In Playing with the End we looked at fun little tool that collected over 100 ways "the world" might "end." Ignoring the null semantics of that concept (the World will still be here, our little piece may change radically, but that is the nature of history) I do want to again point out that when a system breaks down, how that breakdown is interpreted plays a big role in What Comes Next.
This is important. It is at these phase changes or inflection points or tipping points or whatever you want to call them that the new stories of the future get outlined. The future gets hijacked (dare I say, FutureJacked?) by the memes that are swirling in our mental ecosystems and these memes duke it out for supremacy.
One of the memes that will inform the Collapse and the response to said Collapse in the United States is becoming fairly obvious at this point. The meme can be summed up as "depressed, angry man who thinks he has no options left runs amok and kills many people." Sort of a modern day "Sampson pulls Temple down on self, killing many Philistines along with him" way to express the rage that has been building up over the end of the Cycle Wave 5 and this corrective move since the market top (in real dollars) in 2000.
According to how Frost and Prechter put it (Elliott Wave Principle, Key to Market Behavior, page 76), wave 5's are "...always less dynamic than third waves in terms of breadth." Yawn. So what? What does technical analysis have to do with killing sprees and a buildup of anger among a swath of the social body?
I think it is key. When a bull market wave 5 is running, fewer and fewer folks reap the benefits and the foundation of the "prosperity" generated is weak. However, the information that is used to educate and build the worldview of the members of this culture are all the same - big, easy money is your birthright and will make you happy - no money, you suck. Now that we are moving into a bear market and many people have a lot less money, this default mechanism that has been coded into their mental software kicks in, telling them they suck.
Yes, there are many enlightened souls out there that reject crass materialism. Sheer numbers, though, are on the side of the angry and the money-hungry.
The big percentage of folks whose mental software has been programmed from birth with commands to consume, work office job, breed, drink, party, consume are experiencing some severe cognitive dissonance right now. They are part of the mass herd that is sliding more quickly every day into negativity and anger. They sense something is amiss, that they've been lied to, that the U.S. is more akin to a Latin American kleptocracy than the noble Republic they learned about in civics. They know that they've lived through a big-ass Wave 5 upswing into a mass prosperity that will never be seen again by those living today. They may not acknowledge that they know it, but it is there, subconsciously gnawing at them like a rat on dead flesh. They dull it with anti-depressants. They dull it with drinking. They dull it with willful ignorance (thank you, CNBC).
But the time is coming - and soon, I fear - when these people will embrace this rage, not ignore it. I think that time will come when we freefall into Primary Wave 3 in the coming weeks or at most a few months.
What Can We Expect?
Knowing I am painting with a broad brush and at the risk of wading into the swamp of Class Warfare-speak let's look at one way to view the current situation as we teeter on the edge of the abyss of intense negative social mood:
- Income disparity is at a major high in the country. By itself, perhaps not a key driver, but the economic "deal" struck as we "deregulated" over the 1970s and 1980s was that the better use of the capital would return benefits to everyone. With the recent bout of corporate welfare under TARP and from the Fed, one might argue that this "deal" is dead, but no one knows what will replace it.
- The materialist culture sold to the American People for the last 80 years or so has found itself bankrupt - both fiscally and philosophically. People who have lived their entire lives believing that a better deodorant and a shirt from the right store will make them happy are now being told that money isn't everything by the same media outlets that pimped out materialism for the last several decades.
- Male culture in the U.S. is a tattered, shredded, pitiful thing and we have two generations of males with nothing left but rage as they live in a culture that at best does not give them a framework for mature growth and at worst actively mocks them for the crime of simply being male. This is a worry because the vast majority of those running amok are males and among that male population white males have been making the headlines with recent spree killings.
- Jobs are disappearing. "Good" jobs will be hard to find in the future. Folks will adjust, but it will be hard on them.
- No one knows how the mass consumption of mood-altering drugs like anti-depressants will affect mass behavior. We have at least 10% of the population medicated and have the first generation that was mass-drugged coming to maturity. What happens if economic conditions cut off their drug supply abruptly?
This rage meme will be dressed up in more "acceptable" forms at first. Remember, how we hang "tags" on events driven by mass mood is, in my opinion, fed from a stock of memes that have crept into our skulls. Initially it will be things like "oh, he was just a racist" or "oh, he was just a nerd who hated women" or "oh, he was just depressed because he lost his job."
But as more and more of these spree killings erupt, I believe they will feed on themselves and I even think you'll see some sort of network of ideas, justification and even glorification of the "going out guns blazing" spree killing meme.
Gonna be a rough bunch of years folks. Be wary in crowds. Know where the exits are every time you enter a room. Enjoy the moment when you can - we are soon to enter the heart of the abyss.