The Fourteen Year Recession

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on March 24, 2014


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“When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”Napoleon Bonaparte

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“A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men … [W]e have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world—no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men.”Woodrow Wilson

When you ponder the implications of allowing a small group of powerful wealthy unaccountable men to control the currency of a nation over the last one hundred years, you understand why our public education system sucks. You understand why the government created Common Core curriculum teaches children that 3 x 4 = 13, as long as you feel good about your answer. George Carlin was right. The owners of this country (bankers, billionaires, corporate titans, politicians) want more for themselves and less for everyone else. They want an educational system that creates ignorant, obedient, vacuous, obese dullards who question nothing, consume mass quantities of corporate processed fast food, gaze at iGadgets, are easily susceptible to media propaganda and compliant to government regulations and directives. They don’t want highly educated, critical thinking, civil minded, well informed, questioning citizens understanding how badly they have been screwed over the last century. I’m sorry to say, your owners are winning in a landslide.

The government controlled public education system has flourished beyond all expectations of your owners. We’ve become a nation of techno-narcissistic, math challenged, reality TV distracted, welfare entitled, materialistic, gluttonous, indebted consumers of Chinese slave labor produced crap. There are more Americans who know the name of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s bastard child (North West) than know the name of our Secretary of State (Ketchup Kerry). Americans can generate a text or tweet with blinding speed but couldn’t give you change from a dollar bill if their life depended upon it. They are whizzes at buying crap on Amazon or Ebay with a credit card, but have never balanced their checkbook or figured out the concept of deferred gratification and saving for the future. While the ignorant masses are worked into a frenzy by the media propaganda machine over gay marriage, diversity, abortion, climate change, and never ending wars on poverty, drugs and terror, our owners use their complete capture of the financial, regulatory, political, judicial and economic systems to pillage the remaining national wealth they haven’t already extracted.

The financial illiteracy of the uneducated lower classes and the willful ignorance of the supposedly highly educated classes has never been more evident than when examining the concept of Federal Reserve created currency debasement – also known as inflation. The insidious central banker created monetary inflation is the cause of all the ills in our warped, deformed, rigged financialized economic system. The outright manipulation and falsity of government reported economic data is designed to obscure the truth and keep the populace unaware of the deception being executed by the owners of this country. They have utilized deceit, falsification, propaganda and outright lies to mislead the public about the true picture of the disastrous financial condition in this country. Since most people are already trapped in the mental state of normalcy bias, it is easy for those in control to reinforce that normalcy bias by manipulating economic data to appear normal and using their media mouthpieces to perpetuate the false storyline of recovery and a return to normalcy.

This is how feckless politicians and government apparatchiks are able to add $2.8 billion per day to the national debt; a central bank owned by Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks has been able to create $3.3 trillion out of thin air and pump it into the veins of its owners; and government controlled agencies report a declining unemployment rate, no inflation and a growing economy, without creating an iota of dissent or skepticism from the public. Americans want to be lied to because it allows them to continue living lives of delusion, where spending more than you make, consuming rather than saving, and believing stock market speculation and home price appreciation will make them rich are viable life strategies. Even though 90% of the population owns virtually no stocks, they are convinced record stock market highs are somehow beneficial to their lives. They actually believe Bernanke/Yellen when they bloviate about the dangers of deflation. Who would want to pay less for gasoline, food, rent, or tuition?

Unless you are beholden to the oligarchs, that sense of stress, discomfort, feeling that all in not well, and disturbing everyday visual observations is part of the cognitive dissonance engulfing the nation. Anyone who opens their eyes and honestly assesses their own financial condition, along with the obvious deterioration of our suburban sprawl retail paradise infrastructure, is confronted with information that is inconsistent with what they hear from their bought off politician leaders, highly compensated Ivy League trained economists, and millionaire talking heads in the corporate legacy media. Most people resolve this inconsistency by ignoring the facts, rejecting the obvious and refusing to use their common sense. To acknowledge the truth would require confronting your own part in this Ponzi debt charade disguised as an economic system. It is easier to believe a big lie than think critically and face up to decades of irrational behavior and reckless conduct.

What’s In Your GDP                          

“The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is one of the broader measures of economic activity and is the most widely followed business indicator reported by the U.S. government. Upward growth biases built into GDP modeling since the early 1980s, however, have rendered this important series nearly worthless as an indicator of economic activity.  The popularly followed number in each release is the seasonally adjusted, annualized quarterly growth rate of real (inflation-adjusted) GDP, where the current-dollar number is deflated by the BEA’s estimates of appropriate price changes. It is important to keep in mind that the lower the inflation rate used in the deflation process, the higher will be the resulting inflation-adjusted GDP growth.”John Williams – Shadowstats

GDP is the economic statistic bankers, politicians and media pundits use to convince the masses the economy is growing and their lives are improving. Therefore, it is the statistic most likely to be manipulated, twisted and engineered in order to portray the storyline required by the oligarchs. Two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth usually marks a recession. Those in power do not like to report recessions, so data “massaging” has been required over the last few decades to generate the required result. Prior to 1991 the government reported the broader GNP, which includes the GDP plus the balance of international flows of interest and dividend payments. Once we became a debtor nation, with massive interest payments to foreigners, reporting GNP became inconvenient. It is not reported because it is approximately $900 billion lower than GDP. The creativity of our keepers knows no bounds. In July of 2013 the government decided they had found a more “accurate” method for measuring GDP and simply retroactively increased GDP by $500 billion out of thin air. It’s amazing how every “more accurate” accounting adjustment improves the reported data. The economic growth didn’t change, but GDP was boosted by 3%. These adjustments pale in comparison to the decades long under-reporting of inflation baked into the GDP calculation.

As John Williams pointed out, GDP is adjusted for inflation. The higher inflation factored into the calculation, the lower reported GDP. The deflator used by the BEA in their GDP calculation is even lower than the already bastardized CPI. According to the BEA, there has only been 32% inflation since the year 2000. They have only found 1.4% inflation in the last year and only 7.1% in the last five years. You’d have to be a zombie from the Walking Dead or an Ivy League economist to believe those lies. Anyone living in the real world knows their cost of living has risen at a far greater rate. According to the government, and unquestioningly reported by the compliant co-conspirators in the the corporate media, GDP has grown from $10 trillion in 2000 to $17 trillion today. Even using the ridiculously low inflation BEA adjustment yields an increase from $12.4 trillion to only $15.9 trillion in real terms. That pitiful 28% growth over the last fourteen years is dramatically overstated, as revealed in the graph below. Using a true rate of inflation exposes the grand fraud being committed by those in power. The country has been in a never ending recession since 2000.

