End of Empire – Propaganda and the American Myth

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

End of Empire – Propaganda and the American Myth                                                              

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”….ourselves. With apologies to Sir Walter Scott.

If only life were as neat and orderly as my ancient history text book showed it to be. There it was on glossy paper, spread out across two sets of adjoining pages, maps of the ancient and modern world. Including time lines top and bottom, with countries outlined and identified. Underneath their modern English names were one or two older names in smaller stylized script, often including exact beginning and end dates. I remember one in particular that caught my eye. “United States of America” followed by the year 1776. But with no end date indicated, it looked like unfinished business to me. You’ve got to love those historians and their exact dates.

Of course, in reality there are no exact dates for the birth and death of city/states, other than in the author’s mind. Children continue to be born, the old still die, and life goes on under different circumstances. But you’re rarely informed of the subjective nature of historical events when you’re young and impressionable, so they’re presented in the history books as fact. The last thing the reigning Empire wants is to appear uncertain about previous Empires. Even before we begin to read and comprehend on our own, we’re presented with the illusion of a beginning and end to everything, often with very clear lines of demarcation. This concept is continuously reinforced through our daily indoctrination of carefully scripted news stories, care of our modern media saturated existence. Naturally, critical thinking is optional and definitively not encouraged.

Mix in a healthy dose of hard core science, where you learn very early there are correct and incorrect answers to all your questions, and a pattern of social myth making emerges. Of course, the correct answers are held for public safekeeping by our cultural high priests and authority figures, be they academic, governmental, scientific or religious. Lest you forget, cultural icons and heroes must always be respected and deferred to. Maybe now’s a good time to remember that most history and science books are written and re-written by those very same keepers of the public mythology. What we believe as a culture, sometimes called our public myth, is usually determined by those whose pockets are the deepest or most powerful, not by those who are the wisest and most knowledgeable.

Have you ever read a book written by the survivors of the vanquished, the so called losers? I have, a number of times, and it’s usually very enlightening to see the world from the other side of the bloody divide. In their hands, our cultural myths aren’t treated with the same loving care and respect we afford them, nor should they be. But of course they must be lying because they have an ax to grind. Revisionist history is how those in power politely describe the writings of the defeated and the victims crushed in the head long rush of conquering empire. The public myth tells us that the losers can do nothing but taut the victorious with their lies. Ignore them and they’ll go away. Besides, the winners never lie about the facts, though we’re told there’s plenty of room for differences of opinion. And just about everything can be reduced to an opinion if you’re looking to obscure.

Of course, one of the unspoken duties of the winners is to distort the written and visual record, so that it conforms to the public myth. This is the principle reason why recently retired or replaced holders of powerful governmental and military positions are handed huge advances to write their memoirs. These sacred tomes of divine wisdom are quickly embraced by other propagandists as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help their Gods of propaganda. Once in hand, it’s quickly woven into the fabric of the public myth as supporting documentation. Thus another slice of the propaganda cycle is complete and ready for its next rotation.

We possess extremely complex belief systems and world views. How they develop and evolve is greatly influenced by external information sources we rarely question or challenge. After all, these sources are our cultural authority figures, the experts, professionals and intelligentsia that form our cultural propaganda delivery and support system. These sources cannot be seriously questioned, particularly from within, without being declared a heretic. Just look at how Zero Hedge, and other non-conforming web sites, are treated as an example of how heresy is handled these days. While we may not pay much attention to everything we hear or see, our unconscious is absorbing it all, raw and unfiltered. This information feeds into and supports our world view with little conscious thought or scrutiny. This is the reason why repetition is so vitally important to effective propaganda. Our brain always absorbs even when we do not look and listen.

It’s shocking to realize how seldom we change our basic beliefs or understanding when confronted with new information that normally would affect change. Instead, we bend or ignore facts to fit our established world view. John Maynard Keynes once said “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?” Sadly most people don’t subscribe to this logical practice. Instead, conformation bias and denial are the tools we use to manage and manipulate information to our liking. And there are plenty of governmental, corporate and private citizens ready to help us accomplish this through deliberate and targeted propaganda. The most common personal warning sign that this is happening is the pain of cognitive dissonance, which is usually set off when new information is in conflict with long established and dearly held views.

Rarely do we push through this cognitive pain to reappraise our inventory of established truths for validity or relevance. It’s so much easier to discard ugly deviations, or cherry pick information that confirms our preferred vision, rather than conduct the top to bottom review that’s called for when the facts change. Intellectual laziness is the polite term for this phenomenon. I think a more honest explanation is deliberate and mostly conscious denial. However, even when I’m alert for and aware of this phenomenon, I’m still surprised how often I participate. It’s frightening to see how deeply conditioned we are in the art of self deception. The truth hurts, so I employ the most powerful pain killer know to man, that of denial. It’s extremely difficult to reject popular opinion and strike out on our own independent path. Group think is indoctrinated into us from birth and socially rewarded at every turn. It’s emotionally safer and more comfortable if you stay near the center of the pack. Herd mentality in all its glory, which is corralled by the public myth and which we too are the keepers.

