THE FUTURE IS RUSHING UPON US
We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.
Friday, January 28, 2011
In June of 2009, I hypothesized that Obama's speech at Cairo university was an opening shot towards an effort to destabilize the Middle East. Such a move would serve not only to deny the area to Chinese and Russians as US turns inward and spends next 10-20 years economically reorganizing (harder for influence of major players to expand into a region engulfed by chaos) but it would potentially allow such reorganization. That is of course due to chaos supposedly bolstering the image of US as a fortress of investment safety via propping up the worth of US bonds and the dominance of the dollar as reserve currency. In theory, this in turn would allow continuation of funding for US dominated imperial framework. When you owe money in a reserve currency that you print and have the muscle to wage inflationary currency wars, such an insane strategy may even appear sensible at first glance.
Since the Cairo speech, US has also tried to destabilize the Eurozone via informational warfare and by using its best tools for such tasks, the credit rating agency attack dogs. Obviously there is no point in creating chaos along swaths of the globe if capital moves to competing areas of perceived safety. It is no surprise that as thousands of people went into the streets of Cairo, Standard & Poor's downgraded Japan's credit rating from AA to AA-. Today, 01/28/11, we saw a typical reaction of the dollar and US treasuries gaining as investors moved out of a relatively strong regional stock market in Egypt (that sparked sell offs in stock markets around the world) and into US treasuries. The biggest mouthpiece of the American oligarchy, the New York Times, had the timing to chip in about the Eurozone not being a good place to move one's money. American elites saw how the stock market implosions around the world in 2008 had fed the US bond market. Considering the desperate measures of quantitative easing and the federal reserve now being the biggest buyer of US debt, nothing is off the table to allow debt based funding to continue a while longer.
However, there are signs that US is not getting the timing right with its full spectrum chaos stirring. At the same time as the Tunisian revolt occurred (its people greatly helped and inspired by a wiki"leak" of US being against the former Tunisian dictator), the Euro was fighting off an incredible amount of concentrated short positions against it. Those shorting it lost and had to buy back the Euro making it rise against the dollar even quicker just as Egyptians were catching the Tunisian fever. Therefore, today's violence on the streets of Egypt (with corresponding pressure on Mubarak by the White House) occurred when not all of dollar's competitors were suppressed.
Interestingly enough, throughout January, gold and silver backed ETFs experienced a massive sell off (even as physical demand remained at an all time high) thus driving down the price of precious metals in a way that couldn't be done by shorting any longer. It is possible that even with the history of major financial structures shorting and thus suppressing the price of precious metals, the ETF sell off was just innocently due to paper holders moving into physical. Having said that, the timing is very suspicious for dollar dominated Wall Street players to be dumping gold/silver backed paper and lowering the market price just as the euro and 2 fire starter nations were being pressured as well.
It is rather hilarious how smug the US political and financial class is, thinking that they can stir social unrest abroad and be immune from it at home. Gorbachev also actually seemed to have thought that he'd manage to remain in control if hardliners in satellite nations were overthrown and perestroika minded leaderships took over in their place. The sheer pathological arrogance and hypocrisy of the Obama administration (note how protesters were dispelled near G20 meeting in Pittsburgh) has no limits. Egyptians and Tunisians are protesting the same exact things that Americans are suffering from. There is little guarantee that in the future, Tunis or Cairo will not dump the dollar completely and move into the orbit of Berlin, Moscow, and Beijing.
The good news is that China and Russia are now acting as stabilizers and firemen. Throughout 2010, every time the US based credit rating agencies attacked the vulnerable Euro states, China seemed to step in and help Europe out. They invested heavily in Greece and recently began to launder their dollars by buying Spanish debt. People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of Chinese communist party, kept reaffirming the importance and health of the E.U. We also had a tit for tat move of a Chinese credit rating agency downgrading US credit rating in November, claiming 'that the U.S. government's solvency is "on the brink of collapse"'. Additionally, Russian Federation's prime minister Putin went as far as saying Russia may adopt the euro in the future.
Next few weeks will definitely be interesting. US propaganda organs are now saturating with Egypt coverage. Maybe they can attach some spiffy color to the unrest as well. I will leave with a quote from the above mentioned Cairo speech article:
"If Obama is able to utilize human rights pressure and universalist respect to destabilize Egypt, the potential chain reaction would keep Muslims busy for a while while US deals with its economic depression. By pressuring Israel and stagnant Arab Republican governments on human rights, it is theoretically possible to cheaply accomplish a chain reaction of liberalization that Bush tried to do by force. The splash damage can conceivably reach Iranian and Syrian middle classes as well."