Your normalcy bias is telling you this is impossible. Your government tells you we have only experienced a recession from the third quarter of 2008 through the third quarter of 2009. So despite experiencing two stock market crashes, the greatest housing crash in history, and a worldwide financial system implosion the authorities insist  we’ve had a growing economy 93% of the time over the last fourteen years. That mental anguish you are feeling is the cognitive dissonance of wanting to believe your government, but knowing they are lying. It is a known fact the government, in conspiracy with Greenspan, Congress and academia, have systematically reduced the reported CPI based upon hedonistic quality adjustments, geometric weighting alterations, substitution modifications, and the creation of incomprehensible owner’s equivalent rent calculations. Since the 1700s consumer inflation had been estimated by measuring price changes in a fixed-weight basket of goods, effectively measuring the cost of maintaining a constant standard of living. This began to change in the early 1980s with the Greenspan Commission to “save” Social Security and came to a head with the Boskin Commission in 1995.

Simply stated, the Greenspan/Boskin Commissions’ task was to reduce future Social Security payments to senior citizens by deceitfully reducing CPI and allowing politicians the easy way out. Politicians would lose votes if they ever had to directly address the unsustainability of Social Security. Therefore, they allowed academics to work their magic by understating the CPI and stealing $700 billion from retirees in the ten years ending in 2006. With 10,000 baby boomers per day turning 65 for the next eighteen years, understating CPI will rob them of trillions in payments. This is a cowardly dishonest method of extending the life of Social Security.

If CPI was calculated exactly as it was computed prior to 1983, it would have averaged between 5% and 10% over the last fourteen years. Even computing it based on the 1990 calculation prior to the Boskin Commission adjustments, would have produced annual inflation of 4% to 7%. A glance at an inflation chart from 1872 through today reveals the complete and utter failure of the Federal Reserve in achieving their stated mandate of price stability. They have managed to reduce the purchasing power of your dollar by 95% over the last 100 years. You may also notice the net deflation from 1872 until 1913, when the American economy was growing rapidly. It is almost as if the Federal Reserve’s true mandate has been to create inflation, finance wars, perpetuate the proliferation of debt, artificially create booms and busts, enrich their Wall Street owners, and impoverish the masses. Happy Birthday Federal Reserve!!!

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When you connect the dots you realize the under-reporting of inflation benefits the corporate fascist surveillance state. If the government was reporting the true rate of inflation, mega-corporations would be forced to pay their workers higher wages, reducing profits, reducing corporate bonuses, and sticking a pin in their stock prices. The toady economists at the Federal Reserve would be unable to sustain their ludicrous ZIRP and absurd QEfinity stock market levitation policies. Reporting a true rate of inflation would force long-term interest rates higher. These higher rates, along with higher COLA increases to government entitlements, would blow a hole in the deficit and force our spineless politicians to address our unsustainable economic system. There would be no stock market or debt bubble. If the clueless dupes watching CNBC bimbos and shills on a daily basis were told the economy has been in fourteen year downturn, they might just wake up and demand accountability from their leaders and an overhaul of this corrupt system.

Mother Should I Trust the Government?

We know the BEA has deflated GDP by only 32% since 2000. We know the BLS reports the CPI has only risen by 37% since 2000. Should I trust the government or trust the facts and my own eyes? The data is available to see if the government figures pass the smell test. If you are reading this, you can remember your life in 2000. Americans know what it cost for food, energy, shelter, healthcare, transportation and entertainment in 2000, but they unquestioningly accept the falsified inflation figures produced by the propaganda machine known as our government. The chart below is a fairly comprehensive list of items most people might need to live in this world. A critical thinking individual might wonder how the government can proclaim inflation of 32% to 37% over the last fourteen years, when the true cost of living has grown by 50% to 100% for most daily living expenses. The huge increases in property taxes, sales taxes, government fees, tolls and income taxes aren’t even factored in the chart. It seems gold has smelled out the currency debasement and the lies of our leaders. This explains the concerted effort by the powers that be to suppress the price of gold by any means necessary.


Living Expense



% Increase

Gallon of gas




Barrel of oil




Fuel oil per gallon




Electricity per Kwh




Gas per therm




Dozen eggs




Coffee per lb




Ground Beef per lb.




Postage stamp




Movie ticket




New car




Annual healthcare spending per capita




Average private college tuition




Avg home price (Case Shiller)




Avg monthly rent (Case Shiller)




Ounce of gold




Mother, you should not trust the government. There is no doubt they have systematically under-reported inflation based on any impartial assessment of the facts. The reality that we remain stuck in a fourteen year recession is borne out by the continued decline in vehicle miles driven (at 1995 levels) due to declining commercial activity, the millions of shuttered small businesses, and the proliferation of Space Available signs in strip malls and office parks across the land. The fact there are only 8 million more people employed today than were employed in 2000, despite the working age population growing by 35 million, might be a clue that we remain in recession. If that isn’t enough proof for you, than maybe a glimpse at real median household income, retail sales and housing will put the final nail in the coffin of your cognitive dissonance.

The government and their media mouthpieces expect the ignorant masses to believe they have advanced their standard of living, with median household income growing from $40,800 to $52,500 since 2000. But, even using the badly flawed CPI to adjust these figures into real terms reveals real median household income to be 7.3% below the level of 2000. Using a true inflation figure would cause a CNBC talking head to have an epileptic seizure.

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The picture is even bleaker when broken down into the age of households, with younger households suffering devastating real declines in household income since 2000. I guess all those retail clerk, cashier, waitress, waiter, food prep, and housekeeper jobs created over the last few years aren’t cutting the mustard. Maybe that explains the 30 million increase (175% increase) in food stamp recipients since 2000, encompassing 19% of all households in the U.S. Luckily the banking oligarchs were able to convince the pliable masses to increase their credit card, auto and student loan debt from $1.5 trillion to $3.1 trillion over the fourteen year descent into delusion.

When you get your head around this unprecedented decline in household income over the last fourteen years, along with the 50% to 100% rise in costs to live in the real world, as opposed to the theoretical world of the Federal Reserve and BLS, you will understand the long term decline in retail sales reflected in the following chart. When you adjust monthly retail sales for gasoline (an additional tax), inflation (understated), and population growth, you understand why retailers are closing thousands of stores and hurdling towards inevitable bankruptcy. Retail sales are 6.9% below the June 2005 peak and 4% below levels reached in 2000. And this is with millions of retail square feet added over this time frame. We know the dramatic surge from the 2009 lows was not prompted by an increase in household income. So how did the 11% proliferation of spending happen?

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The up swell in retail spending began to accelerate in late 2010. Considering credit card debt outstanding is at exactly where it was in October 2010, it seems consumers playing with their own money turned off the spigot of speculation. It has been non-revolving debt that has skyrocketed from $1.63 trillion in February 2010 to $2.26 trillion today. This unprecedented 39% rise in four years has been engineered by the government, using your tax dollars and the tax dollars of unborn generations. The Federal government has complete control of the student loan market and with their 85% ownership of Ally Financial, the largest auto financing company, a dominant position in the auto loan market. The peddling of $400 billion of subprime student loan debt and $200 billion of subprime auto loan debt has created the illusion of a retail recovery. The student loan debt has been utilized by University of Phoenix MBA wannabes  to buy iGadgets, the latest PS3 version of Grand Theft Auto and the latest glazed donut breakfast sandwich on the market. It’s nothing but another debt financed bubble that will end in tears for the American taxpayer, as hundreds of billions will be written off.

