THE SATURDAY ESSAY: WE ARE RIDING HANDICAPPED CARTHORSES WHEN WE SHOULD BE LOOKING FOR PEGASUS

pegasusWhen the horse’s eyes are blinkered and his mouth is gagged, observing what comes out of his backside is not the answer.

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….

30 thoughts on “THE SATURDAY ESSAY: WE ARE RIDING HANDICAPPED CARTHORSES WHEN WE SHOULD BE LOOKING FOR PEGASUS

  1. I agree. The essence of what you write is also true of say, 1850 when in 50 years time all will be different, the same for 1900, and 1950, the difference being that the changes that happened from 1850 onwards were technological advances, steam, internal combustion engine, mechanisation of all sorts, medicine, many many advances, which some would argue improved their lives, some would argue not so much, the difference this time I believe is completely different, for it is unlikely that any technological breakthrough is going to solve the issues that we face now. If all energy was free, all debt nullified and everybody had a job and a home it wouldn’t cut it. People are dissatisfied, slowly they are becoming aware that an iPad, iPhone, iMac and a BMW and a big house aren’t giving them the satisfaction that they think these possessions should, and those without all those possessions think that if they had them, they would be happy. There is a huge spiritual void, there is too much venom and hate and not enough loving kindness.
    What we are witnessing with the actions and beliefs of the Elites is not the cause so much a the symptoms, we as a species have lost our way, greed and fear rule, exactly the opposite should be true. As is said about Islam:
    100% will usher in the peace of ‘Dar-es-Salaam’ — the Islamic House of Peace. Here there’s supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrases are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word, such as in:
    Afghanistan — Muslim 100%
    Saudi Arabia — Muslim 100%
    Somalia — Muslim 100%
    Yemen — Muslim 100%

    Unfortunately, peace is never achieved, as in these 100% states the most radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust by killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons.
    As we all will irrespective of religion until we find our way.
    Those who strive for power are the very last people in the world who should have it. The proof of this statement?
    Washington USA.

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  2. The centre cannot hold, the worst are full of passionate intensity ?(we’ve been here before) How is your leap achievable if many/all of us are inherently “hardwired” as you postulate. Isn’t it just another romantic ideal ? I’m not knocking anything you’ve said above & re pure science. Equally Cern scientists are studying artefacts of their high energy impacts and naming them. Maybe peaceful fusion energy might have been a more useful area of research. I’m off to my allotment now.

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  3. Why i said some moons ago back up your writings,pass them to your grand children,never before has so much information been available but unless the truth behind that information of misinformation is countered by such has yourself,flat earth economics will rise again,but it doesn’t have to be that way!

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  4. The one thing I have come to realise no matter what words are uttered from the elite is they serve themselves first to reinforce their position and wether that is good or bad has no bearing on the descision they make. So the only thing certain in this world from that and for the likes of me and how they have constructed the system for their self preservation is you will not know if you are to be thrown off a cliff or elevated to the heavens as they choose even if you live every day the same.

    Now if they do elevate you up it will be because it is better for them, ditto if they cast you down, but your life will never be your own all the happiness or suffering will be what they decided for you.

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  5. What will/can real world economics, realpolitik and decent society be? How can it be achieved, in a non totalitarian fashion (preferably). I can’t imagine why alluding to clash of civilisations stuff ex Samuel p huntington et al is to any purpose either though.

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  6. Analogy is a useful tool to ‘get the head around’, big issues, by using a template or system that operates at a smaller level as a model for understanding.
    In the course of about 25 days a vat of sugary grape juice, and a few hundred yeast spores, turns it into a vat of alcoholic wine. During that process the few hundred yeast spores turn their population into many thousands, the sugar levels deplete, and the yeast devour the sugar turning it into carbon dioxide and alcohol. The alcohol is a pollutant to the yeast. Thus the thousands of new yeast, now finding less and less sugar to devour, and in an increasingly alcohol polluted environment have only one way to go.
    If you superimpose, fossil fuels,.. 250 years,.. human population levels,.. into the above scenario, you see that our already 7 billion people is already in Overshoot. It’s a crushing realisation, but we have to face the fact that we are sadly, probably little more than intelligent, and highly evolved yeast?
    The first belief to abandon is the belief that ‘someone’, is in control. There are many psychopaths that think they are, and many who would like to be, but the unnerving [and liberating?], truth is that No-one is in control. In this long cosmological game of cricket, Nature has an innings of billions of years,.. homo sapiens, a few thousand years if we’re lucky. Nature always bats last.?

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  7. Have you read ‘The Fourth Turning’, John? You should, it’s a good read. What it demonstrated to me was that history is a sort of helter skelter ride…

    The breakdown of the 4 generational archetypes and the movement round the saeculum (circle), through it’s 4 seasons (turnings) is fascinating to think about. This current turning (Crisis Season) has the same generations in the same positions as the last (1929 – 45). I think the one before that was a bit hokey ‘cos the authors are primarily speaking to a US audience and it’s important to them to see the all the outcomes of the Civil War as ‘a good thing’. Not withstanding, my point being, that the Prophet archetype generation is in the state of Elderhood; it’s zenith being two turnings previous:

    http://www.lifecourse.com/about/method/the-four-turnings.html#4T

    The Fourth Turning starts and ends with a bang. The authors think that was the 2008 Financial Crisis was the crack of the starters pistol but I think it was probably either the Dot.com crash or 911. Or possibly both. A ‘Grey Prophet’ character pops up as a catalyst for change during each Crisis Turning which is interesting to note… I was thinking it might be Ron Paul but to be honest I don’t have any faith in any politicians. I love smoking and, to be frank, I voted for UKip at the last election as they were the ONLY political party that don’t seem to hate us, immense contributors to the Government coffers that we are. FFS Rosa Parks at least got to stay inside the bus ;)

    Now, talking of horse races, the best won ever, apparently, occurred in the year I was born, ‘The Summer of Love’:

    Don’t you just love it when a rank outsider wins? For some reason it really cheers the heart.

