The Potemkin economy


You are living in an illusion. It was crafted by your fellow citizens for their benefit at the expense of yours. You can safely ignore it, except that then all you do will be wasted, and you will continue living in Hell.

Yes: I said Hell. You are living in a thinly-disguised, well-compensated hell. It is crafted so that only the sane can detect it, and since the sane have always been a minority, that means that it is never noticed. The point is simple: to eradicate the sane using the mechanism of Darwinism. Reward the insane, and this occurs, regular like clockwork.

This is why our society is based around democracy, equality and tolerance. Most of our people want to hide the fact of our decline, and profit from the wealth of the past, while driving away anyone who might notice what a farce it all is. To hide our decline, they have created false versions of everything, and a Potemkin economy to conceal its lack of value.

A Potemkin economy — named after the quaint and cute “Potemkin villages” used to convince people that Russian proles lived well instead of the third-world scatty poverty that was normal — is one in which every price tag is fake but everyone supports these fake prices to avoid the personal economic consequences of letting the cat out of the bag and pointing out that everything is near-worthless.

Take a look at these twelve ways your economy is fake and how that indicates that your society is cratering.

1. It’s all the same.

I was in a bookstore the other day, surrounded by grazing sheep looking for Christmas gifts. I started opening up biographies, novels, and science books, and found one comment denominator: they’re all the same. The writing could have been produced by a machine; the approach is similar too. Each one has a “secret” which it promises to reveal, but spends most of its time hiding the obvious so the secret seems important. All of the writing uses lots of vivid language to reveal simple things, and simplifies complex things to the point of offering no information. All of the characters are the same gray personality-less equal person who spends all of his/her time in introspection as a means of glorifying the self at the expense of the world. Every book ran at least a hundred pages longer than content provided, which means that after the first five chapters, it’s the same song and dance to distract from its emptiness before turning up the volume for a conclusion. Just like blogs, which standardized writing into an NPR-inspired format of heavily emotional, breathy and adjective-heavy quirkiness which ends up being the opposite of distinctive, writing now is as regimented as end of year reports from corporations or threat assessments in the military. This creates writing that is both random and repetitive. At first, it seems interesting, until you realize that it’s just technique and the content is very, very thin. What’s the value in this? People take a few generations to catch up with reality, so they’re still buying novels that “look interesting” (and reading four chapters before leaving them on the bus), giving gift books of “fascinating” science that turns out to be the obvious plus broad conclusions which will be disproven thoroughly in five years, and surrounding themselves with genre-books (from genres invented in the 1980s) to display an identity and life-purpose to others that is just as fake as the Potemkin economy itself.

2. It’s controlled just like Pravda.

Back in the Soviet Union, the official newspaper Pravda could be counted on to spin partial truths into statements that seemed to support the narrative that Communism was taking over the world. You read Pravda to find out what wasn’t true and what the government wanted you to believe so you knew the right answers to tell other people so they wouldn’t inform on you and send you to the gulag. The Soviet Union operated by a negative standard, while the modern West operates on a positive standard. You listen to controlled media so you have the right opinions and get promoted by people who like those opinions, otherwise you remain at “merely equal,” which because it is not subsidized by a Communist/Socialist state, means boring entry level jobs until you’re 65 and then a heart attack from frustration a decade later. Our media here are staffed by people who made it through liberal arts courses in university, in which success came from finding new ways to parrot the same old ideas based in egalitarianism and its associated “theory,” and they keep doing that in media. They then become popular because there is a large enough audience that wants to feel smart for having absorbed liberal theory at public schools and private universities alike, and they recognize only that which parrots this chatter back to them. For this reason, our “diverse” media represents a single opinion in many forms, and successfully spams your brain as it would take decades to entangle all of the deceptions. Its favorite trick, like that of Pravda, is to take a partial truth and spin it into a broad conclusion. A famous comedian said, “Reality has a liberal bias,” but what he means is that a controlled media and science publishing establishment can find facts to support the liberal narrative and present those as the whole truth when they are far from it.