I often say all writers are essentially propagandists and that applies to me as well. I’m using this forum to cherry pick information which I then present in the most compelling manner to make my case. In effect, I’m feeding you my spin, which along with other pieces can be used to build a myth. The most effective propaganda is that whose basic premise is slipped by the reader or TV viewer so smoothly it’s never recognized. Once the premise is planted and accepted, the hard work is done and the fish is quickly reeled in. What’s that you say? You’re too smart to let the wool be pulled over your eyes? That you can discern truth from lies and would eventually figure it out given enough time and inclination? Honestly ask yourself, how much effort would you put into examining something you already believe to be true? Wouldn’t you deem it a major waste of your time? Consider the premise I put forth in the title of this article. Did you notice? Did you question? Or did you accept and start to read?

Most people see information as chunks of data that can be compartmentalized, examined and manipulated. But rarely do we recognize that many of the truths we hold as impeccable are based upon long lines of information. If at any point this information could be proven false, the entire line is suspect, along with your impeccable truth. Consider a long string of mathematical calculations. While there may be dozens of individual problems with separate answers, each answer then feeds into another calculation as a sum or variable. Make a mistake at any point in the line and the entire data stream is corrupt. How we view our world is based upon many preconceived notions and beliefs. Change just one small piece we previously thought correct and everything changes to some extent. Change two or three and suddenly we have a crisis of confidence and a cognitive dissonance. Yet when we feel that pain, how often do we reboot and reexamine everything? Why would you reexamine what you think you know to be correct, particularly when most everyone else is in agreement? Peer pressure and conditioning are hard to resist, even in the privacy of your own mind. “We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My basic premise and the basis for this series of articles is that the American Empire is ending. In fact, it has peaked and is now in rapid decline. While I can’t offer an exact date for this change of direction, it doesn’t diminish my argument in the least. I’d be hard pressed to give you the date for the decline of the Roman Empire, but clearly it followed the same trajectory. Did Rome’s downward spiral start when the capital was moved to Constantinople in 330 AD? Or when Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 AD? It matters little at this point, except to the historians. While America descends, China and India ascend.

Actually I would argue that while Empires come and go, the culture of environmental and human exploitation and destruction we call civilization has grown in efficiency over the past 3000 years. We Americans now stand proudly at the pinnacle of the insanity, picking up where the Romans and Europeans left off. I’ll leave that thought for another day but I think you get my point.

America as a social and financial entity ceased to function at peak efficiency decades ago. This rapid decline is the main reason behind the massive increase in financial engineering, which is now coming apart at the seams, deliberately in my view. To argue over this or that detail is to be in denial of the obvious. In fact, I consider the official bickering over these details as a deliberate attempt to distort and distract while the final looting and rape occurs. Using propaganda and other psychological operations, our leaders lie about the economic condition of America. They do so not because they expect the lie to withstand close scrutiny, but rather to enable those who wish to believe the lie a plausible excuse to do so. Remember our conditioning. When in doubt, defer to authority and suspend disbelief.

A classic sales technique is the assumed consent close. Rather than directly asking you to purchase this new car, I simply assume you are purchasing and begin asking you closing questions. “Do you prefer the red one we looked at first or the blue convertible with the beige interior? Could you please get your insurance card out of the glove box before you clean out your car? Just sign here and here. Thanks.” You’d be surprised how many new automobiles, rooms of household furniture, whole life insurance, variable annuities and pieces of expensive jewelry are sold in this manner. Something similar to this technique is being used by the mass media to sell us something we already wish to buy. Only they aren’t selling the death of America, but rather its remarkable resilience and miraculous comeback. We’re being sold false hope, disguised as assumed consent questions such as, should we audit the Fed, can we expand healthcare with a public option, will Son of Stimulus be rolled out by the first or second quarter of 2010, should we……..well, you get the picture.

False hope binds us to impossible conditions and situations. Please read that statement again and then let it sink in for a minute.

As long as we believe there’s residual value in keeping America on life support, we’ll continue to pour borrowed money into this mess, rather than roll up the derivatives, fire the managers and start over. We don’t wish to face the reality that we’re in way over our heads. As long as we’re not forced to look too closely at the horrible condition our country’s in, we’re all too willing to do our part and avoid applying critical thinking to the subject. Like an old bull unknowingly led to slaughter because he thinks he’s off to mount another cow, we’re desperately trying to keep alive the magical American myth of life, liberty and apple pie while shielding our eyes from the rotting corpse it’s rapidly becoming.

That’s probably too harsh for the average American’s sensibilities, but let’s ask ourselves a few questions in an effort to find the truth, or at least something approaching the truth as we know it. Let me be clear on something before I get flamed for my harsh tongue. I’m not America bashing in the least. I’m America myth bashing. The American myth of exceptionalism is enabling her destruction as we stand idly by, applauding the mythical facade our leaders and media display 24/7. As long as we cling to the hope that all she needs is a tune up and some minor repairs, we’re condemned to a long and painful death spiral. We’re being sold exactly what we want to hear when we need to hear it. To claim otherwise is to lie to ourselves and to each other.

America is crumbling from the foundation up, and yet we gather around the TV, talking about a fresh paint job and a new screen door, both bought on credit, while handing our grandchildren a bill they’ll never be able to pay. The only way we can live with this lie while perpetrating these despicable acts upon our own family members is to deny it’s even happening. The big lie, which we must continue to tell ourselves, has taken on a life of its own and is consuming everyone and everything in its path. We are addicted to our own public myth and to sustain the lie, we simply ignore the truth. The only way to break through this lie is to go back through decades of propaganda and myth and find out what went wrong. Since this would be too painful, both individually and as a society, we distort reality as quickly as we change cable channels. It’s not just our leaders who are corrupt but we as well.

