The Slog argues that our élites lack vision and freedom of movement. With Beecher’s Brook approaching, riding a skitty flat-race nag will only get us dumped in the muddy waters.
I’m obliged to Irish Slogger Christo for sending me a fascinating piece by James Quinn on cyclical-history theory in relation to post Crash 1 and towards Crash 2. To be clear from the outset, (1) I do think history has always been a series of Venn Circles in which backlash, deviation and regrouping drive the future – not straight lines: if nothing else, it explains why most futurologists are wrong most of the time. However (2) there’s lots about Quinn I find pseudo-scientific and over the top.
That said, some of his summaries of where we are – and how blind the media pack are to this – I think to be masterly. He writes, for example, that Crash 1…
‘….triggered a chain reaction of unyielding responses by those in power, including: handing $700 billion of taxpayer funds to the Wall Street bankers whose reckless pervasive greed and fraudulent derivative products caused the worldwide conflagration, 0% interest rates for the last seven years, a quadrupling of the Federal Reserve balance sheet to $4 trillion through QE to infinity, government stimulus spending which increased the national debt from $10 trillion to $18 trillion in seven years, ongoing $600 trillion annual deficits, using fraudulent accounting to disguise the insolvency of the Too Big To Fail Wall Street banks, and a conscious choice by corrupt politicians and captured government regulators to not prosecute one criminal banker….’
Those are all established facts to me, and Quinn puts other interpreters to shame with his precise empiricism. He continues:
‘None of these initial responses have solved any of our pervasive problems or averted further emergencies. Not only haven’t these responses resolved the intractable economic conundrums facing the world, they have exacerbated the next round of monetary disasters rapidly approaching….It is highly unlikely we will have a resolution to this Crisis period for at least another ten years, so if you think the worst is over you are badly mistaken…There will always be ebbs, flows and lulls within a 20 year long crisis….’
I buy into the first half of this prediction: and although I doubt if anyone “knows” how it will pan out (or over what time period) the point being made is nevertheless central to the mistake being made by 90+% of observers in the mainstream media. Hacks and analysts by and large see the current era as a blip in general and continuing normality. As The Slog has insisted since its inception, they are wrong. I see us as no more than a third of the way through the struggle from one period of history to another quite different one – of which, more later.
As I wrote in the throat-clearing initial paragraph, history is neither Marxist dialectic nor straight line, but rather a series of Venn circles. Quinn puts that into a contemporary context as follows:
‘The thought leaders in academia, politics, business, and mass media perpetuate the myth of never ending linear progress created by technological advances and the ever increasing intellectual evolution of mankind. The hubris of these people is incomprehensible when viewing history….The ignorance of linear thinking advocates regarding the cyclical nature of history is either due to their “progressive” public educational brainwashing or their intellectual inability to grasp the obvious.’
I think this too is spot-on – and while sometimes there are élite lackeys being obtuse on purpose, as often the problem is the effect of robotic, comfort-blanket thinking. He concludes:
‘Mankind and civilization do not advance in a straight line. Progression and regression alternate in a cyclical fashion. As generations die out, memories of the previous cycle are forgotten, and the mistakes are repeated again. Human nature does not change. Good, evil, greed, fear, bravery, honesty, arrogance, sacrifice, and truth intermingle to drive humans through the cycles of history.’
Now this really does make scientific sense, because one thing macro-sociology driven futurology never takes into account is the inevitability of the death of every huuman on the planet. Books, newsreels, DVDs and Clouds recording history does not mean new generations will either grasp their meaning – or indeed, even refer to it in the first place. There will still remain the lack of a living, opinion-leading relation or respect-figure to tell young people where and why things went wrong.
Even then, many sons and nieces will think the ageing Oracle a daft old fart. Yet this is how – neuroscience suggests – our species is programmed to learn. A great deal of our legal system is based on bearing personal first-hand witness: many technological records are either inadmissable or distrusted by Judges. Some of this, I’m convinced, is wired instinct. The horse’s mouth remains the most respected source of information. I often wish more digital hacks could grasp that.
Now let me unfold another context – modern political history – and suggest why the current cultural divides, ideologies and processes are totally inadequate for managing era-leap….for want of a more accepted term.
