The Impending Catastrophe
The Impending Catastrophe: What Do the Coronavirus, the Sham of American Elections, and the Ukraine Crisis Have in Common? The Specter of the Upcoming Big War.
(The top illustration: The Money Changer and His Wife, 1514, by Quentin Massys, the Louvre, Le Prêteur et sa femme, De geldwisselaar en zijn vrouw))
I wrote a lengthy and somewhat moralizing introduction, so you can feel free to skip it and jump straight to the Great Waves of History. Besides, this essay contains a spoiler of an already old book, The Great Wave, Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History, by David Hackett Fischer. The book was published in 1996, and you may as well consider reading the book first.
This is fascinating though somewhat scary stuff.
I’ve also made at least two important discoveries from the book which might have escaped the author or he’d preferred not to place any emphasis on them. I’ll put them at the end.
A Frivolous Introduction:
Around 1997 or 1998 I bought a book called The Great Wave.
It happened to be a discounted book, resting on the pile of other marked-down literary treasures. The “sale” label enticed the eternal bargain hunter in me. Though the book was still fresh as far as academic publications go. It might have ended up in the condemned pile by a mistake.
The cover with a late Renaissance Flemish painting, The Money Changer and His Wife, by Quentin Matsys, attracted my attention as well. I love Renaissance art.
I grabbed the book and delved into it. I vaguely remember that I might have gotten it at one of the Borders chain bookstores in Providence, Rhode Island. I must have heard somewhere that the chain went bankrupt since. The book, a blend of economics, statistics, and history, maybe a bore for some, but for me, this is precisely the kind of “you can’t put down once you begin” books.
The work was authored by David Hackett Fischer, an American professor at Brandeis University. The volume itself was published by the Oxford University Press in 1996, and I am quite certain it must have also been translated into Russian as well other major European languages. I should have a paper copy gathering dust somewhere around, but even if I’d lost it, I’ve just managed to get an electronic version of the Great Wave.
David Hackett Fischer’s presentation style is that of a popular historian or at least of a historian who strives to be liked by those who enjoy both reading and history. But it is quirky enough not to be for the general reader per se, but rather for a dedicated history fanatic with a penchant for economics, graphs, and numbers.
He doesn’t seem to be intentionally writing cryptically obscure stuff for other university professors to salivate upon. Fischer is less of a populist that, let’s say, John Julius Norwich or even Eric Hobsbawm. Fischer’s masterpiece, and I consider this book a masterpiece even if it is just monumental speculation (and I now think it’s more than that. I believe David Hackett Fischer was upon something, perhaps even upon something big), is laden with statistical data, tables, charts and figures covering at least a millennium of European history.
Because there is so much math and statistical data in it, the Great Wave is not an easy read. It is most definitely not destined for the kind of folks who are used to reading novels masquerading as history or moralizing narratives, fairy tales about the past. His style is dry, the author doesn’t crack jokes, and remarkably, thank Lord, there is preciously little ideology in it the work. That’s an achievement on its own merits for any contemporary American or British historian. It is now difficult to get published unless you splash some ideological sauce and liberal morality tales all over your work. For instance, when you write even something benign and apolitical about contemporary Russia, it’s almost impossible to get away without calling Vladimir Putin a dictator (he is not) or strongman or former KGB agent or labeling him with some other epithet from the limited vocabulary of slurs preapproved by the transatlantic Reich’s informal but very much real and zealous Ministry of Truth.
By the way, the term populist that I’ve just brought up, albeit about a historian, is not a bad term. It’s true, that the word when it is being applied to a politician, has been much misused and even abused recently. That holds especially true in dictatorships and dictatorial wannabe states.
Alas, that category would encompass pretty much all or most of the states in today’s world. In actuality, a populist is just someone who wants to please the populus. Who is concerned with what people want.
In a democratic state, that is any state that allows fair access to participatory elections, in a state that endows all of its citizens or subjects with the equal right and opportunities to elect as well as to be elected to a political office, regardless of one’s political views, no matter how radical they are, or of one’s preexistent power connections and financial abilities, every politician must, by definition, be a populist. Being populist is not a sin but a politician’s duty.
Alas, neither the US nor American satrapies in Eastern Europe nor established West European kleptocracies qualify as democratic states hence their politicians, now for the most part outright puppets, don’t bother even with pretending to appear lest behave as populists. They sneer at the word and go to great lengths to show their contempt for the wishes of the hapless subjugated populus. That’s understandable because they don’t give a rat’s posterior about people’s interests.
And, alas, neither does Russia, though the latter is in many ways much freer today than are the US and any of its EU vassal states. Believe me, I find this an astonishingly astonishing thing to say, shockingly so, not because Russia is unfree but because even today it is not even free by the nineteenth-century standards. Though I am jumping ahead of myself or putting the proverbial narrative horse ahead of the cart because the 19th century was remarkably free from any conceivable viewpoint. Today’s Russia is a political sham, a multilevel simulacrum of a society. And it’s not the issue of how free or to what extent less free Russia is or is not today but how astonishingly repressive the so-called collective West has become, the new transatlantic Fourth Reich, and how rapidly the situation with those almost vanished personal liberties has degenerated before our eyes, how it all went bust just in the course of a couple of decades. But let’s stop being populist here and move to this somewhat neglected, slightly overcooked, and perhaps even to some extent conveniently forgotten but incredibly fascinating book and a theory that I’ve uncovered behind it.
The Great Waves of History
Because the book is filled with statistical information and figures, and some of the stuff is not easily digestible, especially by those misfortunate creatures like myself who are both lazy and hate humble math, I’d try to rip the thing open and present it conceptually as a whole, a Gesamtkunstwerk of ideas, some of them mine, instead of feeding you piecemeal statistical data.
First, I’ll throw a few ideas at you and you’d try to stitch them up together.
We all know, and I am writing this article in the month of May 2022, we all know and take it matter-of-factly, that prices rise.
Prices tend to go up. If you look back at your lifetime, regardless of whether you are now eighteen or eighty years old, and compare prices, you’d probably say that, since you were a toddler, things have become more expensive. We got used to life in which we expect prices to go up. We expect that the price of a loaf of bread or a pound of pork will cost more next year and our living expenses will consequently be higher. We are used to inflation. We consider it normal.
That’s regardless of where we live. It could be Russia, China, Greece, America, Malaysia, or Portugal. Some of the societies are relatively low-inflation societies, let’s say Switzerland, and others have exhibited steadily high inflation rates, say Turkey, but in all contemporary societies, inflation is the norm and is expected. It’s not even considered evil because everyone has got so used to it.
Human attention span is short. Some say it’s about three or four years, maybe for the more observant specimens of our species the period of remembering things stretches back for like 10 long years, but the fact remains that, catastrophic events aside, which, by the way, shape our lives though we fail to pay much attention to their true role, we forget what’s happened. And neither do we learn from our experience. History helps us learn from the experiences of others, but that’s a different subject altogether.
We may believe, that we remember what happened twenty years ago, but we don’t. That’s why we fall into the same traps all the time and stumble into the same smelly pitfalls, and that’s why we repeat our own mistakes.
Sometimes with predictably disastrous consequences. It doesn’t just apply to ordinary individuals but to politicians in power (most of them are meaningless puppets nowadays anyway), societies as complex collective systems. And it applies to nations.
We don’t remember much and we don’t keep track of changes.
That’s why it is difficult for most of us to imagine that there were periods, remarkably long ones, when there was no inflation and when people lived under continuous deflation and in expectation of things getting progressively less expensive.
That is, they knew that the price of a loaf of bread or a pound of pork will be lower next year, and that life, in general, will be cheaper as well. For instance, most of the 19th century has been a deflationary one. Landlords knew that they’d rent their properties for less next year and consumers also knew that their earnings will buy more. We are talking about pure dynamics of purchasing power, not “real prosperity”.
We don’t realize that because our attention span is limited to a couple of puny years, not even decades. And, so what’s happened in the 19th century lest 13th century is just water under the bridge.
David Hackett Fischer, the author of the Great Wave, studies prices. He’s studied prices, not for the ten or twenty years, that would be a sensible timespan for a “normal economist” but he studied prices on record which covers at least the last millennium. Unfortunately, he must be Eurocentric, there is no real way around it, and that comes down not to any particular cultural biases but the availability of plain data.
There were great centers of trade in Western Europe, places that acted as market towns, say Avignon and Lyon in France or Frankfurt in Germany. I am giving Frankfurt as an example because it is so well known as the location of the world’s oldest and still operating fair (up and running since the Holy Roman Emperor Frederic II had ordered to have it set it up in 1240) but there are market towns in Italy and France which are substantially older. And all of them have kept records of their annual markets.
That’s when merchants with their carts came in, they were taxed, the quantities of stuff that was brought to the markets counted and recorded, and so, astonishingly, we know or, at least, with some effort, we can find out how much a bushel of wheat or barley had cost, let’s say, in the year 950.
Because David Fischer compared archival prices across several towns and territories, he determined that prices rose and went down uniformly across the entire continent. It is not that prices in Russia rose while they fell in France. Astonishingly, even without complex financial systems and transportation routes, with a few exceptions, prices either rose everywhere or fell everywhere.
And he noticed that they were not exactly cyclical but moved like waves.
They build up slowly and then they rise and move forward. Sometimes they end up as tsunamis. And then they tend to destroy everything in their path. Eventually they crash, subside and retreat. And then periods of price equilibrium and stability set in.
David Hackett Fischer linked these price fluctuations to population growth. It is an uncomfortable, politically incorrect, almost a Malthusian observation but numbers show he is right.
Roughly speaking, European history for the past millennium, possibly, quite certainly, the world history, is split into irregular intervals of about 100 to 140 years in duration. There are also wishy-washy periods of indecision or transition or “dust settling” between those periods. Each period represents a wave. These are the periods of inflation and deflation.
They all end with a catastrophe, war, famine, and pandemics.
Let’s call them inflationary centuries and deflationary centuries. Keep in mind though that these centuries do not correspond to exact dates of “conventional” historical or calendar centuries, like
1700 to 1800,
1800 to 1900,
1900 to 2000
and that they are rough, in a sense that is they may contain more or fewer than a hundred years. I use the term “inflationary century” or “deflationary century” here merely for the sake of convenience.
Each such “century” commences with a catastrophic event including a major war that drags everyone around in. It also always involves pandemics. States fail, countries get destroyed, dynasties toppled, and populations wiped out.
A century of peace follows. This is a deflationary century. It is marked by falling prices first. Then a price equilibrium sets in. During such deflationary or stable centuries, no major global wars take place and strife is limited to occasional regional conflicts, which, in turn, tend to be short. But then there is a population buildup, demographic increases occur across countries and continents, and in the end, this becomes a burden for the economy, the economy overheats, and a price revolution takes place. Then food prices keep on rising, other prices follow, and it all culminates in the catastrophe of a global war, epidemics, and destruction. This goes up and down, on and off, intermittently for another century, which we’d call an inflationary century. Inflationary centuries are marked by wars, strife, and political calamities, they may calm down for a while just to explode with new energy down the road again.
Inflationary vs. Defliationary Periods.
Turbulence vs. Stability
So, we’ve got
Inflationary or unstable centuries marked by war and instability
Deflationary or stable centuries marked by peace and stability
(And, remember, these “centuries” do not exactly correspond to hundred-year periods)
Most fundamental scientific discoveries and most technological and cultural advances are made during the deflationary centuries. Art and literature flourish.
It’s not so during inflationary centuries. Technological advances during inflationary centuries may be war-oriented, and they are often offshoots of what had been previously invented.
I won’t claim that art or architecture created during inflationary periods are inferior, they are certainly different as I’d try to show when comparing the 19th and 20th centuries below.
It is also remarkable that inflationary centuries are marked by higher crime incidence, family disintegration, increased out-of-wedlock birth rates, and other societal changes, or ills, which we, who live in a violently inflationary century, may perceive as uniquely our own or see not even as “ills” at all, but which have taken place in the past.
They are not the hallmark of our era but a recurrent phenomenon. Though we can’t know it because the previous devastating inflationary period had been in the 18th century. Most of us, I mean probably all of us, unless you’ve read the David Hackett Fischer’s book or dug through old price records in old market towns of France, England, and Italy, or a vampire, are not aware of society’s recurrent mutations, because they are spaced too far apart and are set too far away from us in time.
We are now riding on the crest of the wave and this wave is about to crash. It looks like a tidal wave. This may as well be the most colossal inflationary wave in the history of mankind. And, if David Fischer’s informed prophecies are correct, the way I see them, we may as well end up being destroyed by it.
What Others Say
The theory – and I’ve discovered quite a few new things in it on my own, for example, the availability of easy international credit in the fiat currency era and phenomenal population growth – has been received coolly.
For reasons both political and ideological. The topic is too uncomfortable and too controversial to talk about publicly and aloud. There was some praise for the book, some even came from Noble Prize laureates, but it was all muffled and subdued.
Yes, we know, this may as well be great stuff but that’s the sort of subject one should be expected to chatter too noisily about in public.
About 12 years ago I told about this theory, which I’ve expanded a bit on my own, to an economist from London, though he is originally from Eastern Europe and like most of his countrymen proved to be a piece of trash. The man is of strong liberal persuasion and he didn’t like what I told him a tiny bit. Why? He said that the theory is too determinist to be politically acceptable.
But so be it. Let’s roll out our theory.
The historical fabric of David Hackett Fischer’s work unfolds in the Middle Ages. Because I am trying to break it down for an impatient reader and do so also from the perspective of Russian history (though I might write a separate article about the Great Wave just for the Russian speakers), even at the risk of doing this book a disservice, I am going to re-tell the plot in some ways backward.
Not from the Middle Ages but sometimes from our days upwards, and I would even jump ahead from time to time, because the book was written roughly a quarter of a century ago, and we can already look back at it from a safe distance. We can even now look down at it from the crest of the rising or perhaps already collapsing wave.
I also made a few observations on my own, which I am including in this article for the reader to take a look at. These observations are not to be found in the original book.
We live in the last days, perhaps months, possibly years of the longish Twentieth Century. It is not over yet. Remember that I said that dates are off, and “calendar centuries” and our centuries do not coincide.
If you follow inflationary price trends and see how the inflationary pressure accompanied the politics, the Great Wave, of the 20th century did not begin on the January 1st, 1900, but instead, it commenced with the opening salvos of the World War in the late July and August of 1914. Or if you’d pick the double bang theory of a century having two explosive ends, then the 19th century ended in the late summer of 1914 when the world descended into chaos.
With the end of the bloody Russian civil war and the influenza pandemic, the 19th century died a painful death and the 20th century was born in the years 1920-22. Thus, it should also end around the year 2022. Another calamitous event that should include, if the script is right, both a pandemic and a world war.
Considering the size of the Great Wave, the impending catastrophe with which the 20th-century ends might be greater than both of the World Wars combined.
I’d address the issue of fiat money and the de-metallization of world currencies since 1971. This mother of scams has possibly bought another ten or so years for the “century’s” longevity, because if the 19th century ended in 1914, then the 20th should have ended anywhere between 2008 and 2015.
But let me rewind the clock. Let’s go back four centuries. I put the dates just the way I see them.
And then, let’s check if the theory holds water. To see if it does I’d examine it with an additional record of the Russian history in hand to see if the Russian history follows the pattern that Fischer saw in the histories of France, England, Italy, Spain, and Holland.
Because Fischer doesn’t talk about Russia, and so the example of Russia would serve for us as either a rebuttal or verification of this theory.
I’ll simplify this by marking the centuries as P for Peace and C for Catastrophe
- 14th century – the Crisis, this is the Inflationary Century of Catastrophes (1314-1422)
- 15th century is the Equilibrium, this is the Deflationary and Stable Century (1422 to 1540)
- 16th century or the long one – a price revolution is born, an inflationary century follows it and it all ends in a vast catastrophe (1540-1648)
- 17th century is the age of equilibrium and deflation, it is when the Age of Science grows harmoniously, like Johan Sebastian Bach’s music, into the Age of Enlightenment (1648s to 1740s).
- 18th century is the age of price revolution, the age of inflation, upheavals, and disasters (1740-1822)
- 19th century is the age of deflation, equilibrium, and peaceful development (1820-1922)
C.20th century– the long century of inflation, catastrophes, and wars – the century that began with a bang but hasn’t yet ended (1918/1922 -2022?)
- the 21st century promises to be the century of peace. Provided we somehow survive the upcoming catastrophe of the end of the 20th century
To avoid boring the reader to death with endless tales of death-causing famines, wars, and epidemics, I’ll try to compress a few historical facts into as tight a narrative as possible. Maybe, in it I was giving too much attention to the 14th century but it came up first and then I got exhausted (the century was so exhausting) and I’d almost skipped the “peaceful” centuries, which are the 15th
(1422-1540), the uneven 17th (1640-1740) and the 19th (1815-1914 or 1820-1914). Because peace is boring.
The 13th century is that of deflation and equilibrium. It is the century of the so-called Medieval Equilibrium.
The 14th Century ends the Medieval Equilibrium.
The 14th Century at least for Europe is probably the most catastrophic century up to that point on record. This century of catastrophe, which Fischer charitably calls “crisis”; Its’ dates are (and these are my dates)
The Great Catastrophe
England and continental Europe – From 1314 on harvests fail three times in a row, outbreaks of famine occur on a catastrophic scale, and by 1348 one-third of England’s population perishes. Then comes the Black Death, the Bubonic Plague – 1347 to 1351. This is the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history. The pandemic causes the deaths of 75–200 million people in Eurasia and North Africa, some 15% of China’s population died, from 45% to 55% of Europe’s population perished, Florence’s tax records suggest that 80% of the city’s population died in the period of four months in 1348. Bremen and Hamburg lost some 60% of their population.
The Hundred Year War, most of it happens in the 13th century, begins in 1337 (it manages to go on for more than a hundred years and ends with the French victory in 1453 when the English were decisively defeated at the Battle of Castillon).
In England, we witness the fall of the monarchy, the end of the Lancaster dynasty, Henry IV (1399-1413). In France, there is a collapse of the ruling dynasty. There is mighty chaos in Italy. Amidst the raging plague, the Wars of the Guelphs and Ghibellines erupt. Peasant rebellions break out throughout Europe and the known world ( “Among them was the Jacquerie in France (1358), a rebellion of peasants against their masters. Another was the revolt of the Ciompi in Florence (1378), when the popolo minuto rose violently against the ruling families of that city. A third was England’s great Peasant Rebellion (1381). In that year there was a insurrection in East Anglia, and the Kentish Rising of Wat Tyler who led his followers into the streets of London.” See David Hackett Fischer. The Great Wave, The Crisis of the Fourteenth Century)
Russia, the great famine of 1314, Lithuanian invasion and occupation of Brest and Grodno in 1315, endless strife and civil war. Russian lands, Great Russia, White Russia, and Russia Minor are now split. Russia Minor (a part of Russia that is now called the Ukraine) simply disappears from sight. It vanishes. It’s just gone into oblivion. Geography narrows. The city of Tver fights neighboring Moscow for supremacy. Tver allies with Tatars to attack Novgorod (the Battle of Torzhok in 1316), Tatars execute the Tverian ruler, Michael II (who will later be canonized as a saint), and Novgorod fights its’ vassal Pskov, something that would be perceived as quite an unbelievable event half a century before, and then the Black Death arrives upon the scene. The pandemic was murderous, even the Muscovite ruler, Semeon the Proud, the Grand Duke of Moscow, dies from the plague (he reigned for 13 years, from 1340 to 1353). By the year 1360 perhaps as much as 60% of Russia’s then small population is dead. Urban life is extinguished and the countryside is depopulated. 1380 is the year of the Battle of Kulikovo Field, Russia is victorious over the Mongol Horde but the process of reunification of the Russian lands will begin only in the next “deflationary” century. The murderous, “inflationary” century ends for Russia with an outburst of uprisings, wars, and the Great Famine of 1421-1422.
My additional notes on the 14th century from other parts of the world.
1389 The Battle of Kosovo Field and subjugation of Serbia to the Turkish yoke.
Turkish onslaught against remnants of the Western Roman Empire (in modern misleading terminology misnamed as the Byzantine Empire)
Timur (Tamerlane, 1336 – 1405) conquers parts of China, Central Asia, Persia, and India with catastrophic loss of life and destruction of major cities. Combatants are devastated by the Black Death as well. Persia loses most of its population and is practically enslaved, Delhi is captured (1398), and Timur executes 100 000 captives before the battle for Delhi; 1400 – the conquest of Armenia and Georgia, those lands are depopulated, almost stripped bare of human existence, 65 000 survivors sold as slaves.
The Renaissance and Consolidation
The 15th century is the century of the Renaissance. From Italy, the Renaissance spreads across the Alps. It is an extended century of great advances in astronomy and science. No major all-European wars or pandemics. It is the century the modern literature emerges and great geographical discoveries are made (Columbus discovers America in the year 1492, though Sigmund Freud said during another era of stability that it was a mistake, a giant mistake but a mistake nonetheless, and it would be much better if America was left undiscovered).
Book printing was invented in that century (by Johan Gutenberg, first in Strasbourg then he perfects at Mayence or Mainz in the 1440s). In Russia and France state consolidated, crime fell, and the population grew.
For Russia, the period from 1400 to 1540 can be remembered as a time of relative stability and unification. For the first time, Russian lands are unified into a single national state under the crown of the Grand Dukes of Moscow. Moscow Kremlin, a vast Renaissance structure, is built and took on its modern appearance (1495).
The Unheard of Calamity, the Era of Disaster
The 16th century expands into the 17th where it culminates with the unprecedented disaster of the Thirty Years’ War. It is a century of unparalleled catastrophes.
Its’ finale is the Thirty Years’ War, an event so devastating that its’ impact has not yet probably been surpassed by the First and Second World Wars combined. It took Germany two centuries to recover from it.
The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) is the first global war or the first World War. It will be fought on all continents save for yet undiscovered Australia and the Antarctic. In Europe, it will involve literally everyone – from Portugal to Russia.
The Thirty Years’ War is believed to have claimed up to 12 million lives in Western Europe alone.
It is estimated that “only” around 450,000 people died in actual combat. But the warfare was accompanied by pillaging, epidemics, and outbreaks of famine, and these calamities, not the warfare, had caused most of the death toll. According to modern estimates, some 20% of Europe’s population perished in the catastrophe, and in some parts of the continent, such as Central Germany and Bohemia, the population numbers fell by some 60%.
This period also saw two English civil wars, the overthrow of the monarchy, with the king, King Charles I, being executed in the process.
And what was happening in Russia at that same time?
In Russia, this period of history is marked by horrendous upheavals, urban and rural uprisings, famine, the reign of Ivan IV who failed to leave an heir (as he is said to have murdered his own son), the great terror of Oprichnina (Opritchnina), destruction of the Novgorod Republic, catastrophic Livonian war, end of the Rurik (or Rurikide) dynasty, time of troubles (1598-1613) that roughly followed it, the extinction of monarchy, the consequent attempt to usurp the vacant throne (within just 15 years, the Russian crown changed hands 6 times) and the massive population loss. In the central areas of historical Russia, possibly as much as 50% of the country’s population perished. Moscow itself was occupied by foreign forces and the country had all but lost its sovereignty.
The Age of Science and the Age of Enlightenment
The 17th to 18th century, the “Peaceful” era (1648-1740, the Age of Science and the Age Enlightenment)
During these years, marked by price stability, and equilibrium, wars happen but on Europe’s fringes and their intensity has rarely been catastrophic. The worst one is the War of the Spanish Succession in Europe (Autumn 1701 to March 1714) but it is fought amongst armies, not peoples, with limited zeal, and no major slaughter of civilians was recorded. It’s hardly a catastrophe. The Great Northern War (1700-1721) is fought principally between Russia and the Swedish Empire (which by then included coastal Germany, Finland, and the Baltic Provinces). Epidemics erupt but only in parts of the continent, and they are not as destructive.
This period – 1650-1740 is marked by steady population growth and recovery, slower in Germany, and faster in other parts of Western Europe. It is marked by confidence and belief in the man, in his future, in science and civilization. This period is that of great advances in science, physics, and mathematics. It is the era of Newton (1642–1727), Halley (1656–1742), Leibniz (1648-1716). Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), the father of modern taxonomy, had put together a system of classification for animals and plants, that remains in use today. This taxonomic system is the foundation stone of our botany, zoology, and other fields of biology which Carl Linnaeus could not have even foreseen in his own time, but which all use his brilliant classification system. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) invented the microscope and saw microorganisms, something that no one saw before. It is the era of Molière and Racine in France. It is the period of great urban expansion; it is when Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) builds St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
I am not going to spend too much time on the advances of the 1650-through-1740s era because their number is so huge and the era is marked by stability and perhaps by unfounded confidence.
I’ll just jump to Russia, something that I’d promised to do for every period, and see how well or poorly it has fared from 1650 to 1740.
In Russia, this was the era of recovery from the Time of Troubles. The population grew and cities, notably Moscow, expanded. It is the time when Peter I (1672-1725) founded St. Petersburg and implemented reforms so revolutionary and deep, that despite of over a century of the Bolshevist yoke (from 1917 on, as I believe the yoke has not been removed to this day) they serve as a foundation on which Russia stands. Russia became reunified with Russia Minor (a historical part of Russia that is informally known as the Ukraine). Under Peter I Russia defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War (1700-1721). He also liberated Russian lands in the Northwest and acquired Baltic governorates (which have recently, since the 1990s, fallen under the enemy’s yoke but will no doubt be eventually liberated). Peter I created the Russian Empire, which for us, for the Russians, or at least for some of us, is perhaps the most important institution in the world. The most significant and also the most overlooked outcome of the Petrine reforms is the demographic boost it gave to Russia. The population grew spectacularly after Peter’s reign. In 1700 the population of France was 20 million, by 1914 the population of France was 41 million and it stands at 65 million today. By contrast, in 1700 the population of Russia was about 14 million at some estimates, but likely it was much smaller, Parker’s Historical Geography of Russia (1968) and Mironov’s table (as published in the US) puts Russian demographic numbers at only puny 5,361,000 vs 20 million in France by the year 1719.
Russians who constituted the central social structure of Petrine Russia numbered according to the following breakdown:
Court servitors and clergy 150,000
The nobility 150,000
Peasants, serfs 4,700,000
Town and rural denizens, craftsmen 361,000
But by 1750 Russia’s population was 23 million, by 1850 it went up to 68.5 million and by 1910 it was 160 million.
Russia’s population was 170.1 million by 1914 but only… 142 million today (Since the census in the Russian Empire was not carried out in the territories of the Central Asian possessions, and it was limited in scope, the scale of the demographic catastrophe in Russia of the Communist (Bolshevik) and post-Bolshevik era is astounding, it’s breathtaking, while, in retrospective, the achievement of the great Petrine impulse and of the brilliant Russian monarchy that followed it is equally spectacular.
Russian Empire after Peter I presented the case of the most rapid and steady native population growth in the history of mankind. It was made possible by a steady expansion of agricultural production but also secured by unparalleled stability and the sense of safety the system provided for its people.
The 18th century as A Long Crisis
The relatively short 18th century is a period of turbulence. It is marked by inflation, starvation, and impoverishment in large parts of the world, major societal upheavals such as the overturn of the ancient monarchy in France (the king and the queen executed in the process), civil war, and a campaign of terror of an almost unparalleled by their barbarity, and a series of popular uprisings and wars of independence which overthrew old governments and elites on all continents except Australia, and yes, the Antarctic since no people live there.
The inflationary 18th century which borders can be set between 1740 and 1815 or 1740 and 1822 is the period of incessant warfare that involved all European states without an exception. This is really an Eighty Years World War (82 of warfare to be precise).
I must have forgotten a few international conflicts, but they overlap:
War of the Austrian Succession – 1740-1748
Jacobite Uprising in Scotland – Summer 1745 to 16th April 1746
First Carnatic War in India – July 1746 to 24th April 1748
Second Carnatic War in India – Summer 1748 to 1754
Seven Years War – Summer 1756 to 10th February 1763
Swedish-Prussian War or the Pomeranian War – 7th December 1758 to 10th February 1763
Third Carnatic War in India – 7th December 1758 to 10th February 1763
Pougatcheff uprising in Russia – 1773-1775
American War of Independence – 19th April 1775 to 3rd September 1783
Austro-Turkish War –
Spring 1787 to January 1792
Second Great Russo-Turkish War – Spring 1787 to January 1792
(The 14th?) Russo-Swedish War, 1788-1790
The French Revolution and French civil war – 14th July 1789 to November 1799
The War of the First Coalition (French Revolutionary Wars) –
17th April 1792 to October 1797
Egypt Campaign (Precursor to the Napoleonic Wars or Part of the Napoleonic Wars) – July 1798 to October 1799,
The War of the Second Coalition (Part of the Napoleonic Wars) –
late 1799 to 25th March 1802
The War of the Third Coalition (Part of the Napoleonic Wars) – May 1803 to October 1806
Russo-Iranian or Russo-Persian War – 1804-1813
Russo-Turkish War – 1806-1812
War of the Third Coalition (Part of the Napoleonic Wars) – May 1803 to October 1806
War of the Fourth Coalition (Part of the Napoleonic Wars) – October 1806 to July 1807
The (15th?) Russo-Swedish War and the War in Finland – 1808—1809
Peninsular War in Spain (Part of the Napoleonic Wars) 2nd May 1808 to 17th April 1814
War of the Fifth Coalition (Part of the Napoleonic Wars) – 10th April 1809 to 14th October 1809
The Chilean War of Independence – 18th September 1810 to 5th April 1818
The Peruvian War of Independence – 1811-1824
The Argentine War of Independence – 1811-1818
The War of the Sixth Coalition (Part of the Napoleonic Wars) – January 1812 to April 1814
The Venezuelan War of Independence – 1811-1823
The French invasion of Russia (The Patriotic War of 1812) – 24th June 1812 to 14th December 1812
The War of 1812 in America – 18th June 1812 to 18th February 1815
First Seminole War in America – Late 1816 to Spring 1818
And I must have omitted a few. The war was endemic and powers rose and fell. In 1812 at one point France held almost the entire continent of Europe as its possession – with all continental capitals, from Moscow to Madrid, occupied by French forces.
The 18th century though saw some unparalleled achievements, in music for one, there were local in scope, but colossal in accomplishment. For instance, advances in music were more or less centered on the German-speaking world. It has dominated the scene, and out of it, Vienna under the reign of Emperor Joseph II (18 August 1765 – 20 February 1790), the Vienna of Mozart and Haydn, stands out and stands apart.
The Josephine Vienna, like Athens under Pericles, is an exceptional phenomenon in human history. But even there the tumultuous spirit of the time was present and it can be heard in Franz Joseph Haydn’s music, openly so in some of his pieces like the Missa in tempore belli, Mass in Time of War, which he had composed at Eisenstadt, now the capital of Burgenland, sometime in August of 1796, at the time of Austria’s mobilization for yet another war. Wonderful professor Robert Greenberg in his lecture course on Haydn says that the Mass was composed in Vienna as Haydn wrote it, he could hear the remote cannon thunder.
This period was exceptionally turbulent, France defeated England in North America and created the United States, yes, it was a French creation (I am sure many French feel sorry now, but what’s done is done). But with bad harvests, inflationary nightmares, and huge deficits, France became so exhausted that ultimately the drain of resources and deficits led to the French Revolution, which overthrew the monarchy. Both the king and the queen lost their lives in the process.
The French monarchy was not the only one to be overthrown. The ruling dynasty of Sweden was overturned as well (to be replaced, a year later, by a French marshal, Bernadotte, whose descendants rule Sweden to this day).
The destruction of the French monarchy was an event so calamitous in nature, the shift of the political scene to tectonic, that it led to a quarter of a century of incessant warfare, which had involved all powers in Europe. It ended with the largest peace settlement so far in history, the Congress of Vienna (notably the previous Great Wave had also ended with a great settlement, the Peace of Westphalia. I can’t even imagine how this era of turbulence, that has begun it 1914 would possibly end). The settlement was final. Almost nothing from that era affects us now as opposed to the 19th century, that had followed it, and which consequences have shaped the long 20th century in which still live, albeit it is certainly coming to a closure.
This period in Russia was relatively stable, at least compared to some other places during this inflationary wave. Pougatcheff’s rebellion happened because of rising prices – that’s what David Hackett Fischer claims though this is a rare instance when he speaks of Russia. The population grew steadily. Russia suffered from an invasion by the predecessor of today’s EU and NATO under Napoleon, and managed, once again, to destroy the invader. But its impact, even with Moscow, the monarchy’s capital burned down to the ground (St. Petersburg was the capital of the empire, Moscow was the capital of the monarchy, that’s where all Russian monarchs, Czars or Caesars, were, and I hope again will be, crowned), the overall impact on Russia was fairly limited. One reason for this was that Russia has built a strategic defense depth, something that Russia has, and France, unfortunately for France, lacks.
Also, during this period, Russia together with Germany, as represented then by Austria and Prussia, managed to eliminate her civilizational enemy and the long-term instability factor in Europe: Poland. With Poland fortunately removed from the map, things got healthier though regrettably and foolishly the Russian state attempted to accomplish the impossible by trying to accommodate the Polish nobles. By absorbing her part of what once was Poland, Russia also unwillingly obtained a huge Jewish population. This will play a decisive role in Russia’s future history and in the elimination of the Russian state in the 20th century. Some refer to this misfortunate event as the poisonous kiss of dying Poland. Likewise, within this period Russia has managed to practically eliminate the Turkish threat and liberate once Christian Crimea from the Ottoman and Tatar yoke. In that sense, Russia has accomplished a deed of both historical justice and civilizational advancement and liberation — from the standpoint of Christianity.
If one remembers the crisis of the 14th century (1314 -1422), one of those inflationary centuries that we’d looked at, one of those Great Waves, and remember the Bubonic plague, the Black Death that had decimated — or actually worse than decimated – entire Christendom, it is also worth recalling that the catastrophe for Europe began in Crimea. There during a siege of a Genovese fortress of Caffa, Tatar (Muslim) assailants used improvised biological weapons. Perhaps that was the first use of biological weapons in history. They threw bodies of their dead comrades, of other Tatars, who’d died from the plague, over the walls of Caffa. It is at the location of the modern Russian city of Theodossia (Feodosia). The Genovese fled the horror but brought the disease to Europe. Catherine the Great’s liberation of Crimea was a rare example of Christianity triumphant, one of Christianity conquering the Muslim invaders.
To sum it all up, despite the Napoleonic invasion, out of which Russia emerged triumphant, Russia fared relatively well within this inflationary period, in fact out of those inflationary “Great Waves” (1314-1422,
1540-1648, 1750-1815, 1915 -until today), 1750-1815 period was the best if one can call an age of disaster “best” or even relatively good. Likewise, out of the benevolent centuries of equilibrium and stability, it seems that the upcoming period (1815-1914) would also be the best one for Russia while the one that has followed is (from 1914 until today) the most disastrous.
The 19th century or the Great Equilibrium
The 19th century which you can date from 1814 to 1914 or 1815 to 1914 or 1820-to 190 or, 1820 to 1922, the latter is perhaps the most correct. The trouble with dating the end of this period – should it be 1914 or 1922 – I believe David Hackett Fischer chooses 1914 as the ultimate year of the bust – is tricky because the following 20th century is tricky since it’s not over yet. And it’s difficult to judge something that is still going on and is in process. And, as I believe, its’ end has also been artificially delayed (see The Monopoly Money Scam part below).
The 19th century has been one of calm and peace. There were a few calamitous events like the American Civil War and the German Wars of Unification, including the nasty Franco-Prussian war episode, the war that was disastrous for France, the world itself, and the world peace as consequent events would prove, but those wars were relatively short. There were no decades of fighting, and except for the American Civil War, they were not that devastating. There were also marked by international restraint, as they tended not to get out of hand or be blown out of proportion; the conflicts tended to be confined to the territories where they’d erupted.
This was the era of consolidation, not decay. The United States grew to the bounds of the continent and became a great nation-state. The planet’s ultimate melting pot. Germany and Italy were united. In the case of Italy for the first time since the era of the Roman empire. Russia brought civilization to Central Asia. China did not fare that well but it still held its borders under fierce imperialist pressure. Japan modernized and made a huge leap forward during this era.
The stability of the 19th century is obvious, and I’ve addressed it in the part “Scientific and cultural developments for the 19th century and 20th centuries”. That section compares both the 19th and 20th centuries in some important areas.
As far as Russia is concerned within the period (1815 to to1914) Russia fought several wars, but they were minor in comparison to the world disasters of the upcoming 20th century. They were also fought on the outskirts of the Russian Empire. No enemy soldier set his boot on Russian soil during this period. It was a century of peace during which the population of the Russian had more than doubled.
There was an attempt of foreign invasions masked as something else, like the Crimean War, but even in that technical defeat Russia’s victory is concealed as better equipped and more numerous assailants failed to achieve a single goal of theirs. Among those goals were the separation of the Baltic provinces and Finland, the loss of the Black Sea coast, and Alaska. None of it came to fruition. The enemy has also most horribly miscalculated its abilities – it planned to take Sevastopol (Sebastopol) in two weeks but instead, the siege went on for almost one year and the enemy got ruins which it was then forced to evacuate. The war ended in a peaceful settlement of the Treaty of Paris without anyone surrendering anything.
Russia suffered from urban unrest toward the end of the era, caused by the price revolution which will later grow into the Great Wave of the 20th century, but they’d transformed into the Constitution (of 1906-1907), a period that was marked by unprecedented flowering of independent arts, music, science and industry that Russia has not seen before or since.
The 20th century
The 20th century is the century in which we live now.
Regardless if we’d start the dating of the 20th inflationary century with 1914 or use 1914 as the date when the preceding 19th century died in the Great War, this long inflationary century has been one of the most turbulent centuries in periods history.
The 20th century is a long one, Eric Hobsbawm, the Marxist historian, called it the short century because he, more or less, placed it within the lifetime of the extended Soviet Union, but I believe he is mistaken and his assessment is way off under the theory of Great Waves, the theory that we are now exploring and which I have a bit expanded.
The century has begun in 1914 and should have ended, with a bang around the years 2008 to 2015. It has languished until 2022, and it seems that’s when it began to unravel in earnest, the delay, I believe, the postponement of its demise, was achieved by a trick, which I‘ll describe in the section The Monopoly Money Scam below.
All great empires of Eurasia: the Russian, British, Austrian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and Japanese fell apart in this century. The continental ones fell a bit earlier and the maritime empires languished for a few more decades. It doesn’t mean that the empires won’t get reassembled, they may have just retreated to the core for the time being but they have disintegrated from the crash of the Great Wave.
China held on though it too suffered from a number of political ordeals and upheavals, which saw the overthrow of its ancient monarchy, a foreign invasion that led perhaps to as many as 50 million deaths, and continuing partition of the country.
The United States has emerged as the ultimate Empire but appearances may be deceiving. As I’ll argue in another article, the United States fell as a stand-alone empire in the 20th century as well and was replaced by what we can informally call the Fourth Reich, that almost global empire that has its roots in Central Europe. It parasites off the United States and the American people. The United States is really like a hollow trunk of a once-mighty independent tree, worms and parasites had eaten out the interior, and just the exterior remains even though it appears solid to the gullible, deceived, and uninformed outside.
The 20th century also saw an unprecedented attack on Christianity. First in Russia after the Bolshevist takeover, where the Orthodox Christians were subjected to prosecution unseen since the Roman times and tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, were murdered for their faith. Countless churches and monasteries were destroyed and priests, monks, and nuns exterminated in a campaign of yet unprecedented terror. But by the early 21 century, though within the same inflationary wave, Christianity all over the planet has been under attack by the same forces which took over Russia in 1917. The assault on the Roman Catholic Church and the smear and defamation campaigns unleashed by the enemies of Christ in the United States and elsewhere have an almost biblical dimension to them.
The 20th century, from 1971 until today, is unique in a way that for the first time in history the entire world uses a variety of fiat currency, money unsecured by anything, save for one’s fantasy, which exists for the most part as a figment of imagination, as it is for the most part no longer even printed. It is ultimately controlled by one hegemon, the United States, which everyone has accepted as the main issuer of the reserve currency because it has pledged, informally, to act in a responsible manner and remain politically unmotivated and impartial, and to be, or so at least the thought went, literary as the issuer of a substitute of gold. The post-1971 era is the Alchemist’s dream-come-true time If in the past, one’s gold reserves or future ability to earn gold or some other metallic currency have served as a restraint on military spending and incessant warfare, this restraint has been removed since 1971.
Replacement of “real money”, the kind that the mankind has been using for at least ten millennia, with a paper or digital fiction “issued” by the Federal Reserve, as the ECB is really just a subsidiary of the federal reserve, coincides with the emergence of the integrated transatlantic Empire (the collective Fourth Reich, as I call it, the process that has begun in the 1980s and which is culminating right now, as the real Evil Empire is consolidating right before our eyes).
This arrangement has caused an unprecedented boost for the armaments industry and the greatest setback for world peace on record, on one hand, while causing a credit-driven consumer and housing boom on the other. Indirectly, it led to rapid deindustrialization of the United States and old industrial nations of Western Europe, pauperization and spectacular demographic shifts in Eastern Europe, forced the ongoing industrialization of China and caused a massive increase in the Earth’s population, with more people born in this period of history that in any other (population has increased eightfold since 1800 but doubled since the 1971 replacement of gold standard). This rise in the number of the planet’s human inhabitants is economically and environmentally unsustainable. The consequences of these changes promise to be truly catastrophic, and they are caused, as I observed, at least in part, by the availability of unsecured fiat money in the form of cheap credit for both the growers and consumers of cash crops.
Textbooks all over the world – from the United States, the heart of today’s transatlantic Fourth Reich, to Russia or Portugal claim that the dramatic population increase has occurred because of the unprecedented increases in productivity and new agricultural techniques in those countries which have exhibited high population growth. In reality, however precisely the opposite has happened. Self-reliability and self-sufficiency collapsed across the board. Only a small handful of nations, like Russia and Argentina, or Canada can feed themselves and also export their agricultural surpluses. For fiat money. For paper cash. Or for digital cash that can be erased with a finger stroke. This is a dramatic reversal of what has been the case 100 years ago.
The suppression of free speech in the 20th century has been unprecedented by any historical standard. There are numerous topics we can’t even discuss and the 19th century appears as the age of almost unrestricted, almost frivolous liberty. Even in the United States, which grants strong constitutional protections for the freedom of speech, corporate censorship has mercilessly eliminated any live thought and uprooted any dissent, and there wasn’t much in evidence, to begin with anyway. To quote the great late Eugene Gore Vidal, how great he became truly apparent only after his death: “The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity – much less dissent.” And Gore Vidal wrote this before the arrival of mass digital censorship and total thought surveillance of the Facebook era.
Political instability and turbulence mark all inflationary centuries and are a feature of the Great Waves. The 20th century (from 1914 to 2022+) is by no means an exception. It has been distinguished by extraordinary instability. The degeneration of the American political system serves as a beautiful (though some Americans may say as an “ugly”) illustration.
The system threw around bizarre accusations of Russia’s political interference – Russia is a relatively minor power of limited abilities that has no means to interfere in anyone’s elections. It can’t properly organize its own. This accusation is especially striking, the chutzpah behind is truly enormous, because it is the US that has been meddling in other people’s elections while spreading instability throughout the world for decades on end, with Russia being one of its principal victims (Americans are astonishing in a way that they, as a society, consistently refuse to take the medicine they administer to the rest of the world, politics is not being an exception here).
As the Great Wave rose and we’ve begun to reach its crest the system is starting to disintegrate in the plain sight. The results of the most recent US elections, where a senile puppet has been shamelessly put on the throne of the Reich by the junta lurking behind him, in a process so openly deceitful, complete with voter fraud, censorship, dissident repression, that even by the standards of Sub-Saharan Africa the US elections and the presidency could not possibly be considered legitimate or fair, but their results, astonishingly, have been allowed to stand.