We have become cowardly, unwilling to commit to the tough decision of setting aside instant gratification in order to assure our grandchildren a home to live in. This is the ultimate act of selfishness, compounded by the fact that we claim we’ve been hijacked by our leaders. Sadly, our leaders are doing exactly what we want them to do, which is to continue the lie. Did we really think we could put our toys and war machines on the charge card and not worry about the bill, just because some politicians said we could? What are we, 5 year olds, pointing our fingers elsewhere when asked who broke the vase? Even if we personally followed the path of fiscal prudence, why didn’t we scream bloody murder, demanding we stop this insanity before the country began its suicidal plunge? Why do we still remain silent? Our hands are bloody and the only question is, how much is yours and how much is mine. Citizenship is all about individual responsibility, something we’ve been avoiding for a while now, at least since we started calling ourselves consumers.

Look at the endless propaganda on TV that’s used to lull us back into a drugged stupor, so we don’t dwell on what we’re doing to our children’s children. American flags wave in the background as chiseled men and full breasted women expound on how wonderful we are for building and loving this great nation of ours. The great American love story, brought to you nightly on prime time TV. This is where the bad guys always loose, men are men and women are sexual objects to lust after. Watch closely children, this is the American dream. Why wouldn’t we love America the myth? It’s everything we want without the pain. Nationalism is our unifying religion, a potentially fatal addiction to our public myth that enables us to fiddle while America burns. More drugs over here doctor, the patient’s waking up.

So how do we deal with this, and what does this have to do with Zero Hedge? Well, I would say it has everything to do with ZH, but then again I’m just a propagandist, weaving my magical myth. But to be honest, in desperation I’m seeking another way, a different path. I’m tired of moving in and out of the various stages of loss and grief. One moment I’m screaming at my zombie neighbor, imploring him to wake up and see the insanity. The next I’m filled with self righteous indignation as another patsy banker’s head is placed on the public pike. Sometimes I start my morning bargaining with unseen powers, begging for a truce or cease fire, only to end my day crying in my hands in fear and frustration of it all. And I’m not alone.

Zero Hedge seems to be a refuge for the walking wounded, a safe haven inside occupied territory for the psychically damaged and demoralized. But we need more than rest and relaxation in order to regain our feet. We need to heal and grow our ranks, to find a way to help ourselves and those who follow us into the refuge. Surrounded by lies and deceit, we are indoctrinated to such an extent that we still speak the language of denial without realizing it. We have no choice but to start at the beginning. While Zero Hedge speaks truth to power, we need to speak truth to ourselves, to talk openly about what has happened and where we’re going. Part of the seduction of denial is the avoidance of personal responsibility. In my view this must stop, thus my declaration that we’re all responsible for this mess. I have no doubt America can be repaired but the process starts at the personal level.

From a financial point of view, I’m sure we’ve all held a winning trade past its prime, giving back money we should have booked. And who hasn’t kept a dog way too long, when we should have thrown it overboard months ago? While I’m certain there are multiple reasons for poor investment performance, a fearless and thorough examination often shows that bad investment decisions are the result of personal shortcomings, such as wishful thinking or denial. For myself, when this happens, I find I’ve violated one or more of my trading rules. They are as follows.

One, know myself, particularly my strengths and weaknesses. Two, know my trading environment or don’t play in the sandbox. Three, always consider the other side of trade. If I’m buying, why is the other guy selling? If I’m selling, why is the other guy buying? Look for weakness in my thinking. Four, from time to time, mentally clear my computer screen of existing positions and then follow step three with each holding. If I wouldn’t buy or sell it now, why am I holding it? Five, trust my instincts, not my heart. My heart lies to me all the time with plenty of help from my brain. Instinctually I usually know when to buy or sell but often I ignore my gut feeling and wind up screwing the pooch. Over the years I’ve found that too much thinking gets in the way and often makes things worse.

These trading rules, as with life itself, requires a clear eyed view and a deeper understanding of ourselves, our fellow man and the real world, not as we wish to see it but as it really is. Unfortunately we still engage in wishful thinking way too often, constantly pushing the hope “dope” button and regretting it afterwards. Considering the direction our world is headed, it’s going to be more difficult to think clearly unless we make personal changes. Old habits die hard because we desperately cling to them for emotional support. Understanding why we do this will go a long way to helping us jettison that old baggage. Even if we are trapped on the crazy train to hell, just because we can’t get off doesn’t mean we must participate in the insanity.

So with the active participation of my fellow Zero Hedge readers, I would like to continue this exploration in a series of “End of Empire” articles, each time focusing on a different aspect of the unraveling. We need to develop our intellectual, emotional and financial coping techniques. Of particular importance to me will be the comments and feedback I get from you, for I assure you I don’t have all the answers. This isn’t a rally to arms but rather a cry for help. Either we heal as a community or we continue to hemorrhage, alone and isolated. It’s going to be a wild ride so let’s buckle up and do this together. After all, there’s safety in numbers, inside the new herd mentality of Zero Hedge.

Cognitive Dissonance

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Anonymous's picture

“ If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders—if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, and the harder he worked, the more the world pressed down on his shoulders—what would you tell him to do?

MsCreant's picture


You stimulated a whole lot of discussion. There are a lot of posts here. This is a success.


Cognitive Dissonance's picture


It's wonderful to see, isn't it? I'm very excited with what happened here.

