Below are workings for my claim that most GDP growth since 1980 has been the result of increased financial engineering and credit expansion.
Over the last 30+ years, we’ve taken on 51,893 billions in new credit expansion. On top of that, we’ve increased the money supply from about 2,000 billions to 10,000 billons (in 2006, when the Fed stopped tracking this number), adding an additional 8,000 billions of money to the economy, for a total of about 60,000 billions in new credit or real money created since 1980.
That’s a total of 361,377 billions. If we had of had no growth, the 1980 rate carried forward would be 105,912 billions. That indicates we have increased the product of the country, not annualized, a total of 255,465 billions since 1980.
Of course, that’s almost five times the amount of the expansion of credit since 1980, so I’m obviously wrong, right? Almost. The 1980 GDP of 2862.5 billions in 2016 money is.. 8293.48 billions, and increase of almost three times.
So, I’m still wrong, right? Almost. The other form of “debt” the US has incurred is unfunded Federal and State liabilities, which don’t count as debt, but are future promised spending. If you ran a business and promised to spend money in the future on something, and that promise was binding, that would be listed a liability on your GAAP balance sheet. However, for the US government, that’s not the case.
The Treasury estimates the Federal government has unfunded liabilities in the amount of 55000 billions, due over the next 30 years. It’s impossible to say which of those were “incurred’ during which years from 1980 to 2016, excepting that in 1980 that number was zero, since the primary drivers of this huge unbooked debt – social security, Medicaid, Medicare were all fully funded at that time.
So, between private, public, corporate and consumer debt and unfunded unrealized Federal liabilities which are really debt, the data clearly indicates to me that we have increased our GDP only through the use of increase leverage.
This is borne out by the empirical data which in a wide variety of metrics shows that the average US worker hasn’t made really any gains in quality of life or living standards in that time period, and for many workers, that standard of living has gone down dramatically. Living standard are hard to hide, and the standard of living in the US has improved largely because of technology, not because of increased earnings, buying power, or financial stability.
As noted before, modern government formed itself from mating socialism and capitalism into a circular Ponzi scheme that works by taxing its population, dumping the money on an underclass, and then using their spending to justify a demand-side economic model in which “fast money” bases its value on the sale of debt and loans.
With schemes of this nature, all costs rise because money is skimmed at every level and redirected into the perpetual “pump priming” Keynesian welfare state, and this then subsidizes itself by selling debt and increasing the face value of the money by encouraging borrowing. This results in higher costs and lower quality, but salaries stay stagnant because money is peeled off before it trickles down to the end user, in this case the middle class salary earner and consumer.
When Leftists rage on about the failure of “capitalism,” they are trying to conceal the fact that it is Leftist programs that have engineered this failure, driven by the tendency of democracies to spend Other People’s Money (OPM) until it runs out, then extinguishing themselves in a default or collapse.
On the Left, where people are presumed to be universally good because they have reason and therefore are reasonable, it is presumed that civilizations die from external forces like war, climate change or disease.
To the Right, however, the more realistic scenario is that humans destroy their own civilizations by insisting on ideas that are personally flattering to them, and that this creates insane leadership and social decay, both at the hands of the thronging mob and the oblivious bourgeoisie, who ignore anything but jobs and wealth and thus work to obliterate necessary social standards.
On the Bell Curve, the two problem areas are then the far-left of lower-IQ people and the area slightly above them, where people who are smart but not intelligent enough to understand that life changes in response to our actions or failure to take action, and therefore that they cannot alter society — taking something from it — without needing to also strengthen it by maintaining social order outside commerce.
Archaeologists have long puzzled over what caused what is known as the Classic Maya collapse in the ninth century A.D., when many of the ancient civilization’s cities were abandoned. More recent investigations have revealed that the Maya also experienced an earlier collapse in the second century A.D.—now called the Preclassic collapse—that is even more poorly understood.
University of Arizona archaeologist Takeshi Inomata and his colleagues suggest in a new paper, to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that both collapses followed similar trajectories, with multiple waves of social instability, warfare and political crises leading to the rapid fall of many city centers.
