Who Has The Time And Motivation to Comprehend The Mess We're In? Almost Nobody

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

If we don't understand the problem or the dynamics that are generating the problem, it is impossible to reach a solution or practical plan of action.

When it comes time to assess our grasp of the dynamics of this unprecedented era, how do you reckon historians will grade our collective political "leadership," intelligentsia, central state, corporate leadership and the "common man/woman" citizen? Did we rise to the occasion or did we falter, not in acting to counter the dissolution of the Status Quo, but in simply making a concerted effort to understand the tangled web of lies, corruption, perverse incentives, unintended consequences, simplistic (and utterly misguided) ideologies, not to mention the real-world limits of a supposedly limitless world, that have become the key dynamics of this era?

I suspect future historians (presuming the funding of such scholarly assessments survives) will grade all categories either F or D-. The reasons are not difficult to discern, and it behooves us to understand why we are collectively so ill-prepared to understand our era, much less fix what's broken before the whole over-ripe mess collapses in a heap.

1. Intellectual laziness. Very few people are willing to work hard enough to figure things out on their own. It's so much easier to join Paul Krugman dancing around the fire of the Keynesian Cargo Cult, chanting "aggregate demand! Humba-Humba!" while waving dead chickens than ditch reductionist, naive ideologies and actually work through an independent analysis.

2. Independent thinking is an excellent way to get fired, demoted or sent to Siberia. Though America claims to value independent thinking, this is just another pernicious lie: what America values is the ability to mask failing conventional ideas and systems with a thin gloss of "fresh thinking."
In other words, what the American state and corporatocracy value is the appearance of independent thinking, not the real thing. Since the real thing will get you fired, everyone who works for government or Corporate America masters the fine arts of producing simulacra, legerdemain and illusion. This only further obscures the real dynamics, making legitimate analysis that much more difficult.

3. Relatively few have any incentive to question authority, the state or the corporatocracy. Humans excel at figuring out which side of the bread is buttered, and who's lathering on the butter: self-interest is the ultimate human survival trait (we cooperate because it serves our self-interest to do so).

While we cannot hold the pursuit of self-interest against any individual--after all, who among us truly acts selflessly when push comes to shove?--we can monitor the monumentally negative consequences of self-interest and complicity on the systems and Commons we share.

When roughly half of all households are drawing direct cash/benefits from the central state, how many of those people are interested in doing anything that might put their place at the feeding trough at risk? Sure, people will grouse about this or that (usually related to the conviction that they deserve more or have been cheated out of "their fair share"), but as long as the government payments, direct deposits and benefits keep coming, what possible motivation is there for the recipients to devote energy to investigating the potential collapse of the gravy train?

Corporate America is no different. The store may be devoid of customers, but the employees will strive to look busy to keep the paychecks coming until the inevitable lay-off/implosion occurs. How many Corporate America employees will critique their way out of a paycheck? In an environment this difficult for job-seekers, you'd be nuts to bother figuring out why your division is failing, knowing as you do that the truth will result in the "termination with extreme prejudice" of the naive fools who presented the truth as if it would be welcome
Does anyone seriously imagine that any employee of a bloated bureaucracy will ever voluntarily challenge the squandering of revenues when that might cost them their own paycheck, bonus, contract for their brother-in-law, etc.? A few protected people (professors with tenure, for example) can be "brave," but their "bravery" is cheap: their protestations cannot trigger termination with extreme prejudice, so the gesture of resistance is just that, a gesture.

4. Those relative few who might have a real motivation to undertake independent analysis have little time to pursue this noble project. They are working absurd hours and enduring absurd commutes. Between getting the bundles of diapers into the elevator and planning what to cook for dinner, there is precious little time or energy left for figuring out the mess we're in. Just getting to a second or third job can suck up a significant amount of time, money amd energy.

