“About a third of my cases are suffering from no clinically definable neurosis, but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives. This can be defined as the general neurosis of our times.” (Jung)
It pleases me greatly whenever I’ve lost my bearings in a foreign city and chance upon a map with an ubiquitous ‘you are here’ marker. The point of reference allows me establish where I am, recalibrate my compass and plot a course to my destination.
Over the past couple of years, it appears some rabble-rouser has gone and removed all the red dots from people’s maps, creating a great deal of confusion and anxiety about the future of society. No one quite knows where they are or how to find their way. Many are questioning where they actually want to go, and whether that place still exists.
This rabble-rouser goes by the name Die Zeitgeist, or ‘The Spirit of the Times.’
A charlatan too swift to apprehend, I have tailed him at a distance and now attempt to elucidate what I think I’ve distinguished. As observed by Jung, “no one can flatter himself that he is immune to the spirit of his own epoch, or even that he possesses a full understanding of it,” therefore this is an exercise of unqualified speculation from an influenced perspective.
All attempts to constrain the breadth and depth of said speculation have been rendered futile on account of the multifarious and unbounded nature of the topic. Insofar as practicable, I have attempted to separate notions into broad chapters, through which a thin thread of progressive development runs.
This analysis is heavily indebted to the works of Jung, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Goethe, Huxley, Orwell, London, Rand, Plotinus, Plato and Lau Tzu, which explore many of the aforementioned concepts in significantly greater depth. Collectively, they have shaped the lens through which I have endeavoured to interpret the material furnished by being an observer and student of life.
A measure of dishonour is borne on my part as author; for many of the charges laid herein I also level upon myself. As such, I am in no position to wield the authority of one who leads by example. I am however in a position to describe what I see when I look into the mirror, through eyes which have been burned by gazing deeper into Nietzsche’s abyss, and a mind which has been lamed by reality.
I.e. this is an epic rant.
“Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.” (Goethe)
Attempting to apprehend the state of the world today, we need to begin with a basic premise: that society, like an individual growing up, moves through phases. Given the spans of our lifetimes tend to play out within one distinct phase, we often overlook the fact they change and that vastly different phases have existed throughout recorded history. We also take for granted that the phase we find ourselves living in is enduring, and nonchalantly presume it will continue indefinitely.
As surely as day follows night, and we experience the turn of seasons, so too does The Spirit of the Times change, but never is it predictable. Much like The Phantom, the mysterious essence of Die Zeitgeist remains something of an obscure constant, although the individual behind the façade of purple Lycra changes with each generation.
The Occident today is in a political phase we know as ‘democracy’ and an economic phase known as ‘capitalism.’ These underpinnings have allowed for increasing quantities of excess libido (living energy) made available to those fortunate enough to be living atop the upper crust of civilisation. For the best part of the past four hundred years, the Western world has been immersed in the powerful ideological phase of scientific rationalism, which today is the concretised and validated way of attaining to knowledge.
Representative democracy and capitalism are organic systems which have evolved and adapted through changing circumstances. Particularly over the last century, both progressed with snowballing scale, complexity and centralisation. The distribution of political and economic power has become gradually more concentrated, and their transparency considerably more inscrutable.
Until recently, the combination of democracy and capitalism have operated reasonably well in maintaining relative civil stability among developed nations. The empirical logic of scientific enquiry has also provided us with myriad advances which have improved quality of life.
However, there comes a point at which an imperfect system fails either due to internal dysfunction or due to its no longer being able to cope with the workload it is subjected to. Towards the end of a system’s life, the inherent dysfunctions and deficiencies become more pronounced, and to compensate for these, untried interventions outside the system’s normal rules are enacted to promote stabilisation. These measures have unintended consequences, some of which we have already observed, and others yet to occur which we are unable to foresee.
Similarly, the rationalistic system we use to make sense of the world around us is pushing against the outer limits of its explanatory power and encountering domains where it is confronted with its own impotence.
There is evidence to suggest all three have passed their noon, but for the moment, the world’s eye is focussed upon the economic system because that is where it has been trained to focus. The economic system is the prevalent God of this epoch, and it is not difficult to see why.
DEUS EX MACHINA
“A giant octopus living way down at the bottom of the ocean. It has this tremendously powerful life force, a bunch of long, undulating legs, and its heading somewhere, moving through the darkness of the ocean…it takes all kinds of different shapes – sometimes its ‘the nation,’ and sometimes its ‘the law,’ and sometimes it takes on shapes that are more difficult and dangerous than that. You can try cutting off its legs, but they just keep growing back. Nobody can kill it. It’s too strong and it lives too far down in the ocean. Nobody knows where its heart is.” (Murakami)
Murakami’s metaphor of the octopus utters an eerie likeness to Deus Ex Machina, The God in the Machine. ‘God’ in the sense of Meaning, Truth, Power and the centre of gravity which draws devotion, and ‘Machine’ denoting the scheme of modern civilisation which has its foundation in economics.
Among the most dumbfounding achievements of Die Zeitgeist is the uprooting of God from inside and transplanting it outside, analogous to the displacement of energy away from the Soul.
I can only describe this phenomenon indirectly through association. We can see it if we look to where we vest meaning, truth, power, time and energy. Meaning is vested in brands of dogmatic orthodoxy. Truth is vested in science and reason. Power is vested in currency, aesthetic and intelligence. Time and energy are vested in attaining to power.
Observe the common thread which runs through all these things – they are all notional authorities outside the individual. Together, these notional authorities constitute elements of the machine. By this machine, two imperative functions are served: (1) the support of living (2) the provision of a narrative.
The first function is a practical one, supporting living through a mechanism of economic exchange, wherein the individual barters his time and energy for money; the means to finance his existence. Through the course of his work/employment, he generates goods or services for which others are willing to pay. The time and energy contributions of the individual are known as Labour, and the equipment and structures which facilitate his work is known as Capital.
In order to make for himself a life in familiar society, the individual must surrender to the authorities and subject himself to them. Further, if he is to live without debilitating dissonance, he must also embrace the narrative. The narrative is what allows more of the individual’s life force (libido) to be extracted and keep him in submission to Deus Ex Machina.
In object, the narrative itself is highly intricate, but generally envelops aspects of material wellbeing, some measure of status, and the sequential fulfilment of defined milestones involving education, vocation, relationship and parenthood. Collectively, these form a life narrative or ‘story’ which is equated with meaning and contentment.
Each element of the narrative ostensibly fills a hole in the individual’s life puzzle and has a rôle in reducing or distracting from despair. Consider for example the benefit of possessing material means of survival – being able to exist comfortably without concern for finding your next meal represents a significant reduction in basic anxiety. However, this security of career is akin to a homeless man sent to prison. Though he loses his freedom, he gains the security of a roof over his head and the assurance of being provided his daily bread. Adoption of the narrative is, at its most basic, a trade-off of freedom against certainty.
In establishing and conditioning a prescriptive life narrative, the machine subsumes God. When we examine the terms habitually attached to man’s action toward deity – worship, reverence, sacrifice and devotion, we see that these same terms typify his action towards the narrative and what it encompasses.
Notice that the narrative disregards individual reconciliation and the recognition of internal authority. Rather, it relies upon the imposition of myriad external authorities, both in prescribing what is meaningful, thereby according those things authority, and in its coronation of the institutional and conceptual authorities established within the machine’s framework.
Authority is a crucial consideration because, as its name intimates, it ascribes who or what your life story will be authored by. Authorship can be represented metaphorically by a graveyard of books, each book the narrative of a departed soul. Their covers carry but two lines: a title giving the name of the life, and an author under whose will the narrative was produced. The vast majority of us live out our narratives under the illusion it will be credited to ourselves.
Particularly when we become momentarily cognisant of our loss of authorship, it seems as if the entire apparatus were being directed by an exogenous will, and we are tempted to lay the blame upon fate, a warped world, the devil, or some other such personified archetype.
However, the machine has no will of its own, it is simply that: a machine. Its ingenuity comes from the intention of those who program it and the hands which operate it, and its power is extracted from the fuel which feeds it. Humans are extensions of the machine, and its products are a reflection of its constituents. To the extent it creates oppression, harm, and iniquity; this merely reflects the shadowy, selfish natures within each of us who in some way partake, magnified on a global scale.
To address the question of why we have put God into the machine, it is necessary to consider what a machine fundamentally is – an automated contraption that is designed to do ‘something’ consistently. Two of a machine’s basic qualities are structure and causality. Everything within a machine is underpinned by a structural framework, and effects can be explained via chain of causality – implicitly, there is no room for mystery or abstraction aside from the occasional error or unexpected outcome which is attributed to malfunction or chance.
These qualities are requisites for the rationalist world we have fashioned to free ourselves from the obscurity of those things which we cannot explain. To be civilised entails that the instinctive law of the jungle is replaced with an organised, mechanistic scheme which governs existence. Psychologically, it is a safer world where we are able to reduce, explain and rationalise everything around us through cause and effect. The natural sciences epitomise this frame of thinking, and through our science, we have knowledge, which gives us apparent power over the subject matter.
On the contrary, when we acknowledge effects which have no discernible cause, we are forced to concede they are beyond our understanding, therefore outside our control, and hence we fear them. Fear is a powerful motivator, and unsurprisingly, the radius of the machine’s authority continually expands by inventing explanations because it must always encompass a critical mass of phenomena. If too much content escapes into the void which falls outside the machine’s sphere (or bubble) of hegemony, it will begin to lose both its gravity and monopolistic hold on God.