In the US, two major Parties go head-to-head. One argues that harsh stick and money carrot is the only way; the other that the dispossessed are willing to learn – and for them you have to push with the stick while suggesting the carrot can yield all kinds of fulfilling things. The first seeks to protect property, the second to change people. They are both owned by monied, ideological influence.
In the UK, two major Parties go head-to-head. One argues that there is no such thing as society, while tipping the odd hat to humanitarian issues – the other that the only thing that matters is society, while tipping the odd hat to commerce. The first seeks to protect property, the second to change people. The first seeks to protect property, the second to change people. They are both owned by minority group influence.
In the EU, two major traditions go head to head. One argues that top-down social democratic federalism is the only way to manage 27 disparate cultures, while quietly adopting autocratic corporatism – the other that radical nationalism or communism are the only ways to stop the development of a fascist superstate – while quietly planning unspoken agendas. The first seeks to preserve a doomed project, the second to deny their previous failures. Both seek to change people. Both kept afloat by minority activist enthusiasm. Both are captives of the globalist multinationals and megabanks.
If one looks at the three spectra on display above, we come back inevitably to a couple of longtime Slog hobby-horses: there is a Left-Right political dimension that has remained largely unchanged for the last 150 years; and the conservation of ideological catechism is paramount. Despite the obvious flaws in both neoliberalism and collectivism, these must be denied at all costs. Despite the mountainous evidence that cultural models based either individualist greed or gradual species evolution are utter tosh when it comes to running a society and delivering widespread civilisation, new ideas must not under any circumstances be allowed to penetrate the ideology inside the hermetically sealed bubble of belief.
The third and perhaps most crucial commonality, however, is that they are all the prisoners of extra-legislative power. Thus not only do they suffer from self-inflicted tramline thinking, their tactical responses to crisis are hugely restricted by the nature of their bondage.
They do not work for the citizen, and the Alpha/Beta citizens on the whole grasp this. Faced with the passage of Time and their increasing irrelevance to the citizens, the groupings try to spin ‘repositionings’. New Labour, caring Conservatism, one-Nation Labour and so forth. None of them ‘work’, and as their policy gyrations become more and more removed from reality, the signs of change affecting real people become more pressing: the Tea Party, The Scottish National Party, Bernie Saunders and Jeremy Corbyn. Other ‘new’ groupings as emerge are merely quantitative extremes of what exists – further to the Left or Right: UKip, Golden Dawn, Syriza, Podemos etc..
What the two ends of the linear belief spectrum do during this tertiary stage of dysfunction is use the mass and increasingly segmented media channels (many of which the High Priests own personally) to ensure that the belief in their reality becomes The Truth. For those of us schooled in watching it closely, this Truth and Anti-Truth battle becomes at times preposterous in its contentions. At other moments, it hoodwinks even seasoned journalists to a terrifying degree. But for most of the electorate, it creates even more confusion, deeper fears…and thus a desperate desire to follow and be with the herd. Mob beliefs then start to emerge…and are in turn manipulated by agendered élites.
Look back over the last decade, and you will see that it is knee-deep in assertive nonsense on either side of myriad debates: climate change, sovereign debt, fracking, real employment levels by hours and pay rates, child sexual abuse, disposable income, austerity economics, trickle down wealth, bank liquidity, rape, peace flotillas, Hamas missile policies, Palestinian population centres, Ukrainian meltdown, Hungarian politics, Labour’s internal elections, media freedoms….every day a bewildering cacophony of new conspiracies, old arguments, continuing smears and long discredited shibboleths.
In 2015, we can no longer with any conviction at all refer to ‘news’. It is – almost all of this banal 24/7 skin-deep scratching at old scores and new sores – littered with red herrings, dead ends, live coverage and hidden agendas. It is, to summarise, a grab-bag of half-truths demanding total belief. The latest example of it – the ‘Syrian’ migrant refugee ‘crisis’ – has become a circus of blatant fakery and half-baked obfuscation from Germans, Islamists, liberals, Turks, tabloids, bureaucrats, fascists, bigots, leftists, euronutters and umpteen officers in as many State security agencies.
Balanced analysis designed to extract the core of Truth in every development becomes infrequent, and then a threatened species of thought. On-message tribalist interpretation – however absurd – becomes the imperative.
