A Disturbance in the Force?

Perhaps I’m just having a bad month, but I wonder if other readers sense what I’m detecting. I fancy if someone did a Google frequency search on the right terms, they might pick up tangible indicators of what I’m sensing (as in I’m also a believer that what people attribute to gut feeling is actually pattern recognition).

The feeling I have is that of heightened generalized tension, the social/political equivalent of the sort of disturbance that animals detect in advance of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, of pressure building up along major fault lines. The other way to articulate this vibe is that it is as if events are being influenced by a large unseen gravitational or magnetic force, as if a black hole had moved into the ‘hood. We can’t see the hidden superdense object, but we can infer that it’s distorting the space around it.

Now if you just want to go with the “maybe this is just your neurosis” view, we are in the midst of a counterrevolution, and it’s not exactly cheery to be watching its progress on a daily basis.

It isn’t just that the economic rights for ordinary workers and the social safety nets of the New Deal and the earlier labor movements here and abroad are being demolished. Major elements of a broad social and political architecture that served as the foundation for the Industrial Revolution are being torn apart: the Statute of Fraud (essential to give people of every level of society decent protection of property rights) and access to legal remedies; basic protection of personal rights (habeas corpus, due process, protection against unlawful search and seizure); local policing (as in policing being accountable to local governments). Decent quality public education and the freedom of the press are also under assault. People here have used various terms for this new political order that is being put in place; neofeudalism works as well as any, but it looks intended to dial the clock back on many economic and civil rights of ordinary people, not back to the Gilded Age, but to before the French and American Revolutions.

The sense of heightened tension isn’t that this program is underway, or the recent phases have moved rapidly (that’s bad enough) but that ordinary people are increasingly aware of it, and the folks behind it didn’t want to be caught out at this delicate stage. Imagine if you were executing a coup and got exposed, before you had seized all the critical installations you needed to capture for your victory to be complete.

The collective awareness of the degree of loss of economic and political rights we had all taken for granted, has risen considerably as a result of the Snowden/Greenwald/Poitras revelations. If you haven’t read it yet, the fact that the New York Times ran a favorable Sunday magazine cover story on Laura Poitras (in striking contrast to its earlier hatchet job on Glenn Greenwald) and discussed in some detail how routine communication on the web are simply not secure and depicted the considerable measures Snowden, Greenwald, and Poitras have had to take (and by implication, ordinary people ought to be taking) is an indicator of the fault lines among the elites. A story like that (a story! not My Eyes Glaze Over reports on what sorts of surveillance might or might not be permissible under various programs most American can’t bother to keep track of) brings home in a visceral way how far Big Brother has gone to a large national audience. As Atlantic put it:

The New York Times Magazine cover story by Peter Maass detailing how Edward Snowden reached out to the two reporters that broke the NSA surveillance story isn’t about that surveillance. It’s only sort of about journalism. Instead, it’s largely a story about how close to the boundaries of civilization you must get — literally and figuratively — to be assured that you can protect your privacy. And it’s about how the United States government pushes people there.

But notice the Atlantic played it chicken by calling Poitras “paranoid” in its headline. If you read the abuse Poitras’ suffered when she would return to the US, including having her equipment repeatedly seized and the data searched, “paranoid” is the last word you’d use. “Prudent” is more like it.

And we have the drip drip drip of ongoing revelations such as XKeyscore, “mistaken” surveillance of thousands of ordinary Americans (and you can bet a lot more is dressed up as legit), CIA surveillance of Aaron Swartz and Noam Chomsky (Chomsky? Surveilling an academic successfully relegated to the “so left he’s irrelevant” ghetto? If he’s treated as a threat, the threat threshold is awfully low).

Now as a netizen, as well as someone who has been following the Big Brother story reasonably closely, I could be charged with overreacting to that. But Obama is losing his famous cool. It may simply be an coincidence of timing (as in he’s fighting his inevitable slide into lame duck status and none too happy about that) but he’s been visibly heavy handed of late. This is just off the top of my head:

Derailing Grayson’s session with Greenwald (which will go ahead in September, so what sort of victory was it to push it into a busier news period?)

Getting snippy in that Democratic caucus meeting when asked about Larry Summers and later calling senators who opposed Summers to his office to tell them to lay off

Launching a Big Lie speaking tour on how he’s creating middle class jobs (which seems to be landing like a lead balloon)

Launching a faux independent surveillance investigation (as I’ve said before, having Clapper on the committee is tantamount to saying, “So what are you going to do? Impeach me?”)

A bizarre flurry of “look, over there, an airplane” of actions that garner positive headlines. Mind you, this is standard operating procedure…except that there’s been a weird flurry in August, when most of them could have been held back to September: the London Whale prosecutions. Opposing the AMR-US Air merger. The announcement of an investigation into the use of antipsychotics on children.

Shorter: Obama looks off balance.

And we’ve got a whole ‘nother front opening up, that of municipal bankruptcies and restructurings, which puts the war against municipal workers and unions back in the headlines and creates another looting opportunity for Wall Street, in the form of privatizations. Ugh.

Or maybe the inchoate sense of pressure is real, but I’m looking in the wrong place for explanations. A newly-published study ascertained that climate change increases violence. And we also have that long-standing Roubini call that 2013 will see a new outbreak of crisis, and winter October is coming.

So readers: do you have a similar sense of a collective rise in pressure, or tangible signs of disturbance among what passes for our elites? Or is this just me trying to draw a trend line through a random set of data?

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    1. Jerry

      I thought it was only me feeling this crazy, and I actually do feel it in my gut. So, if it is just one of my neuroses acting up, I will take my neurosis any day over the psychosis of the clowns running this circus. Noam Chomsky isn’t the only one that believes we are all hellbent for flatout Neofeudalism.

      1. Bob B

        Looks like India’s the latest bankster target for a currency run. Markeplace Morning has a report in today’s (08/16) broadcast; not posted to the website.

      2. Schofield

        Now that my wife has induced me to start watching “The Dome” I can’t help but view it as a great metaphor for the Neo-Feudalism we’ve been experiencing for a very long time as a part of our ambivalent human nature. Neo-Feudalism was made worse by the Industrial Revolution and continues with the process of outsourcing. One day by coming to terms with our ambivalence we might break out of the “The Dome”.



        1. Tony W.

          Sleepy –

          It has crossed my mind that 9-11 was the “trigger event” that created a cascade of interrelated events, sucking some important trends forward (fear – accelerated the Baby booms move into its saving years – compromising consumption), overreactive fed policy and the innate flaws in the business models in the finance industry – ridiculous housing bubble. The scale of the problems were so big, we couldnt let it burn down and start over, as we have before, and now we have compounded the problems and created greated downside, and EVERYBODY knows it. Info. tech and real time information, and unrestrained press (web, blogs, etc.,) provide diverse and extreme points of view at a scale we have never before experienced. Unfortunately, people often believe what thdey read. The vulnerability to additional major shocks is real, and dangerous.

          However, we do have a well organized, globally connected Central banking community, coordinating policy globally, lead by intelligent people, who can, and will step up as the lenders of last resort. We have resilient, well educated and capable populations in the developed and developing world. We are all in this together. It is a test of our humanity, and I believe, we will come out the other side, better for the challenge we are facing. What we really need is leadership around doing whats best for everybody. Because whats best for a few of us, will only lead us to hardship. “We the people” do have the ability to make the changes. We need leadership.

          1. nonclassical


            I learned HOW to decipher such as 911, Vietnam era-began collecting all data regarding-by the 5th excuse for fall of building 7 I was certain we were being lied to…I caught onto Paul Thompson’s “The Terror Timeline” early on, and let him do the work-pick up the book-Thompson was go to guy for “families of 911 victims”..to create “911 Commission” which bushcheney attempted to stonewall..

            follow Alan “Buzzy” Krongard through banking-CIA historical internet search..

            more recently, reading the great Robert Fisk’s, “The Great War For Civilization-the Conquest of the Middle-East”, I find my worst fears confirmed-

            I stated post 911, if bush-cheney neocons turn U.S. into Israel, I’m leaving…

            They had a lot of help, and having read Fisk, it looks like it was Israel….who had most to gain by turning U.S. against Arab-Muslim world…? Look at us now…

          2. Fiver

            Taking comfort in the existence of “a global banking community” lead by “intelligent people” as antidote to Yves’ well-grounded anxiety is remarkable to say the least.

      3. sleepy

        I have had that “gut feeling” since the government’s response to 9-11.

        By that, I mean that while those responses were bad, each year since then has brought even worse events, and each year digs the rabbit hole deeper and deeper.

        Things I thought were unimaginable one year, became the norm the next, and the next, and the next. Nothing any longer surprises.

        Nadia Mandelstein, the wife of Russian poet Osip Mandelstein who was murdered in the Gulag, commented in her memoir, “Hope Against Hope”, that under Stalin she “had lost her sense of awe”.

        I think that perhaps is an accurate statement of how many people now feel.

      4. Paul Tioxon

        Noam Chomsky Wall Mural, covered by real estate development in red hot Art Museum district, in Philadelphia.

        “According to a Philadelphia Weekly article from 2009, Pagast’s friend owned the building next to the 19th and Fairmount corner lot and let Pagast paint the mural on the exposed wall. Pagast was concerned then that developers would cover the wall after just a year or two. He suggested that perhaps it would be fitting though, “a Chomsky mural, swallowed up by capitalism.”



      5. Bill the Psychologist

        To me, it’s as if the Reagan Administration has been going on all along, and we’re now in the Reagan Empire.

        Same atmosphere of Celebration of the Wealthy, and Poor=Lazy and Evil

    2. Westcoastliberal

      Having been called an “empath” by many people, Yves your antennae is in synch with mine. Seems to me what we’re seeing is the “end-game” to what began at least going back to the stolen election of 2000 when the neo-con crowd did their little “coup”. If you review the events with clear vision seems to me much has been pre-planned to arrive at the point where we are today. Where we’ll be tomorrow is the 64,000 dollar question. Snowden has made them admit part of it, and I think Cheney is the one still in charge. Obama is either captured by his “control file” or was a Manchurian candidate. And for the record I was duped into voting for him in 2008.

      1. Almost Ghetto

        If you check out the RT interview of Russell Tice, you’ll see that the NSA was spying on all Supreme Court Justices, many congressmen, and Obama when he was a state Senator. Tice said that the orders for the taps came from high enough that they could have only come from Cheney. What was done with the information from these taps? I seriously wonder whether this PNAC neocon agenda that has been seemlesly implemented in the past decade was greased by blackmail of key officials, including Obama himself. I highly recommend watching some interview of Russell Tice.

        1. Westcoastliberal

          Exactly. What we’ve seen/are seeing unfold is mainly the result of “all blackmail, all the time”. Cheney must be in charge of all the “control files”.

      2. Crazy Horse

        You are right WestCoast, there is a disturbance in the Field. Extremely sensitive people like Yves and yourself cannot help but feel it. While it may seem to come from the co-junction of many observable and measurable events that is far from the truth. Behind the Disturbance is an atomic level phenomenon hidden in a stealth attack upon the worlds central banking system. That’s right, the Disturbance is being caused by Bitcoin!!

        Let me explain. As all readers sophisticated enough to find their way to Naked Capitalism understand, the FED and indeed all sovereign central banks create money out of “thin air” by a process of alchemy. However in accordance with the law of conservation of energy, the creation of money cannot take place in an energy void. It must draw upon real atomic energy fields, and in so doing alters the force fields surrounding the central bank digital storage media and computing equipment.

        Now when Satoshi, aka Vladimir aka Dread Pirate Roberts invented Bitcoin his vision was far more all encompassing than merely building a better PayPal. He intended nothing less than the complete replacement of national currencies controlled by banksters and their servants with a peer-controlled universal digital money system. Of course such a vision is a mortal threat to those who control the world financial system and float their 400′ yachts upon the overflow. And anyone brilliant enough to invent an entire money system was certainly brilliant enough to anticipate how it might be attacked. Just like Edward Snowden, Satoshi left a hidden WBD (weapon of bankster destruction) in his code, buried so deeply that no individual hacker or even the NSA has suspected its existence.

        Drawing upon the principles of instantaneous action at distance facilitated by force field harmonics proposed by Rupert Shelldrake, Satoshi inserted a quantum trigger in the Bitcoin transfer algorithm. Each time a Bitcoin transaction takes place anywhere in the world a corresponding quantum level disturbance perturbs the digital force field around the FED generated when it creates money out of thin air. What Yves and other seers are detecting is the increasing instability in the Federal Reserve Note force field as it nears criticality from billions of Bitcoin transactions and their side effects.

        Whew! That was fun!

      3. Crazy Horse

        Love the video of Cheney walking down the hallway to the operations room bunker during the 911 attacks. A junior aide asks him: Sir, radar has a plane only 10 minutes out from Washington, heading for the Pentagon. Do your orders to not scramble interceptors still stand? Cheney turns and snarls. “Of course my orders still stand.”

        Nothing like being in control of events—-.

        1. Winston Smith

          9/11 surely was an event.
          Find the answer to these four questions;
          Why did WT bldg.7 collapse into its own footprint ?
          Why was no dialysis machine found in that infamous
          house in Abbotabad ?
          What are the odds on the Pentagon impact killing the
          entire audit team working on a multi trillion dollar
          fraud ?
          Whay do 4000+ engineers and architects insist the entire
          scenario on 9-11 was impossible and defies the laws of
          Conspiracy theory’s are becoming conspiracy facts all around us.Our Govt. lies ALL the time.

          1. Crazy Horse

            That’s easy:

            “Why did WT bldg.7 collapse into its own footprint?”
            The demolition charges were properly placed.

            “Why was no dialysis machine found in that infamous
            house in Abbotabad?”
            Since Osama bin Laden died of conditions related to kidney failure in December of 2001, why would the NSA need to supply a dialysis machine for his body double?

            “What are the odds on the Pentagon impact killing the
            entire audit team working on a multi trillion dollar
            Pretty darn good if the plane/cruise missile were flown by drone autopilot following a laser beam to its target. A lot higher than the probability of a pilot who couldn’t fly a Cessna being able to precisely fly a descending circular flight pattern and hit an exact target.

            Why do 4000+ engineers and architects insist the entire
            scenario on 9-11 was impossible and defies the laws of
            Who is to say that Cheney/Vader isn’t able to suspend the laws of physics? Looks like he has been able to suspend the laws of human mortality and live quite well without a heart. After all if deficits don’t matter why should reality be any different?

  1. Clive

    As a counterpoint to my usual ruthlessly scientific and logical side I sometimes when the mood takes me research and read tarot cards. It’s always interesting to check if the correlations between predictions and actual events are strong or completely out of whack.

    A couple of days ago I was curious about what the lesson or lessons humanity was being driven to learn through our current trials and tribulations. There are, I believe, always forces of enlightenment trying to impose themselves on an often truculent and resistive world.

    My past / present / future spread was:

    6 of pentacles
    4 of cups
    The Wheel of Fortune

    Not wishing to bore people who have no interest in the subject any further, I’ll summarise the reading as “a world in material balance with a just distribution now in stagnation and ennui. The future holds a big and completely unexpected — radical even — change”

    Sounded about right to me.

    Either that, or Vanna White will lead a popular uprising to overthrow Obama with the Federal Reserve replaced by some guy spinning a big wooden table with dollar symbols on it…

    Time will tell of course. Only on NC do you get to think like this !

    1. diptherio

      Six of Pentacles: a rich man distributes alms to poor beggars–represents our history of wealth inequality.

      Four of cups–a peasant considers four different cups, all of them empty, as if trying to choose one. An anthropomorphic cloud seems to be pressing him to choose one of the cups, but the peasant is focused on the other three–this represents the populace looking for alternatives, being told there is no alternative, but considering alternatives anyway…the correct choice is unclear, all of the cups are empty, no choice guarantees abundance.

      Wheel of Fortune–just what it sounds like–We are approaching a bifurcation point in our history. There are multiple possibilities for how things will play out, and no guarantee of which possibilities will manifest, whether for good or for ill.

      1. Clive

        Thanks diptherio.

        “Six of Pentacles: a rich man distributes alms to poor beggars–represents our history of wealth inequality.”

        For me, 6’es represent a balancing, solving the problem (here, of the have’s and the have not’s). While superficially the card is concerned with simple charity, there’s (as often the case with tarot) more than meets the eye. How are things to be divided ? Who gets what ? By what process ? As this card came up in the “past” depiction, it suggested to me that effort, energy, consideration was given to this problem. People gave it thought and tried to act in a mindful way. Now, that is lost, a thing of history.

        But I would never say that someone’s interpretation of a spread is “wrong” or “right”. So maybe then we’ve always had a situation of inequality — and everyone is now thoroughly fed up with it.

        1. diptherio

          I don’t dabble in Tarot much, but when I do I usually focus more on the archetypal image presented on the card than the numerological significance of the number (and I also prefer the Rider-Waite (sp?) deck, since it’s the classic and seems somehow more ‘legitimate’ than newer versions). And I just make up my own interpretations, rather than rely on the standard explanations of a card’s significance.

          In the image of the six of pentacles I see an portrait of elites salving their consciouses through acts of charity. On the scales he holds, the rich man weighs the demands of the poor and his repressed feelings of guilt against his greed and avarice, doling out only enough gold to maintain his own station in the hierarchy. This is a picture of a robber-baron distributing a pittance of his ill-gotten gains to those he has oppressed, so as to burnish his reputation and endear himself to the masses who should rightfully despise him.

          But like I said, that’s not the usual interpretation, just how I would read it.

          1. rps

            “I see an portrait of elites salving their consciouses through acts of charity.”

            I see them getting a tax write-off and nothing more

            1. S M Tenneshaw

              I see them kicking a homeless guy in the gut on their way home after the deal. But that’s just me.

    2. optimader

      “…I sometimes when the mood takes me research and read tarot cards. It’s always interesting to check if the correlations between predictions and actual events are strong or completely out of whack…”

      Let me save you some research time so you can move on to more productive/enlightening endeavors. Don’t waste your time w/ tarot cards. File under Coincidence, or as closely as can be characterized by your stated alternative “completely out of whack.

      As for Y Smith’s notion about the root source of “gut feeling” I agree, it is actually Pattern Recognition which is generally accepted as the highest level of intelligence.

      AS for our society, humans are complacent and compliant by nature, I think this is very basic survival instinct, real Brain stem stuff. For many a gradual loss of rights is acceptably accommodated IMO if their daily behavior patterns-creature comforts are too no unduly imposed on.

      When the familiar and assumed minimum living standards for social complacency cannot be reliably satisfied,whatever they are
      –a full tank of gas for the 200HP Sears Shed on wheels,
      inability to afford Cable TV,
      inability to afford running the HVAC,
      when the frequency of negative familial interaction with the increasing militarized security apparatchik become topical in society, when the “wants” are sufficiently ablated and we’re into the organ meat of “needs” then perhaps..
      I think we are functionally a ways away from that. Timeline wise? who actually knows.

      Benchmarking w/ other places in the world, maybe a good place to consider on is Postwar Italy?
      When I travel, I often wonder how the typical Americans would respond if thrust into other societies with more challenging circumstances (relative to survival).

      When I used to travel recreationally to a friends place in Central America as a young man, we would be off-handily amused and appalled when seeing anti aircraft emplacements adjacent to the runways and militarized police walking around with automatic weapons. A personal benchmark to me how things change and are accommodated…
      “For Your Safety” pfffft

      1. diptherio

        I’ve always viewed Tarot, I Ching and the like as ways of honing one’s pattern recognition abilities, usually in regards to one’s own life. The human mind naturally looks for order and projects it even where it does not exist. When one does a personal Tarot reading, one’s mind naturally looks for pattern linking the images on the cards to the events in one’s life (if one can suspend their disbelief for the sake of the experiment).

        It is not that the Tarot cards somehow know something about you or about the future, but rather that the cards help one to bring to the forefront of consciousness things that one already knows but may be, nonetheless, unaware of. By circumventing the rational mind, which often as not serves to obscure ourselves from ourselves (i.e. rationalization), practices like Tarot reading can allow subconscious intuitions and understandings to bubble to the surface where they can be useful.

        It if for this reason that I think the most (seemingly) inappropriate cards are the most useful for self-analysis, since they force one to dig deeper into one’s own psyche in the search for meaning. A card that seems immediately appropriate can be more easily handled by the rational, conscious mind.

        But it can be a slippery slope. The trick, I think, is to believe just enough to allow the cards (or whatever system you’re using) to be effective, without believing so much that you become a raving lunatic. The non-rational world of divination can be a fun (and useful) place to visit, but it’s a horrible place to live.

        My too sense… ;)

        1. Clive

          I agree. It is always useful to develop skills which sharpen your intuition and help you to think symbolically. But you need other life experience in your armoury too.

          In all things, balance.

        2. optimader

          I can respect that.

          I do the same thing floating in my pool at night stargazing w/a Jameson’s Irish whiskey and Mr. Davis or John M. ( (virtually).

            1. tawal

              Thanks Optimader, Birds of Fire changed my life forever back in 1973. Still on the same path, with many forks. Adore John’s inside out sweater look; I’m an unnoticing kindred soul.

                1. optimader

                  John and his older brother are friends of mine.
                  Interesting cats. Both could not be nicer or more talented in their fields. In Johns case, certainly the most accomplished living guitar player, unbelievable how he is wired to play.

            1. brazza

              Thanks for the interesting interchange, and for having the guts to introduce a methodology that might easily be dismissed as poppycock in this cathedral of cartesian analysis :-) That’s what I love most about this blog … the surprising variety of approaches, and conclusions. Sometimes the only “tie that binds” seems to be a generalized perception that we live in an amazing epoch of such radical change that it makes medium and long-term forecasting practically impossible. I fundamentally feel it is that very uncertainty that explains the anxiety in the air. Everyone is scrambling for safety, some by propping up a disintegrating system, others by jumping ship with little in the way of a road-map. And the official word from the captains of the Titanic (be they financial or political) is basically: “the situation is under control, stay in your cabins, and watch TV”.

    3. nonclasscal

      ..disinformation includes ridicule-follow Alan “Buzzy” Krongard from Iran-Contra-banking, to Deutche Bank prior to 911, to Blackwater after, to???

  2. gonzomarx

    One thing that has struck me in the UK, is that there has been of late a full court push by the MSM to talk up/trumpet any financial indicators (housing/retail etc) no matter how weak to show that there is a recovery and a combined full on stomping of UKIP (after a brief spring flirtation) and as you pointed out during August when the most of the MSM are on holiday. There hasn’t been much of a silly season this year.
    Some other little things like seeing the local chopper copper more often in the last 2 months than in the last 6, a series of late night freewheeling discussion shows on radio 4 about among other stuff the underlying structures in society/power of elites (usually verboten) , the slow but sure rise of middle england in protesting fracking (something that really seems to worry the Tories)

    But I’m not sure if this amounts to anything new though

    1. Clive

      One of the things that’s really encouraged me is (in response to the recovery happy talk especially in housing) how quickly, vociferously and coherently the counter arguments have been not only made but at least taken seriously. A good example is http://coppolacomment.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-illusory-housing-recovery.html?m=1

      As you say, a lot of the MSM feighn ignorance. But they, fortunately, aren’t the be-all and end-all opinion formers they once were.

      1. gonzomarx

        I’ve missed any push back apart from when briefly the fall in real wages was news.

        tarot, I’d also check with the I Ching

      2. Synopticist

        One of the very few long-term trends in the UK which is undoubtedly good news is the decline in the influence of the MSM. The contempt in which increasing numbers of people hold MSM news coverage is quite striking.

    2. Yonatan

      Lots of military activity too – Chinooks and Apaches all over the place. Maybe Prinz Harry and his mates are preparing for more pigsticking?

    3. J Sterling

      It’s IngSoc TrueThink that the chocolate ration has gone up. You’re just imagining that the chocolate bars used to be bigger.

  3. YankeeFrank

    I don’t know, but I was in my old neighborhood yesterday (East Village, NYC) and was shocked that many storefronts were closed up that used to be thriving businesses. The main food market on Ave. A, in the primest location imaginable (Ave. A just south of Tompkins Sq. Park) has been shuttered for years now. Other restaurants that used to be open into the wee hours are closing around midnight now, and there are way fewer people out than I remember. Now the East Village is the epicenter of so much IBanker, PR/marketing new money transplants, rents are through the roof, so there is definitely money in the neighborhood. Perhaps its just late August doldrums, I don’t know.

    What I do know is that, for most New Yorkers the recession/depression never ended. And if it didn’t end here, it certainly hasn’t ended anywhere in middle America.

    I do agree that the powers that be are looking more threadbare control-wise than usual — cracks are appearing in the edifice. Yves would know better than me if there is anything on the financial sector front that could turn into a rout, but with US power waning, even as it lashes out in more and more ways to retain its control of the world, something is in the air. There are so many potential disasters waiting in the wings its just a matter of time before one or more of them hits.

    1. from Mexico

      YankeeFreank said:

      I do agree that the powers that be are looking more threadbare control-wise than usual — cracks are appearing in the edifice… [W]ith US power waning, even as it lashes out in more and more ways to retain its control of the world, something is in the air. There are so many potential disasters waiting in the wings its just a matter of time before one or more of them hits.

      This is my take too, that the United States is not some island. What is happening in the rest of the world is, believe it or not, important.

      Most people in the US, Europe and the UK live in a little bubble, completely ignorant of what is going on outside their highly insular existence. Such insularity allows comments like this (from one of yesterday’s threads):

      A greater comprehension of the full-spectrum politics of the neoliberal thought collective has many profound implications; the most obvious is that the Left possesses nothing even remotely approaching its sophistication, which explains why it gets so repeatedly outfoxed.

      Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/08/fixing-old-markets-with-new-markets-the-origins-and-practice-of-neoliberalism.html#ZHILdpruJQpRAiwL.99

      What we have here is the age-old error of mistaking cleverness for intelligence. What is sophisticated about a parasitic political-economic philosophy that essentially boils down to might makes right? And how sophisticated is a parasite that lacks the foresight to see that if it destroys its host, it will also destroy itself? Is this something that sophisticated parasites do? I say no. This is something that people who are mentally ill do: they hurt not only others but themselves as well.

      The wheels are comming off neoliberalism. It started in the southern cone of South America. Now it’s happening in Egypt. People in the US, the UK and Europe, because they live in their little bubble worlds and feed on a constant diet of lies and propaganda, are unaware of this:

      Since 1991, the year Egypt yoked itself to an IMF structural adjustment programme and embarked on a series of wide-ranging economic reforms, the country has been something of a poster child for neoliberal economists who point to its remarkable levels of annual GDP growth as proof that “Washington consensus” blueprints for the developing world can work.


      So Egypt is now a glitzier, more prosperous land with pharaonic-style riches to match its pharaonic-style leader (now entering his 29th year in power). Except, as the GAFI report inconveniently points out, 90% of the country has yet to see any of the bounty. Foreign investment has been largely channelled into sectors like finance and gas which create few new jobs. While national resources like natural gas have been sold at subsidised rates to the tycoon owners of iron and fertiliser factories, the cost of ordinary commodities like bread and cooking oil has spiralled. In fact since the IMF began hauling Egypt’s economy into modernity, Egyptians have got steadily and dramatically poorer: when structural adjustment began 20% of the population were living on less than (inflation-adjusted) $2 a day; today, that figure stands at 44%. In the past decade, when GDP growth was at its strongest, absolute poverty has climbed from 16.7% to almost 20%. Chomsky called neoliberalism “capitalism with the gloves off”; it’s hard, looking at this jumble of statistics, to discern anything but a shameless hit-and-run job perpetrated by a tiny band of Egypt’s business elite.

      My prediction: Expect many more Southern Cones and many more Egypts as more and more countries around the world rebel against a sick and pathological ideology.

      1. Ben Johannson

        Agreed that neoliberal economics is in its paradigmatic death throes, the only question is how much damage it will do as it lashes about. We’re probably now in the most dangerous period.

        1. posa

          You’re on the right track Ben… with QE on course to be phased-out, the decline of Wall Street life-support systems will only create further economic contraction. The knock-on effects will only amplify the negative multiplier effects rippling throughout the economy.

          To answer Yves question: People sense impending doom… in fact many us are barely hanging on at the margins of (former) middle-class existence without much hiope for a way out.

          Unfortunately, the edifice of a “legitimate” military based dictatorship has been finalized with the Patriot Act, NDAA, and related court rulings. Clearly the operational capibility is in place for a national dictatorship… The NSA total surveillance is in place precisely to identify and “negate” resistors, indigenous leaders and general rabble-rousers who may object to policies of “Permanent War- Permanent Depression”.

          I would predict that we’ll see another 9/11 style t*rr spectacle sometime in the next 18-24 months which will kick off the formal declaration of “National, Permament Martial Law Lockdown”…

          I would hope not… but I doubt a core of peaceful, political revolt will dismanthe the capabilities of an pending Orwellian Panopticon Police State designed tio enforce “Permanent Killer Austerity”

          1. Moneta

            A large percentage of the 1%-5%ers are living a life of hedonism. They are thinking of their 5 houses and boats, not about managing a police force.

            The reason why they are looking increasingly threadbare is because this elite is not a homogeneous group.

            Just like the 5% could not care less if the 95% disappeared, the .5% probably could not care less if the next 4.5% got kicked out of the club.

            In the class system we have created, segregation never ends… it’s just like fractals.

            1. John

              Maybe so. But that’s why they have their bought and paid for politicians there in the first place, to look out for them.

              So they can relax and party and enjoy the money they stole.

              And that includes managing the police forces against any threats to them or their property.

              1. Moneta

                There is no police after a while in a systemic breakdown.

                That’s why the Roman empire broke down… they could not pay/control their soldiers anymore… especially with mercenaries.

                That’s why we got the Dark Ages… tribes and castles with moats.

                Go read the article on Greece… the coast guard stole a citizen’s boat… when citizens don’t have boats anymore (or gas), they won’t be able to operate.

                1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

                  I wish to say more concerning counter-revolution, rear-guard actions and forces of “restoration”. I read some of an article by Lenin penned at the end of July 1917; this is after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, during the period of the Kerensky Government. Lenin writes that the capitalists were always better organised and knew how to manipulate and deceive. Lenin says Kerensky turned socialist in March 1917, after the February abdication: Kerensky was a tool of the capitalists. Promises by the Government of a Constituent Assembly were given but now held. The list goes on. Others have called the Provisional Government a government “mainly composed of bourgeois”. Lenin link: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/sep/06.htm

          2. digi_owl

            I don’t think it will be a obvious rule by decree, but a sham democracy where the elected official rubber stamp a doctrine no matter where they claim to stand politically.

            This is the model “democracy” that have been imposed around the world since the end of the cold war.

      2. dragqueen capitalism

        Watching the display of mindless triumphalism following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a chill went down my spine, a chill I took as a warning as I watched an entire population celebrate the downfall of the only force in the world that encouraged the Capitalist paradigm to grant rights such as healthcare, pensions, vacations and other concessions to workers’ demands to be met by a system that held their interests to be inimical to its own. I remember thinking, as this is what’s pertinent to your observations, that when the time came, there would be no ‘Velvet Revolution” as Capitalism failed the billions of people on the planet, but that it would destroy everything before relinquishing the death grip it had on the economic prospects of humanity. Events that have transpired since them have only confirmed that opinion. Rather than lose our privileges, we will turn the world into a ball of fire. One way (climate change) or another.

    2. from Mexico

      @ YankeeFreank

      I do agree that the powers that be are looking more threadbare control-wise than usual — cracks are appearing in the edifice… [W]ith US power waning, even as it lashes out in more and more ways to retain its control of the world, something is in the air. There are so many potential disasters waiting in the wings its just a matter of time before one or more of them hits.

      This is my take too, that the United States is not some island. What is happening in the rest of the world is, believe it or not, important.

      Most people in the US, Europe and the UK live in a little bubble, completely ignorant of what is going on outside their highly insular existence. Such insularity allows comments like this (from one of yesterday’s threads):

      A greater comprehension of the full-spectrum politics of the neoliberal thought collective has many profound implications; the most obvious is that the Left possesses nothing even remotely approaching its sophistication, which explains why it gets so repeatedly outfoxed.

      Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/08/fixing-old-markets-with-new-markets-the-origins-and-practice-of-neoliberalism.html#ZHILdpruJQpRAiwL.99

      What we have here is the age-old error of mistaking cleverness for intelligence. What is sophisticated about a parasitic political-economic philosophy that essentially boils down to might makes right? And how sophisticated is a parasite that lacks the foresight to see that if it destroys its host, it will also destroy itself? Is this something that sophisticated parasites do? I say no. This is something that people who are mentally ill do: they hurt not only others but themselves as well.

      And what we are seeing taking place around the globe are the wheels coming off an ideology that, even though it is the ruling ideology, is pathological.

      1. from Mexico

        Because they live in their little bubble worlds and are fed a constant diet of lies and propaganda, most people in the US, the UK and Europe are unaware of, for example, this:

        Since 1991, the year Egypt yoked itself to an IMF structural adjustment programme and embarked on a series of wide-ranging economic reforms, the country has been something of a poster child for neoliberal economists.


        Except, as the GAFI report inconveniently points out, 90% of the country has yet to see any of the bounty. Foreign investment has been largely channelled into sectors like finance and gas which create few new jobs. While national resources like natural gas have been sold at subsidised rates to the tycoon owners of iron and fertiliser factories, the cost of ordinary commodities like bread and cooking oil has spiralled. In fact since the IMF began hauling Egypt’s economy into modernity, Egyptians have got steadily and dramatically poorer: when structural adjustment began 20% of the population were living on less than (inflation-adjusted) $2 a day; today, that figure stands at 44%. In the past decade, when GDP growth was at its strongest, absolute poverty has climbed from 16.7% to almost 20%. Chomsky called neoliberalism “capitalism with the gloves off”; it’s hard, looking at this jumble of statistics, to discern anything but a shameless hit-and-run job perpetrated by a tiny band of Egypt’s business elite.

        My prediction: The imposition of neoliberalism upon the world by the USA, the UK and Europe has made the world into a tinderbox. Expect many more South Americas and many more Egypts as the rebellion against a sick and pathological ideology spreads.

      2. from Mexico

        Because the only people who count in the US, the UK and Europe benefit from neoliberalism, and the rest of the populations of these countries live in their little bubble worlds and are fed a constant diet of lies and propaganda, most people in the US, the UK and Europe are unaware of, for example, this:

        Since 1991, the year Egypt yoked itself to an IMF structural adjustment programme and embarked on a series of wide-ranging economic reforms, the country has been something of a poster child for neoliberal economists.


        Except, as the GAFI report inconveniently points out, 90% of the country has yet to see any of the bounty… Egyptians have got steadily and dramatically poorer: when structural adjustment began 20% of the population were living on less than (inflation-adjusted) $2 a day; today, that figure stands at 44%. In the past decade, when GDP growth was at its strongest, absolute poverty has climbed from 16.7% to almost 20%.

        My prediction: The imposition of neoliberalism upon the world by the USA, the UK and Europe has made the world into a tinderbox. Expect many more South Americas and many more Egypts as the rebellion against a sick and pathological ideology spreads.

        1. from Mexico

          I should have written:

          Because the only people who count in the US, the UK and Europe benefit from neoliberalism in the short run

          In the long run, I believe the Western elites will also be consumed in the conflagration provoked by the inevitable blowback to neoliberalism.

        2. skippy

          “pathological ideology” – fMexico

          That’s all it really is, boosted by a variety of self reinforcing materialistic fetishes.

          skippy… all to fill some black hole of childish insecurity… sigh.

        3. Jeff Martin

          Yes, but it should not be forgotten that many of the reactions against neoliberalism will be ideological; ie., pathological, displaced reactions against imaginary causes of the people’s immiseration, and not necessarily the actual causes themselves – as witness the Muslim Brotherhood period in Egypt: there was seldom any clear understanding that Egypt’s travails owed to the imposition of neoliberal economic structures; what there was, instead, was the recognition that the military was part of the problem (as indeed it is), with the problem being the (from the perspective of the Brothers, particularly the foot soldiers in the streets) inadequate Islamicization of the society. Many of these folks spoke as though, with the completion of their programme of Islamicization, the economy would magically correct itself.

          Expect many more instances of such magical, ideological ‘thinking’.

          1. from Mexico

            I agree, but with one caveat, and that is that the elixir being peddled doesn’t have to be of the traditional religious variety.

            In both Bolshevism and Nazism, the elixir was nominally secular.

            1. steelhead23

              I am very far from understanding the human psychology of this, or suggest any rational means of avoiding it, but with rare exception the process of changing political economies tens toward magical thinking and reactionary response. The poster child for this view is French history from 1780 to around 1950. They ditched the king, then had the Reign of Terror, an emporer (Napoleon), an new king…, capitalistic excess, then, eventually, after a few nasty wars, a social democracy.

              In my view, the biggest rift in The Force is not the rumblings of such revolutionary processes, but the anxiety that this is no longer a world where such growth pains (wars) are fought with sword and musket, but with robotic weapons, perhaps even nuclear weapons and not just the political economic future of mankind is in the wind, but its existence. Pardon me for embellishing Yves’ anxiety, but I have felt it for some time.

              1. susan the other

                I’ve been in full freak-out for 10 years. But I’m the crone gone dizzy from watching the leaves swirl, for at least 40 years. I love Yves metaphor of a disturbance in the force. Yes. Everything that hasn’t already fallen apart is on its last legs. Including the government. I’ll just submit my definition of what we have: We have a defacto military dictatorship. And we are in league with governments all around the world. Democracy is too sloppy and slow to manage a world on the brink. Probably several brinks: global warming, massive bankruptcies, extensive pollution, depleted resources, overpopulation, deprivation, starvation, greed and maldistribution….ad infinitum. These are all legacies of neoliberalism. Unfortunately the neoliberals are the new dictators. They will reign like Egyptian generals. It is all very ironic and easily propagandized because under true liberalism there would be no military at all. Obama is just their narcissistic idiot puppet.

            2. Jeff Martin

              Absolutely. Certain hints of this may be discerned in the Tea Party movement, which, despite overlapping substantially with the religious right of the Republican Party, has a component largely uninterested in the culture wars, but profoundly interested in repealing the Twentieth Century, from the Great Society to the New Deal to the Progressive Era. They openly pine for a restoration of Lochner-era substantive due process jurisprudence/legislation, where political economy and plutocratic prerogatives are concerned. This component has ideological roots, and some some infrastructural roots, going back to the anti-New Deal coalition, the businessmens’ crusade against mitigating the Depression; organizationally, it has its more immediate roots in the astroturfed campaign against tobacco regulation, going back 20-25 years. Needless to say, its programme is yet another embodiment of magical thinking. Because this faction has established a working political alliance with the religious right – the dominant political ideology of the religious right fully embraces the neoliberal economics of the ‘secular’ economic elite, though they mystify it with religious terminology (the Invisible Hand, that reification of fate, chance, and manipulation, is replaced for the religious right by ‘Providence’, for example) – they have a proletarianized cadre that can be mobilized against any impetus to reform. This is somewhat reminiscent of the alliance of German conservatives with the Nazis, the cement of their relationship being a shared hatred of the left – although, in the case of the American pairing, either faction would be capable of generating fascisitic outcomes of itself.

              1. skippy

                Concur Jeff,

                Lovely observation at the end, the Mysticism deployed, by those in such position of authority – wealth.

    3. sleepy

      I have a friend who has lived around Avenue A and 13th in a tiny 5th floor walkup since the late 70s.

      At the time, I–a non-New Yorker–marveled at paying that much for that place to the tune of $495/month, though I thought the neighborhood was great, dicey-ness and all.

      I think he pays around $1000 now. Quite a bargain. I believe it’s rent-stabilized or something or other.

      1. John

        It’s not a bargin. It’s way more then what should be paid to landlords to “rent” their old bricks and airspace.

  4. dSquib

    The administration response has been scattershot. It’s not a problem, nothing to see here. It might be a problem! But we’re looking into it. Nothing to see here. We welcome the debate, but not in this way. Nothing to see here. Snowden’s concerns were understandable, but he went about it the wrong way. We’re creating oversight, even though we already had it!

    It seems clear that the “drip drip drip” of Guardian stories is driving Obama batty. Especially as some have seemed to be tailored to knock back the administration and its defender’s latest talking points, of that week.

  5. Dave

    My view is that the US dollar, debt, and the NSA are all points of control in our system. All three have intentionally operated behind the scenes but awareness of the implications of each to the daily lives of ordinary Americans has risen to the point of open discussion. My feeling is that the implications of this awareness is causing concern.

    1. profoundlogic

      Excellent point.

      There are a number of “behind the scenes” operations that Americans are either perfectly oblivious of, or don’t really want to acknowledge which keep their happy illusion afloat. The curtain has been pulled back, and it has been revealed that indeed the emperor is not only unclothed, he’s enveloped in a web of fraud and deceit.

      The credibility trap is a bitch!

    2. Saddam Smith


      The way I see it is that money is an exquisite tool of control that secures power relationships which are used to extract wealth from the non-elite. Money is how the state has come to be so incredibly powerful, and is essentially debt, or credit-debt relationships. Compound interest keeps the sucker bubbling along, extracting and exploiting away until the whole thing explodes, which it is doing right now. (Market is a consequence of all this, a subset of it, not a progenitor.)

      Intelligence gathering is also important, but to protect the essential dynamic which is powered by money/debt.

      1. from Mexico

        As Stephan Schulmeister points out, however, such insights are not possible within a classical or neoclassical economic paradigm, which is a two-world theory which splits the economic world into capital and labor.

        Only when capital is further split into ficticious capital and real capital, such as in a Marxist analysis, is the sort of analysis you make possible:

        There exist three types of participation in the production process, labour, real capital and finance capital, and, hence, three types of interests (table 1). The “purely” economic interests of real and finance capital stay in direct conflict with one another. High profitability of real investments call for low interest rates and exchange rates, and for stable financial markets, by contrast, financial speculation profits from exactly the opposite conditions. Even though the interests of real capital and labour are different as regards the distribution of income, both factors have a common interest in generating a high overall income and, hence, in a strong and stable production growth…

        During real-capitalistic periods (e. g., ~1890 to 1914; ~1950 to the mid-1970s; China since the early 1980s) those economic theories dominate or are at least influential which underline the crisis-prone nature of capitalism (Marxian or Keynesian theories).

        “From real capitalism to finance capitalism and (hopefully) back – the role of the navigation map”


        1. Saddam Smith

          I now start with the vital concept of property after having read Heinsohn and Steiger’s “Eigentum, Zins und Geld” (Property, Interest and Money). Their position is that you cannot have an economy in the modern sense (they call it a true economy) until you have property. Property is characterised as being capable of generating credit-debt claims which become/are money. What they call the property premium is “blocked” when the propery is “encumbered” (for the period of the credit), i.e. as collateral. (Property and mere ownership are to be distinguished by the existence of credit/collateral.) Property thus underpins the modern economy as described by Schulmeister, and thus gives rise to capital, both financial and ‘real’ (and labour by extension too). In the authors’ eyes, classical, neoclassical and Keynesian economics have all overlooked this crucial point and are thus not serious versions of economics. They also assert that capitalism has yet to be properly defined, but a satisfactory definition must include property as they have defined it.

          I would add that ‘real’ capital is real precisely because there is money to measure ‘profit’. But this all gets very involved very quickly, and gets into value, scarcity, abundance, etc., all of which are necessarily beyond precise measure. Money as a measure of value? Hah!

      2. susan the other

        Without growth there can be no interest. They are synonymous. Because we ran up such a huge debt to the environment for the last 70 years, resulting in global warming which soooo ironically prevents further growth (aka exploitation), well… it’s karma, no?

    3. Hugo Stiglitz

      Good points indeed. And all it will take to shore them all up and continue on the path to neofeudalism is a “terrorist” incident in the US. ….

    4. subunit

      It also seems to be the case that the “everyone knows” stories that have to be told to normalise current goings-on in open discussion are getting increasingly disturbing and ridiculous. The defense of the Obama regime in response to the NSA scandal started with something like “Well, everyone knows that the NSA keeps tabs on domestic phone calls, happened under Bush, haven’t you ever heard of the Church commission, etc” but we’ve progressed to “Everyone knows that the NSA illegally collects literally all data everywhere with barely a fig leaf of accountability or oversight”, which no longer flies.

  6. Aussie F

    There’s a palpable sense of unease among elites. Will the scam work? Will the public stick to their allocated role as passive consumers? Can we keep people stuck in front of the Tube\internet while we short-change future generations?

    The obvious trepidation explains why the infrastructure of the new police state is being constructed so rapidly and so clumsily.

    1. Dino Reno

      Frantically papering over the cracks that are getting wider every day. What’s interesting is that we now finally get to meet the real Obama after six years of empty grand gestures. Turns out he’s more petty, irritable and thin-skinned that most of us ever thought possible. Maybe that comes from his resentment of our lack of appreciation for all he’s done for us.

    2. from Mexico

      Aussie F asks:

      Will the scam work? Will the public stick to their allocated role as passive consumers? Can we keep people stuck in front of the Tube\internet while we short-change future generations?

      There is scant knowledge of what causes passive nihilsm to morph into active nihilsim. However, we know that it does happen, as Charles Dickens so eloquently articulated in A Tale of Two Cities: “Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms.”

      As Michael Allen Gillespie notes in Nihilism Before Nietzsche, Nietzsche was quite the fan of active nihilism, which he believed could serve as a cure for passive nihilism:

      Nietzsche thus sees nihilism as the consequence of human weakness and not as the result of a Promethian striving for the superhuman. Indeed, for Nietzsche, the superhuman is not the cuase of nihilism but its solution.

      As Gillespie goes on to explain:

      Passive nihilism is a form of resignation in the face of a world without God. It is characterized by an increase in pity and is thus akin to the Buddhism that destroyed Indian culture. Active nihilism, by contrast, is not content to be extinguished passively but wants to extinguish everything that is aimless and meaningless in a blind rage; it is a lust for destruction that purifies humanity.


      Active nihilism in this sense is authentic nihilism. Passive nihilism deflects the convulsive self-obliteration that active nihilism seeks by putting in its palce a doctrine of universal pity. It wants to go out not with a bang but a whimper. This is the path of the Crucified. Active nihilism, in Nietzche’s view, is more desirable because it brings itself and the Christian world to a more expeditious end. Russian nihilism in its destructive rage thus has more greatness of feeling than the incomplete nihilism of British materialism.

      1. from Mexico

        This is rather long, but it is the historian Jacques Barzun’s rendition of what happens when passive nihilism flips into active nihilism. There’s a word for this phenomenon: revolution.

        How a revolution erupts from a commonplace event – tidal wave from a ripple – is cause for endless astonishment. Neither Luther in 1517 nor the men who gathered at Versailles in 1789 intended at first what they produced at last. Even less did the Russian Liberals who made the revolution of 1917 foresee what followed. All were as ignorant as everybody else of how much was about to be destroyed. Nor could they guess what feverish feelings, what strange behavior ensue when revolution, great or short-lived, is in the air.

        First, a piece of news about something said or done travels quickly, more so than usual, because it is uniquely apt; it fits a half-conscious mood or caps a situation: a monk questions indulgences, and he does it not just out of the blue – they are being sold again on a large scale. The fact and the challenger’s name generate rumor, exaggeration, misunderstanding, falsehood. People ask each other what is true and what it means. The atmosphere becomes electric, the sense of time changes, grows rapid: a vague future seems nearer.

        On impulse, perhaps to snap the tension, somebody shouts in church, throws a stone through the window, which provokes a fight – it happened so at Wittenberg – and clearly it is no ordinary break of the peace. Another unknown harangues a crowd, urging it to stay calm – or not to stand there gaping and do something. As further news spreads, various types of people become aroused for or against the thing now upsetting everybody’s daily life. But what is that thing? Concretely: ardent youths full of hope as they catch the drift of the idea, rowdies looking for fun, and characters with a grudge. Cranks and tolerated lunatics come out of houses, criminals out of hideouts, and all assert themselves.

        Manners are flouted and customs broken. Foul language and direct insult become normal, in keeping with the rest of the excitement, buildings are defaced, images destroyed, shops looted. Printed sheets pass from hand to hand and are read with delight or outrage – Listen to this! Angry debates multiply about things long since settled: talk of free love, of priests marrying and monks breaking their vows, of property and wives in common, of sweeping out all evils, all corruption, all at once – all things new for a blissful life on earth.

        A curious leveling takes place: the common people learn words and ideas hitherto not familiar and not interesting and discuss them like intellectuals, while others neglect their usual concerns – art, philosophy, scholarship – because there is only one compelling topic, the revolutionary Idea. The well-to-do and the “right-thinking,” full of fear, come together to defend their possessions and habits. But counsels are divided and many see their young “taking the wrong side.” The powers that be wonder and keep watch, with fleeting thoughts of advantage to be had from the confusion. Leaders of opinion try to put together some of the ideas afloat into a position which they mean to fight for. They will reassure others, or preach boldness, and anyhow head the movement.

        Voices grow shrill, parties form and adapt names or are tagged with them in derision and contempt. Again and again comes the shock of broken friendships, broken families. As time goes on, “betraying the cause” is an incessant charge, and there are indeed turncoats. Authorities are bewildered, heads of institutions try threats and concessions by turns, hoping the surge of subversion will collapse like previous ones. But none of this holds back that transfer of power and property which is the mark of revolution and which in the end establishes the Idea…

        To the distant observer the course of events is a rushing flood; to those insdie it is a whirlpool.

        Such is, roughly, how revolutions “feel.” The gains and the deeds of blood may vary in detail from one time to the next, but the motives are the usual mix: hope, ambition, greed, fear, lust, envy, hatred of order and of art, fanatic fervor, heroic devotion, and love of destruction.

        –JACQUES BARZUN, From Dawn to Decadence

    3. Full ReTARP

      It think it’s moved beyond that: The best and the brightest of them already know it’s NOT working. The protests, exposure, polling returns and so on all point to a tipping point that has already PASSED. Those waiting for a “return to normal”…whether elite or not…have missed the boat already.

      What remains is the denouement of what has gone on before. Decades of corruption, lies, violence, inequality and centralization of power is bleeding out all over the headlines. I believe they are looking at a window of opportunity that is closing for sewing up the whole enchilada, hence the acceleration of outrageous power grabs.

      These people are not stupid. They are reptilian smart and have the great advantage of being sociopaths for the most part, so humanity’s welfare doesn’t have to bog down their planning.

      In my heart, I believe there is a polarization of character/spirit going on, a separation into two camps. I believe conflict is inevitable, only the nature and extent of the conflict remains open to question. We are in for an epic struggle.

      For those who are conventionally Christian, it is very easy to see why current events seem to be distilling down to a titanic battle between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. I’m not Christian but I truly believe that is as useful a division as anything else I’ve heard.

      1. Waking Up

        So, is a “Christian” who advocates for austerity and wars (especially the current “war on terror”), a “Son of Light” or a “Son of Darkness”?

        1. F. Beard

          I’d say the latter or almost certainly not the former.

          Of course, the tares will fool many.

  7. dSquib

    I also wonder if morale becomes a problem for the administration’s most ardent defenders. Do they want to keep writing nonsense they can expect to be debunked by the next “drip” of information?

    1. OIFVet

      I doubt it. They have hitched their wagons to Obama all the way. Last couple of days I’ve been listening to “progressive” radio, Stephanie Miller to be exact. I was very surprised to learn that Obama has the bestests track record of whistleblower protection of all presidents. I don’t know if people like her believe their own propaganda or are simply cynical hacks, but I don’t see any fatigue in the faux-progressive commentariat.

    2. Cocomaan

      Morale definitely seems to be a problem, if my anecdotal experience on large discussion boards are any indication. Gone are discussions of Republican obstructionism and discussions about whether Benghazi is being overblown. Instead there’s crickets.

    1. David

      Could be. During the Soviet era, Russians read Pravda not
      find out the news, but to find out what the elite thought was news. Perhaps these items appearing in the news represent a fracturing in elite opinion. Maybe the smarter
      ones are beginning to realize that all this may not end up well.

  8. Flying Kiwi

    Yves wrote: “heightened generalized tension, the social/political equivalent of the sort of disturbance that animals detect in advance of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, of pressure building up along major fault lines.”

    Here in Central New Zealand a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit at 2.31pm (local time) today with an almost continuous swarm of aftershocks, many >4.0 and some >5.0. Having your house rock around you might be great if it’s a party but not if it’s for real. I’ve noticed that what ever I’m doing I’m carrying a kind of constant background awareness for the small tremors that can build to the big ones.

    That said, I haven’t noticed any unusual activity or concern on the part of our household pets or the horses, cattle and sheep in the paddocks outside. They will put their heads up for the rumble of the shake as it passes and if it’s severe enough to actually be felt through the ground – and many today have been – they might move around uneasily for a short while before settling down again, but otherwise I can’t say they’re any good as a barometer or prognositicator of earthquakes.

  9. Skeptic

    The 1% Strategy is push, push, push until you get a reaction and then use the Hammer. This is exactly what happened to Occupy. Same applies to individuals, Aaron Swartz, Bradley Manning, lots of Whistleblowers. Their Push has worked for them so far; they have gained Trillions. Little or no Push Back. So why should they stop now. Lots of repression and force left in the tank and lots more to steal, loot and pillage.

    To see how a democratic and responsible government deals with criminals and those who kill people, read this story about how the government of Quebec requires Canadian Pacific to pay for the Lac Meganic Disaster:

    “CP engaged Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. to move the oil over the final stretch of track, but the crude never reached its destination. The train derailed after rolling down 11 kilometres of track without an engineer on board, and the resulting explosion killed 47 people and obliterated much of the city’s downtown. ”


    Quelle surprise vraiment, a Government which actually defends its population!

    So now Obumma and the USSTASI has someone else to push, Quebec and the families of the 47 dead.

    1. Yonatan

      The short term main goal is the passage of the trans-pacific partnership allowing corporates supremacy over nation states. If that passes, goodbye any pretense of democracy.

      1. Full ReTARP

        Au contraire. Goodbye to the the complacent many BELIEVING we have democratic institutions. It will only accelerate the resistance to it. Every stunt they pull is radicalizing more of those who heretofore were content to let Washington do its thing.

        The elites are digging their own graves. Many of us might wind up there with them but I think their age is over, they are in the death throes now.

    2. curlydan

      Amen, Skeptic! The 1% will not stop their push, and frankly, I don’t think they’re too worried. They stopped Occupy without much trouble (the election kind of helped, too). Until the bread runs out, there will be no trouble. And even if the bread runs out, they will turn us on each other to prevent us from turning on them.