And so the busy employee/sole-proprietor/contract worker listens to NPR or some talk radio program for a few minutes, reinforcing their ideology of choice, and turns on the "news" (laughably bad propaganda churned up with "if it bleeds, it leads") as background noise and spends whatever personal time they have on Roku, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. seeking distraction or solace from the daily workload.

In a strange irony, there are plenty of citizens who have plenty of time (recall that Americans manage to watch 6-8 hours of TV a day), but their marginalized status and dependence on the state drains them of motivation to do anything but seek amusement and distraction.

If we don't understand the problem or the dynamics that are generating the problem, it is impossible to reach a solution or practical plan of action. In other words, the four points above doom us just as surely as the dynamics of insolvency, corruption, debt servitude, Tyranny of the Majority, etc. etc. etc.

Choose your metaphor of choice, but rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic has a nice ironic texture in an election year, when the "news" will be focusing on rearranging the political deck chairs on the first class deck--at least when there's no celebrity ruckus or "if it bleeds, it leads" to crowd out what passes for "hard news" in a regime dedicated to the distractions of bread and circuses.

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quasimodo's picture

I already spend too much time here!

MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

People have neither the time nor the expertise to understand or formulate an opinion on most of today's pressing political issues. The only solution is to defer to the experts, which is what I've been saying over and over again on this site. I don't contradict the scientific consensus on climate change and nor do I have the audacity to contradict the economic consensus on the benefits of monetary and fiscal stimulus. These issues should be left to accredited experts only, and it is the responsibility of every individual to respect and subscribe to mainstream opinions on matters of extreme complexity. 

WarriorClass's picture

"Who Has The Time And Motivation to Comprehend The Mess We're In? Almost Nobody"

Answer: almost everyone in the Alternative Media.

Get with the program.

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Man in photo is look for buried copper ore. Boris is recommend first check voltage to ground and not insert head.

The Final Straw's picture

Actually, I believe he dropped his Hope an Change in that hole.

TeamDepends's picture

Jim Willie has both and knocks it out of the park with this one.  This is what we need to do people.http://www.silverdoctors.com/jim-willie-a-failed-state-lies-before-us/

max2205's picture

I could and have analyzed this.... but its worthless when the govt and fed and banks flipping do whatever they want

tvdog's picture

But why does he call himself the Jackass? By the way, an excellent 12-point plan, but of course it won't happen - until it has to.

"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." - Winston Churchill

Woodyg's picture

Plus I'll add it's the damn Tyranny of the Minority - fascists and corporatists.

these assholes Think Americans would rather get a few hundred a Week in welfare instead ofthe 50,000 to 70,000 a year they used to earn -

Or those who ignore that 1500 people apply for a handful of jobs -

Yea sure these people want their shitty welfare instead oftheir old goodpaying job -

As I said its Tyranny of the Minority - who sent our good payng jobs overseas cause the ceo's etc couldn't survive on their 10 mil a year - but now that they sent our jobs to the damn Enemy they can make 25 mil a year -

Greddy sociopaths - shit we used to hang these assholes from the nearest lamppost at the end of ww2 - too bad the fascists actually WON WW2.

BigJim's picture
Who Has The Time And Motivation to read everything Charles Hugh Smith writes? The man is en fuego!
Headbanger's picture

Nor do you have the intelligence you fucking idiot!

Boris Alatovkrap's picture


"It is better citizenry are not understand banking and monetary system; if citizenry understand, perhaps maybe start revolution before lunch tomorrow."

- Henry Ford (paraphrase)


Ignatius's picture

MDB is no idiot.

MDB is a genius at articulating the dominant paradigm with ironic humor.

His faux endorsement of this dominant paradigm is the joke.

People struggle getting this.

dick cheneys ghost's picture

bingo........can you say alter-ego?

Winston Churchill's picture

MDB  is  really a gold bug as well.

A lot don't get the sarcasm , he is just portraying our typical elites attitude in parody.

He is very good at it.

MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

I have the modesty to understand that I have no more right to formulate an alternative opinion monetary policy than I have to form an opinion on advanced molecular biology. Economic and political issues are a science and matters of such should be left exclusively to accredited experts with the necessary credentials. Everyone understands that formulating an opnion on a topic in advanced theoretical physics would be futile without a background in the subject. Why do people think that economics and politics are any different?

dick cheneys ghost's picture

Monetary policy??????

now Im pissed off...........the ''money changers'' have been run out of 109 countries for imposing the same monetary system (debt-money) that they have imposed on us........they have been running the same SCAM for a thousand yrs

theft is not a science, altho these assholes have it down to a 'science'

Killer the Buzzard's picture

MDB... you're in rare form today bro!  +100

Dick Buttkiss's picture

Actually, he's a bit over-the-top today, KB, which is why it astounds me that so many ZHers just don't get his schtick.

shovelhead's picture

I wholeheartedly agree MDB...

Even a fake Nobel in Economics is preferable to no Nobel prize at all.

SoilMyselfRotten's picture

I keep hearing of 'accredited experts' but where is the accredited ad???

Occasional's picture

OK, Now MDB is really going to confuse the peanut gallery. 

The truth, of course, is that economics and politics are not a science, but a merely venue for human action.  The means of measuring and quantifying individual or collective human action do not and inherently can not produce the same level of predictability as efforts to do the same with respect to the behavior of inorganic materials in the physical sciences...... and therefore, they are not sciences. 

Seasmoke's picture


Muppetrage's picture

You're a great Amerikan MDB! I kinda knew I was just wasting my time trying to be a critical thinker. I feel less stress already.

Breezy47's picture

I have an econ degree from a top 10 econ school...does that make me "accredited"? I had a 2.6 GPA too...

Professorlocknload's picture

 Maybe MDB is referring to Corzine and Madoff. Experienced experts in their field!

Blano's picture

It's a good day when MDB posts more than once.

Calmyourself's picture

MDB=Marla for you oldtimers..

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Maybe because expert rules don't apply because NO RULES apply?
Unlike physics there is no steady behaviour of economics or politics.
Everything changes all the time with no repeating patterns at all.
Worse, those accredited as experts are provable liars, frauds & fools.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

who needs intelligence when you've got accreditation & a million dollar bonus?

grunk's picture

You must be an economist from the Richmond Fed.

The Fed Has Lost It; Publishes Essay Bashing Bloggers, Tells General Public To Broadly Ignore Those Without An Econ PhD


Flakmeister's picture

It's the secret handshake thingie....

What do you expect from the equivalent of the High Priests of the State Religion???

insect0man's picture

>>These issues should be left to accredited experts only,

Right. And remember: NO SLEEPING IN BEDS err {edit} WIF SHEETS!

Dr. Engali's picture

Huhhhhh? What he say? Is there an expert in the house to splain?

Oldwood's picture

I can't wait until our government can implant a chip in my brain so these accredited experts can download their invaluable data directly. It would surely eliminate all of this thinking and ruminations I have been going through. Ah, to become more Borg-like is such a warming thought. All of my obsession with facts and reality are really killing my inner peace.

pods's picture

Hey Cipher, how's the steak?


Nothing but the truth.'s picture

MDB trying to be the smart arse again. 

Sandmann's picture

You write as if you have read Mein Kampf. That is precisely what Hitler said was the failing of Democracy as a system, the sheer laziness of the masses.

It is the active participation and involvement of the masses that the Liberal Arts Colleges proclaim in teaching Politics but it is the Mass that kills Democracy by swamping the educated and the intelligent in the indolent dross of inertia and ignorance.

You state eloquently why you should lose the right to vote rather than simply diluting the vote of the informed and educated

Kobe Beef's picture

Once you understand that a brain surgeon and a welfare recipient have an equal vote, you are given pause. Once you realize that it is far easier to make a welfare recipient than a brain surgeon, you see the inevitable failure of democracy.

