Why We're Fragmenting: The Status Quo Is Disintegrating

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Charles Hugh-Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The system is disintegrating, and slapping a "reformist" coat of paint over the dryrot cannot renew the structural timbers that have rotted to their very core.

I confess to being amused by the mainstream media's implicit view that everything would be peachy if only Trump wasn't president. Memo to MSM: the nation is fragmenting for reasons that have nothing to do with who's president, or indeed, which party is the majority in Congress, who sits on the Supreme Court, or any other facet of governance.

The nation is fracturing and fragmenting because the Status Quo is failing the majority of the citizenry. The protected few are reaping all the benefits of the Status Quo, at the expense of the unprotected many.

As I have outlined many times, this unsustainable asymmetry is the only possible outcome of our socio-economic system, which is dominated by these forces:

1. Globalization--free flow of capital, labor arbitrage

2. Nearly free money from central banks for financiers and corporations

3. Pay-to-play "democracy"

4. State protected cartels that privatize gains and socialize losses

5. A system stripped of self-correcting feedback and accountability

Once you understand the inputs and structure, you realize there is no other possible output other than unsustainably expanding debt and wealth/income inequality. Policy tweaks cannot change the output; all they do is provide an illusion of reform that serves the need of those at the top to obscure the systemic injustices and unsustainability of the extractive, exploitive, predatory, parasitic system that's enriching them.

What do people do when centralized systems fail to deliver what was promised? They fragment into smaller "tribes" and find fewer reasons to cooperate in centralized systems. As historian-economist Peter Turchin explained in his 2016 book Ages of Discord, human history manifests cycles of social disintegration and integration in which the impulse to cooperate in large social structures waxes and wanes.

Turchin identified 25-year cycles that combine into roughly 50-year cycles, comparable (though not identical with) Kondratieff's proposed economic cycles.

These 50-year cycles are part of longer 150 to 200-year cycles that move from cooperation through an age of discord and disintegration to a new era of cooperation.

This work draws upon his previous books, including War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires, which I referenced in Following in Ancient Rome's Footsteps: Moral Decay, Rising Wealth Inequality (September 30, 2015) and The Lesson of Empires: Once Privilege Limits Social Mobility, Collapse Is Inevitable (April 18, 2016).

These long cycles parallel the cyclical analysis of David Hackett Fischer, whose masterwork The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History I've referenced many times over the years, most recently in We've Entered an Era of Rising Instability and Uncertainty (July 18, 2016).

Turchin's model identifies three primary forces in these cycles:

1. An over-supply of labor that suppresses real (inflation-adjusted) wages

2. An overproduction of essentially parasitic Elites

3. A deterioration in central state finances (over-indebtedness, decline in tax revenues, increase in state dependents, fiscal burdens of war, etc.)

These combine to influence the social order, which is characterized in eras of discord by declining loyalty to self-serving special interests (disintegration) and in eras of cooperation by a willingness to compromise for the good of the entire society (integration).

As I have often explained, centralization is now a disruptive drag rather than a benefit. Centralization provided widespread gains in efficiencies in its boost phase, but now that it is sliding down the S-curve, it only benefits the few at the expense of the many.

The returns on centralization have diminished to less than zero: centralization's primary outputs are now corruption, lack of accountability, cronyism, complexity moats and bureaucratic thickets that obscure the self-serving nature of centralized power.

State of Denial: The Economy No Longer Works As It Did in the Past (May 16, 2017)

The structural failure of our political-economic system cannot be remedied by electing a new president or swapping failed political parties. The system is disintegrating, and slapping a "reformist" coat of paint over the dryrot cannot renew the structural timbers that have rotted to their very core.

Identifying cycles can be a parlor game, but there is no denying that we're deep into a disintegrative phase that will probably come to a head between 2021 and 2029.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
spastic_colon's picture

the boost phase has all the same "qualities" as the decline phase; its just that no one cares enough to acknowledge it until the decline.