In the EU the foreign policy has to a large extent been hijacked by new artificial Eastern European ethnofascist statelets like Estonia which appeared because of the Bolshevik takeover in Russia or, like Poland in its borders, and the Czech Republic, created by the armed third party in the aftermath of a global war with no justification or historical precedent for their existence.
The continuing 20th century has been the most profoundly tragic one for the Russian people. Russia lost its sovereign and its sovereignty in the year 1917, and, amid a war-induced collapse, had been taken over by a regime perfectly alien to the Russian people by its blood, beliefs, values, and purpose. A change of decorum notwithstanding Russia is still under the same yoke as it was put under in November of 1917. Just the assets of the regime have been privatized, mostly for the benefit of descendants of the perpetrators. In the century Russia fell into a deep demographic pit. I’d discussed the issue of Russian demographics in the entry of the long 17th century (1650 to 1740. Russia still reeling from the 20th-century calamities. It has lost a great deal of territory now occupied by pseudo-ethnic statelets. As of the time of this writing, the artificial state of the so-called Ukraine still occupies an enormous part of Russian territory. The ethnofascist Baltic statelets of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, with the assistance of Russia’s enemy, the enemy that is not just hostile to Russia but to the humankind as species, holds sway over five Russian governorates and will have to be removed from there most likely by merciless force. Russia, through treason and other factors, which naturally do not alter the disastrous character of the calamity, had been reduced to her long 16th centuries borders, to the Time of Trouble (1540-1648), and the Treaty of Stolbovo era. That is a huge tragedy for the Russian people though may be a source of delight for Russia’s enemy (And Russia’s principal enemy is the transatlantic Fourth Reich or the Empire, which will be the subject of another article).
Russia’s countryside became depopulated in the 20th century. This process is continuing. The over-centralization of the existing “soft dictatorship” (the State of Simulacrum, another topic that I’d address) inevitably forced greater urbanization that which already been advanced in the Soviet period. While you can hear locals lament about housing being expensive in Russia, the truth of the matter is that vast swaths of land have become depopulated. There are entire villages with abandoned houses, wells, gardens, ruins of churches, chapels, storehouses, railroad stations, railroads, some narrow gauge and some conventional (of the standard Russian gauge) with woods and forests growing among and over them. This is the ager desertus. The sign of the thorough civilizational collapse that echoes from the Roman empire. The sight evokes movie imagery of nuclear war-induced devastation. Despite the shiny look of new shopping malls in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other major cities, the devastation and abandonment of the historical heart of Russia have been deeper in the last 30 years than it was in the preceding three centuries. Soviet times included.
If we as a planet or rather as species, as the human ability to destroy the planet physically is very much in doubt, are to survive this great upcoming crash, and it is far from a certain deal, it would take an extraordinary effort for the Russian people to rebuilt just what they had lost in the 20th century, regain their state, restore their sovereignty over the nation that was stolen from them in the 20th century and recover the lands which were separated, by trick and treason, from the country.
In the course of the 20th century, many aspects of civilization have either stopped in Russia completely or become a simulacrum. The degradation of the last 30 years has been most profound. If we talk about culture, with a few exceptions, notably music (Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, individuals who belong to the people from the preceding century as they were schooled in or were taught by people from the previous century), the 20th century is the lost one. It is as if the clock has stopped.
Scientific and cultural developments for the 19th century and 20th centuries
This is my observation, only in part made from the rich data the author of the book presents. I won’t go back to the early Middle Ages or the Renaissance but I’d try to make the point by comparing the 19th and the 20th centuries. My opinion may be subjective and I admit that I can be quite judgmental when it comes to 20th-century art and cultural developments.
Science and Technology
Practically all modern fundamental scientific discoveries were made during the great equilibrium period – from 1820 to 1914. Inventions of the 20th century were mere improvements of the discoveries of the preceding 19th century. What is astonishing for us in the 20th century is that the 19th-century discoveries (those made up to 1914 but you can even count those made up to 1922) were made without any state management, corporate grants, treasury-funded research institutes, or science foundation tricks. For the most part, they remain the product of brilliant single scientists, loners, who were often, by the standards of our time, amateurs and science enthusiasts.
Without naming inventors or mentioning dates (since there are often many claimants to the same inventions), I’d list just list a few random ones, the that come to mind instantly, without placing them in any chronological or alphabetic order: the airplane, modern atomic theory, radiation, x-rays, steamship and all other vessels propelled by a source of locomotion other than wind and muscle power, electric power plant generation and distribution of industrially produced electricity, railroad, internal combustion engine, diesel engine, electric engine, electric lighting, public transportation (trams, buses), subway (underground railroad), elevators, open-hearth furnace and industrial production of steel, submarines, calculating machines, precursors to the modern computers, the radio, sound recording, cinema, anesthetics, aspirin, photography, crude oil refining, refrigeration, air conditioning, periodic table of chemical elements and modern chemistry, even plastics.
Inventions of the 20th century seem to be made at a much greater cost, both financial and human and are frequently built upon advances from the 19th century. Even those inventions, like plastics, which I’d mentioned and which we consider to be 20th-century advances come from the preceding, “deflationary” century.
Internet and wireless telephony are likewise based on 19th (up to 1922) century technology. So is television (wireless transmission of images was pioneered in 1921, and transmission of photographs over the wire was commercially in place by 1907 after Édouard Belin invented a phototelegraphic apparatus called the Bélinographe).
Most great 20th-century advances were propelled by war and few remained sustainable. Armies use ammunition that was developed in the 19th century. The jet age in aviation continues unabated, but its progress slowed down after a creative burst in the late 1940s and 50s. Airlines operate Boeing 737, an aircraft, though equipped with new engines and avionics, that dates from the year 1967. It uses a section of the fuselage and construction of the airframe from Boeing 367-80, that plane that first flew for the first time in the year 1954. Internet and digitalization of society seem to be the greatest advance of the inflationary late 20th-century era but, because both are so dependent on the stability of electricity supply, this advance makes “digitalized” societies almost unbelievably vulnerable, exposed by standards of any age, defenseless to the extent of being suspended in the catastrophic danger zone, liable to be crushed by unplanned interruptions and sudden loss of the supply of electricity. Just turn the switch off and all the Facebooks, Instagrams, Youtubes, Googles are gone in an instant. Vanished like a bad dream.
A summary. All non-inflationary centuries or periods of equilibrium are the ones in which the most important technical and cultural advances occur.
2. Arts, Music, and Literature – the Contrast Between the 20th and the 19th century.
The 19th century (1820-1922 or 1820-1814) is the period when arts, music, and literature bloomed. St. Petersburg, a city that had suffered more damage in the last 30 years of unfree and corrupt markets, than during two revolutions and three wars combined, that is two world wars and the Russian civil war, including the horrendous Nazi siege, is an almost intact fin de siècle city that got its appearance and its astounding architectural variety during the long 19th century (from 1820 until 1814).
Those great Russian cities with the rich architectural heritage that are worth looking at – St. Petersburg, Nizhnii (or Lower) Novgorod, Kiev, Moscow, Riga, Odessa, Yaroslavl (Jaroslavl), Samara, were all shaped by the 19th century. Moscow and Kiev don’t look that way because Moscow became a mega Bolshevist urbanist project and it was to be turned into the ideal Communist city, an endeavor that went on from the late 1920s until 1980s with great damage to the architectural heritage inflicted upon her in the process; and Kiev that was so devastated during the German Nazi retreat that Russia had to rebuild it, and so its architectural looks are Stalinist and Brezhnivite. St. Petersburg is unique in the respect that besides being the world’s most beautiful city, it is also an open architectural textbook. I realize, that I may be prejudiced, so I’d cede the first place to Paris, but then, well, St. Petersburg would confidently come in second, and I have quite many contenders for the third place. In this mental ranking of urban majesty, I’d rate cities by their architectural appearance, their spirit (St. Petersburg is alas losing its spirit, but that’s a subject for an entirely different essay), and not by what the city has to offer today in the way of restaurants and amusements. In fact, I’d rank St. Petersburg very poorly on that ladder). St. Petersburg is well-preserved and it is an architectural textbook because though the 19th century was stable, it was culturally explosive, and went through a variety of architectural fashions and styles. This variety also applies to innovations in music, literature, and fashion. They differ slightly by location on the continent, but since St. Petersburg was in a way a West European melting pot (I did not make a mistake, St. Petersburg is Western European capital, that’s again a subject of a different topic to which I’d eventually come), it represents most of them. So here we’d find the neoclassicism (classicism) of (the Russian) Alexandrian Empire, often referred to as Empire, late neoclassicism, eclecticism, Biedermeier, baroque as neo-baroque, historicism in the richest variety from Gothic to Renaissance, from the Muscovite Russian style to Moorish architecture, stylized classicism of ancient Greece, industrial brick architecture, imported inspirations of the Empire (the style of the Second Empire), National Revival in all shapes of forms, Art Nouveau, style moderne, neoclassicist architecture of the prewar and war era (1912-1917) and even protomodernism. This richness is compressed within the span of a century. But the next century is stuck is in cultural stagnation and boredom. Excepting some Stalinist neoclassicism which harks back to the architecture of the 19th century and was practiced by architects who got their education in the 19th century, it is dominated by modernism. And when modernism sets in, the boredom triumphs. And it is immutable. It’s stuck. Few people realize that when they speak of modern architecture, this architecture is no longer even remotely modern. It is at least 100 years old. And absolutely nothing happened within the century. Cubic houses, grey concrete, drab soulless ugliness.
Postmodernism is just the same plain boring modernism with some coquettish accouterments. The rejection of modernism or what the 20th century stands for in architecture is most apparent in the United States where the absolute majority of homeowners, I’d say over 90% at the visual estimate, build their houses according to the design and esthetics of the 19th century. Because what is considered modern is boring and soulless. Not fit for human habitation. And least not of the kind one would enjoy.
The 19th century is the era when Paris, St. Petersburg, Rome, Madrid, and Vienna began to look the way they look today. These are cities tourists flock to, cities which one can savor, as opposed to modernism which was fresh when it was modern, but is stale and boring after a century of staying still or dragging itself toward an esthetic dead-end. Some of the best illustrations of what is wrong with the 20th century from the aesthetic and cultural standpoint can be seen in the US.
There some cities look as if they were first hit by nuclear bombs and then rebuilt by aliens. A great or rather abysmal example of this is the Pennsylvania Station in New York City, the magnificent Beaux-Arts structure was demolished to give way to a particularly hideous modernist abomination.
The 20th century has brought professionalization of arts. We’ve got poets who write poetry for other poets because normal people can’t even comprehend the incomprehensible gobbledygook. You have to take college classes to understand poems. The existence of those poets is paid for by grants and corporate charity, not by ordinary readers who don’t read the stuff. Serious poetry and serious art exist in a parallel universe. Most of it is meaningless. It is why people stream to the Louvre and the Hermitage while modern art venues manage to attract folks with free canapés and drinks.
