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A Dogmatic Slumber

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Ben Hunt of Epsilon Theory


Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty. One person may even perceive deformity, where another is sensible of beauty; and every individual ought to acquiesce in his own sentiment, without pretending to regulate those of others.

      – David Hume, “Of the Standard of Taste and Other Essays” (1748)

I freely admit that the remembrance of David Hume was the very thing that many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic slumber.

      – Immanuel Kant, “Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics” (1783)

All that is required for this enlightenment is freedom; and particularly the least harmful of all that may be called freedom, namely, the freedom for man to make public use of his reason in all matters. But I hear people clamor on all sides: Don't argue! The officer says: Don't argue, drill! The tax collector: Don't argue, pay! The pastor: Don't argue, believe!

     – Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment?” (1784)

There's nothing to be afraid of. They were right. It's painless. It's good. Come. Sleep. Matthew.

     – Elizabeth Driscoll, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978)

“And that’s my point,” Mae said, nodding to Stenton. “The technology has never been there before.”

     – Dave Eggers, “The Circle” (2013)

A Dogmatic Slumber 

I want to start this week’s note with an extended passage from Orwell’s 1984. Trust me, it’s worth it.

“What are the stars?” said O'Brien indifferently. “They are bits of fire a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the centre of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it.”


Winston made another convulsive movement. This time he did not say anything. O'Brien continued as though answering a spoken objection:


“For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?”


Winston shrank back upon the bed. Whatever he said, the swift answer crushed him like a bludgeon. And yet he knew, he knew, that he was in the right. The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind -- surely there must be some way of demonstrating that it was false? Had it not been exposed long ago as a fallacy? There was even a name for it, which he had forgotten. A faint smile twitched the corners of O'Brien's mouth as he looked down at him.


“I told you, Winston,” he said, '”that metaphysics is not your strong point. The word you are trying to think of is solipsism. But you are mistaken. This is not solipsism. Collective solipsism, if you like. But that is a different thing: in fact, the opposite thing.”

If there is a better example of the overwhelming power of Common Knowledge than the Collective Solipsism of 1984, I have yet to find it. As O’Brien patiently explains to Winston between torture sessions, Collective Solipsism is the voluntary abdication of empirical and independent thought by a large group of humans. It is the opposite of solipsism in its usual definition – a pathological egocentrism where reality is defined by an individual’s mental perceptions and conceptions – as Collective Solipsism annihilates the individual’s perception of reality in favor of some group perception of reality. This group perception is the foundation of a robust and equilibrium totalitarian state because everyone believes in the crowd-based reality they have constructed. In the end … Winston loves Big Brother.

The modern dystopia of Dave Egger’s The Circle is similarly based on the voluntary nature of stable totalitarianism. It’s a fascist corporatist state with a giant smiley face, full of “likes” and “friends” and really good healthcare plans, but a fascist corporatist state nonetheless. What Eggers captures wonderfully is the insatiable hunger and constant aggrandizement of a collectivist philosophy – any collectivist philosophy, even one with cool technology and efficient services – that believes we know your self-interest better than you know your self-interest.

The totalitarian worlds of 1984 and The Circle are so powerful in our imaginations because we have all heard the siren call of Common Knowledge and Collective Solipsism. It’s not only comforting to be part of the crowd watching the crowd in its experience of a social behavior … any social behavior, from a football game to an IPO … it’s fun. We like it. As social animals we are hard wired not only to participate in the crowd but also to believe in the crowd and enjoy the crowd. It’s our nature.
But it’s also our nature to think for ourselves and try to do better than the crowd, to strive for some sort of personal advancement or success in whatever way we define it, and this is the behavioral foundation of the two most powerful institutionalized social forces in our lives: the politics of liberal democracy and the economics of liberal markets. The ideas of small-l liberalism are a few hundred years old, but the way David Hume and Immanuel Kant expressed those ideas seem as fresh today as they did in the mid-18th century. If you don’t know what Hume and Kant were all about … well, I can’t begin to do them justice here. Suffice it to say that they are two of the Mount Rushmore figures for small-l liberalism. Hume in particular is an intellectual hero of mine, and – like Kant – when I first read his essays I felt as if I were awakening from a “dogmatic slumber”. Hume is the red pill.

But Hume and Kant lived in a world that was blissfully ignorant of collectivism and media technology on a mass scale, a world that experienced tyranny and freedom in a “Red Dawn” sort of way, where tyranny is an occupying Russian army and freedom is a scrappy bunch of right-thinking Colorado teenagers. There’s no question here about identifying the oppressors and the oppressed. There’s no conflict between the internal exercise of your freedom to think for yourself and your external behavior. There’s no omnipresent social media, no cacophony of commercial voices, no GPS chips, no algorithms that can predict your likes and dislikes better than you can yourself. It’s just faceless soldiers with AK-47’s trying to impose their will on Patrick Swayze’s external behavior. It’s a movie that would have made as much sense (more?) in 1784 as it did when released in 1984.

Our world isn’t “Red Dawn,” it’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Control over our behaviors isn’t as much physical as it is mental, not so much externally imposed as it is internally embraced. If you’re reading this note, the problem is not that you are in a dogmatic slumber and need to be woken up. The problem is that you know it’s in your best economic interest to act as if you’re still asleep. In a world overrun by pod people, the big losers are the people who can’t fake their pod-ness and ultimately get outed by Donald Sutherland.