StackShinyStuff's picture

This article is very long winded way of saying we're all fucked

Thought Processor's picture



Back to local, bottom up, decentralized system.  As the U.S. was originally set up.  It may take a while though, and how we get there is anybodys guess.

RiverRoad's picture

We are witnessing the genesis of a Third Party in America. By the time of the next presidential election every voter in America will know the truth about our political process.

The Deep State will reap what it has sown.

meta-trader's picture

she was a waitress in a cocktail bar now she owns a jet... http://bit.ly/2jdTzrM

11b40's picture

I think you will eventually be right, but not so sure it will be that fast.  The Deep State probably has quite a few tricks up their sleeve for us yet to play out....war being the big one.

 However, they have had a lot of trouble getting traction with the people for another war.  Every one of our foreign adventures for decades have ended up as expensive boondoggles, and the citizens are catching on.  Very few are willing to saddle up and die for corporate America anymore, and the mercenary army is costing way more than our old citizen's army ever did.  So the race is on.  The race for more drones and for weaponized robots.  A futile race, as the battlefield is shifting before our eyes, moving from outdoors into our businesses, governments, infrastructure, and even our homes, as others are able to reach out and touch us through the Internet.  Moving from battlefield armies to individual radicals and small unit, guerrilla style warfare fought with low tech weapons impossible to prevent being used.  Knives, trucks, critically placed explosives that are easy to make with common ingredients, psychological warfare aimed to do economic harm, etc.

I think the article is correct.  We have become a fragmented society at war with ourselves.  A war that is not an accident, but a part of a plan that few can see, and even fewer will speak about.

RiverRoad's picture

Hannity and friends are educating the American voter on a daily basis much faster than I might have expected:

"Deep State" is now a household word whereas a few months ago most "guys" on the street had no idea who or what the Deep State referred to.

As Americans continue to learn the truth of our politics, the shelf-life of the Deep State grows shorter.

Mineshaft Gap's picture

Don't overlook the establishment's secret weapon. Brainwashed millennials will have numerical superiority in roughly a decade.

They'll be lining up to vote for the same old thing in brand new drag...possibly literally in drag...as it will be easy to fool them with superficial values symbolism.

Prepare for President Zuckerberg and his Muslim Lesbian Veep.

ElTerco's picture

I disagree. I think this is a good elevator speech describing *why* we are fucked.

LawsofPhysics's picture

The true "status quo" is just fine.  The problem is that the wealth machine for the 0.01% is not that efficient and requires more resources....

The real power brokers like their lifestyles and are not willing to give up the power and control that they have obtained.  They are intentionally doing everything they can to lower the human population!

Hedge accordingly.

new game's picture

all true! agree! just enjoy the ride thru life. nothing we can do to change what be a happening...

Practical Cogitator's picture

The term "useless eaters" has been used by many notables over the course of time - perhaps "irredeemable deplorables" is the modern-day equivalent to all those WW-II German quotes, but it does seem that it is a favorite among today's elites [largely Zionist] who are controlling a weaponized oy vey narrative, forever demonizing and destroying any dissenters: 

“The elderly are useless eaters” Dr. Henry Kissinger from the book, the Final Days.  

The bottom 95% are really no longer of much use to the top 5%, certainly not to the top 0.01%.  Who needed the Kulaks, deemed useless eaters by the Zionist Bolsheviks?  Likewise, who among the Zionists these days needs a Middle Class?  
Ever wonder why nearly every communicable disease has been cured but so-called man-made civilization diseases like Diabetes-2, heart disease, and cancer rage on?  
Ponder for a few moments whether this screaming anomaly has something to do with “useless eaters”?
MissCellany's picture

Then Kissinger ought to set the example and just go away for good.

ElTerco's picture

*Everybody* has done this once a society grows beyond a certain size, not just the Jews.

Radical Marijuana's picture


"Once you understand the inputs and structure, you realize there is no other possible output other than unsustainably expanding debt and wealth/income inequality."