      With regard to Obama, I think he is a little frazzled, but that’s mainly because he loves people to think he’s cool. And when the young (the cool-makers) start to desert him, he gets worried.

      P.S. I totally agree with going with your gut, and I think people are pissed. In Egypt and other countries, it could blow up. Here in the U.S., I think the 1% or 0.1% still have a few classic “chess” moves that can still work to insulate themselves well.

  10. Ignacio

    In Spain the main disturbance affecting elites has its roots in finantial scandals affecting the ruling party (conservatives). Outside this, real politics go their way in the same direction as usual. We have the usual B&st%rd from the EU Comission saying one day after the other that what Spain “needs” is wages beign reduced by 20% or so. I detect increased anger in some media after these speeches.

  11. petridish

    Thanks for this, Yves.

    Too many WTF moments lately.

    It’s getting harder and harder to shake the feeling that SOMETHING’S gonna happen.

  12. floatingcopy

    From time to time I also have this experience of a “disturbance,” often accompanied by a night (or nights) of “uneasy dreams” to reference Gregor Samsa. But nothing special of late beyond the usual mounds of anxiety-inducing and sickening headlines, especially now from Egypt. Yes, I know the feeling you’re describing. It may be a form of pattern recognition taking place on the edge of consciousness, but it also may result from the tension involved in seeking meaning from events. However hard we try, “connecting the dots” between disparate events as they are presented to us by way of media is simply overwhelming — one reason why ideological thinking, always less than the truth, is often the default option.
    One thing I often find highly disturbing is reading through the comments of nearly any controversial news story. They are often terrifying, laced with hatred and erupting with fury and the sense of barely repressed violence. You can feel the beginnings of a mob in them. Read through comments from nearly any MSM story on the murderous crackdown in Egypt and it is chilling to see how many people find some justification (or glee!) for this horrifying example of state terror. But it’s not just Egypt, it’s any controversial story where feelings run strong on both sides. And while this phenomenon is especially evident in mainstream digital media in the US, it’s hardly limited to Americans. Clearly the knives are being sharpened along with the rhetoric. One gets the feeling that it’s just a matter of time before before nations and people everywhere start acting out like characters in a zombie flick. No wonder people feel a “disturbance in the force” — the threat is fairly obvious.

    1. Ok Red

      floating copy said:

      “It may be a form of pattern recognition taking place on the edge of consciousness, but it also may result from the tension involved in seeking meaning from events.”

      I feel a dissonance, or uneasiness, and out of all the comments I’ve read this sentence seems to best describe what I’ve been feeling.

      Regarding MSM comment sections, I too am stunned at the vitriol that seems to be so commonplace.

  13. Richard Kline

    While I would love to provide confirmatory evidence for your precognitive supposition, Yves, I must say I see no such thing, particularly in the US. This has been a very ‘garden variety’ year. Snowden’s revelations, while of interest to long term public concern, simply are not earth shaking or change making in and of themselves. I mean c’mon: We all knew the NSA was basically doing this anyway, right? Certainly, that has been my long time expectation, and I’ve seen nothing strikingly different. Except the utter culpability of much of Congress and Permanent Washington caught on camera in a most unflattering light. Obama a little less smooth: so what of it? Barack Obama simply is NOT an important historical figure, nor is he particularly powerful in the US hierarchy, to be wholly blunt. He’s a feeble little man holding the Main Men’s coattails above the much and hoping to catch a little favorable press and a nice perch to land on afterward. Nothing Obama is doint was _proposed_ by him, he’s just carrying water for programs and policies put in place before he was consecrated to Lie to the People for the 1%, and which will be continued by the next Lying Liar in Chief until and unless the US public takes away some of the marbles said individual gets to play with.

    What is often forgotten is how _weak_ the elite truly is. They HAVE to rig the system. They have to stack a court or two. They have to buy off politician after politician. They have to hire propaganda media faces season after season. Why? Because most of the public really isn’t bought into the program of the 1%. The law doesn’t really support what they do. The institutional infrastructure was built with a ‘serve the missin and sign the chit’ mentality, and isn’t easily bent permanently to the designs of the corporate fascist chislers who call shots in this time and place. So now and again, the 1% loses a little traction on things. A suit goes forward. A politician thinks for themself for a few months. A judge gets pissed off and issues a very awkward ruling. Somebody gabs and the public gasps—until the new TV season starts anyway. Not really much more than that in the quivering sludge which constitutes the domestic news cycle as smelled from my window anyway.

    It isn’t a big year historically or in the news. Europe may not be whole or healed, but it isn’t coming apart at the clauses as was much opined; rather the reverse. China isn’t imploding in debt and corruption; rather the Powers that Be there seem to have successfully contracted lending while having middle upper flunkies stick fingers in the dikes that matter. The US economy isn’t healthy if you’re a worker, but if you’re a rent extractor it’s good old times again, with market speculation ratcheting higher and not looking to end this annum. Yes, the liberal state continues to rot at the root and the branch, but that’s been going on for a generation now, and nothing different in pace or degree is evident to me after tha massive increase in that with the Soft Coup of 2008 when the 1% effectively TARPed the punked public and took over government policy for themselves. If anything, that Soft Junta is getting shopworn an unsmooth, and may slip a bit. That should be good, but it’s far from evident that any such thing is in process, yet.

    The biggest news of this year is a coup in a country half a world away where an Army is crushing a center-right democracy with extremely bad impliations for an escalation of violence in the Near East. It might be the haute bourgeois shooting the radicals in France 1848 equivalent, or the Russian Empire crushing the 1905 liberal revolution equivalent more likely. Impliations for the latter are ugly. —And nobody here wants to whisper a word on THAT since it was non-violent conservative Muslims who took took the bullet to the head (unlike the ultra-violent Salafis who are shrewdly, dangerously sitting this one out to take the lead in things after the moderates are crushed or disappointed). Strange, how some folks human rights are more equal than others . . . .

    I’m tempted to say, Yves, that you’ve been staring at the empty square so long its edges are appearing to vibrate. Then again, maybe you’re onto something. I just can’t say that I see it. It’s August in a soggy news year and season, from where I have a view, except for a pile of dead moderates in a country too few give a damn about, shot for thinking that the white man’s rights might actually apply to them . . . .

    1. petridish

      I’m trying to figure out whether you are being serious, sarcastic or seriously sarcastic.

      Out of curiosity, if you are serious, what would have to happen to make you say something other that, “Meh?”

      1. Roland

        RK makes an excellent point about the suppression of the Muslim Brothers by Egypt’s new military dictatorship.

        The brunt of the crackdown is being suffered by the MB elements who desired an open political process. The story is similar to what happened to the moderate factions of the FIS in Algeria when the FLN decided to pre-empt democracy there in 1992.

        I would add: because liberal secularists in Egypt allowed themselves to become associated with the coup, liberal and secular ideas cannot help but become sullied in the eyes of many Egyptians.

    2. skippy

      @Richard Kline…

      Um the orb is changing physically, accelerating to boot and the status quo is not completely oblivious, although by their nature they have no coherent strategy save exploiting the situation for consolidation – preservation of position.

      This has profound ramifications for all cellular life

      skippy… we have in less than a hundred years… irrevocably changed this world forever…

    3. AbyNormal

      Schindler’s List ending shows interviews with some survivors. One personal story has always lived in my mind. A woman describing how slow everything took place and people always asking why her parents didn’t flee or send her away. paraphrasing…this what she described:

      ‘The process of removing Jews from Poland was slow and calculating. It didn’t happen in the time frame of viewing a two hour movie or reading a book over a two week period. I remember standing in line with my parents, with certificates of birth for a ‘specialized’ drivers licenses. No one suspected anything. Shop owners were asked to refile permits etc. We didn’t see ourselves as threatened or larger changes to come to our future.
      It all took place over years of small unnoticeable changes.’

      please forgive me if i have any of her accounts incorrect but i watched her many times and she imprinted me.
      Richard, you never imprint me…except to note how much pleasure you take in hearing yourself type.

      1. from Mexico

        Describing how the average German adapted to the new (National Socialist) order, William Shirer in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich writes,

        The overwhelming majority of Germans did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away, that so much of culture had been destroyed and replaced with a mindless barbarism, or that their life and work had become regimented to a degree never before experienced even by a people accustomed for generations to a great deal of regimentation…. The Nazi terror in the early years affected the lives of relatively few Germans and a newly arrived observer was somewhat surprised to see that the people of this country did not seem to feel that they were being cowed…. On the contrary, they supported it with genuine enthusiasm. Somehow it imbued them with a new hope and a new confidence and an astonishing faith in the future of their country.

        How Hitler Became a Dictator

        1. maria.alameda

          from Mexico: I always enjoy reading your comments. You are an independent thinker who has also read widely (a rare combination these days).
          The Germans had faith in Hitler just like the soviets had faith in communism because the leaders were thinking about the future. During communism the economy (and the controlled life of the citizens)was planned 5-10 years in advance. It gave people a (false) sense of stability and comfort. These days no one plans for the future – not the business leaders, not the government, much less the average folk who doesn’t know what tomorrow brings and how they are going to make it through.
          Right now there is no ideology or leader to fill the vacuum.I don’t know if it is a good or bad thing….

        2. Susan the other

          Can’t count the times my German friends have informed me that they hated Hitler and that, after all, Hitler was Austrian. Vienna being an ancient and byzantine crossroads of politics. It is always deeply disappointing for me to read accounts which blame Hitler and the German public for WW2. We so easily forget Versailles. Hitler was backed by today’s culprits: The German and European Industrialists and the American and British Banksters. Those are the real guys who brought us WW2. They did so in a power grab when the old empires fell apart (as we are doing now) and communism became a popular alternative. What ensued was pure irrationality for the remainder of the century. How slowly we learn. When we are in denial.

          1. AbyNormal

            Susan the other, i didn’t mean to pull that story for a Jewish or any religious ‘angle’…but what she expressed so strongly was the slow time frame for so great of a change. it came to mind while reading Yves piece, which btw i appreciate her bring to the forefront!…look at this page and how much we have to share & learn from. kind of soothing in it’s own right…

            1. susan the other

              I know Aby – this site shut down for overload. What a good conversation. Somehow we need to be satisfied that we are not just flying without controls; that we have direction. In order to have uncorrupted direction we are going to have to look long and hard at all our “economics” of gain. Cause it isn’t there anymore. Everything seems to have come to such a screeching halt that nobody can see what happened through all the dust.

      2. from Mexico

        @ AbyNormal

        You might also find this of interest. I of course have no explanation for any of this, other than we do not live in a rational universe:

        In her recent book, “Beyond Anne Frank,” Diane Wolf, a professor of sociology at University of California, Davis, writes:

        The Nazis found little resistance to their occupation in the Netherlands; rather, they enjoyed acquiescence and cooperation from the Dutch state and its institutions, including the civil service and, for the most part, the police. Indeed, Holland did quite well on the Nazi report card for good behavior: even Eichmann is reported to have said, “it was a pleasure to work with them.” The history of acquiescence during the Nazi occupation, in the Netherlands, especially regarding the fate of Dutch Jews, challenges popular assumptions… Despite images to the contrary, historians confirm that those who helped save Jews consisted of a small minority… [The] number of Dutch collaborators with the Nazis exceeded the number of those in the Resistance. Relative to the population, the Netherlands had the highest number of Waffen-SS volunteers in Western Europe. [34]

        More Jews died (per capita) in Holland, than anywhere else in Europe, except for Poland — three times (per capita) the number in France. The odds of being a Jew deported and murdered from Holland compared with France were about 3-to-1. Wolf cites the statistics, which appeared in Raul Hilberg’s “The Destruction of the European Jews” as early as 1961. But who wants to revisit the horrors of World War II?

        The facts are undeniable. I was curious about the Dutch perspective on collaboration.

        I took out a book from the library: “The Illegal Camera (1940-45): Dutch Photography During the German Occupation” [“De Illegale Camera (1940-1945): Nederlandse fotografie tijdens de Duitse Besetting”] — but couldn’t read it because it is written entirely in Dutch. I found myself staring at one particular photograph. From the pictures around it, it seemed to be a photograph of Jews being rounded up by the Nazis. Dutch gentiles are walking along the sidewalk. It all looks so neat and orderly. Do they know what’s happening? Do we know what’s happening? Am I imagining things? Am I looking at the picture with the hindsight of 60-plus years of historical knowledge? [35]

        I asked a friend, the Dutch Holocaust historian Robert-Jan van Pelt, to look at the book and translate the text referring back to the photograph. [36] Here is his translation: “A photo of a roundup (razzia) of Jews was made by Jack Dudok van Heel. Dudok van Heel was in contact with Fritz Kahlenberg in the group ‘The Hidden Camera.’ On a sunny spring day he photographed a calm roundup, as calm as silent churchgoers strolling to Mass on a sunny Sunday morning. The photograph was taken from the window of his in-laws’ house on the corner of the Albrecht Durerstraat and the Euterpestraat.”

        The text ends with: “Dudok van Heel recalls with absolute certainty that the scene was a razzia of Jews.” Van Pelt was also fascinated by the photograph. We sat looking at it. Van Pelt in Toronto, myself in Cambridge, Mass.


      3. from Mexico

        @ AbyNormal

        You might also find this of interest, from Errol Morris’s series “Bamboozling Ourselves”


        In great contrast to the Dutch and the disaster that befell the Jews in Holland, which was due to the almost universal collaboration with the Nazis to deport the Jews from Holland, were the Danes, as Hannah Arendt explains in Eichmann in Jerusalem:

        There existed no Fascist or Nazi movement in Denmark worth mentioning, and therefore no collaborators.


        One is tempted to recommend the story as required reading in political science for all students who wish to learn something about the enormous power potential inherent in non-violent action and in resistance to an opponent possessing vastly superior means of violence…. When the Germans approached them rather caustiously about introducing the yellow badge, they were simply told that the King would be the first to wear it, and the Danish government officials were careful to point out that anti-Jewish measures of any sort would cause their immediate resignation… [T]he Danish government had decided to protect them. Thus, none of the preparatory moves, so important for the bureaucracy of murder, could be carried out, and operations were postponed until the fall of 1943.

        What happened then was truly amazing; compared with what took place in other European countries, everything went topsy-turvy… The German military commander proclaimed a state of emergency and imposed martial law, and Himmler thought this was the right moment to tackle the Jewish question, whose “solution” was long overdue. What he did not reckon with was that — quite apart from Danish resistance — the German officials who had been living in the country for years were no longer the same… Eichman’s office sent one of its best ment to Denmark — Rolf Gunther, whom no one had ever accused of not possessing the required “ruthless toughness.” Gunther mad no impression on his collegues in Copenhagen, and now von Hannecken refused even to issue a decree requiring all Jews to report for work.

        [When fresh troops were sent directly from Berlin to round up the Jews] The Jews had just time enough to leave their apartments and go into hiding, which was very easy in Denmark, because, in the words of the judgment, “all sections of the Danish people, from the King down to simple citizens,” stood ready to receive them.


        Politically and psychologically, the most interesting aspect of this incident is perhaps the role played by the German authorities in Denmark, their obvious sabotage of orders from Berlin. It is the only case we know of in which the Nazis met with open native resistance, and the result seems to have been that those exposed to it changed their minds. They themselves apparently no longer looked upon the extermination of a whole people as a matter of course. They had met resistance based on principle, and their “toughness” had melted like butter in the sun, they had even been able to show a few timid beginnings of genuine courage.

        1. AbyNormal

          Dearest Mexico, thank you for the recommendations…i follow thru on all of them and these will be especially appreciated and enjoyed. there are so very many personal histories that teach social & culture decline…i don’t have all the time for them and wish i did. guess that’s where people like you come in and one of the main reasons why i find this site so enlightening.

          right now im reading Old Men at Midnight/C.Potok…short stories of how people fall into a life lived and fought thru wars. it’s never so black and white…is it?!

          Potok nailed it when he wrote “Evil feeds on waiting”…are we waiting? are those of us who have watched this madness stack against humanity, waiting…?

          we nc’rs, here today… have every historical reason to shiver

      4. nobody

        “A long time with my lawyer in the afternoon… We passed on to politics and since Langenhan is a sympathetic, trustworthy man, I got a chance to talk about the precariousness of my situation, about my great bitterness. He was very shocked. He said he and his circle had always been against Hitler’s immoderate anti-Semitism, but it was new to him…”

        (September 19, 1933, Tuesday evening)


        Especially repugnant to us is the behavior of some Jews. They are beginning to submit inwardly and to regard the new ghetto situation atavistically as a legal condition that has to be accepted. Gerstle, the director of the lucrative Fig Coffee Company, brother-in-law by the way of the emigrated Jule Sebba, says Hitler is a genious, and if only the foreign boycott of Germany ceases, then one will be able to live; Blumenfeld thinks on must ‘not live with illusions’ and ‘face facts’; Kaufmann–his son in Palestine!–says something similar, and his wife, forever the silly goose, has got so accustomed to the slogans of press and radio that she parrots the phrases about the ‘vanquished system’ whose unsoundness had been proven once and for all. Recently, on September 25, after a gap of years, we had to go to the Kaufmanns for a ghastly coffee afternoon, because the Hamburg sister, Frau Rosenberg, was there and because we could not evade the constant invitations any longer. [ . . . ] Anyone who does not at every hour of the day hope for revolt is a low dog! Eva’s bitterness is even greater than mine. National Socialism, she says, more precisely the attitue of the Jews toward it, is making her anti-Semitic.”

        (October 9, 1933, Monday)


        “When the triumph was published yesterday: 93 percent vote for Hitler! 40 1/2 million “Yes,” 2 million “No”–39 1/2 million for the Reichstag, 3 1/2 million ‘invalid’–I was laid low, I almost believed the figures and held them to be the truth. And since then we have been told in every possible key: this ‘election’ is recognized abroad, ‘all of Germany’ is seen to be behind Hitler, [the foreign powers] admire Germany’s unity, will be conciliatory toward it, etc., etc. Now all of it makes me drunk, I too am beginning to believe in the power and the permanency of Hitler. It’s dreadful. — On top of everything else ‘London says’: What especially commanded admiration was that even in the concentration camps most had voted ‘Yes.’ But that is undoubtedly either a matter of falsification or compulsion. But what good is the rational ‘undoubtedly’? If I have no choice but to read and hear something everywhere, it is forced upon me. And if *I* can hardly guard against believing it–how shall millions of naive people guard against it?”

        (November 14, 1933)

        Victor Klemperer, I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years

        1. AbyNormal

          thank you nobody…will be adding Victor to my reading list

          from another of my favs:

          “And what she hated more than anything that moment was for all the differences between people to matter no more – no more differences in size and belief- differences that became justification for destruction.”
          Ursula Hegi, Stones from the River

  14. craazyman

    I think, for me, what really sealed the deal on the ‘abandon all hope and prepare for the rapture’ scenario was seeing Governor Christie of New Joisey serious about the White House. This was just the other day and I’m still in shock.

    He may be a good dude in real life, but having the Jersey Shore in D.C. would just about be the end of America as far as I’m concerned. I don’t how many White House staff would have gold neck chains and tattoos but probably a lot. And what would they serve at official White House functions — deep fried calamari and veal parmesan hero sandwiches with sides of fries. Faaaak.

    These are the signs I see in the sky, a breakdown across all ideas of order with people wandering lost in strange cities that seem like dreams lit by fires burning in alleys and faces unshaven eating greasy Italian hero sandwiches from paper bags. maybe this is really New York and I’m just out of it. Sometimes your mind closes in and it becomes a universe unto itself.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Ultimately the Big Lie of fiat currency is the lynchpin which can be pulled to collapse the neofeudalist military empire.

      But that’s not gonna happen while BigGov can still borrow 10-year money for under 3 percent.

      So millions are living with the chronic stress of neofeudalist oppression. I find it helps to get baked out of your skull and listen to LOUD live music.

      1. maria.alameda

        Fiat currency per se is not the problem. The problem is that under the present conditions the fiat comes into existence as debt. Treasury could create the fiat as debt-free money (rather than the Fed as debt money). Fiat has the ability to expand as the economy expands. Commodity backed money is constrained by the quantity of the commodity itself and could be very deflationary or inflationary without any regard to the state of the economy.

      2. MRW


        But that’s not gonna happen while BigGov can still borrow 10-year money for under 3 percent.

        BigGov does not borrow money, whether 1-year (t-bill), 10-year (t-note), or 30-year (t-bond). After BigGov spends, it then ISSUES treasuries in the same amount.

        You really need to get a handle on how this works. Read Freedom From National Debt by Frank N Newman. Published a few months ago. Newman was #2 at Treasury during the 90s. Deputy Secretary of the US Treasury. He explains how it works. 87 pages.


        The old thinking about the Treasury needing to “borrow” bank money from investors does not properly describe the modern financial system. Today, investors make considered decisions to allocate their financial assets in various ways, including in Treasury securities, given their perceptions of risk in the financial system and the banking system at the time. Treasuries today are much like time deposits directly with the U.S. Treasury, but better than similar deposits in commercial banks, since Treasuries are fully backed by the U.S. government, and tradable3. Treasuries provide especially safe and highly liquid vehicles to keep funds invested over time or
        available for use soon. It is always rational for markets to set interest rates on U.S. Treasuries lower than for the comparable maturities of bank deposits. (In eurozone nations, as explained in Chapter 4, things can be very different.) 4 Corporate bond rates are typically set at spreads over Treasury rates, reflecting perceived risk measures. Longer maturity Treasury bonds do not have comparable bank term deposit rates, since banks do not typically offer term deposits beyond about 5 years. So rates on long bonds are set by the market based on various factors such as estimates of inflation in the future.

        Once we recognize that U.S. Treasuries provide both a means of payment for the U.S. government and vehicles for investors to keep financial assets with a government guarantee, the concerns often stated about “borrowing” and “national debt” fall in a different light. Typically, depositors do not think of banks as “borrowing” from them. Banks and the Treasury provide two of many different ways for investors to hold their USD financial assets.

        A more modern way to think of the Treasury auction process is not as the U.S. government “borrowing” safe money from people. Rather, the auctions are ways to allocate, through a market process, a limited supply of new Treasury securities to bidders who want to invest in the safety and liquidity of Treasuries.

        Treasuries play an extremely important role as financial instruments for investors to keep savings. The $9 trillion of Treasuries in public hands are financial assets representing savings of pension funds, nonprofit charities, insurance companies, industrial companies, individuals, families, family trusts, government entities, universities, etc. That amounts to more than the total dollars held in all U.S. bank deposits combined.

    2. jaddgolden

      you just made me want to copy all of this and comments, especially yours and the next.
      indeed, gov Christie. indeed, Hillary Clinton.
      indeed 2016. they are desperate for distractions from the present, these (is it possible) worse days than usual during these last 12 years particularly.
      I agree with the sense of a warning feeling, but it isn’t new so much. the only moments I thought Obama might save us was the night of the election. it lasted those few hours, but it felt good – like a drug trip? what a hangover, though. awful.
      best set of comments I’ve read in awhile, maybe ever.
      thanks to all of you.
      where do we meet for the revolution? wall st or Washington?

  15. dfoorce3

    I happen to live in one of the government financed mini bubbles (state capital), which is a bit of a micro chasm of what’s going on in the rest of the country. There’s the downtown business and government core of the city surrounded by ghettos and high crime and high gun violence areas. The city’s tax base continues to dwindle as nobody of any means would dare live anywhere else but in burbs or the limited nice enclaves of the city. You can guess what the conditions of the city public schools are. There’s the surrounding upper middle class and blue collar suburbs where you can see a decent amount of unused or underutilized commercial real estate. Then you move out just a little further still and that’s where people (other than those in the ghettos or lower class burbs) are really hurting or living lives of quiet desperation. Look at the numbers on government aid and it’s astounding. Then look how the government supports the bubble cities (DC, NY, Philly, etc.). NY and Philly? Think about it – what drives those economies. Finance, health care, big pharma, higher education and government services. All are directly or indirectly government supported and/or financed. Once the window dressing is changed (new president), I think we’ll see some real austerity measures kick in as a misguided attempt to “improve” things and that’s when the real pain will start and the food riots. You’ll see the militarized police forces move in and then who knows?

  16. Colinjames

    I feel like I’m under assault. Assaulted by an onslaught of disturbing events and revelations.Really, the only good thing is more people are becoming aware. But not nearly enough for critical mass to bring about any real change for the better. It’s gonna come to a head eventually, although there’s always that chance for a spark from some random incident that could happen anytime. Ya never know.

  17. kimyo

    >>Imagine if you were executing a coup and got exposed, before you had seized all the critical installations you needed to capture for your victory to be complete.

    i can’t think of any ‘critical installations’ which remain to be captured. the press, the police, the sec, the fda, the epa, the courts, the congress have all fallen.

    the people around me are sending their kids off to college and patting themselves on the back due to their stock market gains. they’re firmly locked in the left/right paradigm. i actually had an acquaintance say that we’d have no domestic spying program if romney had won, because ‘romney is a moral person’.

    so maybe it’s not the general populace which has set your spidey-sense a-tingle. if war is what’s next, then a substantial number of people are in the know. shudder to think that you’re channeling them, but they are a more likely source of the disturbance in the force that you’re feeling.

    1. anon y'mouse

      yes, what’s left to do? wait for, as one put it above, the reaction that will cause the crackdown.

      most people around here are not really even aware that the recession never ended. they’re still driving 30 miles to work, so the only thing that pains them is that their tab at the gas station is perpetually higher (the New Normal). if they still have their jobs, they are thankful and those that don’t are (thankfully) invisible to them.

      I knew the wheels came off when every local businessperson used the 2008 collapse and the subsequent slowdown to cram down wages, remove “privileges” and basically start treating employees like they should wise up and get serfly–gratitude to the master for allowing you a little plot to grow vegetables. you can tell that it hasn’t improved any because ads for jobs require impossible levels of certifications, skills and experience and want to pay peanuts. these aren’t big corps i’m talking about, these are “advertise in Craigslist because it’s free and we NEED free” local places. yet rent is still going up everywhere, and most especially rent is jacked when old tenants move out.

      my spidey sense has been telling me to buy a small plot of land and create a forest garden on it, install rainwater collection and invest in digging a composting toilet FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS. unfortunately, personal tragedy has prevented this plan from being acted on.

      you know that something is going on when the local mobile taco stand is the only guy who is doing any business along a suburban row full of fast food and other ‘restaurants’. the rest of the businesses around (that are NOT chainsmoke) here amount to selling mattresses and Scandinavian peasant tchotchkes. only the supermarkets appear to have customers.

      1. anon y'mouse

        in other words, as long as nothing major comes around to rock most people’s personal worlds and the lights still come on when they hit the switch, all that occurs in the news is happening to ‘other’ people. while gradually everything sinks into a slow decay outside.

  18. John Merryman

    The most recent bubble is starting to show serious strain.
    Think of it in physics terms; Energy expands out in a generally wholistic manner, but contracts discretely. This country has been on a roll for 400 years, the last 30-40 burning off reserves. Now they are throwing the last log on the fire, as the currency is being debased and the police functions are being re-enforced. My only advice is to go local and be part of your local center of gravity. In fifty years, the United States may well be a distant memory

  19. pretzelattack

    great post! …by the pricking of my thumbs…” and i don’t know what is coming. sometimes i think the elites are just writing off the great percentage of humanity, as collateral damage in comming wars over resources, and getting everything they can before they retreat to some imagined safe zone. but as bette davis said in some movie “it’s going to be a bumpy ride”.