I don’t know anyone who believes that open-ended QE and ZIRP-forever monetary policy does much of anything for job creation, even though that’s the ostensible rationale. I don’t know anyone who believes that Modern Portfolio Theory and its quantifications are anything more than rules-of-thumb or guardrails for portfolio construction and risk management. Actually, let me qualify that a bit. I know lots of academic and institutional economists – the clerics of our modern Church of Economic Science – who believe wholeheartedly in all of this as some sort of received wisdom from on high. I don’t know any practicing money manager who does. But by the same token I also don’t know any practicing money manager who doesn’t genuflect to these beliefs, who doesn’t mouth the words of our modern market catechisms. We all believe in the market-moving power of the institutions that promote these ideas, whether it’s the Fed or a mega-asset management firm or a bulge-bracket bank; very few of us believe in the ideas themselves. But so long as “everyone knows” that these institutionally promoted ideas are the only thing that really matters for investment performance or asset allocations, nothing will change in our behaviors. We will continue to act as if we are true-believers, too.

As much as it pains me to say this, Hume and Kant and Smith and the rest of the small-l liberal pantheon don’t have a whole lot to offer in our efforts to survive a pod people world. A voluntary acquiescence to the collectivist behavior demanded by the Common Knowledge game poses a huge problem for Hume and Kant and traditional liberalism. What if your independent use of reason and free will leads you to deny your independent use of reason and free will? What if the most effective way to act as if you believe that the Emperor is wearing beautiful clothes is to give yourself over to the crowd-generated reality and actually believe that the Emperor is wearing beautiful clothes?

A problem for Hume and Kant is a problem for each and every one of us, because all of modern microeconomic theory – ALL of it – and by extension all of macroeconomic theory, too, is based on the liberal idea of independent self-interested decisions. The more that assumption is off base, the more that we are captured by the Common Knowledge game and act on the basis of a crowd-generated reality rather than our direct individual assessment of the world … the more our entire edifice of modern Economic Science becomes a false teaching, a dogma. By false I don’t mean that the equations are miswritten or simply need another mathematical term appended. I mean that the entire enterprise of economic theory becomes less useful, a collection of prayers that we recite by rote because we must in order to pass, not because they have any intrinsic meaning to us. Modern economics is becoming an institutionalized superstition rather than an effective toolkit for the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And that’s a shame.

Or at least it’s a shame from a liberal, individualist perspective. From the perspective of the institutions that promote these dogmas it’s all good. This voluntary and entirely rational participation in a crowd-generated reality makes the current social equilibrium even more stable, the current institutional control over the means of mental production (as Marx would call it) even more pronounced. Until some alternative conception of markets emerges that is more useful than current theory AND that alternative conception serves the interests of powerful institutions, nothing will change. The Copernican theory of a helio-centric solar system didn’t prevail because it was right; it prevailed because the secular powers of post-Reformation Northern Europe found it useful in their bloody fight with the Catholic Church.
The good news, though, is that I think there are powerful financial institutions today that are in fact deeply dissatisfied with the status quo and are actively seeking an alternative conception of market behavior. Partly this is a function of the fact that institutions are led by actual human beings, many of whom are genuinely concerned about the long-term health of liberal institutions like markets as they are hollowed out from within by the cancer of Collective Solipsism. Partly (probably more so) this is a function of the fact that there is a significant business opportunity for financial institutions that can provide a more useful and effective vision of how to think about investing today. Regardless of the motive, I see this hunger for a new perspective on markets every day in the responses I receive to Epsilon Theory, including responses from the Powers That Be in the financial world. Something big is brewing here, and I truly believe it’s going to make a difference. Help – or at least a meaningful alternative – is on the way.

Where should we look to find this alternative? I think we need to think about markets from a biological or evolutionary perspective rather than the traditional perspective of liberal thought. Hume and Kant might not have much to say about how a pod people world develops and how a population of non-believers can thrive in that world, but Charles Darwin and E.O. Wilson sure do. The best game theory research today is found in the fields of linguistics and evolutionary biology, not economics, and over the past six months I’ve written about how to use these ideas to understand better a wide range of market behaviors. Now I want to tie all this together in a concept that I call Adaptive Investing, a name that reflects the central dynamic of evolutionary theory, where populations of self-interested organisms take on persistent characteristics and behaviors in response to environmental challenges and opportunities. It’s a perspective that takes seriously both individual self-interest as well as collective imperatives, and I believe it will be useful for investors and allocators alike.

My goal here is to find a third way, some other path than either sitting out these markets until they return to “normal” or falling asleep in a dogmatic slumber and becoming a pod person. I think the former path – just sitting this out – is both wishful thinking and a luxury that very few of us possess. Maybe a reckoning of sorts is just around the corner, but I doubt it. In H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, the Martian invasion peters out when the aliens catch a cold and die off. Somehow I think it unlikely that the pod people will fall prey to the same sort of deus ex machina, and I’m certain that CNBC and Twitter and ETF’s and high-frequency trading are not going to be un-invented. As for the latter path … sorry, once you choose the red pill there’s no going back. As Prisoner Six would say, “I am not a number. I am a free man!”

But all of the great historical observers of the human condition – whether it’s Gautama or Lau Tzu or Jesus or Marx or Hume – need to be interpreted in the context of how we live today, not parroted as some sort of talisman from the past. Like it or not, we live in a mass society where the technological and social inventions of the past 200 years challenge the concepts of liberalism in ways that Hume et al did not foresee. Political and economic institutions have already adapted to these innovations (they always do!) in order to protect their core interests. Now it’s our turn. I think that game theoretic applications of evolutionary biology and population dynamics can help in that effort, with actionable insights for how to think about investing, and that’s where I’m taking Epsilon Theory. I hope you’ll join me.


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Wed, 12/04/2013 - 12:57 | 4213992 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



Nice article.  What next?  Take some action...

