This is the second great comment from Deter Naturalist this week, earning him (probably not a “her”) the coveted COTW award.
We’ve had it “too good to be true” for my entire life (I’m AARP eligible.)
During that time the incentive structure caused people to embrace behaviors (including political policies) that eroded the system by which our good times were produced.
*Nothing sets up failure like success.*
How many people, having hit some home runs in the markets (or getting a big payoff in a casino, same thing) pull back to safety? Very few. Most double-down until the wipe-out. It’s human nature to attribute to personal competence that which was simply right-place/right-time.
While I discovered it does not work for forecasting (because timing is always unknown), I still embrace the basic premise of something called “socionomics.” It’s foundation is that as social animals, we humans exhibit herding behavior in areas of uncertainty. We tend to adopt the viewpoints of those who surround us. This is an attribute with a spectrum; some herd a little, some herd a lot, but everyone herds. Herding is exhibited in fashions, in pop culture and above all in finance and politics and economics. All of this results from the actual way our brains are structured and the way our cognitive pathways actually work (which have little in common with how people think they do.)
It is the engine for “Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds,” but also the width of men’s ties this season, the performance of horror movies vs Disney Princesses at the Box Office, and the price trends of stocks, bonds and commodities. It is not entirely unpredictable, but since timing matters above all, it makes prediction to the level of profitability too subjective to use. What it basically says is, trends occur, they reach apogee and change. That insight and a dollar gets you a coffee at McDonalds.
Herding is guided by a kind of unconscious set-point. When people wax optimistic, they visit coffee shops, attend concerts, bid up the prices of stocks, trust the veracity of “the news,” trust the promises of IOU’s, wear colorful clothes, and basically engage in “frisky” behavior. Waxing pessimistic does the opposite.
Because social mood is, like most investment assets, intangible, it has no limits. “How high is up?” is a question without an answer. Is a widespread (but hardly universal) belief that a man can be a woman by announcing it an illustration of giddy belief in the unreal? I’d say so. Are widespread rationalizations for the “equality” of homosexuality to heterosexuality, for the rejection of biological bases for group differences in intelligence, thrift, ingenuity, etc., for the naturalness of AAPL’s market cap being a $1 trillion or the “what, me worry?” attitude toward the unsustainable, compound-growth build-out of black-hole industries like Medical Services, welfare administration or the military-industry-cartel signs of maniacally high optimism?
I’d say so. Are those who embrace open borders and replacement of the very people who created (and still sustain) Americans’ standard of living in thrall to an unconscious belief that resources are unlimited and that we’ve reached a New Plateau of Nirvana where John Lennon’s lyrics from “Imagine” are now a reality?
I’d say so.
The Great Depression came after a decade of unsustainable ramp-up in optimism-fueled asset prices, debt, etc. It was lengthened and made far worse by the widespread embrace of central planning by “scientific management.”
We’ve had 40-60 years of ramp-up, including imposition of immigration policies that increased the population of the USA by 50%, a build-up of IOU’s (debt) without historical precedent, and an entire economy (read “jobs”) grown entirely under artificial heat and light (debt growth.) As in 1930, people have no idea from where prosperity arises, but today’s embrace of “scientific management” is far more entrenched, and people’s dependence on centralized systems far greater than almost 90 years ago.
Feminism. Homophilia. Central planning/”scientific management.” Rejection of biological laws. Industrial-scale rationalizations for it all. All of the items about which we complain are instances of a collective insanity that produces self-harm on a collective scale. It’s all a fad, a fashion emanating from the longest, most manic period of social mood optimism in recorded history. It will and must by natural law be “corrected” at the same scale. Natural laws exist. On a collective level such things are determined and inescapable.
PS: Utopia is not an option. There is and can’t be an “end point” where struggle ceases within any living system. What lies ahead is a passage through a valley of difficulty. So what? Rich or poor, married or single, old or young, tall or short, each of us will have to work with what we’ve got and make the best of it. At least most people who read this (and similar) blogs, seeking the ego-reinforcement of confirmation bias (I do, too) are already predisposed to expect a change in trend. Those inclined to double-down on the dying trend will have short life expectancies. We always live in Plan A (the world as it is), but at least we know that having a Plan B (and even a Plan C) might be useful in the event that inevitable change has arrived.
A lot of the substance of DN’s comment dovetails with themes discussed on a number of other samizdat blogs besides this one. A consilience is emerging among dissident bloggers, which includes agreement that we are at irrationally unreal Peak Optimism (indistinguishable from Peak Lunacy), and the next phase is Pessimism, Inwardness, Reflection, Regrouping, Localism, and Tribalism. Or, a return to sanity.
The pendulum will swing back, carving a path wide and deep through Clown World, leaving the fuggernauts dead and scattered, and the strong on the other side gathered for the Great Renewal.