    1. willibro

      For semi-fictional reinforcement of that (I think worthwhile) insight, may I recommend Susan George’s book “The Lugano Report”? A fun read.

  20. David

    Definitely there is a feeling that something is up.
    Last week, I was in a store and I overheard three boys
    of about ten years of age talking about the Snowden revelations. That conversation started when one boy says “I heard the government is reading our emails”. The second boy says something like “You talking about Snowden ?”
    The third boy did not know anything of this, but asked his
    friends to give more details. They chatted about this for some time. One sounded scared and asked his friends if this meant that at some point, we can expect tanks to appear on the streets. What struck me was that all three took this very seriously. If this news is filtering down to ten year old boys, then you can be quite sure that they are hearing this from the adults around them, which may be good evidence
    that the Snowden and related revelations is being noticed by the general public.

  21. Dean

    Stories of militarised policing (over the top swat raids) and the national debt remaining unchanged for weeks (months?) really bother me.

    They encapsulate what is wrong on several fronts and levels.

    Policing actions are now “shock and awe” exercises designed to apply overwhelming force

    Shutdowns of city blocks for a suspicious handbag

    Police Evicting neighbors of a target of an investigation in Henderson NV leading to a 3rd amendment claim?!?

    Maybe I’m jaded but it seems more and more confrontations with police end in the bad guy being shot and killed than detained and the media reports this without any critical analysis (is this a symptom of society demanding justice? Police frustration?)

    The national debt remaining unchanged? Seriously?!? Just stop reporting the truth and take the issue off the table? Does anyone seriously believe they have solved out debt crises and are at an equilibrium?

    A military junta occurs in Egypt, us law says to suspend aid and the state dept says: our position is we have none and don’t have to make a determination? Really?

    The policing issue is local and scary. Shock and awe policing is the new model and it’s in your county/town now.

    Ignoring laws and reality is so blatant now at the national level too it’s better to turn off the tv and computer and stay home and read a book paid for with cash with a tinfoil hat on your head.

  22. Thorstein

    The cracks in the edifice are growing larger. What the PTB need is another terrorism strike against a U.S. target. This will allow the PTB to increase their control through a higher order of military/police rule. Will the gun nuts be able to take down the government’s drones?

  23. Ziggy

    Day by day, the onion continues to get peeled and, yes, the stench is getting ever sharper and more noticeable.

  24. F. Beard

    With banking there’s only two directions it can go in, stability wise; anything else, imo, is an unprincipled muddle:

    1) Complete centralization: Make banking completely crooked without even a pretense of reserve or capital requirements. Then the only stability problems are social and political ones as we fight over who and what is so-called creditworthy. One may call this the “666” option and not be inaccurate, I’d bet. Needless(?) to say, this is a truly Hellish option and is doomed anyway.

    2) Complete decentralization: Make banking 100% private without a shred of government privilege or backing and recognize that borrowing short to lend long is a form of gambling. This is the “free banking” option which some will say is discredited but I’d bet it’s never really been tried and who cares anyway since common stock is an ethical and thus stable form of endogenous money creation?

    How can this not be the crucial issue of our times? Banking has caused major problems for centuries and if we don’t finally fix it, then we should be ashamed to think of ourselves as problem solvers.



    “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. Proverbs 1:32 [bold added]

  25. danB

    The passing of the growth-based system is what you intuit and it cannot be halted. This is where the neoliberal Masters of the Universe identity is trapped in morbid resistance and doubling down on political repression, further class exploitation and classic denial of its waning power. What it’s up against is not Edward Snowden or Noam Chomsky, per se; actually, neoliberalism is incapable of conceptualizing the power of the natural world. Put directly, neoliberalism is running head on into degrowth brought on by modern society reaching the limits to growth and entering into ecological overshoot. We need not argue about peak oil, potable water, climate change, acidification of the oceans, and so forth. They all combine their power to create degrowth. The policy agenda: how to create a just world amid declining natural resources? For most moderns this is not a happy ending and, therefore, an absurd idea.

    1. from Mexico

      danB says:

      The policy agenda: how to create a just world amid declining natural resources?

      Well that maybe your policy agenda, but the policy agenda of the 1% or the .0001% or the 20% (I don’t think it could be much higher than that, because quite a number of recent studies show that only about 20% of Westerners operate in a purely self-interested manner) is the following:

      The policy agenda: how to create an unjust world amid decling natural resources where “others” sacrifice but I don’t.

      1. Danb

        You are describing the identities motivating people here and now, in the status quo. Identity is always in process and connected to interpretations of the social environment. Collective and personal identities are really in process these days; the 1% give every indication of resisting changing, but their environment is changing even as they try their all to control it. And your cynicism about the current policy agenda is appreciated, but who are you to predict the future?

      2. from Mexico

        Who said anything about “identities”? I certainly did not. I was very clear in specifying what I was talking about when I said “the 1% or the .0001% or the 20%”, which was those who “operate in a purely self-interested manner.”

        Anyway, the old identities of capitalists vs. workers don’t seem to fit too well any more. As Stephan Schulmeister explains:

        One cannot identify “classes” of “real capitalists” and “finance capitalists” in modern society: Non-financial corporations as well as employees own financial assets and have therefore also finance capital interests.


        And on top of that, the entire self-interest axiom, and its use to cleave society into distinct identity categegories which will pursue their class interests, doesn’t seem to hold up very well:

        But personal income is a surprisingly poor predictor of support for redistribution (Gilens 1999, Fong 2001). A large fraction of the poor oppose income redistribution and a large fraction of the rich support it. Among respondents of a nationally representative American survey (Gallup Organization 1998) who have annual household incomes of at least $150,000 and expect their lives to improve in the next five years, 24 percent respond that the government should “redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich,” and 67 percent respond that the “government inWashington DC should make every possible effort to improve the social and economic position of the poor.” Equally striking is the fact that among those with annual family incomes of less than $10,000 who did not expect to be better off in five years, 32 percent report that the government should not redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich, and 23 percent say that the poor should help themselves rather than having the government “make every possible effort to improve the…position of the poor.”1


  26. Dan Kervick

    Well, clearly one thing that is going on is the extremely dangerous situation in Egypt. It’s one thing for Syria to fall into civil war, but if the same happens in Egypt the potential for an epochal global shitstorm looms.

    There has been a marked shift in attitude among the center left types. I used to have a very difficult uphill battle whenever I made critical comments about Obama, the Democrats and mainstream center-liberal economists. But now the sense of demoralization and confusion, and growing anger, is palpable. They increasingly understand that the Obama presidency has been a massive failure, and a great lurch backward for almost every value they once professed to hold.

    The publicly offered intellectual underpinnings of the drive toward neofeudalism have collapsed, and yet the movement in that direction continues apace. It has become impossible for the centrists to hold onto their defense mechanisms and rationalizations.

    The attitude among the elite has shifted from, “No, this is really for the best. You really have to trust us. There is no alternative” toward something more like “Yeah this is neo-feudalism. What are you going to do about it? F. you loser!”

    The corruption and sheer rottenness of everything has created acute anomie and double-think bordering on insanity. Increasingly people can’t hold their hollowed-out intellectual centers together and are finding they have to choose a side.

  27. armchair

    Roubini is invoked in the post, and is there any better person to invoke if you’re having that 2007 feeling? Perhaps Brad Setser too. Some of the language that Roubini used at the time was so elemental. He would say things like, ‘the consumer is tapped out and savings-less’. He would rant about the home as a terrible asset for the middle class to sink everything into. When his predictions and warning became true, he was hailed as a bizarre super genius, but the irony was that many of his observations were based on real world common sense observations.

    Maybe it does take a genius to become a high level mathematical driven economist, and still understand that someone in an underwater mortgage being hounded by debt collectors will stop spending money at Crate & Barrel. Maybe that is the feeling that Yves has, that too many assumptions in our economy are built on the idea that the bottom 80% will continue to find more credit and can be endlessly and effectively squeezed with no threat to the giant credit scheme.

    Anyway, Roubini, and Setser too, were so huge in 2007-2008, that they are almost short hand for that feeling Yves speaks of.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is at least for me worse and qualitatively different than 2007.

      Then my sense was “if you are just moderately finance literate and read the FT versus the Wall Street Journal and the business section of the NYT, something is seriously wrong here.” Basically, the FT had the only decent credit markets reporting then and you could tell the reporters were sorta freaked out but didn’t want to say so too clearly. Only Tett stuck her neck out in terms of sounding alarmed, but many of the other good writers (Authers, Wolf) pointed to how totally out of whack risk spreads were, and this was across every asset class you could look at.

      So you could see this would end badly, the only questions were how, when, and how bad. I didn’t think (I can’t imagine anyone did) we’d have the near-market failure we did in 2008. I thought it would be somewhere between a S&L level crisis (which everyone minimizes in hindsight, but people were freaked out then, Citi nearly failed, and they thought the real economy damage would be more severe and lasting than it turned out to be) and a Japan aftermath (markets and economy grinding down over a long period).

      I didn’t have a bad feeling about things then. My attitude was more clinical (I didn’t move into pissed off mode till after the crisis, when the bailed-out bankers were so spectacularly ungrateful as to pay themselves record bonuses in 2009. They couldn’t even dial it back for a mere year or two and feign gratefulness and rebuild their balance sheets?!?)

      Part of why I feel pressured is the sense of assault (it’s what I imagine a low-grade case of PTSD looks like), that you have no rights and the authorities can do all sorts of horrible tyrannical things (from foreclosing on you even if you have no mortgage to arbitrary police stoppings/searches/seizures to our best and brightest like Aaron Swartz being destroyed just to show they can).

      It’s also the sense that we are moving through the event horizon on climate change, the window where we could do something is closing, and people like Obama are going pedal to the metal to make the environmental disaster more acute with his fracking plans (methane releases plus damage to water supply). He want to be transformational, he could have gone down in history as being more important than Roosevelt if he had taken this on, and instead his idea of greatness is to undo Social Security? This man is such an offense to human decency I don’t know where to begin.

      And I’m just getting going.

        1. AbyNormal

          the shut down was too long for the hairs on my neck
          skeered me yet offered me ponders of gratitude

          “I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.”
          Ani DiFranco

      1. craazyman

        I don’t mean in any way to be critical, but sometimes in the headlong, passionate haste to release the thoughts that grip the mind the use of repetitive parenthetical asides becomes an obstruction to fully attentive and fluid reading.

        Cormac McCarthy foresaw the present ensemble of energetic social structures with great precision in THE ROAD, published some 8 or so years ago. That book did not have an especially happy plot, and it had lots of tatoos.

        Does anybody realize how many people have tattoos now? Even women you’d think are demure, they show some shoulder under a dress strap and there’s some picture of an eagle inked into their back. And the faces on the street are hard as skulls, and in the subway cars they wear shirts illustrated with silk-screened skulls. It’s not just the Mexicans. Even people you’d think are white-collar office workers, even they have skulls on their shirts, like it’s an emblem of some secret fraternity of death, the lovers of death.

        Evidently there was even a movie made about The Road, but I didn’t see it.

        If an asteroid doesn’t hit I think the hope is some sort of consciousness shift, where a scorn and derision for the empty emoluments of wealth overpowers slavish reverence and becomes a defacto social currency, with new institutions formed around a non-financial incentive structure that some how allows for self-sustaining participation. This won’t be easy and may arise first in the most burned out locales, spreading once it’s viability has been established.

        It might not be for a while yet but it will be.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I have noticed the increase in tattoos. I don’t get them. They are permanent yet they fade (as in even if they manage to look good when they are new, they won’t later). For people with nice to really nice bodies, they take your eye of the line of the form, they are a degradation, and if you have an unattractive body, why encourage people to focus on that rather than your face or your personality?

          And it hurts to get them. There’s a bondage (especially when quasi-literal, like getting something related to your current BF/GF branded on you) and self-mutilation aspect.

          The only time they’ve ever struck me as working aesthetically is when I once met an illustrated man, someone whose entire torso (and I assume pretty much the rest of him) was completely covered in fantastic tattoos. He was subordinate to the tattoos, but they actually were magnificent.

      2. Doug Terpstra

        “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” (Darth Vader as by force of will, he collapsed the windpipe of an insufficiently obsequious lieutenant.)

        Thanks for this on our emperor: “This man is such an offense to human decency I don’t know where to begin.” Well, you’ve made a very good beginning, but the depth of Obama’s pathology and depravity can’t be exposed often enough.

        You note he’s losing his famous cool, and here comes the massacre in Egypt, in which the US is directly complicit. Once again he appears off balance, even hapless according to the usual veal-pen liberals as if he’s not fully complicit in Egypt’s crimes. But he’s so good at feigning impotence, the reluctant emperor. And yet here again, he is glaringly red-handed. He’s conspicuously done nothing to tighten the generous purse strings flowing to Egypt’s murderous military, which is clear follow-the-money evidence of collaboration, probably at Israel’s behest (or command). Because of this, Obama has even more blood on his hands…again; he is complicit in Egypt’s war crimes and not the hapless bystander he pretends to be.

        Living fully under the dark side of the force, under imperial tyranny, I hope the disturbance you sense as Jedi is potentially a good disturbance from the good side. Like many commenters, I’ve felt that tension for years now, as if on the cusp of a major sea change or just below the crest of a monstrous wave, hoping it will break well. But like others I think I’ve learned to tune it out to a degree because it’s hard to perform well under crisis and outrage fatigue. So, thank you for the timely and provocative post.

      3. psychohistorian

        I feel both passionate and aloof about our accelerating social crisis…..its about damn time!

        I think this is the pieces starting to fly off the merry-go-round stage….time to duck and cover.

        While this delegitimization of power is similar to what happened to Xtianiaty when it became obvious that the earth was not the center of the universe, I see this inflection point as more important in term of potential human survival. If we can’t beat back the idiocy from the faith breathers that we are supposed to use the earth up as our Gawd given birthright, we will become the blink of an eye that eternity sees us as.

        I just do my Letting Go Breath exercise and laugh at humanity’s hubris…..one breath at a time.

      4. armchair

        One thing 2007-08 clarified was that FDR’s Hundred Days, the SEC, Glass-Steagal and other things that happened in a short period of time during a couple of years in the 1930’s were not just a great response to a crisis, but one of the great moments in human history. Those laws, as passed in the 1930’s, may not have contemplated super-computers, flash crashes or satelite communications just as the Constitution of the U.S. may not have contemplated rocket launchers, reproductive rights or universal suffrage, but it is the contemplation of human nature that was brilliant in the 1930’s legislation. The idea that you can’t hand over an honest farmer’s life savings to a speculator and expect the honest farmer to ever see a dime back was embodied in those laws.

        So much of what has been thrown away is the restaint on unsavory human characteristics or appetites. We were told Glass-Steagal was hopelessly outdated, but the law wasn’t updated, it was thrown away, and with it the wisdom of the 1930’s when it was human behavior that was yoked by the law.

        These days with 8 billion people running around, the consequences feel more dire. There is just no way to keep bad mojo from happing to people on the scale of 10’s of millions if not hundreds of millions. Oil spills, fracking, rising sea levels, Fukishima/Cherynobls, acidification, GM crops and so on. The Bill of Rights is a cruel joke.

        Perhaps the hardest thing is to watch who gets selected to make policy decisions. There is absolutely no way for honest, sincere, hardworking, intelligent, good-hearted people to get anywhere near the levers of power. To any cynic that argues that it has and will always be that way, I would retort that they are mostly right, but there undeniable moments when the right person gets to the right place and magic happens. Sadly, human history is filled with centuries of waiting for the next good wave.

  28. mad as hell.

    What we are seeing now are the dots are getting connected. Growing up in the fifties, sixties,seventies or eighties there was a sense of structure and basic decency. Structure in the fact that working hard would lead to a better life most of the time.Dad and sometimes mom went to work, earned a livable wage and supported a family. Junior and sis went to college got a affordable education and relevant job to that education. It was what was expected and it was what took place.

    Today that wage if it’s livable comes from two jobs if it comes at all. Maybe four jobs when mom works too. That structure of a decent wage for a decent living is gone.

    What used to be the common decency of looking out for your fellow man is becoming a rarity in today’s world. Today austerity is the word. Cut back on food stamps, don’t give the unemployed so much money.The rich don’t need to pay such high taxes, tax the poor more. All these schemes were on the fringe thirty, forty or fifty years ago. Now you see them as a fact. It has become a political necessity. The idea that a corrupt politician or a corrupt business man who is caught cheating or stealing would be brought to justice is not a given today.

    Everybody has their own thought experiments in which you dream about what would it be like if.

    What would it be like if Marshall law was declared on a major US city? Pretty much what Boston was after the marathon.
    What would it be like if a American political party ran roughshod over their opponents and did what they pleased? Just look what’s going on in many state legislatures where one party controls two branches.
    What would it be like if politicians would not be held accountable for their actions and could do what they pleased with little accountability.

    Back up a few years and all these scenarios were hard to picture happening in America unless you were a novelist. Now we see decency and structure becoming a hindrance in a race for personal wealth and fame.

    How difficult is it to picture the military crackdown that is happening in Egypt to happen here? Things that were once unthinkable now seem possible or almost inevitable.The picture is becoming clear as the dots get connected.

  29. ciwood

    We are losing our innocence. More and more people are coming around to the view that there is no justice and life is not fair. When enough people think this way, we quit taking risks and start closing our shutters and pulling in our loved ones. Failure to punish people who hurt us causes us to either seek retribution ourselves or to quit participating. Then entrepreneurship, investment and political participation begin to wane.

    University faculty in Louisiana have not received any raises since August of 2008. We have been told to expect additional budget cuts from now until forever. Depressed faculty produce depressed students.

    Do any of us have a future? If so, what does it look like?

    1. John

      No raises since 2008?

      Try to imagine what losing 40-95% of your income is like all the while paying extortion money every month to the blood sucking health insurance companies.

  30. Old Hickory

    You are not drawing a line through a random set of data points. It feels different this time. There are too many bad things going on at once.
    (1) The banks have not been reformed and never will be
    (2) The National Security State will not be reformed absent a revolution
    (3) Our civil liberties are eroding at an exponentially-increasing rate (NSA, police militarization, War on Drugs, etc.)
    (4) The government is now not even trying to hide that they lie about everything and hold us in contempt, e.g., appointing proven liar to “review” the Security State’s practice
    (5) The worst environmental disaster in history (Fukushima) awaits the next 9.0.
    This is not going to be fun. Don’t know when/where something will break, but it will be soon.

  31. F. Beard

    Isn’t it ironic that the generation that fought “The Man” is worse, in some ways, that he ever was?

    What’s important is how one ends – a good beginning is not sufficient.

  32. David Lentini


    It’s been getting dark for so long now that I’m not sure I can wether I can tell if there’s been a real dimming towards complete blackness, of if my eyes are just getting tired of peering into the murk. Given everything you and the commenters have written, much of which I agree with, it’s hard for me to see how things can’t get worse and eventually break down; but when that will happen, and how that will play out, is too hard for my crystal ball. Right now, all can do is pay attention to sites like yours and what’s going on around me.

    But, if you still really want an indicator, I just finished reading Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here. I recommend it highly.

    1. sufferinsuccotash, stupor mundi

      If you think Sinclair Lewis’ novel is scary, try reading Jack London’s The Iron Heel which in many ways is far more prophetic.

      As for Y’s “calm before the storm” feeling, I can readily sympathize. But then I’ve experienced that ever since that day in late November back in ’63 when I was sitting in sixth period study hall doing algebra homework and the school principal suddenly announced over the PA that JFK had been shot. Welcome to the next 50 years.
      George Orwell got this sort of premonitory sense right when he compared living through the 1930s to “sitting in a drafty room waiting for the guns to go off.” Yes, it is a reflection of whatever personal issues one might have, but it’s also a semi-educated hunch as to how the world is moving and not necessarily off-base.

      1. petridish

        Or try Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.” The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      2. sufferinsuccotash, stupor mundi

        If you want to read something really creepy, try London’s “The Scarlet Plague” (1912).

        The old man manifested an accustomed chagrin as he brought the coin back
        again close to his own eyes.

        “2012,” he shrilled, and then fell to cackling grotesquely. “That was
        the year Morgan the Fifth was appointed President of the United States
        by the Board of Magnates. It must have been one of the last coins
        minted, for the Scarlet Death came in 2013. Lord! Lord!–think of it!
        Sixty years ago, and I am the only person alive to-day that lived in those times.

  33. Walter Map

    The prophecy of Ms. Nienna:

    There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler

    Ecclesiastes 10:5

    Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child

    Ecclesiastes 10:16

    Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.

    Hosea 10:13

    For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

    Micah 6:12

    This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart

    Jeremiah 13:10

    For many are deceived by their own vain opinion

    Sirach 3:24

    Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

    Isaiah 5:20

    Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

    Isaiah 29:14

    Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.

    Amos 5:13

    A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself

    Proverbs 27:12

    Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

    Proverbs 16:18

    Destruction cometh

    Ezekiel 7:25

    It’s not as if we haven’t seen it coming for a very long time:

    “… the powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.”

    Preface to Quigley, Carroll, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time (1966)

    As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air–however slight–lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.

    – William O. Douglas

  34. PopeRatzo

    This could be an opportunity the rest of us.

    We passed the point of being able to change things through the political process a long time ago. Maybe 30 years.

    But if it reaches a boiling point, you don’t really know how to dice will come up (to mix two bad metaphors).

    Unfortunately, a lot of us will be hurt, but it could be a chance for our grandchildren.

    1. Walter Map

      I am often concerned that my comments may not be adequately alarmist.

      If and when the worst happens and it comes time to pick up the pieces, let us certainly hope that there are some pieces left to pick up.

      “We’re not going to make it, are we? People, I mean.”
      “It is in your nature to destroy yourselves,” said The Machine.

      Come away, O human child!
      To the waters and the wild
      With a faery, hand in hand,
      For the world’s more full of weeping
      Than you can understand.

      Good night, and good luck.

  35. Steve Faure

    The recent decision at IBM to furlough 10s of thousands of (US ONLY!) employees at the server/technology division may be waking people up there. Maybe.

    I have been acutely aware of my outsider status since I joined the company/division in 1996. Most IBMers are strikingly conservative, generally in the eisenhower/rockefeller moderate mold with some veins of Randian self determination Libertarian bent. But the sheep are getting restless. Now that the cracks in the facade are spreading to the suburban professional classes it’s harder to maintain polite fictions.

    And I’m old enough to remember how quickly the tide turned against Vietnam after Kent State. Once clergy and businesspeople started joining the academics and hippies the domestic argument was over.

    1. sleepy

      Eisenhower-Rockefeller type moderates?

      I trust your perception, but heck, those don’t even exist in the dem party anymore.

  36. NotTimothyGeithner

    Of course there is a negative mood out there. The prolonged depression and the Obotomy of the Democratic Party has destroyed what Howard Dean called the primary vehicle for change. Obama found the car and drove it off a bridge then complained when the GOP wouldn’t help him push out of a ditch.

    The mood is about broken promises. The Democrats made a number of promises, and the NSA is a perfect example of not only the Democrats failure but complicity. Crummy policies don’t bother people as much as broken promises. Starting with Obama’s renewed attacks on Social Security, there was no longer an excuse to say “Obama just needs a second term.”

    There was a school district somewhere in the country which last week announced there would be a fee charged for every school activity. Many people know this is a growing reality, but for all of those parents, this is the narrative they are going to see, “Billy can’t play football because the NSA needs to spy on Norm Chomsky.” Obama isn’t fixing schools. Obama is creating jobs. Healthcare costs are still rising, but the U.S. is going after the guy who exposed at minimum massive government waste.

  37. BITFU

    There’s one condition necessary for the Elites to feel pressure: Some common ground between the Left and the Right.

    NSA, Civil Forfeiture, IRS targeting, drones and now even Obamacare. BITFU–the best political search engine on the planet–is showing a surprising amount of agreement on these issues.

    Yes, the gulf is still wide, but the bullsh*t of the hyper-police state is something we can all agree on…and if the powers-that-be weren’t getting nervous, they wouldn’t be ratcheting up the surveillance.

  38. Joe

    I keep saying that this is what it must have fealt like in Germany about 1937 or so. I would like to pack up and get the hell out (of the U.S.A.) but I’m too old, too broke and too tired.

    When Holder announced that they were going to review a lot of low level drug sentences, I wondered why they are trying to reduce the prison population. Who are trying to make room for? Why would the Facist Obama administration be trying to reduce the prison population when there are no jobs to be had?

    My ennui meter keeps pegging to the red danger zone. I think this bloated pig of a country is building up enough pressure to explode in one form or another. I hope I’m wrong.

  39. Dikaios Logos

    I’ve felt the disturbance, too. A couple of days before the crackdown in Egypt I told a friend “I feel like the world could come apart soon”.

    Where I disagree with many commenters here is that the feeling that this is just more of the neoliberal/neofuedal (or whatever your ideological label) path. The actual people who were best served by those ideologies can’t go to the same well much longer. As one person said about Egypt: “even Mubarak never tried to kill hundreds in a single day”. Those people who were the massive beneficiaries of policies in the previous decades need to change the game just to stay on top of things. And that game changing has serious limits, at some point they risk ruining their own position. This IS an opportunity for those who see a path forward for humanity. But capitalizing on that opportunity will not be straightforward and there likely will be lots and lots of blood.

  40. Jessica

    Two theories:
    1) Financial capitalism of the particularly destructive and fraud-ridden variety we have now, is what you get when you try to run a knowledge-driven economy within the confines of monopoly capitalism.

    2) Our elite ceased to have any historical function about half a century ago. Therefore, it has little capacity for intra-elite discipline and no morality.
    There are two aspects to the current elite: 1) a generalized, uncontrollable, mostly uncoordinated plundering of built-up reserves of all types, above all plundering of trust 2) A comparatively coordinated clinging to power.
    If we assume that the plundering and the clinging to power are coordinated and connected, that it all fits together in a planned manner, that is wrong and we will come up with various claims about what kind of society the elite is trying to build. All such claims are inaccurate. The elite is not trying to build any kind of society whatsoever, not even a dystopian one.
    Furthermore, the clinging to power is crude because the elite has long since lost any capacity for anything else. So we see excessive and overly obvious use of force and a quite sophisticated but basically nihilistic (there is NO alternative) propaganda effort for which the entire knowledge worker class is organized.

    1. DolleyMadison

      Great analysis, Jessica. What strikes me, living in the belly of the banking beast, is how many deluded souls believe themselves a member of, or at least indispensable to, the “elite” which is of course howtheye have gotten away with it for so long.

    2. Nathanael

      Good summary. Have you been reading my comments or did you come to this conclusion independently? :-)

  41. fradiavolo

    I get the same vibe, especially when I read the postings in the Comments section of articles in WAPO and the NYT, comments which are becoming increasingly shrill, distempered and vituperative. The mood seems eerily reminiscent of the stories my grandfather used to tell us about Germany when he was a student there in the late 1920’s.

  42. PQS

    Lots of great comments here. Lots of good thoughts to digest.

    I think one big problem is that the elites are so terribly insular. They have come to a place where they literally do not see what effect their policies are having, and many of them don’t care because they’re too busy looting. This is why we hear such simplistic BS coming from the RW: lazy losers/immigrants/weirdos are Ruining America. Meanwhile the Dems are so entrenched in the status quo and the Obama hagiography they don’t dare step out of line to criticize the Man. And they truly believe we “need” the NSA and all the other Security State apparatus – some of them know this is just to keep everyone in line, but many others just don’t think about it very deeply and accept what they’re told. And they view EVERYTHING through the prism of politics and their games. They’ve lost the ability to think independently or morally about much of anything.