Take the hedgeless_horseman challenge.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:03 | 4214003 Pladizow
Pladizow's picture

Aldous Huxley: Slavery by consent -

“None are more hopelessly enslaved then those that believe they are free.” - Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe

“Money is a new form of slavery, and is distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal, there is no human relation between master and slave.” – Leo Tolstoy

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:08 | 4214044 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

It doesn't matter how smart you are, if you don't know how to be a dumbass when the time comes.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 16:01 | 4214789 mmanvil74
mmanvil74's picture

These diatribes become simpler to cotemplate when one recognizes the multidimensional nature of reality.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 12:59 | 4214005 knukles
knukles's picture

Meeting a day ....

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:03 | 4214025 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



There are many obvious similarities between becoming a pod person and using mind-altering chemicals.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:08 | 4214041 knukles
knukles's picture

As a matter of fact, we were just discussing that very topic at this morning's meeting.  Clarity, higher power and freedom...
Not the freedom from, but the freedon to, as you well know.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:05 | 4214215 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Most folks I know consider me a hyper-intelligent eccentric idealist.  I'm not that smart, though. I did however, open up that ol' third eye early on.  So, it's not intelligence that they see, it's simply an enhanced perceptive ability.  It's my fault, I did it to myself, and damn glad I did it. 

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:38 | 4214377 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Most people are pod people and tend strongly towards social and subjective thinking.

Those few who are not pod people tend to utilize analytic and objective thinking, be less socially inclined, and are the basis of our technological society. In spite of social skills that are notably lacking, their unique cognitive skills are probably what have kept autism in the gene pool.

After all, a bunch of pod people armed with guns is going to do better than a bunch with spears.

The US is proof.

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 04:55 | 4216835 Oracle 911
Oracle 911's picture

Well social skills can be learned, look at the sociopaths or psychopaths, they have them. What they lack are empathy, emotions and conscience.


I'm learning how to use social skills in other word analyze the reactions and body-language.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:10 | 4214051 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

This banana I am about to eat will alter my mind. I can't believe I'm a pod person!

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:27 | 4214104 pods
pods's picture

It's okay, it is enjoyable. (although that is not where my nickname came from)

But doing most anything alters your mind. I cannot understand why so many are caught up on an altered mind. Sure, sitting in bed shooting dope is a shortcut to releasing endorphins. But doing other enjoyable things IS releasing the same endorphins, albeit in smaller amounts.  We have loved altered minds since we were kids spinning around in circles getting dizzy.

Our symptoms of today of easy highs are easily stopped if we get rid of the whole underlying support structure of it. Fractional reserve currency, whipped up out of the air like a dope needle in the arm. "Sign and drive" the plunger into your arm.  THAT is the analogy that needs to be illustrated.  

No dope, no deficit spending allowing people to do nothing. No more paper pusher jobs being supported by all the fluff until the next blowup and then more dope needed.

All the while the dope pushers (bankers) are laughing their asses off.

Fuck them. Get rid of them, all the other bullshit stops.


Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:56 | 4214208 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

But doing most anything alters your mind. I cannot understand why so many are caught up on an altered mind.

Bingo...  It's supposed to make you creative, but yet tends to make you incredibly cliche...  lumped into the same drivel spewed by everyone else whose had the experience...  as if avoidance and fantasy are to be revered.

The simple fact is that certain personalities are drawn to it...  conditions can click and draw people to it...  in the end, you trade a few brain cells and time for an experience...  the same as everything else in life.  At some point, an expanded consciousness or world view might provide great benefit (presuming these are even achieved)...  but diminishing returns are a bitch and nothing ever lasts.  At some point, creativity or expansion of the conscious becomes the junky's crutch...  and for many, it's playing with fire.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:18 | 4214282 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Drugs - regardless of whether legal or illegal - can be either a red pill or blue pill, depending on their context and mindset of the user.  I can think of quite a few folks who reinforced their rejection of a "plugged-in" life through the use of certain drugs.  Of course plenty use it as a pablum to ease their slumber too.  I don't think I've met too many red-pill takers who were convinced to go blue-pill through the use of any drug, however.  

On a different topic, RE: 

"If you’re reading this note, the problem is not that you are in a dogmatic slumber and need to be woken up. The problem is that you know it’s in your best economic interest to act as if you’re still asleep."

 I disagree to a certain extent because the time-frame is important to consider.  My family, for example, lives on the surface more or less like the party won't end, but we are using this false calm to prep like motherfuckers for what we know is coming.  It might be more in our economic interests to live like we're asleep for this year or maybe two or three more - but someday there will be a reckoning - and forsaking resiliency for short-term comfort is a poor bargain.

IMHO - for long-term quality of life, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best is still a pretty good strategy. 

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 20:42 | 4215817 StychoKiller
Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:17 | 4214074 nevadan
nevadan's picture

"Until some alternative conception of markets emerges that is more useful than current theory AND that alternative conception serves the interests of powerful institutions, nothing will change."

That new conception will likely be Mark Douglas' "forced awareness".  Sooner or later reality will be imposed.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:29 | 4214112 Freddie
Freddie's picture

Control over our behaviors isn’t as much physical as it is mental, not so much externally imposed as it is internally embraced.

F TV and F Hollywood.   If you watch their crap - you support it.  Pull the plug.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:14 | 4214539 PeeramidIdeologies
PeeramidIdeologies's picture

Says the guy in front of the flag in the Chuck Norris get-up...

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:01 | 4214224 wisehiney
wisehiney's picture

A suggested addition to your list.....

