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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Gray Champions

Odd Bedfellows,

With your leave, I will advance a thesis that we can look at "history rhyming" within a generational framework, which has periodic growth decay, crisis and restructuring, 4 seasons: summer, fall, winter and spring.
This is not a new model of looking at history, and any good model can have great utility going into a historical epoch.
The Bolshevik Economist, Nikolai Kondratiev postulated waves of economic/financial cycle, posthumously named "Kondratiev Waves"  ("K-waves") in his honor, after Comrade Stalin found them to be counter-revolutionary or something, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kondratiev_wave

A more recent adaptation of generational cycles of history is that of American authors, Strauss and Howe, who wrote "Generations" and "The Fourth Turning" in the 1990s. 
Basically, there are 4-generational cycles of crisis, rebuilding, health, decay and again, crisis. 
I'm a "baby boomer", which is a "prophet generation". My kids are millennials, "hero generation". 
It is a little hard to find a likable explanation of this theory, but this guy does pretty well. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Gray Champion (excerpted):
  The crowd had rolled back, and were now huddled together nearly at the extremity of the street, while the soldiers had advanced no more than a third of its length. The intervening space was empty--a paved solitude, between lofty edifices, which threw almost a twilight shadow over it. Suddenly, there was seen the figure of an ancient man, who seemed to have emerged from among the people, and was walking by himself along the centre of the street, to confront the armed band. He wore the old Puritan dress, a dark cloak and a steeple-crowned hat, in the fashion of at least fifty years before, with a heavy sword upon his thigh, but a staff in his hand, to assist the tremulous gait of age.
​ ​When at some distance from the multitude, the old man turned slowly round, displaying a face of antique majesty, rendered doubly venerable by the hoary beard that descended on his breast. He made a gesture at once of encouragement and warning, then turned again, and resumed his way.
​ ​"Who is this gray patriarch?" asked the young men of their sires.
​ ​"Who is this venerable brother?" asked the old men among themselves...
​ ​Meanwhile, the venerable stranger, staff in hand, was pursuing his solitary walk along the centre of the street. As he drew near the advancing soldiers, and as the roll of their drum came full upon his ear, the old man raised himself to a loftier mien, while the decrepitude of age seemed to fall from his shoulders, leaving him in gray, but unbroken dignity. Now, he marched onward with a warrior's step, keeping time to the military music. Thus the aged form advanced on one side, and the whole parade of soldiers and magistrates on the other, till, when scarcely twenty yards remained between, the old man grasped his staff by the middle, and held it before him like a leader's truncheon.
​ ​"Stand!" cried he.
​ The eye, the face, and attitude of command; the solemn, yet warlike peal of that voice, fit either to rule a host in the battle-field or be raised to God in prayer, were irresistible. At the old man's word and outstretched arm, the roll of the drum was hushed at once, and the advancing line stood still. A tremulous enthusiasm seized upon the multitude. That stately form, combining the leader and the saint, so gray, so dimly seen, in such an ancient garb, could only belong to some old champion of the righteous cause, whom the oppressor's drum had summoned from his grave. They raised a shout of awe and exultation, and looked for the deliverance of New-England.
​ ​The Governor, and the gentlemen of his party, perceiving themselves brought to an unexpected stand, rode hastily forward, as if they would have pressed their snorting and affrighted horses right against the hoary apparition. He, however, blenched not a step, but glancing his severe eye round the group, which half encompassed him, at last bent it sternly on Sir Edmund Andros. One would have thought that the dark old man was chief ruler there, and that the Governor and Council, with soldiers at their back, representing the whole power and authority of the Crown, had no alternative but obedience....
​ ​"Are you mad, old man?" demanded Sir Edmund Andros, in loud and harsh tones. "How dare you stay the march of King James's Governor?"
​ ​"I have staid the march of a King himself, ere now," replied the gray figure, with stern composure. "I am here, Sir Governor, because the cry of an oppressed people hath disturbed me in my secret place; and beseeching this favor earnestly of the Lord, it was vouchsafed me to appear once again on earth, in the good old cause of his Saints. And what speak ye of James? There is no longer a popish tyrant on the throne of England, and by to-morrow noon, his name shall be a by-word in this very street, where ye would make it a word of terror. Back, thou that wast a Governor, back! With this night, thy power is ended--to-morrow, the prison!--back, lest I foretell the scaffold!"


