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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MeelionDollerBogus's picture

We should all use lotto tickets as currency!
If you feel lucky, scratch it & if it loses, you're BROKE!
If it wins - hoooooray inflation!
And we can transfer them digitally and call it LottoCoin.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

What better way to lock in profits than to secure debts to be paid directly through the currency which is made of pure debt?

yogibear's picture

The Ponzi schemes by the central planners goes on until it bows up.  Bailout buddies and print is the plan.

New American Revolution's picture

Actually, we did take the time and figured it out at Elect A New Congress, www.electanewcongress.com, and we'll be kicking off a year long campaign to do just that, Elect A New Congress dedicated to "Liberty Legislation", to restore the Rule of the People over our government.   This solves the problem that Charles can't seem to get his hands around, the problem being that We, the People are currently ruled by our government.   I tried to figure out a way to contact Charles on his web page, but he seems to feel he does not need any help or outside information.  I suspect he thinks that if anything is worth knowing, he already knows it.   But then, this is typical of those Ivy League towers where people like Charles live; but again, that is at the core of the problem, isn't it; and so it would be almost impossible for Charles to have any awareness of the problem and its solution that seem to have eluded him.  

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

How do you stop it from being subverted like the 'tea party' types?

firstdivision's picture

If one cannot walk to the center of their town/city and spin around to get a 360 degree view, and realize that we're fucked, they never will understand.

Seasmoke's picture

You would probably get tackled and arrested by a guy in a costume before you got to 180°

planet psyop's picture

who is our next leader ? a bonesman , a neighborhood organizer , a clintonian , another manchurian candidate , a RINO , or an accredited expert in sophistry and illusion - i can't wait 2C

Just Observing's picture

I've spent 20-30 years comprehending it.......and came to the conclusion all you can do it protect you and your own.

So I have nothing in this phony market, sold my rental properties at the height of the last real estate bubble,  put the proceeds in precious metals ( held very locally ) and making our property as self sustaining as possible.

Now I watch the sun shine on my solar panels, watch the overflow from the spring feed my catfish ponds, watch the seasons grow my gardens/fruit trees and listen to the cows and chickens doing their things.

Life is good.


Just Observing

(Not to be confused with my cousin JustObserving)

Toolshed's picture

I would congratulate you, but you seem to be doing a pretty good job of it yourself.

enloe creek's picture

I am tired of the whining about sheeple
don't underestimate the collective wisdom of people
sure there's many that don't use what brains they were given but mostly people who are disaffected as we are now are correct not to really dwell on the sate we are in because they really know it is useless for anyone in their position to do anything meaningful about it. it is better to go through life taking pleasure in what you can than worry about things no one can help life is tough in the working class and always has been. no good can come from letting current events make yourself miserable. activisim is for the well to do. but if the time comes to take action and it is necessary the sheeple will be the ones that save or destroy what needs to be

therevolutionwas's picture

My fear is that the sheeple will defer to the shepherd  and be herded into what "seems" the best option.  From the mentality of my sheeple friends I would say being protected by the shepherd as the main agenda they would go for.  Soft totalitarianism, until things get tough, then tough totalitarianism.  But people wanting liberty will gather somewhere at some point and start anew.  I hope I live long enough to join them and participate in the renaissance .  And I hope it is in the land of palm trees.

NeoLuddite's picture

Be very afraid of wolves dressed in shepherd's clothing.

The historical depiction of a benignly smiling Jesus cradling a helpless lamb in his arms has always bemused me - the lamb will surely be shorn and eventually sacrificied as a burnt offering or slaughtered and eaten.

A perfect metaphor for the sheeple.

Spastica Rex's picture

Meek inherits Earth six feet deep.

CaptainSpaulding's picture

"The meek shall inherit the earth"

- Art Carney, The twilight zone

                 - Neil Peart, 2112

NeoLuddite's picture

Another variation - The "Judas Goat" - Trained to lead animals to slaughter:


geno-econ's picture

Self reliance was never compatible with a consumer debt ridden economy which only enslaves the participants into dependance, false self esteem and greed . Turning this ship around will not be easy considering the captain and crew are enjoying the titanic voyage.

Marley's picture

And if you are looking or paying attention, you won't find it here.

shovelhead's picture

I hate to be Captain Obvious here, but the sad fact is that you can elect whomever you like, but until we break the tie between election funding by special interests and the elected, you will always get more of the same.

Money writes the laws for it's own interest.

A chicken or an egg conumdrum. Any politician out there stumping for killing the ability to get himself elected?

The Old Man's picture

The merry go round continues.


For some time now (30 years) I have felt as if I were on a plantation of my own making.

Not the owner however, but the slave, working dawn til dusk, ever wary of the man with the whip.

When I would slack off, the sting was felt, driving me to work as hard as I could to stay far from it.

Recently the statistics cut us to a 90:10 split. (In some cases 99:1.)

1 out of 9.

I tried (was goaded) to be in the 1 group, but something always dragged me back down to the 9.

I often saw what made the difference, what held me back.

But it is becoming more and more obvious now.

I simply wouldn't allow myself to become "morally corrupt" enough to join the 1.

I simply will not just fall to a further moral demise and join.

I think I can truthfully say that we 9 understand.

We also are clueless to an immediate fix.

For now Dawn til Dusk is our only salvation.

We are trapped.



But then again, I really don't need the brass ring that badly.

Peter Pan's picture

All these years we have had either paralysis by analysis or more crooks than chooks.

People will finally make sense of it when they take matters into their own hands and then it will be on for young and old.

brombones's picture

A better question would be "Out of the people who have the time and motivation to comprehend the mess we're in, why do such a small percentage of them comprehend the mess we're in?"

I'd expect my financial advisor to be telling me to buy a farm and get off the grid, but he doesn't.


MeelionDollerBogus's picture

time to switch financial advisors. I'd start looking at what Joel Salatin has to say.

brombones's picture

I already own a farm off the grid (I'm typing this on a coconut computer), so it would be meaningless for him to tell me to do it. But it would be a nice gesture.

Thanks for the tip on Salatin.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

every farmer has their own tips - his may not apply to your land but... he's real good at what he does. I'm impressed by his migrating chicken flocks, how quickly they can be fed yet fertilize fields.

Have you checked out Mittleider gardening? It's impressive. Total re-work of how to deal with soil & mineral+nutrient balance plus adverse weather & quickly diagnosing what's wrong with a plant for immediate correction, be it the soil or pest insects, rodents, etc.

I Write Code's picture

Or, put 10% in gold and hide it, spend the rest, and then cultivate modesty.

D-Fens's picture

America is a project, and it's not really going too well.

Projects can and do fail all the time.  Where is it written in the universe that the entity called the "United States of America" will last forever and will lord it over all other peoples until the end of time, and will expand into the universe and lord it over all aliens until the end of time?

Didn't Rome believe the same thing?  And the British?

Believe me, the rest of the world isn't going to care if this thing goes down.  Yes it will be painful at first, they will need to find new currencies and ways to trade, but they will get on with life, humans always do.

satoshi101's picture

AmeriKKKa is THEFT

They came here and killed the Native Indians murdered them all, and then the USA took itself to murder the world,

Then it turned on itself as was predicted in the 1960's.

Experiment my ass, the USA is a kleptocracy, and the world is sick and tired of their shit, so now the USA has to rob its fucking self,

Like I always say, RUN FAR AWAY FROM THE USA, ... if you want to live.

SmallerGovNow2's picture

CHS you nailed it as always.  Loved your book, "Why things are falling apart and what we can do about it".  I'm on my third reading of it....

Hapa's picture

We are fucked for sure, and appear to have earned it

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Seems to me people need to learn how to see, how to get past personal bias, and to share with others, need to learn how to do so without getting fired, jailed, etc., while pushing the real evidence so others can verify the claims made. Anonymity on the Internet is a huge part of this for most people. When privacy is gone punishment will follow for stepping out of line.
Being defended by a strong reputation also helps for a smaller minority. Some are very vulnerable & will feel their reputation will be damaged rather than their claims & presentation of evidence bolstered by the reputation.

This can be a problem so people who aren't anonymous need to make a delicate judgement call about what the outcome will be: will a claim & evidence be heard because of reputation (happens but not usually) or will one's reputation be destroyed for speaking the truth (all too typical)?

As for being intellectually lazy... that's all too typical no matter the era of history or city/nation in question. Sad but true.

satoshi101's picture

Charles Smith, is like the only real person I ever see on the INTERNET that tells the truth, but he does it with class.

Maulden trys to fake it, but MAULDEN is clearly a cheer-leader for te IMF.


The problem is this is a constant in all human history and society.

[ Read "Richest man in Babylon", if your under 20, and want to become part of the 3% and jump into the 0.01%, its a 4,000 year old book. ]

1.) 97% don't have a fucking clue what's going on

2.) 2.99% know what's going on

3.) 0.01% or LESS, make shit happen


In summary, its nothing fucking new, ... and even if the 3% wanted to tell the 97% percent the truth, they would be bored in a nano-second, the USA public prefer KARDASHIAN-SNATCH by a 60% margin, enough said, don't rock the boat.

Gaining knowledge for what? Is the real problem, it will not set you free, most likely drive you nuts.

The smart thing is for the 3% to educate their child to be part of the 0.01%, that is the only intelligent reason to be part of the 3%, otherwise, its better to be part of the 97%, the so called "BOILED FROGS"


rustymason's picture

I don't know about other countries, but Americans are allergic to the truth. They do not speak it and refuse to seek it or even hear it. They will not stand for it. When they hear it coming, they yell and stomp in a tantrum and change the channel. Even if the Messiah came today, Americans would not recognize Him, so spoiled and corrupted are they.

I Write Code's picture

So who ever has time and motivation to look at ugliness?

Anyway this is the Obamanation, there is no ugliness, nothing to look at, these are not the economic facts you've been looking for, move along.

Cornholiovanderbilt's picture

Fark the globalist eungenic control fks.  There time will come!

Onthebeach's picture

Who has the time and motivation?

Very few apparently.

Those few who understood prior to 2008 what was going to happen and then after 2008 saw most of the  Western world pass down the rabbit hole, find it virtually impossible to discuss the topic with family and friends, let alone other people.

People believe what they are told on the TV … that recovery is underway and that all is well.

This message is repeated daily.

For these viewers the GFC is already an historical event.

The five years of the “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” since 2008 are now accepted as the “New Normal”.


If you have been increasingly feeling like ‘Alice’ …. this is the reason why.

satoshi101's picture

WOW, no doubt that CHARLES is reading ZH, I just felt like I read a full concenced snapyse of my shit in one long page.

Just yesterday I wrote "If you really understood the USA, you would go MAD"

For he that gaineth knowledge of the USA gaineth grief, and in much knowledge of the REAL USA is much UN-Happiness.


Also to peel back the onion and to really learn about the USA, takes at least 50 years of hard fucking study,

I have no doubt that CHARLES on recently perhaps the last 5-10 years figured out the 'real show' in the USA.

Once you arrive there, you will not like what you find, thus the old maxim, "Better to be DUMB and HAPPY".


Yep, NOTHING will fucking change when over 60% of the USA public is on the NAZI payroll.