps it can be found again, but probably only via specific “intentional living” – forming communities of like-minded people from disparate places.

Until then, we all might need to adopt a different set of behavioral standards. All humor probably needs to be reserved for your inner circle. Politics should be kept covert unless you can both be certain of your true allegiance. Extended family that thinks differently from you should be kept at a distance. Facebook and other social media (if you choose to keep it) should be free of information that reveals your location, political affiliation, or any ownership of “dangerous materials” (by this I don’t just mean guns).

I’m aware that by posting under my real name, with my real face, I am taking risks that I advise others to consider carefully. I started my adventures online in a high-trust phase. I don’t want to abandon what I built just yet, but I am aware that eventually, I might no longer have the option to operate as myself.

And of course, you should prevent the state from adding your children to their tribe by homeschooling them, if that is at all possible.

Already I find myself asking to the void, “Who actually knows me? Is there anyone to whom I can safely reveal my inner self? Who can I trust?”

I am an independent author and musician. You can support my by buying my books and music and get some great entertainment, too. And thanks for reading.


  1. I agree that loyalty to family members is important. But do you think it is the most important thing? For example, are there any situations where you think that informing police about your family members (or neighbors) actions is a right thing to do? Where do you draw the line?

    • To me, this is a little like asking what to when you find yourself playing baseball naked.
      Yes, there are lines nobody should cross, but ratting out your family for political reasons is much different than say reporting your neighbor for molesting his daughter.

      • I agree that ratting out a family member for political issues is different than reporting your neighbor for molesting his daughter. Both actions, however, invite strangers into our homes. These strangers do not always act in our “best interests” (whatever that is), or within the confines of the law (whatever that is). And allowing Dependency and FISA courtrooms to remain secret places limits and/or eliminates our ability to hold these strangers accountable. For those of us that still have a functional memory, are paying attention, thinking for ourselves and still asking questions that matter, I have one: are we “free” if our accusers can act in secret?

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