I firmly believe a wound won't heal until its severity is recognized, it's cleaned and dressed, and the mind is settled. There's so much that's going on in the world that isn't discussed as openly and as honestly as it could/should be. I keep on thinking about something I've seen you say before, that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Some great comments left here, which have me thinking about my next posting. I don't have all or even some of the answers. But I do know the answers are here, within the community, as well as outside. There is always so much to learn when people are moved to speak, rather than when they speak just to talk or fill the time.

Thank you for your feedback.

Hammer59's picture

I agree with the previous poster who proclaims that China and India decline as well. Overpopulation has pretty much ensured much of the Global strife for the next few generations---anyone who didnt see this coming was'nt paying attention. All the wealth, weapons, power in the world will not satisfy one when the Dark Ages sweep the entire Global populace. The Jehovah's witnesses were right.

Anonymous's picture

Great post! "Waking the zombie nation" is significantly overdue.


Nathan R. Jessup's picture

CD-Perhaps one of the most insightful, applicable and genuinely interesting posts I have read to date.

Hopefully, 'free thinking' Americans will soon be added to the endangered species list and we can turn the lightbulbs on once again. We have quite a ways to go in repairing our looted land, and I could not agree more that it begins with the committment of the individual. The sad, droopy, and downright pathetic credo, "I can't change anything myself so why bother?" must be replaced with a dedication to the "little things". I believe an ant can carry 200 times its own weight (I heard that somewhere in gradeschool). Imagine if we simply carried our own?

Nathan R. Jessup



Anonymous's picture

Jumping from one herd mentality to another doesn't seem like the answer.

Anonymous's picture

Another loggoreah thread from the apocalypse crowd.

Let me guess- you hate the FED? Love Ron Paul? Think you are the only one NOT crazy? You are in sole possession of truth? See conspiracy everywhere?

What all your bad trades have in common is you.

MsCreant's picture

I always wonder why folks like you even bother posting? If you are not a member of the "apocalypse" crowd, as you characterize it, if we are all nuts, what on earth did you think you accomplished? Just leaving comment spoor? Wiping your a$$ on the blog?

I am open to being shown I am wrong about what I think is happening. Hope someone will show me evidence every damn day. You have offered nothing to help in that regard.

Whoooooosh! Swirl, Gurgle, gurgle.


WaterWings's picture

Hey, the InfoWars.com forums are waiting for you to come back.

Stick to your "first!" posts - it summarizes thoughts coming from pieholes like yours. 

gatopeich's picture

Thanks for this fine reading, CD, you deserve all my sympathy.

Little can I add to the variety of answers but...

I see comments rising spirits on the hope that 'America will prevail'. Hope is, more often than not, the result of denial, and too often leads to bad decisions. We often find motivation for 'our personal fight' in the hope of a 'better world'. However, my realistic observation of current conditions does not support the case of a qualitative improvement in many years to come. By that I mean to achieve a Society where we will not care about storing gold but about using our most constructive abilities.

Today my girlfriend's car was robbed of parts in our street. My bike suffered the same last year. That tells a lot about the way sheeple are facing the crisis: robbing their neighbors when the first push comes to shove. We are utterly spoiled, and as such ready to abuse each other long before confronting the powers that be.

I say we are hopeless, in the sense that we will not get to enjoy a better Society. Yet that's no reason not to fight!

Regards from Spain. (Countries and their borders, just another tool of the Enemy).

Anonymous's picture

The US is not going down we have engineered the system so that we are not interconnected with everyone else in every way possible. This will be the first world wide ending of all empires. A singularity, a black hole sucking up all. You must flip to a new quantum state and leave this universe if you wish to survive.

chindit13's picture

CD, I enjoyed the well written missive, and am surprised by your underlying optimism.

I think there is a natural cycle to the birth and death of a nation or society, and though definitive starting and endpoints cannot be accurately determined even after the fact, the signs of decline can be apparent coincident with their existence.  The modern world may have accelerated this cycle, and we may never again see an Empire the likes of Rome or Byzantium.  Japan was a comet.  China, or rather this second iteration of China, I suspect will be a Japan on amphetamines, gone before the lead paint dries.  And frankly, having had a good deal of experience with the Middle Kingdom, I would never enjoy a world whose primary cultural, military and mercantile influence came from there.  I would guess that the 80% of humanity that is not Chinese might agree.  India, too, while being enormously rich and stimulating culturally, has a rather unfortunate ongoing adherence to a stratified societal structure which would not appeal across borders, except to those with power.

In its brief shining moment on the world stage, what the US offered was an ideal with almost universal appeal to the masses...the idea of human equality under the law.  Whether it lived up to the ideal or not is a matter for debate, but 1776 was the first time in human history that a nation was formed whereby the founders tried to outlaw their own all-too-human biases and limitations, and set as a written goal a level playing field for all citizens.  It took the Magna Carta a step further by having the King climb down from his throne and join the crowd.  Obviously it took some time to perfect, adding women and minorities to the mix over time, but it got closer than any society had ever come.  It had appeal outside the borders because it empowered (I hate this word, but...) people in far flung regions to step up and say for the first time since humans walked upright, "You can't do that to me."

Success, however, contains the seeds of its own destruction.  Basic rights find unwanted company in desires until these become entitlements.  Entitlements then gain a constituency, and democracy gives them a voice and supplies a candidate.  And it all costs money.  And it takes away the appetite, or at least the ambition to sate an appetite by one's own work.  It is a natural progression to laziness, deficits, ignorance, and opportunities for favored individuals to game the system while the populace is satisfied with bread and circuses and a well turned phrase.