…While more general chronologies might suggest that the Maya collapses occurred gradually, this new, more precise chronology indicates more complex patterns of political crises and recoveries leading up to each collapse.
The West is currently trying to decide whether it will extricate itself from a similar death spiral, sculpted from class warfare, diversity, equality, democracy and consumerism.
Cable channels are freeloading via a cable company policy known as bundling. Fifty channels get pushed into a “standard package” that includes about a dozen channels you like and three dozen that you could care less about. These become parasites which you pay for without enjoying. One such parasite that hasn’t offered meaningful or desirable content for a good three decades would have to be Music Television (MTV).
SJW convergence is so complete and all encompassing at MTV that they have totally hit the bottom. You see MTV has discovered the pale-penised persons (PPPs) and this fills their trolls with concern. So they have reached out with their slimy tentacles. They want to help, so they have given white males a list of New Year’s Resolutions that they can adopt for their own like a nice, bracing shot from the hemlock bowl.
Guys, they know nobody’s perfect. But you out there in the PPP zone, you can all do better in 2017. Perhaps MTV doesn’t know any white people who publically admit to their Melanin deprevation syndrome and couldn’t find any tribes of them in old editions of National Geographic. Thus, they searched their own archives and found these two charming examples…
So I felt sorry for the schmucks and out of pity for the execrable Laci Green, I decided to offer MTV a way they could do better in 2017…
Maybe they will figure it out. Maybe they won’t. You can wager your hard-earned paycheck they won’t buy a clue and collect on any odds some fool put on offer. They are safely in a cable bundle and consider themselves immune from consequences as they fatten themselves on other people’s talent.
There is only one cure for MTV putting the idiots on the idiot box. Cut The Cord. Make MTV a loser for any bundle it’s hidden amongst. Force cable companies to offer a la carte menus. Until the industry so reforms; cease and desist your patronage. MTV, ESPN, HBO and the other SJW cabletard channels all hide in the bundle to avoid facing reality. Reality that tells them they have to stop insulting and demeaning the audience to get them to stay in the theater. Only cutting the entire bundle will make them feel enough of a burn to purge their SJWs and put something on the tube that isn’t idiotic.
Individualism is both a personal choice to prioritize the desires of the self over all else, including reality, and a political system. That system has three parts:
Democracy. The person who flatters the most people wins. This flattery can occur through pacifism or bullying, jingoistic warfare against weaker opponents. Both are perpetually popular.
Consumerism. Whatever product cultivates a large audience, regardless of who that audience are, wins out over products with smaller audiences, even if better.
Anti-culture. Culture arises from methods that work; anti-culture arises from a small cluster of intellectuals and entertainers manipulating a vast herd of consumers who are bored.
What these have in common is the simple idea that quantity outweighs quality. The best idea, if not the most popular, is denied. This is the root of our downfall here in the West.
Since the arrival of individualism as a political system in the eighteenth century, much effort has been spent trying to design a “System” that regulates it so it makes quality decisions. All have failed, but that failure is not yet evident because of the wealth of these societies.
Individualism gained power because of the wealth of these societies in the first place. Wealth means that incompetents survive; put them in a room and, because they are incompetent, they will agree that they should rule instead of whoever is in power. They will invent tales of their victimhood to “justify” this choice.
As we look toward the future, as one should always do whenever it is clear the present methods have failed, the race is on to decide what core concept will form the basis of the next era. Since our past era was based on individualism, which in turn forms collectivism as individuals group together, I suggest that the next era be based on the idea of exceptional individuals.
Exceptional individuals are not, as your television will tell you, those who are most popular for having the appearance of a lone genius scorned by all. Instead, they are those who find what works and cling to it. They are the people who get out there and discover reality.
That behavior rewards the best in Us: the brave, honorable, moral and competent people who go into the usual human chaos formed of the pretense of individuals and make it work toward higher goals like social order, beauty, goodness and truth.
This standard rewards heroes instead of salesmen.