If Hitler is verboten, then read Thomas Carlyle or Hans-Herman Hoppe. They tell a similar story.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

What you're NOT seeing is that a piece of freedom should never be inequal based on who does what.
If those who aren't working at this time are to be given no choice, no freedom, no say, then the place with these rules is a desolate and evil place.
Democracy is the only system in history where you do not get a boot stomping your face and a soldier/policeman raping your wife every single day. Forever.

Kobe Beef's picture

"A piece of freedom should never be unequal based on who does what." OK, so if I commit a crime, you have no right to inequalize my piece of freedom by placing me in jail or removing me from society based on what I did. Did I get that right?

Everyone must remain equally free and equally equal no matter their actions, character, or proclivity toward production or violence. Behold the equalist humanitarianism destroying the west. Your argument is absurd, and is the product of a State Religion.

So, in our late-stage democracy you get free, feral welfare recipients stomping your face and raping your wife, and if you point out the absurdity of Equalism you get purged from the public sphere, and if you piss off the Imperials you get assassinated. Some improvement. I guess you like Detroit.

So no, freedom shall be confined to what you are capable of doing with it. Those who do not work shall have no say in the provisioning of others' productive efforts. Democracy doesn't work without capable, moral people. And We the Productive are absolutely sick of subsidizing the freedumb of parasites.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

no, you did not get that right.
What you do FOR A LIVING, YOUR JOB, should not ensure you more or less freedom than others with different jobs or no job.

nothing WHATSOEVER of what I wrote, or will write, states, implies or demands you subsidize anyone, or that welfare be mandatory or unlimited or paid involuntarily by those who have money.
Welfare is not freedom.
I wrote 'freedom'

TheReplacement's picture

You are ignoring that Democracy will fail.  The mob will learn to vote to pay itself.  The mob will become lazy.  The nation will wobbly trying to support so many useless eaters.  Recognize that we could easily afford to care for the truly despondent with some to spare for saving.  Instead we must break our backs to feed and clothe the additional burden of those who just won't and don't. 

Eventually the makers break off the romance and partition or war ensue.  The nation is broken.  Eventually, if the makers don't break off the takers break the system and it just collapses and people need to learn to subsist on their own and still live a short life.  Eventually, if neither of the above have occurred, the dependance provides an opportunity for a clever cur to take command of the dictatorship.  Eventually some other crazy thing happens.

There are plenty more eventualities after that.  Some even include groups of people declaring themselves free and living that way, for a while.

It's a cycle, natural like weather.  Sometimes the weather is great.  Sometimes you get a sunburn or a blizzard.  Sometimes you just wait for five minutes and it changes.  One thing is for sure.  It really is too big for any one person to control.  If evolution is real, and we do not become extinct, then it stands to reason that some day our race will understand the reality of not having control and we will be able to advance as a species.


MeelionDollerBogus's picture

I am ignoring nothing.
When democracy fails all that is left is mass-rape daily, as common as yawning in the morning.
In that moment a choice happens: you rise up, kill all the overlords, and restore democracy OR you get 1000 years of child-rape, slavery & public executions of random citizens by police for fun.

Mob rule is proper rule - all other rule is kings and executioners. There is no 3rd choice.

I also recognize that the truly despondent can always expand beyond the ability of savers to afford them - opposite of your silly conclusion.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Well, I guess this calls for a scotch.

I don't think the random police brutality for fun will last too long in your scenario. Remember the SA ( " brown shirts") in Germany who instigated many skirmishes randomly attacking citizenry on the streets. It was downplayed for the longest time but eventually the Night of the Long Knives and the real purge began.

When a stallion takes over a wild herd, the first thing he does is kill all the foals sired by the previous stallion he has deposed. It's disquieting to see humans are really not far removed from wild animals. Though, I do think 1000 years of this may be a bit exaggerated. At least I hope so.


