Change You Can Believe In
By Staff News & Analysis - August 06, 2010

The Great Recession has caused a seismic shift in how ordinary Americans view their government. Perhaps you saw the story this week about an Arizona sheriff who, in speaking about the Justice Department suit against his state's new immigration law, said, "Our own government has become our enemy and is taking us to court at a time when we need help." … We are led by fools who ignore the ample evidence history provides about the collapse of spendthrift societies. Such events abound. How is it they expect our overspending to end in other than disaster? You'd have to ask them, I guess. Or perhaps read the fantasies of Paul Krugman, the economist/columnist who believes the biggest problem with the stimulus spending is that there hasn't been nearly enough of it. His name is rarely mentioned without the fact that he is a Nobel Prize winner. He could have a room full of prizes, but anyone with a lick of common sense knows he's wrong on this. The few economists that warned that the credit explosion of recent years would hasten and deepen financial disaster were mainly from the so-called Austrian school and were derided by their Keynesian counterparts as kooks. Who looks kooky now? – Baltimore Sun/Ron Smith

Dominant Social Theme: Times are changing and free-market thinking has come to the fore – but let's ignore it!

Free-Market Analysis: We have made this point before, but it is an important one, so we'll do so once again: The conversation about freedom in America is alive and well and becoming more important every day. This article in the Baltimore Sun – an editorial actually – provides evidence of what we're talking about. First, the columnist Ron Smith makes the point that the Great Recession has made a big difference in how "Americans view their government." Second, he mentions that the only economists to correctly predict the Great Recession were Austrians!

How far we have come. Ten years ago, a mainstream American newspaper would never have presented a columnist endorsing the claim that the federal government was the enemy. And the idea that the word "Austrian" would show up in a mainstream newspaper linked to "economics" would have been absolutely incredible. Austrian, free-market economics, even 10 years ago was known to a few thousand people in our opinion. Lew Rockwell was trying to hitch on with WorldNetDaily and Murray Rothbard had just passed away. This article is yet another proof of how the elite meme machine is slowly spinning out of control.

It is very important to note that the way the power elite keeps society under control is through these promotions. They have to be so all-encompassing that people self-censor. The beauty of the way these promotions worked was that when the power elite truly controlled the media, pre-Internet, there was no way to get away from the promotions; people didn't even try because they were not aware that they were being promoted.

People were dimly aware that there was a set of social rules that had been established and it wasn't considered polite (or for some reason even safe) to go beyond them. This awareness eventually came to be called in aggregate "political correctness," and right-wing types fulminated against it and claimed that it was a leftwing media plot. It was not. Political correctness was the fullness of the panoply of elite promotions. It was something that people absorbed from the air around them.

We are old enough to remember well what the conversations were like in both Europe and America in the 20th century. One could not easily speak out against environmental concerns, nor against drugs or vaccines, nor against regulatory democracy, nor against central banking or taxes or the US military industrial complex or prison-industrial complex. The beauty of the system, from the elite's point of view was that people would never even THINK of doing so because there was no set of available alternatives.

Of course such hermeneutic control is a tricky feat – and quite impressive. Not only must the media be controlled, but education as well. Alternative viewpoints must be attacked aggressively and demonized. All this was done in the 20th century, which must certainly be seen as some kind of high-water market for social control of Western societies.

History will surely record as anomalous the idea that social protest in the late 20th century involved agitating for MORE government control over society, more leveling and more wealth-sharing. Traditional protest movements have been aimed at breaking away from power nexuses. But so thoroughly did the power-elite mind control dominate the 20th century that even so-called revolutionary movements advocated increased state dominance rather than free-market approaches.

Of course in the 21st century all that has begun to change. The chrysalis has been cracked and something new is emerging. Each day brings more evidence of this – from the blow-up of the global warming meme to the increasing lack of confidence in Western central banking economies and regulatory democracy generally, to the most astounding bit of recent news that a majority of Americans, according to a CNN poll, believe Barack Obama was born outside of America.

This news about Obama is especially strange given the amount of resources that the powers-that-be have poured into ensuring that Obama would be looked on as a legitimate president. Here at the Bell, it seems obvious that funny business has taken place. The state of Hawaii has never released the president's long-form birth certificate and many other factors regarding Obama's early childhood are in question. But even 10 years ago, all this probably wouldn't have mattered. Not enough people would have heard about the issue to make it significant – and even had they heard about it many would not have pursued the issue via the Internet as they do today.

Today, the powers-that-be can control very little. Austrian economics, which was either ignored or viciously vilified in the 20th century has become very obviously the Internet's leading economic discipline. One has to search hard to find Keynesian mentions outside of the logical places – the New York Times and government positioning papers. But many dominant social themes are crumbling.

Western mainstream media control being what it is, the above presentation is still not widely acknowledged and perhaps it never will be (history usually being written by the elites in one form or another). But from our point of view it is very clear that a most powerful group of banking families – a group that has run the West with merciless and pitiless efficiency during the past 100 years – has basically lost control of the conversation, or is at least in the process of losing it. There is much danger in what is going on today in fact, because the only place it seems to us where the elite still exercises control is through the political process. But as we have pointed out before, legislation bereft of promotional credibility is not a good way to govern.

As people's opinions and beliefs diverge from the legislative agenda, frustration begins to build and rage rises. It's a little like the power elite is in some sort of denial phase. The whole reason to run the world through promotional memes was to avoid exactly what is going on now. As this social schizophrenia builds, we expect changes to take place. But unlike the 20th century, the elite will not be fully in control of these changes and therefore the world will increasingly become an unpredictable place for citizens of the West – and for investors too.

After Thoughts

In the 20th century, it was fairly easy to figure out the way world worked. In the 21st century more and more are finding out that they didn't understand. This knowledge is both painful and exhilarating. But no matter what, it is something that cannot be stopped. It is the reason that the old adage – the pen is mightier than the sword – is absolutely true in our opinion. And another one as well: Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.