The fake retail recovery pales in comparison to the wolves of Wall Street produced housing recovery sham. They deserve an Academy Award for best fantasy production. The Federal Reserve fed Wall Street hedge fund purchase of millions of foreclosed shanties across the nation has produced media proclaimed home price increases of 10% to 30% in cities across the country. Withholding foreclosures from the market and creating artificial demand with free money provided by the Federal Reserve has temporarily added $4 trillion of housing net worth and reduced the number of underwater mortgages on the books of the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks. The percentage of investor purchases and cash purchases is at all-time highs, while the percentage of first time buyers is at all-time lows. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can look at the long-term chart of mortgage applications and realize we are still in a recession. Applications are 35% below levels at the depths of the 2008/2009 recession. Applications are 65% below levels at the housing market peak in 2005. They are even 35% below 2000 levels. There is no real housing recovery, despite the propaganda peddled by the NAR, CNBC, and Wall Street. It’s a fraud.

It is the pinnacle of arrogance and hubris that a few Ivy League educated economists sitting in the Marriner Eccles Building in the swamps of Washington D.C., who have never worked a day in their lives at a real job, think they can create wealth and pull the levers of money creation to control the American and global financial systems. All they have done is perfect the art of bubble finance in order to enrich their owners at the expense of the rest of us. Their policies have induced unwarranted hope and speculation on a grand scale. Greenspan and Bernanke have provoked multiple bouts of extreme speculation in stocks and housing over the last 15 years, with the subsequent inevitable collapses. Fed encouraged gambling does not create wealth it just redistributes it from the peasants to the aristocracy. The Fed has again produced an epic bubble in stock and bond valuations which will result in another collapse. Normalcy bias keeps the majority from seeing the cliff straight ahead. Federal Reserve monetary policies have distorted financial markets, created extreme imbalances, encouraged excessive risk taking, and ruined the lives of working class people. Take a long hard look at the chart below and answer one question. Was QE designed to benefit Main Street or Wall Street?

The average American has experienced a fourteen year recession caused by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Our leaders could have learned the lesson of two Fed induced collapses in the space of eight years and voluntarily abandoned the policies of reckless credit expansion, instead embracing policies encouraging saving, capital investment and balanced budgets. They have chosen the same cure as the disease, which will lead to crisis, catastrophe and collapse.

“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.” – Ludwig von Mises


Welcome to the Hotel California Mushroom Farm

Off the keyboard of RE

Published originally on Reverse Engineering on November 21, 2010

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

Note from RE:  No time this week to write the Sunday Brunch on the Diner, so I went to the Reverse Engineering Refrigerator looking for Leftovers.  Found this morsel from 2010.  Makes me look like fucking Nostradamus, because if I said I wrote it today, nobody would bat an eyelash.

Some new information has begun circulating across the Blogosphere which is shedding some new light and new perspectives on the Inflationista-Deflationato Debate. Specifically, its Newz of rapidly spreading Inflation not in the FSofA where the Money is being printed, but rather in Emerging Markets over in Asia. Hong Kong apartments are going for $4500/sq ft, China declares a 4.4% Inflation rate that is probably double that in reality, etc.

China Ghost CitiesThe reason for this is Obvious. Capitalista Pigmen who are close to the Money Spigot aren’t taking the freshly printed Toilet Paper and loaning it out to J6P Small Bizman here, said Bizmen are already too in debt to take on more and already are not paying back what they owe. So instead of making biz loans to every Tom, Dick and Harry here, these banks are shoveling the money at every Chin, Chen and Chang over in China. Said Bizmen are happy to build Ghost Cities and Bridges to Nowhere with this money.

Its all pouring into the EMs like a Niagara Falls of Money. This is the “Hot” market with the “endless possibilities for Growth” that our Pigmen Asset Managers like Jim Rogers are investing in as they chase Yield. Does this have the same Stink as all the money that got poured into Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall or what? That ended well. The Swiss Banks are going to be eating that mistake until Helicopter Ben Bails them out.

Asia is a HUGE Bubble, or as I like to call it a Liquidity Trap/Asset Class Sinkhole. Such places are like a Roach Motel for Money. You can Check In, but you cannot Check OUT. Or the Hotel California of Money. You can Check Out any time you like but you can NEVER leave with the Money. LOL. Or at least sometime in the very near future you won’t be able to when some Yellow Swan comes in for a landing and everyone runs for the Asian Fire Exit at the same time.

So yea, Inflationistas like Gonzalo Lira and Deflationatos like me have something which we can agree on, which is that massive Money Printing does have to cause Inflation SOMEWHERE, and in this case where the Inflation is taking place is in the Hong Kong RE market and assorted other Malinvestment directed at Asia at the moment. Like the money loaned out here to build McMansions; like the money loaned out to Eastern Europe to join the Capitalista “Party like its 1999” orgy; like the money loaned to Ireland to become Pharmaceutical Exporters; like the money loaned to Spain to build Tourist Resorts for German Pigmen on the Costa del Sol, it is all destined to go up in SMOKE here, in the Greatest Bonfire of Paper Wealth in All of Recorded History.

schrodingerRoughly 75% of all the Dollars in existence are not here in the FSofA, they are floating around outside our borders, and MOST of them are tied up in some kind of Investment in some Asset class. Most of them are NOT FRNs stuffing the mattresses of the Chinese Overlords. Of actual FRNs, there are only around $1T of them out there, a drop in the bucket of what is probably in the QUADRILLIONS of notional money floating around the Shadow Banking system. The rest of the money only exists as Digibits in a Database, and when as MUST happen eventually all the Assets are Marked to Market instead of Marked to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, those Dollars will POOF disappear just like Schrodinger’s Cat when you try to pin down its location. You can pin down Position or Velocity, but when you pin down one, the other one becomes undefinable. So when the Velocity of Money goes to Zero, you can’t pin down its Position. It might still exist somewhere, but it’s probably halfway across the Universe by now in another Galaxy along with Schrodinger’s Cat. Unless Han Solo transports it back to us at Warp 10 in the Millenium Falcon, we are SOL. LOL.

I don’t see a Hyperinflation of Huge Influx of Dollars here as Foreign holders of Dollars try to dump them, because they don’t REALLY have Dollars. What they have are DOLLAR DENOMINATED ASSETS, most of it Notional money in the form of CDS, MBS etc. When they try to sell those Assets for Dollars, they will only get Pennies for them, if they can sell them at ALL. Since most of those Assets are in fact held by the TBTF Banks and their Illuminati Owners, POOF they are massively Insolvent AGAIN, even more insolvent than they already are. Is Da Fed going to then go and BUY every Resort on the Costa del Sur at Par from them with still MORE Funny Money? Reducto ad Absurdum, somewhere along the line this collapses.