Saturday, January 22, 2011
The global financial crisis has clearly illustrated that there is a serious vacuum of ideas on what to do next as a civilization. Majority of the public senses (on various levels) that key leaderships of many Western states do not offer much more beyond printing more money, socially brutal austerity, etc. Playing for time and looting are not solid ideas and everybody knows it. This inevitably opens up society to ideas from below which will eventually result in part of the elite siding with these ideas to co-opt them and ride them to power.
In United States, we saw the libertarian critique meme and the reactionary "going back to FDR policies" meme rapidly become dominant online over the last 2 years. Collapsist and neofeudalism memes are also about to become dominant. Collapsism in particular forces future oriented thought. The non-Internet world is quickly following behind since it took researchers a year or so to educate themselves about the fraud that caused the crisis, to put their books out, and then another few months for people to read the books. Various socially visible pundits can now defer to books as authoritative sources in speaking up. The market for new type of demagogy (talk radio being the old type) is nowhere near to being saturated.
This awakening resembles a sort of a popular front in the making since people from diverse ideological backgrounds are creating a consensus of what they are against (federal reserve corruption, military eating most resources, financial oligarchy and its personal lawyer/butler [US congress]). A marriage of convenience of this sort is usually created when all other options are exhausted and it will split into petty infighting once the current regime is changed.
All the accelerating muckraking and massive corruption exposures going on currently will begin to create a dissident critical mass in the near future. This is due to the gently exponential curve that is word of mouth communication and most importantly due to some elites sensing that popular sentiment now allows certain things to be safely discussed on a national level. Like in a jury herd dynamic, a minority of consistent and tireless individuals can swing the entire group whether at elite level, the level of a bar or church, or national level. The vacuum of workable ideas in leadership allows such informational waves to spread and take hold rapidly. It may have taken Christianity 300 years to become a dominant meme but with present communication technology, informational "viruses" can do the trick in just years.
partially co-opted it with funding demonstrates level of genuine popular support). The great budding coalition of groups who usually don't want anything to do with one another (but who realize they got a common enemy) is gaining strength by the week. The awakening process does not even need to take hold of most people. A society historically needs maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of people to substantially switch their world view in order for real transition to start happening. 1/3 of the population can always be counted on to defend status quo to the last while 1/3 can be counted on to be an apathetic mushy middle that joins whoever seems to be winning or is more popular.
How will ideas be judged, what determines which will win out?
Market of ideas is limited by two things.
1) Practicality of an idea. This means the degree to which an idea is compatible with unfolding social and physical dynamics of human civilization (can't have genuine feudalism, monarchies, or theocracies in 21st century with hundreds of millions of educated people). In a way, the strongest idea is one which is predictive of where we're pretty much headed anyway. This criteria can be said to be desirability of the good (functionality determining desirability).
2) How quickly it can be internalized by the public at large. If one needs to read too many books to understand and accept an idea, then it really is not that great. An idea having been popular previously at some point in history greatly helps with this. This criteria can be said to be the knowledgeableness of the buyer to determine which good is desirable.
So what's on the market presently?
I am going to focus on United States since in many ways the problems of United States show to the world the problems that they themselves will face very soon. The ideas that the American people adapt to resurrect themselves will eventually (if not immediately) be influential on a planetary scale after a couple of decades. The following are listed in no particular order of importance.
a) Reactionary "going back to FDR style" Keynesian monetarism, sound money, and rapid infrastructural development
b) Reactionary "going back to the John Quincy Adams style" American credit system, sound money, and rapid infrastructural development
c) Reactionary "going back to industrial robber baron style" brief and unstable period of something resembling what the libertarian faction wants. Some haphazard and rapid ego driven infrastructural development.