If we look at the core of our failure, it is our misery. People have no hope that doing a good thing will be rewarded, and see daily how whores and flatterers are given the keys to the kingdom. This is what makes us weak: we have defeated ourselves.
These days, people are talking quite a bit about African-Americans and crime, violence and race warfare. While the disparity there is hard to ignore, it makes sense to ensure that we are not scapegoating those who are the symptom and not the origin of the problem. That leads to further revelations which might put the entire situation in context.
As written here before, minorities face an ugly dilemma: assimilate, and lose culture, or retain culture and be marginalized. No amount of welfare state programs can recover the pride and sense of well-being that is lost as a group realizes that it is not in control of its own fate, and exists merely as a tool of something larger. Even if the majority is mixed-race, that “new race” is hostile to the minority group, and by the nature of young people falling into attraction with those around them, will quickly destroy the original race and replace it with the new monoculture of non-race. This alone would induce a fury in me sufficient to explain any number of riots and crimes.
Further, it is a mistake to assume that this society favors African-Americans, or Jews, or any other group. It favors those who follow its ideology, which means that they must purge themselves of all other associations and values which compete with the ideological. Philosophy, religion and race must fall before the axe of the grand ideological unification. Even gender must be destroyed, so we have boyish girls and immature men with girly behaviors, because nothing must come before ideology. Ideology, like heroin addiction and pursuing white whales from the Pequod, absorbs all like a black hole and replaces that variety with uniformity, conformity, and obedience. This society will replace African-Americans and perform on them the same “soft genocide” by outbreeding that it is doing to Europeans, Jews and every other group it can seize.
In fact, African-Americans face a unique problem. Long America’s most visible minority — replacing the Amerinds who were shoved off onto reservations made of rum and whiskey — African-Americans have received the most press, subsidies and concern from the increasing neurotic white population which perceives its society is declining and is desperate for proxies, or symbolic activities, to use to push away those bad thoughts of how bad everything has become. Industry, which pushes onward for cheap labor, has found that new immigrants are more reliable, in part because for them poverty is a recent memory.
Siddharth Jaganath wanted to return to India after earning his master’s degree at Texas’ Southern Methodist University. Instead, he built a new life in the U.S. over a decade, becoming a manager at a communications technology company and starting a family in the Dallas suburb of Plano.
“You start growing your roots and eventually end up staying here,” the 37-year-old said.
His path is an increasingly common one: Immigrants from China and India, many with student or work visas, have overtaken Mexicans as the largest groups coming into the U.S., according to U.S. Census Bureau research released in May. The shift has been building for more than a decade and experts say it’s bringing more highly skilled immigrants here. And some Republican presidential candidates have proposed a heavier focus on employment-based migration, which could accelerate traditionally slow changes to the country’s ever-evolving face of immigration.
The larger group coming over the border are “Other Than Mexicans” (OTMs) in the language of the Border Patrol and those who live along the corridor. Texas, the fastest-growing part of North America, shows this pattern. Orientals (Asiatics from China, Korea, Japan and related) and Indics (people from India of mixed Asiatic-Caucasian-Dravidian heritage) are pouring into the state along with Amerinds (people of mixed Siberian heritage in the New World) from Mexico, Central America and South America. This is the group that industry will use to replace African-Americans, first in low-paid jobs and next in their communities. Their daughters will marry up, and their sons will find that Consuela, Phuong or Chin is a more attractive option than sorting through a decreasing pool of people of their own origin. This is what genocide looks like, with the soft gloves and apologies (and background New Age music) of the post-totalitarian consumerist State.
Already in many Texas cities, traditional black communities have been disrupted or destroyed by the influx. Where once Mexicans replaced black communities, now a mixture of Asiatics are out-pricing the original inhabitants in renting and buying. Soon there will be no black communities, and there will be none of the types of employment reserved by convention for African-Americans. Twenty years ago, African-Americans dominated the food line, janitorial, governmental, construction and service jobs; now, the faces are all Asian-descended. We can wax on about how African-Americans have welfare help and affirmative action, but what will destroy them is that these other groups are also minorities and will get there first. Outnumbered, they are finding themselves marginalized as a precursor to elimination.