To repeat: the system – its bankrollers, construction, self-preservation instincts and dead-end denialism – are about as unfit for the purpose of surviving a leap as one could possibly imagine. And movements to change it are too easily persuaded to operate within the existing rules: they come to little or nothing in the face of desperate illegality on the part of the ruling élite: QE, Zirp, resistance to banking reform, unconstitutional central banker actions, fixed price levels, media smears, market directionalising, bent data, and so on.
Rapidly and concurrently, élite minority group pressure on the State results in predictable moves: politicisation and militarisation of the police, dubious legal verdicts whenever the privileged are accused, dropped charges and lenient plea-deals before anything gets to Court, extensions of the definition of extremism, and attacks on bastions of media impartiality…..until the mass of the population becomes convinced that resistance is pointless: the power of the controllers, it seems, is infinite and unassailable.
But in truth, the impression is entirely false: that such is the case only becomes apparent when the consequences of top-down policies (Left or Right) eventually become so obviously insoluble, no amount of attempted reality-bending can hide the external symptoms.
Here’s a simple list: Britain is intolerably overpopulated and sucked into the magnet of Mayor Borisconi’s City State, London. Mechanisation and offshore production have ensured that Britain cannot, in its current form, ever again even approach real full employment. Neoliberal wealth inequity makes it impossible for any western economy to display real mass consumption recovery. Bank risk leverages are a Tsunami that will drown any version of Basle liquidity rules. Paper tracking to real commodity valuations are obscenely out of whack. There is no correlation whatsoever between bourse index levels and economic health. Interbank derivative bets are not netted to any realistically known degree. The changing nature of Syrian applications to settle in Europe is undeniable. Nobody can walk across Hungary in 36 hours. The Italians did lie about their economic performance in March 2014. US Payroll data makes ludicrous assumptions about the real level of long-term American unemployment.
I offer those as clear-cut examples of where any truly unbiased observer will reach the conclusions laid out.
But humans are almost always in denial about major realities. Every last one of us spends 97% of each day doing and saying and planning stuff in a manner that denies the inevitability of our deaths. We are bits of chemical apparatus, we are not evolving, and we do unpredictable things.
And that brings me to the final and most important reason why clinging to dubious belief will always result in the believers being ‘surprised’. Because Homo sapiens has a body-part from which change emanates unpredictably. No futurologist is ever going to guess the timing or nature of the next Eureka moment to come out of a human brain.
My sense is that this time – that is, during the current metamorphosis from one era to another – the sheer enormity of the leap will change more than ideas about forms of human activity. For half a century now, we have been mulling the consequences of several discoveries in unusually rapid succession: DNA, neuroscience, neuroanatomy, cellular manipulation, sub-atomic physics, EinsteinianTime and Space – and ultimately, how to evolve the species beyond anything that isolation or climate change might produce.
Fifty years from now, we are going to have completely different ideas about what constitutes life, death, infinity, Now, physicality, travel, death, impossibility – indeed, reality itself. Yet the UK government uses 50 year models about how an HS2 railway system based on Victorian engineering will pay back and stimulate gdp growth.
Fifty years from now, medicine will very probably work by genetically evading disease, not curing it. Yet in Whitehall and across the NHS Trusts, bed capacity projections use 50 year models.
In the run-up to the UK’s Stay/Leave the EU Referendum, Stayers are already postulating how British-led reform of the Union could transform it over a 50 year period. The likelihood of there being a recognisable EU a decade from now is – for the open-minded free-thinker judging flaws and forthcoming crises – remote.
This is the way it pans out:
The money status quo controls the politicians
The politicians obey the no-change continuum expounded by status quo money
The bureaucrats pander to the planning vision of the continuum mentality
The police, judicial system and mainstream media reinforce the ‘validity’ of that outlook
Activist event spin hides the truth and frightens a confused populace
In search of security, the populace follows the tribal truth
The tribe becomes a mob, and is manipulated by media distraction
The political mouthpieces label all who disagree with the mob extremists
When the dawn of recovery turns out to be a leap in the dark, chaos ensues.
Every horse available to back in this race over the cliff is a loser, for none of them have wings. We must relearn the art of thinking for ourselves.
Time to think outside the horse box….