Prepare a nice duck for dinner with a fellow ZH'er who volunteers to bring a couple of good bottles to go with it.

(as I watch wild ducks outside and salivate) 

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:02 | 4214474 Son of Captain Nemo
Son of Captain Nemo's picture

Ditto on this article.

And thanks HH for your challenge.  Just think where we'd be as a Nation if everyone did half the list you prescribed starting with the top 3?

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 12:55 | 4213993 knukles
knukles's picture

I'm gonna get a POD for my driveway and hang Xmas lights all over it and have a Nativity Scene inside with the doors open 24/7/365 just to piss off my Progressive Neighbors.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 12:59 | 4213999 maskone909
maskone909's picture

liberalism, what does it mean?  does it have a pure definition?  or do the meanings flip flop and change in the context of time, much like the magnetic poles of our earth. 

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:06 | 4214017 knukles
knukles's picture

Well, way back when, the meaning of "Liberal", was rather different than today, my friend.... ref: "Classical Liberalism"
And just plain good olde fashioned conservatism can today getcha thrown into the Happy Days Forever Reeducation Camp and Mercury Mine #7.
Come to think of it, even referencing the phrase "Nature and Nature's God" from the DofI can getcha excoriated from public buildings and arrested for terrorism or sumptin' like that.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:09 | 4214043 maskone909
maskone909's picture

yes, the connotations of the liberal identity change faster than those who identify whith the terms ability to process this dynamic.  whereas liberal used to relate to those who believe in supporting programs who assist those in need, has now transformed into the free shit army and kill the white man.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:38 | 4214147 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

They're just labels...  like everything else...  that help us with our daily lives because we're able to generalize people, thus leading to more efficiency.  It's kind of what historians get paid to do...

As always, assign your own labels if you desire (probably unavoidable as part of the human condition), but be sure to judge authors by their words, not some category some asshole claims they're lumped into.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:42 | 4214164 HulkHogan
HulkHogan's picture

Right! I generalize my fans as Hulkamaniacs! You, Macho Man, have no fans, brotha.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:54 | 4214197 PeeramidIdeologies
PeeramidIdeologies's picture

Labels... Useless as they are restrictive. Usually used as a retreat when a strongly held belief is challenged. If one were to truly delve into any label I think they would find their captive borders are not well supported.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:07 | 4214040 frankTHE COIN
frankTHE COIN's picture

" Where there is Turmoil, indecision and Confusion.....There is Opportunity"

" Keep your head above Water and don't stop breathing"

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:12 | 4214054 CaptainSpaulding
CaptainSpaulding's picture

Good movie. I must say i like this version better than the Kevin McCarthy version. Donald Southerland is a treasure.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:13 | 4214062 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

"The good news, though, is that I think there are powerful financial institutions today that are in fact deeply dissatisfied with the status quo and are actively seeking an alternative conception of market behavior."

Any names you care to share (dissatisfied financial institutions)?

So Epsilon is everything besides Alpha and Beta in the set?

That's a tall drink of water.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:30 | 4214120 Azannoth
Azannoth's picture

I have a personal all encompassing theory of society, its by no means complete but ..

A draft name would be "The Lowest Common Denominator Theory of Society"

and a Synopsis would go like this ..

"Any Society inherently alines itself to the Lowest Common Denominator of its parts"

you could Alternatively call it "The Baseline Theory"

The basic premisse is that Society in general will adopt a course of action or a generalized world view that fits its biggest minority.

It does not matter how right or wrong an idea is, all that matters is how many people are comfortable with(or are even forced to) adopting it,

if this number is sufficient to form a tentative majority(even if its just say 25% of the total) this theory will be accepted by Society in general.


Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:41 | 4214159 Azannoth
Azannoth's picture

This effect can be "leveraged" with strong motivation of a given minority, if say only 5% belive in "X" but are strongly motivated and organized they can act as a much stronger force of say 25%.

Society in general has no direction and no preference, its in a "virgin" state, it does not take a big "tentative majority" to sway it in any direction.

Once a Society is "seeded" with an Idea, it becomes Zealous about it and will defend it to death.

A Society that is already "Zealous" needs to be broken, with a "shock" like ie. Germany after WW2, than it again becomes receptive for new ideas.

A different example could be of former "Pagan" lands forcefully converted to Christianity in the Middle Ages, those countries went from Pagan to Zealously Christian soon after their military defeat.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:43 | 4214171 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

That's great and all...  but it fails to explain any society I know...  I think you're simply describing a symptom rather than a cause...  and, in this regard, darwin will probably get you a lot closer to an all encompassing theory.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:57 | 4214205 Azannoth
Azannoth's picture

Your definitely onto something,

Ideas are like Living organisms, they strive to grow their base and strive to survive, even at the cost of their hosts. I know this from personal experience .. let me tell you

My biological family was acting irrationally in terms of financial and pedagogical decisions in my respect, I always wondered how close blood-relatives can make obviously wrong decisions regarding their progeny,..

Darwin's theory says that Genes always try to Survive and Spread to the best of their abilities, but this seamed not to the be the Case with my Family ?!?! this bothered me as I could not understand what was motivating their behaviour ...

Much later I learned about Memes, ... if you don't know Memes are simply Ideas

It seams that an idea in a sentient being can be much stronger than its genetic drive to self preservation

You see my nearest Legal Guardian was strongly Religious and I was Open about being an Atheist, so I figure that this Persons actions where in part motivated by a "hidden" hatred for me simply due to the deep philosophical differences between us.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:10 | 4214250 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

Whether it's protection of genes, ideas, or anything else...  all of these things fall under "self interest."  As best I can tell, there is no universal, conscious point to life...  what motivates each of us is a little different, but it doesn't change the fact that we all act to maximize our self interest.  As far as peeling everything down to its base layer, this is flirting with the answer.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 20:48 | 4215830 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

"Yes, we have no nirvana, we have no nirvana today!"

