All things must pass, everything is in transition, nothing lasts forever
The above is perhaps one of the most profound things ever written about the nature of a 3D Universe in which Time exists as a relative variable. Only via the passage of Time can things develop, hatch, grow, change and die.
This applies as much to cultures, economies, wealth, systems and planets as it does to living things. But the most intelligent living thing on our planet lives in denial of that reality over 90% of the time.
“Armageddon just doesn’t happen,” said an old American friend of mine ten or so years ago. But it does, it has, and it will again.
Every day we see the “news” in our media, but only very rarely do we extrapolate a trend. Yet beneath many headlines, there is written (even if it’s between the lines of copy in some cases) a portent of what may well be about to happen. Let me illustrate this with the use of news items in the media today.
1.Since 2005, China’s income inequality has grown dramatically. It is based on the rural/urban divide and so, as the economic growth of the country leaps ahead, there are now three distinct groups: the super rich (well under 5%) the comfortably off (under 10%, but 95% based in major city centres) and the poor living at or below subsistence level (85%-90% of the population). That’s very similar to the situation that pertained in France during the 1780s. One major failure to supply food in China would probably result in a contemporary form of the storming of the Bastille.
2.The US is a divided country, almost equally consisting of pro-neoliberalism on the one hand, and more liberal powers to provide welfare on the other. Straddling these in turn is an equal disagreement about economic stimulation (QE) and budget deficits. Earlier this month, Michigan passed an application to convene a constitutional conference. Some say this now adds up to 34 States having done so, while others (my camp) say that’s not yet the case. However, at 34 States, Washington must accede to the request. Ana at that point, all bets about how the US is run are off. The US has a heavily armed populace in which more and more of the wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Some 32 American States are now technically bankrupt. Following a constitutional convention, the US could become a corporate dictatorship or a nation at war with itself.
3. In the UK, the Cash for Questions scandal exploded three years ago, and then died away. Business at Westminster rapidly returned to its normal mode….self-interest, corporate monied corruption, and devious behaviour. But then Conservative MP Patrick Mercer’s greasy fingers got the better of his judgement, and a joint investigation by The Telegraph and the BBC’s Panorama programme disclosed how he’d tabled a series of parliamentary questions and put down a motion after accepting £4,000 from undercover reporters. He’s now (under duress) resigned in disgrace….and UKIp’s Nigel Farage is obviously interested in standing for the seat.
At the 2010 general election, Mercer more than doubled his majority to 16,152 to make Newark one of the safest Conservative seats in the country. But the seat has a history of instability: Mercer himself overturned a 4,000 majority to win the seat himself in 2001. And more to the point, it is a relatively prosperous seat in which very right wing candidates such as Mercer are greatly welcomed: Patrick Mercer despises Camerlot and all its works, and is a strong eurosceptic who has given only lukewarm support to his replacement candidate. He enjoys close allies in Bob Stewart and Bob Jenkin – both eurosceptic Tory rebels. It is rumoured that anti-Cameron donor Lord Ashcroft may well offer help to Farage, were he to stand.
If Farage won, it would explode the myth that voting UKip is a wasted vote, and potentially throw the next Parliament into even more of a governmental deadlock. And it would force the Conservative Party to both dump Cameron and move further to the Right. Within months, the UK could give notice of its intention to secede from the European Union.
4. While human-rights groups (most notably Amnesty International) issued reports lambasting Greece and Bulgaria yesterday – accusing border authorities there of pushing refugees back over their respective borders with Turkey – all of this links into far bigger issues: the effect of further Islamification on European politics, the nature of south-eastern Europe as the meeting point between Western Christianity and African Islamism, the mental and geopolitical instability of Turkish leader Recep Erdogan, exactly how NATO is going to square this circle, and America’s continuing obsession with access to energy.
5. The news that Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA), Spain’s second-biggest bank, suffered a first-quarter profit plunge might seem to be a purely Spanish financial sector meltdown issue, but it isn’t. The clue’s in the name: like many southern European banks (soon no doubt to be passed as A1 by the Banking Union’s risible stress test) BBVA has strong South American links. The profits have been hit by a drop in South American earnings, mostly associated with Venezuela’s decision to let its Bolivar currency drop sharply in value on the currency exchanges.
In truth however, what we’re seeing here is another episode in the continuing saga called Where Does Money Go Next? France’s finance minister yesterday called for the euro to drop in value in order to boost EU exports, and there are any one of five bets you could put down on what happens to the Yuan from here. The Japanese QEfest (as predicted here, it isn’t working) means that anything could happen to the Yen; and at an admittedly lower level, signs of a US stock market sell-off would give Fed boss Janet Yellen yet more to think about on America’s own QE front.
Although few if any commentators see the ‘world currency’ as an option (life with the euro has been bad enough) the willingness of corporacratic and political figures to mess with fiat currency around the world has had a number of obvious effects. The two most pressing ones, I think, are the asset bubble in property, and the rise and rise of virtual ‘alternative’ money forms not open (in theory) to manipulation. Gold would have been the obvious safe haven in the past – and will be again in my view – but has been tarnished by the increasingly blatant control of its value by central banks and miners.
The true significance of these apparently random news stories is best appreciated by taking a blanket stab at how the world might look, in the light of them, five years from now. Such of course suffers from the flaw in all futurology – the left-field factors that nobody foresees. But my point here is not to be a futurologist:my point is to say the future will be different.
On that basis then, by say 2020, China could be in administrative chaos; the USA might be fighting a civil war; the European Union could be a collapsed vacuum into which neo-fascism rushes to meet religious and racial violence head on; the virtual currencies may be the new mainstream, and the super-rich will probably be esconced in heavily armed communities where money as we understand it today could be a rapidly fading memory.
Or none of this may come to pass. But something will. The world’s oligarch-controlled media are doing all of us – and in the end, themselves – a massive disservice by continuing with this ludicrous pretence of normality. We are less than halfway through a game-changing human process that began around 2003, and it will neither reverse nor go away. Somewhere, there must be an editor who grasps this, and will be prepared to break ranks. We shall see.
Yesterday at The Slog: squaring up to the escalating pain of vicious circles