MeelionDollerBogus's picture

I wish it was but now the powers available to keep a population enslaved are far more powerful than they were 1000 years ago.
It's not just police / robbers with knives, swords, etc.
Now there's machine guns, nerve gas, tracking people by the phones they use, infrared cameras... etc.
The game's stepped  up which means once we lose we lose a lot & for a very long time.

Pretty much the freedom of the last 100 years is an anomaly in history & if we want it to last a little longer we can't just let it take a break then get it back.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Remember the Third Reich was also called the 1000 year Reich because it's founder Adolph Hitler believed it would last that long. Well, his estimates were a bit off. Do you think the 1000 year prediction would have been fulfilled if today's technology was available at the time? I think not. I'm not saying the body count wouldn't have increased due to ease of identifying enemies, however technology can be used to fight technology. I believe there would be many who would work together to bring it down. Yes, and many would die trying to do so. There is something about the human spirit that cries for freedom. It is inalienable like eating or breathing. I know people now seem very dead or asleep but everyone doesn't need to be awake to cause serious resistance. Rome was the technological power house of the day and experienced massive revolts from conquered territories. It's hard to maintain power when you spread so thin even with the advance of technologies. I am hoping human spirit will eventually win the day but I do admit this will be a fight unlike no other seen in history.


MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Hitler lost. If Hitler had won that 1000 year Reich very well could have become historical fact.

It's not the level of technology it's how much more the oppressors have. Quantity and know-how. The common sheeple has little idea how to use the best features of the best tech, or even that it exists sometimes, and the common sheeple has NO clue how to build/repair that same tech, from a phone to car, to computer to furnace, etc., much less home-made drones or IR cameras, night-scopes or making their own bullets & casting their own guns.

It takes just that one slip down the cliff & you can't climb back up because it's a very, very far fall down.

This is a stage where the best industries in the most dangerous (war & police-state) technologies are being absorbed as "contractors" into government. That means the most motivated, skilled, experienced people are being absorbed to the enemy side so that when shit goes down, everyone on the "freedom" side will at best be tinkerers with little stored fuel, few tools, none of the advanced weapons like nerve gas or drones, and surrounded either/both by sheeple and wolves.

It will not go over well.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

This is an issue that has been going on for some time even without the threat of our government becoming fascistic. Even Mr miffed has complained that those newly graduated in software are educated in using tools not in how things truly work or how they were built. He likens it to that episode in Star Trek Spocks Brain. There must be an omnipotent controller because everyone has lost the knowledge how everything works.

Yes, in a critical situation these individuals will become highly valued and sought after. So, you claim the government will hoard this knowledge to control the people. I am not sure this could work permanently. Creative people don't work well with a gun to their heads or threats to their families. Had Hitler succeeded in his plans for nuclear development and using the V2 rockets to carry bombs, it is claimed he would have captured the world. Capturing is very different from holding for long periods of time.

Erwin Rommel a brilliant field Marshall was forced to kill himself because of his plotting to arrest Hitler for war crimes. He was in the inner circle, had a brilliant career but still fought against tyranny. When the State becomes more and more powerful, it becomes more and more paranoid to the point of killing its own life blood.

The problem with nerve gas is it kills indiscriminately and a sudden change of wind may backfire your idea. The problem with drones is it isn't possible to kill everyone with them. Eventually someone in the drone department will have enough with killing fellow citizens. I can't see the military killing civilians under orders from the government and this would have to happen if what you say is to go down. I'm not saying that the government wielding such power wouldn't destroy many in its quest for supreme power. I'm just dubious that they could hold it so long because so many would have to be willing to aid them in such a large undertaking. Technology is complex and needs constant maintenance and energy to keep it running. Threatening people to do it only will work so long and tyrannical governments historically eventually fail. Not that I look forward to living through this because I'm not sure if I am prepared adequately to survive it.