    The fact that WalMart is struggling seems to be a very big news story over the past few days. It’s like the last bulwark against the truth coming out…..I can only hope it does very soon. Between that and the fast food strikes, it will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.

    1. Kokuanani

      I haven’t followed the story about Wal-Mart’s troubles, but I can only hope one contributor is people starting to boycott the place.

      I know that there are places where Wal-Mart has driven other businesses away, s that they are now the “only game in town,” but it would be beyond wonderful if folks began shunning the place. If they shunned other union-busting, wage slave entities like Amazon, so much the better.

      People need to realize that paying 47 cents more per visit to a “real” store over what they’d pay at Wal-Mart is a way to bust these monsters.

  43. Lexington

    I think what has changed is that the elite is no longer able to sustain the illusion that the benefits of neoliberalism are broadly shared. They were able to do this for a number of years through the deliberate inflation of two massive asset bubbles, first in tech stocks and then in real estate, backed by a relentless propaganda campaign disseminated through the mainstream media. But since 2008 a growing number of people have come to realize the emperor has no clothes. The promise that they could sustain upward mobility through asset inflation in spite of stagnant wages, reduced benefits and longer working hours has proven hollow. And now reliable employment of any kind if becoming an endangered species for a growing section of the workforce. Meanwhile Congress is preoccupied with cutting taxes on the wealthy, removing regulatory constraints on corporate greed, and defunding social security. The fate to which the American worker has been consigned by neoliberalism is now staring them in the face.

    Have no fear though, our fearless leaders are well ahead of the curve on this one. They’ve lavished enormous public resources on law enforcement and “public safety” and constructed a gargantuan surveillance state in preparation for the day when the masses well and truly realize what their leaders have done to them. When the dam finally breaks they will be more than ready.

    1. Jim

      Maybe I’m being too hopeful here, but there is a history of police states collapsing under their own weight. So, I think that the worst predictions of a coming, desperate crackdown may be overly pessimisstic. (And my posts are usually pretty pessimisstic, like most everyone else’s.)

      Going back in history, if it weren’t for lots of luck, Hitler would have been assassinated (on multiple occasions) due to the incompetence of his security forces. WWII would have lasted longer in Western Europe, with possibly Britain being occupied, if the Abfahr wasn’t actively helping Britain. The problem with a police state is that you have to pay LOTS of people to go along and it becomes too bloated to keep up morale and to control.

      And what about Snowden? Do you think that Clapper talking about “getting rid of 90% of the admins” improves morale, telling the soldiers of the 1% that they have no financial security or future? Do you not think that this doesn’t create more Snowdens?

      Now public employees are facing financial ruin in many places, take Detroit for instance. When the 1% tries to do “internal security” on the cheap (like they do everything else), telling policemen and other officers of the state that they are to massacre their fellow countrymen, just for a pat on the back, do you think that the response will be universallly compliant?

      1. Gaianne

        Jim–What you say is true. The announced plan to fire masses of sysadmins is the visible part of a lock-down that is sweeping the NSA and its outsource-organizations. Without going into detail, this is not inspiring confidence among NSA workerbees. It is generating distrust, fear, and panic.

        NSA’s reaction to Snowden may be doing the organization more harm than Snowden himself!


      2. anon y'mouse

        sorry, but having 3 former marines in my family and attending school with many ex-military types at college who are obtaining education merely as a stepping stone to further their gov’t service career, some common threads occur in mentality:

        –we should just drop a bomb on the middle east and be done with it
        –the average public citizen lacks discipline, is immoral and probably deserves the bad fortune that they experience
        –the gov’t is offering jobs to them that pay extremely well, and they all plan to get positions with great benefits and plans for future advancement
        –the lifestyle offered in the services and gov’t is one of travel, reward for good work, excitement, and maintaining good order in the world (see above–average citizen is viewed as an agent of disorder)
        –most gauge everything you say to fit you into a box, and as soon as you “reveal” your sloppy human self they fit it into one of those boxes, then they can write off everything you say as “nonsense”

        granted, a lot of this is true of the general population as well, but these types that are planning to become the security and gov’t services here are mostly NOT on your side.

        1. JTFaraday

          This may be true, but he cited a case of a substantial number of people with a particular knowledge profile and skill set getting expelled from the culture/ lifestyle that you cite.

          Personally, I don’t think you can predict what someone will do when they are involuntarily expelled from an organization. When you decide to do that, you basically decide to create a loose cannon.

          These people may not attempt to work in the public interest like Snowden, but creating about 900 loaded loose cannons does seem to be what the NSA proposes to do.

        2. John

          Want to see how they view civilians?

          Take a look at the first video.

          “Lenco, Inc., makes the Bearcat, an armored personnel carrier that’s popping up in cities, towns, and counties across the country. Shot from a first-person-shooter point of view, the video included images of cops dressed in camouflage, shooting high-powered weapons, eventually using a battering ram affixed to the Bearcat to punch a hole in a building, through which the vehicle then injected teargas. All of this was set to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”After the video received some criticism, Lenco sent a take-down notice to Google, and it was removed from YouTube.”


      3. anon y'mouse

        also, remember when dealing with cops–you are most likely guilty of something. they just haven’t figured out what it is yet or whether they want to nab you for it that day.

        in other words “give me a reason, and I will find a way to fuck you up”.

      4. Lexington

        When the 1% tries to do “internal security” on the cheap (like they do everything else), telling policemen and other officers of the state that they are to massacre their fellow countrymen, just for a pat on the back, do you think that the response will be universallly compliant?
        Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/08/a-disturbance-in-the-force.html#m30Fc75mYaQLEMAq.99

        But there’s the rub: the guardians of the status quo will be well taken care of by our elites. That’s why when Scott Walker slashed public service pay in Wisconsin he specifically exempted the police and firefighters. Whatever else these people are they are not idiots. They’re not going to p*ss in the cornflakes of the people on whose loyalty their own welfare increasingly depends.

        In the RT TV interview with Chris Hedges that Yves posted a little while back Hedges predicts that the existing power structure will crumble when the guardians decide to side with the people instead of the elite. He mentioned how Eric Honecker’s regime in East Germany collapsed almost immediately after the elite paratroopers he had sent to suppress protests in Leipzig refused to fire on the crowd, and how the Tsarist regime didn’t last much longer than week after Cossacks began fraternizing with protestors. I think that’s a good point, but the question is how long will it take for something similar to happen in the future, and I’m not optimistic on that point. Law enforcement and the armed forces in America are richly resourced and well compensated. The NSA was paying Edward Snowden $200 000 / year with a GED education, no doubt thanks in part to the fact he had volunteered for the army but didn’t serve because of training related injuries. In other words he was being compensated well above what comparable positions in the private sector would pay, and I don’t think there is much mystery about what Uncle Sam thought it was buying will all that extra scratch. In Snowden’s case they were wrong, but every Snowden there’s thousands or tens of thousands of people who would jump at an opportunity like that. Anon y’mouse’s comment on this point is I think very prescient, especially their point about how military and law enforcement culture deliberately indoctrinates members to regard civilians with suspicion if not antipathy.
        And yeah, the NSA is going to have a few hundred upset former employees, a handful of whom might leak some more embarrassing information –though at this point one wonders if there is much left that could truly shock, given what has already been revealed. That’s no threat to them however. It’s when the 82nd Airborne refuses to obey orders that the elite will have a real crisis on their hands, but I think we’re a long, long way from anything like that.

        1. Nathanael

          Actually, they are idiots.

          Walker has started going after the police unions.

          The pay for low-level soldiers is getting cut (see below).

      5. Nathanael

        Jim: there’s a simple and effective recipe for maintaining a police state — Burma (Myanmar) is using it.

        Our elites are congenitally incapable of using that recipe. The basis of it is a military caste which is something like 10% of the population, and an essentially just (non-oppressive) system within the military caste. This requires too much *solidarity* for our leaders to actually do it.

    2. ReaderOfTeaLeavesread

      Great comment, Lexington.
      But I think it’s probably both murkier and stranger.

      Not yet mentioned in any comments so far:
      – insane leverage ratios and absurdly low capital requirements in finance (I.e., wayyyy too much pretend money)
      – global demographic patterns; lots and lots of very poor young people with high birth rates 8^o
      – global urbanization, which in too many places mean new slums (2007 was the first year in human history that most people lived in cities, IIRC)
      – the continued dominance of tax havens (and the extreme libertarian ideology that extols them as ‘enhancing economic competition’ via tax arbitrage)
      – the recent focus on commodities as an asset class, whose prices are being manipulated by financiers.

      In an urbanized world filling up with slums, where fewer people now grow their own food, commodities become even more critical; therefore, allowing price manipulation to drive up food prices is political suicide. (see also: Egypt). This suggests increasing conflict between nation states, multinationals, and legal systems.

      We are in desperate need of new economic thinking.
      the current economic ideology of neoliberalism is becoming more and more economically, environmentally, and politically unstable.

      Whatever comes next will have to address the underlying problem of externalities, for which neoliberalism has no adequate responses.

      Anything that fails to address externalities is doomed to fail, including the current system.

  44. Eric Patton

    You have learned much. But you are not a Jedi yet.

    The left isn’t winning anything without theory, vision, and strategy. And right now there’s literally no place in the world where the left has this, except in meaningless dribs and drabs. Including Egypt.

    Until the left starts doing serious class analysis that includes seeing division-of-labor privileges in the economy, nothing’s changing. And just as capitalists would rather blow up the world than give up their class privileges, so too would the division-of-labor privileged left rather let global warming burn the planet up than give up their class privileges.

  45. Seal

    Astrological musings on the transiting square of Uranus and Pluto in Cardinal[1] signs from 2011 through 2015.

    Abstract – Expect revolutions and upheavals of all kinds. A repeating, about 3 times in a hundred years, pattern last occurring from 1960-1972 and intensely from 1965-1967. In the US in that period we could simplify things and say “the military budget won.”

    “Our psyche is set up in accord with the structure of the universe, and what happens in the macrocosm likewise happens in the infinitesimal and most subjective reaches of the psyche.” C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections[2]


  46. Jeff Martin

    I cannot speak to the veridicality of Yves’ sense of foreboding, since I almost always have the same sense of things myself, but consider a handful of ‘data points’ from the last decade or so, some of which have roots in older trendlines:

    The Bush administration, in various executive orders, white papers, pseudo-legal analyses, and glosses on the Patriot Act Enabling Act, advances the theory that the concept of ‘terrorism’ refers to any act which impedes, impugns, or derogates from the ‘war effort’, an expansive definition which logically implies that mere criticism of, or opposition to, the policy may be deemed ‘terroristic’, if The Decider opts to do so.

    The Bush Administration constructs, and the Obama Administration expands, a massive surveillance apparatus which clearly does more than scan the intertubes for the communications of known terrorists, but hoovers up virtually every iota of electronic and legacy communication, filtering by search protocols keyed to whatever the elites happen to fear. Hence, it’s not just communications connected to terms such as ‘al-Qaeda’ and ‘suicide bombing’, for example, that they’re analyzing; they’re also searching for terms such as ‘Occupy’, or ‘fracking’.

    The Occupy movement emerges in the Autumn of 2011, clearly and directly targeting the Achilles’ heel of the neoliberal state, the predatory, extractive financial superstructure, and is immediately subjected to pervasive surveillance, the ministrations of agents provocateurs, and a DHS crackdown orchestrated at the highest levels of the executive branch, in conjuction with local law enforcement, both the executive branch and the local police departments in contunuous contact with quavering banksters eager to portray Occupy as a fifth column, a threat to the foundations of the economy. The crackdown comes replete with the sort of abuses and grotequeries one would expect in Russia or Turkey, and few, if any, are ever disciplined for perpetrating such absues. We learn some months after the dispersal of the Occupy encampments that there was a conspiracy to assassinate the leaders of Occupy in the offing, formulated by one of our legions of mercenary outfits, all staffed by former intel and spec-ops, probably advised by personnel conversant with, if not then ensconced within, the intellegence and law-enforcement communities. They were hired and tasked with this exercise by someone, though multiple layers of plausible deniability undoubtedly exist between the operation and the initiators. A token investigation is undertaken, and a handful of low-level flunkies are rolled up, though no one has much interest in plumbing the depths of the thing.

    Meanwhile, in various states throughout the union, legislators enact statutes essentially equating criticism of the CAFO farming system with terrorism. Various states, and even private companies hiring private paramilitary outfits, infiltrate and surveil groups of citizens organizing to oppose fracking the pollution of our potable water supplies with volatile organic compounds; this action clearly implies that they, too, are regarded as terrorists.

    So, we have it from the horse’s ass of Authority that: opposing finance capital is terrorism; opposing the agribusiness sector is terrorism; opposing the fossil fuel industry is terrorism.

    Add to that the punishment of whistleblowers who exposed the crimes against humanity perpetrated in the course of our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, the ongoing Game of Drones, most of the victims of which are nobodies, and the systemic palpitations over Snowden, and something else becomes obvious: criticism of, or opposition to, American imperial policy (and let it not be forgotten that the official rationale for the surveillance state is to protect against terrorism directed against America’s self-given geopolitical role) brings one under suspicion of terrorism. They attempted to charge Manning with ‘aiding the enemy’, on the grounds that al-Qaeda could have used to its benefit some of the information he disclosed, clearly implying that even knowing about America’s imperial machinations, crimes, and corruptions, is suspicious in itself. To be certain, the judge in the show trial slapped this charge down; but success in this instance was not necessarily the objective: they’d take it if they could win it, but the object was to lay down a marker.

    One could argue that these developments are discrete responses to specific problems, at least as the elites conceive of problems; however, whether by design or inadvertence, a totalizing architecture of repression and exploitation is being constructed, precedent by precedent. One could call it the Hayekian Theory of the Emergence of Authoritarian Government: a system of repression greater than any one actor or group of actors could have conceptualized is coming into being, as the result of their individually self-regarding actions, policies, and consequent precedents. I do sense that an increasing percentage of the population is now cognizant of, and disquieted by, these trends; but they are demobilized and distracted by both the parlous state of the political economy, and the palpable absence of a coherent, comprehensive counternarrative.

    1. from Mexico

      Jeff Martin said:

      I do sense that an increasing percentage of the population is now cognizant of, and disquieted by, these trends; but they are demobilized and distracted by…the palpable absence of a coherent, comprehensive counternarrative.

      This, too, is one of the points I have attempted to drive home.

      “What rules the world is ideas,” is how the neocon ideologue Irving Kristol put it, “because ideas define the way reality is perceived.” And indeed, the neocons and neoliberals are masterful at formulating, articulating and proselytizing ideas and theories. They have been so good at this, in fact, that they have beem successful at trumping empirical reality with their theories and ideologies. But this too, I believe, will eventually end.

      David Sloan Wilson, in his book Evolution for Everyone, speaks of the absolute necessity of a comprehensive narrative:

      Since writing Darwin’s Cathedral I have traveled the world speaking about evolution and religion to audiences of all sorts. I end my talk with the following passage from Darwin’s autobiography about a field trip that he took as a young man with his professor Adam Sedgwick to a valley in Wales:

      We spent many hours in Cwm Idwal, examing all of the rocks with extreme care, as Sedgwick was anxious to find fossils in them; but neither of us saw a trace of the wonderful glacial phenomena all around us; we did not notice the plainly scored rocks, the perched boulders, the lateral and terminal moraines. Yet these phenomena are so conspicuous that…a house burnt down by fire did not tell its story more plainly than did this valley. If it had still been filled by a glacier, the phenomena would have been less distinct than they are now.

      This passage wonderfully illustrates the need for a theory to see what is in front of our faces . Darwin and Sedgwick could not see the evidence for glaciers because the theory of glaciation had not yet been proposed. With the theory in mind, the confirming evidence became so obvious that the glaciers might as well have still been present.

      1. Jeff Martin

        This is where it becomes all too obvious that the outcome of the Cold War has had negative consequences, some unintended, some undoubtedly foreseen and fought for. It is not, of course, that the Soviet experiment was in any sense a success, or any in sense worth emulating, but the vulgar minds of the masses lumped everything to the left of hard-right neoliberalism together – and were encouraged in this by generations of ideological conditioning – so that when the Soviet experiment imploded, a pall of discredit fell over the entirety of the economic left, from defenders of the New Deal to bland social democracy to more radical alternatives, anarchistic and socialistic alike. And unless some of those narratives can be revivified, repurposed for the times, nothing will be able to deflect the present system from its trajectory, let alone displace it.

      2. Calgacus

        the need for a theory to see what is in front of our faces.

        “Nihil est in sensu, quod non fuerit in intellectu”.

    2. BD MacIsaac

      @Jeff Martin:

      This is a “comprehensive counter-narrative” and one possible solution to “unless some of those narratives can be revivified, repurposed for the times, nothing will be able to deflect the present system from its trajectory, let alone displace it” that you’re concerned about.


      There’s always hope no matter how hopeless it may be perceived as being; just a point in time is all that were looking at for the moment.

      ‘Nothing will be able to deflect” presupposes all unknown, undiscovered, and unlikely inventions of the human race ever coming into being to solve such un-democratic circumstances. The former exclusions are not supported by history and evolution.

      I choose not to believe in fatalistic pre-destination. Prophets of disaster have come and gone over the ages and here we are still; evolving away towards something that no one individual can quite get their arms around in its entirety. Life seems to be more mysterious and magical in its nature that one and all are still left in awe at some point in their experiences of it.

      With that said, that doesn’t mean there’s no increased suffering during darker times relative to other more enlightened times. I HOPE that this current trend as you’ve so eloquently described the abuses of won’t devolve into another Nazi holocaust at some point down the road. I like to think that will never happen again although I’m consciously aware enough to know that it can repeat or rhyme in some manner when the human condition is pushed to its limits.

      I do agree however with “let alone displace it”. This agreement may be counter-productive to my link that focuses on usurping dictatorships, but working within the system during times of crises are Gene Sharp’s methods.

  47. David Lewis

    Your vibe antenna is correct, I think. But what we see happening now is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

    If and when there is any kind of large scale resistance, organized or not, an apparatus of explicit repression will surface — militarized police; massive and pervasive internal spying; enemies lists like you’ve never seen as a basis for massive detention; “legal” doctrines like the destruction of habeus corpus; etc etc.

    We keep catching glimpses of this apparatus accumulating below the surface — the militarized police equipment and squads that appeared for a day after the marathon bombing; the NSA revealations; etc.

    It won’t be pretty… and it will rapidly transform the US, if not the entire western world, into an explicit and pervasive tyranny, from the implicit, partial tyranny you comment on.

    IOW, 1984 will happen — not the way Orwell envisioned or when, but actually as bad or worse.

    1. Nathanael


      The _1984_ dystopia is impossible. It’s been tried. It doesn’t work.

      It fails in a very interesting way: it fails through corruption and wilful blindness. _Good Soldier Schweik_ may be instructive in this regard. It’s impossible to keep the security forces in line; they don’t believe in the system either.

      The most pervasive attempt to implement a _1984_ style society so far was North Korea. Look what they ended up with.

      In the language of Orwell, the Outer Party quickly ends up with no interest in backing the system, and then the Inner Party ends up with no interest in backing the system, and the proletariat never do their jobs right, without ever explicitly protesting… and pretty quickly you end up with a very different dystopia from Orwell’s.

      So yeah, we could end up in a horrible dystopia, but it will NOT be George Orwell’s dystopia, because his is IMPOSSIBLE; it fails to appreciate human nature.

      If someone actually tries to establish a _1984_ type society, we are most likely to end up with a “disobedient serfs, untrustworthy viziers” feudalism. This is akin to the way the Roman Empire collapsed — the official structures remained for *centuries* but they meant nothing any more.

        1. Nathanael

          Ouch. That hit home; a nastily accurate point.

          I hadn’t thought of that, but I think maybe that’s why so many people are reading and watching _Game of Thrones_: as a guidebook to the coming future.

  48. myshkin

    ” Do you have a similar sense of a collective rise in pressure, or tangible signs of disturbance among what passes for our elites?”

    The disturbance I sense is not among the elites. The elites have their head and believe they can pull anything off, and have more or less proven it. When slight-of-hand does not work the iron fist in velvet glove is deployed and when that fails, the iron fist.

    A disturbance in the force? In the gut? Oddly I have been experiencing a cliche, in the form of a low level, onoing, general nausea, a ‘sweetish sickness.’ The rediscovery that the physical universe is indeed indifferent and the conclusion that humanity, of late, has failed to discover its meaning and largely rejected the idea of a caring thoughtful socio-economic construct. Instead we have been ushered, at least somewhat willingly and complicity, by appeals to greed, towards a nasty, brutish dystopia.

    A recent article in the New Yorker on civil forfeiture was a hair raising footnote to where the rule of law has arrived in the US.


    Accompanying the latest onslaughts of the banksters on the middle class and the poor, which is an episodic story, decades in the making, unexamined by meaningful discussion in the MSM, another tidbit of evidence of the oligarch’s success in implementing the police state required to protect their recent gains.

    1. Seal

      The dates of the next 2 exact aspects are:

      1-Nov-2013 Uranus = 9 Aries 26; Pluto = 9 Capricorn 26

      21-Apr-2014 Uranus = 13 Aries 34; Pluto = 13 Capricorn 34

      with the 21 April ’14 aspect being most problematic as it directly impacts the Sun in the US’s horoscope with strongly incendiary secondary factors [Mars > Saturn].

  49. Seal

    Transiting Uranus is squaring Pluto for 4 years from 2011 thru 2015. The last time this happened was 1960-1972, peaking in 1966. Before that it happened from 1928 thru 1937, peaking in 1932. Can u think of any disturbances that happened during these previous times?

  50. Handgrip

    Ives, you’re spot on.
    Beneath the survice (or behind the scene), “bad stuff” has been breeding and boiling with (steam) pressure ready to blow any day. The “Elite” are sweating bullets, big time. So plan for the worst. (just my opinion)

  51. proximity1

    My view of the source of what you are sensing is that it’s the consequence of many interrelated factors’ “coming to (or toward) a head” at once; these factors are political, economic, social, psychological and carry a heavy moral —quality so they their impact upon us is quite strong.

    What they all share is that they point to, they are evidence of, the relatively sudden (as in a tipping-point manner) a widely divergent set of accepted assumptions about society’s legitimacy collapsing or being interpreted as being close to collapse.

    The “Arab Spring” events have highlighted how thin is the veneer of modern societies and how quickly a long-standing publicly-accepted and assumed legitimacy can fall apart and bring widespread disorder.

    Anyone paying attention to these things is apt to wonder, in the current context, “What’s keeping this place (i.e. his or her own local society’s legitimacy) from collapsing, too?”

    And, with some reflection, the answer may come: “Little or nothing, really.”

  52. proximity1


    Briefer version :

    the U.S. (since that is where you are and it’s to the U.S. that you refer), as a society is morally rotting.

    This isn’t new, of course. The moral rot has a long sordid history. But moral rot eventually reaches crises points at which things become dicey. And it seems that the U.S. moral rot may be nearing such a stage.

    I disagree that the privileged elite are all nonchalantly picking lint off their tailored suits, free of concern about the things going on around them. I think some portion of their numbers is very concerned about the situation–and the problem, as always, is how to keep all their privileges in tact as legitimacy’s collapse undermines their having and holding those privileges.

  53. Sleeper

    Is there a disturbance ? Yes. !!

    Note that there seems to be a focus on get rich quick schemes –

    Who wants to be a millionaire
    Antiques Road Show
    Storage Wars
    Most dangerous Catch
    Penny Stocks
    And I think a noticable up tick in “Market Advice”

    Also a clear uptick in Law enforcement force
    And a gamesmanship in the legal system to whit a constant calculation of whether or not the plantiff will fight and by how much.
    Stacking by prosecutors

    Clear indications that all communications are captured and monitored. The size if the NSA compound clearly indicates that the target is north america. Would the NSA compound have to be this large if the targets were a few tribesmen in the desert ?
    And note that although this intellegence is routinely used to capture petty criminals not effort is made to capture the treasonous folks who outed Valier Phlame or if the Ohio vote was really hacked

    A curious choice of materials for both the Times Square and the Boston Marathon incidents.

    Summary executions by law enforcement – including execution of suspects in federal custody.

    So what to do ?

    A few suggestions –

    Register to vote

    Arm oneself

    Raise a garden

  54. McWatt

    When the greatest nation/state the world has ever seen, that fought tyranny and injustice at home and abroad for 237 years, becomes the tyrant;

    The World is Upside Down

  55. Dee

    This is what rats feel as they approach this Malthusian limit.

    This is what the approach to the Malthusian limit looks like,e in human societies.

    1. F. Beard

      Progressives could NOT stay on track even if they were railroad cars on perfect tracks standing still?

      The problem is simply EXCESS PRIVATE DEBT and the government-backed counterfeiting cartel that drove people into it.

      Otherwise, there are quite a few promising advances in technology that many, (most?) may not live to see.

      Ancient Judea was not destroyed by the Babylonians because of over-population or CO2 but because of oppression of the poor, widows, orphans and aliens.

  56. MrColdWaterOfRealityMan

    Look Yves, communism fell. Whatever else this implied, it was also “Olly olly oxen free!” for the world’s wealthy elite. No longer did they need to worry about the hoi polloi revolting and relieving them of their ill gotten gains. They were suddenly free to transform *every* country into Mexico, with its very few rich, and very many poor. Those riff-raff egalitarian folks were no longer a menace.

    So, unless and until something else breaks, this continues. No worries though. Once oil really starts getting expensive, many things change, like it or not.

  57. tim s

    I feel it everyday. Some days it almost paralyzes me. It seems that there is next to noone to speak to about it, so abstract it seems to them, though it seems so concrete and obvious to me. More are becoming aware, which is very, very good. My favorite word is “disillusioned”. It is so telling that this word has a negative connotation in our culture….LOL

    Fall heading into winter. It can only be expected. One day we as a people will emerge again strong and full of new life. I don’t know if I’ll see it (probably not), but perhaps my kids can lead their kids to a better tomorrow. winter comes first, though, and winter can seem very long.

    In the end, we are all to leave this world. We can only do our best every day to make things better. Que sera, sera. Only once this is realized and ingrained, can we be strong, brave and at peace even in the midst of chaos (and chaos it will be….)

    Bless you Yves, and all of y’all here in/on this wonderful forum. In hard times, the strong and good find each other. Do any of you remember feeling this way back in the ’90s (I was in Austin Texas), knowing so much was BS and could only end ugly, but of course back then, uttering such things was inconcievable. Perhaps I prefer this time….

  58. TC

    You wanna stop the evolution toward neo-feudalism at this delicate stage? Three words: Seize the Fed. Turn it into a national bank issuing credit for something other than backstopping a mountain of garbage made in the London-New York Axis of Fraud and currently choking the trans-Atlantic banking system to its inexorable, slow death, as planned (a small price to pay for destruction of hopelessly entangled, sovereign states the world over, with the U.S. and its Treasury at the very top of the list).

    If Obama looks off balance, it’s probably because the job of smashing al Qaeda in Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Middle East is yet completed, although well advanced. Pity Team Fraud’s use of such foolish dupes as Snowden for the sake of furthering this very same project venturing destruction of sovereign authorities (in this case the institution of the presidency of the United States) is tainted by past intrigues whose “story” is a spent lemon no longer suitable for making lemonade, a truth that such “reputable” sources as the New York Times no doubt understand and struggle with at this delicate stage in a subversion the likes otherwise have faithfully served.

