AMERIKA: Now Is the Winter of our Discontent, Our Era of Rising Discord – By Charles Hugh Smith

Source – oftwominds.com

“…Combine identity politics with political correctness, and the New Nobility/Oligarchy can laugh their way to the bank while their pawn-serfs fight over how many politically correct angels can dance on the head of a pin. As noted above, the class war started long before Trump won the election. This Class War is illustrated by this chart: a tiny financial-political Elite (the top 1/10th of 1%) now own as much wealth as the bottom 90%”:

(Now Is the Winter of our Discontent: Our Era of Rising Discord – By Charles Hugh Smith)

It becomes increasingly difficult to believe central planning policy tweaks can ensure a permanent extension of cooperation and prosperity.

Mao Zedong supposedly said, “There is great disorder under the Heavens and the situation is excellent.” For those seeking to replace the existing social and economic order, chaos is a good first step.

Those with a stake in the system decaying into disorder feel differently: for them, disorder is threatening and frightening.

Do we control the slide into disorder and the emergence of a new order? The short answer is no: the forces at work are systemic and structural, and not controllable with the usual political/economic tools.

Historian Peter Turchin explores historical cycles of social disintegration and integration in his new book Ages of Discord.

Turchin proposes a model of rising discord that eventually leads to a new cycle of cooperation and compares the expected result with historical data. He finds 25-year cycles that combine into roughly 50-year cycles, comparable (though not identical with) Kondratieff’s proposed economic cycles (see chart below).

These 50-year cycles are part of longer 150 to 200-year cycles that move from cooperation through an age of discord and disintegration to a new era of cooperation.

This work draws upon his previous books, including War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires, which I referenced inFollowing in Ancient Rome’s Footsteps: Moral Decay, Rising Wealth Inequality (September 30, 2015) and The Lesson of Empires: Once Privilege Limits Social Mobility, Collapse Is Inevitable(April 18, 2016).

These long cycles parallel the cyclical analysis of David Hackett Fischer, whose masterwork The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History I’ve referenced many times over the years, most recently in We’ve Entered an Era of Rising Instability and Uncertainty (July 18, 2016).

Turchin’s model identifies three primary forces in these cycles:

1. An over-supply of labor that suppresses real (inflation-adjusted) wages

2. An overproduction of essentially parasitic Elites

3. A deterioration in central state finances (over-indebtedness, decline in tax revenues, increase in state dependents, fiscal burdens of war, etc.)

These combine to influence the broader social mood, which is characterized in eras of discord by fragmented loyalty to self-serving special interests (disintegration) and in eras of cooperation by a desire and willingness to cooperate and compromise for the good of the entire society (integration).

Rising discord can be quantified in a Political Stress Index. Do we find evidence of Turchin’s disintegrative forces in the present era?

1. Stagnating real wages due to oversupply of labor: check.

2. Overproduction of parasitic Elites: check.

3. Deterioration in central state finances: check.

Is it any wonder that political stress, however you want to measure it, is rising?

Cycles are the result of the interaction of complex, non-linear dynamics, and so they are not entirely predictable in terms of pinpointing the exact moment of crisis or the outcome of a systemic crisis.

If we study Turchin’s model and Fischer’s work on Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe central planning policy tweaks can ensure a permanent extension of cooperation and prosperity.

http://www.oftwominds.com/blog.html

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Related…

The New Nobility Uses Political Correctness to Fragment the Precariats – By Charles Hugh Smith

Combine identity politics with political correctness, and the New Nobility/Oligarchy can laugh their way to the bank while their pawn-serfs fight over how many politically correct angels can dance on the head of a pin.

I have long held that our economy is, stripped of propaganda, nothing but an updated version of feudalism, i.e. neofeudal: a vast class of precarious laborers (i.e. precariats–precarious proletariats) who own little to no wealth-producing capital ruled by a New Nobility/Oligarchy that owns the vast majority of wealth-producing capital and control of the political system.

