Thursday, May 19, 2011

What Will Get Corrected When Mood Plunges Again (Part 1)

Running on the assumption that we are in the early years of a Supercycle A-B-C correction, here at FutureJacked HQ we have been trying to puzzle out all the aspects of society, politics and financial arrangements that could "correct" deeply during these years of turmoil, along with stock market prices. Correct in this case may mean deep reform, total destruction or revolution.

An article from Stratfor caught my eye today that illustrates one item that has been in a more or less bull market for a couple of centuries - good governance:

Corruption: Why Texas is Not Mexico
By Scott Stewart | May 19, 2011
As one studies Mexico’s cartel war, it is not uncommon to hear Mexican politicians — and some people in the United States — claim that Mexico’s problems of violence and corruption stem largely from the country’s proximity to the United States. According to this narrative, the United States is the world’s largest illicit narcotics market, and the inexorable force of economic demand means that the countries supplying the demand, and those that are positioned between the source countries and the huge U.S. market, are trapped in a very bad position. Because of this market and the illicit trade it creates, billions of dollars worth of drugs flow northward through Mexico (or are produced there) and billions of dollars in cash flow back southward into Mexico. The guns that flow southward along with the cash, according to the narrative, are largely responsible for Mexico’s violence. As one looks at other countries lying to the south of Mexico along the smuggling routes from South America to the United States, they too seem to suffer from the same maladies...

Basically, it is written with the same confidence (hubris?) that is found in much of the analysis of the U.S. position in the world by the current crop of political and academic elites. This piece ends on a note of gosh, those Mexicans sure have tried hard to root out corruption and drug war violence, but since they don't have the Anglo-Saxon tradition and institutions of the U.S., they have failed in comparison to the U.S.

I actually don't disagree with much of the analysis. It is the usual thorough job by Stratfor, with a lot of excellent context and background material you can find through the links and it provides an outstanding snapshot of the strategic conditions on the ground today. That said, it suffers, in my opinion, from the lack of a larger framework (such as socionomics) that is necessary to use the information to try and understand how events will unfold in the future.

I would have kept mcuh of the analysis in place, but changed the title of the article to "Corruption: Why Texas is Not Mexico - Yet."

Yes, I will be the first to say that the governing systems that have been in place in the United States have in many eras (including this one) have left much to be desired. Corruption has been a feature of this, of course, along with the initial toleration of slavery in the early years of the Republic, and occasional outbursts of tyranny, bad laws and outright abuse of power.

Taking all of that as a given, it has still been a period of remarkably good governance when you sit back and compare it to what came before. When you think of the corruption and tyranny endemic to the feudal system, or the excesses and rivers of blood sparked under communism or fascism, or look at the Thirty Years War or the Warlord Period in China, you gain at least a grudging respect for how we in the United States have conducte our affairs. There has always been much to do to improve it, but at least we have an ideal of just government to judge the actions of the powerful against and some (limited) means of correcting the system when it is out of balance with the ideal of justice.

While these institutions are robust, all things pass. With the massive changes coming our way, we could see the authority of the central government called into question in ways not seen since 1860. A bankrupt Nanny State that has promised all things to all people and is also dedicated to a "War on Drugs," that all of a sudden can't pay the local cops, the sherriffs, the judges or border patrol agents, may very well watch with horror the decay of authority that the Mexicans watched happen in their country over the course of the 1990s and 2000s.

The U.S. has had institutions with a long track record of relatively honest peformance (the nature of the laws being enforced aside), but those institutions and that track record could very well crumple in the face of the Great Bear headed our way. The vast profits in illegal drugs serve as a powerful solvent to honest insitutions. Once the heat gets turned up on the cops and the courts with a downturn in mood and a devastation of the budget outlays for law enforcement, then the reaction towards corruption and violence could be fierce and far more swift than most analysts think possible.

1 comment:

David said...

An additional consideration is Etienne de la Boitie's five century old observation about consent being the basis for all political regimes.

No ruling system exists without consent; to even suggest otherwise is to embrace fantasy. Thus, while we are treated to endless analyses of Mexican mayhem, always missing is the explanation for the consent dynamic that underlies the dominant paradigm. Somewhere, somehow, Mexicans in the aggregate consent to the ruling system that is yielding the social breakdown associated with their narco-wars.

Americans currently exhibit a phenomenal level of consent and docility in the face of historically high levels of cattle-prodding (e.g. TSA ques, roadside checkpoints, imprisoning the highest proportion of citizens in the world). This acceptance of regimentation could go either way, either dissolving into polarization and anger or serving as a conduit of social mood negativity on a more collective basis (following the path of Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc.)

My one forecast associated with all of this: Roadblock "checkpoints" to relieve people of cash, weapons, etc. will become absolutely routine in coming years. At first those manning the checkpoints will have uniforms and official sanction. Later, the notion of "official sanction" may get quite fluid.