We end up with "heroes" and anti-heroes, though few of either truly exist.  We expect them to wave a hand and make it all right again.  We want so much to believe they can do it, or that somebody on the other side can do it.  The anointed play their role to perfection, asking us to hold on to the myth rather than have us work toward the original ideal, that goal we never quite attained, and which requires additional hard work to reach.  We want without sacrifice.

No country that I can think of has ever saved itself from the decline once it began.  At best they emerge as ghosts of their former selves.  Wounded animals are culled by natural forces;  I suspect countries suffer the same inexorable fate when their time and fitness have passed.  The new leader of the pack may be inferior to the old one, but can still gain the upper hand when age and declining fitness sap whatever remaining strengths the old leader possessed.  I think this is where we are.  I have replaced hope with as clear a head as I can muster and now go about planning how to survive in the world to come.  I do not share your optimism;  I have done the math, and I can see no viable solution to what ails us.  To use a trading analogy, I have realized my position is wrong and it is time to close it out.  Fold the hand.  There'll be time later for mourning, but right now it is about survival.  Yes, I won't let the door hit me on the way out.

velobabe's picture

definitely, brings out my emotions.

Sqworl's picture

CD: Thank You...

Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for....


Anonymous's picture

The problem is that almost no one, except for those on this site even wants to hear about what's actually going on. They glaze over. Few can even carry on any insightful conversation. I've come to the point where I do not even discuss the topics on this site, because generally people believe that "there is nothing you can do about it", so "why worry about it". I conclude the general population feels helpless, and is being herded to slaughter. I used to believe that people would want to be warned about the information on this site. Instead, they think I am a crackpot, deny out-of-hand the things I communicate without investigating on their own or agree but feel helpless. Most people simply cannot handle a very depressing alternate view.

Gordon_Gekko's picture

I have already declared strike against the status quo/TPTB by stopping any and all productive work (which I used to do in a previous life, and actually was stupid enough to believe that hard work matters), instead focusing my energies on speculation and taking refuge in that protector of theft by the state - Gold. There is no way that "they" are going to get an opportunity to pillage me.

perchprism's picture



GG, you're the consummate Frisco d'Anconia, and believe me, if I weren't married, I'd be shrugging as hard as you are.  Alas, the missus doesn't understand the situation well enough.  On the bright side, I have plenty of silver and gold, and have two years of rice, flour, sugar, etc. stocked up.

Shrugging should be popularized, as a hobby if nothing else, to educate the masses.   We're being screwed left and right.







Anonymous's picture

I think all America needs some love right now; a bit of parental tlc for a nation still finding it's way.

There's a lot to be said for projecting psychology onto national behaviour and dispite the apparently resignation there are still opportunities for real change. That will need some real leadership and a strong head that America might start calling for shortly now that reality is beginning to sink in.


Rogue Economist's picture

CD  a well written nd thoughtful piece.  I only take issue with the idea that with the fall of the American Empire, China and India are on the acendancy.

Did England appear instantaneously upon the Fall of the Roman Empire?  Did the Romans appear instantly as dominant  civilization upon the fall of Babylon?  No, in beteen those times much as not written about, because there were no spin doctors to laud the accomplishments of the era.

The Chinese and the Indians and in fact all the nation states of the world are now suffering and in decline.  We decline more than others simply because we were so high atop the pyriamid for these last 100 years or so.  However, the whole model of modern civilization, based as it is on the monetary system we use is failing now.  The Chinese won;t escape this, neither will the Indians.  They just don't have quite as far to fall as we do.

A new Dark Age is upon us now, or will be soon.  Who if anyone will rite about this time to come is impossible to know, but in all likelihood it won't be continued all that long on the pages of Zero Hedge.  When the society crashes, the internet will crash with it. You can hope that perhaps what you wrote here will be dug up by some Indian Jones of the future, but in all likelihood it will not be so.  the bits on the hard drives will racemize, the code to take the bits and convert them to language will be lost.  It all goes to the ether, as do the thoughts of most of mankind.  Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.

We all lived in a time when energy was plentiful, and the society grew upon that great resource.  Its disappearing EVERYWHERE, not just in the USA.  There is no reason hatsoever to believe India or China will asced here witht he decline of America.  This is the decline of the Age of Oil, not America.  What Phoenix will rise from the ashes of this decline is a mystery, but to be sure, that Phoenix will not rise for long time yet to come, if ever.  The immediate future is for a Dark Age where humanity sinks to the bottom, and the resurrection of civilization is a long ways off from this descent.


Anonymous's picture

You, the People, is morons, were so, and shall so remain as long as you keep looking for a Savior, or whatever Black Swan you may have in mind. The Promised Land is paragon of fools. It does not exist... A most remarkable piece of prose on the subject of phenomenology CD, nevertheless ! Sincerely.

Anonymous's picture

Well, you're absolutely right but you're wrong......so wrong, as they say, that you're not even wrong (because---- your understanding of core issue is wrong). So your spending your efforts giving a great, stimulating analysis of the structure and analysis of the greatest buggy whip manufacturer ever, and ignoring the bigger picture.

That being said, all of your points are salient and expressed beautifully. It's all great advise. It's all true. It's the dream of the "Grand Unified Theory" in scientific terms, that someday a simply, beautiful equation such as E=mc^2 will sum up all of the operation knowledge of the physical universe.