3. Its value has fallen 40% during the 0bama years.

Barack 0bama is not a Muslim, the antichrist or a Communist. What he is, if analyzed correctly, is a standard 1968 liberal: the name of the game is wealth transfer from the useful people to the proles so that liberals remain in power forever. As the old joke goes, the difference between a Socialist, Communist and moderate liberal is the spelling. These ideologies differ only by degree, which is a function of time because once liberalism takes control it inevitably and necessarily continues a drift leftward until total anarchy or true Communism is achieved, either of which reduces a population to a third-world vassal state under the thumb of cynical tyrants. The consequence of wealth transfer are striking: it places economic decisions in the hands of those least competent to make those decisions well. As a result, your economy is suddenly geared around end-stage consumer products, not stuff like what the successful people buy, which tends to generate more income: land, homes, businesses, stocks, etc. Each dollar we take from the upper half of the middle class and above goes into lottery tickets, cell phones, cheap liquor and entertainment, and that money goes nowhere else. The result is that your money purchases less, and the quality has declined. American construction is at an all-time mediocre low, our food has never been more adulterated, and even our entertainment products are going full dunce. None of this crap is actually worth much but that’s the point; in order to keep you from seeing that your currency is now worthless, you must see a steady stream of stuff in formats you recognize so you think everything is normal. The media will not report on this. Just as we look back to 1980s dollars fondly, now 2006 money seems like it would be a really nice thing to have now. Forget it; your dollars are based on your drunken debt in order to fund liberal social programs like welfare, subsidies, benefits, food stamps and diversity programs. All of these are merely disguised wealth transfer.

4. Your technology is not advancing.

Tell us again about the great advances in technology. Your computing is based on a 1990s networking format using 1970s operating systems. Our self-driving cars are built around the same ideas that enabled cruise missiles in the early 1980s. Those handy digital assistants are basically Eliza programs maintained by hordes of workers pre-programming them with answers. None of this represents an actual leap in technology; if anything, it is a declaration that none are coming, so we have to reshuffle the deck to give ourselves new products. What actually does an iPad do? How does it add income? Similarly, what about Facebook and Amazon — how are they different from internet forums and Wal-mart? These non-innovations are designed to hide the lack of invention. Even Google is hovering near the abyss, since after a nice ten-year run of good advertising revenues, it is now finding that the internet is covered in ads that people ignore. Apple had a few big sellers, but those are now gone. What next? The phones get bigger screens and the iPads get better wi-fi. Fantastic.

5. The value of your society is based on its reputation, which is fading.

Once upon a time, people bought American products because they were the best. Then they bought American media, because it was seen as the best. Finally, they followed what Americans were doing, because Americans seemed cutting edge. Guess what — those trivial advances have now been equaled. The rest of the world has its own Hollywoods, search engines, social media and trends. The value of the USA and Europe is based on an old standard which is now obsolete. Add to that the obvious failings of American social policy, which has gone full Socialist and thus sabotaged its value to match the European subsidy states, and the plummeting value of the American brand as a wimpy president and crazy voters pursue illusory foreign policy, and you see why America and Europe are no longer the world’s leaders. Sure, the West — America, the antipodeans and Europe — can support each other and keep the farce going, but that only has so long on it. The Baby Boomers just want to enjoy another decade of retirement before the cancers from industrial pollution kill them off, and after that, who cares.

6. Your leaders are bad because your people are bad.

Most people are cool with the idea that they choose their leaders. They are less accepting of the complementary proposition, which is that they are responsible for who they choose. The last two generations have increasingly picked candidates with illogical platforms, no experience and little competence merely because those leaders have promised free things. Free college and free medical care are two of the more compelling policies for voters in this group. The problem, in addition to the fact that these are wealth transfer (see above), is that the money to pay for these things comes from a dwindling group. Most people now work relatively entry-level jobs and to them, a few thousand gone in taxes in exchange for tens of thousands of freebies sounds like a good idea. But then who pays? And what is sacrificed to pay for it? Our rotting infrastructure tells the story: we stopped building quality roads, bridges, subways, electrical lines and public buildings, and instead, have shifted that money into payments to people at the bottom of the social hierarchy. When we kept the money at the top, it went to things we can all enjoy and benefit from; now that we distribute the money at the bottom, it vanishes into a black hole of seedy businesses and entertainment products, and the things we share are neglected.