Concomitant with the rise of the God in the Machine has been the elevation of extrinsic intellectual and aesthetic values and resultant devaluation of intrinsic spiritual values. A significant dilemma thus arises for the individual: how does one reconcile with his soul if it resides outside him? The conclusion which must be drawn is that consciousness cannot move forward until this transfer of value is reversed, and the authority of God is seized from the machine and reclaimed by the individual.
THE UNRECONCILED INDIVIDUAL
“In reality the ego is like the clown in the circus, who is always putting in his oar to make the audience think that whatever happens is his doing.” (Freud)
The usurpation of authority is but one of the yokes under which Die Zeitgiest writhes, the second is the fragmentation of the individual.
Fragmentation increasingly manifests itself in lack of direction; with respect to career, relationships, life, and the world in general. Although it would seem these waters aren’t nearly as navigable as they once were, this is not the fundamental problem. It is more a matter of the compass rather than the waters. If the instrument of navigation has been tampered with and points to a magnetic north displaced far from true north, then finding oneself lost at sea is an inevitability.
Drawing a metaphor, an unreconciled, fragmented individual is no better at finding direction than is the sabotaged compass. We have here a root cause for anxiety which can be seen masquerading as the seeking of external validation or sanction for significant life decisions, typically involving such matters as relationships and careers. Such is the disconnection from instinct brought about by its systematised depotentiation by external authorities that the individual is increasingly becoming rudderless, subject to drift in whichever direction the current flows.
For the most part, modern man is not a unity, rather an assemblage of discordant fragments which are constantly chafing against one another. Among these fragments are repressed undesirable traits, splinters from other personalities and remnants from past phases of development. Between these unintegrated fragments, there is friction.
Ego or the ‘I’ is the dominant fragment, which in constellation with its supporting fragments constitutes the governing will, primary identity or ‘self’ of the individual. A defining feature of ego is its specific gravity, or propensity to attract and constellate energy to itself, thereby increasing its mass and developing stronger gravity. It is among the tasks of the ego to superimpose itself above the orphaned fragments, and control them as firmly as possible, inhibiting their vocalisation, thereby giving the appearance of a composed and socially functional singularity.
Our ego has at its disposal the operating conscious, and we are under its influence save for those rare episodes were impulses from the unconscious evade its control. The ego is the will that presides over and directs the conscious life. It has been speculated that the unconscious mind may have an equivalent, a shadow ego, which presides over unconscious contents, though its will is not obvious because we cannot observe the effects of its action. In so far as the unconscious life plays out in the psychic as opposed to the physical realm, it is like a ghost driver.
Under repression, these unconscious fragments which do not form part of the ego complex are kept beneath the threshold of consciousness until they are activated either on their own accord or by some exogenous provocation. Particularly in the case of the latter, the individual may be reminded that the problem; the darkness or shadow, actually resides within, that they have an abominable, decaying portrait just like Dorian Gray’s. Consequently, rather than allowing itself to be devalued in order to assimilate the stray waifs and wraiths, the ego inclines to be refractory and seeks to assert and increase its dominance over the fragments.
This refractory tendency has two important energic effects. First, the unassimilated shadow fragments, denied of discharge through integration, instead seek to vent themselves via projection, thereby creating major distortions in human interrelations. Second, the assertion of ego expends psychic energy, and because the ego isolates the other fragments, it is unable to access their latent energy, and so must source this energy externally.
Though it is yet to be proven, I would venture this energy requirement is partially responsible for the will to power, whereby the insatiable hunger of ego devours every scrap of energy it can procure, apathetic to how it is appropriated. Evidently, were this energy requirement eliminated, it would follow that ego would be a less militant force.
Moving back to the issue at hand, the more beseeching question is why the individual is unreconciled. The answer lies in accumulative imbalances. Through the process of development, there is a heavy a focus on the external and constant evasion of the internal – we are taught to analyse and absorb from without, but not to introspect within. In consequence, the neglected orphan fragments of the individual become increasingly distant and despondent.
Specialisation dominates our world today, and participation is made easier for an individual who has a highly differentiated function. As such, we see a highly prescriptive developmental path which is heavily biased toward honing either the thinking or feeling functions, but seldom focuses on both.
The material and social reward garnered by someone on either extreme is significantly more than the hybrid who sits in the middle. As a direct consequence, only a small proportion of humanity possess some semblance of balance between left and right, and this will continue so long as our visibility of life objectives does not extend to self-actualisation.
So, in order to adapt to the environment, efforts are geared toward distinguishing cultivating one function at the expense of the other. The endowment of libido or living energy held by an individual is directed toward logical (aligned with thinking) or abstract (aligned with feeling) outlets, and this dichotomy is encouraged because what is socially valuable, both with respect to survival and recognition/reward, is bestowed upon specialists who endeavour toward an extreme.
Lack of balance arises because the expansion and dominance of one faculty necessarily comes at the expense and suppression of its counterpart, as psychic energy is rerouted. One strengthens with repeated practice and becomes well honed, whilst the neglected other remains undeveloped or wastes away. It is the exception to find a prodigious scientist who isn’t somewhat emotionally immature, and equally to find a natural virtuoso who can firmly grasp complex chains of reasoning. This conveniently explains the prevalence of weedy or corpulent nerds, and likewise the tendency of meathead gym junkies to be as dumb as dog shit.
Despite the worldly advantages a highly differentiated function affords, the compounding imbalance leaves in its wake an increasingly dejected orphan with whom we are unreconciled. As the orphan is further repressed, becomes more difficult to handle and hence we experience greater strain and anxiety.
THE GENERAL LEVEL OF ANXIETY
“One becomes accustomed so quickly. A man wants to earn money in order to be happy and his whole effort and the best of his life are devoted to the earning of that money. Happiness is forgotten; the means are taken for the end.” (Camus)
The General Level of Anxiety (GLA) and its interface with the energy permeating the world is a large scale replica of anxiety in the individual psychic apparatus. A proportion of the dissonance is borne by each individual’s personal unconscious, and another is levied upon the collective unconscious.
These unconscious repositories can act as a store or capacitor for ‘undesirable’ psychic energy. On grounds of needing to maintain balance, the carrying and handling capacity of the unconscious substrate is finite, which is evidenced by its repressed contents periodically being discharged with varying frequency and intensity.
To understand why the General Level of Anxiety is increasing and where of undesirable psychic energy originates, I raise the concept of temporal wish fulfilment. Some way or other, wish fulfilment is what we go about doing in the daily business of life and direct a great deal of our time and energy toward.
When we can provide for our immediate wishes, be they material or emotional, we would assume their gratification means no unresolved negative fragments are left seeking a domicile. When we can conceive and visualise the realisation of other wishes in the future, their lack of resolution is discharged by hope/anticipation. Again, this prevents their being sunk into the unconscious at full potency.
In times when humans wanted only for food and shelter, perhaps the unfulfilled wishes went as far as animalistic relics of lust and a bit of violence. Animals discharge these in the manner nature intended and we don’t give it a second glance. Humans (for their civility) by contrast, supress these desires into the unconscious. In addition to instinctive wishes, Die Zeitgeist imposes heavier burdens upon the individual in terms of the (a) number (b) scale, and (c) complexity of wishes that need to be fulfilled.
These wishes, predominantly material, social and metaphysical in nature, are contingent on scarce resources necessary for their attainment (both material resources, and metaphysical resources such as energy and love), the competition for which makes fulfilment difficult. Despite our striving, there are instances where the expectation of future realisation is crushed by circumstance or the futility of our efforts. For every chronically unfulfilled wish, an attaching negative charge of anxiety is created. Because anxiety interferes with conscious existence and it cannot be fully discharged outwardly, it tends to be repressed into the unconscious, out of sight, but not out of mind.
Unfortunately, the unconscious is a store and not a discharger. What goes into it isn’t destroyed, doesn’t decay, it simply stays there waiting for an opportunity to discharge. As much higher loads of toxicity are dumped into the unconscious, so both the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious become increasingly noxious, volatile, and pressurised. Recalling that its carrying capacity is finite, each escalation heightens both the risk and magnitude of discharge. Discharge occurs through different avenues depending on whether it is the personal or the collective.
It is a derivative effect of unfulfilled wishes that some of the anxiety discharge doesn’t get sunk into the unconscious, but is instead directed to other individuals, significantly through projection of the shadow, but also through the solicitation of pity.
The other primary avenue for discharge is dreams. Freud’s Dream Psychology describes the (personal) unconscious as a deep reservoir which is separated from our (personal) conscious by a powerful governor/sentry which is known as the ‘censor.’
The censor keeps the motility of unconscious fragments in check and is vigorously active in waking life. However, at the fringes of consciousness and in the sleep-state, the censor is sufficiently off-guard to allow some diffusion or discharge of unconscious contents into the perception’s field of view as dreams or nightmares.
A subset of dreams are impulses of repressed wishes seeking to be fulfilled. In order for the repressed wish to convey itself past the sentry, it must hitch a ride as a stowaway on some other inert psychic material residing in the preconscious (memory) which is without emotional intensity, and use it in the manner of a bridge.
When the unconscious material attaches itself to a neutral uncharged memory, the resultant compound becomes a charged or ‘toned’ instance and is conveyed through to perception in the form of a dream wherein the wish is figuratively fulfilled, although it does not come through unscathed; the censor first distorts it.