Note, that by definition, the searchers for such a holy grail WILL NOT REST until a "simple, beautiful" equation is found........nothing else will do.

Suppose that's not the way the physical world really works? Suppose that's Einstein's repulsion at believing in "spooky things at a distance" (as he regarded the field of quantum dynamics to be) really is true? Or maybe it's even worse than that? Suppose the whole concept of "logic" and "cosmos" ("order") just ain't right?

Suppose there really is no meaning to the world "civilization" or "civilized behavior"? Suppose that everything really is nothing more than viciousness. Suppose, like in the movie "The Fly", that there are no "insect politicians" because insects know nothing about fairness nor the concept of mercy? What then?

You warn against being blinded by "false" hope. What if all concepts of "hope" are false, just another one of the many myths of control, enslavement, oppression, annihilation of any DNA that is not directly yours?

Remember, the last demon to escape from Pandora's box was "Hope".....

A couple of questions to gnaw on:

- Suppose the concept of "competition" is a cheat? Designed to enrich the most powerful groups to the detriment of the weak?

- Suppose the concepts of the Old Testament are a cheat?

- Ditto for the concepts of the New Testament?

- As above, for the basic concepts of all religions?

- And for science?

- And for the theory that humans are intelligent?

- Or that "love" or "hate" exist......or "good" and "evil"......or "right" and "wrong".....or "fair" and "unjust"?

Silly questions, those are, correct? Good, ignore them and ridicule them and like all good parents, get annoyed at children for asking the only important question that exists, which is "why?".

I propose that the history of humanity....both its cause for success and its current status........has been (and will continue to be) the sheer, unencumbered, unapologetic, rank brutish-ness of the species. It has "conquered" nature, it has "conquered" the physical (and, in some opinions, the "spiritual" world, too), it has "conquered" this planet and starting to do the same with nearby ones.

You may wish to consider that "it" has also conquered its own kind, too, and perhaps that explains 99% of past, present, and soon-to-be future life, too.

Alas, poor Gordon Gecko, he so almost had it right: Greed isn't good (nor is it bad), it just "Is".

The masses will NEVER revolt, because 100,000 years of selective breeding has created an effete, shirking, tame class of creatures who DEMAND and DESIRE to be ruled and controlled. Just as modern dogs used to be self-sufficient wolves, almost all of that has been bred out of them, and unless the sorting and culling of the weakest can somehow occur again.....the politically correct term is "freedom", which in reality means survival of the fittest, which really means "the survival and success of the most ruthless, the most aggressive, and the most barbaric".........well, then, lots of luck to you in the enjoyment and comfort of your "beliefs" (myths) rather than in the reality of experience.

MsCreant's picture

Friedrich Nietzsche, back from the grave. Yo Duuuude! How was that case of syphillis you had? What did you think of what your sister and her husband did with your ideas, and Hitler? Ain't that a gas? Not quite what you had in mind, eh? Fucked up.



Here is the problem anon, you haven't taken this to the final step. You did what Hitler did and stopped. When you get to the abyss, there is no need to dominate. Ruthless, barbaric, agressive, are all shows of bad faith. Kinda Zen really, you just be. All else is an assertion of ego, like your post. Like mine here.

Anonymous's picture

This article was a bit Glen Beckish. How does an empire with nucular weapons and a military that dwarfs all others fall?

Cheeky Bastard's picture

Ask the Romans, Charlemagne's, Merovingian, The Chinese (remember), Al-Andalus, Great Britain etc etc .... it is not about the level of technological development, but about the power(or the lack of it) to finance and operate your (cartoon-ish) plan of world domination.

oh, and junk because you are a moron (Glenn Beck reference and ALL THAT)


Sqworl's picture

Ignore the clown...leave in the Beck referrence it makes the argument "arguing with idiots"....;-)

WaterWings's picture

That title is amazing.

A friend of my explained that an ex-co-worker was seen protesting outside of the museum they both work(ed) at with a sign that complained how the museum discriminated against the mentally handicapped. He changed the sign after a little while.

gookempucky's picture

Seductive paralysis has made many men, women and children believe they are not capable of functioning in reality. Can we be hungry for something that is beyond our grasp or is it just the seductive paralysis that has blinded all in objective thinking or doing? For many disconnecting from the matrix would be the end of the world (at least in their controlled mind), how many eat because they are REALLY hungry? How many watch the idiot box because its the easiest thing to do? How many people want others to solve their problems-have sleepy leg syndrome-cant get it up-kneasel's-toelio-MY GOD this country has been systematized and cant even squezze their own fucking pimples without a dermatalogist. I feel CD was definitely spot on for those who can accept and understand reality as it really is.

Mark Beck's picture

CD demonstrates that ZH readers and contributors, are free rational individuals.

Unhindered by superstition and ignorance.

We strive to conquer the unknown with boundless confidence.

To uncover the truth, and by its reckoning, vindicate our goal of a free unhindered press.

Mark Beck

CPJ13's picture


I can identify perfectly with your sentiments in the last paragraph. Well said. We are beyond the time of One Party versus The Other, and mired in a culture in which opportunists have seized the reins of both. We do not need a fresh coat of paint, we need to replace most of the major systems currently running this vehicle. We already have the blueprint - the Constitution is sitting right in front of us. Where we are now is beyond a far cry from our forefather's initial intent. I wait, and watch. The necessary change will not occur overnight, but I feel that it has begun.