This goes right along with the idea that as the Muni Market collapses, Da Fed will be going in to buy all of THOSE also. And of course Da Fed will ALSO print up enough money to fund the IMF so that all the PIIGS can be Bailed Out, and CA ALSO of course. Meanwhile, EVERYBODY KNOWS the FSofA itself is functionally BK, so for how long is it possible that people keep accepting the idea one BK country can Loan money to another BK one or buy Assets with money it does not have? That this Circle Jerk hasn’t collapsed already is a Testament to the Cognitive Dissonance which occurs in the failure of a Monetary System.

The Geniuses like Helicopter Ben and JC Trash-it who are running the whole show as Illuminati Apparatchiks simply cannot accept the idea that they can’t solve the problem. They don’t really have any answer for this problem other than Money Printing followed by War, and the goal there for the Illuminati controlling the Clueless Apparatchiks is to bet correctly on who wins the war and maintain control over the Banking SYSTEM they use and tie up the right Assets under their own Ownership, and have the New Goobermint validate their Asset Claims once the War is finishes, which in this case it never will in any clear manner like the end of WWII leading to the original Bretton Woods accord. Thus by funneling money to Prescott Bush’s Union Bank, the Thiessen Family was able to maintain their ownership and control over German Industry despite the fact that Hitler, who they ALSO funded lost the War.

Now, as this process works itself through, besides Emerging Markets the next Asset Class where a lot of the Hot Money flows is into Commodities. We have seen already serious Price Spikes there, but such Price Spikes are not Hyperinflation. Commodities are also a Liquidity Trap-Asset Class Sinkhole, but they operate on a shorter timeline than stuff like Property Bubbles, which can take a decade or more before they POP. Commodity spikes have a much shorter timeline, a few months or at most a year. The reason for that is most of them are Consumables like Food and Oil. They take an End Consumer who has money enough to pay the outrageous prices to stay Bubbled Up in price. However, as we saw with $147/bl Oil, this Taps Out the end Consumer VERY quickly, and then you get a crash in the price of that Commodity down to the $35 price level before it started creeping back upward. Whoever bet on it and wasn’t well Hedged or who did not unload his position before the inevitable crash came lost his shirt.

http://www.theblaze.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Food-Stamps-Yearly1.jpgSmall Economies like Weimar and Argentina and Chile and Zimbabwe can undergo prolonged Hyperinflation because the Market as a WHOLE does not respond to the fact a small country like that is getting Priced Out of the commodities market. It’s a Small Blip on the Radar if those countries are Priced Out and their population is Starving because their Money has gone worthless. It is NOT a Small Blip if a very LARGE country with a very LARGE Military gets priced out of the Food Market. Then it is a very LARGE Blip which perturbs the Market as a whole, and the price crashes.

You have an even BIGGER issue when one currency functions as the World RESERVE Currency. Then every time you get a Price Spike in commodities, its not just the Issuer of that currency who gets hit, but every country on the PLANET that is using that currency to define Asset Values and their own currency value, if they have one of their own.

What does a Price Spike in Food do here in the FSofA? At the moment very little because food is a relatively small percentage of income for most folks in the FSofA who have not already fallen off the Economic Cliff. For those who have, we also are running the SNAP Card program, insulating this ever growing number of people from “Food Insecurity”, aka STARVATION.


However, in all the Developing Nations (aka “Emerging Markets”) of the world where food is a BIG part of the family budget and there isn’t a Safety Net like SNAP, Food Riots pop up like Mushrooms on a cool and damp morning in Kennett Square, PA. (Mushroom Capital of the WORLD! LOL) This would INCLUDE Chen Rice Wine over in China, because while the Chinese Overlords are doing quite well, your average Chinese Peasant or Factory Worker is still subsisting on an annual salary of like $3000 (the salary J6P would also have if we want to compete with China for cheap labor). Chen is going to be going HUNGRY when Rice goes up 30% in price. Not good for the Stability of this EM. The Chinese Overlords MUST STOP this inflation or else they are going to lose control of their country. So they Bluster at Helicopter Ben to STOP Printing, and HB Blusters Back for them to STOP manipulating their currency. Something gotta GIVE here of course. Who will Blink First? It doesn’t really matter, because when either side does Blink, the only Recourse is WAR.

http://blog.heartland.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/gold-bars-3.jpgAll the consumable commodities are destined to Spike and Crash for as long as this monetary regime stays functional and/or until the War exits the Political/Economic sphere and migrates to the Battlefield. As long as Oil is priced in Dollars this will remain the case, and the BRIC countries are not going to be able to replace that with another Fiat currency, nor will the World Bank be able to do so. Same problem would occur with ANY Global Currency, based on ANYTHING, even Gold in an Industrial Economy whose total basis for value is on Cheap Energy. That my Gold Bug friends is the REAL crux of the matter. Follow the MONEY. The real MONEY or Economic Wealth of Industrial Civilization is in OIL and its control, NOT in Gold Bars.

Let us do a Thought Experiment. If say TOMORROW all the Fiat Crashed and the House of Saud would only take Payment in Gold for Oil, what happens? Of course all the people who have no Gold are SOL immediately. However, even all you well Prepped Pigmen with some Gold Eagles in your Basement Safe are going to have to cough them up to the House of Saud in order to get the Oil and its Products AND services you depend on, like a Functioning Goobermint that protects your Property Rights. The Oil Producer essentially holds everyone dependent on that Oil Hostage for their Gold, until all the Gold is in THEIR safes. Then what do you buy Oil with (if any is left under their Desert Sands by then)?

Of course it is not quite so simple as that, since Saudi Arabia is a Food Importer, so as long as you are a Food Exporter and can Price Up the Food to match the Oil Price Input you could have a round robin trade going on there of Food for Oil, with the Gold serving as a measure. The problem there is that this trade cannot go on in perpetuity, since while the Gold does not get destroyed, the Oil does. When the Oil runs OUT, the Saudis are left with lots of Gold in the Basement Safe, and nothing to EAT, since of course you cannot EAT Gold, and unlikely anyone with meager quantities of food will trade it for a lump of metal they cannot eat.

The Food exporter is in slightly better shape (but not much) since even though he has No Gold left and No Oil either, he still does have some possibilities for producing Food, though not nearly in the quantity possible when the Oil was flowing in from Saudi Arabia. So with no Oil and now little Gold to function as Money, this population is going to have little to work with beyond Barter to keep the Economy moving, but by then your Goobermint has gone the way of the Dinosaur and nobody is going to be out there protecting your Property Rights over “your” land other than YOU.

