Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Forecast for the coming depression

Political atrophy in the West, Solar Cycle 24, Peak Oil, the Western debt crisis, shifting demographics, and the move of power from West to East makes for a heady mixture. Generally unpleasant and with plenty of potential for extremely unpleasant instability. Forecasting emergent properties of such a complex system is unwise but seasonal. Here goes. Links might get added at a future date.

The US will have a jobless recovery. The UK will have a jobless non-recovery. Europe will sort itself out economically but not politically.

Our very tenuous hold on technology will lose its grip from time to time on a global scale. Hopefully in computing rather than genetic engineering.

The books of the coming decade are, alas, Brave New War and Globalistan. Much more of mankind will return to its natural state (war, rather than peace - JCF Fuller).

Some flows:

In the West, the flow of money has been from the mainstream to the very rich. After the fall of the Shah, his folly in hollowing out the middle classes was highlighted. The vampire squid community has the arrogance and ignorance to believe they will avoid such a fall. They are wrong.

The traditional energy-intensive industrial flows of making things, and moving materials and people will be severely tested by pricing, shortage and climate. In pruning terms, a 'thirding'. Those that adopted real lean practices and the mantras of the dot com era (think global act local, network or die) will be best placed to survive. Airlines and newspapers are the ones in focus now, but hotels and tourism, more general publishing, building, shipping, car manufacture etc will all be affected more and faster than they themselves think right now. The flow of materials has acquired two disruptions. Firstly, lots of it will flow East rather than West, and the West doesn't have the money for a Plan B (expensive food and energy through cold winters will certainly focus the mind, but the wallet will remain empty). Secondly, the dispossessed will become empowered to prevent such flows (See John Robb e.g. on MEND as a template).

The communications flows are really starting to change.

In John Boyd terms, the Western political elite has achieved moral and mental isolation from the populace, and there is no flow of ideas or values. It is 'The Plan' or hell in a handbasket for Western politics. Probably the latter, alas. The show at Westminster will be unrecognisable in five years time. Unfortunately most of the new entrants will be from the same isolated, clueless elite and Parliament will be completely unable to cope with changed circumstances. Douglas Carswell (on the right) and perhaps Frank Furedi (on the left) seem to see this and have something to offer. Pocket money on political betting should be distributed among whatever really long odds are on offer.

State-run higher education has had its day. The flow of ideas and knowledge between the young and the old will by-pass the State-run universities more or less completely.

Commercial communication based around 'brand' has become obsolete. Tiger Woods may become seen as the turning point, reflecting its lack of authenticity, its shallowness and its irrelevance. User-centred innovation around social objects (Hugh MacLeod at gapingvoid) has won. Madison Avenue just doesn't know it yet. Celebrity 'culture' is in its death throes but will become much more bizarre before going. In other respects, Web 2.0 will continue to devour everything as it has been doing.

As regards moral flows, repelling islamism will become more and more pressing. The only force that could enable Western civilisation to survive is the power of Christ. Christianity will either save the West (again) or die with it. Perhaps Rowan Williams could take retirement immediately and let John Sentamu run things. The Pope seems to be on the case.

Finally a wish; that the HSE pilots a repeal of the Taylor reforms for the wider Bootle area, enabling Goodison and Anfield to become economically viable and to restore the Kop for the Shankly Centenary.

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