Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Gods of the Copybook Headings Return

I missed it during its initial release, but The Martian showed up in a discount movie theater, and I took my kids to see it. It was refreshing to see a science-fiction story with science in it (even if it was dumbed down by Hollywood compared to the novel). It is also a great movie for survivalists. Not because we could ever expect to be marooned on another planet, but because the character shows the true survival spirit: unwilling to give up and die, but making the effort to figure out solutions to his problems using the resources at hand.

At the end of the movie, after our character has been rescued and returned to Earth, he stands before a group of hopeful students wanting to be astronauts and warns them of the dangers they will face as astronauts--that space does not care. But that is true for all of us--the universe does not care. God the Father cares; mother nature does not. Acting stupid will, eventually, catch up to you.

And so it is that we are witnessing the collapse of "the narrative"--the imagined world-view of the global elites. The universe doesn't care about them, either.

A few articles and op-eds describe what is going on. Charles Hill writes at the Hoover Institute that what we are witnessing is the end of the modern era: that is, end of the Westphalian world order that has governed international relations for the last 400 years. It would not have been a surprise to Oswald Spengler, as the Westphalian system could not long survive the transition to Empire. In fact, the Westphalian system has largely been dead since World War II--it is just that we are seeing the European version of Empire spectacularly implode because its foundational belief that people are fungible is, in fact, false.

That people are not fungible is being played out with the collapse of the narrative of multiculturalism. As I noted the other day, multiculturalism--if it were true--was a win-win to the ruling elite.

To the financial elites, it was win because Europe could import new workers to replace the ones they were loosing due to a declining population. Unfortunately, the real world does not work that way. From The American Interest:
The official government line continues to be that migrants could take some of the unoccupied jobs caused by Germany’s declining labor force (there are as many as one million such jobs). But the director of the Munich-based Ifo Center for the Economics of Education is quoted in the story that “[f]rom everything we know so far, it seems that the majority of refugees would first need extensive training and even then it’s far from certain that it would work out.” 
The Politico story also notes that, according to the OECD, on average, an eighth-grader in pre-war Syria had a similar level of education to a third-grade student in Germany. And an official from the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce is quoted as saying, “[s]omeone who comes from Eritrea and says he was an electrician might have repaired a radio or laid a cable there, but he might have never seen a fuse box, as we use it in Germany.”
These refugees are not going to save the European socialist system, but collapse it since they will only be a further drain on the public fisc.

To the ideological elites, it was an opportunity to draw in a dependable voting bloc to secure their future power. Unfortunately, for these elites, in the real world, "Diversity + Proximity = War." And war means that a population may not willing accept the socialist vision of all peoples equally ground under the heel of the same boot.

Turning to the other side of the world, China's attempt to mix the oil and water of Communism and Capitalism appears to have failed. Some are now worried that China's leaders will revert to the Communist norm when faced with economic problems: protect their power at all costs.
So when I read an article this morning in a famous media outlet owned by famously Beijing-friendly Rupert Murdoch that "the impression left on investors is that Chinese authorities are out of their depth" and that "certainly with respect to the stock market, their reputation for incompetence is well-earned", I get nervous.

I get nervous because the next move in China is going to be a political move, and political moves are never well anticipated by markets. The Beijing regime is going to take steps to defend itself, or at least insulate itself, from the growing Narrative that they are incompetent. Heads will roll. Literally, in all likelihood. But the incompetence genie is very hard to stuff back into the bottle, and depending on whose head is on the chopping block, regime stability can deteriorate very quickly. ...
We live in interesting times, indeed.

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