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Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Lull Before the Social Storm

The Lull Before the Social Storm

By Jack Douglas
November 08, 2012

Vast social revolutions and wars are often preceded by periods
of giving up on reforms, despairing withdrawal from public life
by the best and brightest, and even peacefulness which seems
to have become the normal condition in spite of deep conflicts
and growing crises beneath the surfaces of public life.

Often, earlier periods of intense conflicts and crises have
been overcome and resolved, so it comes to look like that
is the normal in life.

This lulls most people into assuming their worse fears cannot
happen, but this leads them to lowering their guards against
growing conflicts and crises, so small ones can more easily
cascade down into massive ones.

If people expected they could become vast wars or revolutions
or implosions, they would take more precautions to prevent that.

But when lulled in expecting the worst cannot happen, the
worst than they could ever imagine often explodes suddenly.

The cataclysmic French Revolution came after many decades
of attempted reforms and conflicts which people had come to
think of as unending.

It started with new attempts at reforms, then incidents that
did not seem so important, then all of it a sudden it exploded.

WWI came after so many decades of peace in Europe, in spite
of imperial conflicts around the world and an arms race, that
most people thought a major war was impossible.

Then a single murder in the far away Balkans set in motion
an explosive cascade of events that led to a cataclysmic war.

The Russian Revolution was preceded by such a long "lull"
encouraged by European peace and reforms by the Tsar
that even Lenin was near despair and was living abroad.

After several years of WWI and growing poverty at home, the
Russian front imploded and a small event at home triggered a
revolution that started small and democratic and then exploded
into one of the vastest social revolutions in history.

The beginning of WWII on the crucial German-French front was
quiet for so many months after France and Britain had declared
war on Germany after it invaded Poland that it was called the
"Sitzen Krieg" in Germany, the sit-down war, then it exploded as
Germany invaded through the Ardennes.

This was repeated near the end of the war as Germany built
up its forces secretly for attacking through the Ardennes again.

The American Revolution looked very unlikely until that fateful
British march to Concord and Lexington to enforce gun control
laws. Then it exploded.

The conflicts between the North and South had been so intense
for so many decades, off and on, and then resolved again and
again by major compromises that the Ante-Bellum period of the
1850's seemed another replay of that scenario.

Then all of a sudden there was a small incident near Charleston,
moves to secession, calling up the Northern troops and an explosion
of war vastly more ghastly than Americans imagined possible.

War between Japan and Germany and the U.S. had been put off so
many times and so long that Pearl Harbor came as quite a shock to
most Americans.

The 9/11 attacks on the U.S. were just as shocking all over again.

In the early years of this new century, the U.S. had used soaring
paper money and paper-asset inflation to fuel a great Bubble and
apparent "prosperity."

Over twenty years and repeated crises [1980, 1987, 1990, 2000]
were ended by pumping out more paper money and inflating
assets [both paper and houses after the Nasdaq Crash in 2000]
that the Fed and almost all economists and Bankers and speculators
declared we had entered an Age of "The Great Moderation" in which
financial crises were impossible, as Bernanke declared with gusto.

Then housing and stocks started slowly cascading down, then did
so more rapidly.

Then one Big Bank was hit by a sudden crisis and had to be "saved"
from implosion, then others followed.

Then suddenly one weekend Lehman imploded and the whole
top of the U.S. financial system imploded and had to be taken
over by the U.S. government to save it from what looked like
total implosion.

The Great Moderation was suddenly replaced by "The Greatest
Global Financial Crisis" in history.

Europe and the rest of the world soon followed the U.S. into
growing crisis.

By putting out vast and soaring trillions and using vast distortions
of the System [such as Quantitative Easing by the Fed] to hold
the System up, they managed in the past several years to stop
the accelerating cascade down and have kept it bumping along
the bottom in official statistics like the GDP and unemployment,
while the debts and distortions and all the real crises keep growing.

The apparent bump up in the official stats on GDP are an illusion,
below the real rate of inflation for GDP, while real unemployment
and all the other real economic crises keep growing.

We're now in a lull before a vast, revolutionary storm.

The U.S. is sinking faster and faster in all the ways vital to
the future of our society, from the The Great Global Economic
Financial Crisis which the U.S. produced with insane Big Bank
speculations and corruption, to educational decline and
bureaucratic strangulation, to losing imperials wars around
the world, to political deadlock.

I'm sure any intelligent American who is honest with himself
can quickly write down a long list of the crucial ways in which
the U.S. is declining now.

Maybe half of Americans are too ignorant about the world or lack
the intelligence to see all of this Big Picture of Crisis and Decline.

They are confused and mad and despairing and see no way out,
but assume the "Republicrat System" will go on and on and are
trying merely to fit in and keep or get a job with a livable wage
for them and their families.

Even some knowledgeable and intelligent people see what is
happening but see no exit and despair and simply withdraw and
hide from it all, implicitly or explicitly assuming "The System"
will just keep getting worse and worse and never end.

But nations, like individuals and groups and companies, cannot
simply drift downward faster and faster into worse and worse
crises they patch up, but cannot escape or reverse.

We've been doing that now for decades, as France and Russia did
before their vast social Revolutions, as the nations did during long
decades of peaceful imperial conflicts before the utterly immense
conflicts of the American Civil War, WWI and WWII.

There comes a time finally when the accelerating crises and
sufferings and rages become too much to bear and something,
often a seemingly small event like a murder of a young man
in the Balkans or an attack by "hotheads" on a small fort near
Charleston sets off an explosive cascade of events that quickly
leads to a vast social explosion.

The U.S. is now rushing downward along all vital dimensions
of social life.

If this continues much longer, the U.S. will simply implode
and that will lead to vast social revolution or revolutions.

But maybe the vast social revolution will come before implosion.

The one thing we can be sure of is that we have sunk so far for
so long and are now accelerating down so fast, that this cannot
continue long without producing an implosion or a vast social

Mr. Jack D. Douglas is a retired professor of sociology from the
University of California at San Diego. He has published widely
on all major aspects of human beings, most notably The Myth
of the Welfare State.

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