Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Stuff of Dreams.

We are now several weeks into the President-Elect's administration. Doesn't that sound exceptionally weird? This is the first time in my experience that a newly-elected executive seems like the head of state a full two months before officially assuming office. When Clinton was in his last months, I remember people dreading his departure. No doubt that had much to do with the fact that the 2000 election was contested, and it wasn't clear who Clinton's replacement would be. A lot of folks certainly had a bad feeling about the idea of another Bush in office. Still I think few had any idea just how disastrous his first term would be. Anyway, there is a wide consensus that it's a good thing he's leaving.

I feel entitled to a couple of months of self-delusion. Can't I simply bask in the dream that we will be put back on a brighter path? Actually, the answer seems to be a resounding "No"! Despite the impression I have of Barack Obama as a resourceful and thoughtful man, if I'm really honest with myself, I have to realize that the problems are almost incomprehensibly vast. The economy is tanking, and the fed is "injecting" so much additional currency into the system that it will almost certainly overdose. This is a paradigm shift. After 9-11 we were promised that "the nation will never be the same again". I think that might have been overstated at the time, but it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Every time I consider the trillions of dollars that our government is spending to forestall the greatest crash in US history, I get that much more sick to my stomach. How could anyone have a plan to help us escape the mess? It appears that the best we can hope for is to reassure foreign investors that the entire edifice isn't built on a pile of shit and wishes. How long can we fool the rest of the world? If we are successful at this task for another few years, what are the chances that we will correct our course in the interim? Perhaps the essential human flaw comes down to a limited perspective at the core of our beings. It doesn't seem like foresight is an essentially well-developed quality of mankind. Nobody really wants to suffer for a better future.

The only thing I can do for a break is to let my cultural obsessions overcome my political ones. I need to distract myself (if only for a bit) for the sake of my own sanity and health. I promise that I won't let it go on too long, as that would mean I'm only contributing to another fundamental problem within our populace. But I feel like I deserve it. So I'm spending more time reading a book about the history of millenarian thought, with a special focus on Judeo-Christian traditions. If you're not aware of this theme, I would describe it in very simplistic terms as a belief that the world is coming to an end, and the accompanying concern with the details surrounding preparation for, and the significance of, Armageddon. If you are still unclear about the subject, have a look at the Biblical Book of Revelations as a reference point.

I'm aware of the irony of my choice. Why would I feel like turning to this type of stuff for the purpose of escapism? The answer may sound contradictory. I think that "escapism" is the appropriate descriptor for the application of imagination to "apocalypse". For as long as history has been recorded, there have been thinkers dreaming up "The End". Interestingly, they tend to twist it around into an ultimately positive scenario. Sure, you've got to go through hellish tribulations, but if you are able to come out the other side, you are in for a treat of 1000 years of peace and happiness. You see, the truth of the matter is that there is no escape. Society is (and always will be) as flawed as the individuals that make it up. Embrace that reality, and rely on dreams only whenever you find them absolutely necessary to get by.

Labels: , , , , ,


Anonymous john morris said...

Well it is built on shit and wishes and I think they are starting to see that.

We are hardly seeing the end of history, just the highly logical consequences of our highly illogical actions. Hopefully, a few people will see that "god" did not bless America with the ability to evade the basic laws of nature and economics.

fiat currency induced debt bubbles are the time honored means of national collapse. It's true that we might be the biggest one ever, but the world will go on.

Please China, stop us before we spend some more.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Is the book you're reading called "End of Days: The struggle for the Temple Mount" or something like that?

10:19 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

"Please China, stop us before we spend some more."

China made their Faustian bargain...
"In for a Dollar, in for a Pound". This goes way beyond "national collapse".

3:32 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...


The book I'm reading is called "Longing for the End: A History of Millennialism in Western Civilization", by Frederic Baumgartner.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous John Morris said...

Well, time will tell. Right now, if China, Japan and our other creditors start to rapidly pull the plug on us there is still a chance this thing can be contained. That is not to say without catostrophic disruption for China. However, they still have vast reserves and a very high national savings rate which would allow them to rebalance their economy to be less dependent on exports to us. They will lose a lot of money of course from the decline of their dollar assets but this will be largely offset by the increase in the value of assets in their own country. Also, letting the dollar collapse will vastly increase the purchasing power of the Chinese consumer on world markets.

If however they continue to put off pulling the plug, the problem will ever worse

5:59 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home