Revolution Vs "Turboparalysis" - The Real New Normal

Tyler Durden's picture

Excerpted from Michael Lind, originally posted at The Spectator,

The age of turboparalysis Why we haven’t had a revolution

More than half a decade has passed since the recession that triggered the financial panic and the Great Recession, but the condition of the world continues to be summed up by what The Spectator's Michael Lind calls ‘turboparalysis’ - a prolonged condition of furious motion without movement in any particular direction, a situation in which the engine roars and the wheels spin but the vehicle refuses to move.


The greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression might have been expected to produce revolutions in politics and the world of ideas alike. Outside of the Arab world, however, revolutions are hard to find. Mass unemployment and austerity policies have caused riots in Greece and Spain, but most developed nations are remarkably sedate.


By now one might have expected the emergence of innovative and taboo-breaking schools of thought seeking to account for and respond to the global crisis. But to date there is no insurgent political and intellectual left, nor a new right, for that matter.

But why hasn't this occurred?

Why has a global calamity produced so little political change and, at the same time, so little rethinking? Part of the answer, I think, has to do with the collapse of the two-way transmission belt that linked the public to the political elite.




But there is a deeper, structural reason for the persistence of turboparalysis. And that has to do with the power and wealth that incumbent elites accumulated during the decades of the global bubble economy.

How did they get that power?

In essence, the bubble economy was a dysfunctional marriage of export-driven economies like China, Japan and Germany and debt-addicted nations like the US and many of Germany’s European neighbours. As international trade imbalances built up, from the 1980s to the 2000s, so did the wealth and power of elites who profited from the system, from Chinese Communist princelings with a stake in overbuilt export industries to the financiers of Wall Street and the City of London.

And that broke...

A global economic system that relied on excessive borrowing by consumers, particularly in the US, was bound to grind to a halt when fearful consumers switched from borrowing to saving. But the crash was only the first stage of the adjustment. The second stage is rebalancing.


these reform agendas, from the downsizing of the overbuilt industrial sectors of mercantilist Asian nations to the pruning of finance in the Anglo-American world, threaten the very interests that profited from the preceding bubble and now glare defensively at a changing world, like Fafnir crouched upon his hoard. In the US, the wealth of the bubble-swollen financial sector has been transmuted into political power via campaign contributions.

So why no uprising against the elites? THIS IS CRITICAL

For their part, the masses seldom unite against the classes in democracies because they are divided among themselves. When nations realise that they will be collectively poorer in the future than they had expected, the usual result is not solidarity but rather civil war, by means of ballots and sometimes bullets. Confronted by a crisis like the Great Recession, each section of society uses its political influence to try to maintain its share of the national wealth, while forcing the cost of economic adjustment to others. The rich try to shift adjustment costs to the middle class, who in turn try to pay for their own subsidies and entitlements by cutting the programmes of the poor.

But is it coming?

History is sobering, in this regard. The Great Recession, which continues despite a technical ‘recovery’, can be viewed as the third great economic collapse of the industrial era, following the ‘Long Depression’ of the 1870s-1890s and the Great Depression of the 1930s. The earlier two episodes of global economic crisis witnessed setbacks for liberalism, democracy and free trade and the flourishing of illiberal nationalism, racism, imperialism and beggar-thy-neighbour economics. While slow growth combined with national rivalries have not yet engendered anything like the autarkic economics of the earlier two crises, it would be premature to predict the survival of present levels of financial and economic integration in a world that wobbles between feeble recoveries and renewed recessions.


Nowhere is there greater potential for conflict than in the relationship between the two poles of the now-collapsed bubble economy — the US, which specialised in exporting debt to China, and China, which specialised in exporting manufactured goods to the US. Since the Great Recession began, American attitudes toward China have grown strikingly more negative.

Is war coming?

The last global depression was brought to an end by the second world war. This time a ‘hot’ war is extremely unlikely and a cold war merely possible. Nevertheless, geopolitics may do what domestic politics has failed so far to do and free the world’s leading countries from ongoing turboparalysis.


The various national systems from which today’s leading global elites benefit, from hyper-industrial Germany to financialised Britain, grew up under the Pax Americana of the late 20th century. The US offered free security, a global currency, and the world’s largest open consumer market to allies — and potential allies — who were encouraged to specialise in non-military roles including industrial production (first Japan and Germany, later China) or finance (Britain and the US). The world order that resulted was well suited to East Asian and German industrialists and American and British bankers.