Discharge from the collective unconscious is considerably more complex. Freud attributed the contents of the unconscious to unfulfilled infantile wishes, primarily of a sexual nature, and these being the cause for both discharges in the forms of neurosis and dreams. Jung’s evaluation is less reductionist and altogether a more reasonable concept to carry for its flexibility.
When Jung discusses the collective unconscious, he is alluding to a repository that contains the sum total of human experience across time, from this substrate spawns universal symbols and myths. If we invoke Jung’s understanding, the collective unconscious is an expanse considerably vaster and more enigmatic than the personal unconscious and contains all manner of phantoms which our present understanding is unable to comprehend.
It is also postulated that these unfulfilled impulses (specifically those which are deemed unacceptable) form a not insubstantial proportion of the material which constitutes the individual’s shadow, the hatred of which is projected onto other individuals subconsciously insofar as they share shadow attributes. This is why it is important to step back and assess what it is about a person that rubs you the wrong way, and attempt to reconcile it with your own shadow. In most cases, the attributes are those same ones you dislike about yourself.
Collective projections are the psychological harbingers to wars. We have all likely heard stories involving someone with an irrational hatred toward another individual which becomes obsessive and results in unconscionable behaviour (no pun intended). If we replace the individuals with populations or states, the large-scale projection stirs analogous obsessive hatred and puts countries on the war path.
Increasingly, I get the impression that the collective unconscious needs to discharge and society is being groomed for another war. Debt is a very fertile ground for the intensification of projections because it is very easy to demonise the imprudent, reckless lender, as it is the blasé, extravagant borrower. It remains to be seen whether the current situation will be resolved without recourse to conflict.
AFFLICTIONS OF DIE ZIETGEIST
“I inquired what wickedness is, and I didn’t find a substance, but a perversity of will twisted away from the highest substance – towards inferior things, rejecting its own inner life and swelling with external matter.” (St. Augustine of Hippo)
An impression of Die Zeitgeist can be gauged by observing the behaviours and propensities of the mass. Combing through my collected notes for patterns, I have cautiously rendered them into distinct phenomena. The unreconciled individual and the rise in the general level of anxiety previously described are the higher level infirmities, beneath which lie a second tier of comorbid afflictions common to our time.
Here I have struggled to separate the two elements of Die Zeitgeist. The spirit of the times exists in both the conscious and unconscious realms. Perceived as an iceberg model, it is composed of social consciousness; that visible portion which sits above the waterline, and submerged beneath it the collective unconscious.
Most of the phenomena are observable constellations of behaviours, occurring with high frequency, which manifest in the conscious realm, but which originate from unconscious sources. For this reason, were society a patient being diagnosed, they would well be classed as collective neuroses.
a. Emotional Hypochondriasis (Dramatism)
Look to the online ravings of many teenagers and twenty-somethings and you will be hit with an overdose of drama. As an analyst, I am certain that the mini-celebrity status enjoyed by those self-indulgent enough to post every sordid detail of their lives online is illusory and exists entirely within the mind. Perhaps they are not prepared to accept that the vast majority of the world is too busy indulging their own vanity to care about their mountainous molehills.
Among the subjects of this exhibitionism, drama features prominently. Personified, drama is an insufferably vain addict who draws nourishment from external attention. Drama, and for that matter any indulgence of vanity, is necessary insofar as we are unable to reconcile with the prospect of worthlessness; we must place ourselves in a frame in which the world revolves around us. We like the idea of gravity, because only an object with substance may possess this force of attraction. An apparition or hallucination which lacks a physical presence hasn’t the power to pull.
Western media creates material anxiety through what it depicts and glorifies. Conditioned by unremitting exposure to warped media, the presence of drama in relationships and life in general is regarded as normal. This to the point where there is an inclination to dramatise situations and create drama where it does not exist.
Oftentimes these tendencies manifest in relationships, where the dramatist self-sabotages by failing to communicate properly and openly with the other, hence allowing the drama to escalate.
Instead of discussing the matter in a rational and adult manner with the other, they instead develop an often embellished story which they then relate to close ‘friends.’
I employ inverted commas here because ‘friend’ is another term whose definition has become devalued. A ‘strong’ friend will set aside predisposition, be as objective as possible, even at the risk of inflicting harsh truths. The ‘weak’ friend will be biased in favour of the dramatist, lending their support and empathy, thus strengthening the embellishment through confirmation bias. This is how small trivial problems can escalate to threaten the survival of a relationship.
The gods of pleasure and pain make for harsh taskmasters. To overcome the feeling of fetid stagnation that issues from a highly routinised existence within the machine; the boredom of persisting in a relentless tepid climate, many have taken to oscillating between Saharan heat and Arctic cold; moving between the poles of pleasure and pain in order to feel alive. Drama is needed to drive this oscillation, and it is a reflection of the quickening pulse of society that it occurs with higher frequency, shorter wavelength and heightened amplitude.
Emotional Hypochondriasis is a systemic problem which results in the semi-aware arrogation of libido. Heartstrings are the conduit through which this arrogation is made possible. Obligation is an instilled value across most cultures; obligation which incapacitates individuals and binds them to live for others. One’s own burden is weight enough to bear, but we live under a value system where the individual is expected to laden himself with the burdens of others, as well as his own.
In consequence, there is a loss of energy though friction. Because the bearing of exogenous emotional burden is not natural, it is resisted by the instinctive part of our nature, and creates discord between the instinctive survivalist and the conditioned martyr.
Wherever possible, the focus should be to minimise friction in life precisely because it results in wastage and deadweight loss. Emotional Hypochondriasis – the incessant petitioning for others to bear some share of one’s burden, does nothing for the cause of forward evolution.
b. Confusion / Psychic Weakness
Increased confusion is an antecedent to Emotional Hypochondriasis. As I overviewed in a prior analysis some years ago, we have a trend of developmental acceleration, seeing children growing up faster than ever before, pushed into adult spheres before their minds have sufficient ability to cope, let alone understand; one example being relationships.
The individual psyche been confused and subdued to the point it no longer appears to trust its own volition. In particular, I refer instances where external sanction is sought to ratify important life decisions. A cohesive individual who is attuned to their instinct and conscience should not need to seek a second opinion on his or her own major life undertakings.
But for the unattuned individual, when problems or impasses arise within these spheres and there is no adequate authority, the result is bewilderment. Emotion usurps reason, and instead of apprehending the issue with a measured, rational, adult approach, the individual resorts to juvenile tactics; most commonly under the broad categories of aggression, manipulation, aloofness, delusion, and self-pity.
We all like to think that our lives are difficult, stressful and that no-one understands what we’re going through; that somehow we have been singled out by some greater force to experience unique living anxiety.
As to why ‘first world problem’ syndrome occurs, I would posit the gash of adversity has not cut deep enough for true pain to be felt, and therefore the threshold of suffering is necessarily much shallower. This explains why young people disintegrate when a month-long relationship breaks up; their emotional defences have not been put through the same inuring fire as someone who has seen war; they do not possess an adequate relative reference point, nor coping strength or resilience.
Lower handling capacity has dire ramifications for the psychic response to shock. If you’ve spent your life living in a temperate climate and are suddenly thrust into Arctic cold, it is safe to assume you won’t know how to survive. Much of Western youth isn’t bloodied and battle-hardened but complacent, docile and feeble – highly vulnerable to psychic shock brought about by phase shifts in Die Zeitgeist. In this regard, Australia will be the canary in the coal mine for it is inhabited by an entire generation that developed in an incubatory bubble, never directly impacted by economic shock, war, or severe adversity on such a scale. It is therefore not surprising that the majority have weak, fragile minds and will hence crumble fastest upon onset of real adversity.
c. Narrowing of Effective Range
Historically, effective range (associative aptitude) was predominantly curtailed by a predisposition against association too far outside of one’s social class. Increasingly, this narrowness of association is extending to a broader array of qualities, among them appearance and subculture. With each axis of differentiation we recognise and segregate ourselves by, the recognition given to the common thread of our humanity is reduced, resulting in a more fragmented world soul.
Differential value is subjective absurdity because it is perceived by the eyes of a society whose ranking criteria is fickle and idiosyncratic; the internal definition within each sub-class tends to be whichever of the three predominant ranking traits they possess in relative advantage to the other. Broadly termed, these traits are material, intellectual and aesthetic supremacy.
For this reason, a highly intelligent person will tend toward evaluating others based on their level of intelligence; habitually looking down upon ‘simple-minded’ people, and similarly why the affluent tend to snub the working class.
Factors such as differentiated schooling, sheltered/insular upbringings and the continued rise of subculture are strongly comorbid with narrow effective range because they are conducive to social fragmentation. Each of these dynamics explicitly create differentiated groups and foster prejudice indirectly through constrained association. When a group of extremists are isolated together, an escalation in their extremism is often observed.
d. Talismanic Obsession
I wanted to dwell on this topic because the sheer amount of groping for meaning I witness daily indicates that people are falling. The quest for meaning has instigated increasingly outlandish flirtations with talismanic objects and rituals. The term ‘talisman’ is here extended to both physical objects (traditional talismans) and sinks (activities) into which individuals channel living energy or libido.
Where there is an absence of some activity (work, television, social interaction etc.) that captivates sensory attention, many people experience a feeling of emptiness. The emptiness issues partly from their being uncomfortable in the deafening silence of introspection. As a pastime, introspection isn’t terribly popular because it forces upon the individual a confrontation with his or her own shadow. The dilemma of avoiding this conversation and dealing with emptiness has prompted us to create a veritable smorgasbord of filling provisions with dubious nutritional value.