As far as music is concerned, jazz, soul, rock, and even rap have been important developments in the US, though it seems that the innovation has long lost steam. But universally the picture or rather the sound is poor and bleak. If we look at Russia today it is both a cultural colony of the United States and a total musical backwater. But in the 19th century, especially by the end of it toward and within the reign of His Majesty Nicholas II Russia competed only with the German-speaking world, leaving otherwise wonderful French and melodious Italians behind. The world competition is hardly appropriate for music. But these 19th-century accomplishments in music are apparent. Americans celebrate the 4th of July with the sounds of Tchaikovsky’s Overture of 1812. The repertoire of contemporary philharmonic orchestras would feature Russian composes up to Stravinsky to the extent they come second in place, after “the Germans,” all over the world, not just in Europe but in Asia.
Literature – the 19th century saw a flowering of literary styles and movements. The 20th century, though the members of the cast of editors and publishing directors may disagree, had been one of continuous stagnation. Most colleges still teach modernist literature like the one that defines the century. And most of it is unreadable. Consequently, literature fell into three subgroups – the officially “quality” or highbrow literature, certified to be so by the academia, usually wrongly, some of it plain horrible, that students are forced to read and no one would buy lest read the stuff on his or her free accord. Popular genres such as fantasy, which have however emerged in the 19th century. And protest literature from repressive societies, which was often written for monetary gain or other benefits to be obtained from those societies’ usually foreign foes.
Cinema – belongs to the 20th century entirely. Even though it had been invented in the preceding 19th century, it came to the technical fruition in the following, the 20th, century. So, even for that reason alone, we cannot compare both periods. At least in the USA and its direct cultural colonies, the cinema has been dominated by large corporate studios, which are in turn controlled by a small ethnic group in service of the Empire, the one that I’ve mentioned a few above as well as by the Deep State.
Because of the thorough commercialization of distribution and the monopolistic roles of those studios, smaller independent producers, especially those from countries other than the US, cannot compete. You can’t compete on a patently unequal playing field. No more than a five-year-old toddler, no matter how fit and spritely, cannot “compete” that is fight Mike Tyson or whoever is the current professional boxing champion in the ring. Just imagining the sight is an atrocity. With no competition to speak of and with tight ideological controls, the Hollywood movie industry, if we can call a producer of harmful shlock an industry, has consistently churned out the garbage. Stuff that is formulaic, predictable, laden with propaganda and hatred toward the groups one can discriminate and hate per command, let’s say the Russians or Arabs, and those who are the untouchables (and not in the sense of the Indian caste).
Literacy. As a demographer, anthropologist, and historian Emmanuel Todd discovered (he predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union in his 1975 book La chute finale: Essais sur la décomposition de la sphère soviétique, based on falling demographics) increase in literacy rates among women is proportionate to the fall in birthrates. As the number of educated women goes up the number of births in society falls. I’d make two additional observations. The fall has been catastrophic in the post-Soviet states and Russia where the assault on the man’s role, family, and Christianity was the most brutal, while it had a much softer effect or no effect at all, or the effect was in some instances was the reverse of what happened in Russia, perhaps due to much lower child mortality rates, in Muslim states and the former Republics of the USSR where, though women had equal access to education (under the Soviet system for example), the presence of Islam had mitigated those effects.
Otherwise, Emmanuel Todd is correct, increased literacy among women in the Western World, especially in Europe, led to the collapse of the birth rates and in some cases to the replacement of native stocks with the imported population. Though only in the societies which have spent at least a few decades under the yoke of the Bolshevism or Soviet-style socialism, and a couple of Southern European nations, the birth rates plunged into the negative territory, solidly below the level of self-reproduction. This is strikingly apparent in the case of the ethnofascist satrapies in the Baltics, the darlings of the transatlantic Fourth Reich, which were supposed to serve as the launchpad for the aggression against Russia and the Reich’s shopwindow. Despite the continuous injection of countless subsidies and uncountable privileges, the birth rates and population decline in those ethnofascist statelets have continued their stubborn downward spiral.
By literacy, to which we’ll now return, I primarily mean education, even the informal one, that includes an ability to reason and form one’s own worldview, and not just the ability to read. For example, Lutheran states and territories (such as those within the Russian empire) had high literacy rates. It was approaching 100% in some instances, and that applies equally to both men and women, since the 17th century. The reason for that was the requirement to read the Bible in church. In fact, reading mattered most, since many of those people could read but not write or even sign their names, and their birth rates did not differ much from those governorates, nations, or territories where the population was for the most part illiterate. So, by literacy in the 20th century, we don’t mean just education, including, of course, an ability to read and write, which could be obtained from one’s parents or servants, but in the context of the 20th century, we usually envision some sort of regimented formal schooling in a formalized environment, in formal classrooms with rows of desks and a blackboard, that involves a variety of different subjects taught by bureaucratized teachers, who are, more often than not, very much like professional soldiers, loyal servants of the state.
The 20th century’s dramatic increase in the number of people educated in this manner had hardly led to an advancement in culture. Or to the betterment of simple manual skills. By culture, we can either mean culture that is understood as civil behavior, and most Russians from larger cities would say that precisely the reverse has happened, and maybe quite a few Americans would agree with that, or in the sense of culture being both longing and a need for and of something additional to the base and basic instincts of eating, fornicating, sleeping, consuming, be these new sneakers or cars or package vacation deals,
Medicine. If one sees the figure of a life expectancy, say 40 years, in the past, it doesn’t mean that people lived to the ripe age of forty and then died. Life expectancy statistics are skewed by child mortality, which was extremely high. True an advancement of about 10 years happened in adult life expectancy throughout the world in all countries, rich and poor, in the 1960s. The cause of it is unknown. The quality of life, despite the availability of consumer credit, has decreased if the satisfaction with life itself is measured in things anyone understands as sure signs of being happy or unhappy like from the number of divorces to the frequency of suicides per capita.
Societal Ills and inflation
We perceive certain societal ills such as street crime or increasing numbers of children born out of wedlock as a phenomenon that is unique to our era. In fact, in many societies those developments are no longer even considered “ills”, they are the new normalcy. But amazingly enough, as David Hackett Fischer shows, morals or a lack thereof is a relative concept, not a constant value, and our acceptance of certain behaviors does not steadily progress up the steps of a steady evolutionary ladder. What he shows is that crime rates, general delinquency, and even the percentage of children born out of wedlock are linked to inflation. The higher the rate of inflation, the higher the crime rate and, so on.
Inflationary periods show greater societal stratification and they are marked by growing inequality, which in turn, is one of the reasons why those periods always end with a tumultuous crash. Sometimes in the extermination of those whom the majority considers responsible for their hardships.
My Additional Observations
The Monopoly Money Scam
The role of the inflationary fiat money
One disclaimer or one huge word of caution that I have for the reader of the Great Wave, though certainly not of the caveat emptor kind, is the huge looming question about the nature of the current currency or how the nature of money has changed the nature of inflation.
This matter is so murky and blurry, that I wasn’t able to put it down within a single sentence.
Let me try to explain. For millennia material things both represented and served as money – deer skins (that’s where the word “buck” comes from), cowry shells, teeth of animals, etcetera, “what have you”.
I am now reading or rather I am listening to Jack Weatherford’s History of Money, and he lists a variety of bizarre items that may have served as money. Recently or not. But at least for the past ten thousand years, since the emergence of agricultural societies in the Near East, metal has predominantly served as the currency. For at least ten thousand years we have had a metallic monetary system, usually based on gold or silver or both (the latter one is called the bimetallic system).
Since the coinage was invented in Lydia in about 650-700 BC, we have this concept of modern money, regardless of how it is issued technically.
A paper bill (a banknote or just note) is merely a bill of exchange, a promissory obligation to give the bearer a certain quantity of metal, normally gold, normally in the form of gold coins, in exchange for that piece of paper. The piece of paper did not act as money on its own, it was merely an agent, an ambassador, a mere representative of money.
That system ended when Richard Nixon de-metalized the Bretton Woods system on August 15, 1971, and took the US off the gold standard while the dollar, largely for political reasons, remained the reserve currency of the Bretton Woods system, which is still alas standing.
Now, we are in murky waters. For ten thousand years we’ve used gold (and silver) as money but for the last 50 years out of this 10 000 we are using imaginary money, fiat currency, issued by command, without any restraint or limitations by a foreign government, and that’s what the US government is in relation to the most inhabitants of the world, and though most Americans don’t realize it, in relation to its own citizens as well. That currency is not based on anything. Not even on moleskins or cowhides.
It’s sometimes called unsecured paper money. Forget the jokes about printing presses running day and night because even those presses are no longer running. Money today is just a figment of imagination, a number, a series of digits generated by a machine. Money is an imaginary substance of the kind that can be created in infinite quantity, for the number of real numbers is infinite. They can be created at the stroke of a finger, and can likewise be instantly erased in any quantity.
And now please bear with me. The mechanism behind the phenomenon of the Great Wave as described by David Hackett Fischer is rather straightforward.
The mechanism is somewhat Malthusian. In a way, despite all the cheering, contempt, and abuse piled upon poor Malthus, he was right because the Malthusian arrangement of population control is always at work. Unbeknownst to him it has worked through the mediation of those great often accidentally triggered waves as opposed to a single great bang that would have wiped out mankind off the face of the Earth. Something that may still one day happen.
Here is how it works.
A society produces food surpluses. These surpluses are sold and they fuel the growth of the towns and cities. Agricultural surpluses are brought to the market because those who toil on the land have surpluses to sell. You can of course try to confiscate the fruits of their labor as the Bolshevik criminals did in Soviet Russia, but then the population would either revolt or die off or both. You’d end up importing grain or swapping grain for cultural treasures. But in general, we’d accept this for and as a fact that someone on his free accord can sell only sell food if he has some surplus or excess of it. As agricultural productivity rises or periods of better weather stay longer or the climate gets warmer, more surplus food is produced.
The entire modern economy, with the IT gibberish and finance nonsense, is now like in the Roman times, is principally based on two pillars – food and fuel. The rest is fluff. Those who control both commodities control the world. A catastrophic weather event or a man-made disaster such as a decent-sized nuclear war will cause countless millions of deaths and plunge the world into a murderous crisis. Indirectly. Because the effects of such a war on agriculture will be catastrophic. There are no replacements for food or conventional fuel, the talk of US environmental lobbyists and EU econazis of green energy is just a sickly pipe dream.
Production of excess food leads to the production of the excess population, and that’s the most brutal or frank definition of the mechanism. The extra population lives on the surpluses of the countryside. It concentrates in the cities where it buys the products from the countryside. Food surpluses are necessary for the maintenance of civilization. Food surpluses are the prerequisites for the creation and upkeep of any administrative apparatuses, bureaucracies, standing armies, school systems, research establishments, transportation, and manufacturing.
Let’s imagine a society where the dominant agricultural population produces some food surpluses. These surpluses are sold to the population of a new town. Or the town or city is old but has gone through a pandemic, a Great Wave has wiped out its inhabitants. Food supply – wheat, vegetables, products of the countryside – that are brought to the market (and which quantities, values, and prices were recorded for the posterity in the local town hall, just to be discovered and studied by the likes of David Hackett Fischer a millennium later) are sold to the urban folk. Supply is abundant. Prices are low.