d) American version of Leninist New Economic Policy and very rapid infrastructural development
e) Emulation of Chinese style oligarchic dictatorship and rapid infrastructural development
f) Post-monetarist energy accounting Technocracy and very rapid infrastructural development
It'll end up being f) eventually but not before one or more of the others are torturously tried, muddled through, combined, and recombined. In effect, a)-e) are a connecting bridge of experimentation that will make f) possible in due time. Some areas of the country and the world may experience de facto libertarian c) environment due to only the local oligarchs having developmental resources (see Abramovich in his post as governor of Chukotka). Such frightful old school oligarchy should not really spread too quickly before rapid backlash into other choices. There is also the matter of deflation stifling its development. Therefore the libertarian faction is primarily useful as a vibrant "rural power" part of the popular front. They will quickly fade as America's socioeconomic failure discredits capitalism (fairly or unfairly) in the eyes of humanity at large.
exponential progress of technology consistently increasing planetary unemployment. There will also be the issue of China entering it's "America in the 1930s" period of industrial depression and crisis of overproduction (which in turn stands to discredit that country briefly in the eyes of the world).
We can begin to see how process of elimination reduces the extent to which the current ideas on the market will be utilized. For the older generation, some elements of a) can be used to provide them peace of mind, continuity towards the end of life, and as marketing to politically sell rapid increase in state intervention. Then, for the younger generations, the mythical elements of b) combined with the edginess of d) may follow to demonstrate that rapid infrastructural progress really is occurring and to provide the future American regime with legitimacy (it'll definitely be needing it). Transition period of the next 30 years will definitely be turbulent and interesting for all involved. We must consistently remain vigilant throughout the process to make sure the rich do not derail the experimentation into something truly frightening (which would make us wish for the old USA back).
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The super rich suffer from acute nihilism and are vastly outnumbered by newly Internet literate aggressive personality types. They will lose badly if they don't preemptively and radically modify present socioeconomics
Considering all the negative attention that the global oligarchy has been getting recently, one interesting fact often left unmentioned is that the super rich are outnumbered 9,999 to 1. Let's briefly define what we're dealing with.
When one really filters rich people overall, it's evident that the number of decision makers is actually rather small. Out of 7 billion people on earth in the near future (6.8+ billion now), less than 1% are trend setters within social hierarchies. This is the socially visible merchant class that makes money purely off capital investments. That is less than 70 million capitalists scattered about. Majority of this group have relatively insignificant pools of investment money which doesn't expand much (mom and pop small business owners who may have some political pull locally but not too much nationally and internationally).
Within this group, there is 1% (<700,000) that makes the rest look like paupers. Here is a detailed article showing the sheer inequality among the capitalists in United States. These are the people so far removed from the rest of the world materially that they usually end up oppressing the lesser capitalists (through stock market swindles, cartels, and disproportionate buy outs of political lapdogs). In other words, majority of those within richest 1% are fighting their own battle against the 1% in their ranks.
The 700,000 super rich are trend settlers among trend setters. At this point real oligarchic activities become possible. An oligarch is simply anybody with enough disposable wealth to influence politics. Although actions (like paying 2 thousand dollar ticket at a candidate's fund raiser and donations to think tanks of one's choice) technically qualify, in the international arena influence really requires funding/owning think tanks with a global reach.
Finally, perhaps around 50,000 individuals (a few thousand families really) within the 700,000 have the power to culturally pull the rest of the international oligarchy behind them through role modeling and proactive moves. This small number of key oligarchs makes it very easy to hound them politically. Conceivably, people can protest in front of rich people's gatherings rather than in front of gatherings of politicians in the future.
The 700,000 are buffered by millions of loyal and very well paid proletariat patsies. They are the cream of the crop of the wage laborers who often defend the caste above them to the bitter end. One can compare them to house slaves who got it pretty good (200,000 - 600,000 a year paychecks). They can be found writing state propaganda articles for such oligarchic mouthpieces as the Harvard Business Review, The Economist, The Atlantic, and similar rags. This richest proletariat caste appears the most brainwashed due to its complete adoration of the ruling caste (desire to mingle and get interviews) and contempt for the caste right below them. Here is a good example of the type of apologist garbage they tend to write. It pretends to be a serious criticism on the surface while actually being staunchly defensive (avoid if you have a weak stomach).
The good news.