These provisions are talismans and sinks – perversions of libido (living energy) which distract attention from introspection and attempt to overcome the unreconciled void through extrinsic means.
With respect to talismans proper, the primitive practice of charging random objects with psychic energy remains alive and well. There is no substantive difference between the confidences of a tribal warrior wielding his spear imbued by the village Witch Doctor, than a modern day ‘disciple’ with his crucifix, rabbit foot or quartz crystal.
In the natural world, these items exist as inanimate objects, but in the psychic realm, they have mana attached to them. Particularly under circumstances and situations entailing high uncertainty and insecurity, we observe a reversion to this ‘magical’ practice because there is a belief that god (in the sense of power and meaning) is without and not within.
Sinks (activities into which time is sunk which don’t materially or spiritually enrich) operate on a similar premise; to address anxiety in a way that is externally focussed and evades introspection. So too with the vesting of authority in ‘experts’ and the creation of gods in entertainers.
What is striking about talismans is that they are all forms of external authority which have arisen in part because humanity has been disabused of its natural compulsion to trust its own instinct and recognise internal authority. The creature has had its senses blunted and been trained to heed directives from external authorities and idols, almost without question, and is left in a state of confusion in the absence of authority.
Whether it be an object (magic eight ball, religious totem), a person (celebrity, guru, clairvoyant) or activity (work, television), any authority to which we cede our living energy or time should be subjected to a test or interrogation of motive. Where there is a clear reason to entrust time and libido (for example, working to earn a living or to create) or necessity, so be it. But where the motives are less noble, particularly those of distracting or escaping from the self, we should question why we are doing it and whether that time and energy could be better directed.
THE DIONYSIAN SHIFT: VICE & FOLLY
“It is not man who counts, but his one differentiated function. Man no longer appears as man in our collective culture: he is merely represented by a function, what is more he identifies himself with this function and denies the relevance of the other inferior functions.” (Jung)
Ancient Greek philosophy distinguishes two polar opposites, the Apollonian character, representing the mind, form, order, reason, and moderation, against its opposite, the Dionysian, which encompasses the heart, abstraction, chaos, emotion and indulgence. In a very simple reduction, the extremes could be represented as ‘work’ and ‘play.’
The ideal proportion between the two is not the topic of consideration because they are qualitative forces which evade numerical measurement. We can however make broad, relative observations in the balance of Apollonian and Dionysian leanings between individuals, cultures, institutions, and epochs.
A society with too great an Apollonian dominance becomes patriarchal, oppressed and austere. It petrifies and its movement is lamed.
A society with too great a Dionysian dominance becomes shambolic, superficial, and complacent. It dissolves and its sight is blinded.
When approached from the standpoint which views equilibrium as the optimal state, then if there is an escalating imbalance toward one pole, so too is there accretion in the countervailing force which eventually deposes whatever mode is incumbent. The one gives rise to the other as surely as night follows day.
Following the receding of the Apollonian dominance after second world war, Die Zeitgeist is presently gripped by a growing Dionysian dominance.Particularly amongst the younger generations, this shift toward the Dionysian pole is markedly pronounced. Heavier indulgence is the counter to more strenuous conditions of existence and it is strikingly evident in their speak, dress, occupations, distractions, values and mentality.
Continuing shifts have a cascading character; with each new generation, the percentage of dominance increases such that Generation-Y may be 70% Dionysian, and Generation-Z 80% Dionysian, until such time as there is a shock, such as war, which causes inversion. At the other end of the cascade, older, less Dionysian generations are influenced by the times, so become more Dionysian, and the oldest, least Dionysian generations die out. In this way the entirety of society undergoes a secular shift.
In character, we could take the example of a Paris Hilton and a Sigmund Freud and ask which one modern day society most closely resembles. Figurative auto-erotic stimulation, creation for its own sake, embellishment serving no functional purpose. We live in a world where entire cities rise for show rather than necessity. Our society is Dionysian, and its prominence is most clear in the dominions of vanity and kitsch.
a. Ascendency of Vanity
Some years ago I was quoted as saying “stupidity is the world’s greatest disease.” I now have reason to retract this statement – for stupidity has been displaced with a viler affliction: vanity. Vanity is the world’s greatest disease. A society full of stupid people is bad, but a world of vain ones is catastrophic.
Having been a feature of humanity for time immemorial, vanity is not a recent phenomenon, however the past decade has seen an extreme escalation in its intensity. Today is an era of rancid excess where many of the dividends of time and energy afforded by technology and development have been squandered into pagan pursuits, decadence and surreal indulgences.
A moderate amount of vanity is a tolerable vice, but it becomes dangerous when it holds enough sway to have a meaningful impact in driving misallocation and appropriation of productive resources. Last week, I walked past two bakeries that sold baked goods exclusively for dogs within a space of half an hour. No further comment need be made.
b. Ascendancy of Kitsch
Many a life now appears to be a cheap, mass-produced knock-off. Kitsch, as an ideal, represents the devaluation of originality, the elevation of imitation over emulation and the treacherous one-sidedness that all but flatly denies the existence of darkness.
Kitsch is best represented by in the spiritual sense by warm and fuzzy positive-thinking mumbo-jumbo otherwise known as ‘New Age’, and in the material sense by fashions and hollow, commoditised art.
The end of art is to create something meaningful. The finest pieces tend to be possessed of ethereal resonance and the ability to transport the beholder. Great art, both visual and lyrical, is often prized for its communication and reflection of unconscious sentiments and imagery which are outside the expressive range of the mass, and has the ability to generate the reverberation of speaking with ten thousand voices.
Art is the product of primordial creative force seizing an individual and making him its instrument. It is not the slag manufactured by the creative horde pleading “love me!” to the world who create to indulge their vain fantasy or line their pockets.
This dictum of ingenuity as opposed to imitation applies equally to the individual. The original has realised substance and subsumed it. The imitator must plagiarise and often needs validation in the form of followers to neutralise his Pinocchio Complex. Unable to become real, he remains a replica cast from the same Kitsch mould; his only claim of repute is being a limited edition screen-print from a run of ten thousand.
Kitsch is the most dangerous where it attempts to postulate paths to enlightenment which are exclusively progressive, explicitly negating all notions of descent. Kitsch preaches all manner of warm, soft, cud-like ideals which are easy to digest and creates a class of half-blinds who fail to recognise that truth is more often found lying in vile rankness at the bottom of a very deep well than it is perched atop a marble staircase.
The aspects of vanity and kitsch aspect are linked to the incidence and magnitude of surrealism. When Dionysian society is rich and hedonistic, it squanders its time and libido into the superfluous. Both its products: material, intellectual, spiritual, and its populace become absurd derivatives twice removed from reality.
HYPERREALITY & IMAGO
“Conditioned from the cradle, unceasingly distracted, mesmerised systematically, their uniformed victims would go on obediently marching and counter-marching, go on, always and everywhere, killing and dying with the perfect docility of trained poodles.” (Huxley)
Among younger generations, there is a very significant shift in consciousness occurring. It pertains specifically to the substitution of fantasy and derivatives for reality and originals. This phenomenon is occurring across numerous domains: social interaction, art, consumption, and life itself through the diversion of time and energy into sinks.
Generation-Z particularly, being conditioned by technology from an early age, do not adequately distinguish between love garnered in the online world through such things as Tumblr followings or Facebook friends and love garnered in the actual world from embodied friendships and relationships. In fact, they almost treat the two as substitutes.
Wish fulfilment at a wholesale level is gradually being transplanted from physical to electronic realisation, and the human psyche trained to accept the latter as a valid substitute for the former. Although this may well be a fiendishly elegant solution to overconsumption of physical resources, it places another degree of separation between the consciousness and soul of the individual.
This ‘Hyperreality’ and the vesting therein of life, is the essence of degeneration because it devalues the real and replaces it with phantoms. Those immersed in Hyperreality adapt better to a contrived environment at the expense of proficiency at life.
We live under a quickening delta of change and successive generations have declining capacity to reconcile with the system they exist in because it changes faster than their ability to adapt to it, creating repressive feelings of anxiety and alienation.
Developmental practices have not kept adequate pace with the increasing complexity of living and changing value systems. Parenting routes tend to follow either an Apollonian or Dionysian dominance, which creates unbalanced individuals with lower adaptive capacity. Under such circumstances, the fall-back is typically to backslide into nostalgia, but one who attempts to live in a past which is forever being paved over will be buried alive. The alternative escape which defrays, discharges and distracts living anxiety: Hyperreality.
Broadly speaking, where the parents have followed the conventional path and raised the child under an Apollonian value system which encompasses hard work, material achievement, career, thus obtaining a certain ‘position’ in the order; that child won’t tend to have much trouble integrating and living the artifice so long as he or she is not somehow influenced to stray from the beaten track. A fixation on ascending the career and social ladders is comorbid.
Such children inevitably develop into the adults who form relationships conforming to a ‘trophy couple’ stereotype. The trophy couple will often have a top quintile household income, and preoccupy themselves with such matters as which private school to send their children to, hosting dinner parties, seeking out latte venues and jumping on the latest wellbeing bandwagon/fad. In short, what may be described as a very shallow, plastic life, suffused in epicurean materialism. They tend to consume culture and reproduce it in a manner not dissimilar to the bovine conversion of grass to regurgitated cud. Personality disorders such as narcissism are common in this group and depression manifests due to a particularly agonising feeling of spiritual emptiness which often accompanies a materialist lifestyle.