Long has the issue been before us and few have dared attack the real enemy: diversity and government by convenience, a.k.a. democracy. Diversity effects direct replacement, and convenience voting means that citizens want what they are told is “good for the economy” (more jerbs! how exciting) and will vote for that, even as it destroys some of the most vibrant communities in their midst. In the South, long ago, we solved this problem by giving African-Americans and poor whites different strata of the socioeconomic system, such that they were protected from this competition. Uncle Sugar unraveled all of that, and now his well-meaning but idiotic programs will commit a genocide worthy of a zombie Hitler on steroids.
Although it is unpopular — but everything on this site is inconvenient, unpopular and unfashionable — it has long been said around here that relocation is the best option. As written by African-American writers of genius, relocation possibly sweetened with some reparations or other aid represents the best option for African-Americans. Those with sense extend that to all groups other than the Western Europeans who took a wild land, fought back the Asiatic savages who were prone to rape, murder and torture (in addition to the infighting and poor hygiene that destroyed them) and built a great civilization on it. America should be Western European like its founders, and all others will find their best future lies in getting on boats and going home. Since that appears cruel, despite being the opposite of cruelty, the scared sheep will vote against it until the disaster detonates in their faces, as it increasingly does.
Another argument exists which most have overlooked. Africa is a prosperous, rich and vital land. Whoever controls it will have great power in the future, and can live in an amazing place with a wide palette of wildlife. With its natural resources, Africa will play a central role in future technologies, which is why it is being seized by investors in Colonialism II at the expense of displacing the native inhabitants. As Steve Sailer writes at Unz, the current wave of African immigrants to Europe can be explained by displacement at home:
The backward focus of Western progressives also obscures the massive land grab in Africa today. Industrial agriculture and logging, both chinese and western, displace subsistence peoples into urban slums. But *this* neo-colonialism serves the interests of the economic upper stratum and is rarely reported upon as such. The american left, useful idiots that they are, see only the rear-view mirror of history and their own navels…
It’s not uncommon down through history to have a farm population scratching out a marginal living using traditional means off land that a few bright guys then figure out can more profitably be repurposed for other uses. The peasants are driven to emigrate by insiders cashing in on the value of the land. The most famous example were the Enclosures in Britain, but NAFTA’s destruction of small corn farmers in Mexico is a more recent instance.
…But now there are a billion Africans, so they have to be redomiciled somewhere if the Africa is to be most profitably exploited.
The future of Africans worldwide is one of being displaced by commercial interests and gradually eroded by not just admixture but economic forces. A sensible and humane system would instead grant them what all peoples need, which is self-determination and self-rule, without which no group has confidence or self-esteem. The best place for this is in Africa, as it is for Asiatics in Asian and Western Europeans in their nations in Western Europe and North America. But as always, the sane solution is the one opposed most because it offends our human pretense of social appearance of goodness through altruism, and seems inconvenient when we add up the double columns of our ledgers.
Manifesto for a European Renaissance
by Alain de Benoist and Charles Champetier
47 pages, Arktos, $9
The problem with ideas is that we recognize what we know, but the unknown takes a long time to understand. Believing that quantity over quality will help us, we often demand “facts” and “examples” as a knee-jerk response to hide our confusion.
With the New Right, little is known. The name is not even “official,” having been bestowed on the group — a ragtag band of fiercely independent, mostly French, writers — by journalists. They are not a political movement, but a cultural one. And so they are rarely understood.
Even more baffling is that a fairly large degree of confusion exists within the people who make up the New Right, and their fans, to the extent that an outsider might be correctly puzzled. To clarify much of this, Alain de Benoist and Charles Champetier unleash a pure manifesto.
Like all good manifestos, this is not an attempt to “prove” something to you by linear logic. It is an explanation of a thought-system in which all the parts relate to one another, so there’s no point doing anything but reading it all and seeing if it seems like a reasonable solution even if in a fuzzy, hazy and poetic way.