    Speaking of which, everyone could learn a lesson from the likes of the mainstream media when it comes to what “story” is to be gleaned from their internet activity. What did Churchill recommend per disguising the truth? Surround it in a bodyguard of lies. So, jam the channel with garbage! Is this not in fact what the mainstream media does? Surveil away, oh NSA! My twisted personal affinities? My urge to understand the process of manufacturing depleted uranium? My desire to learn about hacking secure servers? You got me! I’m all that and a bag of chips. NOT! Stupid make work robots.

    “Climate change increases violence”??? It just goes to show ya, there’s a sucker born every minute, and oligarchs willfully steering a scientific mafia still successfully promoting such known frauds as Newton couldn’t be happier…

    1. Massinissa

      I do agree that seizing it would be a good idea… If it would mean that it would be run differently than it is now.

      But I highly doubt Obama or any senator or congressman would run the damn thing any differently than Bernanke has been doing.

      While I do believe that in theory it would be a wonderful idea, in practice it would just be shifting it from corrupt rule by Bernanke to corrupt rule by Obama or some congressman. The Fed would be ran THE EXACT SAME WAY. Do you really think theres a single dem or republican in Washington who would be willing to issue credit the way you propose? What you propose is absolutely impossible in the current political environment, and even if it were possible, the current dems and repubs would fine some way to sabotage it purposefully to benefit the elite, as they have done with every other program ever.

      This is a case of “It could happen. It wont happen.”. The United States COULD nuke Russia tomorrow. But it wont happen.

      Now, as for what right wing libertarians think (Ron Paul for example), that we should just destroy the institution entirely, I havnt discounted the possibility per se, but I think such an action would be highly dangerous and have terrible unforeseen consequences. At the very least it would be easier to get right wing support for, and thus easier to accomplish politically, but having a first world nation without even a pretense at a national bank… It could be a very dangerous experiment.

      1. F. Beard

        Now, as for what right wing libertarians think (Ron Paul for example), that we should just destroy the institution entirely, Massinissa

        Ron Paul is a hypocrite; he wants a government-enforced gold standard, a gold-backed dollar.

  59. We are being watched

    Yes, the pot is simmering. It is so distressing that all this is happening with a Democrat President. And even more so when liberal Democrats like Schumer call Snowden a traitor and it is a Tea Party Congressman that stands up to the NSA industrial spying complex. And a Democrat President looks more like Dick Cheney when he decides he has the unilateral power to assassinate American citizens with no due process of law.

    There is no middle in politics anymore. But there do seem to be more and more individual rights issues that the far right and far left can agree on. Hopefully this will provide resistance to the corporatocracy that is in control.

    Government has become just a thin veneer that obscures and legitimatizes the corporate looting of the Federal treasury and private property. (Military equipment even the Defense Dept doesn’t want. Ignoring Wall Street crimes. Allowing banks to illegally foreclose on private homes. Etc.)

    At the same time we have outfitted every local police department with military equipment more suitable for invading a foreign country than apprehending a robber. And they will do the bidding of the corporate masters (think of the police effort to dismantle Occupy in NYC while they can’t seem to find the time to investigate the criminals in the Wall Street corporations they are protecting).

    And conjured up laws to enhance the incarceration industry. The War on Drugs should have been called the Maximum Incarceration of Minorities Act. It has destroyed the lives of millions of people of all races while justifying the expansion of police forces while the rate of real crime declined.

    And on and on.

    If there is any chance of saving our country, at a minimum we will need to:

    Have public funding of political campaigns with limits on spending.

    Overturn Citizens United.

    Require all states use independent commissions to determine Congressional boundaries.

    Impose meaningful restrictions on the back and forth flow of executives between government and corporations.

  60. Edgeoforever

    Lame duck season, the media tires of aplying the daily layer of teflon. Even Churchillian, Napoleonic, Caesaresque W was allowed to be seen in his natural ineptitude in his last two years. We are now allowed to see the non-historical/messianic Obama by the very same people who pull all the strings.

  61. Massinissa

    Heightened general tension?

    Not much more so than the last 4 years or so. If you mean theres been more in the last few years or so I agree with you, but in the last few months or so? I cant say I understand.

    But, this kind of thing is impossible to measure. I havnt felt anything myself, but that really doesnt mean it cant be happening.

    Interesting post Yves. Thank you.

  62. Marsha

    Over the past three years I have been increasingly active in an anti-way. I supported (and continue to support) the original goals of the Occupy Movement and am simmering with anger at how our right to protest and speak out was characterised by the MSM and suppressed by our government…and no one stood up for our rights. No one.

    That anger, which carried me forward every day, has recently given way to a melancholy over the fact that at my late age (67) I realize that I have absolutely no chance of seeing things change. I worry more about the future for my kids and grandkids. I sometimes just close down and avoid participating for a day or so. Many of my friends are expressing the same feelings.

    Recently I was having my back worked on by a therapist (a wonderful and spiritual lady) and we were (as always) talking. She ended my session by telling me that her husband, who is from Mexico and is a quiet and intensely “spiritual” individual, woke up one morning and told her that he “feels things are happening”….he senses that something is coming and he can’t explain it. She takes great stock in this man. And so do I.

    Lambert (Corrente) recently posted about “Revolutions of Common Sense” and included this quote from an article by David Graeber:

    “At moments like this, it generally pays to go back to the history one already knows and ask: Were revolutions ever really what we thought them to be? For me, the person who has asked this most effectively is the great world historian Immanuel Wallerstein. He argues that for the last quarter millennium or so, revolutions have consisted above all of planetwide transformations of political common sense.

    Already by the time of the French Revolution, Wallerstein notes, there was a single world market, and increasingly a single world political system as well, dominated by the huge colonial empires. As a result, the storming of the Bastille in Paris could well end up having effects on Denmark, or even Egypt, just as profound as on France itself—in some cases, even more so. Hence he speaks of the “world revolution of 1789,” followed by the “world revolution of 1848,” which saw revolutions break out almost simultaneously in fifty countries, from Wallachia to Brazil. In no case did the revolutionaries succeed in taking power, but afterward, institutions inspired by the French Revolution—notably, universal systems of primary education—were put in place pretty much everywhere. Similarly, the Russian Revolution of 1917 was a world revolution ultimately responsible for the New Deal and European welfare states as much as for Soviet communism. The last in the series was the world revolution of 1968—which, much like 1848, broke out almost everywhere, from China to Mexico, seized power nowhere, but nonetheless changed everything. This was a revolution against state bureaucracies, and for the inseparability of personal and political liberation, whose most lasting legacy will likely be the birth of modern feminism.

    Revolutions are thus planetary phenomena. But there is more. What they really do is transform basic assumptions about what politics is ultimately about.”

    I personally no longer have any hope of seeing a desperately needed new American Revolution in my lifetime, but I know that the things I have done and will continue to do will contribute to bringing about this Common Sense Revolution – perhaps sooner than many think.

    The world is a tinder box. Ready to explode. I do not fear the results.

      1. anon y'mouse

        thanks to whomever for linking it and thanks to Graeber for writing it.

        it encapsulates my philosophy of life/change, and contains each realization that i have been able to make by studying How Things Work.

        NC enables me also to try (limited as my brain is) to see how the parts fit. thank you, Yves et al.

  63. Scott F

    At the risk of sounding like a nut-job, I will suggest that you checkout Generations by William Strauss and Neil Howe. In it they lay out a theory that America experiences four-generation cycles in which a gradual breakdown of civil institutions created to deal with the aftermath of a previous crisis (think Depression/WWII) brings on the next crisis in which the public contract is re-written. The wholesale destruction of public schools was the wake-up call to me that we are living through just such a period.

  64. Stroebes

    As a result of recent (media) events, the cognitive dissonance among my Obama-friendly friends and family seems to be ratcheting up.

    Some now openly acknowledge that they are “disappointed.” Others say they are “not there yet.” (I wonder how f-ed up things need to get to burst their bubble.)

    But the discomfort is obvious. My own sense of helplessness (Something more than another call to my reps, another online petition, must be done! But what?) and my resulting anger has certainly escalated.

    Our government’s paranoia is now in plain sight, and seeing this leads to the realization (whether acknowledged or not) that it is taking steps in preparation for really ugly circumstances down the road.

  65. c1ue

    Really, any pronouncements like ‘climate change increases violence’ needs to be examined closely.

    For example, we hear again and again that the 2010s are the warmest decade ever. So if climate change increases violence – shouldn’t we be in the midst of Mad Max right now?


    1. anon y'mouse

      there are many sociological studies that show an increase in heat, noise and stink cause people to be more aggressive than they would be normally.

      many of these environmental elements also degrade concentration (even after removal) and task performance. they are frequently cited as one of the reasons poor ghetto folk do so badly in school.

  66. charles sereno

    Hi. Here’s my reaction. After reading it, I checked for the number of comments (I had just awoken) and was blown away. It didn’t take long before this question popped up. Why would Y lay these many marbles, pearls, whatever on the table when each one would suffice to stir opinion? I think it’s because it’s “devious.” In the best sense, taking the less traveled way. The forest for the trees, by pointing out the diversity of trees. I copied the post for future reference.

  67. Samuel Conner

    In conversation with strangers in retail store checkout lines, the fact of NSA surveillance of ordinary citizens is taken as a settled fact, with a kind of gallows humor. I think that people are uneasy.

  68. Norman

    To Eves, for what it’s worth, as I read you post here, I feel completely vindicated of my own take. There isn’t any question as to the validity of your words. I won’t hazzard a guess as to the amount of humans who possess the insight, but I’d say it’s more mainstream that one would think. Of course, when anyone verbably shares this feeling/revelation with others, a majority will discount it, perhaps with the “you’re crazy/delusional/etc. This brings up another interesting point, that being another person who is close, has the confidence, yet is not what he/she really stands for. In this period of change, one has to keep on their toes, so to speak, as the closeness of some, in reality, a Trojen horse, will undermine.

  69. nobody

    “The concept that the gut and the brain are closely connected, and that this interaction plays an important part not only in gastrointestinal function but also in certain feeling states and in intuitive decision making, is deeply rooted in our language. Recent neurobiological insights into this gut–brain crosstalk have revealed a complex, bidirectional communication system that not only ensures the proper maintenance of gastrointestinal homeostasis and digestion but is likely to have multiple effects on affect, motivation and higher cognitive functions, including intuitive decision making.”



    “Dual-process approaches of decision-making examine the interaction between affective/intuitive and deliberative processes underlying value judgment. From this perspective, decisions are supported by a combination of relatively explicit capabilities for abstract reasoning and relatively implicit evolved domain-general as well as learned domain-specific affective responses. One such approach, the somatic markers hypothesis (SMH), expresses these implicit processes as a system of evolved primary emotions supplemented by associations between affect and experience that accrue over lifetime, or somatic markers. In this view, somatic markers are useful only if their local capability to predict the value of an action is above a baseline equal to the predictive capability of the combined rational and primary emotional subsystems. We argue that decision-making has often been conceived of as a linear process: the effect of decision sequences is additive, local utility is cumulative, and there is no strong environmental feedback. This widespread assumption can have consequences for answering questions regarding the relative weight between the systems and their interaction within a cognitive architecture.”


  70. Anarcissie

    Aren’t we just observing the Götterdämmerung, the Twilight of the Gods? The gods being our elites, chiefly but not entirely American. They set up a system of world domination during World War 2 which has lasted a long time, but it clearly went into decline beginning in the 1960s and is now nearing systemic collapse. Their main problem seems to have been an inability to replicate themselves; the foresight and discipline of the founders has eventually come down to people like Mr. Dub, Mr. O, and the liars, thieves, thugs, and looters who surround them. Periodically one gets the sense: okay, this is it, it’s coming down now. But the system totters on, because ‘there is a lot of ruin in a country.’ We know it’ll fall but we don’t know when. We don’t know which straw will be the last.

    As for alternative narratives, there are a lot of them running around. Given the general dumbness out there, though, I’d expect some sort of military dictatorship à la Argentina to be next rather than anything ‘progressive’ much less socialistic or anarchistic. People still want stuff and they’re not going to like being told they can’t have it any more.

    This is no reason to give up the struggle, however. ‘Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will!’

    1. Nathanael

      “As for alternative narratives, there are a lot of them running around. Given the general dumbness out there, though, I’d expect some sort of military dictatorship à la Argentina to be next rather than anything ‘progressive’ much less socialistic or anarchistic.”

      A military dictatorship with a military dictator who understood that he needed to FEED EVERYONE would probably be pretty popular. Heck, in some ways it would be an improvement.

  71. Norman

    To Yves, sorry for the spelling of your name, it seems that the gremlins have me in their radar. Please except my humble apologies.

  72. JEHR

    I feel the unease all the time now. In Canada, we are busy creating a housing bubble that the government says it is intent on trying to prevent but it still makes policies that exacerbate the bubble (low interest rates; stagnant wages, government guarantees, etc). Our PM has lied to us a lot. Our Senate is rotten to the core and senators have used taxpayer money illegally. There is no way to get rid of these vile leader-appointed Senators!

    In the House of Commons, the ruling conservatives read their common ideology from the exact same script as the leader. Parliamentarly Secretaries speak for the Ministers. Harper won’t speak to journalists unless he wants to and unless he can control the number and kinds of questions.

    Our one hope, the NDP, have removed the word “socialist” from its decriptors.

    We get budgets that aren’t properly costed out; we get huge omnibus items that automatically become law because we have a majority government; the opposition in untried and we have no idea if it will perform better than what we have now; our banks were not “bailed out” but “injected with liquidity;” our banks borrowed from the US Fed Reserve but it was not done because the banks were having problems they just wanted some more money! You see how gullible we Canadians are? We believe everything we are told!

    Something is going to break but I have no idea where that break will occur. Some of our institutions still seem to work (the Supreme Court [which Harper ignores], most of the provincial governments [which Harper ignores]) but I have the feeling that they will be fully broken soon once Harper successfully makes enough private/public partnerships in order to get rid of public policy entirely. Oh, sad lamentable days!

  73. Hayek's Heelbiter

    One interesting but truly obscure metric relevant to your gut sense/intuition, Bhau Kalchuri, the last living disciple of the silent Indian master, Meher Baba (inspiration for the Who’s “Baba O’Reilly). Let us see.

  74. Walter Map

    How bad could it get? Horrific, disastrous, catastrophic, cataclysmic – finding the words to describe current events and present trends leave one grasping.

    Large-scale destruction of civilization is very much on the table:

    Nuclear war is on Washington’s agenda. The rise of the Neocon Nazis has negated the nuclear disarmament agreements that Reagan and Gorbachev made . . .

    The Soviet collapse and China’s focus on its economy instead of its military have resulted in Washington’s advantage in nuclear weaponry that, according to two US Dr. Strangeglove characters, Keir Lieber and Daryl Press, gives Washington first-strike capability. Lieber and Press write that the “precipitous decline of Russia’s arsenal, and the glacial pace of modernization of China’s nuclear forces,” have created a situation in which neither Russia nor China could retaliate to Washington’s first strike.

    The Pentagon’s “AirSea Battle” and Lieber and Press’ article in Foreign Affairs have informed China and Russia that Washington is contemplating pre-emptive nuclear attack on both countries. To ensure Russia’s inability to retaliate, Washington is placing anti-ballistic missiles on Russia’s borders in violation of the US-USSR agreement.

    Because the American press is a corrupt government propaganda ministry, the American people have no idea that neoconized Washington is planning nuclear war.


    It should be obvious by now that TPTB are quite mad and do not recognize any limits – any at all. In the last several years they’ve destroyed millions of people in Asia outright, are ruining the lives of hundreds of millions in Europe and North America and want to ruin the rest, and are determined to march blithely into ecological destruction of the the planet. Genocide and world war are easy for them. Reality is rejected as inconvenient in favor of the nightmarishly surreal as a matter of course.

    Do you trust them not to pull the nuclear trigger? If not, you might like to put some serious thought into starting to dig a really really deep hole.

    For the last two and one half centuries wealth and power have been concentrating in the hands of fewer and fewer men and women. This wealth is now being used to construct and maintain the World Empire that is in the last stages of development. The World Empire is partly visible and partly invisible today.

    The chief architects of this new World Empire are planning another war—World War III—to eliminate any vestiges of political, economic or religious freedom from the face of the earth. They will then completely control the earth. and its natural resources. The people will be completely enslaved just as the people were in the ancient Roman Empire. While the above may sound like fiction, I can assure you that it is true. I wish it was fiction, but it is not, it is reality.

    Preface to Quigley, Carroll, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time New York: The Macmillan Company (1966)

    Things have only started to get ugly. After that things can only get weird ugly.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      “The Pentagon’s “AirSea Battle” and Lieber and Press’ article in Foreign Affairs have informed China and Russia that Washington is contemplating pre-emptive nuclear attack on both countries. To ensure Russia’s inability to retaliate, Washington is placing anti-ballistic missiles on Russia’s borders in violation of the US-USSR agreement.”

      FOIA releases and dot-connecting in recent years suggests that President Kennedy’s abhorrence of and therefore refusal to consider a proposal for a preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union may have been a factor in his assassination. Check out James Douglass’s JFK and the Unspeakable:Why He Died and Why It Matters. – http://amzn.to/10yGTiI

    2. Nathanael

      “Do you trust them not to pull the nuclear trigger? ”

      If they do, they’ll be wiped out extremely quickly. The rest of the world won’t tolerate it, and neither will most of the US military itself.

      It’ll be bad for all of us, of course, but the people who pull the trigger will be the first to go. Hell, they’ll probably be killed by their *wives*.

  75. Synopticist

    The 2 big recent things for me are the Snowden revalations and western policy in Syria. Why bother with such a massive surveillance system if you don’t intend to use it for some repressive purpose?

    Which brings me on to Syria. The only genuine excuse for the NSA/spook panipticon was the (genuine, from my point of view) fear of al qaeda. But the west is openly siding with forces in Syria which are allied to al qeada, who are more like al qeada’s bitches than anything else.

    The need for the NSA and western policy in Syria just flat out contradict each other.

    1. Andrew Watts

      The United States government has nothing to fear from Islamic extremists, but they do have something to fear if their vassals are overthrown. The Arab Spring could’ve easily spread to the Gulf States.

      Every empire needs it’s spies.

      1. ian

        Exactly right. We have done far more damage to ourselves in response to Islamic extremism, than the Islamic extremists have ever done to us (even counting 9/11).

  76. Turnabout

    Nothing is what it seems, yet it is exactly what it appears to be. My usual assumption is that things work the way they are intended; if things are going to Hell, that is the intent. We are told that the economy is slowly recovering, yet it is clear that the nation is actually undergoing a deliberate, Andrew Mellon-style liquidation in which the accumulated wealth of the nation is being skimmed off by a self-serving elite. We are told that the surveillance/police state is necessary to protect us from our enemies, yet it does more to destroy freedom than our enemies have ever done. Despite years of the Global War on Terror and repeated open and covert wars and actions, Al Qaeda is stronger than ever, spreading everywhere. In each case, the official line is a lie; each event has a separate explanation; none of them are connected. And yet, when you step back and look at the process in perspective, it is obvious that the U.S. is being deliberately downsized, being put under the equivalent of IMF conditionalities. Time after time, programs and policies that are touted as helping us turn out to make thingss worse. As the discrepancy grows between what we are being told and what we see in our daily lives, the realization that we are the target deepens. It may not have formed as a conscious thought in many people, the implications may not have been thought through, but the awareness is growing.

    What remains to be seen is what, if anything, we as a people will do about it.

  77. LillithMc

    My recent credit card requires a 50% payment of balance within one month. Even the corner loan shark might give more generous terms. While the media pumps up the health of the real estate market, the truth is that where I live few want to buy either because the collapse destroyed too many jobs and/or so many friends were kicked into the street and some remain homeless. Obama has never liked nor understood the Progressive wing of his party. Their dislike of Larry Summers seems unbelievable to him. His staff are pimping Larry, but no one is buying. Hillary will bear the rejection of Obama. Their corporate capture is reflected in their cabinet selections and international trade agreements. “In your face” prevention of voting in all the red states plus the passing of thousands of GOP/ALEC/NRA bills unread by anyone is a revolution against the federal government and rights assumed protected by the Constitution. While another 9-11 may be an excuse to take-over Patriot Act/NSA style, the country is a well-armed tender-box that perhaps will not be so easy to control. Add the real effects of global warming that we are dealing with locally due to drought and corporate theft of drinking water for fracking for export.

  78. JCC

    Just a personal observation regarding “a disturbance in The Force”:

    When I come home at night from work I usually spend an hour or two reading various economic-oriented blogs like this one along with Jesse and then pop over to one or two of the various linked articles (no T.V. thank goodness).

    Last night, after scanning the basics, I read this:


    and then this:


    and then thought to myself, “Oh God, it’s just getting worse everywhere by the day and is never going to end, is it?”

    It may have been the most pessimistic moment I’ve ever had reading the world-wide goings-on – and I’ve lived through places like Iraq and others, too. I immediately shut off the computer and picked up an old Agatha Christie mystery I had laying around that I’d never read and felt much better after awhile.

    Then I started today with this post. Damn! I think I’ll finish that mystery now and then take a hike in the mountains or something…

    1. sufferinsuccotash, stupor mundi

      Re-reading Asimov’s Foundation novels is another way of coping.

      Or seeing Blazing Saddles for the umpteenth time.
      “My mind is aglow with whirling transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention!”

      1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        The web site http://simplynoise.com/ offers samples of white noise, pink noise and brown noise. I liked the brown noise, it’s sort of like a waterfall sound. A one-hour mp3 of high-quality brown noise cost me about $3.

  79. Francois T

    I feel a disturbance in the Force. Just like the subtle but definite signs of the body language of a seemingly quiet dog that, in reality, is about to ferociously attack.

    Just like the underwhelmingly slight throbbing pain in the left sinus of a diabetic middle age woman, which hide one of the most devastating infection known to medicine. (Mucormycosis for the inquisitive among the NC readership.

    The signs are all over the place. Who could have imagine a national food workers strike in the making in the USA? A middle class battered and neglected by elites ever more insulated from the rest of society? Wealth inequality that is starting to penetrate the collective consciousness?

    And how about the Middle East? The financial clustef*ck that is the Eurozone?

    Oh! And emerging from a background that only scientists were willing to acknowledge come the ultimate threat multiplier, the potential destroyer of human civilization (because it has done it before): Anthropogenic climate disruption, otherwise known as climate change.

    There is no Left v Right anymore as Barry Ritholz so eloquently wrote but The People v Das Korporations.

    The General Social Survey (longest and most reliable survey of the long term attitudes and beliefs of the Americans) show a very disturbing trend: among ALL the major institutions of the American society, only the military is more trusted than 30 years ago, and medicine barely hold its position. (Source: Nate Silver) Think about that for a minute!

    So yes! As they say in Chaos Theory, the system is in a supercritical state. One seemingly inconsequential push shall trigger an avalanche of epic proportions.

  80. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    Libertarians have been saying this was coming for years – but we’re just a bunch of paranoids who did not appreciate the awesomeness of The State and its ability to Do Good For All.

    And yes, it sure does seem that somebody (or a bunch of somebodies) twisted the knob to “boil” before the froggies were completely ready to accept it. ;)

    1. F. Beard

      Don’t make me laugh. The Libertarians are there to dismantle government before it can reverse any injustice; leaving that instead “to the Market.”

      How about leaving it to the Market AFTER the stolen goods are returned?

  81. Eclair

    Yes, yes and yes, Yves. I skipped the comments and scrolled right down to the Leave a Reply (a first).

    During the summer of 2011, I was depressed about the state of the nation. On Labor Day weekend I wrote a diary entry at FireDogLake in which I lamented what I regarded as the broken social contract between the US and its immigrant citizens.

    My ancestors had fled brutal repression, foreign occupation and actual starvation to come to a country that offered them – in return for a lifetime of working in slave-like conditions in textile mills and construction jobs – a decent life for their children: free education, adequate food and clothing and, wow, a shot at owing their own home. Their kids became engineers, doctors, teachers, nurses.

    Now, all these benefits were being stripped away from workers.

    I wrote that a few days before Occupy Wall Street exploded on the national scene.

    This summer – starting out with the Snowden revelations in June – I have been experiencing a sense of emptiness and melancholy.

    Much as I felt when, first my father and then my mother, were diagnosed with fatal cancers, I feel a sense of sliding towards an inevitable and final loss. Now, as then, I regularly feel tears welling up in my eyes and slipping down my cheeks. Reading, walking, driving … things remind me of what we had as a Nation, perhaps for too brief a time, and of where we are now.

    Our leafy suburban neighborhood looks “normal.” My FaceBook News Feed is crackling with discontent (along with a few people who still regularly post pictures of their new boats and their dining-out experiences).

    The slow deterioration continues. The death will occur. How we react when we are no longer able to deny the sudden and overwhelming loss, is what scares me.

    1. Nathanael

      Actually, how we react when we accept the loss is what I *look forward to*.

      Only after accepting the loss can we move forward. Lately nearly all productive collective action has been stymied by the mass denial that our existing institutions are broken. Take that away, and things will get *vibrant*.

  82. b2020


    re: trends, there is Google Trends for you:



    In the list of distracting activities, you might want to mention the recent “jihadis in chat room evacuate the Middle East” bubble

    I do not know of any Oblahblah “famous cool”. The man lives in a bubble, I would venture that he just gets (miniscule) challenges more often than in the past.

  83. b2020

    Redlining Syria was another unforced error with fumbled follow-up in service of distraction.

    Watch Egypt – yet another slow-mo failure cascade of what passes as foreign policy these days.

  84. Brooklin Bridge

    I’m a little confused as to whether you are refering to the very short term (next crash is on us), mid term (conflict with our kleptocratic betters – new shakels chafing issues) or farther out (the end days), or all three, but your description of “pattern recognition” and growing unease is sure recognizable.

  85. Mark

    It’s impossible not to feel a disturbance in the force if you pay attention to

    what is happening to the climate.

    It dwarfs all the other things mentioned in this very long list.

    By the way, at this time Russia and Siberia, are flooded. The flooding directly followed a weeks long series of fires that covered vast areas of the continent.

    “A Song of Flood and Fire: One Million Square Kilometers of Burning Siberia Doused by Immense Deluge”


    For some strange reason, this isn’t covered at all.

  86. Hugh

    There is a widespread paralysis born of a dissonance between people’s attachment to the way things are and their realization that it is not working for them, or really anyone beyond a few. It is like the pressure of rising waters behind a rotting dam. We know the inevitable result will be explosive and destructive but we can not say exactly when it will occur.

    What they need is a unifying message, and hope, a vision of a new way of doing things, a society to which they can attach and commit, a society worth fighting for.

    As great and intimidating as the assembled and purchased power of the rich and elites is, its vast military, militarized police, and surveillance state apparatus, it is infinitesimal in comparison to the power of the people united in a common purpose. People, we the people, need to be reminded of that. We have always had the power. We have always held the keys to change.

    As Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, “The readiness is all.” We must be prepared. But we should also ask ourselves, if not us, who? and if not now, when? We are not just spectators to history. We have the capacity, and in the present time, the duty, to make it.