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:48 | 4214180 Azannoth
Azannoth's picture

.. so how do you seed an "Idea" into Society ?

Well if you watched the movie "Inception" you have a basic understanding.

The key is to subliminaly(what this means depends on the context and implementation) slowly nudge a society in the desired direction,

you cant out you self, the "society" needs to "think" it came up with an idea on its own

You can use various NGOs, Missions, Regional News Outlets, Pirate Radio/TV stations, Word of Mouth or Viral Marketing schemes to implement the "seeding"

After an Idea catches on at the "Grass Roots" you need to nurture it by providing it with a Framework to grow on, but being carefull not to "out your self"

Soon after it starts to Grow Organically and long before it reaches the "Main Stream" your work is done as events unfold "naturaly" as they where "encoded" in the "DNA" of the Idea

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:14 | 4214264 Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill's picture

Like Bitcoin?

Wakey wakey fonestar,I know its dark in that basement, but get up.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:17 | 4214542 forwardho
forwardho's picture

Please no.

He decended into pure word salad yesterday.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:07 | 4214422 TheGardener
TheGardener's picture

How about "seeding" a post with the presumption that
the enlightenment was a good idea to start with ?

How about reading Hume and Kant first and anyone else
the progressives deem to refer to for self-tracking and gentrification ?

BTW:Enjoyed reading your food for thought Azannoth and MachoMan.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:25 | 4214257 Ghordius
Ghordius's picture

nice theory, Azannoth. conflicts with mine, which is built on similar structures yet it points to the biggest elite group

a simple example from simpler, medieval times: Kings and Knights. You had all kind of nobility inbetween, and 98% of the population were irrelevant, since farmers, peasants or serfs, yet there was this substrate of lower-echelon elite which made society, including the King, align to it's world view, morals and prejudices

later, the "city dweller" arose, with it's commerce and industry. again, a small substrate that - for the second time in history - regained prominence. and so on

I'm exluding the fabled US Middle Class from that. that period, if it ever existed, was short. it had some influences, though, for example through the mass production of their goods which shrinked the luxury good & services economy

in my worldview, in the US this substrate is some 3-5m strong. culture, academia, industry, commerce, banking, etc. etc. in short, the "good" zip-codes

of course they do influence directly all kind of people near them, by being parents, children, spouses, direct bosses and important customers of perhaps 25% of the population, so we do meet somewhere with our theories

in a Pareto distribution among 5 classes, as the Greeks and Romans did (without Pareto, though), you'd have the Fifth Class, 80% strong, a Fourth Class, 16% strong, a Third Class making up nearly 4% and the Lower and Upper Elite, who's numbers are very, very small

It's the Third Class that shapes the "Common Understanding" of a society. It's nearly 4% strong, it commands nearly 4% of the resources and "makes" up to 20% of the income

I understand the income range is somewhere between 120k and 500k, with a median of 250k. Which is exactly the "battleground range" in the political discussion, the "difference between rich and poor". That discussion is not out of the blue

US society, as all western and westernized ones, pivots around them, imho

all the others have, at least in the open, conform to a certain degree to them and their culture - even the elite

so yes, there is a Middle Class, but everybody disregards it's real size

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:34 | 4214348 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

Essentially, you're just describing how many people it takes capital to bribe to maintain control...  essentially, these distributions are nothing more than the result of collective bargaining (not what any stretch of the imagination would call a democratic process necessarily)...  the payments to lobbyists, taxes, you name it just end up being the result of collective bargaining... 

What happens when the 4%ers watch the .001%ers running off with all the loot?  Does the agreement only get partially revised?  Are the spoils again collectively bargained?

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:15 | 4214533 forwardho
forwardho's picture

Re; What happens when the 4%ers watch the .001%ers running off with all the loot?  Does the agreement only get partially revised?  Are the spoils again collectively bargained?

If they are well armed and organized as the knights of old were... Yes.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 16:30 | 4214900 Ghordius
Ghordius's picture

imo it isn't even necessary. did the Soviet Union crumble thanks to a "well armed and organized" group? there are many forms of social change

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 17:47 | 4215168 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

correct...  although it does tend to impact who fills the power vacuum.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:24 | 4214597 TheGardener
TheGardener's picture

"Kings and Knights. You had all kind of nobility inbetween"

If you think you thus understood monarchy , I`m afraid
you misunderstand what an aristocracy was meant to mean.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 16:38 | 4214890 Ghordius
Ghordius's picture

do I? then explain why as long as the knights were the pivotal group the nobility had to pay at least lip service to the knightly virtues of honour and valor. I'm talking about the pivotal group that shapes the perception of reality, not reality itself

perhaps the term "knight" is too continental. try the above with "local gentry" and see if it fits better. in the UK, the "sweet spot" was between the Earl and the Banneret Knight

note how the early UK parliament - the House of Commons - was composed of "two knights from every common"

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 18:29 | 4215336 TheGardener
TheGardener's picture

"at least lip service to the knightly virtues of honour and valor. I'm talking about the pivotal group that shapes the perception of reality, not reality itself"

My dear Ghordius, you are right, to be "knighted" was a royal honor to loyal serfs. Warrior serfs and worthy of protecting the leaders because able and trained to be real killers.

But to be king you had to be able to lead the best of your
best of lesser lords that could dispose you off if you defied nature to be anything less then a true leader !

