In The Economy of Hesperations.....

Hy-Brasil was noted on maps as early as 1325, when Genoese cartographer Dalorto placed the island west of Ireland. On successive sailing charts, it appears southwest of Galway Bay. On some 15th century maps, islands of the Azores appear as Isola de Brazil, or Insulla de Brazil. After 1865, Hy-Brasil appears on few maps since its location could not be verified.Regardless of the name or location, the island's history is consistent: It is the home of a wealthy and highly advanced civilization. Those who visited the island returned with tales of gold-roofed towers and domes, healthy cattle, and opulent citizens."--Fiona Broome


And thus did Atlantis merge with stories the Vikings and Romans told of Iceland and New England, and who knows what else. People will believe just about anything if it takes them away from the present; if it brings them back by serving their purposes, all the better. The person who put the four-way mona lisa on his blog, for instance, believes that it encodes some truth about the Fibonacci sequence and the Egyptians, and the now-solved 'mystery' of Rennes-le-chateau. I find it difficult to agree, but I can't help observing that the very clever matrix of shysters and credulous who built the derivatives market were working with similar materials on the same logical, but irrational, lines.

There was no mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau, beyond a country priest overselling masses and a taste for reactionary tale-telling on the part of some fourth republic jetsam that a science fiction writer and a medievalist jokester picked up on. I'd direct readers here if they wanted a proper treatment of the 'Priory of Sion' and its creepy antisemitic monarchists.

I was thinking of Hy-Brasil (no relation to the real country, even in the naming of it) this week, when looking at the obviously over-excited economic predictions of imminent recovery.

Why is it that people will just not see? There is a massive global imbalance--but it isn't the imbalance between the dollar and renmimbi. China, after all, is a creditor nation with the US, and in a surplus with the west, but has a trade deficit with Asia and is still wreaked by enormous income differentials inside its borders. It is not surprising to me that it seeks to hold the RMB more or less where it is--what is, is that the US should think it a good thing to drive a debtor currency like the dollar down.

The real imbalance, surely, is emerging around the desire of the west for energy and credit, and the increasing cost of those things as oil runs down and the derivatives market proceeds to senescence; followed, not too shortly, by the real and existing imbalance between living standards even in a recession west and just about anywhere else in the world.

Perhaps I am just depressed by England's parochial politics. A hung parliament, when none of one of the more ridiculous of the western world's political-media class could actually do much damage, would seem to me to be likely and welcome. Yet are people concerned with that? Nope, Conservative 'blue Labour' have already been shooed in. Don't bother looking for any real policies or any real understanding of imbalance; there is there, as they say, an asymmetry of cognitive assimilation with regard to reality. And they couldn't find their own with both hands neither.

In the bubble, meaningless attempts to expand some sort of Stasiland, invented by Malvolio and C.S.Lewis, into people's families and businesses and schools are threatened to 'smoke the tories out'. Tories respond by pretending that they will be able to do anything substantive that differs from EU policy.

Meanwhile, the possibility that the EU could regulate health care through competition law, or that banks in this country will deepen their role as malign cartels under the eye of the European commission, proceeds. Why, I even saw a story this week from the hopelessly compromised office of national statistics that heralded a downward pressure on inflation because 'bank charges had fallen'. Well, that's news to me. Who are the average household that the family expenditure survey enquires into so assiduously for the inflation statistics? Are they citizens of their own private Hy-Brasil?

Here's what seems to be happening. A massive revaluation of society and money is entering a second forced phase on either side of the Atlantic, but particularly in the United Kingdom and the USA. People are struggling, with low central lending rates, to make ends meet and to pay off credit bills. For more than a year now, this has massively lowered their disposable income and made some things much more expensive in relative terms, whilst the price of some headline goods has fallen because of a fear on the part of retailers that nothing will otherwise be sold.

A grossly distorted picture of incomes and prices has emerged. This is being licked and bitten by oil prices which, even if speculatively increased, are largely driven by the first tastes of peak oil. No one is interested, no one wants to follow the connections, and too many people are either under the cosh of charges and debt or following the global warming religion to see the problem underway.

When the French Revolution broke out, an insulated and wasteful governing class were met with a combination of destructive factors. A food crisis, partly powered by disease and partly by global cooling, was matched with state bankruptcy after an era of needless and destructive wars. Members of elites had convinced themselves that they represented a people whom they never met and whom they basically caricatured. Urban middle classes believed themselves to be agents of reform and enlightenment but their high ideals masked a commitment first to the market and then to the guillotine; and peasants, when they viewed those who constituted what passed for an intellectual class in the clergy, moved with an increasingly warm contempt against the licensed thinkers and institutionally caged who took their brighter children.

What followed was a detonating, and destructive, horror. Why is it, though, that we cannot ever envisage some of its energies now lapping at us? Our leaders are insulated; our peoples are under intense pressure from banks run with their money and which pursue a basically narcissistic agenda of guaranteeing a high quality of life on 'hock' to fewer and fewer people, whilst torturing those who fell for it. Some of them do not deserve it. We are systematically lied to by insurance companies, and railway firms, and financiers, and universities, and politicians, and the media, on either side of the Atlantic. Lying, in fact, is the thing we do best to ourselves.

Surely something has got to give? Or perhaps people will be happy to let the press simply sail them to their very own Hy-Brasil, whilst those mad enough to have opened their eyes just wait for the wave that has already over-run that particular chimerical Atlantis.

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