I explained this structure inAmerica’s Nine Classes: The New Class Hierarchy (April 29, 2014),Neofeudalism 101: Strip-Mining the Upper Middle Class (April 8, 2015) and The Class War Has Already Started (November 14, 2015).

In the Marxist analysis, there are only three classes: those who must sell their labor to earn a livelihood, those who earn their livelihood from owning wealth-generating capital, and the dispossessed/ marginalized who are dependent on the state (bread and circuses) or who scrape out a living on the margins of the lawful economy.

In this view, there is no meaningful class difference between the well-paid liberal technocrat with the $1 million (mortgaged) house on the Left/Right Coast and the rural conservative “deplorable” wage earner. Both must sell their labor and neither earns a livelihood from wealth-generating capital.

If we extend this analysis, we find that the entire self-described “middle class” is in fact nothing but the better paid slice of the working class, i.e. the class who must sell their labor to pay their rent/mortgage, buy food, etc.

Both are precarious, but not equally so. The well-paid technocrat believes his skills will protect him from unemployment, and he is equally confident that the “wealth” in his mortgaged house and stocks/bonds 401K retirement account is secure and permanent.

He feels superior to the “deplorable” wage earner, but this superiority is contingent on 1) asset bubbles never popping (ahem, which they always do, eventually; 2) software that’s eating the world will not eat his job or the premium he is currently being paid, and 3) the skills he currently has won’t become over-supplied as the global work force expands into the sectors that require high levels of education.

So what inhibits the awareness of shared class membership and interests? Two dynamics come to mind: the liberal/conservative ideological divide, and the politically correct speech acts that differentiate the two.

The urban liberal technocrat feels morally superior to the “deplorable” wage earner because he 1) considers himself a “winner” and the “deplorable” a loser and 2) he has mastered the politically correct speech acts that signify his superior “progressive” status.

There are two ironies in this presumed superiority:

1. The urban liberal technocrat is one credit/asset crash and one pink slip away from a rapid and catastrophic decline in living standards to “loser” status

2. Making politically correct speech acts the defining factor in establishing moral and political superiority depreciates the “difficult” (costly) act of actually behaving morally with the “easy” (cheap) act of mouthing sanctimonious politically correct signifier phrases.

Anyone can repeat politically correct signifier phrases; it takes no effort, risk, commitment or sacrifice. Actually acting in a sustained, coherent, morally superior fashion takes real effort, risk, commitment and sacrifice, and results in a healthy sense of humility, for no human can be saintly all the time.

The problem with acting in a sustained, coherent, morally superior fashion is that you won’t get public credit for being a morally superior “winner.” Acting in accordance with high moral standards is a private compact one makes with oneself; it is not a public display broadcast with the intent of establishing “progressive” political correct credentials.

This elevation of “cheap” and “easy” politically correct speech acts depreciates moral behavior to zero and enables the media-savvy Nobility to effortlessly divide and conquer the laboring class. In effect, the liberal technocrat laboring class submits to its own exploitation because our Nobility uses politically correct phrases in their public utterances.

One of the oldest control techniques is divide and conquer, and political correctness is an incredibly cheap and effective way to fragment the laboring class into subclasses who have been manipulated into declaring war on each other.

Combine identity politics with political correctness, and the New Nobility/Oligarchy can laugh their way to the bank while their pawn-serfs fight over how many politically correct angels can dance on the head of a pin.

As noted above, the class war started long before Trump won the election. This Class War is illustrated by this chart: a tiny financial-political Elite (the top 1/10th of 1%) now own as much wealth as the bottom 90%:

The absurd elevation of politically correct speech acts that anyone in the New Nobility can utter with practiced ease has a curiously profitable result for the New Nobility: the urban liberal Precariat willingly embraces his/her servitude and despises his/her fellow Precariats, thereby serving the interests of the New Nobility while fragmenting the only truly progressive class identity.

 


http://www.oftwominds.com/blognov16/PC-serfs11-16.html


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