The Speculator has been consumed in deep introspection for the last few months.
You know that feeling you get when something doesn’t feel quite right with la vida en paradiso? Paradise syndrome right? Well those of us who can afford to live in Devonport New Zealand, on a global scale, exist somewhere near the top of what the planet can offer in terms of a paradisaical lifestyle;
- An active community, manifest in our daily lives (with the normal pluses and minuses of a close community);
- A 13 minute commute to the CBD of a modern western city on a reliable ferry service;
- Virtually no crime;
- A small population;
- A benign climate;
- A tourist destination for a village;
- Unlimited access to a beautiful and unpolluted aquatic playground;
- Great schools / healthcare / ACC;
- A semi-beneficent idiot for a Prime Minister;
- A nation of rich, semi-beneficent idiots as a neighbour which likes to buy our stuff because it’s cheap and which curiously accepts our rejects as cheap labour;
- A great trade deal with China, which can’t get enough of our stuff and doesn’t see us as economic or military competition;
- An unlimited and healthy food supply.
So if there’s anywhere on the planet where utopia should have broken out it’s here right? But it hasn’t. Why?
The Speculator has been pondering the answer to this question.
We all already know what the answer isn’t.
It’s not found in another trip to Wairau Park on a Saturday morning to experience the warm but fleeting feeling of buying a new piece of technology.
It’s not found on the expensive aquatic toy.
It’s not found at the bottom of an expensive bottle of Chardonnay (goddamn it)
It’s not found at an expensive resort at some exotic, foreign location.
It’s not found with an expensive, exotic, foreign lover.
It’s not found in the new high paying, high pressure corporate job.
And it’s not found in the past.
These things might provide temporary sustenance to those pitiful creatures we call “humans who are younger than 40,” but to those of us with a wealth of experience and a handsome covering of scars, they just don’t cut it anymore.
Over the last few months, The Spec has reflected and read, and stumbled upon a few insights, which you might find interesting.
What’s also really interesting is that these insights are also related to the reasons behind the current global financial crisis – not in some wishy washy way, but in the conduct of financial affairs that we take for granted.
Here’s something else. None of the stuff I’m going to write about in the next little while is likely to be found in the mainstream media. Headlines like “How a pet llama will change your life” or “A Holden Chimera is your shortcut to better foreplay” etc etc actually don’t always deliver on their promises.
I sense you shifting uncomfortably in your chair. “Jeez Spec, you’re talking yourself up a bit. Can you really deliver?”
Back in 1984, I came across a subject at university that was particularly unfashionable. I’m not going to name it, or the field it was in, because this will ignite your unconscious prejudices. But this subject taught me some useful tools, which I have never forgotten and indeed, have continued to use, despite my years as a corporate fly spot.
Now, with the global financial system broken, this analytical approach is becoming increasingly popular.
As a result, some brains bigger than The Speculator’s have begun to utilise these tools, and because the miracle of the Internet makes it possible for them to network, this school of thought has developed quite rapidly.
It doesn’t really have an overarching name, but I’ll refer to it as interpretive analysis. It’s a funny kind of analysis in that really consists of nothing other than techniques to remove analysis. This is because the primary form of analysis of human affairs – economics – and its fundamental-ness to our assumptions about humans, is matched only by its profound and absolute uselessness.
Economics is cynical. Economics is wrong. Economics is insane. And at last, it looks like economics is dying.
Why? Believe it or not, mainstream economists don’t believe banks, money and debt have anything to do with the current global financial crisis. In fact the crisis – all $600 trillion dollars of it – was caused because this is how these economists think. Which is also why none of them predicted it. And if your kids are studying economics at Uni, they’ll be getting taught this delightfully useful subject to take out to the real world to screw it up again.
In the history of human thought, no philosophy has been so completely discredited. Even The Flat Earth Society accepted there was an Earth. Economists do not; rather, they imagine an alternative Earth where their “laws” work, a bit like children at playtime with their invisible friend.
Interpretive analysis provides some tools to unpick the layers of shite that economists have piled upon the real world, to help us to get a look at what is really going on.
You are of course more than welcome to read the original sources; two of the best are “The Black Swan” by Nassim Taleb and “Debt: The First 5000 Years” by David Graeber. However, these are tricky texts, and what The Speculator is offering is a commentary on this latest thinking and how it applies to current events that you, dear reader, should find both interesting and relevant to your current circumstance.
So – the articles will again begin to flow, perhaps not with the volume of before, and certainly without the unerring focus on La dolce vida en Devonporto.
But hopefully, they will be just as relevant to your life as a citizen of Devonport, clasping for meaning in the increasingly discordant 21st century.
Oh, and this is of course, not a monologue. Please comment, chastise and combust as you see fit.