You think the FSA is a problem NOW? Wait until the SNAP Card program collapses. Communists will start popping up like Mushrooms on a cool and damp morning in Kennett Square, PA. Over in Greece, the Communist Party is already growing. The reason is their “Socialist” Goobermint isn’t doing jack SHIT to keep them from being turned into Debt Slaves to the Illuminati. The last Refuge for the hopeless and disenfranchised with Nothing Left to Lose is Communism. Its no problem at all philosophically or economically for people who have NOTHING to agree to share Everything. LOL. Only people who have something left to lose are afraid of Communism. You can battle against this only for so long as you keep the number of Have Nots in the Population below a certain Critical Mass. The CM seems to be about 25% of the population Unemployed, where no Safety Net exists to keep them going. At the point you have that many completely off the cliff, you probably have another 50% of the population barely hanging on, and 25% still in Control and doing OK. This is where the Battle for their Hearts and Minds and Warm Bodies to serve as Cannon Fodder comes in, as some in the middle 50% go with the Communists because they are afraid if they don’t they will attacked by the “hoodlums”; and others in the middle sign on to be Soldiers for the Illuminati with a Hot meal and a place to sleep if they fight to preserve the Status Quo. Depending on who wins the battle, you end up with either Communism or Fascism, and in large societies both are variants of the same thing, Totalitarianism. The only time you can get some kind of Middle Ground is when there is sufficient Surplus in the economy to keep everyone at least fed and housed. Such a surplus existed here in the FSofA right through Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society Program, which bought off the FSA for more than 40 years, using the Thermodynamic Energy of Oil first in the years directly following WWII, followed by Financialism and ever upward spiraling Debt in the years since the Great Society. It was NECESSARY to incur that debt in order to STOP what was happening in the FSofA in the 60s, the draining of enough resource wealth to keep everyone fed and housed in the Industrial paradigm. This was resulting locally with increasing Civil Violence, and internationally with Wars of Aggression for Hegemony over the world in places like Vietnam. Of course our Illuminati Masters did not REALLY stop this, all they did back then was Kick the Can down the road a piece with the Great Society.

It never ceases to amaze me reading the amount of Bile spit at the Free Shit Army on the pages of TBP, and more than a few other Blogs I read. Since the very MOMENT money became used as the instrument of commerce back in the time of the Sumerians, every one of these societies has been stuck with the dichotomy of Haves and Have Nots. For the great preponderance of the time in between, from about 5000BC to 1865AD or so, explicit Slavery was the answer to the Have Not problem. The Industrial Revolution made many if not most forms of Productive Human Labor quite valueless by replacing it with the thermodynamic energy of Oil, so you didn’t even really need Human Slaves anymore in the direct Ownership sense of an individual Human Life. Economic slavery became the order of the day, as a whole new economy developed based on the consumption of the Oil resource. As it grew, many forms of “Make Work” industries developed to employ people, but they didn’t really produce anything of value. In fact the people who make the MOST money produce nothing at all, they merely sit behind a Bloomberg Terminal and place bets on where the next Bubble will pop up. Closer they are to the Money Spigot, more money they have to Leverage and bet, the more they make. Thus Goldman Pigmen can go an entire MONTH not losing bets on a single trading day. Nice work if you can get it of course.

All the make work stuff of the post Industrial economy led by the IT sector never resolved the problem of poor folks falling off the economic cliff for one reason or another, and the Industrial Economy never could provide enough Good Paying jobs to keep everyone employed. It only did for a while here in the FSoA when the Industrial Capacity everywhere else in the “developed” world had been LEVELED in WWII. Once that capacity was rebuilt, and then additional capacity overbuilt in Asia, the price of Industrial Labor fell precipitously, and it was an easy thing indeed for Unions to be destroyed and Capital to move its way over to Cheap Labor countries like China. That merely accelerated the process of more people falling off the economic cliff here in the FSoA, which in order to maintain social cohesion necessitated an ever expanding population of the FSA. Many of them did find work in low paid service sector jobs for a while, but as the consumer based economy of the Industrial paradigm collapses, so also collapse all those service sector jobs. So every day now the FSA increases in its numbers, to the point now where even many of our readers are members of the FSA, collecting their UE checks after being downsized out of their job as an IT Engineer or having that job outsourced to an Indian Geek in Delhi, who will write the same code for 1/10th the price the FSofA IT Geek needs to pay his mortgage.

Although certainly the 30 Blocks of Squalor and the long term FSA populating those decaying streets are the most visible evidence here of the collapsing Industrial Economy, for now less visible members of this army are hunkered down Squatting in McMansions yet to be foreclosed on, collecting UE Bennies and feeding their children with SNAP cards. Those McMansions still look pretty good if they are still occupied since they were all built in the last decade, but in a few years they will have the same dilapidated quality of the housing in the 30 blocks of Squalor. No money available to do maintenance, no money to buy gas for the John Deere Riding Lawn Mower.

People revile the Free Shit Army until the day they JOIN that army. Ever so parochially, they believe “This will never be ME!”, since they have their Sheepskin from the University of Illinois where they studied the Productive Subject of IT, eschewing their interest in the Fine Arts so they would be prepared for a Job in our economy. As this economy spins it way downward, all those nice young WHITE boys and girls who started families and moved into McMansions will quickly become members of the FSA as well, if they are not already. Should those boys reject the UE Bennies, should they reject the SNAP card to feed their young children? Who in their right mind would do that?

As we transition out here from the Industrial/Information Technology age, unless as a society we provide some buffer to make the transition, MANY people will go Hungry, and they won’t all be the Black folks in the 30 Blocks of Squalor who fell off the cliff quite some time ago, barely after explicit slavery was abolished after the War of Northern Aggression. More and more, the FSA is going to be composed of the predominant group of White people who for a while rode the Great Train of prosperity that followed the accessing of the thermodynamic energy of Oil.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/images/hitler1.jpgThis new group of the Impoverished and Disenfranchised will be led to revile the old group of I & D, and our Illuminati Masters will direct their hatred toward them, with an ensuing Race War quite likely as a result. Even more likely to begin over in Europe than here in the FSofA, if you read blogs like the Gates of Vienna and the subtext of policies the Dutch MP Geert Wilders espouses. Over the last 20 years, from France to Germany to the Netherlands, they have been importing cheap labor and filling up their “suburbs” with Muslim populations to do the scut work of their society, but as they run out of scut work for them to do more of them fall onto their social welfare roles. Now at best they would like to Export all these folks back to the countries they migrated from. A bit easier to try and justify than exporting the Black population of the FSoA back to Africa since they have been here since the 1700s, but equally implausible in practical application. Since exporting the Impoverished is less possible now than it was when the Jews migrated out of Europe toward the shores of Amerika, one can only suspect a new iteration of the Final Solution being undertaken over in Europe. Here in the FSoA as well this time also.

The FSA is an artifact of Industrialization and exchanging Explicit Slavery for the Economic Slavery of Capitalism. A Trade Off was made starting in the time of Otto von Bismark to develop a Social Welfare state that would handle the problem of the Have Nots that has always existed since monetary systems were implemented in the aftermath of the Agricultural Revolution. Utilizing the Thermodynamic Energy of Oil, it has through this period in the developed Industrial economies been possible to “buy off” the impoverished by providing them a basically free living, although not a very pleasant one in the various Ghettos around the world that are mirrors of the 30 Blocks of Squalor. As the Oil Age comes to a close, its no longer possible to do this Buy Off, which leaves only two possibilities, explicit Slavery or Death via the Final Solution.

Here in the FSofA, because the FEAR of Communism has been so thoroughly inculcated into the population, unlike Greece its unlikely that we will see a real resurgence of a Communist movement like the Wobblies of the Great Depression. FDR only managed to hold this off at the time by buying time with some Socialist reforms like Social Security and the Myth of Home Ownership financed through Goobermint guaranteed Loans from Fannie Mae. It was a last ditch compromise by the Illuminati of that time financed with the Thermodynamic Energy of Oil, then present in copious quantities underneath fields in OK and TX. In the intervening years since, the Illuminati consolidated their control running a Corporatocracy which is now morphing into an explicitly Fascist State, evidenced by increasing intrusive Full Body searches at all Air Transit Checkpoints and ever expanding control of commerce in all sectors of the economy. The whole apparatus is so well entrenched now it is doubtful any kind of Communist movement would stand a chance of success, so for those of you worried about that outcome here, its not likely. You will of course have to live with the alternative, a Fascist Goobermint which watches your every move and controls every aspect of your life. All you can really do during this period is wait for said Goobermint to eventually collapse on itself through internal corruption and the collapse of the Conduits. That could take quite some time, depending on how well our Fascist Leaders are able to run the War machine along with the Police State. Given the general level of Incompetence in Goobermint and decreasing Energy to hold the system together, I don’t think the timeline will be all that long, however.

We are now fresh OUT of Can Kicks, and there is nowhere in the world with great resource wealth to rape anymore, certainly not China, which is already a post industrial Cesspool. All the Hot Money Helicopter Ben is Printing is going into Malinvestment in Asia, hyperinflating their economies and setting up enormous Bubbles waiting to burst in every Emerging Market. When it collapses, as it MUST, there will simply BE no place for Capital to migrate to. Nowhere left to Run, Nowhere to Hide. Then it will become a real Global War of the Haves v. the Have Nots, and the number of Haves will be exceedingly small in number. ALL the Conduits, including Money will collapse in the course of this War, and the Death Toll coming down the pipe is close to incalculable, though it cannot be more than the entire population of Homo Sapiens, so it has an upper limit as an Extinction Level Event.

I keep my fingers crossed this is not the end of our experiment with Sentience on this planet. I do hope that there are at least a few remaining small tribes of people who will rebuild a new civilization based on better principles of Stewardship of our Planet and Generosity toward Others, rather than the Planetary Rape and Intraspecies Greed which defines Capitalism. The only thing for sure here is that if that time does come, its not going to be for a VERY long time, and the intervening years are going to be filled with Death, Anguish and Pain beyond measure for most of Humanity. The most important thing to come from that time is to make sure that Justice is Done, and the Greedy are made to Pay for their Sins. There is no level of Violence too great to Exact Retribution for the Violence done to the world and its people by Capitalism. Eternal Justice WILL prevail, and the Meek Shall Inherit the Earth. Right AFTER the Meek get very, VERY Angry.

See you on the Other Side.

The Song Remains the Same

Off the keyboard of John Michael Greer

Published on the Archdruid Report on May 8, 2013

Discuss this article at the Favorite Dishes Smorgasbord inside the Diner

If you always do what you’ve always done, a popular saying nowadays has it, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. Most people accept that readily enough in the abstract. It’s when they attempt to apply this logic to their own lives and thinking that they get tripped up, because self-defeating patterns very often arise from a mismatch between basic presuppositions about the world and the world as it’s actually experienced, and confronting that mismatch is not an easy thing. It’s usually much simpler to insist that it’s different this time, and repeat the same failed strategy yet again.

The logic of speculative bubbles is a case in point. The next time you read some online pundit insisting that a new era has dawned, that the old rules of economics have been stood on their head, and that some asset class or other that’s been rising steadily for a while now is certain to keep on zooming upwards for the foreseeable future, he’s wrong. It really is that simple. Any of my readers who haven’t been hiding under a rock for the last fifteen years or so saw that same rhetoric deployed to promote the tech stock bubble, the housing bubble, and an assortment of commodity bubbles, not least the recent and now rapidly deflating bubble in gold; those who know their way around economic history can find the same rhetoric being waved around every bubble since the Dutch tulip mania of the 17th century.

If human beings were in fact rational actors, as one of the more popular schools of economics these days likes to insist, investors would react to the next appearance of that well-worn rhetoric by pulling out every dollar they can’t afford to lose. In the real world, of course, things don’t work that way. When the Federal Reserve’s current orgy of quantitative easing finally does what it’s supposed to do and kicks off a gargantuan speculative bubble—yes, that’s what it’s supposed to do; Greenspan’s easy-money policy a decade ago succeeded in blowing a bubble big enough to cushion the downside of the tech-stock crash, and Bernanke’s pretty clearly working off the same playbook—it’s a safe bet that investors will stampede into the bubble, “it’s different this time” will once again become the mantra du jour, and the same cycle of boom and bust will repeat itself with mathematical precision.

Grasp the hidden logic behind bubble economics and you can see the mistaken presuppositions that drive that cycle. It’s an article of faith in today’s industrial economies, buoyed by three centuries of economic growth driven by fossil fuels, that money ought to make money, and that having a certain amount of money invested ought therefore to guarantee a stable income. It so happens that this isn’t always true. In 1929, for example, overinvestment and overproduction during the boom years of the 1920s left very few sectors in the US economy able to pay accustomed rates of return on investment, but investors weren’t willing to come to terms with this unwelcome reality. The result was a huge pool of funds seeking any investment that would promise a return heftier than the economy would support; modest increases in stock values started pulling that pool into the stock market, kicking off a feedback loop that ended with Black Friday and the Great Depression.

That same pattern on a vaster scale is what’s driving the latest round of bubbles. In the United States and most of the other established industrial nations, the returns on investing in the production of goods and services are too small to support investors in the style to which past decades accustomed them; the result is a pool of funds almost immeasurably larger than the one that created the 1929 boom and bust, sloshing through the global economy in search of any investment that will yield a bigger than average return. Because the real economy of goods and services is dependent on such awkward necessities as energy and raw materials, which are in turn subject to accelerating depletion curves, the problem’s only going to get worse, but those who hope to make a living or a fortune from their investments aren’t exactly eager to learn this. Thus the increasingly frantic efforts to inflate the global economy by means of speculative excess; the alternative is to accept the fact that an entire way of life based on money making money has passed its pull date.

That’s the kind of awkwardness that tends to pop up when the world shifts, and a pattern of behavior that used to be adaptive stops working. To get past the misguided but seductive insistence that “it’s different this time,” in turn, the habit of morphological thinking discussed in an earlier post is essential. 1920s-era investment trusts are not the same thing as tech-stock mutual funds, mortgage-backed securities, or whatever boondoggle will be at the center of the next big speculative bubble, any more than a porpoise is the same thing as a bat; put them side by side, though, and the common features will teach you things that you can’t learn any other way.