    1. Susan the other

      It’s because nobody has dared to come forward with a vision. No matter that one is so desperately needed. Here’s a vision I can live with (and lots of people will think I’m an idiot): I could give up everything. Everything I have worked and saved for all my life. If I thought I was building a future for my grandchildren and mankind. And a future for the planet, the rainforests, the oceans, the arctic, so many things we should protect and nurture. I can give up my “personal wealth” (a fantasy) for a strong reality.

      1. jrs

        Agreed. Let my 401k go up in flames for a better world, like I said (and I dutifully put in the 401k every paycheck just like any good middle income professional). By the time I retire are we going to have a planet to live on anyway? All that paper wealth *is* fantasy.

        Give me a world where human beings can dream again and their dreams are not eclipsed by thoughts of immanent total ecological collapse caused by an economic system gone off the rails that noone dares stop.

        I have a book by the anarchist collective Crimethinc that asks “is there any security you can buy that is worth more than a world in which human beings care about one another?” How can you answer that in the affirmative? No, there isn’t … And I’ll add: is there any security you can buy that is worth more than a world in which we care about the planets life support system?

      2. Whistling in the Dark

        Here’s a fragment of a simple thought, which should be easily enough filled in:

        …how many people would it take to get together, with various useful skills of their own–how many mechanics, farmers, educators, etc.–to build a realistic client-base for a physician? And then how many for a specialist? They supply a guaranteed client-base, while he gives them a discount, which they pay out of pocket (or, get creative! — would 500 people be enough to defray the expenses of catastrophic medical events? Maybe not important. But hey, maybe in the nearest 1000 people you talk to, you will run across an enthusiastic actuary.) The physician (to call attention to only one person among many) would also receive discounts among the group (500?), which would include your mechanics, your educators, and so on. …

        Fragments of a basic idea, which is so simple it would be a crime to put a name to it. But, basically, it would be phased autonomy from the deep, dark system, through community support. Hey, and you get to meet lots of nice people in the process. Throw parties! I live in SC, and I’m down with this. E.g.: I am a Ph.D. student in mathematics. I can only offer the fairly nonpractical skill of making sense of whatever math books you got laying around. But maybe it’s useful. I would gladly work at a ridiculous rate or for free for friends or for people who are offering something in trade–for starters, education in the more practical arts of life! I mean, it would be way more fun than making money.

        It’s a fragment of the simplest solution you can imagine. And what’s wrong with that?


    2. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

      Success or the appearance of success can get to some people’s head. In the words of Al Pacino’s character in the film “The Devil’s Advocate”, spoken to his star-lawyer, “Vanity is definitely my favorite sin”. The Law firm wasn’t exactly commendable …

    3. Nathanael

      “What they need is a unifying message, and hope, a vision of a new way of doing things, a society to which they can attach and commit, a society worth fighting for. ”

      Correct. There have been a lot of such messages PROPOSED, however, and it’s hard to say which one will “catch fire” or when it will do so or why. I’ve never been able to see any pattern in that in my studies of history.

      1. Lambert Strether

        “What they need is a unifying message, and hope, a vision of a new way of doing things, a society to which they can attach and commit, a society worth fighting for. ”


        I keep hammering on TINA because that unifying message is the alternative. Right now, all roads lead back to TINA. And it’s the left’s duty, and, at least so far, their historical failure, to pose that alternative. “You must do it whether it can be done or not,” as Catullus says somewhere in a poem about (among other things) denial, although I can’t find the translation I want…

  87. Greensachs

    Nothing that Central Bankism, their “fixed” government and the moldable media can’t prop up.

  88. Jess

    Yves — Simply one of your best and most profound posts that I can remember. And I firmly believe that it will be found to be quite prophetic.

  89. jrs

    I think Obama has entirely given up pretending – the mask is OFF – if you don’t see now that Obama is not only evil but has played you for a fool and is LAUGHING AT YOU NOW you are dumb as bricks.

    Another sign of this:
    Obama has cleared out the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (down to 4 people now – used to be much more)

  90. Andrew Watts

    I’ve felt a general sense of unease that has been building throughout this year. There are quite a few unknowns on the horizon scheduled for the autumn starting with the German elections in September. After careful consideration though, any European government could unexpectedly fall given their structure and history. I still think that whatever is going to set off the next round of economic crisis will happen in Europe when everybody least expects it.

    The Snowden affair has been a good distraction. Even though like many I wasn’t too surprised by the overall scope of government intrusion on the internet. The NSA pretty much admits to monitoring the entire internet on their website.

    “Hey websurfer, welcome to the NSA’s website. We’re totally spying on the internets! Have a good browsing experience on our website!”

    1. Nathanael

      The Euro governments are going to undergo some dramatic changes, with old parties thrown out and new parties rising to power. This, however, is not going to be the trigger for things to blow up in the US, this is merely going to be a “foreshock”.

      Things will blow up in the US due to something asininely stupid done either by the US government or by a US corporation. The US is sufficiently inwardly focused that nothing less will trigger a blowup in the US. However, there are so many asininely stupid acts being done by the US government and corporations that I couldn’t tell you which one will set things off!….

  91. lee

    Watch it, Yves, spooking the confidence fairy with intimations of impending doom could be construed as a criminal offense. We can’t be certain of this because the precise points of law on this issue are secret. You will know when and if they come for you.

  92. Glen

    I think the problem is that you’ve been consistently two to three years ahead of public opinion. The silent majority seems to have finally woken up to what really happend to them in the bailout, and are starting to wake up to the imposition of a draconian police state to maintain the existing system as it slides down the shithole.

    But you’re still two years ahead of a reaction, it’s going to have to get much worse and also have the public exhaust the normal methods of change using the Repubicans and Democratic parties before real change can happen.

    It will be a mess. Hopefully it will end well for our children because it cannot end here or well today.

    Obama will not look good at all in historical hindsight. He threw away his chance to be FDR, and will end up being Bush II and 1/2.

    1. Nathanael

      Absolutely correct, Glen. Though I’ll warn that timing is notoriously hard to predict in detail: Yves may be only one year ahead of public opinion, or may be five years ahead.

  93. Android 16

    I have felt it for sometime. Time getting faster, world denser, frantic senseless pace justified by euphemisms and obscure jargon. Going where? up e^x … f“>0

  94. allcoppedout

    The runes are cast then. Yves obviously hits a nerve. In fact, we’ve been becoming an immature species for 30 – 40,000 years. People poorer-braver than us protested WW1 across Europe in millions. We went to war anyway. Evolution, perhaps, can’t rid an intelligent species of selfish violence as easily as, say between the chimps and bonobos (immature – less violent).

    It’s not long since liberal democracy was the end of history. We may have reached a point where economics can go ‘modular’ and we move to genuine mixed economies – doing some projects because they make scientific-democratic/aspirational sense and others on bottom-line current normality less financial wizardry.

    I see nothing bone shaking on television, though there is a triumph against fracking – er – at a site that doesn’t frack. I’m just hoping the current government and central bank coven keep interest rates low until I have everything paid off in a couple of years. Yves may be right, but crisis in capitalism (whatever) surges come and go.

  95. Punkyclown

    To me it’s like the circle in the twilight zone prop that’s just getting tighter and tighter and tighter.

  96. RBHoughton

    That’s a really useful insight Yves – that gut feeling is actually subconscious pattern recognition. I’m bowing in your direction.

    The large number of responses show you have touched a common perception. What are these patterns?

    I fear the centralization of power not on the politicians but on the Pentagon. All the spy agencies, even formerly civilian ones, seem to have a general in charge these days. Military press talks of use of small nuclear devices as though its quite conceivable. Strategic plans to destroy economic competitors who assert an independent policy line. Oppression of the people generally. Dependence of big business on military contracts. Closure of libraries and substitution of Amazon ebooks. Education available only to the rich.

    I fear the generals are quite capable of sacrificing the currency like I might sacrifice a pawn. They can issue something else when their authority has become indisputable. A government with global dictatorial power can do anything – solve Medicare with euthanasia at 60; formalize and securitize the market for body parts; select dissidents to colonise Mars.

    We need to restore the balance between those who lead and those who follow. Are we up to that?

  97. Publius

    The existing order is dying and it does not go gently into the good night. The order that is replacing it is a strange hybrid of Absolutism and internationalism. I see the future as resembling China – over populated, polluted, crony Capitalist, and controlled. There is no possible way to have a militarist technological state and freedom both. The benefits to elites from Absolutism are too great to be restrained. The entire planet is up for grabs for the well connected and little things like consent are not going to get in the way.

  98. mdforbes500

    I am glad that I am not alone in feeling this way. Something big is happening and its scaring the crap out of me. And I am not the kind of person to believe in conspiracy theories, in fact I’m a physicist and like to stick to trend lines, so I’m glad someone else is seeing this. Maybe a rise in communism? But not your grandfather’s communism? Just idle speculation…

      1. Nathanael

        Wait for it. Timing is hard to predict.

        Be ready. Your assistance will probably be needed when the moment strikes.

  99. Banger

    I!ve seen this situation coming for a long time. For me that disturbance in the force was the 9/11 events and, even worse, what followed. Americans left, right and centered swallowed the official narrative, no enquiry into the events was ever initiated using normal rules of evidence–we passively accepted the government narrative as we did with the sixties assassinations. I have predicted the current slide into a statist/neo-feudal situation for nearly a quarter century because all cultural signs pointed in that direction then and do so even more now.

    One hopes that the current aristocracy can develop some good policies. The ball is in their court because this Constitutional Democracy is moribund.

  100. BruceMcF

    Winter IS coming. Having not even slapped the wrists of those involved in the greatest wave of finance sector control fraud since at least the 1920’s, there is no doubt that a sufficiently severe external shock at the wrong time of year will lead to a substantial US financial crisis.

    Right now, all efforts are focused on kicking the can down the road, to have the shock hit “next year” instead of “this year”, and no matter how successful those efforts are, as they do not involve resolving the underlying balance sheet problems, they only set up a “next year” in which the effort to kick the can down the road is harder to pull off.

      1. DolleyMadison

        The main Drag where all of the Banks are clustered in Charlotte is Tryon: Bofa is at N.Tryon…WF in the middle…Ally Bank at the end on S. Tryon with BBT, First Citizens, et al around the perimeter…She was in Business Insurance…

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      The woman in question was in her early 40s and was found dead in a hotel room here in a Minneapolis suburb. According to the local news reports I’ve seen so far no foul play is suspected. I’ll keep an eye on local outlets for further news.

    1. skippy

      The Neocons did not lose when O=bot was elected… they just re-branded.

      Erik Prince’s company Blackwater (now known as XE) has been embroiled in controversy for years. Company employees have posted videos online of their own ruthless behavior and abuses against Iraqi citizens, and can be heard laughing off camera. We’re now finding out that this brutality most likely came from the top, down from Prince himself — former employees are finding their consciences and telling horrifying stories about their former boss:

      A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

      In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.


      We have a war-crazed vice president. An addict, a verifiable military junkie. Many of us perhaps do not fully realize this.

      We are very unfortunately saddled with one of the least charismatic least interesting most intellectually acrimonious and most desperately hawkish, violence-hungry, soulfully inscrutable vice president in decades, and he wants this country at war, now and always. Oh yes he does.

      Dick Cheney, American Warmonger

      Oh my God. I mean, oh my God. Do not look too closely, for too long, at this photo, as it has been known to cause sever colorectral spasming following prolonged viewing. This is either a photo of Vice President Cheney, speaking to several hundred probably very frightened and deeply disturbed members of the Chosin Few, a Korean War veterans group, in San Antonio, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2002, or it is a cast reject photo from Planet of the Lost Mutant Morticians, the Musical. Either way, it’s sort of sad.

      Here is Dick Cheney, speaking to veterans of foreign wars, hyping up the need for a dramatic, wildly expensive pre-emptive strike against evil Saddam and evil Iraq because Saddam is without a doubt right this minute developing super-evil weapons of mass destruction and probably plans to rain them down on cute American babies and squads of helpless virgin cheerleaders at patriotic college football games any minute now, swear.


      skippy… what are these mobs still doing… who bought whom… and for what purpose… eh.

      1. Lambert Strether

        “The Neocons did not lose when O=bot was elected… they just re-branded.” Yep, as it’s turning out, the Christianist faction of the political class was insufficiently hegemonic. The creative class (backed by Eric Schmidt et al.) are far more effective. But you never know ’til you try!

        1. skippy

          “But you never know ’til you try!” – Lambert

          AH – hahahaha~

          skippy… is that erics motto with the gals… stop… it hurts~~~

  101. Whistling in the Dark

    This should be an interesting thread. Haven’t gotten to much of it for now…

    Should we add to this: The announcement by Eric Holder that he is asking federal prosecutors not to enforce mandatory sentencing on smaller (?) non-violent drug offenses. The story goes, they suddenly care about the carnivorous prison system hungry for poor non-violent, Black and other drug offenders. I actually heard “…yes we can…” something-something on NPR today, in reference to this. (?) Ah. What a nice whiff of nostalgia to coincide with the first hints of cooler weather and Autumn approching! ..[Well, I looked for it just now on their site and couldn’t find it. I’m not seeing transcripts either, though]

    Yes, add this to the various VISIBLE efforts that the administration has been making, only just the past couple of weeks, at deigning to notice various glaring problems familiar to NC.

    So, the Fall approaches? And they have an intimation of it? They have heard the whispers? Then, there is going to be an engineered disruption. And they want fresh in people’s mind a sense or perception that the government does have our best interests at heart. But if this is the case–and we can be logical even as we are being speculative and listless–then the disruption would have to come from some source external to the administration. The financial industry, etc. Engineered or inevitible? Time to turn the screws?

    So, gut feeling or prognostication. If it turns out to be prescient, then we ought to conclude that Obama had foreknowledge. The trick would be to prove this in a reasonable fashion.

    1. ian

      My biggest Eric Holder WTF moment was hearing him promise not to torture Snowden, were he to return to the US. I can think of several explanations – none of them are pretty.

  102. Bapoy

    I have the same feeling, just in a different kind of way.

    First off, 2008 was the creation of the Fed forced by the governments and banks. Yes liberals, issuing credit and handing it to banks, and governments creates bubbles. Who would think the banks would lend it to folks that would never pay it back and to governments who would spend it on stuff driving up prices and leaving salaries unchanged. I highlighted the reason for stagnant salaries following the decouple from gold was exactly those same reasons.

    There is one little problem and this is where the left, the right and just about everyone in between gets it wrong. The MARKET is much much much greater than the Fed. All of you were asking for manipulation of the markets. Yes, you all wanted house prices to stay high – because your “equity” or stocks were going to go down in price. You didnt want wall street to be bailed out, but you wanted a bailout for yourself, all in all you are no different than wall street. You are one and the same.

    Anyway, the market has decided that the good ol’ rates are going the opposite direction, the one no-one wanted, UP. You can guess what will happen to home and stock prices. And you can guess what will happen to government borrowing and expenses.

    The actions of your government and Federal Reserve have just bankrupted the nation. I can see the excuses coming, it was the Neo blah blah blah’s fault. Look in the mirror Americans, you are all at fault. Maybe this will teach you a lesson on letting free markets work. Had you let the banks and reckless homeowners take the fall in 2008, we would not be in this mess. You deserve everything that’s coming.

    1. AbyNormal

      i’ve never owned a home and i am being directly effected by this economy. my only child is holding off from college so as not to takeon debt of the masters and she is living the he!! of this economy.

      you go ahead and stuff everyone in the same boat like a good little limbaugh-licker…and while you suffer your narrowness get the fu*k out of our way

      The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.

    2. nobody

      Bullshit. Nearly half of Americans are not invested in stocks, and nearly 40% do not own their dwellings (if they have dwellings at all). A large swath of the country’s population is really quite impoverished and it is getting worse and worse. Life expectancy for ‘whites’ without high school diplomas has collapsed by an average of 4 years in a relatively short span of time (and it was already several years lower than for better-off compatriots). Just because the phenomenon is invisible doesn’t mean there’s not a die-off underway, as happened in the former USSR after it collapsed, or in the USA in the 1930’s. This is what it looks like in personal human terms:

      [W]hen it comes to heart and feeling, the best in town is a woman named Dottie. Dot is 59 years old, weighs almost 300 pounds and sings Patsy Cline nearly as well as Patsy sang Patsy. Dot can sing “Crazy” and any other Patsy song ever recorded and a few that went unrecorded. Dot knows Patsy’s unrecorded songs because she knew Patsy personally, as did lots of other people still living in Winchester. We know things such as the way she was treated by the town’s establishment, called a drunken whore and worse, and snubbed and reviled during her life at every opportunity, and is still today sniffed at by the town’s business and political class. But Patsy, who took shit off no one, knew cuss words that would make a Comanche blush, and well, she was one of us. Tough and profane. (As you may have noticed, cussing is a form of punctuation to us.) Patsy grew up on our side of the tracks and suffered all the insults life still inflicts upon working people here. Hers was a hard life.

      The fat lady sings, then drops dead. Dot’s life has been every bit as hard as Patsy’s. Harder because she has lived twice as long as Patsy Cline managed to. By the time my people hit 60 they look like a bunch of hypertensive red faced toads in a phlegm coughing contest. Fact is, we are even unhealthier than we look. Doctors tell us that we have blood in our cholesterol and the cops tell us there is alcohol in that blood. True to our class, Dottie is disabled by heart trouble, diabetes and several other diseases. Her blood pressure is so high the doctor at first thought the pressure device was broken. Insurance costs her as much as rent. Her old man makes $8.00 an hour washing cars at a dealership, and if everything goes just right they have about $55 a week for groceries, gas and everything else. But if an extra expense as small as $30 comes in, they compensate by not filling one of Dot’s prescriptions — or two or three of them — in which case she gets sicker and sicker until they can afford the copay to refill the prescriptions again. At 59, these repeated lapses into vessel popping high blood pressure and diabetic surges pretty much guarantee that she won’t collect Social Security for long after she reaches 63. If she reaches 63. One of these days it will truly be over when the fat lady sings.

      Dot started working at 13. Married at 15. (Which is no big deal. Throw in “learned to pick a guitar at age six” and you would be describing half the Southerners in my social class and generation.) She has cleaned houses and waited tables and paid into Social Security all her life. But for the last three years Dottie has been unable to work because of her health. (Did I mention that she is slowly going blind to boot?) Dot’s congestive heart problems are such she will barely get through two songs tonight before nearly passing out.

      Yet the local Social Security administrators, cold Southern Calvinist hardasses who treat federal dollars as if they were entirely their own — being responsible with the taxpayers’ money — have said repeatedly that Dot is capable of fulltime work. To which Dot once replied, “Work? Lady, I cain’t walk nor half see. I cain’t even get enough breath to sing a song. What the hell kinda work you think I can do? Be a tire stop in a parkin’ lot?” Not one to be cowed by mere human misery, the administrator had Dot bawling her eyes out before she left that office. In fact, Dottie cries all the time now. Even so, she will sing one, maybe two songs tonight. Then she will get down off the stage with the aid of her cane and be helped into a car and be driven home.


        1. nobody

          Thank you! Here are more wise words:

          To be poor and white is a paradox in America. Whites, especially white males, are supposed to have an advantage they exploit mercilessly. Yet most of the poor people in the United States are white (51%) outnumbering blacks two to one and all other minority poverty groups combined. America is permeated with cultural myths about white skin’s association with power, education and opportunity. Capitalist society teaches that we all get what we deserve, so if a white man does not succeed, it can only be due to laziness. But just like black and Latino ghetto dwellers, poor laboring whites live within a dead end social construction that all but guarantees failure. If your high school dropout daddy busted his ass for small bucks and never read a book in his life and your mama was a textile mill worker, chances are you are not going to be recruited by Yale Skull and Bones and grow up to be president of the United States, regardless of our national mythology to that effect. You are going to be pulling an eight-buck-an-hour shift work someplace and praying for enough overtime to make the heating bill. A worker.

          The political left once supported these workers, stood on the lines taking its beatings at the plant gates alongside them. Now, comfortably ensconced in the middle class, the American left sees the same working whites as warmongering bigots, happy pawns of the empire. That is writing working folks off too cheaply, and it begs the question of how they came to be that way — if they truly are. To cast them as a source of our deep national political problems is ridiculous. They are a symptom of the problems, and they may be making it worse because they are easily manipulated, or because they cannot tell an original idea from a beer fart. But they are not the root cause by any means. The left should take its cues from Malcolm X, who understood the need to educate and inform the entire African-American society before tackling the goal of unity. Same goes for white crackers.”


    3. Lambert Strether

      “Who would think the banks would lend it to folks that would never pay it back”? Anybody who understands the concept of accounting control fraud. Clever up, guy. The resources are here.

  103. Numenius

    For those of you who seek portents in the stars, there is now a nova exploding in the constellation Delphinus. It was discovered three days ago by a Japanese amateur astronomer, and has reached visual magnitude 4 (bright enough to be seen naked-eye in a rural sky).

    Beyond being a metaphor, this event is actually a perfect illustration in a physical system of what we are intuiting is happening in our social one. Classical novae consist of a close pair of stars, one of which is a white dwarf. Over many thousands of years, the gravity of the white dwarf captures gas from its larger companion. When enough gas builds up around the white dwarf and is compressed via gravitational attraction, there is a runaway thermonuclear explosion, and we have our nova. The point being that it’s the nature of systems to cruise along via steady-state processes for a while until suddenly there’s a phase change, a bifurcation.

    Too many threads are converging right now, and I don’t see what’s going to stop an upcoming phase change.

  104. Fiver

    I’ve experienced these rumblings of heightened awareness throughout my life, but in recent times more frequently both before and after 9/11, and before/after the Great Financial Crisis that together brought us to this sad – periods when the actions of the US are so completely counter to any possible productive outcome that it seems the US has gone quite mad – from the brutally racist Wars on Arabs and Islam as the wildly disproportionate response to a single act of terror, itself the product of CIA/Saudi/Pakistani intelligence agencies’ creation and use to this day of Al Qaeda to a Presidency marked by the greatest display of hypocrisy, arrogance, betrayal of solemn committments, corruption, and militant policy stupidity ever seen.

    All of this is refracted/reflected by a house of mirrors media that transforms serious content into meaningless mush or drumbeats for mass violence 24/7 to a public so fractured it has completely lost any sense of collective resopnsibility for anything.

    So we are reacting to our sense that we are on the edge, that one more idiot move by the this President, this Congress, the CIA, Israel or Saudi Arabia could tip us all out of our comfortable seats into the street – and the deep sense that we have so betrayed our own interests over the past 3 decades that we know neither we, nor anyone else, will have the courage to take this insane Ship of State into port for a complete refit top to bottom.

    Obama’s Presidency is done, over, toast. He will without doubt go down as the worst President for the time’s troubles the US has ever had. At no time has he ever understood any of what is critical to the world as it is in 2013. Now he flails and lies his way on a course that could well take him to the impeachment he most certainly deserves along with the entire current disaster for an elite.

    1. Nathanael

      He won’t be impeached because conviction for impeachment is impossible; it’s a flaw in the US Constitution, a mistake made by James Madison. You can’t get 2/3 of the US Senate to vote for ANYTHING. If they couldn’t convict Andrew Johnson (who was manifestly guilty) they won’t be able to convict anyone.

      Nixon resigned; I suspect he would never have been convicted.

      This means the Constitution has to be changed or replaced, of course.

  105. michael kranish

    If there is a positive disturbance in the force, it will come from people born after 1980. Radical social movements are almost always youth movements, the elder being people in their 30s. A couple of difference between my youth in the 60s and now are that there is no conscription and also there is much less much social/sexual repression. On the other hand the economic scene is much bleaker.

    1. Lambert Strether

      However! I am encouraged by shared action by young and old. Moral Mondays in NC, and the Capitol Singalongs in WI both have this characteristic, and I’m personally familiar with it in actions that stopped an oil tank car train here in the great State of Maine.

      Adding, when the grannies take to the streets, it’s all over for the ruling regime. Happened in Serbia, IIRC. See Otpor.

  106. Emma

    Oh là là !
    Think I will cheer myself up this evening and watch the Gilliam film Brazil.
    ps. the film score is an added bonus

  107. John-Albert Eadie

    Yes, America has gone off the rails. We in Canada are almost as dismayed by the US losing its wits as we are by the fact that we have an absolute doughhead rightwing PM who cheated to get into office, and is demolishing *our* standards in order to *copy* the USA. Yes, it is still August and we make up our mind about things for the Fall, and you may be right.

    Like the first poster, “I hope so” if it means a reaction to this rightwing stuff. I fear that the US/Canada is going down, perhaps rightly so, which *will* bring on terrific strife.

    1. Nathanael

      At this point I look forward to the US going down. It seems as inevitable as the fall of the USSR. The only question is what will come after it.

      I have been trying to work out how to influence that.

  108. Furzy Mouse

    Notes from my sojourn to the Imperial DCity…the 20 and 30 somethings that appear to be the backbone of the State Dept. seem to be living in a never-ending summer camp in Maine…many happy hours, parties, pursuits of games and pleasures…they are the best and the brightest, but the laughter often seemed forced, expected, to keep the wheels greased and rolling…the security is all-pervasive, mostly friendly, and mostly armed…saw one Police car,in the Foggy Bottom area, that had stopped a rental truck to search, also marked “United States Secret Service Department” along the lower sides…my old high school buddy, who heads a major construction co. in the DC/Baltimore area, concurs that not all is marvelous in the Imperial DCity…he is seeing many businesses (that his company leases space to) downsizing or closing, after having been prosperous for many years…and my dearest sister, who runs a radiology clinic, says that she and the doctors she works with are witnessing an ongoing decline in patient referrals…this decline seems to be across the board for many clinics, not just hers, leading to numerous layoffs to keep the clinics in the black, and I suspect pervasive throughout our country. Death by a thousand cuts.

    Another stunning scenario, to me, were the “new” and improved Goodwill and other thrift stores…they have been transformed into emporiums, with the goods enticingly presented, color coded, etc…well stocked and well patronized…truly a bonus for those on minimum wage…

    Finally, and I hope of no offence to anyone, my sister and I have noticed that the blacks of DC have elected to be much more gregarious and courteous to whitey than in days of yore, certainly making the Imperial DCity a more cordial place to live…we grew up outside of DC in the ’50’s and ’60s, during a time of great racial strife and animosity,(while our mom worked as an anesthetist at Freedman’s U hospital)… and even through the ’70’s and ’80’s, occasionally encountered difficulties when interacting with our black brethren…who did have many legitimate grievances!

    Finally, a comment from the black radiology techs working for my sister, about the Trayvon tragedy: I quote…”When stupid met stupid…”

      1. Moneta

        Old scenario:

        Find a family in need and give them your old bedroom set.

        New scenario:

        Give your old bedroom set to a goodwill store. The volunteers get first dibs and the rest gets sold with chunk of proceeds going to pay for overhead… and the poor still need to buy what used to be given for free.

    1. anon y'mouse

      Goodwill sees itself as a competitor to Target and other box stores. and, the reap the benefit of such places “donating” returned & opened merchandise for a tax writeoff.