The urban population grows and that puts pressure on the prices whenever the agricultural output does not catch up with the population growth. Remember that under a metallic system, say, with the gold standard in place, the quantity of money in circulation is also finite, it’s restricted, so when there are more buyers but the same amount of product on the market, while the supply of money is unchanged, as it is finite and limited by physical constraints, then the prices will inevitably go up. Inflation increases accordingly. With time, just as the prices grow, the population increases, and so again do the prices (remember, the amount of money is ultimately fixed): Demand grows while the supply cannot catch up with the demand while the amount of money circulation stays the same.
With more people around there is greater pressure on the labor market, so population increases inevitably lead to decreasing wages and higher unemployment. That in turn means that more people struggle for fewer jobs that pay less in real terms while the necessities of life cost more.
Finally, when prices spike, famines occur since not everyone can afford the food (there could be some in-between trigger of a disaster like a catastrophic harvest failure that would unleash the real hell), and famines or food shortages are inevitably followed by social upheavals – since the rich and the privileged get richer under such circumstances as they have hoarded money, valuables and physical food stocks in the past.
Consequently, they might suffer at the hands of indignant and often hungry crowds, lose their possessions, and, frequently their lives as well. Isolated communities or groups which are perceived as better-offs get wiped out and those who are perceived to possess excess influence and material possessions are butchered.
The rising internal pressure finally finds a release vent. Wars serve as means of relieving societal pressure, because they both remove access population, and, at least for the victorious party, tend to improve the economy through looting the vanquished. Wars are a prerequisite of the crisis; they are the unavoidable features of the inflationary waves.
Great wars happen when the inflationary Great Wave crashes and crushes those haplessly fallen underneath.
Robbery, theft, and war loot, not political consideration or laughable absurd fictions like human rights, funny ideas whose preachers never practice, have been the principal motive behind all wars from the times of the ancient kingdoms of Mesopotamia until the American rape of Iraq and Afghanistan (though in the latter case, since nature of money has changed so much since 1971, it was the American people who are also the victims of the misadventures as it is also they who got also looted and milked, but I’ll get down to that in a second).
Those calamities are accompanied by epidemics. I don’t know what is the precise mechanism of this but epidemics seem to be the mandatory accouterment of the Great Wave-induced catastrophes.
And it is often they, and not the warfare, that wipe out most of the “excess” populations.
Then with some or even most of the population gone, after governments had fallen and civil services disappeared, with the collapse of the daily life in evidence all over, decay sets in, but then the affected societies, miraculously, enter the stage of rebirth. Peasants return to their fields after the war, labor hands are again in a short supply, and so wages are forced to become higher to attract new workers. Consequently, the production output increases, and, at the initial stages when the population growth doesn’t yet catch up with the economic recovery, prices keep on falling. There we suddenly witness the phenomenon of rising wages and falling prices, a phenomenon that is to the majority of us, who have grown up and lived most of our lives through turbulently inflationary times, appears almost incredible, something that is almost improbable. It is a concept that is too difficult to believe in because it contradicts our personal experiences.
And then a new Wave is born. And it’s more or less repeated albeit on a difficult level of technical progress and with different tools, cities, healthcare, armies, and populations.
What makes the last inflationary wave, and we are now riding the crest of this wave, so different from all the preceding ones, every single one without an exception, is that the money that powers this particular Great Wave is fiat money. These are imaginary digits made up by the command of a government. Theoretically, this wave didn’t even have to happen.
After all the government can always print up enough money for everyone to buy as much stuff, burgers, sneakers, and cars, as they want. And that, in fact, is what the US government and its vassals have been doing since the mid-1980s… and, oh miracle, the trick worked. For a while. Up to now.
In the retrospect, from hindsight, though the idea seems fairly imbecilic, it now looks like a mere time buying scheme. But “we’re all dead in the long run” as John Maynard Keynes said. What he meant, I believe, is that any scheme to postpone a disaster is acceptable since today matters more than imaginary tomorrow. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. And yes, Keynes did not have any children.
But now it appears that no matter how much they manipulate those digits, the inflation just keeps on rising. And that points toward some deep structural crisis, a crisis that is far deeper and more sinister than the ones David Hackett Fischer has described in the Great Wave. Fischer discovered “waves” and their crashes which are driven by a finite money supply. Now, the monetary supply is infinite or the financial spigot can be turned on and off at will, but the inflation keeps rising.
In our case, the supply of money is theoretically infinite (at least, in the US and its strategic vassal the EU, ECB is really an offshoot of the American system in financial terms), or it can be manipulated at will, interest rates lowered or raised, “quantitative easing” applied. Their masterful ability to manipulate the laws of old economics has been well proven: the Central Banks have been messing up with it for several decades now, but, oh wonder, this Great Wave follows a pattern that is identical to the other such waves from the “metallic” past.
The Grandiose Population Bust
And there is even another sinister thing that differentiates this Great Wave from its predecessors. Population. The Earth’s population went straight through the roof after the creation of the Bretton Woods system, and then it rocketed after the system was taken off the gold standard.
In 1951 , there were 2,584,034,261 humans on Earth
In 1970 3,700,437,046
In 2020 7,794,798,739
Out of this number the world’s urban population in the year 1951 constituted 30%, in 1970 it was 37% and in 2020 it came to 56%. The absolute majority of the world’s inhabitants now live in cities but live off the countryside.
The only demographically “stagnant” areas of the world are the Christian republics of 1) the Russian Empire (that is the Russian Federation and all other republics where Christianity has been the traditional faith, these are the Ukraine and Belorussia, both are integral parts of Russia, which were separated under the Bolsheviks and turned into artificial “republics” but must be reunited with Russia, three Baltic states formed out of Russian Baltic governorates, now called Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; Moldavia (Moldova), Armenia and Georgia); 2) Western Europe, an area of the world that has always represented the second pillar of Christianity (or, of course, the first from the Roman Catholic perspective) and ; 3) Japan.
All other areas of the world exhibited either robust or explosive growth, which corresponds to the general population growth of the taken period. Let’s look at the population of Turkey in the middle of the wave:
Population of Turkey in 1950 21,408,397
Population of Turkey in 2020: 84,339,067
It is evident that the growth of Turkey’s population has exactly followed the pattern of the planet’s population growth.
Two observations can be made:
The growth occurred at the expense of Christianity and the Muslim populations have been the fastest growing.
The growth, where it occurred, has occurred uniformly.
The greatest demographic losers or laggards in this context are the nations that had suffered the worst war losses during the twentieth century and which fell under an alien cultural and political rule (as Russia in 1917 which succumbed to the Bolshevik and remains under a variety of the Bolshevist yoke until this day), and, consequently, which had lost their connection with their traditional faith, no matter how superficial has this connection been.
Comparable demographic stagnation is observable in Western Europe, though it is less dramatic than in the Continent’s East. Circumstances of societal breakdown and implantation of an alien cultural (or anticultural code) along with an all-out attack on Christianity are in evidence as well.
The US bucked the trend but only to an extent. In theory, since it is itself the Empire that has enslaved others, it should have escaped the fate of its victims. But it may be not so, the white non-Hispanic Christian population of the US experiences a demographic decline for reasons similar to those affecting Western Europe. Statistics there are of course imprecise, since all statistical data in the US, be it inflation or demographics, is manipulated and distorted for political ends.
There are even sources of alternative government statistics, such as the Shadow Government Statistics, which try to clean governmental data from distortions and obvious lies.
There are certain arguments, like those put forward by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in their work Empire, that the American Empire is in actuality a European one, in fact, to strip it down to the core, it is a transmutation of the Austrian Empire, or, what Hardt and Negri don’t say as both of them are Marxists (or post-Marxists in fashionable terminology) and some things cannot be said out loud, it is a Central European Jewish enterprise, that has been created by Jewish refugees from Austria-Hungary and the western parts of the Russian Empire (not from Morocco, Spain or Alsace). The financial system, entire Hollywood, today’s State Department with the characters like Madeline Albright (real last name Korbelova), the web of malignant pseudo-NGO networks of George Soros (real name György Schwartz), banking, monetary policy (and here the Great Wave cometh upon them), etc. If that argument is tentatively accepted, and it does stand up to the scrutiny, even though the authors are extremely squeamish about the matter, and contemplated upon, then the once Christian population of the United States appears as captives to the Empire, the transatlantic Fourth Reich, as is almost everyone else. And in some aspects, Americans may be even worse off than their West European counterparts, because they carry a greater share of the burden of the expense of the Empire’s maintenance. Soviet Russia was enslaved by the Bolsheviks who intended to use her as the battering ram of the world revolution, and so similarly the United States has been slowly subjugated from within and used mercilessly as both the protection racket and the foundation of an international empire whose owners, operators and beneficiaries are by no means ordinary Americans.
Please bear with me as I’d get to the point of why this particular Great Wave may be the most catastrophic on record.
Emmanuel Todd, the French anthropologist and historian, who predicted both the end of the Soviet Union in his 1975 book La chute finale: Essais sur la décomposition de la sphère soviétique, a prophesy that he based on falling demographics, in the 2001 wrote Après L’Empire: essai sur la décomposition du système américain. I read the 2004 German translation (Weltmacht USA – ein Nachruf, Superpower USA, an Obituary) sees demographics as the source of instability. He argues however that women’s education is linked to the fertility rate. When women get access to education, birth rates fall. Hence religion doesn’t play a significant role. Upon a more careful examination, I think it is not always the case. In the lands of the Soviet Union, women in both Islamic Azerbaijan and Christian Armenia received the same amount of formal schooling and had equal access to education. Birth rates in Armenia fell catastrophically while they went through the roof in Azerbaijan. That tells you that there are secondary factors at play. It seems that the transatlantic Empire is affecting Christian societies far deeper and with much more malignant effects. I hope the reader can connect the dots on his or her own.
So, what happened –
And here is my point:
the system of open international credit and unsecured money supply led to the population growth which would not have occurred had there been an old metallic monetary system in place.
All those new billions of people were born and could live because they could buy food. The food they wouldn’t have afforded to purchase under the old system (as described by David Hackett Fischer) where the limited amount of money had always been a restraining factor of the population growth. In our case, since the central banks (or the US that controls the dollar supply) could issue credit at will, the only factors of restraint were the production of agricultural commodities, constantly increasing crop yields, new agricultural technologies, and greater use of industrially-produced fertilizers.
In the past price increases, that is inflation in other words, led to interest rate hikes. In the current structural crisis, the money supply is unlimited, since with fiat currency (and no, that term has nothing to do with the manufacturer of wonderful Italian automobiles) interest rates are set by command or whim, they are not set by the market as was the case in the past, and the consumption is forced upon the hapless people. That is, they are tricked to or forced to consume even if they don’t earn the money they would have otherwise have needed to buy the stuff they don’t need and couldn’t otherwise afford anyway. The consumer credit crisis in the US is an illustration.
Juxtaposed on the entire world and the world’s population scene, people who could not have afforded to buy food could now do so and could procreate happily while producers of food, and exporters of grain, such as Russia and Argentina, were lured into growing additional crops to the full capacity of their agricultural sector, and do so for unsecured fiat cash, for digits, that is they grow food which they would not have otherwise grown.
It is worth noting that the nations with the highest population growth (now all in Africa, but the Middle East is not far away) are the ones with steady foreign trade deficits and are all, like one, without a single exception, not self-sufficient in food production.