But while the US will remain the leading global military power for some time, the Pax Americana cannot survive the disappearance of a common Soviet threat and the diffusion of wealth and power to rising giants like China, India and Brazil. If, as many believe, the US will adopt a policy of moderate inflation in the future to help melt away the icecap of its public and private debt, the dollar as a store of value will be less attractive to foreigners.

If not, then what?

In the long run, regional hegemons, including China and Germany, may be compelled to take on some of America’s duties, from bailing out bankrupt countries to providing regional security. But that would require their political elites to focus less on economic statistics and more on their people and the world. The equivalent in the US would be a rebalancing of economic power and prestige away from financiers towards others — perhaps leaders of the fracking-driven energy renaissance or advanced manufacturing.


In some form or another, profound shifts like these are coming, because, as Mrs Thatcher would have said, There Is No Alternative. Going back to the pre-2008 world is not an alternative. Neither is the present state of suspended animation in politics and policy.

Nothing lasts forever. At some point today’s extended intermission in domestic and world affairs will give way to a new act. But for now the vehicle remains stuck in the ditch, while the wheels continue furiously to spin. The age of turboparalysis goes on.

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So Close's picture

Borrow and spend, or die.

NotApplicable's picture

I lost track, is this article stupid squared, or cubed?

(I hit a divide by zero error upon reading that the Great Depression was ended by WWII.)

Speaking of stupid...

Krugman for Treasury Secretary!

knukles's picture



(this shit is really egtting hard to take)

Michaelwiseguy's picture

You Can't have job creation in the USA because virtually all the factories that produce consumer products have been removed from the USA by the trade treaties, NAFTA especially thanks to Bill Clinton.

What is coming is an Armed Civil Insurrection against the Federal Government if necessary. Most people of all races get along pretty well, so race doesn't divide us, except in the mainstream media news reporter circles minds. When was the last time you heard non-blacks screaming to remove Labron James and black people from professional sports teams?

Peoples voice in the MSM press is stifled, so people have given up on that avenue of expression.The police state apparatus is so strong, we just don't bother to get out in the streets anymore to get beaten and pepper sprayed.

When the time comes, our triggers will be pulled in a timely fashion, if that's what it takes.

HedgeHammer's picture



All must understand the difference between LAWFUL money and LEGAL TENDER. Once you all understand this then and only then will be be able to repair the damages done.

12 U.S.C. § 411 : US Code - Section 411: Issuance to reserve banks; nature of obligation; redemption Federal reserve notes, to be issued at the discretion of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the purpose of making advances to Federal reserve banks through the Federal reserve agents as hereinafter set forth and for no other purpose, are authorized. The said notes shall be obligations of the United States and shall be receivable by all national and member banks and Federal reserve banks and for all taxes, customs, and other public dues. They shall be redeemed in lawful money on demand at the Treasury Department of the United States, in the city of Washington, District of Columbia, or at any Federal Reserve bank.
SamAdams's picture

We would also do well to pass a law that forbids dual citizens from serving in US Congress.  Wonder who is attacking your constitution and bill of rights?  Who is going after your 2nd ammendment? 

I think you will find these people listed here:

francis_sawyer's picture

The USA is each person standing in a circle giving the person next to them a hand job... Each person PAYING for that hand job... & the government taking taxes off the transaction [after requiring you to perform the service in the first place]... Oh, & by the way, the annual CO[HJ]A 'increase = 10%...

Anusocracy's picture

The Circle Jerk Economy?


walküre's picture

The issue is debt and wealth. Debt = wealth. There is too much debt, they say. That means there is too much wealth. It cannot be serviced they say unless we print more money. Culling the 1% is far more effective than culling the 99% where the productive class derives from. The 1% should understand that and voluntarily default on their wealth. Just give it up. There's no free lunch in this world.

SamAdams's picture

Wealth is an actual asset like manufactured or agrarian goods.  Debt is a claim against wealth.  Howerver, banks count debt as both an asset and a liability since they do not have a real asset to back the debt.  They are the only ones allowed to perform this accounting trick.  I cannot give you nothing in exchange for your house, but a bank can.  Sweet gig and a total free lunch if you happen to be born into the right circle of life!

Anusocracy's picture

There is a solution to all of this.

Deny psychopaths access to power.

CH1's picture

The solution: STOP OBEYING THEM.

chart_gazer's picture

"It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."  -- Henry Ford

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

First the media must be taken back (TV and Print, incl. Online), then the schools, the money will be a mere formality if one can 'merely' educate society.  Wish me luck.