Jim Quinn, on recent "Gray Champions":  
 In Part One of this article I laid out the reasons for Gray Champions arising to meet challenges during crisis periods in history. We are ten years into this Crisis and I have been pondering where we go from here. The plot line of the Game of Thrones has opened my eyes to the fact there isn’t just one Gray Champion during a Fourth Turning. During the Civil War, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were Transcendental prophet generation representatives of the Confederacy. Abraham Lincoln and William Tecumseh Sherman were Gray Champions of the Union.
 These were men who would do anything to further their cause, from ordering thousands of men to their deaths on Cemetery Ridge, to burning down cities, to suspending the writ of Habeas Corpus, and seceding from the Union. They were destined to brandish their terrible swift swords in achieving total indisputable victory. But, we know only one side could win.
 During the World War II/Great Depression crisis FDR is known as the Gray Champion who took drastic measures on the economic front with his New Deal and sent 16 million young men into battle on a scale never seen in history. Douglass MacArthur commanded many of those men in battles to the death across the Pacific. What is less discussed is the fact Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin were also members of the Missionary prophet generation and were the Gray Champions of their nations...
Gray Champions are not necessarily good, admirable, or moral. Most have narcissistic tendencies and have at least as many enemies as allies. All of the men I’ve named were deeply flawed and in some cases malevolent. What they all had in common was tremendous confidence in their own abilities and an unbreakable determination to achieve the outcomes they desired. Winning was all that mattered to these men.​..

​Jim Quinn looked at prior Gray Champions in American history, and the complexity of their travails in critical times. 
They were fought, hated, and perhaps Lincoln and FDR were both murdered by their enemies. It's hard to know about FDR's death.​
"At each of these great gates of history, eighty to a hundred years apart, a similar generational drama unfolded. Four archetypes, aligned in the same order – elder Prophet, midlife Nomad, young adult Hero, child Artist – together produced the most enduring legends in our history. Each time the Grey Champion appeared marked the arrival of a moment of “darkness, and adversity, and peril,” the climax of the Fourth Turning of the saeculum." ​ ​– "The Fourth Turning" – Strauss & Howe

The "false recovery"​ is a narrative of manipulation of finance, by money conjuring at the top, and trickle down to the top 10%, at best. This has created the narrative of economic recovery, in an emperor's-new-clothes sort of fashion. Everybody believes that everybody believes there is a recovery, even though they have private knowledge that it's not including them, or that it is fake, but their stock valuations and house valuation are rising, so they are winners. Te Federal Reserve has been keeping stock "markets"​ propped up by massive buying of equity-index-futures, and CEOs and "activist investors" have been getting companies to borrow money at low rates to buy their own stock, which the CEOs and shareholders sell at personal profit, leaving Sears and other gutted companies to collapse. 
The Lehman Brothers crash marked the transition from private-knowledge of financial collapse, to common-knowledge, and the rush to the exits did the deed. 
What/when will it be this time?
For the vast majority of ordinary Americans, the 2008-09 great recession never ended...
Q II 2019 GDP was revised lower to 2.04%. “Manufacturing and oil and gas production are in decline.”
“Real new orders are in their worst contraction since the (2008-09) great recession.”
Construction spending fell to its lowest level since that period, the same true for freight activity
...
Re-engineered US inflation to how it was calculated in the 1980s (by Williams) shows it exceeds 5.5%, not the phony sub-2% official number.
Rasmus asked “if 60% (of US workers) didn’t get any wage increase at all, how could wages be rising 3.1% or even 1.5%?”
If real US inflation exceeds 5.5%, average wages for working Americans declined, a further drag on the economy, compounded by record high consumer debt exceeding $13 trillion.
McKinsey Global Institute data show US “median wages have not risen at all since 2007,” Rasmus reported.
Adjusted for real inflation, they’ve fallen, exacerbating the widening US wealth gap, have and have not economic reality in the country.