7. Your people are bad because your economy sustains idiots.

Every society dies by thriving. This enables it to support people who could not exist without it, generally because they are foolish — or in other words, have unrealistic judgment ability — and require jobs, stores and education to guide them because otherwise their witless minds would ramble on like a gossip column. Strong people want to exile the useless idiots; weak people want to “make peace” with the idiots by giving them benefits, subsidies and jobs. The result is that voting, which was always a bad situation because every human group approximates a mean not a peak, becomes worse as you have many millions of helpless people dependent on government and the liberalism that sustains it. These parasites bleed the society dry. They also lower social standards wherever they go because any standard higher than mediocre is personally offensive to them. This means that soon you have an angry mob of fools who become “useful idiots” for any totalitarian, left-leaning or otherwise control-oriented power.

8. Tolerance is our sacred value in order to prevent “noticing.”

“Noticing” is what happens when someone looks at society with clear, realistic eyes. They see a population that is miserable, with the worst being the most intelligent and productive. They see cities which are covered in advertising, awkward to use and designed around avoiding the rioting lower classes. They see a total lack of unity in anything, including national identity. They observe the incompetence of our leaders, products and public institutions. They intuit that this society is a form of hell, and that unless it deviates course radically, it is heading toward becoming Brazil — a vast third-world horde enslaved by a few cynical wealthy people and their private armies. They also realize that “tolerance” means accepting the mediocre as fact and as a result, our voters have comfortably opted for oblivion and policy after policy that is delusional and self-destructive. They notice the man behind the curtain and that the Potemkin village hides a far uglier reality. They also see how those who feel they have succeeded in this society fight kicking and screaming against noticing because those people are addicted on a brain chemical level to the artificial sense of self-esteem provided by “success.” This is why of all of our taboos, “tolerance” is the strongest. Tolerance means the lower is raised to be equal to the higher, so no one can say anything definitively because someone somewhere disagrees. This keeps decisions mired in obscurity — doubtless at the same time organizations publish lengthy lists of “facts” in the name of “transparency” — so that nothing will ever change our course, even if the smartest among us recognize that it is time-wasting, soul-wasting, depression-inducing suicide.

9. The world operates on Darwinian principles plus pretense.

Almost no one will face this: your tribal identity is formed by any set of traits you share with others. This includes (in overlapping conditions frequently) race, religion, ethnic group, class or caste, sexual preference and intelligence. Every other group looks at your group; if you are above them in any way, their goal is to tear you down and subjugate you, taking your women and impregnating them. This is one half of Darwinism. The first part is that the best rise above the rest, and the second part is that if the best degenerate, or lose their ability or will to rise above, the rest assimilates them. This is why over time eagles become sparrows and grey squirrels drive out red squirrels. We do not like to think about being subject to Darwinism, as humans, because that thought belongs to a category alongside death, defecation and our insignificance in the universe of thoughts that not only disturb us personally but create threatening instability in social groups when mentioned. So we file them away, along with the instructions for our 1040 forms and grandma’s recipe for hemorrhoid cream, hoping that they just Go Away like the bad thoughts which plague us late at night when we cannot sleep.

10. The agenda never changes: other groups hate you.

As a corollary to point #9, the grim truth is that no matter how much pleasant talk about altruism and equality goes on, other groups still hate you and want to conquer you, much like other people want to advance themselves above you whether rightfully so (by competence) or not. Life is war, even in the air-conditioned tea-sipping suburbs. Other groups want to conquer you because until they have control, they are unstable, and if someone is above them, they run the risk of being subjugated by that group. These are not conscious thoughts. They are pure instinct, and they cannot be changed. Any human group that thinks it has ended this in others by giving them equality, welfare or affirmative action has missed the point: parity is a fiction of those on top, and everyone else knows it is a lie, and is using it against you.