At the other end of the spectrum, the children of magical parents, raised under a Dionysian bias, are oft crushed by the iron heel of society and have an uncanny propensity to end up with substance abuse habits and/or affective disorders. It is in part attributable to the absence of grounding in reality, as they are not properly trained and equipped to handle, nor operate within the society they are born into. It is seen frequently among those raised in the country who move to the city – very few fully adapt. The venom of institutionalisation is one which must be injected early on in life if one is to have any chance of developing immunity. Like the savage transplanted from the reservation to the Brave New World of Aldous Huxley, their inability to fully integrate is often chronic.
Some combination of material and metaphysical anxiety is experienced by both groups, and where escape to the past is not possible, Hyperreality is superimposed upon reality to make it more endurable.
Libido (living energy) and time is thus taken from real life and directed into the Hyperreal sphere, where a higher proportion is wasted for no meaningful gain.
It is not a long bow to draw a comparison with the futurist film The Matrix, which depicts a dystopia wherein the majority of humanity is psychologically incarcerated by the Hyperreality of the film’s namesake. Consciousness was moved from a domain of heavy psychical constraint (physical dystopia), to a domain with relative freedom (artificial Matrix). The allusion to humans being used as batteries in is not an insinuation; it is but a more vicious iteration of present reality. Billions of docile animals having the proverbial lifeblood sapped from their veins, yet oblivious for their diversion to a hallucinogenic image of reality.
These hallucinogenic images could be represented as simulacra if they represented a likeness, however they do not. A simulacra stipulates resemblance as a condition and there is no similarity between a game and real life. To the best of our knowledge, you only get to play the latter once.
Loosely related to the simulacra is the pursuit of ideas or images versus actuals, such as vintage reproduction where an inauthentic likeness is elevated almost to the level of the original. How this transaction is accomplished psychologically hasn’t been demarcated, but its basis rests in our ability to create and relate to imagos.
An imago is a composite object-relationship comprised of an object and projections of the subject. It is the intermediary method by which people attach to an ‘idea’ of something rather than the thing itself. The object-relationship created when an individual (the subject) takes some real attributes of an item or person (the object), and manipulates them, distorting/exaggerating or otherwise imbuing them with emotional bias such that the relationship they create is not to the actual object, but to a strange compound (imago) which is part object and part the subject’s psychological projection.
When this happens and the object disappears, the compound and the subject’s attachment live on. This can be observed distinctly in how people speak about and feel toward someone who’s departed or an ex-partner. It is the strangest thing how despite the lack of an object, the imago persists and is still able to draw significant amounts of energy. The imago represents a dangerous departure from objective reality.
Materialism and consumerism rely significantly on imago dynamics to sell. The entire mantra of advertising is to endow inanimate objects, products and brands with illusory qualities and the creation of irrational associations.
A prominent example is the transcript below, from an financial institution , which attempts to sentimentalise the bank as a person with human qualities.
I was born a hundred years ago.
I helped bring the world closer to home.
I saw men search for dreams at Broken Hill.
And watched my best mates leave.
It was like the world caught fire.
And then Victoria did.
But come what may, Australians always stood strong.
Like Don Bradman carrying an entire country on his shoulders.
Or Lance Hill’s great leap forward.
And me? I taught children to save.
And helped build homes. Millions of them.
I can’t believe how often I saw the impossible become possible.
Or hope become history.
I am Australian.
And I am your bank.
Reification (Verdinglichung- the taking of an object and applying human qualities to it) as a practice has conditioned much of the civilised world to high pliability, such that an external entity can create or change values with less resistance. In consequence, we have object fetishism, infantile hysteria toward hyperreal objects such as celebrities and fictional characters, and real emotions being projected onto objects.
It is underappreciated just how plastic the human mind is – influences impress themselves subliminally by continuous repeated exposure. Continued exposure leads to people equating what they see or read with reality, and this is particularly pervasive with cinematographic and audio-visual media. Plato’s Republic identified the phenomenon behind Hyperreality with its Allegory of the Cave over two and a half thousand years ago.
A CONTRACT WITH CHRONOS
“Debt is the slavery of the free.’ (Publilius Syrus)
Debt is a charge over an entity’s future which can be crystallised and results in enforceable but illusory obligation upon the entity. Applied to an individual, it represents a wish fulfilment today or diminution in current anxiety at the cost wish fulfilment tomorrow or increased future anxiety.
I have devoted a moderate allocation of words to debt, because of both its rôle as a temporary alleviator of conscious anxiety, and its more sinister function as a means of control.
Debt may have come about as an innovative, yet tragically elegant to Karl Marx’s notion of Capitalism eventually being checked by its own realisation.
A necessary by-product of a capitalist system is excess production. We invoke the identity here that income is equal to production. That is to say, that if an economy produces a hundred dollars of goods, then the income shared between Labour and Capital in that economy will also be a hundred dollars. If we assume the income is split fairly, Labour gets fifty dollars (wages), and Capital also gets fifty dollars (profit). Labour uses its fifty dollars to consume goods, whereas Capital cannot consume its entire fifty dollar share, so the economy (specifically, Capital) is left with say, twenty dollars of unconsumed surplus goods that need to go somewhere. In a mercantile system, this surplus can be exported, and thus the excess production is converted back into capital. This needs to happen if Capital is to propagate itself, as is the nature of the beast.
Theoretically, when the world is entirely populated by developed, capitalist economies, there will be no undeveloped economies to absorb all the excess production. This invariably poses a problem because it is reflective of imbalance. If time is allowed to absorb the surplus, then the wheels of production must turn slower until the surplus is absorbed, which requires unemployment.
No country desires unemployment for it creates social instability and burdens the government; so faced with this issue, a sovereign may choose to depreciate its currency, thereby making its surplus production cheaper and thus easier to hawk on the international market. If every country is trying to achieve the same end, currency and trade wars ensue and a vicious cycle takes hold that can end in a physical war.
How can this be subverted? We need to find a way to absorb all this surplus. What if we could get Labour to consume more than the fifty dollars it earns? What if we could somehow get Labour to consume seventy dollars’ worth instead, using Capital’s money, and oblige them to pay it back from their future wages, with interest?
In this way wage slaves came to be: an enforceable charge is created over Labour in favour of Capital, and the power of Capital over Labour is hence strengthened. Interest works as a compensatory mechanism, through which value is transferred from a debtor to a creditor, in this case from Labour to Capital.
Debt stokes the fire which keeps the machine running. Money provides this fuel by incentivising the production of goods and services. Prior to the advent of debt, the capacity to consume these goods and services was delimited to whatever money of his own the individual had at current. If all you had was a dollar, it was not possible to purchase and consume two dollars’ worth of goods.
Debt is efficacious because of an orchestration. In the first sense, we have created a conditioned world which wants more than it needs. No longer content with the basics required for survival, it desires superfluous indulgence beyond the point of triviality. In the second, we have conceived the idea of possession and developed property rights. Together, they constitute the foundation for a society with an ownership fetish which is reflected in our chronic selfishness. It’s mine I tell you.
Thus by a drive to possess, we are possessed. In consequence, the possessed frequent Chronos to draw contracts of debt, exchanging the future for the present.
No one is ‘forced’ to deal with Chronos. The assumption of debt is simply acknowledging your desire to live beyond your present means and consequent willingness to make a trade-off: less tomorrow for more today. In essence, it is a very simple contract, but for the value of consideration. If you sell your soul to the devil, the transaction is transparent, you know what it will cost you, but when you borrow from Chronos, he does not give you the interest rate.
Debt and its demand to be repaid create an effective charge on the soul, a condition whose potential harmfulness cannot be estimated at the point of its accrual. Perhaps it is not coincidental that the verb to contract is also the operative for disease.
At a collective, aggregated level, debt does not exist, because all charges on one in favour of another cancel out when taken together as a whole. If X owes Y a dollar, Y owes Z a dollar, and Z owes X a dollar, the system is a closed circle. Hypothetically, if everyone in the world repaid their debts tomorrow (assuming they had the ability to do so), each would possess what he is presently entitled to possess. However, it is now culturally ingrained in the modern psyche that the fruits of debt are something of an entitlement based on a vague undertaking to take from the future. Debt may be classed as a Hyperreal representation of a promissory obligation.
In literature, time travel tends to have side effects, most notably when the future is altered because of the impact the time traveller has when he goes back into the past: his mere presence there changes the future. Similarly, when money is taken from the future, it has an impact on the present, which then sets the future on a different course. The interest rate cannot, by virtue of sheer ineptitude, objectively mediate nor neutralise this variation.
Debt as a concept bears some striking parallels with the balances of psychic energy between individuals. No small amount of the world’s anxiety exists due to charges individuals hold upon one another, through relations of expectation, authority and loyalty among other things. Because we recognise these charges as valid, the individual is unable to feel freedom, being perpetually at the mercy of another’s whims. Human beings trade on this, actively seeking to increase the charges they hold upon others to placate and compensate for those charges under which they are bound.
Were we all to release our own emotional holds upon others, the general level of anxiety would be reduced dramatically. However, this canon underlying human interaction is deeply ingrained, so again, it will take focussed conscious effort to simply accomplish a reversal in the accumulation of charges, and so reducing the level of charges will be a very gradual process.