Shell Game's picture

"You Can't have job creation in the USA because virtually all the factories that produce consumer products have been removed from the USA"

This is truly the most horrific outcome of central planning as there will be no legs to land on when the inevitable collapse comes.  I have alt-skilled with shoemaking, one solitary example of a craft that has been completely hollowed out. Not just the craft but ALL underlying intrastructure and supplies:  shoe lasts (huge, huge loss), soleing machines, finishing machines, hand tools, heel/toe caps, and on and on.  The globalists must hang for what they have done to this country and world at large.


trav777's picture

huhwtf?  People of different races don't freakin get along...they self-segregate, always have and always will.  Maybe you should attend a beat whitey night and get your head out

knowless's picture

django unchained was a pretty good movie.

ForWhomTheTollBuilds's picture

I am actually in favor of this.  Krugman's ideas are winning and will continue to win out anyway.  The results will be disasterous.


If Krugman's hand is on the wheel he can at least be blamed.  Right now he is nothing more than a talking head who can always weazle out by claiming his advice was not followed properly or that he only advocated the trillion dollar coin in jest. 

Michaelwiseguy's picture

Me too. I want the federal government bankrupted as quickly as possible. I'm not getting any younger.

Snakeeyes's picture

Amen. Krugman is winning!!!!!!

And spending, deficits and debt continue at unsustainable levels.

Stoploss's picture


I wont waste everyone's time though.

kliguy38's picture

This is all a "shocking" revelation......

Banksters's picture

Modern finance is simply a way of transferring capital from producers to parasites.  



1100-TACTICAL-12's picture

I alaways read comments first. Therefore I assume this article is safe to passover.

centerline's picture

Yup.  Is pretty much a waste of time.  Misses the target right out of the chutes and goes downhill from there.

laboratorymike's picture

Me too. The comments are often the most interesting (and informative!) part of every article!


Makes me wonder when they are going to get the forums under control from the spambots.

SheepDog-One's picture

Cocktail napkin scribblings that really don't say much of anything of use.

cougar_w's picture

But this is the second writer I have read in less than a week saying the same thing; we never solve our large problems, instead we hit them like a wall and whoever survives gets to start over.

I have been of the same mind for about a year.

Either we're all reading each other in some sort of literary echo chamber -- or the global collective unconscience is waking up to an extremely grave situation.

I vote for the latter. But I fear our awakening will have proven too little too late.

walküre's picture

sounds like you're "turbo" paralyzed

Either there's an app for that or a prescription drug. Hit the Apple store and if that doesn't help, see your doctor.



New Normal

knowless's picture

your comment reminds me of oct/nov 2011.

cougar_w's picture

Would you care to elaborate on that?

Dick Buttkiss's picture

Agreed, SD1, as the author fails to understand that the state per se has peaked -- -- and isn't just heading into long-term decline --; it's heading toward outright extinction, and faster than anyone might think.

A victim of its internal contradiction, no matter what form it takes, the state is collapsing even as the individual, via the Internet revolution and the technology revolution as a whole, is being empowered as never before.

Yes, it's going to be a helluva battle, but as the state can only win by killing its host, the outcome stands to be all or nothing, or very close to it.  Meaning another Dark Age, at best, if the state, in its inherent insanity, tries to take humanity down with it, or a Golden Age so beyond any prior age as to eclipse the appearance of our species and even of life itself:

"An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history."

Meanwhile, the state can kiss my ass.

Chewybunny's picture

Except that it was written in 2001 with the assumption that based on past technological growth it will keep growing exponentially, mainly because the sudden rise of computers and the amount of advancement in those computers. For example, hard drive space. In 1997 when I got my first home PC, it had 2G harddrive space, which at that point was considered fairly okay. By 2001 i had a DELL computer that had about 100 G of hard drive space. That's insane growth in less than 5 years. It was until 2007 I got a terra byte hard drive, and you know what, that's where it's been since. Most standard computers still have terrabyte harddrive. More advanced 2. Technological advancement has for the most part started to slow down. The silicon chips can only handle so much heat, before they stop functioning.

Modern tech firms are capitalizing on this. Apple releases a new Iphone or Ipad every year, with only minor enhancements to the previous model. These enhancements already existed way in advance, and could all be used and put into the recent most version. But they won't do that, because if they did, they wouldn't have a new ipad or iphone that would come out next year.