Anonymous's picture

Why don't we stop fighting the system and understand the sheeple won't listen to us until they listen to the world and themselves first

and unfortunately that means it has to go to the brink or be destroyed before they wake up

so how about another solution? You can't change the world but you can change yourself.

Don't know about you CD but I'm at the point where it just seems SANER to GO with the FLOW or Find a New Flow.

creative, aware people can leave and find another environment such as a state or nation that they more agree with to which to live. variety is still good of course but why are we all forcing ourselves to live here?

Libertarians did it in a town in NH but you can take this to a whole new level. How about Canada

tip e. canoe's picture

we are all sheeple my friend, we are also the wolf that eats the sheeple.

and wherever you go, there you are.  there is no escape from this, not even death.

Anonymous's picture


“Professors of American history erect Gothic cathedrals of erudition on political axioms acquired from their fifth-grade ‘social studies’ readers”.

Anonymous's picture

You need to read Walter Karp's Indispensable Enemies;The Politics of Misrule in America...and also his The Politics of War You also need a ruthless editor.

Apocalypse Now's picture

Nice work CD, reminds me of Martin Armstrong's musings on whether an empire willingly goes quietly into that sweet sleep.

An example of both extending the empire and effective propaganda seeding an official script immediately after a significant event etched into our psyche from a "random street bystander":

"...come out of nowhere and just reamed right into the side of the Twin Tower, exploding through the other side, and then I witnessed both towers collapse -- one first and then the second -- mostly due to structural failure because the fire was just too intense."

I appreciate your insight and am equally frustrated with the general lack of understanding on social engineering techniques and manipulation while many of those that know better choose to believe convenient lies.  To confront the truth/lies we must look death in the eye and accept responsibility to actually do something (fight or flight).  I see other themes like global warming, global terrorism, and global swine flu as other examples of propaganda in the Problem, Response, Solution (PRS) system.

At one point, I believed official stories but dared to look behind the curtain.  What I found made me uncomfortable to say the least, and before I looked I thought those that protested were un-american.  Once you realize that many in power use both good & evil interchangeably without bias to advance objectives, nothing is ever the same.  I am sure many here share that feeling of unease and distrust.

Other hints that there is something wrong with our society/empire include the commercials at night that make me feel the movie Idiocracy is real: designer snuggies and snuggies for animals, non-stop girls gone wild, extenze & viagra erection pills to match, cash 4 gold, free credit report.com, and bankruptcy attorneys / debt repayment specialists.  The lack of advertising for normal products makes me feel we are in a collapse and the twilight zone.

Humor WTF Blanket: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h05ZQ7WHw8Y


Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"...come out of nowhere and just reamed right into the side of the Twin Tower, exploding through the other side, and then I witnessed both towers collapse -- one first and then the second -- mostly due to structural failure because the fire was just too intense."

The everyman Harley Davidson tee shirt this speaker was wearing, as he and others implanted disinformation into the public mind precisely when it was most vulnerable, was priceless. I know this subject well, but I must take some time introducing it.

Many people are not ready to accept such a dramatic shift in the paradigm this information would bring and thus, will tune out and off. Then I have lost an opportunity. It may not be fair but it is a reality I must deal with.

Baby steps are the best we can hope for. The conditioning is very deep for the masses. Consider how long it took for you or others you know to begin to break free. The same applies to myself. Baby steps is sometimes the best that can be managed.

Anonymous's picture

Very interesting article. I wonder if it is possible to assess one's own timeline? An earlier commenter posted that Thatcher and Reagan were the two Bozos who started this mess, in response to another poster asking the rhetorical question, 'where's our next Thatcher or Reagan'? (to lead us out of this mess).

To begin to analyze the Fall of the Republic, we need to be detached enough to pin down the timeline. It may prove impossible. Was it the Great Society that broke the family unit in the sixties? Was it Roe v. Wade that has resulted in the non-participation of millions, mostly minorities? Was it Carter with his double-digit inflation and gold at $850? Reagan with deficit spending? What? Who's going to agree? We're too attached politically to our personal myth-making. The American myth has competing story lines. Tacitus wrote about every emperor except the one currently holding the position, out of political expediency.

I spot the downfall as beginning with the Fed in 1913 and New Deal Social Security, followed by the redactment of the Gold Standard.

Anonymous's picture

Congrats on going against the pernicious "relentless optimism" meme thats destroying the USA and other places, and in not succoming to the Left vs. Right paradigm. (I'll do that for you!)

Manager's multiples of base wage need to track back from 400+x1 to 150x1 like the good old days!

eswan's picture

As Tiger goes, so goes the Empire. Timmmmmmberrrrrrrr!

SWRichmond's picture

So a guy's wife chases him out of the house with a golf club at 2AM, whacks him and his car with it a few times, and he covers up for her.  What's so unusual about that?

trav777's picture

Growth as a proposition, the very pillar beliefs and mandates of the Industrial Revolution are myths as well.

They presumed growth could and would last forever.  The economists have built an entire "discipline" around this.  Create more money, cause more growth.

Sugar incentives bacteria only until they fill the dish.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"Growth as a proposition, the very pillar beliefs and mandates of the Industrial Revolution are myths as well."

This is one of the subjects I wish to touch on in the future. When inside the punch bowl, we can see no other way to exist. But there are plenty of alternatives, which is why we must question everything, including the person telling you to question everything.