In many cases, it is the same senseless logic with which one person may hold an active grudge against another. There is a needless and wholly futile expenditure and wastage of psychic energy.
THE INCUMBENCY OF POWER
“We are in power. Nobody will deny it. By virtue of that power we shall remain in power…We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be couched. We will grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ours, we are its lords, and ours it shall remain. As for the host of labour, it has been in the dirt since history began, and I read history aright. And in the dirt it shall remain so long as I and mine and those that come after us have the power. There is the word. It is the king of words -Power. Not God, not Mammon, but Power. Pour it over your tongue till it tingles with it. Power.”
Wickson’s chilling psalm in Jack London’s The Iron Heel bluntly illustrates the incumbency of power.
Wherever there are substantial vested political and financial interests, and these interests are in power, it is reasonable to assume that they will go to extensive lengths to maintain that power. Power has a certain inertia to it; it is inclined to preside over whatever action it deems necessary to maintain its position, such being the principle of self-preservation. It also has significant material and political resources at its disposal, not least of which is the programmed dependency among the vast majority of the constituency.
A great deal of nervous energy is building up in the collective unconscious today, in both the Occident and the Orient. As we have already observed with recent rioting in Egypt and Greece, where there is no regulated release valve, nervous energy is unleashed in an animalistic fashion with destructive consequences.
Clashes between those attempting to prop the denizen system up) and those who seek to tear it down will become more frequent and intense, creating more instability.
Where an adequate amount of fear, instability and uncertainty exist, the uninformed populace will surrender liberties to a higher authority which says “leave it to me” and promises to assuage that fear. To maintain the status quo, any increase in chaos must necessarily be met be a commensurate increase in control. It is a precondition that the level of chaos must first increase before more power is surrendered to authority. It cannot be any other way because without chaos, there is no need for an authority to control it; the one begets the other.
Traditionally, these higher authorities have been Governments, but this may not be the case going forward. Fractures are appearing in democracy; the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and many European states are increasingly impotent on account of weak governing mandates which border on being non-existent. The economic systems of the West are overwhelmingly dependent on the pyrrhic magic of debt, and inordinate amounts of manipulation and interference are being used in an effort to hold the whole shambolic mess together. Laissez Faire capitalism by definition (literally ‘leave it alone’) precludes interference; therefore we should be seriously questioning the ongoing viability of Capitalism as it stands when interventions are occurring on their current scale and frequency.
What is now becoming evident is that the traditional Western system is in imperial decline and the institutions which have hitherto been critical to maintaining the psychic status quo in the world are obsolete and straining visibly. The stage is set for another psychic crisis.
Psychic crises are best described as large-scale neuroses that take hold of a population, whose familiar symptoms include depression, anxiety, anger, uncertainty, instability and despair. A psychic crisis can be triggered by severe imbalances, unremitting oppression, psychological overload or a concentration of projection.
World War II was the most illustrious example of the latter in modern history. A society or nation whose psychic environment is characterised by tension or hostility brought about by economic hardship, in-fighting, corruption and poor security is at higher risk of riot, revolution and civil war. To mitigate this risk, a sovereign can mobilise and discharge the nervous energy of its populace by redirecting it against an outside enemy, having the effect of subordinating internal conflicts as the constituency bands together against a perceived common external threat.
It begins with a propaganda campaign seeking to demonise the target group and attribute negative projections, thereby reducing its moral standing. When the target’s position is reduced to a certain point, it becomes palatable and permissible to initiate physical violence on moral grounds. Propaganda is often an anticipatory measure intended to ratify forthcoming action.
World War II was a psychic crisis, and I can’t help but feel a sense of foreboding that the conditions are ripening for it to happen again. We need only look at the media, and how it grooms perspective with its subliminally nefarious wordplay. Men, women and children are not killed in military operations, they are ‘insurgents.’ Fatal mistakes are classified as ‘collateral damage.’ Those with markedly different opinions are labelled ‘extremists.’
The United States has developed mass projection into something of an art form. It seems whenever the citizenry get particularly angsty, war gets declared on some unfortunate autocratic schlep. However, it would be amiss to single out America for it is a global phenomenon. The sovereign debt crisis is causing immense tension in many countries, and under such circumstances, self-interest tends to prevail over collective resolution. Should resultant trade protectionism and currency manipulation eventuate in coming years, we will see a marked increase in xenophobic propaganda and deterioration in international relations.
Populations will become more pliable as their plight seeks an outlet, and politicians, whose vocation specifically attracts those with a will to power, will seize upon and leverage this pliability. Time and again we have seen horrifying machines of war being built and put to use. Akin to the boy who is given a new toy – it is only a minority that derive utility from simply admiring it; most are compelled with a desire to take it out of its box and play with it.
This is the political path of least resistance: do whatever necessary to keep the system going – because the alternative would be millions of deaths. The dependency level is now so high that the majority of Western civilisation would not be able to survive (on its own materialistic definition) should the system collapse. Weighing up this option on a scale, some very heavy things, which do a great deal of damage (war among them) could be placed on the other side of the scale to prevent systemic collapse because their relative cost would be less. Those atop the pyramid always have the most to lose, thus their uncompromising determination to preserve the structure.
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society” (Krishnamurti)
A subtle, but significant polarisation is currently underway – albeit in its infancy; that between those who will cling to the old system, and those who will inaugurate the new. This is the Great Polarisation and may take many decades to occur. Mainstream disintegration will be caused at some juncture by a corresponding polarisation, occurring simultaneously, but which will likely advance faster. The Lesser Polarisation is now well underway, characterised by a widening of distance between extremes and diminution of the middle. In context of material wellbeing, the gap between rich and poor is being amplified. In context of consciousness, the abyss between the aware and the ignorant is expanding.
The polarisation of social class will increase markedly as Generation-Z reaches household-formation age. There will be a smaller intellectual class with financial literacy and higher capacity for independent and rational thought, and a larger constituency of rabble whose minds will be plasticine in the hands of stultifying overlords (media, gurus, marketers, populist politicians). The former will be exploited mercilessly by the latter until oppression reaches a degree sufficient to cause civil unrest.
This new ‘drifter’ class will be characterised by its lack of property ownership, propensity to live hand-to-mouth, and addictions toward sinks which pacify or distract their anxiety. The psychological toll exacted upon this class will be severe, but there will be no shortage of diversions made available to manage their increasing dissonance.
Escapist reliance on sensory distraction, alcohol, and other conscience-deadening drugs will increase, as will self-pity and emotional leeching through the manipulation of charges. Higher anxiety will be met with the temporally unscrupulous solution of trading off the future for the present, thereby deferring and sharpening the inevitable reckoning. Incidences of depression and mood disorder will risk markedly, and there will be a multiple of co-morbidity as mid-life hits and people realise although the first half of their lives have been a relative cruise, the second half is going to be arduous.
There will be a decline in the birth rate on economic grounds, and further government support for education and family welfare may be curtailed to foot the massive healthcare, pharmaceutical and pension burden of the baby boomers. The alternative will be mandated increases in the length of working life to mitigate stress on the system by shifting the weight onto the individual.
There will be a marked increase in dysfunctional marriages as younger couples wed prior to developing an adequate understanding of the gravity of commitment. This will occur because the institution of marriage will come to be regarded more as a means to assuage anxiety through financial security, stability and property ownership, in short, it will become commoditised. The rising feeling of individual incompleteness will promote unions for reasons of fulfilment, and union with the partner will be taken as a crude substitute for the individual’s reconciliation with his or her own soul.
There will be a resultant swell in the ranks of maladjusted youths as the increased work projection load upon parents takes its toll on the psychical environment in the home, both in terms of higher stress and reduced freedom. As such, the growth being witnessed in artifices offering escapist utility (consumerism, video games, drugs, gratuitous sex) will continue to flourish, and their character will become increasingly surreal. These sinks will absorb a large amount of the individual’s time, means, and energy to counteract the dissonance experienced from harsher economic slavery.
Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, a way will be found through which to extract more of the individual’s life force and keep him in submission to Deus Ex Machina. Unsought items will continue to be invented, and needs fabricated to absorb more of the financial resources for which the individual sacrifices his time and energy.
A poorer ‘deal’ will place the individual under greater oppression because he will have to surrender more authority and autonomy, and in return he will receive less protection, weaker property rights, flimsier safety nets, and lower psychological security.
Individual sovereignty will be subordinated to the nebulous but defensible ‘common good,’ except under the guise of ‘maintaining stability’ and aspects of the forsaken societies depicted in London’s Iron Heel (1907), Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (1957), Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) will become increasing representative of modern reality. I avail myself of the term ‘increasingly’ because the aspects are already representative of today. This will come to be unless change is compelled and action is taken to correct runaway imbalances.
IMBALANCES & ENANTIODROMIA
“It is hard to come to terms with the errors of the times: if you oppose them, you stand alone; if you allow yourself to be caught up in them, you get neither honour nor joy in the process.” (Goethe)
Enantiodromia is a concept intimated by Heraclitus whereby an extreme or excess eventually produces its opposite. Such reversals may be gradual or violent. Jung posits of Enantiodromia that, whether visible or not, as there is a move away from equilibrium toward an extreme (an imbalance), a compensatory force builds which eventually causes a reversion or inversion, not unlike the lengthy drought broken by monsoonal rain.
As a rubber band is stretched, an opposite tension builds because it desires to return to its natural state. The further it is stretched, the more powerful the tension and the greater effort required to stretch it further. A point is reached where either the rubber band is stretched to its limit and snaps, or the stretching force is overcome by latent tension, causing it to snap back. It is only at the point of natural equilibrium that this tension does not exist.