The answer is that it does, but nothing in life is perfect (including perfection: a dead ideal) and so there are some glitches in the reasoning, perhaps. Perhaps. What is clear is that there are no glitches in the writing, which features not only the erudite pens of the authors but the steely-eyed detail-conscious and systematic editing of John Morgan and the windswept minimalistic layout art of Daniel Friberg.
de Benoist and Champetier make a good case for this belief because they’ve purged the extremism from the right, incorporated a lot of familiar leftist rhetoric, and explained it all in a goal-oriented non-reactionary manner.
Where they go too far is incorporating the leftist attitudes too clearly. These are attitudes that are standards of behavior, but can easily distract from the actual goal, which must also exist. They have admirably avoided the usual pitfalls and rage of the right, describing instead of what they don’t like, what they do like.
Their essential theory is that the modern West is heading for oblivion because it has replaced culture with commerce, and thanks to the consumer nature of modern democracy, few are speaking out because it’s unprofitable and they could end up social rejects. The solution, the authors claim, is something called “metapolitics,” which is basically a cultural wave achieving Nietzsche’s re-evaluation of all values, and thus indirectly influencing politics.
In their view, our tendency to rely on “ideological” constructs instead of naturalistic knowledge and culture has led us away from reality and into a world composed of human symbols and desires.
The destruction of the life-world for the benefit of instrumental reason, (economic) growth, and material development have resulted in an unprecedented impoverishment of the spirit, and the generalization of anxiety related to living in an always uncertain present, in a world deprived both of the past and the future. Thus, modernity has given birth to the most empty civilization mankind has ever known: the language of advertising has become the paradigm of all social discourse; the primacy of money has imposed the omnipresence of commodities; man has been transformed into an object of exchange in a context of mean hedonism; technology has ensnared the life-world in a network of rationalism — a world replete with delinquency, violence, and incivility, in which man is at war with himself and against all, i.e., an unreal world of drugs, virtual reality and media-hyped sports, in which the countryside is abandoned for unlivable suburbs and monstrous megalopolises, and where the solitary individual merges into an anonymous and hostile crowd, while traditional social, political, cultural or religious mediations become increasingly uncertain and undifferentiated. (13)
To my mind, this lengthy paragraph encompasses the essential message of the New Right: the modern world is hell, and we made it so by relying on the tools that justified good-sounding options like “freedom” and “equality,” but like all good intentions, these have opened a pathway to the abyss.
Their point is well-taken that it’s impossible to oppose any of this if you take each point separately. You have to connect the dots, and then oppose the whole thing. As they point out elsewhere, the 20th century is a graveyard of ideologies who tried to be anti-modern but were too infested with its assumptions, and thus dragged themselves into the same oblivion as that which they were fighting against.
Some of those assumptions live on in this text, particularly its adoption of social subsidies and open discourse as goals in themselves. There’s also a hint of the idea of a unified Europe including Eurasia which makes historians queasy, much in the same way Ron Paul’s idealistic isolationism hit many people’s unreasonableness filter. These are small glitches, things that will in the future be worked out as more of these situations unravel to reveal their core.
What makes this book compelling is that it targets the whole of modernity as a single thing, and shows us the beginnings of a new language for discussing politics, in which values like culture, nature and existential experience have a voice. That in itself is a profound change, a re-ordering of civilization itself on par with the deep ecology movement’s manifesto in that it asks us first and foremost to re-order our values, and lets the inevitable unfold from that.
Industrial capitalism has been gradually overtaken by a financial capitalism whose goal is to realize maximum returns in the short run, all to the detriment of the condition of national economies and of the long-term interest of the people…The ubiquity of capital allows the financial markets to control politics. (42)
If a revolt against the modern world needs a mission statement, this short book provides an excellent starting point. Detractors will mention the lack of figures, charts and details, but the advantage of this format is that the whole idea can be understood at once.