All this is by way of introduction to another bit of comparative morphology, one that many of my readers may find even more upsetting than the ones I’ve covered already. I’m sorry to say that can’t be helped. Last week we talked about the shape of time, the various abstract notions of history’s direction that every human culture uses to make sense of the world its members experience; such notions are exactly the sort of basic presupposition about the world that I discussed earlier in this post, and when the course of events begins to move in directions that a culture’s notion of the shape of time can’t explain, the result is quite commonly the sort of self-defeating cycle discussed earlier. That’s the situation we’re in here and now, and what makes it worse is that the shapes of time that define history for most people nowadays have very different origins and functions than most of us think.

To unravel the resulting tangle, in turn, it’s necessary to glance back to two thinkers whose relevance to modern thought is rarely recognized. To meet the first of them, we’ll need to go back exactly sixteen centuries to the year 413 CE. The place is the city of Hippo, in what was then the province of Numidia and is now the nation of Algeria; more precisely, it’s the residence of the Bishop of Hippo, a man named Augustine, who was just then in the process of giving the Western world what would be, for the next millennium or so, its definitive shape of time.

Here as elsewhere, historical context matters. By Augustine’s time, the Roman Empire’s control of the Mediterranean world had been established for so long that most of its citizens assumed that it would be around forever. Troubles at the periphery were common enough, but the thought that something could disrupt the whole imperial system was all but unthinkable. The distinctive shape of time accepted by nearly everyone in the late Roman world contributed mightily to that habit of thought. To most of the people of the Empire in that age, history was the process by which an original state of chaos was reduced to stable order under the rule of a benevolent despot. What Jupiter had done to the Titans or, in terms of the new Christian faith, God had done to Satan and his minions, Rome had done to the nations, and peripheral troubles were no more a threat to Rome than to her divine equivalents.

The problem with this confident civil faith was that history stopped cooperating. In 410, after a long series of increasingly desperate struggles against Germanic invaders, the legions crumpled, and the Visigoth king Alaric and his army swept into Italy and sacked Rome. Only Alaric’s willingness to be bought off kept the city from remaining in his hands for the long haul. The psychological and cultural impact of the defeat was immense, but of equal if not greater concern to the Bishop of Hippo was the uncomfortable fact that the empire’s remaining Pagans were pointing out that the beginning of Rome’s troubles coincided, with an awkward degree of exactness, with the prohibition of the old Pagan cults. Since Rome had abandoned the gods, they suggested, the gods were returning the favor.

Augustine’s response is contained in The City of God, one of the masterpieces of late Latin prose and the book that more than any other defined the shape of medieval European thought. The notion that divine power guarantees the success or survival of earthly kingdoms, Augustine argued, is a complete misunderstanding of the relationship between humanity and God. The inscrutable providence of God brings disasters down on the good as well as the wicked, and neither cities nor empires are exempt from the same incomprehensible law. Ordinary history thus has no moral order or meaning.

The place of moral order and meaning in time is found instead in sacred history, which has a distinctive linear shape of its own. That shape begins in perfection, in the Garden of Eden; disaster intervenes, in the form of original sin, and humanity tumbles down into the fallen world. From that point on, there are two histories of the world, one sacred and one secular. The secular history is the long and pointless tale of stupidity, violence and suffering that fills the history books; the sacred history is the story of God’s dealings with a small minority of human beings—the patriarchs, the Jewish people, the apostles, the Christian church—who are assigned certain roles in a preexisting narrative. Eventually the fallen world will be obliterated, most of its inhabitants will be condemned to a divine boot in the face forever, and those few who happen to be on the right side will be restored to Eden’s perfection, at which point the story ends.

Those of my readers who are familiar with the main currents of European and American Christianity already know that story, of course. 1600 years after Augustine’s time, his vision of time remains official in most Christian churches. What’s more, it can be found in a great many places that would angrily reject any claim of intellectual influence from Christianity. Goodness at the beginning; a catastrophic fall brought about by a misguided human choice; a plunge into the history we know, which has no redeeming features whatsoever; a righteous remnant set apart from history who serve as an example of the blessed alternative; a redeeming doctrine that brings the promise of future joy to those few who embrace it; and sometime soon, the final cataclysm that will sweep away the fallen world and all its evils, so that the redeemed few can be restored to the goodness of the beginning: where else have we heard this story?

Pick up any neoprimitivist book by Daniel Quinn, John Zerzan, Derrick Jensen, or their peers, to cite one example out of many, and you’ll find that the names have been changed but the story hasn’t. Eden is called the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, the Fall is the invention of agriculture, the righteous remnant consists of surviving hunter-gatherer peoples, the redeeming doctrine is set forth in the book you’re reading, and Armageddon is the imminent collapse of industrial civilization, after which humanity will be restored to the hunter-gatherer paradise forever: it’s the same narrative, point for point. Look elsewhere in contemporary popular culture and you’ll find scores if not hundreds of ideologies that follow the same pattern; from radical feminists whose Eden consists of Goddess-worshipping Neolithic matriarchies straight through to Tea Party supporters whose Eden consists of pre-1960s America seen through intensely rose-colored glasses, the song remains the same.

This is where morphological thinking becomes as necessary as it is difficult. Most people can quickly learn to spot the standard elements of Augustine’s narrative in any belief system they themselves don’t accept; add a six-pack or two of good beer and it can turn into a lively party game, in which characters, situations, and events out of The City of God can be spotted hiding in a dizzying assortment of contemporary ideologies. The fun stops abruptly, though, when one or more of the players realize that his or her own beliefs follow the same script. One of the things that sets the Augustinian shape of time apart from most other shapes of time is that it assumes its own uniqueness; while it might be possible to imagine a version in which there are several different Edens, Falls, righteous remnants, sacred histories, redeeming revelations, final cataclysms, and New Jerusalems descending from the skies, in practice this never seems to happen. Each such narrative presents itself, and is accepted by its believers, as uniquely true and unrelated to any other version of the same narrative.

Still, this is only half the story. Those of my readers who know their way around the history of ideas, or have tried the aforementioned party game themselves, will have noticed that a significant number of popular ideas about history don’t fit the narrative of fall and redemption Augustine set out. This is where the second of our two thinkers comes into the tale. His name was Joachim of Flores, and he was an Italian mystic of the twelfth century CE. Like Augustine of Hippo, he was a writer, though his prose was as murky as Augustine’s was brilliant, and nobody other than historians of medieval thought reads his books nowadays. Even so, he had an impact on the future as significant as Augustine’s: he’s the person who kicked down the barrier between sacred and secular history that Augustine put so much effort into building, and created the shape of time that the cultural mainstream occupies to this day.