Many of the psychological, social and economic phenomena I’ve described are direct and indirect manifestations of imbalance. Beholding the chronicles of history, we are repeatedly confronted with long periods of authoritarian repression leading to upheaval, just as credit card spending binges are followed by austerity and bottling of negative emotion most always discharged in violent outburst.
Die Zeitgeist is subject to this self-same equilibrating force and current imbalances prevalent in society will be no different to the rubber band. If China continues to suppress freedoms, there will be a civil uprising at some point. If Western countries continue to kick fiscal cans down the road, they will eventually explode. If we continue to gorge ourselves, hedonism will ultimately yield to asceticism.
Reversions of this nature are precipitated on the same principle as lightning. The meteorological phenomenon is born of a potential difference between the negative charge of the storm cloud and the positive charge of the ground, which escalates until a critical point where the polar energies are equalised with spectacular, vaporising discharge.
In much the same way, Die Zeitgeist (The Spirit of the Times) inhabits conscious ego which holds the reins of the physical world and directs its course. On the other side, the unconscious carries a primeval imprint, an equilibrium which is not subject to whatever modern folly (The Spirit of the Depths).
As we see the conscious world become increasingly carried away, occupying itself with surreal pursuits and values, the potential difference between the Spirit of the Times and the Spirit of the Depths escalates. Stronger dissonance is created as consciousness moves further away from its natural equilibrium. The unconscious accumulates this tension which must ultimately discharge.
Already we are beginning to see a real and observable change occurring in the general perception. An increasing number of people are beginning to realise they are unfulfilled, and the pain this lack of fulfilment causes is getting sharper. The knowledge that the system is wrong is emerging from the shadows of the unconscious and knocking harder on the door of consciousness. This is a mere trickle of The Spirit of the Depths discharging into The Spirit of the Times. Despite increasing levels of awareness however, the mass of humanity will be loath to act because they are materially comfortable, and further tied to the machine, depending upon it not only for their own livelihood, but for the livelihood of their families. Heartstrings are spun of a weave stronger than Kevlar and such moral imperatives (providing for one’s children) are exceptionally resilient. Because of this reliance, this staying power of the status quo, the shift will be far from easy.
High hopes cannot be held for humanity if we recognise the sheer scale of the phase shift required. Brutal introspection is needed to confess the problem’s source is all within – it is of little use seeking a scapegoat, or impugning a nebulous ‘society’ as if it were person. Requisite wisdom is also an obstacle given its short supply across all generations. Although wisdom is normally associated with age, age does not necessarily bring wisdom, as commonly observed in adults who conduct themselves like children.
Further, the tendency for incumbent perspectives to petrify with age means the ability and appetite to change declines with age because any digression compounds more powerfully with each passing year, as does the amount of time and effort required to change. Whilst a sapling is still pliable, crooked growth can be corrected, but once hardened, any effort to change its course will snap the tree’s bough. It becomes harder to relieve someone from an illusion the longer they’ve been under the spell, because it displaces their reality. Change among the older generations thus tends to be precipitated by severe trauma rather than by individual volition.
Youth, on the other hand, has much passion and tenacity, as it often demonstrated with regard to social justice and political issues, but its energy is squandered because it is blind. For the most part, youth has limited comprehension of concealed workings and is extremely narrow in conscious range and shallow in depth. Inherently, the danger is that youth does not have a particular new direction in mind; it only seeks change, more specifically reversal, and pays little heed to its broader and derivative consequences.
Many of the causes from which youth extract moral supremacy are paralleled by deep hypocrisies. The standard of living we enjoy today is the culmination of luck and centuries of expropriation which has created a small pocket of wanton prosperity. Protesters at rallies are incapable of acknowledging that the teat they suckle conveys the blood of the oppressed into their gullets.
In introspection, if were I to acknowledge what I am, the unfair advantages I have, and the injustice wrought upon so many that allows me to live this life, and truly I believed in equality, perhaps the only course of action which would preserve my integrity would be to shoot myself. The only saving grace is that an individual’s deservingness of his life cannot be affirmed nor negated. That is to say, if a person’s life today is a normative product of what they did in past lives, then the entire debate about justice and equality is rendered sterile.
Tolstoy’s clock shows the wrong time because it is either too fast or slow – and he astutely notes that one can either recalibrate its internal movement or simply move the hands. One action corrects the underlying cause; the other merely gives a temporary appearance of correction. Our times are like Tolstoy’s crooked clock. Assessing the methods presently being employed to address the issues and imbalances of Die Zeitgeist, they are analogous to tinkering with the clock’s hands – there isn’t the will to open the clock and get our hands dirty. An individual operates on the same premise, preferring to stultify or entertain himself rather than confront the unconscious contents causing his neurosis.
Imbalances need not be corrected by the unpredictable, whip-lash inducing reversions stipulated by Enantiodromia. The stretched rubber band doesn’t have to snap back, it can be eased back to its natural state. This orderly correction can be achieved, contingent on a willingness to endure opening and fixing the clock: the unsettling process of admission, understanding and integration. Without such a process, true advancement cannot occur.
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” (C. S. Lewis)
We sail aboard a ship which many of us subconsciously know is sinking, but we are loath to jump overboard and swim for land so long as we can delude ourselves that she will stay afloat. We are fearful of the harrowing passage across icy waters, and anxious about what we may or may not find ashore.
With respect to a way forward, it is dangerously naïve to think the world, today’s Zeitgeist, can turn, as it were, on a dime. Personified, it is a chain smoker, chronic alcoholic and binge eater, who understands these things are harmful, yet finds them excruciatingly difficult to cease. Better still; consider how difficult it is to change some unfavourable pattern or trait in your personality. An addiction which is developed and ingrained over so long a period effectively becomes part of you.
The conditions afflicting our epoch are of a similar nature; powerful addictions cultivated over many decades and centuries, requiring a correspondingly colossal effort to overcome. To relieve someone from an illusion that has been trusted (and compounded) for many years is not an easy feat. It is often the case that removing the parasite kills the host. I have never encountered higher resistance, and it is not surprising that when you tell a man he is an animal, in his fanatical effort to repudiate the claim, he becomes one.
Therefore, it is impractical to suggest such fundamental change can be achieved in the near future save for some biblical catalyst. A cold-turkey approach cannot bring about a release from dependency without causing withdrawal shock or regression.
Though it has been overridden by heavy conditioning, we still possess a primeval imprint of the way we ought to live. To reacquaint with it, there is a long and laborious process of acknowledgement and dissolution that need first be accomplished. With each successive layer of the onion peeled away, more tears will flow, and the task will be a generational undertaking of sustained conscious effort.
At the individual level, we will need to incrementally change our perceptions, judgements, behaviours and interactions to realign values and bring about the required repatriation of energy back to the Soul, not least of which, as indicated by Jung, is the acknowledgement and withdrawal of the shadows we project onto others.
Inertia will build in small increments until the transformative force takes hold and becomes self-sustaining, gathering momentum until it eventually leads to a conscious evolution.
”The road that leads towards happiness from the inside out, through health, through awareness, through a change in one’s attitude towards the world; not towards the mirage of happiness from the outside in, through toys and pills and non-stop distractions.” (Huxley)
P. X. Waterstone, Melbourne, 8th January 2012
THE ZERO-SUM GAME
Wherein it is explained why ‘Occupy’ protesters are hypocrites.
Within its own confines, the financial system is a zero-sum game, which means that for there to be a winner, there must be a loser on the other side. It is also a closed loop: if all the wins are added together, they shall exactly equal the sum of the losses.
The very same system facilitates both accumulations of ludicrous wealth and an Occupy protester’s luxury to demonstrate at his leisure.
Simplistically, whenever I earn a dollar, it does not materialise from thin air. In a zero-sum game, that dollar must be surrendered by someone else. This can happen in a number of ways:
- Directly, by subtracting it from someone else’s material livelihood
- Directly, by subtracting it from someone else’s future livelihood through the creation of a debt
- Indirectly from a population, by the devaluation of money’s purchasing power (inflation)
Let us assume the protester is law-abiding and, rather than fare evade, paid for his public transport ticket to get to the protest. The dollar which he used to pay for his ticket likely comes from wages or transfer payments. In the first case, the money is a part share of the dollars taken from the consumer of whatever good or service which his labour helped produce or provide. In the second case, the money is part of a redistribution of dollars taken from taxpayers which is given him by the government. In both cases, that dollar has come from someone else.
Now let’s turn to the multibillionaire. He is exactly the same as the protester, in that his money is a share of the dollars taken from the consumers of whatever good or service he has helped produce. The exceptions are that (a) his contribution likely consisted of capital and entrepreneurial skill rather than just labour, and (b) the good or service in question was more valuable.
Both use the same system, but at different orders of magnitude. So, it is by virtue of the financial system that the protester has the free time to protest. Without the financial system, he would likely be too busy scrounging around for his next meal.
In which the concept of economic disequilibrium as it relates to trade relations between sovereigns and currency fluctuation is expounded.
Echoing Appendix 1, the global financial system is also a zero-sum game, but festooned with significant complexity. I can gain a dollar today either by somehow appropriating it from someone else, or by borrowing that dollar on the promise of repaying it at some point in the future.