We have binary choices every day in life. We can stick with inertia, or make a choice for something different. With Manifesto for a European Renaissance, de Benoist and Champetier make a good cause for a choice not just of lesser evils, but to throw out the concept that choosing any form of evil is legitimate at all.
Reality is a constantly changing thing with consistent eternal principles. This tends to fool us simians, who can confuse the eternal and the temporal.
One confusion of this type is confusing what is becoming for what is and vice versa. Most things in life are a process, but we frequently confuse the end result for the process.
No better example of this can be found than in The Woodlands, TX. This is a planned community north of Houston which was created in the late 1960s from former lumber company land.
The initial concept was simple: in an antidote to the city, separate the community from roads with acres of forest. Allow businesses in specific areas and nowhere else. Make certain types of socially destructive activities illegal.
In short, it is the exact opposite of what most communities do. Most places are unplanned, allow business wherever it can fit, and sacrifice greenspace for more parking or shops.
Ever since The Woodlands was created, people have been trying to destroy it. Not as outright evil, conniving overlords plotting doom, but by trying to get their piece of the pie.
To them, The Woodlands is a nice neighborhood which is affluent, safe and has good schools. To them, it just is. They don’t understand why the process that made it pleasant is different from the process that made anywhere else miserable. It’s just random, they think.
They are blind to the process which created this, which starts with planning and includes shutting out all the destructive behaviors which are considered normal in most cities.
Of those behaviors, the most prominent is the idea that one moves to a place where there is wealth, and finds a way to partake in it without any other rules applying. There is normally no sense of place, propriety or purpose — or process.
Instead, it is a simple mechanical process. Find wealth, participate, take wealth away. The problem with this process is that it destroys nice areas.
For example, if you move to a new town and find empty land, buying it and building on it. Maybe put in a fast-food restaurant, a boutique or a pornographic theater. The wealth is there for the taking.
It doesn’t matter whether that land served a purpose, like as buffer between the church and the ale-house. Now you can make money off of it. And if the church folds or the ale-house moves, hey, that’s not your problem.
Suppose what you add is ugly, or encourages destructive behaviors, or sickens the people who are silly enough to partake of it. True, it’s still not your problem. But the consequences of your actions are plain.
Humanity follows this pattern where something new — a town, a brand, an idea, a band, a nation, a religion — starts up and is seen as a cut above the rest. Then in moves the Crowd, which wants to make profit, and so it adulterates it down into the same mess the Crowd was trying to escape.
This moribund tautology occurs every time because things like profit motive, personal choice and democratic choice do not reflect a viewpoint beyond the individual. The individual is thus content to sacrifice the whole for itself, and is most likely oblivious to the process, which is encouraged by the formalization of democratic, consumerist and social values.
If you wonder why our misfortune seems to follow us like a shadow, this is it. We have no centralized authority which can help with these things. If we did have such an authority, we fear it being ideological crazies like the Communists.
Of course, we could trust nature itself and pick people not by ideology, but by personal quality, like we did when we had kings. But that will offend the liberal in us that demands we all start out equal, and be rewarded based on how much of our time we invest in the System.
Thus our pretense keeps us from seeing a working solution. However, this is changing. Conservatives can no longer afford to defend capitalism alone. We must defend what is good and right.
If we do not, we’re right back to where we started, which is that commerce, popularity and demagoguery take over our society and create a liberal majority that is oblivious to the consequences of our actions.
Like what is happening in The Woodlands, the lone inventor breaks away and implements a good centralized idea, and then the Crowd in a gnashing of teeth and grumbling of stomachs intervenes, and converts it back to the Same Old Thing.
And since it was done with socially acceptable intentions, not Voldemort-style evil intent, our society is oblivious and watches disinterestedly as another good thing is destroyed. Repeatedly.
It fits in the comfortable middle that we normally exclude from our thinking, between the extremes to the point where we feel uneasy about assigning it either trait. It certainly isn’t old, but in the intervening seven years, many newer models have emerged.
The newer vintage remains unknown to me and I hope they have fixed the problems I describe. But remembering seven years ago, and in fact all the microwaves I have known, one salient fact sticks out: none of them have a volume control, but all of them announce every act with loud beeps.