      Goodwill then takes this damaged/incomplete merchandise and prices it just under what the box retailer sells it for.

      if you had actually shopped at one of their places, the prices on everything have increased such that buying a cheap tank top on sale at the box retailer they are competing with is only a couple of bucks more expensive. wait for a sale, and they might even be price-comparable.

      there are many policies in place that restrict what the workers can do with the merchandise. a better outlook would be that Goodwill views its employees in the same light that box retailer does—a potential source of pilferage cutting into their profit margins. I would not at all be surprised to find that, after I quit, they installed bodyscanning metal detectors on the employee exit.

      many of their customers are ebayers looking for a deal on collectibles, “hipsters” looking for that ever-rarer vintage frock, and many of their own employees. there are restrictions on what employees can buy and when. in other words, if something is on Blue Light Special that day, employees are not allowed to take advantage of a sale, even if it would be better than their standard employee discount. really, if memory is correct, you can’t even buy “Newly Placed” merchandise. so, you get the scraps that the public has picked over at a price comparable to a customer on sale day.

      you are treated as a slave and a potential thief. morale there is probably one of the worst I’ve ever seen. meanwhile, execs of Goodwill make 6 figures and the businesses (they are regionally branched associations) make perhaps billions in sales every year off of selling freely donated goods, which is sorted, picked and placed by a disabled workforce earning under the minimum wage.

      **disclaimer: this is all from memory, so could be slightly incorrect. also, policies may have changed in 8 years or so.

      1. Furzy Mouse

        Dear anon y’mouse…perhaps we are related? Great rundown on Goodwill..I concur…at the one I visited, in Annapolis, a lady commented to me that the “discounts” were not all that hot…later, my sister and I happened by a Second Avenue Value Store in Laurel, MD,linked to a Veteran’s charity (http://www.yelp.com/biz/village-thrift-store-laurel)which gets rave reviews on yelp…this was the store that inspired my comment about being useful for the many on minumum wage…most of the items were a buck or two…many shoppers, friendly atmosphere,chairs for tired shopper, lots of useful stuff…

  109. Kate

    Nice post, Yves, about historical knowledge, perception and loss. Dipped in muddy water, at last we deal with less. Well, some of us do, but it helps to see that.

  110. VietnamVet

    One disturbance in the force, not mentioned anywhere, is the sequestration signed into law by the President. Federal employees are being forced to take from 6 to 11 days off without pay. This is one big FU down the chain of command. One can never tell when the Mandate from Heaven starts to collapse but one good sign is when the Emperor pisses off his bureaucracy.

  111. Dan The Man

    For me the uber sublime moment was when I first heard Eric Holders response to the HSBC money laundering scandal, “some banks are just too big to prosecute” It was a relief when I heard that, I realized I was just having a bad dream.

  112. Lambert Strether

    So I threw the I Ching using Yves’s question just as she asked it:

    Do you have a similar sense of a collective rise in pressure, or tangible signs of disturbance among what passes for our elites?

    58 with lines 3 and 4 changing to 5.

    * * *

    ALL BEINGS have need of nourishment from above. But the gift of food comes in its own time, and for this one must wait. This hexagram shows the clouds in the heavens, giving rain to refresh all that grows and to provide mankind with food and drink. The rain will come in its own time. We cannot make it come; we have to wait for it. The idea of waiting is further suggested by the attributes of the two trigrams – strength within, danger in front. Strength in the face of danger does not plunge ahead but bides its time, whereas weakness in the face of danger grows agitated and has not the patience to wait.


    WAITING. If you are sincere,
    You have light and success.
    Perseverance brings good fortune.
    It furthers one to cross the great water.

    WAITING is not mere empty hoping. It has the inner certainty of reaching the goal. Such certainty alone gives that light which leads to success. This leads to the perseverance that brings good fortune and bestows power to cross the great water. One is faced with a danger that has to be overcome. Weakness and impatience can do nothing. Only a strong man can stand up to his fate, for his inner security enables him to endure to the end. This strength shows itself in uncompromising truthfulness [with himself]. It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any sort of self- deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognised. This recognition must be followed by resolute and persevering action. For only the man who goes to meet his fate resolutely is equipped to deal with it adequately. Then he will be able to cross the great water – that is to say, he will be capable of making the necessary decision and of surmounting the danger.

    Probably very bad of me to do this; I don’t think it’s a good idea to litter the NC threads with I Ching images. However, this thread seems to call for it.

    * * *

    Adding, though I don’t really think this is the temper of the hexagram, I’ve had “The Rains of Castamere” going through my head for days. Although it’s been rainy, for sure.

    1. Tennessee

      Waiting (Nourishment)… The Image for the fifth hexagram states, “We should quietly fortify the body with food and drink and the mind with gladness and good cheer. Fate comes when it will, and thus we are ready.” Cheers, Lambert. Thanks for the late night change of tone, of reference.

      1. AbyNormal

        “Don’t wait to be hunted to hide, that was always my motto.”
        sam beckett

        (self preservation to fight another day…if need be)

  113. HT

    Actually, that feeling of dread, of impending doom is what we’ll be feeling probably for the rest of our lives. Lurching from crisis to crisis. Fear. Things may not blow up next month but they will soon. The thing is that we’ll be totally unprepared to deal with any crisis. Climate change will cause conflict in already unstable parts of the world. The financial system is saturated with risk and the “consensus” is that we merely have to control and insure it. Healthcare is overly expensive and a handout to insurance companies. The government will lurch from crisis to crisis as it amkes unnecessary expenditures (wars). That spending will make it impossible to convince the members of Congress to spend in times of recession. It won’t matter anyway as our “leaders” are disconnected from the public. Even worse, domestic laws violate the Constitution and secretly made international laws supercede the laws passed by our elected representatives.

    How can we stop this? Not violence but an uncomprosing fight against the Obamas, Boehners, Bookers, Pelosi of the world. We might have to pull a Tea Party in 2016. We need a third party and we need a radical green plan.

  114. Paul Tioxon

    It could be that publishing of the quadrennial oracle of Port Huron report on “WHO RULES AMERICA” is calling it knock out for the 1%, causing empirical confirmation of that fear and loathing and sickness unto death feeling that you just can’t shake.

    As far as who’s on first, you need a program. You can’t tell who the player is without a program! Get your program here! Fresh off the interpress! That jack boot oppression coming down on your face and throat repeatedly, well its connected to someone with a name and position in the hierarchy. Find out the who, the who and the who. You already know the why and the how and when.

    “Welcome to WhoRulesAmerica.net, a site about how power is distributed and wielded in the United States. It both builds upon and greatly supplements the book Who Rules America?, now in its 7th edition. The book’s new subtitle, “The Triumph of the Corporate Rich,” reflects the success of the wealthy few in defeating all of their rivals (e.g., organized labor, liberals, environmentalists) over the course of the past 35 years. The story of how the corporate rich won all the big battles is complicated, but most of the answers are in the new Who Rules America? and/or this Web site.”

    Interlocks and Interactions Among the Power Elite
    The Corporate Community, Think Tanks, Policy-Discussion Groups, and Government
    by G. William Domhoff, Clifford Staples, & Adam Schneider

    This document presents new findings about the American power structure based on the connections among 2,563 corporations, 6 business leadership and policy-discussion groups, 33 prominent think tanks, 82 major foundations, 47 private universities with large endowments, and 19 White House advisory committees for the years 2011-2012. In all, the database used for our study contains 2,750 separate organizations and 9,121 individuals.

    It may be the largest and most extensive data set ever assembled for the United States that includes for-profit, nonprofit, and governmental organizations. 35.2% of the individuals in our database have connections to at least two of the organizations in the database. (See Table 1 for details, and this document about data sources for details on how the information for the database was collected.)


    1. Nathanael

      Naming names is good, and necessary. Consider the massive organizing effect which the *naming* of the Koch Brothers had.

  115. Lee

    Its the roar of the falls. Those whose hearing is more acute have heard it for at least 50 years. Of course as we approach the falls the roar is louder and louder. The roar is now quite loud and even relatively uninterested people find it annoying. It is quite probable that the suck of the gorge is beyond all efforts to make shore before its too late.

    Oh well.

  116. ian

    First off, thanks to Yves. This is one of the best posts on this site that I have seen. It goes right to the heart the matter – why the tea party exists, why consumers won’t spend more, why businesses won’t hire, why banks won’t lend – the feeling, deep down, that something is wrong and that our institutions are failing.
    This ‘disturbance in the force’ is not something I have felt only in the last few weeks. Its been going on for the last few years. Its the sense that whatever measures we adopted after the big meltdown were palliative at best and the underlying problems really haven’t been addressed. It is also the sense that the whole paradigm of our consumer-driven economy is ultimately futile and that all we have been trying to do the last few years is to re-inflate the bubble without any real structural changes. We’ve been playing for time, hoping that things will get better, with no real plan.
    As for some imminent cataclysm, I’m not so sure. I am reminded of an engineering contest when I was a student. The object was to build a bridge with materials weighing less than a pound. The bridge would be increasingly loaded until it failed. One of the contestants entered a bridge made from the side of a plastic milk crate. When it was loaded, it never really broke – it just kept bending. I think that is what our failure is going to be like – no one, clear point where things melted down. A similar analogy I have heard is that of boiling a frog – it just expires at some point without realizing what is going on because the process has been gradual enough.
    I apologize for rambling a bit, but this post touched a nerve. Its a bit hard to verbalize something which is subliminal – the sense that something is wrong and things are not in balance.

  117. Kokuanani

    I’m late to this discussion, but I’ll add my two cents.

    One of the things I notice is the increased number of “doomsday” entertainment items: tv shows, movies, video games. All feature attacks by aliens, vampires, terrorists. We’re ALWAYS under attack. We’re afraid, threatened.

    I never actually WATCH any of these horrors, just see the ads for them on tv. But this constant bombardment causes the feelings of helplessness and terror to appear “normal” and every day. Of course these feelings also cause people to feel that the situation is overwhelming and there’s nothing that can be done to change or challenge things.

    I think this is what our corporate overlords want.

    1. Nathanael

      This is very much not what they should want, if they want to remain in power.

      Why? The feeling of terror wears off (terror fatigue), the feeling of helplessness eventually has no effect (hell, might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb), and the hostility to those in power remains.

    1. nobody

      To some, it’s the Imperial DCity. To others, it’s the Chocolate City. This is from May 2008 (about 8 months before Barack W. Cheney dropped in on Ben’s Chili Bowl):

      Oh man, DC is always remarkable, it doesn’t matter when you come, how you come, DC is always the business.”

      “Where’s your self-esteem? It’s not that bad, Boo-boo. This is for all of the people listening to me right now that do not have a silver spoon in they mouth. It’s okay, rusty forks get the job done too, Boo-boo. This is for all my niggas in the struggle whose body is 60% water, and 20% Top Ramen Salt Packet. Get your grind on, my niggas, get your grind on, it’s okay.”

      “Life is short. You better enjoy it while you got it. Stop being ungrateful all the goddamn time.”


      @02:18: “Uh . . . Uh. . . To the rest of the world [gesturing at large picture of US Capitol Building behind him] [laughter], this is what DC looks like. [Laughter] And that’s wonderful cuz it’s beautiful and y’all really do have some historical, wonderful places to look at. What you don’t find out till you’re actually in DC [laughter] . . . is that while you lookin’ at this [facing Capitol building, back to audience, gesturing at Capitol building]… DC is actually behind you [laughter], And DC Look Like This [facing audience and gesturing inclusively towards it] WHAT’S GOIN’ ON MY NIGGAS!!! [applause] WHOOO!!! DC!!! Nothin’ Fuckin’ Like it. I’m so happy to be here, y’all mothafuckas have been wonderful, before I get started what a mothafuckin’ pleasure it is, with all the hatin’ goin’ on in the world, to be surrounded by this many real mothafuckas at one goddamn time. [Applause] It is certainly a pleasure. Certainly a fuckin’ pleasure. I gotta . . . It’s so much goin’ on in the world right now, and I need to say…”


    2. Timothy Y. Fong

      Word is that the military will also cut the housing allowance:

      I’m told that it’s already difficult for low ranking enlisted personnel to pay their bills every month, and it’s just going to get worse. Those are the people, by the way, that are the mainstay of the combat force.

      Additionally, I’m told that a lot of Air Force bases have cut, or will soon be cutting, on base bus service. So you have to have a car. Which costs money.

      1. Nathanael

        Plain stupid; unbelievably poor policy even from a power politics POV.u

        I’m kind of intellectually pleased to hear this, though. It confirms my hypothesis that Our Elite Overlords are NUTS who are undercutting the very sources of their own power.

  118. Vesta

    You’ve said EVERYTHING that I’m feeling but cannot properly articulate, Yves. I’m feeling it again. This gut feeling that I have, these flutters, the chatters and just the general knowing looks and glances that people give one another in passing on the street are the EXACT internal “woozies” I felt at the tail end of Summer 2001.

    I was emailing back and forth with a professor at the time and, in one of the emails, wrote “Something doesn’t feel right. I feel like something is about to explode”. Then 9/11 happened and everything became crystal clear to me on 9/12. I don’t want to experience that hindsight is 20/20 feeling again, so I’d rather be in the devil you know camp.

  119. Moneta

    The first thing we learned in math is how wrong intuition can be thanks to heuristics.

    However, If you spend decades absorbing quality facts, experiences and train your brain to account for heuristics, intuition can be a powerful computer that can link many variables together.

    Intuition is incredibly underrated in our society and that’s because most people do not train their brains properly… Garbage in, garbage out.

  120. Percy

    I agree with what you’ve said, Yves. I’ve felt that way, though, for the past several years, not just lately. Is it getting worse? Sure. Is there anything anyone, or any group, or the people generally can or will do about it? Will it get better? No. Let’s just take a single sliver of it: your mention of the Poitras story in the Times. No one above reacts to that especially. Indeed, I am not sure many have reacted to that story itself — alarmingly. I sent the thing by email to several friends around the country to try to be sure they read it — well-educated, well-off friends, who have been in government in what I will call influential, esteemed positions, now in such positions in the private sector, with whom I regularly correspond. I did not hear back from any of them. Not one. Why not? It is not, I think, because they don’t give a hoot. My concern is that they’ve not done so out of, well, something akin to why one dives in a foxhole during a bombardment — that they may believe, by sending them that piece, I’ve gotten them on some damned government watch-list they were not on before. Maybe down the line I’ll find out what they think, but I do not believe it will be by email. We’re all strangers to encryption, you see. Naïve of me, wasn’t it?

  121. Cathryn Mataga

    The ‘feeling of being watched’ — triggers instinctive anxiety in the psyche. I suspect it goes back to the animal parts of our brains — that we instinctively look for perdators watching us, like snakes and panthers, and if we feel we’re being watched it puts us on alert.

    This is what the NSA/Snowden story has done. The NSA is listening and watching everything, and now we can’t deny this.

  122. Jess

    Yves — Just wanted to let you know that you’re getting some love for this post over at FDL, courtesy of a post by C. Maukonen.

  123. ghickey

    Yes. We’ve been losing ground for 30 plus years. We lost the power of labor. Imagine how Nafta would have went if labor was strong. How would Clinton have leaned?

  124. John Medcalf

    I’ve been watching O lose his cool the past several weeks. My “the shark has been jumped” moment was the denial of air space. Overall I think what we have seen these past 5 years is someone not very good at governing and doesn’t care. His career in world travel is assured (or was till he started looking pedestrian).

  125. Klassy!

    Well, in the 90’s I thought the whole house of cards was going to come down sooner rather than later. It held together a lot longer than I thought it would. I feel like the elites are good at knowing how to release just enough pressure to ensure acquiescence, but maybe just maybethey’re losing their grip. I have to say, for me the spectacle in Boston was my real WTF moment.

  126. clarence swinney

    Newt Gingrich said: “The GOP has been caught up in a cycle that is negative and vicious”.
    Does he recall Repeal of Glass Steagall—Modernization of Commodity markets—Open Market with Cuba and Nafta? Or, does he forget the Impeachment?

    Yet! He is intelligent on Government and noted no increase in Minimum Wage—Dream Act—Immigration–America Jobs Act—Bush Tax Cuts for Rich—Payroll Tax Cut—Social Security CPI—Voting acts—Shutdown of Government—Debt Extension, etc.

    I will take him over Boehner. He is smarter and tougher.

  127. Theo

    Yes, I feel it too, for some years now. It is as if the counterrevolution against decency,tolerance, inclusion, fairness, and justice mounted by the right wing and the transformation of liberalism into neoliberalism are coming to their malign apotheosis. This apotheosis is a perversion of the impulse toward the good and a trampling of every constructive step we have made toward a caring civilization.

  128. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

    I like the title “A disturbance in the force?”. The first thing is that the US is looking more like a post-constitutional police state. John Whitehead had a book published this year called “A Government of Wolves”. Whitehead has a blog (starting January 2013) here: http://agovernmentofwolves.com/ Around June/July, Whitehead was interviewed on Talk Nation Radio about the topic of his new book, and that was an eye-opener for me, even though I’m rather jaded. Link: http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio Whitehead’s interview is fifth from the top. The second thing is a theory that the BRIC countries are moving away from the US dollar, and that oil-producing countries have been “forced” under the Washington consensus to sell oil in dollars (although some euro sales is Ok). Thus, the large number of so-called “petrodollars”; on the “thoughtful” side as opposed to the Armageddon-talk side, I propose this on “petrodollars”: http://ftmdaily.com/preparing-for-the-collapse-of-the-petrodollar-system/

  129. Sundog

    I think the “disturbance” Yves is wondering about is largely due to Greenwald & Gellman forcing reality to intrude during a month in which the great and good would just as soon feel comfortable zoning out. That reality is, of course, of nothing less than existential consequence for the American project however defined. Andrew Bacevich was good on this yesterday:


    Also, August will never be the same after 2008 and I’ve wondered if just this time of year triggers a sort of PTSD in me. Eurozone seems too damn quiet but maybe I’m not paying attention correctly.

    Bloomberg radio had a couple of disturbing interviews last Friday on Walmart quarterly numbers. Analysts seeing a $20 per week hike in payroll taxes as really damaging Walmart’s numbers (yes, twenty dollars); speculating that people are just hitting gas station kwikee-marts for milk & eggs because they lack the resources to undertake a big shopping trip; saying that stuff that ain’t essential for keeping body & soul together just isn’t moving. I wouldn’t be surprised if reports like these intrude upon some mid-Manhattanites.

    1. indio007

      In other Bloomberg news, Mayor Bloomberg wants to finger print everyone in NYC that lives in public housing.

  130. Markus

    For me the answer is yes, but then I have had this feeling since the mid nineties. Just a sense that things are steadily growing worse, that we are not free but owned just as plantations owned human beings as capital, and resisted change to the point of fighting one of the bloodiest wars in history to maintain.

    A slow decline punctuated by big slips downward, never to come back to where we were before the slippage.

    I really started to feel it more acutely when I retired to a fixed income, ironic label since it seems pretty broken to me. Every single day I am treated to headlines screaming at me about the absence of inflation, yet every month my budget is tighter than the month before. I lived better on $2,500 in 2005 than I live now on $3,800 per month.

    It is all the obvious lies, about inflation yes, but also the cute marketing for the Fed’s QE which is akin to welfare for the wealthy, or looting of the nation if you prefer to be blunt.

    I am trying to create a scenario large enough to encompass all the various inputs to this sensation, the only thing I can come up with is global catastrophe so huge it makes the thesis in the movie 2012 look small. And the closer it gets the less the powers that be are concerned with the obviousness of their actions. The purposeful concentration of wealth and ownership and resources into the very few hands that will remain when the catastrophe is done.

    But, after reading The Hunger Games trilogy I cannot think of Washington or government as anything but The Capital. While the rest of us live in the districts, beaten, starved, spied upon, lied to, and kept in the dark. Questions and comments treated like a serous crime resulting in mutilation or death with no concept of justice.

    1. Nathanael

      As I like to say, it’s not inflation if your wages don’t go up — it’s just price gouging.

      The elites do not want to talk about price gouging.

  131. ChrisPacific

    Not feeling it myself, but I’m not really in a position to have much of a handle on the mood in America right now.

    The Poitras article was remarkable, mostly in the sense that the NY Times was willing to provide such a sympathetic treatment and make it so prominent. It very clearly invites questions about what kind of country Americans are currently living in and whether they are OK with it, which is not something you see very often in the MSM at present.

    The sections on Poitras’ security precautions were also interesting. The fact that neither she nor Greenwald believe that they can protect Snowden’s confidentiality if they are physically located in the USA is telling, and should be food for thought for anybody concerned about privacy. The US government has a massive range of tools at its disposal to obtain your information, up to and including sending the FBI in with guns to physically take it (see the part on page 4 about William Binney). On a technical front, they have a lot of options that simply aren’t available to garden variety snoops. For example, if you use Windows and they could identify your Windows license key (did you register under your real name?) then they could require Microsoft to secretly deliver a customized Windows update to your PC that installs a backdoor for the NSA. Granted the price would be high, but for a person of sufficient interest like Snowden/Greenwald/Poitras I’m sure the budget would be available. Blocking Microsoft updates would stop it, but would also cut you off from future security patches and eventually make you vulnerable in other ways. The only defense would be using an anonymised copy of Windows, and even then you’d be at risk from data mining of online activity unless you encrypted all your traffic (which would be a tell in itself). This is (part of) the reason for the security precautions described on page 4.

    1. LItchfield

      I have an outdated computer, OS, and software, and never bother with MS’s upgrades.

      I wonder whether thoughts such as ChrisPacific’s will put a damper on the pressure to continue to upgrade comptuers, OS’s and software (and spend money unnecessarily). Could this mean financial trouble for MS?

  132. Sam Kanu

    The author described it aptly, there are powerful and negative forces that are clearly feeling restless and threatened. As evidenced by today’s reports about Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald’s partner being detained at the airport in the UK for no reason other than being related to a journalist who is exposing the negative forces.

    Yes, something clearly going on.

    Question is why? I can only think that greed has gotten completely out of hand. The truth is that the world has always been controlled by the rich and powerful, even when their was some fairness and a flourishing middle class in the west. But for some reason the ruling class, drunk on power, and richer than they ever have been at any time in the past century, has now decided to completely demolish any semblance of independence or fairness that once existed. Seemingly just for the hell of it.

    The world has gone mad.

  133. Nathanael

    “So readers: do you have a similar sense of a collective rise in pressure,”

    “or tangible signs of disturbance among what passes for our elites?”
    Actually, to me they don’t seem nearly as disturbed as they should. But I’ve been on about that topic for a long time now: I think our elites are in a Versailles-style bubble, unable to notice what’s going on in the real world.

    “Or is this just me trying to draw a trend line through a random set of data?”
    No. It’s real.

    I also do not know what the primary cause is (climate change? neofeudalism),… but I don’t think there needs to *be* a primary cause.

    It’s more of a drip-drip-drip of more and more bad stuff. Each piece of news is the piece which causes *someone* to wake up. You’ve watched (for instance) John Cole at Balloon Juice or Andrew Sullivan at whereever-he-is keep their head firmly in the sand… until *something* causes them to go “Oh, good grief, that is too much, this is it, we have to change things.”

    The saying from Abraham Lincoln was: “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

    Now, we’re seeing something like this play out. Some people were radicalized by the mortage fraud. Others were radicalized by the election theft in 2000. Others were radicalized when the US government forced down the Bolivian President’s plane. We could all probably name dozens of individual events, and each of those events was the tipping point for someone.

    The point is, that it’s just been one thing after another after another, and eventually a critical mass of people will be radicalized.

    What we’re sensing in the air is the beginning of the critical mass. I have no idea how it’s going to “gel” into a movement. But then, nobody knew how the anti-slavery movement would “gel” in the 1850s, either, but it suddenly did.

    The elites are finally noticing that they’re in political trouble, but they are so goddamn stupid that they don’t understand what is up, so they’re pursuing old “deny and coverup” tactics, which don’t work when nobody trusts you any more. Then they’re resorting to brute force tactics, which just create backlash when nobody trusts you any more.

    If you’re going to try to perform a civil takeover, you *have to know when to stop*, and our current elites *do not know when to stop*.

    I believe that they could nip this in the bud by some internal cleanup. Tear the NSA apart and shut it down, raze the Utah facility to the ground; put Clapper in prison. The NSA isn’t actually doing the elites any damn good, so it would be an easy sacrificial lamb, and it would appease a lot of people.

    But the elites are mind-bogglingly stupid. So they won’t do it. Result will be something like 1789 if we’re unlucky, like 1993 if we’re very lucky.

  134. leondarrell

    I have had a similar discomfort as well. If we are 33 years in to a 50 year cycle (a la George Friedman/Stratfor) then it’s likely we are coming up for a transition. Most of my friends (around 60 years old) are un- or under-employed, with irrelevant skills. Their children are college-educated and in similar straits. Non-college are Starbux/Taco Bell material.
    My guess is some shock precipitates the change.The result? a split-up empire? a demagogue?

  135. Jeff N

    I feel it, but I believe that very few other “normal” citizens recognize it.

    schools are becoming a place to stick kids while parents work.

    I don’t think the oligarchs wants any of us little people living past the age of 60 (as the value of our physical labor diminishes).

  136. Art

    IMO a good part of what is going on has to do with the capitalist view that the conflict between capitalisma and communism is over, cpaitalism won, and all the compromises made by capitalists can be rolled back.

    The story goes, in outline, something like this: Capitalism was doing well enough. Then Communism shows up and give hope, and significant poweer, to labor. Labor gains momentum, at the same time capitalism stumbles. The population in the US in the 30s start to see communism and colective action as a more just and rewarding alternative to capitalism.

    The New Deal was the more palatable alternative for the capitalist class than dismantlement of their entire system. In essence capitalism survived by compromising and addopting socialist policies like social insurance, welfare, and restraining the worse of capitalist excesses with regulation. Capitalism bent instead of breaking.

    On the other side communism was far less willing to compromise and alloy capitalist motivations and innovations with their doctrine. They couldn’t as easily placate the population with consumer goods, cheap entertainments, and keeping up with the Jonese.

    In time the USSR stumbled economically and China was coopted, seduced by by Nixon, and lured away from doctrine by visions of the elites becomeing capitalist princlings. Communism, a doctrine yet to be really given a real try, is viewed by capitalists as having lost the war. Capitalism was the last system standing.

    When the USSR broke up people were expecting a ‘peace dividend’ but the cold war was always a capitalist playing field with defense funds ending up in the hands of a very few elite capitalists. The real dividend they saw was that, with socialism and communism dead, they could liquidate the welfare state and free market capitalism run wild. There is no longer any need for the hard edges of capitalist excess to be blunted by regulation. Let the weak starve and the powerful run rampant. What can the poor do? The government regulators are all coopted, the judges have been selected for their free market leanings, unions have been neutered, the media is owned by them, and the very electoral system has been manipulated to make politicians lap dogs to business. The capitalists own the entire system. They write the rules, design the playing field, and select the referees. Or, that is how they see it.

    The disturbance is the result of the systematic process of the capitalist class renouncing all the compromises they made, under durress, fom the 30s on.

    The good news is that communism/socialism/collectiviism isn’t dead. You can’t kill an idea. It will, in many ways, be easier, and faster to rebuild labor power and a welfare state because it has all been done before. The US population hasn’t apprehended the fact that even at their post WW2 worse neither Europe nor Japan were as bad as the US is now because they took care of their people. That the socialist hellholes at their worse are still friendlier places for human beings to live than the free market US at its best.

    It is going to be rough sledding for a decade or two as the capitalist system colapses and people take time learning the old lesons. Capitalism will not willingly accept the briddle and bit of regulation and their desires being secondary to the larger good. Given time capitalism will learn to live under socialism and find both new heights of effciency and profitability, within the larger context of public good, as it did during and shortly after WW2.

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