Out of 7 billion people on the planet, almost 500 million people are ENTJs and ENTPs, many of whom are getting Internet for the first time. If you include all relatively unemotional and intuitive homo sapiens such as INTPs and INTJs (perhaps even more dangerous to the rich through behind the scenes work), then the number goes to 700 million uppity proletariat. These 700 million people are the most likely to self educate themselves by utilizing new informational technology and to subsequently find out about their exploitation at the hands of the 700,000. Now, they cannot all be bought off, suppressed, and co-opted. There just isn't enough room in the upper circles for so many comfortable house slaves. Even if 20% of them are co-opted into status-quo hierarchies worldwide, that leaves over 500 million on the outside looking in. This means that the enemies of humanity at large are outnumbered roughly 500-1000 to one (by people who got the drive and the oversized ego to try to bring them down).
Besides being outnumbered they are also overcome with nihilism which can be exploited
Just as was the case over 100 years ago (when Nietzsche first described the phenomenon in detail), it appears that the most powerful individuals on the planet have not developed a common and coherent moral system for themselves and their offspring. Even as the elites are becoming increasingly culturally homogenized via cosmopolitan modes of consumption, Internet communication, international think tanks, common ivy league education, and jet travel allowing frequent dinners together, the majority of them have not officially agreed upon a life expanding moral framework of the future.
The future necessity and inevitability of some centralized governance on a planetary scale combined with the psychological need of rulers to overcome nihilism in a permanently atheistic world (when hedonism, Buddhism, socioeconomic ideology, and attainment of power to highest offices in the land fail to provide psychological comfort), will lead to such moral concoction eventually. However in the meantime, the lack of a relatively uniform belief system to indoctrinate elite's children (future planetary leadership) into is leading to severe infighting when it comes to paths towards planetary unification. This in turn allows for international paralysis and deference to the default mode of predatory corporate globalization overlapped with petty nationalisms.
among the NTs in the Myers Briggs typology. That leaves us with roughly 70,000 individuals who'd like to tinker with humans in new ways on a global scale and who have the financial means to do so. The ESTJs, who are 10% of the population, can add people to this group but only for managerial non-productive (in terms of building a new system) positions. Oligarch ESTJ spawn is likely to engage in something seemingly unnecessary considering their money such as military service. ESTP ofspring would get their kicks from flying balloons around the world or hunting lions (the traditional venues). Other personality types would not really be interested in possibilities of planetary governance. Many would consider politics in general beneath them (since politicians are just butlers) and boring. Even fame loses its appeal since it is not a means to get ahead and brings attention of the peasants to the wealth. If politically engaged at all, their donations would just go towards supporting the status quo of current predatory globalization.
Most of the world's proletariat are so busy just trying to survive that they have overestimated the potential of psychological fulfillment that hedonism can bring. For children of the oligarchy, sex, travel, and partying stop providing the same kick when they reach their late 20s. That's when they go their separate ways as determined by what neural breed they are. The financial means of the oligarchic NTs do a number on their egos (and the egos of the clinical psychopathic minority most likely overly represented within the ENT group) as a type of world conquest becomes possible.
One may argue that power may be sufficient to fill that void but only a minority of elites have the extroverted and emotionless traits to be inclined towards active involvement in politics. Even if they attain positions in high office, the satisfaction from power gained is not great considering most modern legislative and executive branches in the Western world are trapped within crushing interconnected oligarchic corporate power networks. Thus, even if a son from the capitalist class gets into high public office, his real satisfaction will stem mostly from drinking, talking, and dining with fellow political junkies rather than remolding the world with his will. If some legislation does get passed, it'll mostly benefit his fellow top 1% peers and have a less than pleasant feel that he is their secretary. It could very well be that political backers who actually try to get the poor peasantry educated are doing so out of resentment against their overbearing aristocratic fathers and/or their more extroverted political friends. This certainly has happened before when some children of the aristocracy in imperial Russia and Britain flirted with communism.
They are much weaker and more psychologically paralyzed than they appear. Their patsies can be turned against them and millions of people throughout the world will go about doing just that. The goal is to target key oligarchic financial structures (federal reserve and various major banks) and create informational critical mass in the minds of the wage laborers at large. The super rich have grown too soft and comfortable and the intellectual oligarch strategists among them are overwhelmed by group think and cultural inertia of their peers. As this brilliant article suggests, sociologists should refocus from studying the least well off members of society to those best off in order to properly analyze what we're up against. To understand it is to find ever better ways to fight it. In the near future, the political class can be made to serve the general population again. Politicians are notorious for being able to smell blood in the water and the oligarchs present very juicy cows from which to milk political capital and fame (those politicians who stand up to the robber barons tend to get into history books).