If you need to use this microwave at night, while a partner sleeps in the next room over, you are out of luck. It beeps with every key press; it beeps when it is done, three times (and once if you hit a key to cancel it at one second remaining). These beeps are piercing and loud. There is no way to turn them off.
What is most alarming about this is that the microwave was obviously designed for an absolute context, like a kind of laboratory afterlife, in which it is used in a single idealized way. Someone comes into the room, uses to to cook food, and leaves. Consequences and side-effects are ignored.
Our industry has wisely expanded its study of interface, but this problem is at a level below interface. The problem is not an interface; it’s an assumption about the use of this microwave. That assumption is that it is only used in a single idealized context.
This assumption parallels many of the assumptions we make about life. That an average person exists. That some values are universal. That we are all the same under the skin. That in a complex world, we can assign moral values to method and not have it hamstring our accomplishment of goals.
Through this morass of religious assumptions about the nature of reality that deny its complexity and make it essentially a projection of the human mind, the microwave ends up being designed by committee. They have good intentions. They project what they want to be true and design on that basis.
Eventually the end result emerges. A microwave is designed not based on what is right, which in my use means what is natural and realistic, but based on what is popular, meaning that intersection of the wish fulfillment projection of both individuals and groups.
Not enough people complained to change the design. And so across the land, every day, sleep is interrupted. Minds are irritated by the manic beeping. Unnecessary noise is producing, dulling people’s receptiveness to noise that might be meaningful. Maybe they’ll fix it some day. I’m not holding my breath.
I took a walk this afternoon through one of the largest Meccas of American consumerism. They talk about how bad the economy is, but the place was filled with people, from the parking lot on in, caught up in the bustle. Filled with people, and filled with an electric crackle of stress. False excitement, false smiles masking hurry and clenched jaws. It’s a feeding frenzy, all of them marching to the beat of The Little Drummer Boy coming through loud and clear on the wildly expensive sound system.
The Christmas rush is the most obvious example possible of American consumerism. It is Pavlovian conditioning in action. Do these people really need new red sweaters with reindeer on them? Will the people they are buying things for actually like the gifts when they are unwrapped? Are the recipients of the gifts in any sort of need? Did the recipients not return the favor, themselves participating in the consumerist orgy? Gift exchanges are not a zero sum game: there is a net drain, a sink. The sellers of the unneeded items profit from the exchange.
The American populace is making decisions based on notional constructs, or theories of what might be and not what is. Fake bonhomie. The forced “Merry Christmas.” The strident, iron marching beat of The Little Drummer Boy calling the cadence. The urge to work hard to make money to buy things that aren’t needed.
In the crowded grocery store, someone is struggling with too many two-liter bottles of diet soda. The soda is on special which means that the person has to buy a lot of them in order to reap the greatest benefit possible.
At the cash register, the person (the person is me) is fumbling for money. I realize, reaching for my wallet, that the soda is devoid of nutritional value. Then I realize that the money is, increasingly, devoid of real financial value.
I have worked hard for this worthless money, and I am spending it on something worthless except for its function as a caffeine source that will allow me to work harder.
Then it occurs to me that my work is also utterly devoid of any real value. Something is deeply wrong with this picture.
The increasing frenzy of the Winter Buying Season, from Black Friday onward, the supposed great importance of it, makes me realize just how out-of-whack our priorities have become. Advertising produces an artificial need for artificial products which we then buy with valueless money.
I keep returning to the theme of notional constructs: the Great American Ponzi Scheme.
There is a field of military theory that has to do with decision loops, known in the jargon as OODA Loops, an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide and Attack. The cycle is repeated again and again: observe the situation, realize one’s position therein, decide on a course of action, then act. Each iteration of the cycle takes time.
Decision loop warfare — warfare that is conscious of the OODA loop — attempts to optimize it for friendlies and discombobulate it for the enemy.
One way of throwing the enemy out-of-whack is to cause him to act on false information. Notional constructs. Inflatable tanks, false radio signals, entire false invasion fronts.