Technological "advancement" has rapidly slowed down. We are instead seeing more and more innovative uses of the existing level of technology, expanding it, and making it more versatile, giving the illusion that technology is rapidly growing.

knowless's picture

raspberry pi, if the major firms want to planned obsolescence themselves out the the market, then so be it.

going back to a harware patching reality, like they envisioned in the eighties (based on limited memory requiring hardware attachments), until a new configuration is achieved which supercedes the current pc/"phone"/laptop/tablet what have you.

interchangeable parts, think legos.. camera outdated? don't buy a new phone, just a new camera insert..


whatever, i don't get payed for this shit.

slackrabbit's picture

Exactly, the state is so far behind its citizens and so far up its own arse, it has no idea what's going on.

cougar_w's picture

Kurzweil is delusional on the topic of technological change. I've been doing technology since the 70s and was an early innovator, I can tell you with as much conviction as he can that while chip performance and network bandwidth have improved leaps and bounds, what people actually can do with technology has hardly gone beyond electronic typewriters. The Internet replaced paper and an envelope. Well gosh darn ain't that special.

Most of the actual innovation in technology has actually been in data collection and mining. It's a very very ugly business and I worry that we've blown ourselves up on that one.

The next round of great innovations in technology will be utterly invisible, by design. Personal proximity security, privacy assurances, 24/7 electronic personal counter-intelligence measures, disappearance services, life hacking/hardening, personality hacking, real-time image/surveillance negation and spoofing. That's maybe half of it. And notice, all of it devoted to undoing and unwinding the extremely dangerous implications of being constantly watched watched by our own technology, always-on, and even periodically tracked by law enforcement.

My current startup is actually moving into this avenue of technology work. I'm gonna fuck with The Man as much as I can, in part as penance for having helped create a soul-destroying monster.

knowless's picture

security is a business that never goes away.

but the human/machine integration will always continue ahead of security (naturally) for the average person, those in positions of knowledge will be veiled before the masses.

still waiting on neurology to get me a gui in my minds eye, hoping it doesn't go flying car status. achievements in neural patching with prosthesis is pretty awesome, glad it went that direction before military, as far as i know.

the real key is anonymous access, which has been subverted in it's current form, as links require constant access points (ethereal or hard line), if cloud networks could be created, and transmitted without the current infrastructure, then networks more closely resembling family and tribe structures could form, as opposed to the current push for a hive mind.


that being said, the hive mind will always exist, as the majority do not wish or seek for anything which they would hide, but for those who want to develop ideas without interference it would be indispensable.


platitudes and hypothesizing for all!

cougar_w's picture

"the real key is anonymous access"

You cannot have anonymous access in a digital world, not on the Internet nor via phone. Packet switching won't allow for it. You can dump your info requests into an "onion router" network and obfuscate the hell out of things, but that's about it.

The real problems though involve behavior tracking and this extends beyond your on-line persona. For example, using a credit card for purchases of goods or services is probably out of the question these days. You can revert to cash-only transactions with good results, but unless you get your paycheck in cash you will still need a relationship with a bank.

It's a long way down the rabbit hole.

Your interest in prosthetics is unfortunate. For a glimpse of the hell that awaits us there I recommend any of the several "Ghost in the Shell" series but in particular the 1995 anime movie. They run deep but if you stick it out you may find you end up reevaluating the digital augmentation phase of technological fascination.

Dick Buttkiss's picture

[W]hat people actually can do with technology has hardly gone beyond electronic typewriters. The Internet replaced paper and an envelope. Well gosh darn ain't that special.

Well, it is special, Cougar, just as innovators like yourself push that envelope, "undoing and unwinding the extremely dangerous implications of being constantly watched by our own technology, always-on, and even periodically tracked by law enforcement."

Thanks for your support, in other words, in undoing the "law enforcement" that has nothing to do with the law other than to pervert it in the furtherance of human oppression and domination.

We'll figure out how, Cougar, not to watch ourselves but to watch out for ourselves, that we might begin, at long last, to realize our all but limitless potential.   

Meanwhile, the state can kiss my ass.

cougar_w's picture

"that we might begin, at long last, to realize our all but limitless potential."