11. The crowd is always wrong, just like most people mildly insane.

You do not know it, but you are a slave. You are not enslaved by a central authority, but by the Crowd. Their opinions determine what you can say; their product-buying choices determine what’s on the market; their government preferences create a “window” of acceptable ideas and anything else is excluded. This is tyranny by the Crowd, and it is how our society keeps order, because the Crowd can be counted on to cheer for free things and boo at anything which requires individual responsibility, obligation to reality or admitting that the self is not the end-all-be-all of judgment, wisdom and direction. A quick look around you will tell you that most people do not have their act together. They can make it through school and to a job, but that’s about it. Their homes are often disasters, their families neurotic nightmares, and their personal choices — from sexual partner to products they buy to their opinions — utter wastelands. It has always been this way, but in the past we used social standards to encourage people to perform above mentally lazy and morally sloppy behavior. No longer; they are liberated now! But their liberation is enslavement of anyone above them in ability. The group does not understand any decisions above its own level and rejects them as nonsense, which means that thought which requires an IQ of above about 110 is entirely incomprehensible to them — and they hate it for making them feel that. In our society, only those who can be victims or show victimhood are fortunate, because in an egalitarian society, only those who need more equality gifted to them will thrive, and only victims can demand that. “Education” cannot help them; they will merely misinterpret what finer minds would understand. Rules do not shape them, because to them every rule is a mystery unless it tells them what they want to hear. Why are products bad? Because it’s easier to sell morons junk than make something actually good. Why is government bad? Because the votes have it, which means the small proportion of smart people — the 13% on the far right of the Bell Curve — are vastly outnumbered. When it comes to the decisions that regulate our future, one in a hundred people can make a sensible choice, and the rest will not understand or fall prey to personal failings. That is the source of your slavery.

12. Your media is fifty years behind.

While the media reports on current events, it does so through a filter based on what has succeeded in the past. Because large groups of people take several generations to get accustomed to any new idea, the media bangs on tropes from fifty years ago. The constant reporting on diversity, class and “gender issues” is part of this, but even political articles fit this narrative from older times. Movies recount events from twenty years ago as if they occurred twice that long in the past, and present this as shocking and revolutionary, but the point is that the audience shapes the message. People do not know what is new; they only know what they recognize as having been cutting-edge when they were children. As a result, the tropes linger far behind the reality, which enables media to keep pushing a simplistic agenda for their own profit.

and so, what does this tell us for the brand new year?

The crazies run the funhouse. Our economy reflects our society: fake, oversold and based in (crazy) illusion. The opposition is divided not because it notices what is wrong, but because it cannot agree on a plan because its members are too busy with self expression to look at realistic solutions. We have 6,000 years of human history and the solutions are obvious but the illusion is more popular. This suggests a first course of action: find unity of purpose, and seize power. The methods do not matter because failure to do this ensures self-destruction. We either evolve and adapt, and take over from the human insanity, or we fail and pass into the graveyard of history.

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17 Responses to “The Potemkin economy”

  1. -A says:

    The Whig deceit that all of history is just a long series of oppression might not be such a deceit after all. Perhaps oppression is just what they call functioning government. Would one rather be oppressed by the veritable Elite or the faux elite?

    One good thing is that even though no new technological innovation occurs, old technology does get refined. To show how desperate “scientists” of today are, however, the electric rocket that is being worked on is just a reverse engineered rocket from the sixties. This is what I think I am talking about (not sure) and there is likely more illumination in the external links. I just don’t remember where I originally read about it.

    • Government mirrors its people. Most people are dysfunctional; their voting is yet another dysfunctional decision. “Oppression” arises when people cannot find a sane government because it offends them, and so they choose demagogues instead.

  2. hattip says:

    And you are so much saner than the rest of us right.

    That wealth of the past was built upon Democracy, pal. Again, you misrepresent tha past and the nation. Our current problem is not due to democracy, but rather the lack of it. The problem is a self appointed elite that is morally, intellectually and even genetically detached from the rest of the country, and Globalism. Ou elites ae not saner, they are in fact morally depraved.

    Both you critique and your “solution” are juvenile. You really need to get a hold of that ego of yours–it is running away with you. It is you that is verging towards insanity. It is not “realism” that moves you but some sprt of menopausal despair. Get over yourself and come back to Earth.