Here at the tail end of the American Dream, the economic decision loop is driven by pervasive advertisements– what is it now, fifteen minutes for every hour of meaningless popcorn entertainment on television? Consumer spending is king. The Little Drummer Boy is king of consumer spending.
We have lost sight of what matters. We are operating on notional information, a false, Matrix-like construct of what we have told ourselves is important. Consumer spending. 3D televisions on which to watch our pointless entrainment. Worthless gimmicks for us to spend our worthless money on, money we earned in jobs that don’t actually produce anything or do anything useful. Where is the value coming from?
With each iteration of the cycle, the economy becomes more and more out-of-whack. The bubbles and crashes become more intense, like the highs and depressions of a stock broker addicted to cocaine. As anyone who has been around stock brokers will tell you, this similarity is in no way coincidental.
Out in the woods, in Michigan and Montana and Wyoming, something very different is happening. Out in those areas on the map where you can actually drive for a hundred miles without passing a McDonalds, there are some people whose decision loops are operating on other, different information. Some of their constructs are notional as well: the Great Race War, Identity Politics. Religion. Some of them are knowingly grasping notional constructs in order to cement group unity, a concept I have difficulty getting my mind around. They knowingly and intentionally compartmentalize away their rationality in favor of belief systems that, the story goes, will Save the Race. Or Save Christianity. Or Save the Country. Perhaps they’re wrong. Perhaps not.
One way or another, while I drink my nutritionless soda that I bought with the valueless money that I earned while doing work that didn’t produce anything, these people, groups really, are buying up land. They’re doing other things that seem quaint and queer and oddly threatening to the urban dweller, when the urbanite becomes aware of them at all.
These people have returned to Folk. They have returned to the country, and they live close to the land. Like good Marxists (though they are certainly not Marxists) they have seized control of the means of production that govern their own lives. Solar and wind power generators are going up in windswept farms. Some of their money is going to food. Their news doesn’t come from urbanite peer-to-peer media but from AM radio. It is largely agenda-driven and suspect in that regard, but the agenda is very different indeed from that of the urbanites.
Urban populations are skyrocketing. The urbanites are absolutely dependent on the rural dwellers for everything– now food, soon power. The rural and urban worldviews are increasingly anathema to each other.
What will happen when the Great American Ponzi Scheme collapses? Where will the oil come from? Where will the food come from?
The rural dwellers, notional as their constructs may be, have found something nutritious in their return to the land and their embrace of family. Some of the urban dwellers have begun to filter out of the cities to join them, because of various tribal affinities and because conditions in the cities have just barely begun to be untenable. People are starting to get the funny little niggling feeling that there is something rotten somewhere. The feeling that this situation– really a collection of many situations– is unsustainable. It can’t last. Like a faultline experiencing tremors under increasing stress, like mountain snow waiting for an avalanche, something is bound to give, and in a vast chain of events, the system will settle violently into a new equilibrium. There is a field of science that studies these cascade failures. It’s called Catastrophe Theory.
What the new equilibrium will consist of is anybody’s guess.
At the Consumer Mecca, things will have reached a feverish crescendo as the stores begin to close down for the evening. People will be running from one store to another, hoping to find that last pointless, useless piece of mass-market trash to throw their money away on for the Great Net-Negative Gift Exchange. What does it matter? Their jobs are meaningless anyway and they don’t do any real work. The skins of their palms are soft, uncalloused. Their decision loop is highly abstracted. They live in their notional world and they make decisions based on the Consumerist Media Construct. Really, they are like sleep-walkers, sometimes complaining when a breath of cold air enters the dream.
Out in the sticks, at the very same time, there are people slopping hogs. Connected to day-to-day reality and to their food supply, they are very far from the urban liberal dream. Their hard, leathery hands are gutting deer that they have shot themselves. Shot with rifles. Later, after chopping wood, after supper but before sitting down next to the fireplace with their families, they will clean those rifles. They will lovingly polish them with soft cloths. Then they will put them away.