Sleepwalking Into the Abyss in 2022 by Charles Hugh Smith for Of Two Minds
What would be truly optimistic would be to surrender our dependence on asset bubbles and malinvested debt to prop up an unstable delusion of effortless “wealth.”
The most sacred liturgy of American culture is to always be positive and optimistic. The greatest taboo is breaking this sacred duty to say something upbeat and optimistic; it is acceptable (barely) to make awkwardly negative observations, but only if you immediately follow up the negative comments with a treacly, double-serving of sugary optimism: for example, inflation is transitory, the economy is growing strongly, wages are rising, etc.
And so we sleepwalk into 2022, ill-prepared to deal with reality which most annoyingly continues responding to systemic dynamics no matter how much sugary optimism is spread around.
The endless servings of sugary optimism serve several purposes:
1. They create an appealing illusion that systemic problems can be solved without materially changing the status quo or demanding any sacrifices.
2. They mask the inconvenient reality that the status quo is incapable of solving systemic problems because doing so would demand sacrifices of those skimming the vast majority of the benefits of the status quo, i.e. the wealthy and powerful.
3. They mask the eqnormous sacrifices being imposed on the bottom 90% to keep the status quo unchanged, i.e. benefiting the few at the expense of the many.
4. The demand to always be sugar-high optimistic is a handy tool to bludgeon critics who point out the systemic failure of the status quo as alarmists, doom-and-gloomers,etc.
In other words, you’re only allowed to point out a critical systemic flaw if you also parrot a completely unrealistic, impractical “solution” that fits the sugar-high optimism requirement: fusion: unlimited energy for everyone forever! Modern Monetary Theory: free money for everyone forever! And so on, in an endless gush of detached-from-reality “solutions” that all magically solve all problems without changing anything in the power structure of who benefits from the existing arrangement or demanding any reduction in our waste is growth Landfill Economy.
We no longer solve the hard problems because they require changing a system that benefits the wealthy and powerful to the exclusion of everyone else. Only the debt-serfs and tax-donkeys suffer, but since they’re passive and powerless, who cares?
The sugary optimism also masks the destructive nature of the easy fixes that are so beloved by the political class: debt, inflation and narrative control. All are politically and economically painless at first, and but the systemic consequences eventually erode the entire status quo, which collapses in a putrid heap of lies, artifice, fakery, profiteering, delusion and deception.