• Twilight Of The Blobs

    March 11, 2024
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    “Respect the blob, learn from the blob, love the blob.” — Robert Kagan, Arch Blob Monster, Brookings, 2020

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    Originally posted at Kunstler.com

    HG Wells concocted a marvelous trick ending to his classic tale The War of the Worlds (1897). Remember: the colossal Martian tripod “fighting machines” swarm all over the planet zapping cities with “heat rays”. . . it looks like all-is-lost . . . but finally the darn things just quit marching, stop zapping, and stand down . . . the alien protoplasms at the controls (surprise ending) turn up dead and rotting inside from the action of our tiny invisible allies: the earth’s one-celled, disease-causing bacteria to which the Martian blob creatures have no immunity!

         The Gaian overtones in that story resound today as we Earthlings devise ingenious new methods to wreck terrestrial life, including ourselves. The planet seems to have some teleological drive to save itself, a kind of immune system. Notice: in all the ongoing debates about the wonders and dangers of A-I, and Bitcoin, and suffocating surveillance, nobody ever talks about the sketchy condition of the electric grid that all these worrisome phenomena utterly rely on. In our chatter over Peak Oil, there’s little awareness of oil production’s utter dependence on steady capital flows. In all the guff about centralized control emitted by Klaus Schwab and his World Economic Forum, there’s no mention of the centrifugal forces driving human affairs to re-localization, dis-aggregation of large states, and down-scaling of many activities. In our zeal to become Gods, we miss a lot.

    Imagine: Bitcoin shoots up to a million dollars. You’re a zillionaire! Uh Oh. . . somewhere outside Zanseville, Ohio, a squirrel takes a final chaw through some old insulation on a wire coming out of a transformer. His head blows up in a blue arc flash, and in a few seconds all the electricity goes out from Chicago to Boston. It turns out that seventeen substations in ten states have blown relays, transformers, and switchgear. Some of those components were forty years old and are now manufactured twelve thousand miles away in a country that doesn’t like us anymore. The replacement parts get held up in a Chinese port. The power doesn’t come back on for weeks. Nobody who lives in the eastern USA can get to his Bitcoin wallet, which is just a virtual entity made of computer code residing in a digital “cloud,” i.e., nowhere real.

          Of course, in an event that bad, a lot of other things would fail — really just about everything that comprises modern life — but for sure you could kiss your Bitcoin goodbye, perhaps forever, because by the time the juice comes back on (if it even does), nobody will ever again want to invest their wealth in digital “money” they can’t access, and Bitcoin will go back to whence it came: zero.

         Likewise, the financial system we depend on is a gigantic apparatus grown extremely janky from over-elaboration and hyper-complexity — to the degree that all kinds of things denoted as having “moneyness” are simply hallucinations of the markets that trade them. How many quadrillions of dollars do “derivative” financial instruments represent on the landscape of “money” these days? Most of these things amount to little more than bets that some number — an interest rate, a currency, a revenue flow — will change either up or down. That is, they are figments.

         Under Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), the evolution of figments can theoretically go on forever. Derivatives can be ever more abstracted from what they purport to represent, until they fly up the system’s cloacal vent. MMT has become popular economic dogma, but its theory remains to be substantiated. Since the formula relies on the unlimited “printing” of money by central bank proxies for governments, you might bet that something will go wrong with such a system — and it kind of looks like something is about to go wrong in the system we’ve built for regulating and distributing capital. And do we need to state what “capital” is? (Real wealth, not figments, wishes, bets, and hallucinations. . . hard things like good land, ore pockets, installed machinery, railroad tracks, and so on. . . .)

         Bitcoin has gone “hockey stick” the past month, meaning on a chart the move up looks nearly vertical. Do you know why it’s going up? I’ll tell you: it’s going up . . .  because it’s going up. People and groups of people (wealth funds, banks) see the up-trend and deduce that Bitcoin is going “to the moon.” Meanwhile, they view the tea leaves of the currency scene and see a lot of brown, crumbly debris where there used to be “capital.” The money itself is losing its “moneyness” all over the place. The most vulnerable module of the system now is the bond market.

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          The bond market is based on the idea that borrowed money will be reliably paid back, the key word there being reliably. One crucial condition, though, is that money has to stay “money.” People have to regard it as possessing value. And now all kinds of money is visibly losing value. Approaching the $35-trillion mark in our national debt, there is reason to doubt that the USA can plausibly pay off its debt, or even service it anymore — that is, keep paying interest on it. The more money we “print” under MMT, the more value the money loses. The interest rate on the borrowed money has to go up to compensate for that loss of value, and all of a sudden you’re borrowing a shit-ton of money to pay the interest on the money you owe, the gross volume of which is only increasing . . . moving rapidly toward critical. . . . Uh-oh.

          Many sentient beings viewing the scene warn us that the bond market is liable to blow, and with it most of the other modules in the current MMT-driven system. That will be the magic moment when a big theory gets disproven rather vividly and injuriously. The price of everything will vaporize in a mushroom cloud of malinvestment and when the dust settles — which might take a long time — everything will be priced differently, including many things at zero.

          This is the kind of world we’re in now, and all this is why I don’t worry quite so much about the machinations of the various blobs that have self-assembled to defend their particular special interests while doing harm to many of us: the military-industrial blob, the censorship blob, the fake news blob, the intel blob, the corporate monopoly blob, the medical blob, the central banking blob. The systems we depend on to make all things blobish function are looking pretty ill, like they’re not going be working a whole lot longer.

          The result will be a beneficial time-out from blobbery. I’ll venture to predict that it will be a rather long time-out. A lot of the scary things going on around us, tyrannizing us, stripping our assets and our freedom, will not find their footing easily in the aftermath, perhaps never again. We’ll have decades, maybe centuries, to think about the hubris that brought all of that on, and in the meantime, we’ll have to live the earthly life as the earth allows and abide with it. And maybe dote on some new dreams of what a perfect world would look like.



    CDM Staff

    The mission at Creative Destruction Media is to be the catalyst for the "process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one."
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