To Joachim, sacred history was not limited to a paradise before time, a paradise after it, and the thread of the righteous remnant and the redeeming doctrine linking the two. He saw sacred history unfolding all around him in the events of his own time. His vision divided all of history into three great ages, governed by the three persons of the Christian trinity: the Age of Law governed by the Father, which ran from the Fall to the crucifixion of Jesus; the Age of Love governed by the Son, which ran from the crucifixion to the year 1260; and the Age of Liberty governed by the Holy Spirit, which would run from 1260 to the end of the world.

What made Joachim’s vision different from any of the visionary histories that came before it—and there were plenty of those in the Middle Ages—was that it was a story of progress. The Age of Love, as Joachim envisioned it, was a great improvement on the Age of Law, and the approaching Age of Liberty would be an improvement on the Age of Love; in the third age, he taught, the Church would wither away, and people would live together in perfect peace and harmony, with no need for political or religious institutions. To the church authorities of Joachim’s time, steeped in the Augustinian vision, all this was heresy; to the radicals of the age, it was manna from heaven, and nearly every revolutionary ideology in Europe from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries drew heavily on Joachimist ideas.

That guaranteed that Joachim’s narrative would percolate out just as enthusiastically as Augustine’s did, influencing at least as many apparently secular ideologies. Pick up a copy of Hegel’s Philosophy of History, for example, a hugely influential work in 19th-century European thought; if you can get past the man’s famously unreadable prose, you’ll find a version of history that copies Joachim’s plot exactly but changes the names of all the characters. Hegel’s version of history begins in Asia and ends in Germany; there are three ages, Oriental, Classical, and German, and the improvement that plops a One Way sign on history is the increase of freedom, which is the way that the absolute Spirit reveals its essential Idea in history. “The East knew and to the present day knows only that one is free; the Greek and Roman world, that some are free; the German world knows that all are free,” Hegel wrote. “The first political form therefore which we observe in history, is despotism; the second democracy and aristocracy, the third monarchy.” (If this last point seems a bit odd to my readers, this may be because they aren’t ambitious professors angling for patronage from the royal house of Prussia.)

More generally, look at all the sets of three more or less ascending ages to be found in modern thinking about time. The division of prehistory into the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age is as much a reflection of this habit as the division of history into Ancient, Medieval, and Modern periods. No matter how many scholars point out the complete irrelevance of these schemes, they remain stuck in place in popular culture and education, because they bolster the contemporary belief that our own time is the culmination of all previous history, the point from which the future will leap forward along its predestined track toward the future we like to think we deserve.

Put two compelling visions of the shape of time in a culture, and you can count on any number of fusions and confusions between them. Marxism, interestingly enough, is among the best examples of this. Karl Marx himself was a thoughtful student of Hegel’s philosophy, and the theory he presents in his own writings is correspondingly Joachimist: history is a progressive series of ages—feudal, mercantile, capitalist, socialist, communist—in which each age represents an improvement on the ones before it, while falling painfully short of the ones still to come. Friedrich Engels, who finished the second and third volumes of Capital after Marx’s death, was heavily influenced by his Lutheran childhood and brought in the standard hardware of the Augustinian vision, with primitive Communism as Eden and so forth. The result is a rich ambiguity that allows committed Marxists to find adaptive responses to most of the curveballs history might throw their way.

For the great difference between the Augustinian and Joachimist visions is precisely the kind of historical events to which they tend to be adaptive. Augustine’s vision was crafted in a civilization in decline, and it turned out to be extremely well suited to that context: from within Augustine’s shape of time, the messy disintegration of the Roman world was just another meaningless blip on the screen of secular history, of no real importance to those who knew that the history that mattered was the struggle between Christ and Satan for each human soul. That way of thinking about time made it possible for believers to keep going through times of unrelenting bleakness and horror.

Joachim of Flores, by contrast, lived during the zenith of the Middle Ages, before the onset of the 14th-century subsistence crisis that reached its culmination with the arrival of the Black Death. His was an age that could look back on several centuries of successful expansion, and thought it could expect more of the same in the years immediately ahead. His way of thinking about time was thus as well suited to ages of relative improvement as Augustine’s was to ages of relative decline.

Improvement and decline, though, are value judgments, and what counts as improvement to one observer may look like decline to another. That’s the key to understanding the roles that Augustinian and Joachimist visions of time play in contemporary industrial society—with implications that we’ll explore in detail next week.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues


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Lies, Damn Lies and Coronavirus Statistics By Cognitive Dissonance     “Never believe anything in po [...]

The Decline and Fall of Civil Society Chapter One By Cognitive Dissonance     From my perspective at [...]

Event Update For 2020-06-30http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-06-29http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-06-28http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-06-27http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2020-06-26http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

However don't expect strikes and yellow vests to fix underlying problems [...]

So how many more times are we going to hear that this is our last chance to take action in order to [...]

This is definitely not a bona fide post [...]

Daily Doom Photo



  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

The Great Pause Week 15: Pirata"The white gull can bank steeply, climb, dive, and even invert, but it lacks by a large margin [...]

"The blow felt by a globalized, just-in-time, cheap-energy driven, modern consumer economy will [...]

"There are ten million times more viruses on Earth than there are stars in our universe."H [...]

The Great Pause Week 11: Son of a Lab Rat"Humans, by and large, seem unshakable in their beliefs that skin color, religious affiliation, [...]

The Great Pause Week 10: President Jill Stein"President Stein asked what preparations were warranted at this time. The CDC Director said tha [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

What extinction crisis? Believe it or not, there are still climate science deniers out there. And th [...]

My new book, Abolish Oil Now, will talk about why the climate movement has failed and what we can do [...]

A new climate protest movement out of the UK has taken Europe by storm and made governments sit down [...]

The success of Apollo 11 flipped the American public from skeptics to fans. The climate movement nee [...]

Today's movement to abolish fossil fuels can learn from two different paths that the British an [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Saudi Arabia has threatened to ignite an oil-price war unless fellow OPEC members make up for their [...]

"The coronavirus pandemic and the oil price collapse are accelerating the pace of bankruptcy fi [...]

In reply to Harry McGibbs. This is more comedy than good news story. In both the UK and the USA abov [...]

In reply to Gail Tverberg. Hint: We added 83 million to the planet last year. The population of Germ [...]

In reply to Harry McGibbs. And US citizens cannot visit all. It is hard to believe that next year wi [...]

I don't get it. For years this blogger and others like Martenson have been on about the fragili [...]

In reply to steve from virginia. This Brookings webinar goes over some of the ground discussed here [...]

In reply to Ken Barrows. Everything is bullish! [...]

Also, it's very possible we could send the virus packing if everybody would just wear a face-ma [...]

The crux of the problem is that what Chris Martenson has christened the "Honey Badger Virus [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

This study aims to provide improved knowledge and evidence on current (1986–2015) climate vari [...]

In many countries, urban heat island (UHI) effects come along with urbanization in metropolitan area [...]

The impact that climate change and urbanization are having on the thermal-energy balance of the buil [...]

Although there is a general consensus about the trends of current climate change, the North Atlantic [...]