There ain`t no defying natural order.

America has no natural order if this what you are trying to prove but you mistakenly come across as someone trying to prove the virtues of the new NWO American EUDSSR.

Maybe you are just freaking intellectual European for your own sake but I always gave you the benefit of the doubt.

Aza is talking about takeovers of minorities with issues
at heart that defy imagination. Figure that.

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 03:32 | 4216782 Ghordius
Ghordius's picture

thanks for the benefit of the doubt. no, my angle was not about a natural order, my angle was that there is a pivotal group in every stratified society, that it's rather small and neither at the top or the bottom of it

yes, I understand Aza's angle about minorities with issues. imo if they do achieve status in this pivotal group, they do change perception

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 06:03 | 4216884 Azannoth
Azannoth's picture

The King was mostly a puppet of the Aristocracy not the other way around, they let him kindly be King in return for maintaining their privileges.

95% of revolutions and monarchy changes where initiated and executed by the Aristocracy not by the People.

The "Nobles" where the true masters of the Realm, the King was just a figure "head"

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 06:04 | 4216887 Azannoth
Azannoth's picture

The King was mostly a puppet of the Aristocracy not the other way around, they let him kindly be King in return for maintaining their privileges.

95% of revolutions and monarchy changes where initiated and executed by the Aristocracy not by the People.

The "Nobles" where the true masters of the Realm, the King was just a figure "head"

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 06:12 | 4216892 Azannoth
Azannoth's picture

The King was mostly a puppet of the Aristocracy not the other way around, they let him kindly be King in return for maintaining their privileges.

95% of revolutions and monarchy changes where initiated and executed by the Aristocracy not by the People.

The "Nobles" where the true masters of the Realm, the King was just a figure "head"

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 06:00 | 4216879 Azannoth
Azannoth's picture

Well at least your 4% fits into my theory in place of the "mercenaries" that push and reinforce an idea, however they would be doing this consciously.

In "my" theory not all ideas start out this way, some happen by chance, but not even that is the main point of where the ideas come from, its more about how they grow and become dominant.

An Idea to be successful has to have a few traits

It needs to be a "Feel good" Idea, people should feel it being morally correct

it needs to "sound good on paper",

it should pander to the "perceived reality", like the Flat Earth Theory, earth "looks" flat until you go into space,

it needs to be "Earth Moving", it needs to give its "believers" a goal that ideally does massive change to existing structures

It needs to "feel" liberating, doing away with previous restrictions even while it may put on even harsher restrictions of its own



Wed, 12/04/2013 - 16:14 | 4214834 22winmag
22winmag's picture

American public education and the fruit thereof is living proof that your theory is correct.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:31 | 4214124 Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill's picture

Think he had an understrength 'red pill'.

Try again with two this time.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:31 | 4214126 Erudite Redneck
Erudite Redneck's picture

Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:36 | 4214144 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

My theory is that through some sort of physical law all large organizations evolve to do the exact opposite of what they were chartered to do.


Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:48 | 4214184 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

That presumes a very benign purpose for creation/charter.  I dispute such a premise.  If self interest is present in every conscious action, then why would anyone ever bother to create such a worthless entity?

I'm not saying that the creators of entities are incapable of creating monsters and losing control of the entities, but I think that's irrelevant given the basis for creation.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 13:50 | 4214188 ILLILLILLI
ILLILLILLI's picture

Reminds me of this (25 secs.):

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:08 | 4214236 PeeramidIdeologies
PeeramidIdeologies's picture

Good article. Interesting point made as well regarding large institutions interested in changing the paradigm. I was just thinking the other day about some of the changes I have noticed in the medias presentation over the last couple if years. It is not a large stretch of the imagination to consider even the evil powers that be are empathic to the strife this failing system is reaponsible for. Perhaps it is time to be little less dogmatic and a little more pragmatic.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:15 | 4214265 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

is this new found empathy a function of a change in core beliefs and thoughts or born out of necessity when faced with pitchforks and torches?  I think it's more accurately described as a strategy rather than a fundamental change in a belief system.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:32 | 4214333 PeeramidIdeologies
PeeramidIdeologies's picture

Does it matter? It's probably both, differing between individuals and their preceptions of reality. The good thing is that it is present, and is opening the door to new possibilities. I am of the opinion that the way forward involves a new level "teamwork" and consideration. It seems to me that one of mankind's greatest faults is the difficulty we have in dealing with different perspectives.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:39 | 4214374 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

Yes, it matters in some aspects...  The strategy is employed to mitigate the possibility of being parted with spoils.  If the strategy has no impact, then who cares...  however, if the strategy was expected to have no impact, then it probably wouldn't be employed...

It isn't an issue of differing perspectives...  it's an issue with being competitors.  If you want to chalk up the wolf next to you as just having a different perspective, then awesome...  you do that.  However, to think that this is opening up any new possibilities or improving anything that is material, then I've got a bridge to sell you.

Further, the concept of teamwork and consideration are well...  only so strong as they benefit the individuals in the group.  Collusion always ends the same though...  welcome to game theory.  Nice pipe dream though...

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:01 | 4214462 PeeramidIdeologies
PeeramidIdeologies's picture

Your prespective of the unfolding events may be more accurate then my own, but that doesn't mean they are set in stone. If events are to continue along the lines you have drawn out, what do you suppose will be the out come?

I personally can not grasp the idea as to why things are inherently doomed. People like to quote a lot of historical failures around here, but in my opinion there have been more historical "wins" so to speak, as even when the circumstances were poor and even quite destructive, mankind was able to step forward and attempt a new path.