Imagine you have two bank accounts, one is for day-to-day transactions (C or Current account), and the second is for investment transactions (K or Investment account)
If you sell more goods and services than you buy, you have a surplus (positive balance) in your (C) account, which you then transfer over to your (K) account so you can invest to make a return, for example by buying a rental property, or by lending to someone else and charging them interest.
If you buy more goods and services than you sell, you have a deficit (negative balance) in your (C) account, so you have to transfer from your (K) account to cover the overdraft. If you don’t have enough money in your investment account, you either have to liquidate or sell some investment assets, or you could borrow and thereby take on debt.
The catch is that if you have a surplus in your accounts, you must invest in assets or lend, and if you have a deficit, you must divest assets or borrow.
Now take the above framework above and apply it to two people. Sam, who always spends more than he makes, and so is perpetually in deficit, and Deng, who always makes more than he spends, and so is perpetually in surplus.
Over many years, Deng lends money to Sam on the expectation that Sam will pay him back in the future, with interest. This goes on for a very long time such that Sam owes Deng $10,000,000,000,000 or $10 trillion. Deng uses the Chinese Yuan, and Sam, the US dollar.
In a ‘free’ system, the currency of a country that exports more than it imports will tend to rise because foreigners need to purchase that currency to buy the exports.
However, China’s currency is pegged to the United States dollar at a fixed rate.
So, how does Sam repay Deng? Normally, a debt is extinguished by repayment, or by default and reclamation of collateral. Sovereigns however, have something of a third alternative, which is colloquially known as the ‘printing press.’ When a debt is denominated in a country’s own currency, such as US dollars, the country can erode the value of its debt by simply running the presses and printing more money.
Whenever the United States prints money, the purchasing power held by their dollar deteriorates, meaning that same dollar buys less good and services, and hence the value of the USD relative to all other currencies in the world (that aren’t pegged to it) declines.
When this happens, it becomes more expensive for Americans to buy imported products, and cheaper for foreigners to buy American products. On a relative basis, production in America becomes more competitive, and those industries hire more labour, which reduces unemployment.
Any country with a sovereign currency may revalue their currency in this way by intervening; however the side effect is inflation, and an erosion of living standards. When a large country manipulates its currency, it artificially boosts its international competitiveness and therefore its own employment at the expense of its trading partners.
In order to maintain the status quo, trading partners must devalue or impose other measures such as trade sanctions to protect their own workers. This gives rise to what is known as a trade war via competitive devaluation or protectionism. Trade wars tend to last many years, and increase the risk of physical war because of the tension they create. The tightening of sanctions on Iran by the United States and Iran’s response of threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil shipments is a current example of the tension created by trade wars.
A side effect of printing money is the appropriation of wealth from the citizenry through inflation. Consider what it means to have bank account that pays interest.
When you put $100 in the bank at 5% interest, it doesn’t mean when you take it out in a year you will have $105. Firstly, there is tax, and for most people, this means almost a third of the interest you earn will be swept away by the government, leaving you with $103.50. Secondly, there is inflation, which means if prices have increased by 3.5% during the year, then it will cost $103.50 to buy the same basket of goods you could’ve bought for $100 a year ago.
As you can see, you are no better off.
What happens when the interest rate is 5%, but inflation is 10%? Even without tax, this means if you put money in the bank or even under your mattress, you are destroying wealth. So, given a choice, you spend it to avoid losing value. You go out and buy whatever you can because you know prices are rising: food, property, gold, etc.
This is called a negative real interest rate.
If such an environment is sustained, there are runs on banks as hordes of depositors all withdraw their money, because it is the logical thing to do. A bank needs deposits in order to make loans. It can’t lend money to borrowers unless that money is first provided by savers (simplistically), so an economy which requires debt to operate will experience seizure and instability if there is a bank run, unless it can otherwise replace the withdrawn funds. Failing this, the resulting liquidity crisis (shortage of money) causes social unrest. Where its people are unable to go to a bank to withdraw money to pay for living necessities, a society quickly destabilises – an outcome which many a European nation are desperately attempting to avoid.
A brief discussion on the phenomenon of compounding as it applies to perspective and ego.
I have only recently come to terms with how severely difficult reform is in the absence of some brutal catalyst. Whenever it is the case I encounter someone with significantly more life experience than I possess, I must reconcile with their perspective; their system for apprehending the world and their existence is the product of twenty, thirty, forty years of additional compound interest. If the seed of wisdom is wrong, it doesn’t matter to what impressive height the tree grows – it will not bear fruit.
As a phenomena one need only look to the unhappy rich. At some earlier juncture, most forged an equivalence between wealth and contentment, which then proceeded to compound away over many years, strengthening and self-perpetuating into an identity holding powerful sway in directing their movement through life.
The ego itself operates on a similar principle. As it constellates energy, its density and rigidity increases – we become set in our ways, more resistant to change, and less open to ideas inharmonious with the ones we already hold. Compounding gets more difficult to undo the longer it goes on, thus continuing on the path of least resistance makes it progressively harder to turn around.
PLATO’S ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE
In ‘The Republic,’ ancient Greek philosopher Plato (c427 BCE – c347 BCE) gives a metaphor for degrees of reality, which has been simplified below.
A group of prisoners has been imprisoned all their lives in a cave, chained so that they cannot see behind them; all they can see is the cave wall in front. Behind them is a fire, and between the prisoners and the fire, a walkway runs. The prisoners do not know of the fire or walkway.
Each day, people, carts and animals travel across the walkway, and the fire projects their shadows onto the cave wall in front of the prisoners. The shadows are the only truth and reality they know.
One prisoner is released from the cave into the real world and sees amongst other things the figures that were walking across the walkway, in real life. He cannot recognise them, nor can he contend with the outside world because its colour, dimensions, complexity and sensations go against his reality, which is constituted only of the shadows.
He is initially angry and confused and wants to go back to his reality of shadows, but after much time, he acclimatises and comes to accept the outside world as reality, and goes back into the cave to convince the others their shadows aren’t real. Predictably, the others ridicule him as a fool.
KEY REFERENCE LIST & READINGS
List of sources referenced and supporting readings
Camus, A. (1942) The Myth of Sisyphus
Čapek, K. (1923) Rossum’s Universal Robots
Dostoyevsky, F. (1866) Crime and Punishment
Eco, U. (1988) Foucault’s Pendulum
Freud, S. (1920) Dream Psychology / The Psychology of Dreams
Goethe, J. (1829) Faust I
Goethe, J. (1832) Faust II
Huxley, A. (1932) Brave New World
Huxley, A. (1962) Island
Jung, C.G. (1955) Modern Man in Search for a Soul
Jung, C. G. (1974) Dreams
Jung, C.G. (2009) Liber Novus
Kierkegaard, S. (1849) The Sickness Unto Death
Kundera, M. (1984) The Unbearable Lightness of Being
London, J. (1908) The Iron Heel
Murakami, H. (2004) After Dark
Nietzsche, F. (1885) Thus Spoke Zarathrustra
Orwell, G. (1949) 1984
Plato (c418 BCE) Republic
Rand, A. (1957) Atlas Shrugged
Wilde, O. (1890) The Picture of Dorian Grey
Metropolis (1927) Universum Film
The Matrix (1999) Warner Brothers Pictures
Life 2.0 (2010) Andrew Lauren Productions
Index of Notes:
 Irrespective of how ‘tough’ some may feel they have it, in global relativity, anyone who can afford to spend the equivalent daily earnings of a Ugandan taxi driver on a pot of beer or cup of coffee is not a ‘battler.’
 The superimposition of ego above orphaned fragments is in effect suppression or silencing. The ego may also seek to integrate the fragments but this is highly uncommon.
 The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), Oscar Wilde
 Projection is a rampant psychological phenomenon wherein an individual defrays the anxiety caused by his or her ‘shadow’ by attributing and projecting those undesirable or shameful shadow traits and tendencies onto other people.
 Relating specifically to anxiety: an order of magnitude below Kierkegaard’s ‘despair.’
 Fragmentation of the world soul (anima mundi) describes the effect of differentiations which work against the unity of humanity. Its chief contributors are divisions created by political borders and religious denomination.
 Magical power or energy
 This concept, Enantiodromia, is discussed in detail in Section XIII.
 As described in Section IV: d.
 Refer section VI for further discussion of the Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy.
 Commonwealth Bank – video link: http://www.commbank.com.au/about-us/media-gallery/tv-ads/centenary.aspx
 See Appendix IV: Plato’s Cave
 As an aside, war is also an effective outlet for absorbing excess production, because the munitions and consumables expended in war are destroyed.
 ‘Sink’ denotes any trivial activity or object into which time is sunk which is not materially or spiritually enriching
 Refer Appendix III for a discussion on Compounding Error.
 To illustrate how inflation appropriates value from someone else, consider the following example:
Let’s say I lend Obama one hundred US Dollars at zero interest, further that the value of the US economy is defined by one thousand cheeseburgers priced at $1 each, and its entire stock of money is $1,000. With the money I’ve just lent Obama, therefore, I could have bought 100 cheese or 10% of the US economy’s goods.
I come back in a year to collect, but Obama doesn’t have the money to pay me back, so instead, he prints me fresh hundred dollar bill. I happily put it in my pocket and go out to see what I can buy. There are still one thousand baskets of goods, but because Obama printed new money, there is now $1,100 of money chasing these baskets, so the price has risen to $1.10 each. Now I can only buy 91 baskets of goods for my $100, whereas I would’ve been able to buy 100 baskets before.