Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More on the Economic Collapse: Possible Benevolence?

A while ago I wrote a post that mused upon how the U.S. might respond to an economic collapse. Will things get terribly dangerous and violent as they have in hyperinflation situations elsewhere? Or do we have a chance at the nation going through the disaster with relative peace? I don't think I did a good enough job explaining why this question is worth contemplating, so I'd like to share some deeper thoughts.

Simply put, the way a country handles a particular problem on a sense-of-life level depends on the philosophy inherent in its people. A good or mostly good philosophy will help a citizenry prevent and avoid significant problems while giving them the mental strength to bear what bad things do occur, as a good philosophy will be reality oriented and be able to offer guidance on the world before us. A bad or mostly bad philosophy will lead a citizenry into disaster and prevent them from being able to deal with it constructively or gracefully, and so will lead to a malevolent people whose natural state is that of disaster. A bad philosophy isn't oriented towards reality, so it can do little to address the laws of the world before us.

I think the reason why countries that have gone through hyperinflation have become terribly violent and malevolent is because that's the ultimate sense-of-life consequence of the philosophies that brought the economic crisis to existence. The elements that encourage evasion in these philosophies lead these people to search for scapegoats rather than recognize their own guilt in the matter, which causes them to become a nation of flagrant criminals. It's very destructive psychologically to judge oneself as immensely immoral or even evil, so anyone immoral enough to engage in the acts to earn him that status will logically be prone to the signature immoral act, evasion, which he'll use to avoid acknowledging his own character.

It's hard to sort through the clusterflop of the multitude of reasons that can be used to summarize the situation, but in short I think that, economically, any particular hyperinflationary nation won't recognize that it's killing the goose that lays the golden egg, and at each step of strangling it will wonder what's wrong with the goose rather than the actions being taken to extract its gold. After the goose dies the moochers are left seething that they didn't get what they're "owed" and become vicious. They shoot themselves in the foot and blame other factors endlessly, even as they continue to fire unto themselves.

As far as I know, no economic disaster thus far in recent history has lead to a nation going into a significant turn-around. I'm not knowledged enough in history to know exactly what happened here, but I know for certain that these crises haven't led to any nations freer than the United States. The philosophies that lead to their economic problems, by and large, remain intact even after the crisis.

It's this particular factor that leads me to wonder whether the U.S. might be able to handle an economic disaster more gracefully than other countries have. Objectivists haven't won the war of ideas yet, but I think we've succeeded in making the nation question its philosophical premises. By doing that we've not only increased our odds of winning, but in also changing the nature of the people. If we manage to go so far as to change the direction of the tide before the serious economic collapse, then could that not change entirely how the U.S. will respond? Or in other words, if we change the philosophy the U.S. enters the collapse in, then won't we also change the sense-of-life results that will spawn as a reaction to the situation?

I think other nations have descended into violence because they were a nation of moochers and looters to begin with, and in dealing with the results of their parasitism they go hysterical. If the U.S., however, were to recognize at a majority level that the government is at fault for our economic troubles, then perhaps U.S. anger will be more directed at the polls, voting booths, and city halls, rather than at each other?

This is why, in my above linked essay, I think the most important safety consideration for an individual is where he lives, as the different political atmospheres of different states and cities are determined by different philosophies. Therefore, I think the U.S.'s response to a collapse will vary greatly from location to location, depending what people view as the source of the problem. In such a statist place as my old home of Michigan, I can visualize it becoming a very dangerous place to live, not even allowing for a safe walk at night. The people were already somber and irritated as I left them, and in no way ready to recognize they're responsible for supporting the politics that continues pushing the state to ruin. My new home of Texas, however, I could visualize as becoming risky, but not frighteningly dangerous, as the people are noticeably lighter in spirit and more at peace.

I'm still not sure, and probably won't know for certain until the major event happens, but perhaps the best way to bring up the question is that the United States is a unique nation that's going through a unique phenomenon during a unique period in history. Is it not reasonable to assume that the U.S.'s response to collapse will also itself be unique? Benevolent, I hope.

Intellectually I recognize that it's still best to prepare oneself as strongly as possible, whether it be stocking up on medicine or ammunition, but emotionally I am somewhat anticipating Americans remaining a respectable citizenry during the worst of times. Hopefully so. I say prepare for disaster and plan for prosperity.

1 comment:

  1. Americans--at least those of us in flyover country--already have a sense of life that may well allow us weather the coming collapse with grace and come through whole, if somewhat leaner. We are self-reliant and prepared, we have the habit of helping our neighbors and they help us, and we don't have the entitlement attitude that so many of those in the large cities on the coast seem to have. We expect that adversity will come our way, and we set out to conquer it. This is the uniquely American, can-do spirit(or good ole Yankee ingenuity, if you prefer)that has surprised more than one of our enemies in the past. Objectivism may provide a deeper philosophical basis for this sense of life, but the energy and positive outlook is already a part of who we are.


Comment Etiquette

1.) Do not use vulgar swear words that denote sexual activities or bodily excretions.

2.) Employ common sense manners when addressing the author or other commenters.

Additionally, you're welcome to present contrary and challenging positions within these guidelines, but please do not assume that my lack of response, even if I commented before, is evidence of my endorsement of your position.