I will guarantee you the world is changing in ways you are over-looking, and I suggest you remain open to that idea

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:53 | 4214714 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

The only doom I speak is akin to groundhog day...  so, I'm not sure "doom" is very accurate.

The rebels of today will become the dictators of tomorrow...  the winners will write history...  and we'll continue to fail to maintain any financial system for any material period of time.  There will continue to be plenty of advances and improvements, however core functions of our society will remain broken, as they conflict with and cannot contain human nature.  Not that tinkering with it is a good idea...  further, although we tend to fear it, I'm not sure this volatility is necessarily such a bad thing...

There are aspects that really, genuinely can be game changers that come out of trying times, e.g. the magna carta.  However, our basic state is apathy, which always threatens any improvements.  This is our legacy. 

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:48 | 4214398 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Paradigms in society change when they become outmoded in terms of survival.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:46 | 4214247 Ignatius
Ignatius's picture

The Silent Coup

Everything these days is done in the name of something else.  It's refreshing to read The Requirement that the Spaniards read to the native Americans they were conquering: (paraphrasing) "Immediately accept our God and our rule or you'll be responsible for your death and the slavery of your women and children."

Honest?  Yes.  Assholes?  Absolutely.

In this age of advertising and public relations almost nothing is done for its stated purpose.

Hungry?  Yeah.  Want a banana?  Give me two.  And you're gonna need two as one may find your mouth, the other is being shoved up your ass.

Lying is an epidemic.

It's one thing to say "no, honey, your (big) ass looks great in those teen jeans. 

It's quite another to provide corporate welfare in the name of 'affordable' healthcare.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:15 | 4214263 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

Always just a stranger in a strange land.

And the bottom line is still the bottom line. Call me when that changes.

Nice pitch BTW.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:15 | 4214269 hoist the bs flag
hoist the bs flag's picture

"The good news, though, is that I think there are powerful financial institutions today that are in fact deeply dissatisfied with the status quo and are actively seeking an alternative conception of market behavior. Partly this is a function of the fact that institutions are led by actual human beings, many of whom are genuinely concerned about the long-term health of liberal institutions like markets as they are hollowed out from within by the cancer of Collective Solipsism."


riiight. TPTB and TBTF will keep pumping and dumping until the train derails.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:34 | 4214292 NIHILIST CIPHER

Common knowledge (including investment knowledge) is manufactured by TPTB. Sheep will always be fleeced. Call it body snatching etc. it is what it is. 

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:36 | 4214366 Metal Minded
Metal Minded's picture


All this pseudo high brow intellectualizing is just a pitch to get you to park some of your money with Salient Partners in Houston (See ); your money to be guided by the most wise Ben Hunt(Guru of the Epsilon Theory), the new Chief Risk Officer of Salient.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro"- Hunter S Thompson

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:43 | 4214392 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

So now salesmen are evil?

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:46 | 4214399 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

Pretty much, yes.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:51 | 4214403 Hongcha
Hongcha's picture

Man, do I remember that scene and it's been 35 years!

Also the dog with the guy's head; and the dialogue with the sous chef and Sutherland (who was a health inspector):

"It's a rat turd."

"Eees not, it is a caper!"

"Then eat it."

Then before he drives away they throw a bottle of wine through his windshield and Sutherland says;

"It's not even a good wine."

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 14:53 | 4214424 TORNasunder
TORNasunder's picture

"Engineering or manipulating consent"

I would highly recommend reading 'Propaganda' by Bernays (the nephew of Freud). The purpose of propaganda (now called public relations due to the negative connotation the word acquired from WW1 and reinforced in WW2) is to shape opinion. It not implemented directly, like most advertising, but instead is presented is such a way that the individual believes they have formed the opinion/desire of their own accord.

Few quotes from the book;

"As civilization has become more complex, and as the need for invisible government has been increasingly demonstrated, the technical means have been invented and developed by which opinion may be regimented"

"Democracy is administered by the intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses."

What is sobering is how effective propaganda already was when the book was released in 1928, when the public was not exposed to the sheer volume and constancy of media that exist in today's world.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:10 | 4214511 GreatUncle
GreatUncle's picture

QE and ZIRP-forever monetary policy ...

with need to satisfy the Keynes economic model ...

increasing efficiency (productivity) loses ever more hours of work ...

Reckon 1 man can produce for 1000 or more get the right tools.



Wed, 12/04/2013 - 17:04 | 4215029 Jack Burton
Jack Burton's picture

The last 50 years has tended to put humanity into a new world order. The history of man's rise from hunting and gathering as a group for nearly all it's existence, and for it's entire biological evolution, makes living in the new world order a bit difficult. Because nobody knows what they want, expect for those with the greed bug, they know what they want, everything they can lay their hands on. This type was killed nearly instantly by the group back when man was a group animal. Greed around the fire at supper time was not a popular tactic to fit in. Nobody and no family survived very long alone from a larger group. That was simply how the world was, no time to debate it.

Agriculture is agreed to have been the thing that changed all that in the most radical of ways. The state was on the fast track once surplus and residence on land became the norm. How do you claim a piece of land with out the government to enforce your claim? For a long time it was man against man, but the smart quickly realized that to form a government and raise a fighting force under a unified command got you the land you wanted. Then the permamnet leaders needed to be paid, taxes, the permanent fighting force needed food and shelter, more taxes. Leaders once they controlled government and fighters soon turned to taking most of the thing for themselves. War Lordism was normal human society until grander forces like Kings brought them under a nation state, or regional power. More taxes, less freedom. More brainwashing as leaders would not accept thoughts contrary to justification of their rule. This is where it gets really ugly, using religion as a force of control to justify the leader's rule really set off the police state.

All the way back to the early empires it is known that rulers fromed secret police, by Rome's time they were as developed as you can get, one wrong word in the wrong company and torture and death awaited.

Since the rise of democracy tore down the kings, we have been fighting over how to organize society to allow more freedom and opportunity. I suggest to you that those days are over. The New World Order does not account for that former drive for more freedom and more opportunity. The well off have decided to draw up the ladder of social mobility, and to return to the worst forms of kingship and secret police repression of the masses. Debt slavery has arrisen to replace the other kind of slavery the USA had just back in the 1860. In my day no young kid was a debt slave, we had no debts! Even college graduates had little or no debt.

The America of 2013 is no longer democratic and no longer driven by freedom, justice and opportunity for all. Anyone who looks at it today and claims that the USA is still about those values is clinically insane.

Look at what the economy has done the last three decades, look at the spy state, the drug warrior culture, the private prison culture, the federal Reserve Wealth Transfer Machine, the rise of mega powerful Banking, the wars of choice for empire, the collapse of public education for the bottom 75%. The health care system that strips the wealth of society at an ever grwoing rate and is called GDP.

I have been alive long enough to see nearly every dream I was raised on and educated with die. If it keeps going this way, Orwell will have been proven right. I see America more and more as a focus of evil in the modern world. The EU is adopting the Neo-Liberal USA economic model too. A few like Icelanders still fight for freedom and justice. Most simply go to Wall-Mart on Black Friday and let the 1% continue to spy, wage war, cut wages, eliminate benefits, avoid taxation, use the Fed as a personal wealth harvester, etc. etc. Americans still worship the troops, since the lower classes provide their sons and daughters to do the combat for the 1%. We have the 1% and their Cop culture on the streets and their CIA culture on the world stage.

Ain't gonna get better. I am sure it will get worse, much worse.

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 01:24 | 4220455 Radical Marijuana
Radical Marijuana's picture

I wish that I did not have to agree with you, Jack Burton, however, I must concur that: "I have been alive long enough to see nearly every dream I was raised on and educated with die."

Without a series of political and technological miracles, then the most probable futures appear to be symbolized in this chart:

A primary driving feature within the chart linked above is exponential growth overshooting, through wiping out the natural capital of most resources! Without some series of political miracles happening in both basic sciences, and hence technologies, as well as profound transformations in the monetary and taxation systems, so that recycling, etc., made economic sense, then, the runaway destruction of the natural capital, and related social polarization, is going to become so bad that that goes off the scale we currently could imagine.

Neolithic Civilization was based on the domestication of animals and plants, which enabled surplus production, however, the deeper feature of Neolithic Civilization was the domestication of human beings, in the form of slavery. As you wrote, Jack Burton, the modern world is merely a more sophisticated system of debt slavery, backed up by wars based on deceits. Those have been getting exponentially worse, so that during the last several decades the world has been more obviously flipped upside-down, so that what we were taught is blatantly backwards to reality!

Since the debt slavery system was inherently structured to depend on exponential growth, under President Obama the total debts of the government will be doubled past everything under all previous Presidents. The globalized "money made out of nothing as debt" system has generated numbers which are now debt insanities, which have no mathematical ways to ever be fixed. The biggest banks are now SO BIG that they can not change without taking down most of the economy with them!

Meanwhile, that overall system of legalized lies, backed by legalized violence, based upon some men being able to control others through being dishonest, and backing that up with violence, and thereby keep most other people ignorant and and afraid, has reached some apparent tipping point, where everything that was based upon, namely the natural capital it started with, has been degraded at an exponentially accelerating rate, and so, has reached a point where it is no longer possible to imagine how that could continue ... Although I enjoying reading many of the classic quotes in the article above, I think we are in a FAR WORSE "dogmatic slumber" than that article indicated.

Therefore, we "SHOULD" develop a radically different human ecology and political economy, as a Translithic Civilization. That appears to be theoretically possible, however, BECAUSE the established systems are based on the triumph of the maximum possible deceits and frauds, whereby a tiny minority specialize in continuing to back up legalized lies with legalized violence, while the vast majority continue to be kept ignorant and afraid, there are no practical political ways to avoid the conclusions that the combined runaway social polarization, and destruction of the natural world, "Ain't gonna get better. I am sure it will get worse, much worse."

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 01:25 | 4220519 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Slavery was an improvement over killing defeated enemy tribesmen.

Good post, also.

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 01:24 | 4220510 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Good post with minor quibbles:

Greed was alive and well in the form of the alpha-male.

Recent stateless societies, Xeer, had private ownership of crop growing plots and of animals.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 23:37 | 4216349 malek
malek's picture

That's actually a f*cking great way to describe large parts of the US Left Coast population:

   Collective Solipsism, the voluntary abdication of empirical and independent thought by a large group of humans.

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 23:37 | 4216368 Jack Burton
Jack Burton's picture

I like the left coast and it's people. What's exactally wrong with them? I mean compared to say the upper Midwest people I was born and live among now?

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 00:05 | 4216457 malek
malek's picture

After a while you will find that the deepest believers of everything being better on the Left Coast, are the ones who left their Midwest or whatever small towns to go to the effing great California!
99% of those will never concede they were wrong doing so, so they perpetually support every new well intended measure, ignoring the wrecks of past ones littering the way...

That's not to say they aren't any locally-grown undoubting believers.
But the majority in the spearhead forming the next "group perception of reality" are those recent immigrants.


And one note after finishing the article:
So disappointing to ruin that great an article with such an inept Hollywood'esque ending.

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