“Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.”– Thomas Sowell
In the future, historians may reflect on the downfall of Western civilization in the 2020s and attribute it to the disintegration of the financial economy. As they prepare their meals of ‘possum snouts in sorrel sauce over campfires, they will analyse how the delusional state of the financial sector contributed to this decline.
For over two centuries, the real economy, which was based on creating goods and services derived from nature, flourished and was fuelled by fossil fuels. However, a parasitic entity that existed solely in the realm of finance thrived on the back of this real economy. Despite occasional economic downturns, the overall trend was one of growth in production and complexity of goods and services.
The phantom financial parasite became accustomed to this growth and developed increasingly sophisticated ways to drain the life out of its host organism. Over time, the parasite grew to become more significant than the host, eventually leading to the collapse of the real economy.
When You Can’t Tell the Parasite From the Host
Throughout this chapter in the ongoing human story, the human mind remained largely unchanged from the days of hunting and gathering. After a century of abundance in fossil fuels, it became difficult for humans to distinguish between the real economy and the parasitic financial economy.
Both seemed to thrive equally, with the real economy producing food and useful goods while the financial economy produced money that could purchase these items. People continued to create things, with a focus on developing better tools and engines that could increase the production of food and goods, while the financial economy continued to generate more and more money.
Initially, the financial economy was closely linked to the real economy, with investments and loans based on tangible assets. However, over time, these representations of money became more detached from the real economy, becoming increasingly abstract and based on intangible promises and speculation.
This shift towards the unreal created confusion, making it difficult to differentiate between real and fake representations of money. The financial industry capitalized on this confusion, leading to fraudulent activities and the rise of an economy based on unreality, with some individuals benefiting while others suffered the consequences.
The Slow Collapse of a Business Model
As with all stories, this one also had a beginning, middle, and end. As the supply of fossil fuels dwindled, the business model of making-and-doing began to falter, slowly at first, but eventually causing many makers-and-doers to go out of business.
At this point, the financial economy had become a colossal phantom parasite that had surpassed its host in size and importance. It had become detached from nature, filled with so much unreality and abstract promises that it was no longer able to function as anything but a phantom.
In an effort to keep the host alive, the financial economy began to spew out money that was adulterated with unreal promises, hopes, and dreams. However, this only led to the debasement of money, resulting in a significant decrease in making-and-doing.
Eventually, the phantom parasite of finance dissolved, and humans began to view it as a mere hallucination that had dissipated into thin air. What remained were humans deeply embedded in nature, faced with the reality of a world without the abundance of fossil fuels.
Western civilization, which was the first to tap into the fossil fuel orgy, now finds itself exiting this phase of history. Despite the dissolution of the financial hallucination, there are still many real things that were made before the great age of making-and-doing came to a halt.
A Moment of “Epochal Transition”
The current situation in our country is so dire that the real competition is not between political figures that are presented to us but, between economic collapse and civil war. It appears that economic collapse is well underway and inflation is disproportionately affecting the middle class, while businesses are failing across the board with the exception of drug trafficking.
However, humans are resourceful creatures and will adapt to this new reality, even if there are fewer of us. The surviving humans will likely lead healthier lives, working more closely with nature and no longer be subjected to the harmful by-products of previous manufacturing and production.
We will find ways to utilize the remaining resources to obtain food from nature and create other useful items, albeit on a smaller scale. This new way of making-and-doing may represent a departure from the old ways that relied on ever-increasing complexity and scale.
Perhaps, humans will eventually find a more sustainable way to interact with nature, but it remains uncertain.
It’s Only Life
I almost forgot to mention, in reference to the previous topic, the situation at the Mexican border. In a few days, tens of thousands of people from foreign lands waiting there will be illegally ushered across the Rio Grande by agents of the US State Department, working with a group of NGOs and the United Nations to facilitate this rush. This inflow is expected to continue indefinitely and has been blessed by the current administration.
It is my belief that this could be the event that triggers a civil war when citizens of the border state eventually take up arms against this invasion, and the government tries to stop them from defending their own country.
Meanwhile, as we are currently in the midst of an epochal transition, many people are experiencing anxiety and some have grown disordered watching all of this unfold. However, it’s important to stay focused on the tasks ahead and to continue making real things. It’s also important to take a break and make some music, cook a meal with loved ones, and enjoy the moment. There are still plenty of good instruments available, and singing is always an option.
It’s all right, Ma, Bob sang out long ago, It’s life and life only.