    • The problem is a self appointed elite that is morally, intellectually and even genetically detached from the rest of the country, and Globalism

      Thanks for a list of symptoms, but you deny the fact that these people were elected and continue to be elected. We will get nowhere by being cowardly and not accepting responsibility for our bad choices as a group, which democracy will perpetuate.

    • -A says:

      Just because democracy did not immediately lead to decay does not mean that it was not the vector of our modern decay. As is said often on this site, because it is true, it can take centuries to see the bad consequences of a policy. Furthermore, as democratic as our system was, it was hardly the heart of the voters. There was a culture to America. There was a unified goal. The advancements of America were in spite of democracy, not because of it. The culture was the remnant of a Monarchical one, the advancements were from great minds but also off of the shoulders of geniuses supported by Kings. As time went on and life got better, the majority did not see why they should not dilute their demographics because they believed in the illusions of democracy before the wisdom of Monarchy. They voted in a faux elite and that faux elite has gotten more degenerate as time went on because the people degenerated and were still allowed a vote. More democracy means more degenerate votes. Big government by mob versus big government by political class.

  3. oznoto says:

    And what about point number 7?

  4. J Clivas says:

    All of the above are reasons for liking Trump

  5. fodderwing says:

    Better times await better people.

    I don’t agree that most people are insane, as I find an intelligence at work in almost everyone I meet in the U.S. They know who butters their bread, whether they like it or not.

    People are not insane, they are captive.

  6. Gentile Ben says:

    I like Amerika (this blog) but methinks Mr. Stevens doth protest too much occasionally. The Nietzschean inspiration (one of them, at least): Not WHAT is said but WHO is saying it? It’s glaring. I of course don’t blame you for being mad, but if you don’t turn down the flame Amerika risks becoming ressentiment city, but without pushing toward the ultimate cosmic conclusions of, say, Ligotti.

  7. Lance de Boyle says:

    Reading that so late at night was a bad idea. However, it culminates a decade of asking myself, “Something’s happening, but you don’t know what it is. Do you?” Well, now I (think I) know.

    There’s no way out but I suppose there is a way up. Last few chunks of Ecclesiastes, plus a garage full of tools that serve most purposes, and sons with strong backs and lots of courage.

  8. […] explained the process above. The nicer ones will tell you quietly and privately that our economy is dying of leprosy. They are making their discreet plans and subtly edging their way towards the […]

  9. […] live in a Potemkin World. On the surface is a carefully cultivated image; underneath is dysfunction. Has anyone stopped to […]

  10. james says:

    Interesting posting.
    Let me suggest that focussing on the liberal project, currently Obama at the head, is a distraction. The paper vs. plastic of Murrikan political life is merely two sides of the same coin and both are beholden only to the powerful. Sure, occasionally they throw the dog a bone, as with the f-35 scheme that sources a tiny part of the plane to each constituency (which then votes to keep its inventor in the legislature).
    I propose a detour for you, Brett. Take a scenic route. You have the delusional aspect of societal living in hand, now go further. Try reading a couple of books that may (or may not) help you understand my point of view.
    Escape from Evil, by Ernest Becker.
    This one is probably the most salient. He synthesizes the views of many, many rather sharp observers-like the ones you claim see the thing for what it truly is-and explains it. The book is not gargantuan. Easily read in a day or two, but….well, you make up your own mind. No one prepared me for it when it fell into my lap, so I’ll do the same for you.
    Oh, and H.L. Mencken was making many similar observations to yours about 100 years ago. Not that that makes yours invalid-sometimes it is critical that the obvious be repeated, no?

  11. […] has a real tour de force here in The Potemkin Economy. The economy construed […]

  12. Upward Exit says:

    […] To understand the path of the upward exit, we must understand the Hell from whence it leads. We here at Amerika borrow a theory from French Existentialist and attention harlot Jean Paul Sartre. Hell, quite simply is other people. Not in small numbers, not at a leisurely pace. Hell is other people packed butt-to-flank. Hell is other people acting in a concerted zombie apocalypse of the low double-digit IQs to enforce their mediocrity as if it were the beneficent commonweal. Hell, Monsieur Sartre, is Crowdism. […]

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