Not to be a spoil sport, but humans are actually extremely limited in the grand scheme. They are neither very large, nor terribly fast, nor particularly strong, nor exactly fearless, nor inordinately intelligent, nor consistently honest. What makes humans special is they exhibit a knack for elevating abstraction to a very high degree -- even such that abstraction can take on the characteristics of physical reality -- and then agreeing to unify all purpose, meaning and being around that which they choose to adore. But I find that more a curiosity of nature than any long-term salient evolutionary potential. Limitless imagination perhaps. But there is not a great deal of actual potential until one can tame the demons of the id.

Dick Buttkiss's picture

Well, to complete the Kurzweil quote above:

"The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light."

You have a rather stilted view of human, in other words, being stuck in the duality of man and machine and therefore blind to the transcendence thereof.

cougar_w's picture

Implications indeed. Well I did say he was delusional and I will stick to that. Sells a lot of books I suppose, but I notice he hasn't solved any interesting problems for all that. Nor is he going to ever, because that kind of untethered thinking cannot move anyone or anything forward.

There are things which cannot be transcended no matter how hard we wish it so. Knowing what these things are forms the basis for sound adult thinking, of which sadly we see little in evidence these days. Kurzweil has a brilliant mind and I enjoy his musings but he shows little self-restraint. His thinking is typical of any group that holds the power of unfettered human imagination above the less interesting but very real limitations of the universe.

Limitations that are set to murder us in our sleep, if I'm not entirely mistaken.

We stand at the rail of the human bridge spanning the river of time, and I notice that the era for ignoring the real limits of the universe is about to pass below us. Probably, it already has and will now fall from sight down stream. We cannot follow our fancy where that river goes. There will always be a place for fiction (I certainly hope so, I'm a fiction writer) but claiming that some new invention will solve more problems than it creates (or will run ahead of the laws of thermodynamics, or summon down miracles, or some other such) is not helpful going forward. We move forward now with what we have at hand, or through neglect we fall away and are lost into our own terminal history. Being required to "transcend" that sort of thing seems to me like a very sad end for what was otherwise a very interesting race of being.

Dick Buttkiss's picture

Implications indeed. Well I did say he was delusional and I will stick to that. Sells a lot of books I suppose, but I notice he hasn't solved any interesting problems for all that. 

Ray Kurzweil has been described as “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal, and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” and PBS included Ray as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America,” along with other inventors of the past two centuries.

Nor is he going to ever, because that kind of untethered thinking cannot move anyone or anything forward.

"Google hires Kurzweil: A look at his returns":

There will always be a place for fiction (I certainly hope so, I'm a fiction writer) but claiming that some new invention will solve more problems than it creates (or will run ahead of the laws of thermodynamics, or summon down miracles, or some other such) is not helpful going forward.

Science fiction is barely able to keep up with science "faction" nowadays, so good luck. But if you're going to tell me that, say, the wheel created more problems than it solved, then human endeavor itself is a fiction, and we would have been better not to have left the savannah.

We move forward now with what we have at hand, or through neglect we fall away and are lost into our own terminal history. Being required to "transcend" that sort of thing seems to me like a very sad end for what was otherwise a very interesting race of being.

We move forward as best we can amid the relentless depredations of the state, the question being whether we will overcome them:

You're playing catch-up, Cougar, and at the rate technology is advancing, you're going to be left on a savannah of your own, your dystopianism as desolate as that of the state and destined to meet the same fate.

StychoKiller's picture

Get thee hence into Cryptography...

Super Broccoli's picture

China leading the world ? After america default on their debt and dollar goes bust ? LOL no way, that would mean huge internal problems for China ! That's the only reason why they  haven't shorted US-bonds and dollars so far

earleflorida's picture

China will [hegemony's... 'King Me', glancing and glaring down at the yellow wett'd`queen!] lead the world in 3-5yrs. max.,  with a formidable military to back it up, period!

Russia and Germany will most definitely take sides with China-- it's already happening!

Fuck the British [UK] and Europe's, France!!!

Ps. What's Australia to do? Answer: Go Long China!


Azannoth's picture

Well Greeks discovered that they cannot(or will not) break out of the System neither peacefully(sit-in demonstrations) nor violently(violent demonstrations) so they simply started to opt-out of it with barter trade. Thus depriving the State of VAT-tax and any control over the commerce.


"Going back to the pre-2008 world is not an alternative. Neither is the present state of suspended animation in politics and policy." - the only question is how long till Wille E. Coyote discoveres he's over the cliff.

trav777's picture

greasy greeks have "opted out" of paying taxes and working for decades and "opted in" to lounging in cafes pretending to how exactly is this soft revolt any different from status quo?