"Centralization provided widespread gains in efficiencies in its boost phase, but now that it is sliding down the S-curve, it only benefits the few at the expense of the many."

"Centralization" is due to the history of being able to integrate sophisticated systems which backed up legalized lies with legalized violence, whose most important manifestations became the ways public governments enforced frauds by private banks: Michael Snyder Rages "The Federal Reserve Must Go" | Zero Hedge


"... unsustainable asymmetry is the only possible outcome of our socio-economic system ..."


"State protected cartels that privatize gains and socialize losses."


"Why We're Fragmenting: The Status Quo Is Disintegrating"

Hugh-Smith's superficially correct analysis avoids



Endless exponential population growth is not possible.


By definition, what limits growth are "death controls."


Debt slavery systems, which defer debts onto 'unborn,'

simultaneously defer death controls onto their future.

cossack55's picture

Bring it NOW!!!  

small axe's picture

time to start looking over your shoulder, Ms. Powerful Politician and Mr. Hedgie Parasite:

Rabble alert

Oldwood's picture

Dump Trump and just watch it all unravel. The principal issue of the day is injustice or NO JUSTICE.  Trump was the deplorable's  last chance, for better or worse, and if they take Trump down, it will make the progressive resistance look like a children's play.

new game's picture

deep state is firmly in control! no doubt, no cog dis, no shit sherlock. read above comment.

oldwood, a sage of wisdom here...

nevertheless's picture



So, your saying Trump is our savior, a man from NYC, who owes everything to Jewish banks, who bailed him out...because we all know how generous Jewish bankers are. Anyone with a brain would wonder what he gave in exchange for the "bailout"?


Furthermore, he CHOSE to fill his cabinet with Zionist war mongers, Wall Street filth. 


He immediately showed his support for Israel...


While ignoring his pledges he made during the campaign. Is Clinton in jail, is ICE kicking ass, FUCK NO.


And the whole media's war on Trump was a fucking rouse, wake up. The same people who own the media own Trump. The fake attacks on Trump were merely to drive the right to support Trump. It is time to accept the rulers are a bit smarter than you are, and they did not get control by being passive snowflakes. NO ONE GETS INTO OFFICE WITHOUT THEIR APPROVAL. 

The Zionists did not want Ron Paul, did they attack him, they did initially, but once he really got going, they IGNORED HIM, that is what they do, remove you from the conversation. Their "attacks" on Trump were contrived, easily refuted. The attacks were overt, to make those on the right who falsely believe the media is "liberal" (The media is pro open borders, pro war and pro globalism, basically Clinton, NOT Sanders, and SANDERS WOULD HAVE WON, so CLINTON IS NOT LIBERAL, like the media is NOT LIBERAL). 

11b40's picture

Well, thanks for telling us what we already know, but Oldwood did not say Trump was our savior.  He said "for better or worse" he was the Deplorables last hope.

Was there another alternative in the last election?  No, there was not.  At least not for me.  Were you a Clinton supporter?  Sanders?

While I don't disagree with the points made in your post, your used an incorrect statement as the springboard for your diatribe.  Kinda reminds me of listening to an MSNBC host.  I assure you that Oldwood is very much aware of the current situation, and isn't counting on anyone being our "Saviour".

Relentless's picture

You are looking at the end of the current style of government for the US. By destroying the ability of this president to govern, the dems have destroyed the ability of any president to govern, as will become very apparent the next time the dems manage to win it.

Worst case scenario: I reckon that less than a year into the next democratic presidency, death by leaks will be in such flow that it will prevent any kind of governance. The historical parallels with the roman emperors and the way that the praetorian guard turned into kingmakers are evident. Presidential life cycles will begin to shorten until they are measured in months. This will be followed by a revolutionary change in government, either by the rise of a 3rd party that casts out all of the current elites (similar to the French/Russian revolutions or the rise of fascism in some European countries), or by the states deciding to abandon a dysfunctional federal government. Either way, expect to see a break up of the US into several parts depending on their allegiances or political leanings. What happens after that is anyone's guess. Maybe the states will pull back together to re-invent the US, possibly they will simply decide to form some several smaller federations, possibly they will go full 19th century Europe and we'll see armed clashes over resources (water, mid-west grain or oil & gas) and access to trading routes.

Other scenarios to consider:

The weak president scenario, where the succession of presidents destroyed by leaking and rumour monging leads congress to take back most powers from the president reducing them to a figurehead

The strong president scenario (like Erdogan, or Julius Ceasar): One president secures stability by vastly increasing the power of the presidency and backing it by a beefed up security (secret police) service.

The transparent presidency. Recognising that the only way to beat rumours is by complete openess, the office of the presidsent videos all meetings and releases those videos for public consumption. Discussion of any items of sensitivity takes place outside the White House.

Admittedly the last one is very unlikely. My personal take is that the coming financial crisis, paired with the partisanship of congress will lead to the Julius Ceasar scenario where the president takes on increased powers - just for the emergency and just until congress can agree on a solution. i.e.. never. That president probably won't be Trump, he will be destroyed first, so that there will be a crisis of legitimacy at the same time as the financial crisis leadinmg to the "necessity" for a strong leader.



GunnerySgtHartman's picture

An overproduction of essentially parasitic Elites

Boy, isn't that the truth.  Let's fix it.

nevertheless's picture

I live in a nice subberb of DC, mostly older white and lots of Jews...


But no matter where you go, grocery stores, road construction, home building, roofing, any major national company, you will find NON Americna Latinos working there. I have kids, and work with the highschool, I know a number of kids looking for work, especially summer time work, and outside of retail there is very little for them. 


Around every park, lake, rec center you will find huge groups of Latinos, with 4 or 5 kids, and while I will admit many of the parents work, I know that the children of these foreigners will more likely join a gang. 


America is fucked, and who is behind the mass migration, you can look at Obama as the problem, but certainly Reagan helped it along...but behind it all you will find the Zionist Jew.


But why, why would zionist jews want open borders? Well, look where you find the largest populations of growing mass latino immigration, NY and CA, and you find a compliant "liberal" (liberal only in regards to getting free shit of the governemnt, but they are fine with war and bombing whomever) state. You will also find a ready population of soldiers, as our military becomes more and more Latino, comparatively. 

mooncat's picture

Why don't you just replace the Statue of Liberty with Hitler.

Snout the First's picture

No possibility of a middle ground with you, Mooncat? Either we have open borders and let everyone in, or we are building statues to Hitler? Really?

RiverRoad's picture

They and Soros will do whatever it takes to turn the white culture brown, both here and in Europe.

They see white culture as the enemy.

marathonman's picture

The Ponzi has to expand at all costs.  And it will cost everything...

0valueleft's picture

Flash mobs are unfortunately derived of misguided mental midgets. If they weren't Harvard, Yale and West Point etc. would be piles of cinder. Until this is true, there will be no truth. That is where the power of mass misinformation for profit is taught. Centralized social engineering is the shadow course at these satanic institutions. Conduits to power structures like Goldman and Washington.

Ivy thrives by smoothering all other life, by taking all the sun, water and nutrients. They are no longer a league, but are now a legion.

Burn it down

Deep Snorkeler's picture

The people of America

knew what was happening

to them, but were unable to stop it.

Knowledge did not translate to power.

Mostly, they all didn't care that much.

rejected's picture

"Identifying cycles can be a parlor game, but there is no denying that we're deep into a disintegrative phase that will probably come to a head between 2021 and 2029."

I'll bet that if someone searched far enough back they might find dates like 2015-2021 in previous posts.  He gave himself 12 years with this one. LOL.