That means in turn the population growth of the latter half of the 20th century and the first two decades of the 21st century has been entirely artificial. It would not have happened had there not been an abundance of credit to buy the grain and food commodities which would not have been grown under a different system. The breakdown of the system, if driven by inflation or caused by a catastrophe such as a series of droughts, or a nuclear war in Europe, now a plausibility considering the NATO’s continuing aggression against Russia, may lead to a global famine on a Biblical scale. It has the potential of wiping out perhaps the half if not the majority of the world’s population (if former historical crises in Europe can serve as precedent-setting indicators) and throw the world’s population back to its 1970s or even earlier levels.
If in the course of roughly 7000 years the human population went up from 5 million to 1 billion, then in the 19th century the population grew from 1 billion (1804) to 1.6 billion (1900), and then suddenly it went up to almost 8 billion in the matter of a historical flash. There is no doubt in my mind that the sources of unlimited credit created out of thin air with unsecured fiat money financed the greatest expansion of agricultural production on record in the history of mankind.
I suggest that if there was no system of open credit for export-driven agricultural production, then the world’s population could not have increased so much, we would have not close to eight, but let’s say, “only” 4 billion inhabitants, and the huge shift toward Islam, a recent spike in population growth of Muslim countries would not have occurred. Neither the Islamization of Europe would have taken place.
Talk about a global conspiracy.
The predicament appears potentially catastrophic. For starters, there are now only two self-sufficient nations in Europe, those which can feed themselves without imports – and theoretically those which can feed themselves without subsidies – Russia and France. All others, under a situation when finance, trade, and transportation collapse, will starve.
The situation is much worse in the Near East. From what I know only Iran can feed itself, barely though, but it’s right on the border of agricultural self-sufficiency. And Turkey is dependent on food imports. Many simpler folks can’t figure it out and point out to nations like the Netherlands or Denmark with their highly developed animal husbandry sectors, such as pig farming, as well as their intensive and profitable vegetable farming. But they can use agricultural land for intensive vegetable farming only because they get their grain from somewhere else and can feed their pigs because the fodder comes from Russia, France, the US, Canada, and Argentina. Were these supplies to be stopped or interrupted, that would be the end of them.
Also, marginally self-sufficient nations, like Turkey, depend on imported fuel and fertilizer. Were these supplies to be interrupted as well, they’d fall from relative food production sufficiency straight into the famine zone.
Never in human history, the food security has been dependent on so few.
Now, with the inflationary bust approaching, and the causes of it are not yet clear but the crisis is evident, with decorations collapsing all over the scene, and the drama unfolding, food prices will rise and then the specter of famine will appear.
Were a major “climatic” climate event to happen or a limited nuclear war to break out (something that now seems that NATO’s owners are almost desperately trying to ignite), the scale of the breakdown of international food supply as well as the collapse of grain production will truly be catastrophic.
This doesn’t bode well for the future. Or, the way it looks like, if the worst-case scenario materializes, the population wipeout will occur as this crisis promises to be deeper and more brutal than the ones which had occurred before.
One of the reasons why the post-1971 dollar system or the modified Bretton Woods system has survived for so long was that the other participants were kept as de facto hostages. Everyone understood that an attempt to unsettle the system would lead to catastrophe. This reluctance to unsettle the system led to what for almost fifty years seemed like a perpetuation of the American hegemony. Now, with all the rules broken and inflationary millstones grinding mankind to dust, regional powers may try to get out of the water before it begins to boil (hence India’s recent ban on grain exports).
And yes, we’ll have the war. Global wars always mark the commencement and the end of those Grave Wave periods. NATO’s ongoing aggression against Russia which manifested itself in the so-called Ukraine operation may as well be just an opening salvo of this new great war.
The nature of the pandemics.
Their type changes, but their presence stays constant.
One striking, even unnerving feature of the Great Wave crashes is the recurrent pandemics that accompany them. The crash takes place, then a pandemic erupts, but when the sequence is repeated a new disease is added to the menu:
- 14th century – the Crisis, this is the Inflationary Century of Catastrophes (1314-1422).The Pandemic – Black Death or the Bubonic Plague
Up to 200 million dead, up to 60% of the Eurasian population
- 16th century – the Crisis and the Catastrophes 1540-1648.
Smallpox. Smallpox is devastating in Europe but is even more so devastating in the Americas. In South America, where the native population had no immunity to the disease, up to 90% of the population dies within a century,
- 18th century – the Crisis and Catastrophes (1740-1822).
Cholera arrives on the European scene.
4) 20th century – (1918-2022+)
а) Epidemic typhus, 1914-1922, 1941-1945, about 40 million cases in Russia during the late stages of the World War and Russian civil war, 2 to 3 million fatalities, and about 3 million fatalities in other parts of Europe and the world; a major cause of death in WWII, the population of concentration camps wiped out by typhus epidemics
- b) the Spanish flu Influenza epidemic, 1918 – 500 million affected and 50 million dead;
- c) 1981 – until now HIV/AIDS epidemic, at least 30 million deaths;
- d) 2020 – the Coronavirus
– unknown number, unknown origin, possibly a US-lab developed pathogen, and e) cancer – while cancer has been around since the time immemorial, ab immemorabili, the late 20th century has witnessed an explosion in cancer rates which now well approach the level of a full-blown epidemic. 100 years ago, or in the 1920s, 1 in 100 people got cancer (at least in the US and Western Europe, or those places where the disease was diagnosed and records kept), by the 1980s this figure reached 1 in 10, and by now 1 out of 3 individuals will get cancer. About 10 million people died from cancer only in 2020 according to the World Health Organization and the figure is steadily increasing. Since the 1950s vast amounts of money have been spent on cancer research. How much? Quite possibly close to a trillion dollars if the National Cancer Institute in the US alone has spent 90 billion on the problem. However, frighteningly, there seems to be no correlation between the amount of money spent on the problem and the state of the problem. In fact, cancer rates increased along with the increase in cancer research funding. As far as the number of scourges is concerned, the 20th century has been the absolute champion as I counted at least five major ones, and the century, in terms of the Great Wave calculations is not over yet.
And Yet Another Observation: the Housing Market
Housing prices outpaced the population growth. This observation is the most striking in the United States, the epicenter of the global fiat money malfeasance. I have explained above, I am confident that this historical demetallization of international currencies has caused an uncontrollable and explosive burst of population growth in the countries and areas of the world that could ill afford it; and who could not have fed themselves under different circumstances.
A similar situation is observable in the housing market. The degree of now almost absurd deviation when colossal resources are being misdirected into bricks, mortar, and lumber varies from place to place but the tremendous scale of this malignant growth is at its most evident in the United States.
Notice how the prices skyrocketed after Richard Nixon took the US dollar off the gold standard.
In the San Francisco area, housing prices quadrupled, that’s in theory, but in actuality, they went from a hypothetical level of some US $200 000 per housing unit to over US $1.5 million in just about 30 years. Below is an outline of housing pricing in Manhattan for the past 100 years. The period of deflation that was caused by the Great Depression is observable. But then, you can see the inflationary explosion right after the US dollar is taken off the gold standard.
The explanation for those numbers is simple, money that is unsecured by anything and is issued at will in any quantities must be pumped somewhere. War, foreign credits, and imports are some of the outlet for releasing the excess currency. The other major outlet has been the housing market. Central banks lend money to commercial banks, which in turn lend them to “consumers” as mortgages. As a result of this insanity, ordinary people can no longer afford housing or must spend an extraordinary share of their income on rent or mortgage payments. Frequently, one person in a household must work only to pay for the roof over the family’s head.
This system is going to go bust. The upcoming inflationary crash will be the most severe one in yet unrecorded history and will wipe out housing values in the most overpriced markets. As a sweetener, when the dust settles, housing will again become affordable.
That’s how those Great Waves work.
Reference as an illustration: 100 years of Manhattan Housing Prices
100 Years of Price History
The surge in demand for housing, World War I
– Sale: $8 PPSF, Rent: $40/Mo.
The “Roaring Twenties”
– Sale: $15 PPSF, Rent: $60/Mo.
The 1929 Stock Market Crash and “The Great Depression”
– Sale: $5 PPSF, Rent: $45/Mo.
World War II
– Sale: $8 PPSF, Rent: $50/Mo.
The post-World War II Housing Boom
– Sale: $12 PPSF, Rent: $60/Mo.
The first condo building, World’s Fair, Building Boom
– Sale: $25 PPSF, Rent: $200/Mo.
World Trade Center Completed, Near Bankruptcy, Finishes Stronger
– Sale: $45 PPSF, Rent: $335/Mo.
(1971 – the US dollar is taken off the gold standard, just watch:)
Co-op Conversion Boom, “Black Monday” Stock Market Crash
– Sale: $250 PPSF, Rent: $1,700/Mo.
From Recession to Lofts and the “Silicon Alley” Dot-Com Boom
– Sale: $590 PPSF, Rent: $3,200/Mo.
9/11 to Housing Boom to Lehman
– Sale: $1,200 PPSF, Rent: $3,800/Mo.
Quick Rebound, Tax Credit, and Housing Seasons
– Sale: $1,070 PPSF, Average Rent: $3,500/Mo.
– Sale: $1,142 PPSF, Average Rent: $3,625 /Mo.
(Source: RealPlus, REBNY, New York Times & Jonathan Miller)
The past 100 years show real estate prices have continued to rise and have been appreciated almost 1,000 times every decade. The prices doubled from the ’50s to the ’60s and nearly doubled from the ’60s to the ’70s. Once New York City came out of bankruptcy in the late ’70s, international buyers noticed New York real estate. Prices went up almost six times in the ’80s and more than double again in the ’90s. The average price for a sale in 2016 is $1,470 PPSF, while the average rent in Manhattan today is $4,374.
– The End –
The Great Wave that began in 1914 (1914-1922) is about to crash. We have reached its crest. I am in no position to tell someone to prepare for the crash because I am myself unprepared and, in fact, I have no idea how one can be prepared for the upcoming disaster, which, if history can serve us as a guide, promises to be the mother of all disasters.
This is the summary of My Additional Observations
1). Role of the inflationary fiat money in boosting the world population’s growth to historically unprecedented levels, thus ensuring that the upcoming catastrophe will truly be unavoidable and, when it happens, it will be absolutely catastrophic. A Biblical scale disaster.
2). Relationship between foreign-imposed mores and new impending values along with the destruction of religious faiths and customs traditional to a society and consequent demographic decline that is observable in once Christian societies.
3) Relationship between the availability of fiat money and warfare. A greater supply of unsecured money issued by command of governments, principally by the US government (or rather by or on behalf of special interest groups behind that government, the FED is not really “independent”) leads to more warfare and greater war spending. We won’t call it defense. For example in the case of the US it needs no defense as its only natural enemies are Canada and Mexico, both are hardly in any position to attack the United States.
4). Infectious disease as a feature of inflationary crashes. Pandemics remain a constant feature of inflationary crises throughout the centuries.
5) Unsecured money supply of the fourth inflationary wave caused massive economy distortions and abnormal hyper growth of certain unproductive and ultimately parasitical sectors such as finance and real estate speculation.
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