by Mustela nivalis
On a Sunday in mid-August 1961 (it was the 13th) the people of Berlin woke up to the news that their city had been split in two. The iron curtain had become concrete (pun intended [sorry]). The last escape hatch from the East had been brutally closed. People running away had become an embarrassment for the believers in socialism. It was a wall born of hyper-rationality (everything can be planned down to the last nut and bolt and shoe and string). Streets and squares were cut in half, as were families. People in East Germany continued to escape to the relative freedom of the West, but the risks were immeasurably greater. It took 28 years of relatively peaceful standoff, a costly arms race and an overextension of the Eastern Empire (into Afghanistan) for the wheels to begin to come off the soviet-socialist experiment. And two more years for them to come off completely.
On a Sunday in mid-August 1971 (it was the 15th) the people of the world woke up to the news that their monetary system had been divorced from reality. Money had become paper and digits only, the supply could be ramped up endlessly, therefore exposing everyone with savings to the irrevocable loss of value of a significant part of their life’s work. No paper currency, not even the dollar could be redeemed for gold any longer. Non-US central banks redeeming their dollars for gold had become an embarrassment for believers in Keynesianism. It was a wall born of hyper-irrationality (hyper-rationality had failed, so let’s ditch rationality). The last escape hatch from voodoo- and vampire economics had been closed. Everyone had been walled in by paper. It took 37 years of relatively steady economic growth, ever increasing debt-leverage and ever-decreasing money value for the wheels to begin to come off the Keynesian experiment with our lives and livelihoods. They haven’t come off completely yet, but the ‘Cherokees’ are closing in and looking pretty mad already.
It’s of course no coincidence that both these events took place during a mid-August weekend. Thieves and other shady characters operate when they think nobody’s looking. And in August no one wants their holiday spoilt by bad news so it is largely ignored. Also the sun is shining so why worry?
I believe that the building of the Berlin Wall was the (unintended) trigger for ‘modern’ socialism in all its Gramscian, Frankfurt School ‘counter-cultural’ manifestations, intent on destroying capitalism and the middle class not, like their failed predecessors, by head-on collision but instead by internal cancer and rot. I don’t think for example that it’s a coincidence that a book like ‘Silent Spring’, published in 1962, could garner as much publicity as it did, triggering eco-fascism, while other similar environmental books before had gone largely unnoticed. Who remembers Fairfield Osborn’s ‘Our Plundered Planet’ from 1948? Only after August 1961 was the time ripe for stuff like that.
Then, in 1971, began the Great Enabling of Everything Mad. An endless supply of money to every well-connected person with the by then established ‘correct’ (Gramscian etc.) mindset to bribe and lure everyone into a new paradise of puritan, eco-friendly equality and gender-mainstreaming. With some God-Man (or –Woman) in the centre ready to stamp out any alleged ‘serpents’. In pursuit of this the natural, traditional limits and barriers to madness, which according to Friedrich von Hayek are neither rational nor irrational, but ‘evolved’ beyond the scope of individual planning, were breached, undermined or torn down within a few decades.
After the Great Crunch it may take decades (more likely centuries) to rebuild them again. However, first we will need to survive the ‘Cherokees’.