These pundits know you cannot use past charts from a somewhat free market to forecast a completely corrupt market. It's comparing Apples to Oranges.

lew1024's picture

When the budgets have to change big-time because there is no $ to spend, it all changes, they lose major power as a result of that dysruption.

So, when does that happen? When the US can no longer borrow and subsequently the money is so devalued it doesn't purchase anything.

Currently, the US's borrowing is propped up by all of the world's CBs printing currency, with the US being seen as a safe haven. I anticipate the 'safe haven' status switching to negative in some short period, but predicting timing of black swans is a foolish game.

CHS's has discussed all of that in his posts over the years.


jimymac's picture

Smaller tribes are the answer, i.e., suceeding states! It's happening.

JohnGaltUk's picture
  • George Washington
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • John Adams
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • James Madison
  • John Jay
  • Alexander Hamilton

Will be turning in their graves if they could see how our present politicians have sold us all out for some pieces of silver.

NAV's picture

And you know, they come cheap, like Banana Republic dictators.

These Congressmen will do anything to get these jobs –will move Heaven and earth to ride around in limos sporting blow dry hair styles – just to cheat and be manipulated by the international bankers.

Revolution is bubbling under the surface in America. The solution, the only viable one, according to Ron Paul, “is to get government out of the money business permanently."

Kat Daddy's picture

Well, not Hamilton, he was an agent for the Bank of England, http://blogs.yu.edu/news/a-jewish-founding-father/  Hamilton would be thrilled with Global Empire, Central Banking and a over reaching Federal Government!  

HRClinton's picture

The truth is, that globalists and bankers got ahead of the Conservative 'patriots', by shipping off to distant wars those people, who have physical courage. 

By the time they come back - if they come back or in one piece - they are too burned out to revolt. The bitter irony is, that the more brave they are, the more likely they are to die or get wounded. That only leaves the scared, sheepish masses to numb & dumb down.

Poor, naive, gullible, obese, disorganized White Americans. Their defeat did not start in Congress. It started at home, but ends in Congress. 

Sorry for the truth.

Thom Paine's picture

It all always ends in tears.

Just a matter of when. 

No fun for the peasants in the meantime.

nevertheless's picture

And when it comes to Hollywood/entertainment industry as well as the ZioMedia, you find the demonetization of white males, Christian religion (I am not religious but I know the need for common values within a society), the glorification of MULTICULTURALISM, which in reality means NO CULTURE, just corporatism: McDonalds/Start Bucks/ Walmart...


It is shocking that Americans don't put the peices together, we all know Hollywood is Jew, as well as the MSM, either in ownership, management and actors/anchors, and within this Zionist system we find a consistent message: Again the demonetization of white men, Muslims, small towns, while we see the glorification of war, solders, women, multiculturalism, globalism, Israel and Jews...


I geuss when you have a system which is totally controlled by one small group, telling you one thing, it is hard to see the truth. If anyone does question the Zionist propaganda they are branded a "conspiracy theorist", and if you question Israel/Zionism or Jews, you are branded a "Nazi" and rest assured you will NEVER WORK AGAIN. Hollywood, like Washington, is full of whore to the Zionist machine, who gets lots of work because they are loyal slaves to Israel. 


The war on the internet, while wrapped in lies about "fake news" and "hacking", rest assured this is about stopping the truth from getting out. As little as 10 years ago you would never hear about the evils of Zionism, now its hard to miss it. Yet in state after state we see the Zionists working to pass laws to limit criticism of Israel or Zionism, equating it with "anti-semitism" (fuckers are not even Semites, which means "Arabian"). IN Canada and much of Europe they have outlawed criticism of Jews, while behind much of the EU and the ruling class again you find the Zionist Jews. 


They are working to destroy America, and to be sure Trump is part of their plan. I mean the fucker is a Casino mogul from NYC, is there any other area more prone to subservience to the worst elements of Zionist Jews, Sheldon Adlson is a close friend of Trump, and they bailed him out...You really need to be pretty ignorant to miss this obvious Zionist in Patriot's clothing. 

mooncat's picture

Why don't you go into the kitchen and put your head in the oven. It couldn't hurt.

