If you wanna jump right to the topic of this article then skip a few alinea’s please. I first want to share where I am coming from before starting to write more articles again!
A few years ago I often wrote about theme’s and topics of the economy and society like: “too big to fail” “negative externalities of our economic systems” “consumerism” “entropy” “times of transition not just change” “age of decadence” “rise and fall of empires”, key concepts and words like that, trying to make ‘sense’ of the world so to speak and how societies evolve really. It also showed me how history tend to repeat itself in the sense that certain underlying collective choices and patterns do not really change, only the stage changes. Greed and arrogance for example are themes of cultural development shown in the past and in the present. So throughout my articles, I always try to do my best to expose an underlying theme or connection which could explain why certain lessons are hard to learn and themes we fall back on collectively speaking. So, that being said, studying society is still an everyday occupation for me, I try to do my best for, especially during chaotic times like ours.
I enjoy to create these articles based on free writing, creative writing and sometimes purely on inspiration or automatic writing. Please feel free to challenge everything I say if you think what I’m writing interest you. Some topics that I explore out of academic interest, I will use a more scientific structure for with sources, based on assignments I can combine for my academic schooling upcoming years. But for articles like these I just like to free roll it.
Funny side-note is that I discovered that ‘sensemaking’ or practicing common public sense, giving power to public sociology is a very profound way of looking at my attempts for this website and SOL initiative. It does not only stand just for its first name Simplicity Of Life, which I thought is the bare essence the soul seeks. At the same intensity it also seeks Freedom, making me and those interested Soldiers Of Liberty being in the School Of Life studying the Systems of Life in co-creation. So it is really a concept within a concept which all boils down to the fundamental need for making sense of our daily world, to be able to understand our unique place in time and space and hold it against the wide span of complexity that is all around us.
Therefore one of SOL’s goals would be to provide the service of Sense-making Of Life, a call for a return to the daily practice of common sense in times of transition like ours.
Today’s recession is a good opportunity maybe to get back to the bottom of our senses and a good time to revise certain things I argued about before like; ‘why the system is falling so hard as it is now.’ You can throw in quite some metaphors in that regard like; ‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall’ or another classic one would be that ‘all bubbles are meant to implode or deflate’ or ‘what comes up must come down’. So in the end many of these things are simply physics, and physics we can use to determine sustainable boundaries for the whole set of capital creating values, rather than using an one-dimensional look at the creation of capital and fundamentally the things we value in our daily lives.(six capitals, can accountants save the world I a good starting point for this I believe)
For me a big part of the reason why the ship is sinking pretty quickly now lies in evolutionary biology and plain simple physics and common sense reinforced through negative feedback mechanisms. Meaning that people born in a given society with a given set of rules are likely to obey these rules rather than change them or themselves. So in contemporary society there is an trans-generational pattern of wanting to be identified with the ‘peacock’, a flamboyant bird with a tail ready to impress all the ‘peahens’ or ladies. Like over time, the tails of the peacocks population grew bigger and bigger because Peahens prefer larger tailed peacocks. Like as if she is saying in the picture; Wauw, this peacock must know how to feed himself with a tail that big and impressive! So this sexual selection gave peacocks with bigger tails more opportunities to mate and pass along their genes. Initially, this weeds out the weak, but creates a new and more profound problem for the strong along the way. A big tail is just like an expensive Ferrari a charm for the eye, but a nightmare for your wallet. The one difference might be that you can still outrun your opponents in a Ferrari, but the ‘stronger’ peacocks are now easy prey, and basically created their own iron cage (refer to Max Weber) having to finance such a car trying to impress all the peahens. So evolutionary speaking this makes no sense off course, and the Peacock population as a result declines over time. Fundamentally, this is being succumbed to biological suicide.
But that raises the question; Why does the giraffe’s neck not grow longer?
The reason is that there is no ‘aberration’ or mismatch in the processes of natural selection and sexual selection. These two variables have to be maintained for reaching a viable population, and, therefore, a viable economy as well.
In the picture you can see an peacock with an impressive tail trying to seduce the Peahen. Makes me wonder how he manages to move around with a tail as big as that, but that doesn’t matter right? Cause we don’t have to move around anymore to survive. We live in the reminiscent of a world that values the fetishism of commodities (Karl Marx) and the goal of putting pleasure before the values that lead to them. And in the end, as Alan Watts coined it, is that we have to redefine what pleasure or happiness means to use in the world that is unfolding before us.
So the way I see it, today’s world stage is not much different then those of other big empires in the sense that everything comes to an end, and that every system, economic, natural or political, has a finite point of entropy due to ever enlarging negative feedback loops running throughout the greater system, causing an inevitable reboot so to say when shit starts to hit the fan more intensely.