    A wonderful Saturday essay again. Many thanks John.

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  8. Other titbits

    Cuba rejects plans for first mosque.

    The African nation of Angola has officially become the first country to ban Islam.

    Record number of Muslims deported from Norway at last as a way of fighting crime.

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  9. PMQs will be rather more interesting now that Corbyn is LP Leader. Unwavering House support for the neo-liberal permanent austerity programme won’t be the order of the day. Cameron already decided not to escalate UK involvement in Syria before his election.

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  10. Hopefully Corbyn will pick a team which show the incumbent government up for exactly what they are….. Lying incompetent bustards…… Agree with him or not…. He will probably turn out to be an opposition worthy of the title which is something the HoC has been lacking for far too long. I can hope anyway…..

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  11. The problem the conservatives have is he is unelectable but if they don’t improve the lives of millions of people he will be electable,so they carry on & make him electable or change & stop him be electable.

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  12. Your succinct conclusion, dear sir, is the most piercingly accurate description of the circus in which we live that I have ever read in my life. Truly, I thank you.

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  13. I’ve got a small farm. The soil is crap, the climate/weather is getting hotter/drier living on the edge of a desert. I will still probably starve.

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  14. Reminiscent of George Carlins “When you’re born, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get front row seats!”
    Great post.

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  15. anyway my thought for today on ‘the Elite’
    surely this term is a best a misnomer, maybe misleading or at worst giving someone a benefit they don’t deserve….
    in my book ‘elite’ means best, superior, cream of the crop etc.
    So to use the term for the richest 1% of society / the world whatever suggests that these people are somehow better than the rest of us…..which I wouldn’t accept necessarily.
    OK so they happened to win the competition of who could grab the most by whatever means……some are there because they had won the previous competition. Anyway I would want to take away any ones credit for having won anything – Well Done and all that. Of course all in the context of the fact that not everyone entered the competition or was even qualified to enter….
    So are they really ‘The Elite’ ?
    OK having all that money no doubt brings a lot of benefits, material goods, lifestyle, security etc that most other don’t / cant enjoy……but having half of their wealth would also bring the same benefits, so that’s nothing really to do with it….
    Also wealth enables influence….but how many of them actually participate for good or bad? I don’t know but I suspect not many, and not enough for good. And I don’t accept that there is much influence by the so called Elite amongst the psychopathic middle management that pass for politicians these days…..
    I suppose the other aspect of the definition is that it is something we are all supposed to be aspiring to? Well….maybe once upon a time there was a time an incentive existed, but any target that appears unachievable takes on the reverse of that incentive. I’m sure someone ‘bagged’ that particular ‘paradox’ but I dont know who. Anyway as the 1% sail off into the sunset potential aspirant club members look at alternative ways of joining….
    So all in all 1% ok but Elite no..

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  16. Unfortunately for the Socialist most people consider themselves middle class or better, or at least aspire to be. These people quickly see that under true socialism, especialy green socialism, all but a few by necessity must be poor. A bucolic, pastoral life is not bucolic if you are the one forced to live it. There is a 50-acre field in front of my house. I am eagerly awaiting the day when it is teaming with workers as it did 100 years ago. I love to watch the activity but with those huge tractors in a few hours the work is done and they leave. With mules and hoes they will be there for days.

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  17. The assumption of a universally minimum rational mind of Homo sapiens is erroneous, generating false expectations and frustration. A universal rationality of humans represents for Enlightment what Salvation did for Christianity. A promise to escape your inexistence nightmare.

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  18. Re: “Neoliberal wealth inequity makes it impossible for any western economy to display real mass consumption recovery.”
    Let’s accept that this is fact. Then one must wonder why the intentional deletion of a consumption recovery in the grand scheme.

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  19. I don’t know of anyone here who is advocating for “true socialism” where “all but a few by necessity must be poor.”
    Most people now have seen the ugly result of crony capitalism and its privatized gains with socialized losses. People just want a level playing field and a fair chance, both of which are now gone. Maybe this type of capitalism will lose its luster and become a word dirtier than liberal or socialist.

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  20. All assets now conferring liquidity in the Monetary System, are undoubtedly stacked up behind the door of the Property Market.
    If that were to fail once more then, that’s curtains folks.

    Should liquidity have been directed to the consumers as has been a norm in the past then in theory the otherwise extreme Inflationary consequences on Main Street brought on by the sheer magnitude of the problem would have undermined any hopes of perpetuating Confidence and flagging belief in the Property Markets. That’s the only place where the Banks dare stack their wads in the hope of ushering recovery. The scam is running the wire.

    This is bound to fail once more as the peons go broke again.

    Other than Romania which seems to be at 90+% it is the developed European Nations that are holding the highest amounts of Debt in their property markets. Spain for instance is at 86.6% of all residential properties being mortgaged.

    If you retain poverty within the majority then the illusion of Austerity working is complete…..

    Another rabbit is pulled out of the hat.

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