"Sugar incentives bacteria only until they fill the dish."

Humans seem to be the only species on Earth that doesn't naturally seek to be in harmony with it's surroundings. Or should I say our culture, because there were/are plenty of indigenous cultures that were/are in balance with nature and remained so for thousands of years. 

Our culture seems to be a perversion. Like a virus, we consume and consume until we begin to consume ourselves. On the other hand, we will revert back to a more sustainable population level. The only question is what level of damage will we inflict to mother Earth before she kicks us in the butt? Mother nature will adapt and survive our presence. Will we? IMHO the words "7 Billion humans on Earth" is an oxymoron.

tip e. canoe's picture

i resonate with this metaphor you've been using trav, simply b/c i have experience growing bacterial colonies with sugar.  when i first started, they wouldn't stop growing and my fridge became overloaded with jars filled with them, more than i could ever need or want.  but i couldn't stop, i was addicted to seeing how much i could grow.  sugar and more sugar, now let's try honey, now maple syrup, how about corn syrup, what if i tried jiggery maybe???

however, there was a point where the colonies became contaminated with impurities and the growth curve started to flatten out, and then one day, they just stopped growing.  no matter how pure the sugar was, i could not get them to grow.  so i got frustrated and stopped.  but i could not bear the thought of clearing out my fridge and admit my failure and why & how i failed.   so they still sit there in the cold darkness, swimming in their own filth, devouring each other for food to survive.

perhaps there's a metaphor there somewhere.   but perhaps i'm guilty once again of placing metaphors upon things in order to cloud my perception.  either way, this thread inspired me to clear out my fridge and see if i can salvage the survivors by throwing them in a bath of spring water & baking soda.  this time, i promise to better regulate their growth (but i can't promise that i'll live up to my promise).


Master Bates's picture

I think that the older generations should be ashamed of themselves.  As a young twenty something just trying to start my life, I do so in an environment where it's near impossible to get any bit ahead.  Not only am I sorting through the wreckage of this once great empire, looking for opportunities that may never come, looking for the ability to live my own American dream through hard work.

I will be forced to bear the sins of those who came before me.  I will be forced to pay for the jobs that were moved offshore.  I will be forced to pay for the wholesale theft and looting. 

The people of my generation will be forced to live in a country that those that came before destroyed, with no jobs and little opportunities, and tuition costs rising at 30% a year.
All people from my generation want is a chance to build this country our way, but every day our fathers and grandfathers sell our generation out while seeking to get what little bit they can.
And as they die as our nation spirals into decline,  we'll be left with the withering husk of America that remains as well as with the bill for all of this indulgence.

I was too young to get an extra bedroom and a granite countertop.  Now, I pay for the sins of others with the loss of my job, and my family's livelyhood.  As my tuition increases year after year and more and more programs disappear, my job was eliminated due to the financial troubles of those that came before me.

As hard as I work, more will be taken from me in the future to pay for the selfish sins of the past.

I think that the elders in America should hang their head in shame.  They've created the America that we live in today.  They took prosperity from those that came before them and turned it into a selfish entitlement while stealing from generations in the future at the same time.

And now, a new generation lives to pick up the pieces.

It's okay, because we'll be okay in the long run.  We're resilient.

Just remember what you're doing to all of us when you're passing that new prescription drug entitlement and sending jobs to India.
Remember who has to live in the America that you've created, because in some years, it won't be you.

Will I pay for your granite countertops with my blood in an invasion from creditor nations, or simply with a lack of opportunity?
Either way, it's not a choice that I made myself.

SWRichmond's picture

Some of us tried, my young friend.  Some of us tried.  Some of us supported the Mises Institute, and Ron Paul's Congressional campaigns, but the MSM marginalized us, and there were few who believed us because times seemd "good".

I have two early-adult children, and I am determined.

Anonymous's picture

Congratulations! You've embraced the victim mentality to perfection. Now you can rest comfortably knowing that everything else bad that happens for the rest of your life is somebody else' fault.

Or you can play the cards you're dealt, just like everyone since time began has had to do, and begin to grow up.

Your choice.

Winisk's picture

The younger generations are getting raped.  Some of us are waking up to this sad reality and speaking out.  It's OK...because we're resilient.  There is no victim mentality here.  Perhaps it would be easier for you if we would just go back into our rooms and be quiet like good little boys and girls.

Wondering's picture

I agree that the elders should hang their head in shame.

But, we also said the same things when I was in my twenties in the 1960's and doubled them in the seventies.

My brother said the same things when he was twenty in the late 1980's.

I hope your children will get a chance to not say the same things about your generation.

Here is the way I look at it: In 1960 we had 45% of the worlds gdp (and unsustainable percentage) and 4% gdp growth per year and 4% unemployment. Total government, financial, corporate and personal debt was under 150% of gdp.

In 2007 we had 22% of the worlds gdp and shrinking and we had a terrible health care system, a terrible educational system, soon to be tremendous unemployment and underemployment and total debt equalled over 350% of gdp.

You have to try to collapse that much in fifty years.

The problem is that we have to get rid of a subprime generation of financial and political elites.

The good news is that they are making mistake after mistake and they are starting to eat the weak members of their group. The bad news is that they are grinding some of us down in the process. But there are more of us than there are of them...so lets be patient a while longer?

Take care.

Privatus's picture

You've got eyes, CD.