My mood these days is up and down like a jet-powered yoyo, and being me—a person who likes to see the oneness of it all—I tend to project what I experience out onto everything. Probably we all do. We see with what we are and therefore see what we are; we cannot not project. Anyway, this moodiness suggests to my ever-alert intuition that humanity is moody too. Not each individual without exception, but that a vibration of wildly fluctuating hope and despondency characterises humanity’s emotional/cultural state. Movements like The Tea Party, The Arab Spring, the uprisings in Spain and Greece, and Occupy Wall Street bloom, promise, then seem to decay. There seems to be a seesaw of wills between The Powers That Be and the New Powers That Want To Be, with the markets and economic data as trotted out by government the mounted knights of the former; mass protest and people power the raggedy band of outlaws fighting for the latter.
The situation is perverse and conflicted. Speaking for myself (though
I’m sure I am not alone in this), I get a cheap thrill when economic
data and markets show signs of weakness. Then, when they strengthen, a
smidgen of despair, yet also a flicker of hope; all that good news might
filter through to my little old life—perhaps finding income (which I
really must do) won’t be too difficult. I am emotionally and
intellectually invested in the new—which requires the collapse of the
old—, while still needing the old to feed me and mine. This dissonance is the
source of my mood swings, and I suspect the source too, more widely, of
the societal schizophrenia I intuit.
I tend to refrain from peddling data here, because I don’t trust it.
Last week the stock markets obediently surged on ‘good’ news from the US
employment statistics. 200,000 jobs added! The UK has recently posted
encouraging figures in both manufacturing and services, Germany coughed
up warmer than luke GDP growth figures, and the Euro has not imploded.
These are the ‘victories’ of the status quo. (Good articles by Golem and
Karl Denninger help expose how manipulated this data is, in case you’re
interested in how irrelevant to Main Street the figure are.)
Meanwhile, Greece and Spain and Hungary are in obvious free-fall. Greek government revenues fell by 7% in January,
against a ‘predicted’ 9% rise. A 7% fall in a month is catastrophic. The country is
down and out. Spain’s youth unemployment rate has touched 50%. 50%! Greece is
not far behind, with Portugal putting in a good showing. Europe wide,
youth unemployment is at 20%. These are catastrophic figures. Hungarian
debt was downgraded to junk last month, and Austria’s nose is deep in that
doggy doo. Growth cannot emerge from this barren soil, but other things
can, and are. Violence is one of course, but so is a new way of thinking, a new
set of ambitions not coaxed forwards by consumerism. These new desires
are the biggest threat to the status quo.
Contagion, folks, contagion. We’re all interconnected now. So, against
these hurricane strength headwinds, the ECB and the US Federal Reserve
are printing money like there’s no tomorrow. There is indeed no tomorrow. Even
if conditions on our economic ground were conducive to growth, the
environment will not have any of it. As northern Europe endures a bitter
cold snap and pipes burst across Russia, the UN is calling for new
economic thinking. Yet on blogs and nooz sites discussing this lefty
temerity, concern for the environment is equated with socialism. The
‘free’ market must be given more head, the money data proves this. For
the love of life, are we ready for the end of growth? Can we, culturally
and deeply, really appreciate what this means, tell ourselves new
stories, fashion new desires?
Jein. Sometimes I think yes, sometimes I think no. Today, I think, ‘no
way no how.’ Death is coming, and he’s mad as hell. The virtual reality
of Nooz, Game Shows, MTV, Gadgets and Perpetual Human Ascent is too
strong, its web too complex and bewildering, the erosion of trust too
complete, our cynicism and ignorant cleverness too brittle, shallow and
vain. We are infatuated with the wrong illusion, the one with
its hands around our necks using our infantile love of it as the energy
it needs to squeeze ever tighter. And as we begin to gasp and retch, as
our faces turn purple, all we can muster is limp tantrums going
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