So by seeing the economy as a complex and adaptive system there will always be moments in which some (necessary evil) crisis and chaos redeems the society into renewal and equilibrium. Such an renewal is generated through self-organizing processes, which is a bottom up approach, a revolution from ‘grassroots’ level so to speak.
An example of the theory above is the protests and polarization that will probably occur when the helicopters with free government money have extinguished the short-lasting fires of the initial crisis. A worst case scenario, which is a probable scenario, would be that the health crisis will exhaust national and international financial reserves (cause there is no such thing as ‘infinite cash’, there is hyperinflation) up to the point that you can start to compare the economy with that of a nation in wartime. ‘Spartan code’ does not come long after martial law overrules daily life for the sake of security. People will initially hoard and confidence would not be restored for the longer term despite the free handouts of cash to keep animal farm ignorantly pleased.
So in this slightly ugly, but likely scenario, given that there will not be a workable vaccine in such short-notice, people can start to get hungry and unsatisfied for their basic needs when short term cash dependent business go bankrupt and people start loosing jobs. Even though people can remain calm throughout some quantitative easing, hunger always remains a good cause for revolt in my opinion.
So what is it really that people want to be saved from by accepting a bail out on this scale from the governments and central banks around the globalized world?
In many ways, one can argue people want to be saved from taking responsibility, to act in a way that guarantees a sustainable future, knowing deep down some rotten aspects of our culture aren’t meant to be sustained, but are just an ‘iron cage’, an indulgence or a mode of life in which the system or the government can get the blame rather then ourselves.
Rather then trying to innovate or create a better system of interacting among each other that fits with a vision for the future generations many tend to fall in ismes like retreat ism, nihilism, ritualism or conformity and reject all possibilities to innovate the systems we choose to live with.
An attitude that does not sacrifice values over goals, but seeks the goal in the value of living life itself. To not be a martyr, or an official stuck in a bureaucratic machinery, but to become ones own entity in dealing with natural life themes and challenges. Not by saying that all contemporary institutions are inherently rotten and corrupt, but simply a call and acceptance for skeptical individualism that can aid in coming to a redeemed society.
The rather hopeless attempt for quantitative easing by the central banks to keep consumerism alive, is like trying to save the biggest peacock. What is there to save really besides a good looking tail? Why not invest in solid values like infrastructure that China does for example during recessions, infrastructure that actually will be used in times for an economic rebound.
Why not create some form of tangible jobs during low conjuncture times of health crisis instead of infusing the economy with helicopter money and giving in to the consumer fetishism that continues to feed the systematic downfall of the Western empire.
That being said, it is relatively easy and understandable to fall pray for ritualism, retreatism or conformity in confusing times of false media, manipulation of information and institutions as big as Goliath. However, the urgency and scope of today’s crisis hopefully awakens that inner David inside each of us to rally for a true calling, to a return for some ‘common faith‘ and to redeem the moral hazard and madness of crowds we are faced with in contemporary society.
Today’s globalized empire of Western democratization, neocapitalism and neoliberalism is an experiment in and of itself, and in times of crisis where the Achilles heels of a system are shown, we should explicitly focus on being skeptical for the sake of a greater future. So the compliance of all those officials within systems that are ready for change is holding back the change we seek. Therefore, it is merely a call for courage and finding leadership maybe in oneself before asking the politicians again for guidance.
The probable rise of protests due to today’s health crisis (which was already a health crisis in many ways due to the culture of decadence) could fundamentally change the institutions of today. Elemental parts of socioeconomically systems are then organized from ordinary people on the streets into new forms never seen before that lay fundamental in innovating our societies. This is what a crisis on this scale should awaken, the spirit and heroism of David trying to defeat an enemy greater then him or herself. Many issues are still present and are pushed to the background during the Corona, like the farmer protests in The Netherlands. A profound movement, because who is gonna make the fries I eat daily otherwise..?
So you might ask, why does it matter, why does it matter knowing that everything comes to an end? It matters because as a society we are not used to contemplate upon ‘death’. What matters is how flamboyant we look and what matters is the goal of material gain itself, not the processes towards it. Values have been sacrificed to serve the goal, as Max Weber said, which is exactly what the ‘Peacock effect’ in economics implies.
“The show must go on”
Until all peacocks fall… or until the peahens change their preference.
Let’s not succumb to biological suicide and cognitive dissonance 🙂
For source about the economic peacock effect see link below;
Happy to engage in further debates around above mentioned topics.