​The military industrial complex swallowed Red-Riding-Hood's Grandmother and the economy. 
There's no way out, and the wolf is dying of peritonitis. The vast "hidden spending" is not even included here.
​ ​In the almost 12 hours of Democratic Party presidential primary debates on June 26-27 and July 30-31, the words “Pentagon budget” or “defense spending” were not uttered, except for a fleeting, unanswered comment from Senator Bernie Sanders.  (Hmmm, Tulsi Gabbard?)
C:\Users\Winslow Wheeler\Documents\1 President Campaigns and Politics\2020\PastedGraphic-3.png
... Fo​r 65 years the military budget’s inexorable expansion has not been controlled by the dramatic changes in America’s actual national security needs but by political and independent cash flow demands from inside the Pentagon, Congress, industry, and think tanks.
​ ​Secondly, we need to recognize that this inexorable money growth has shrunk our forces and weakened their capabilities so dramatically that today we would be utterly unready for and incapable of supporting–much less winning–Korean or Vietnam war sized campaigns. War with Iran would be disastrous according to insightful current military assessments.

The promises of a better future down this road are what politicians have to sell, no matter what they see themselves. I personally think the things Bernie Sanders proposes are dual-use, such as a government jobs program, which is currently needed, and will be needed worse in the next financial crisis, which won't be papered over. Bernie Sanders is an archetypal Gray Champion, focused more on building and protecting than on battle. I am coming to think that he could actually work well within the country, while Trump fights global trade war. Sanders has said a lot of bad things about Trump, but both men have long personal histories, which show that they don't dwell on such things when there are deals to make, neither of them... (Yeah, Biden is "gray", but he's a senile, corrupt pedophile, washed-up.)
A few highlights from the Democratic Climate Town Hall statements last night:
​ ​“The truth is it costs a lot more to build a new nuclear plant today than it does to build solar or wind,” said Sanders at the town hall. “I think it is safer and more cost-effective to move toward sustainable technologies like wind, solar and geothermal.” 
(Nuclear reactor retirement and failure costs are infinite.)
​ ​Biden also noted that he plans to double the rate at which the U.S. is currently installing solar and wind. In 2018, according to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, the U.S. installed about 10.7 gigawatts of solar, a decline of 2 percent from additions in the previous year. The wind industry is slated to install 11.9 gigawatts in 2019 and 14.6 gigawatts in 2020.
​ ​Several candidates, including Biden, Warren, Harris and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, also floated plans for drastically increasing electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.
​ ​The Green New Deal — which many candidates credited for the very existence of a televised climate-focused town hall — also featured prominently, with candidates promising millions of good-paying jobs and support for marginalized communities that have faced disproportionate impacts from pollution and climate change.

​Some initial details of the Sanders Plan are here. Note that it assumes that capitalism keeps going like the Energizer Bunny, as does Elizabeth Warren's plan, and that capitalists take orders from politicians, not the converse, and so on. Anything should be seen as a first adjustment to the reality-tsunami. It's just the tide sucking out so far.​
"The climate crisis is not only the single greatest challenge facing our country; it is also our single greatest opportunity to build a more just and equitable future," the plan stresses, "But we must act immediately."
 Sanders's plan aims to achieve 100% renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030 and complete decarbonization by 2050.

Matt Taibbi raises a point about how standard political analysis fails in historic times of rapid historic change:
 At the Republican National Convention, I ran into a Democratic pollster who sat me down and said the favorability numbers just don't work. There aren't enough uneducated white males to deliver the election for Trump, because if you look at his favorability numbers, they never creep high enough to win a majority of registered voters.
​ ​But there was a huge flaw in that analysis: That Trump ended up doing extremely well with voters who considered both choices unfavorable. So roughly one in five registered voters in November 2016 disapproved of both Clinton and Trump. And Trump won those voters by nearly a two-to-one margin.
​ ​So people who disapproved of Donald Trump were one of his biggest constituencies, so that is kind of the problem going into this campaign that I see people making the same mistake. They say the numbers just don't add up. Whereas if you just go by what you see on the campaign trail, and the realities that I've seen recently say, if anything, he is doing better than he was doing at this stage in the race last time.


​Big Pharma has to go to trial over pushing addicitive drugs and killing people. 
(Can we also sue the CIA, please?)

Don Quixote

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