Predicting collapse

I am a prophet of doom.  There tends to be an oversupply of prophets of doom, and the proportion who turn out correct is quite small.

Equally, there are also a large number of prophets of non doom, for example the numerous prophets of complacency during the fall of the Roman Empire in the west, who assume that everything will continue as today, often even when spectacular collapse is under way, they assume that everything has now stabilized, or will very shortly stabilize.

So, I reach for the mantle of an accurate prophet:  Ayn Rand in her science fiction novel Atlas Shrugged accurately predicted the condition of today’s Detroit, though her book was published when Detroit had the highest standard of living in America.

In Atlas Shrugged “Twentieth Century Motors” adopts far left principles – which turn the factory and the surrounding city into a desolate ruin. Government do gooding prevents the market from correcting the problem, as more money keeps being funneled into losing programs.

Her account differs from the way things actually went in that she omits all mention of race, racial politics, and race baiting. Indeed, her America has no Jews, no blacks, and no Asians, White Anglo Saxon Protestants do it to themselves.  Or perhaps it has all the usual ethnicities and races, but this is irrelevant to her story and left out of her prophecy.

Her America does, however, have anti discrimination laws, which are applied to destroy the banking system, just as in real life they actually were applied to destroy the banking system.

This, however, is simply a matter of focus. She is telling us about self destructive belief systems. The original cause of the death of Detroit was not blacks, it was the ideas that she so accurately skewered, for Detroit was white when she wrote. Electing a new people was merely a detail, a result not a cause, a detail irrelevant to the story, hence left out. That the left buggered the economy was the story.

So her prophecy leaves out a very big area, the inculcation of race hate, the creation of black privilege, state encouragement and tolerance of attacks by blacks on whites.  The prophecy is economics only, but in what it covers, it is remarkably accurate.

Her America has no real distinction between the parties, which was probably true in her time, but has now become more obvious.

“Atlas Shrugged” is set in a carefully undefined time. Technology is in part time of publication technology, in part steam punk retro (steel and railroads), and in part city of tomorrow futurist (unreasonably fast trains).

The Soviet Union has collapsed, and/or survives only on American aid. Thus a book written in the 1950s casually predicts the situation that in fact prevailed after 1994 or so.

The story occurs a generation after the final collapse of General Motors “”Twentieth Century Motors”, after a long period during which it was kept half alive by government interventions.

The fictional equivalent of General Motors in the ruins of Detroit is “Twentieth Century Motors” in the ruins of Starnsville, which name for a company that passed away a generation before the time of the story suggests a time early twenty first century. So, in so far as she hints at a date, she got the date reasonably correct.

In this undefined time, laws and regulation have multiplied so as to become irrelevant, and the government increasingly rules by moment to moment decree, drifting into capitalism without markets and socialism without a central plan, sliding into socialism through regulation rather than nationalization, and from regulation to rule by decree.

At the time she wrote, the west was backing away from the socialism of nationalization and price control, but she correctly foresaw it was merely heading into socialism by another path.

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15 Responses to “Predicting collapse”

  1. Ita Scripta Est says:

    Yes it was all “big guberment” that brought on the collapse. Nothing inherent to capitalism, just the government and greedy unions fault.

    • jim says:

      Since she, and others, accurately predicted what would happen well before it happened, we can be pretty sure that her account of causation is correct, up to the Detroit anti white pogrom and ethnic cleansing, which of course is not part of her prophecy.

      • Ita Scripta Est says:

        Have you by chance read the work of Joesph Schumpeter? I think his work proved to be one of the most prophetic in how capitalism creates the conditions whereby it is destroyed.

        • jim says:

          Schumpeter tells us that capitalism creates wealth, wealth makes possible a class of parasitic intellectuals who resent capitalism because they are parasites, the parasites cook up ideologies to rationalize the destruction of the productive. You will not find any disagreement from me or Ayn Rand on that.

          • Ita Scripta Est says:

            Yes that is a key component of his argument but he also makes others which are even more salient, for instance:

            Still more important however is another “internal cause,” viz., the disintegration of the bourgeois family. The facts to which I am referring are too well known to need explicit statement. To men and women in modern capitalist societies, family life and parenthood mean less than they meant before and hence are less powerful molders of behavior; the rebellious son or daughter who professes contempt for “Victorian” standards is, however incorrectly, expressing an undeniable truth. The weight of these facts is not impaired by our inability to measure them statistically. The marriage rate proves nothing because the term Marriage covers as many sociological meanings as does the term Property, and the kind of alliance that used to be formed by the marriage contract may completely die out without any change in the legal construction or in the frequency of the contract. Nor is the divorce rate more significant. It does not matter how many marriages are dissolved by judicial decree—what matters is how many lack the content essential to the old pattern. If in our statistical age readers insist on a statistical measure, the proportion of marriages that produce no children or only one child, though still inadequate to quantify the phenomenon I mean, might come as near as we can hope to come to indicating its numerical importance. The phenomenon by now extends, more or less, to all classes.But it first appeared in the bourgeois (and intellectual) stratum and its symptomatic as well as causal value for our purposes lies entirely there. It is wholly attributable to the rationalization of everything in life, which we have seen is one of the effects of capitalist evolution. In fact, it is but one of the results of the spread of that rationalization to the sphere of private life. All the other factors which are usually adduced in explanation can be readily reduced to that one.

            This argument has also been echoed mainly by Catholic thinkers but also by by some old/unorthodox leftists like Christopher Lasch and yet so many neo-reactionaries and libertarians fail to really grapple with this. Instead Tom Woods will cite a couple things Von Mises said negatively about feminism or how the welfare state is the sole source of all of these problems.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      “big guberment”

      Yeah, that’s the kind of respect for your opponent’s arguments that really wins a lot of respect. We all know that everyone who dislikes big government is a borderline illiterate, a drooling knuckle-dragging Clinger. like Hayek, Sowell, Jefferson, Von Mieses, Friedman, and all those other stupid people.

      Good Lord.

  2. Red says:

    What’s the point of being a Prophet of Doom? Today Ayn Rand is just a crazy women remember by a bunch of “going galt” groupies. Why bother predicting the future when you don’t have the power to change it. The people who most need to see the coming doom will refuse to see it until it’s far too late. While I greatly appreciate your work and those like you, but what’s the point?

    • jim says:

      Observe that if one deviates from the PC on race or sex or whatever, for example if one observes that sex change operations do not actually change people’s sex, but rather strand the patient in uncanny valley, one will be instabanned from polite society. But one can defend capitalism.

      Why?

      When you defend capitalism, you imply that poor people are, on average, lazy or stupid, or at least unproductive. Why are you not a poor-ophobe, or accused of class hatred. Why don’t indignant people jump out of the woodwork and accuse you of being horribly hurtful?

      The reason is … Ayn Rand.

    • rightsaidfred says:

      Why bother predicting the future when you don’t have the power to change it.

      It is good to know these things for your personal life: people often move; pick wisely. Also, choose wisely who you associate with; who you marry; etc.

    • spandrell says:

      Truth wants to come out dude. What’s the point in hiding what you know?

    • Thales says:

      What’s the point of a weather report if you can’t change the weather?

  3. […] This, however, is simply a matter of focus. She is telling us about self destructive belief systems.… […]

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