NAV's picture

Ever wonder why a movie about Nazism is produced every year?  The answer: Six Jewish Companies Own 96% of the World’s Media.

In America, as one blog commenter puts it, you can criticize God, but you can’t criticize Israel.

Ghost who Walks's picture

I see occassional references in the work of Gail Tverberg and Charles Hugh Smith to different dynamics in economic systems as boundaries are approached.

It's becoming clear from the work that has been published by both Tverberg and Steve Keen that things really are different during different parts of the cycle. From a mathematical viewpoint this is the difference between regressions based on straight lines through data sets and the steep curves found in phenomena based on exponential functions. Since there are finite resources to be plundered and finite energy available to do work, at some point the reality of life on this planet will diverge from the projections made by regressions.

There is no reason to believe that we have not reached that divergence now based on the data. It is fairly clear based on the data for energy consumption that things are now past the peak of the curve and the little people are now feeling the pain.

Most of the stories on Zero Hedge confirm that we are not on a rising economic trend and that we are seeing data points on things like savings, workforce participation, hydrocarbon fuel consumption and insurance premiums that show things are now worse than in the past.

In Professor Joseph Tainters work on the collapse of complex civilisations he gives a list of past theories on why the Roman empire collapsed. He makes the case that the marginal return on investment becomes negative. Amongst the many theories he lists is the loss of credibility of the elites with the bulk of the population. I see no reason why many of the postulated causes of decline have to operate in isolation. I see many of these potential causitive factors operating today.

It may be that a solution is the disintergration of the USA into smaller entities of common thinking groups. This happened to the Soviet Union and may have been to the ultimate benefit of the citizens of both Russia and the many independent republics.

If this is considered carefully now it may preclude future civil war in the US.

With this change comes a loss of power projection that may be no bad thing.

Sandmann's picture

Being less abstract it is simply that the parasites are feeding off the host. Remove bankers, lawyers from the equation and yuou think out your problems in Politics and Society........remove MSM from the equation and you improve mental health

Grandad Grumps's picture

Nice article Charles.

We have oft heard it said that "money is the root of all evil". I really think that is an oversimplification that does not really descibe the situation.

Money is a source of corruption, but only because of the human susceptibility to fear and ego. Fear and ego are used by evil to control humans. Only by concquering our fear and ego can we ever be free.

Based on my experience, the elitists are sadly seemingly more entagled in their own fear and ego than the average human being. They are unable to let it go and so they pile on rationalizations and mechanisms to increasingly prop themselves up, hopeing to allay the fear and assuaging their ego. They are seemingly clueless that there is even a problem. They delight in their slavery. They are camels who are not looking for a needle big enough, but rather camels who want to be camels (or at least the illusion of camels) forever.

Sandmann's picture

Not true......"love of money is the root of all evil"

Weirdly's picture

Money is the greatest invention in the histoy of humanity.   

11b40's picture

Still not true.  LACK of money is the root of all eveil.

ElTerco's picture

Put the two together, and you have just solved the equation. Love *and* Lack of money are the root of all evil. That describes everyone who is not the middle class.

The middle class is being eaten from above (not paid fully for work by the parasitic executive class) and below (forced donation to the welfare class). Government acts as the facilitator to make sure the tail classes extract their wealth from the middle class.

As a side note, the welfare class are the amateurs compared to the executive class who are the experts at unfairly extracting wealth without commensurate contribution.

Alananda's picture

A grandfather myself, I recall the assertion as follows:  LOVE of money is the root of all evil.  To think money itself is the root of all evil is, of course, too simplistic.  Now, if we could only put back in place MONEY, then we might have to worry about loving it too much!  In the meantime (and in mean times we do live!), we might also worry about POWER, its capacity to corrupt, and those ultra-weathy folks who strive continuously for more power, not just for more "money".