Home Society I Keep Changing Channels But It’s Still the Same Program – Charles...

I Keep Changing Channels But It’s Still the Same Program – Charles Hugh Smith

We can pretend an insanely over-leveraged, fragile status quo is rock-solid and will deliver the goodies regardless of anything short of an alien invasion or meteor-strike, but pretending will only take us so far.

I have the impression that changing the channels of “news”, “analysis” and “opinion” doesn’t modify the narrow band of what’s being offered. The bullish views are more or less all the same, and the occasional bearish counterpoint is equally bland. I keep changing channels but the program doesn’t vary.

This homogenization of opinion and analysis is so ubiquitous that it’s difficult to discern. That’s the point, of course; to present carefully pruned and curated “views” and “analysis” that stick to the same tired narratives of propaganda: the flavor changes and the talking heads / actors change, but the product remains the same: homogenized.

Like toothpaste, the virtually identical media product is packaged into supposedly competing “brands” to “differentiate” and “offer consumers more choices” to buy the same highly profitable product, engagement, i.e. addiction and derangement.

Fellow independent Mark St. Cyr and I discuss this homogenization and the forgotten value of experience in our recent podcast. The “marketplace” of ideas has been corporatized, i.e. reduced to a simulacrum / facsimile of competition, as the media and Big Tech have assembled quasi-monopolies of corporate cartels: a handful of global, politically powerful corporations control the entire media: the “news,” social media, etc.

The central state takes a keen interest in the power to control the “competing” narratives created by this corporate monopoly homogenization. Let’s not call it censorship–such an ugly word. Let’s call it “happiness,” a much more palatable and marketable slogan.

This homogenization serves to deliver the right mix of “happiness”: a bit of variation, colorizing the same old black-and-white narrative (Us vs Them), blend in a bit of spice (the latest conspiracy theory debunked), feature the car wrecks and riots, and then the ending wrap-up of puppies, kittens and kids.

Once again I’m reminded of this Houellebecq quote:
“I have the impression of being caught up in a network of complicated, minute, stupid rules, and I have the impression of being herded towards a uniform kind of happiness, toward a kind of happiness that doesn’t really make me happy.”

What’s been devalued isn’t just truly independent thinking–real-world experience has also been devalued. Mark and I both started out earning a living with hands-on skills–what was once known as “honest work” that created value you could actually touch and see.

In the rush to globalize, stripmine labor and rush poorly trained workers into the meat grinder–oops, I mean “productive labor force”–the kind of experience needed to truly understand how systems work and fix just about anything that goes awry has decayed. By specializing, segmenting and siloing tasks and skills into narrow bands of expertise, we’ve lost the kind of experiential knowledge that was once taken for granted.

This depth of experience can’t be rushed, packaged or commoditized. It has to be earned and learned the hard way, by making countless mistakes in the real world, learning from mentors and constantly advancing and practicing one’s skills. This level of experience is built on the foundation of pride in one’s work and the value one creates every day.

We also discuss the value of the old decentralized, middleman, family-owned biz model that was crushed by global corporate giants. As Mark notes, there used to be a phrase for the wholesaler / dealer middleman layer in the economy–“I have this guy, I know this guy”–for someone who really knew the field and could get the needed parts and supplies and could direct the small business owners to whatever fix-it was needed.

This layer of the economy has been decimated as it was deemed “inefficient” compared to vertically organized corporations. Nice, but this efficiency generates a second-order effect–extreme vulnerability and fragility once the specialized layers collapse and the system needs people who actually know more than their corporate slot.

Could family-owned enterprises served by localized wholesalers / jobbers actually become more effective than globalized, super-efficient corporations? Once the cracks start opening in globalization and a workforce homogenized into specialization, the hyper-efficient globalized model of doing business breaks down. This is currently considered “impossible,” for anyone pointing out the inherent fragilities of this maximizing-profit cartel-corporate system is, ahem, marginalized as an “unhappy” and therefore quickly deleted / demonetized influence.

We also discuss the value of thinking and acting in an entrepreneurial mindset of costs, benefits, risks, competition and constant learning / adaptation. This is the point of my book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy: even if we’re an employee, we benefit from thinking about our career and livelihood in an entrepreneurial context, the core of which is creating value not just with our own work but by collaborating productively with others of the same mindset.

Taking control of one’s work and life is the heart of Self-Reliance. We can call this agency or entrepreneurial, the point is the same: stop buying into a system that no longer benefits you and start reducing your exposure to its intrinsic risks.

We also echo management guru Peter Drucker’s insight that enterprises don’t have profits, they only have costs. Fixed costs define the risk structure of enterprises and households alike; costs of production constrain what’s possible and what’s sustainable. What’s not sustainable will go away, regardless of what we’re told is “impossible.”

It won’t just be components that are on back-order: entire lifestyles will be out of stock. We can pretend an insanely over-leveraged, fragile status quo is rock-solid and will deliver the goodies regardless of anything short of an alien invasion or meteor-strike, but pretending will only take us so far.

Our podcast on Rumble: