I must admit the whole European meltdown is happening much quicker than I, a staunch pessimist, would have thought.
I guess we can chalk it up to markets being incapable of waiting. All the articles that I read about the crisis were suggesting that the $45 billion euro bailout package by the IMF and the EMU would allow Greece to hold out for another year at best. Clearly the writing on the wall was so BIG and OBVIOUS that markets decided there was no better time than the present to get the default ball rolling.
Here’s a quote from Naked Capitalism that echos what I have been suggesting for some time. The financial crisis is just getting started:
“So the whole idea that the financial crisis was over is being called into doubt. Recall that the Great Depression nadir was the sovereign debt default phase. And the EU’s erratic responses (obvious hesitancy followed by finesses rather than decisive responses) is going to prove even more detrimental as the Club Med crisis grinds on.”
People are finally starting to pull their heads from the sand (and other dark places) to realize that the World is faced with a monstruous debt crisis, one that never should have been allowed to occur in the first place. It would seem that nothing was learned from The Great Depression. Our governments have been bamboozled by Global Finance. I think that the U.S. political elite deserves a particular concentration of scorn for its irresponsible leadership in these affairs. You can blame the greedy jerks on Wall Street all you want but the ultimate failure has been a political one. American politics, on both sides of the aisle, has allowed itself to be captured by the Military Industrial Complex and Big Finance. Let’s face it, they are one and the same. It is time for the countries of the world to start brushing up their emergency plans. Damage control is what the next 10 to 15 years has in store. I have a very hard time imagining how any kind of normalcy will return until this brewing shitstorm of international idiocy blows over.
I doubt that this Greek crisis is the begining of the end of humanity. After all, the only creature more resilient that people are cockroaches… Even rats wouldn’t survive very long without our staggering amount of waste to feed on. But I deeply feel that this crisis is the beginning of the end of the World as we know it. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Those of us who grew up in the 70s, the dawn of the truly modern age with its computers, television, better living through chemistry, lived in a completely different Universe than our grandparents and even more so than that of our great-grandparents. But to think that the pace at which “innovation” is driving people mad…right fucking mad…can continue without some form of global nervous breakdown is not only wishful thinking but criminally insane. I keep repeating the same point.. The World Wars of the 20th Century were in large part a result of the Enlightenment catching up with itself… The race for economic and intellectual superiority between nations was only understood to be achievalbe through mililtary means. This way of thinking was consistent with human history up to that point but civilzation was not prepared to deal with the genocidal character of mechanized warfare.
This time around the conflagration will be digital. The computerization of everything is eroding our sense of what it means to be human. Should we speak of where the computer ends and the self begins or more where the self ends and the computer begins? I favour the latter description where the self has been captured by the gravitational pull of the computer and is being stretched ever thinner. This is eroding our notion of community and is threatening the values transmitted to us by the Enlightenment: Equal rights for all men, equal status under the laws of all countries, the championing of imagination, knowledge, perspective, tolerance, understanding, debating, and invention. Our reality is being distorted by the event horizon that delimits the unescapable void of a digital black hole from the mundane trials of the physical world. Slowly at first, but now accelerating, the Net-Google-Cloud consumes the human spirit and transforms it into a digital simulacrum where our best and worst natures are amplified and put on display in a browser.
In James Cameron’s The Terminator humans must fight off Skynet, the global mind-computer instantiated into being by the hubris of man. While I joke about Zoltar, the idea that Earth is becoming something much larger than we can understand is, to me, not only within the realm of possibility but happening. The velocity at which information travels is a manifestation of Evil. With no patience left in the world, no time to ponder the consequences of our actions (no time for analysis in other words) we are left with leadership by impulse which caters to the human animal’s basest survival instincts – the Devil incarnate. The threat that we are up against is not a culture war… it is more a
technologically amped battle between Good and Evil. Humanity has survived many an upheaval but one could view the results of the World Wars as a capitulation to the dehuminazation of mechanical technology. The Evil of the day was defeated but only to lay the groundwork for Desire to conspire with Technology and accelerate our ability to give in to her temptations: Lust, Love, Wealth, Safety, Security, Shelter, Recognition….the list goes on… but to think that we can have all this and not explode into an orgy of self-destructive avarice is naive.
The Internet is a window into the collective human soul that we never imagined possible and while it shines a light on much of what is inherently beautiful about our existence, the threat of humanity’s dark side has never been closer to the surface. I don’t think I need to illustrate that point. Regulation of human activity, be it moral, industrial, or financial, is always about the same thing: Keeping desire in check.. For it is desire at its most intense – avarice – that has led one civilization after another astray. With this latest iteration of an oft-repeated human tragedy, we have allowed the unfettered power of avarice to corrupt the world economy. The staggering amount of debt in the world, a lien on future productivity and growth that generations of our our kin can never hope to repay, has reached a malignancy that we cannot fathom. (Litterally, does 1.4 trillion dollars mean anything to you? How about 600 trillion, the size of the unregulated CDS market?). I wonder sometimes how well world leaders and their advisors sleep at night knowing that they are sitting on the gates of Hell – The Internet – all the computer networks and servers and switches upon which the world depends for it’s very survival in its present state. More and more it is being referred to as THE CLOUD, and EVERYTHING passes through it…Is this cloud benign, white and fluffy, filled with hope, the dreams and aspirations of mankind? Or might it develop into something more sinister – A storm cloud, aswirl with the darkest schemes of man amalgamating into deadly feedback loops that will ulitmately crowd out the good and unleash the thunder and lightning of angry Gods into the unsuspecting physical world? The fact that Sarah Palin could have realistically become the President of the United States under a McCain Administration is proof enough of the latter.
I don’t have any strong impressions about which lines this world conflict will align itself along… But I don’t think it will be China vs the U.S.A. After all in many ways the interests of the U.S. and China are more aligned than not… But then that is always the surprise with these outbursts of humanity’s worst behaviour… Will the U.S. fracture along it’s Left/Right axis, will Europe fall back on it’s 19th Century predeliction for Nationalism? Or will the States of the world, bereft of their ability to raise revenue and provide safety and services, be redrawn along lines that we cannot even begin to imagine. Perhaps the will of Nature is to destroy the artificial boundaries that have been drawn between nations and have them reconstituted in forms that better reflect the reality of cyberspace? Whatever the outcome of the coming unpleasantness it will most likely be quite different from what we’ve been used to and yet oddly familiar.
The 21st Century is only now really getting into gear. Hang on. It’s going to be a wild ride!