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The Rising Tide

Today's theme song is Billy Preston's Will It Go Round In Circles

From my earliest memories, I have had a profound and abiding interesting in astronomy and space exploration.  At various times, I have owned telescopes, traveled great distances to observe comets and eclipses, and have long worked on a personal project to develop a clock and calendar for Martians.

Some people may think these rather unusual hobbies, but they have taught me a very valuable lesson: the Universe operates on the fundamental principle of Cycles.  By extension, human beings, as part of the Universe, also function on Cycles, and in fact, even a cursory study of history and economics proves this fundamental proposition.

Much smarter people than me have shown repeatedly that Cycles are the basic building blocks of Life.  Nikolai Kondratiev and his contemporary Edward Dewey built careers on identifying natural and economic cycles.  These men were inspired by the earlier work of Fibonacci, who described in mathematical terms an underlying spiral nature to both numbers and Nature itself, which we see vividly in the shapes of galaxies and nautilus shells.

Until recently, our clocks were round, our calendars cycle through 12 months and then start again, and the sky is full of objects that swirl around in highly predictable ways.  Even our DNA is composed of a helix - two strands that wind around each other and store vast amounts of information.

We are, in short, composed of Cycles living inside of Cycles, like so many Matryoshka dolls trying to understand our own composition.

It is important to note at this point that the Cycles do not create perfect circles.  They are, in fact, spirals or helices that return to an approximate location relative to a past Cycle, but it is never the precise location from which it departed.

Within human history, we also detect Cycles.  There is an approximate Cycle the length of an average human lifespan.  There is a slightly longer Cycle of roughly 100 years.  There is another with a period of about 250 years, and yet another of about 500 years.  Humanity oscillates between extremes on roughly periodic scales, with the Big Picture being similar, but the minute details changing enough that without a high enough perspective, one cannot discern the pattern.

Thus, most humans plod along, constantly being shocked and amazed by global economic and political developments.  However, a few detect the patterns and see the trends, and can begin to predict coming events with a fair amount of accuracy, though no one can calculate all the variables to say precisely how events will unfold, or what effect they will have at the scale of an individual.

In terms of economic cycles, it is certain that boom will turn to bust, and back again on a fairly predicable basis, as the men mentioned above have shown with exhaustive research.  The so-called contrarian, one who recognizes the peak of one extreme, will begin to prepare for the pendulum to swing back again.  At first, he is viewed as - to put it politely - eccentric.  Over time, however, the majority come to realize the wisdom of this position.  Once the majority has crossed over to the other extreme, the student of cycles will begin preparing for the opposite, and so the pattern repeats forever.

In political terms, the same is true.  People will jump on a political movement until it has swung far to the extreme, and then reverse rather dramatically to the other extreme.  In each case, the extremes are the same, but the "flavor" is different, as the existential variables surrounding the cycles greatly affect how they look and feel.  The astute thinker, however, realizes that when a majority has adopted one extreme or another, it is time to prepare for the swing back to center, and ultimately to the opposite position.

Thus it was, that about 30 years ago, I instinctively recognized the impending peak of the Empire/Utopia phase of the political cycle.  I couldn't adequately express what I was feeling at the time, but I knew that I should begin preparing for the inevitable swing to the opposite pole of Tribalism/Isolationism.  I understood in not so many words that civilization had moods in every way alike to the individual.  Subsequent studies and research gave definition to my instinct.

Around the late 1990s, I began to test my intuition.  I began to predict certain events in the political and economic realm, and found to my delight that I could accurately predict movements, though of course not the exact details.

Famously, in 1999, I told my circle of family and friends to sell their stocks and other paper assets, and buy gold.  I didn't know exactly when, but I knew the time had come.  Naturally, I was laughed at and pooh-poohed by most, but within two years, the stock market had crashed post-9/11, and gold had started its meteoric rise from $265/oz., to a recent peak of $1,800.

In a similar instance, I advised folks to join the Ron Paul Revolution.  It was inevitable and I had watched the core sentiments of that movement growing for years.  Ron Paul failed because he was successfully marginalized by society, it did not stop the fundamental impulse that was driving it.  Last Tuesday, that impulse expressed itself "bigly" with the resounding repudiation of the Empire/Utopian extreme, in favor of the emerging Tribalist/Isolationist meme.

These things can no more be controlled or stopped than the shift from summer to winter.  It is built into the Universe itself, and we are - regardless of our efforts otherwise - captured in its relentless Cycles.  Our best efforts may delay or modify the process, but the outcome is as certain as Destiny.

Just as Herbert Hoover ushered in the Progressivist Era, Donald Trump will usher in the Isolationist Era.  These two extremes have battled it out throughout human history, from the Roman and Mongol Empires, to the modern Globalist States.  Like passengers on a boat, humans rush to one side, and just as the boat to enjoy the view, and just as the boat is about to capsize, they rush to the other for balance, only to repeat the process over and over ad infinitem.

Trump is only the beginning.  The process will take decades.  At some point during the lives of our grandchildren, the process will reverse.  We would not likely recognize the terms used or the world in which this process reverses, but it is inevitable that it will happen.  A good education and attention to elders can prepare them for this, but it cannot be stopped.

If you think you can stop the Moon in her path, or the Sun's orbit about the galaxy, then by all means fight trend.  You will ultimately be frustrated at every turn, or die trying.  The astute observer, however, knows that it is time to prepare for the coming waves, and reading history will do just that.

All the labels and ridicule, tears and stamping of feet, will not change the course of the Cycles.  With erudite effort, one might be able to adjust the course a bit, but the destination is as certain as death.

I recall with great fondness attending Spalding Gray's amazing one-man show, Swimming to Cambodia.  In it, he relates an experience in Thailand, where he and an acquaintance go swimming in Phuket.  At one point, the current grabs them and sweeps them far out to sea.  Spalding panics and begins swimming furiously, fighting the current.  He companion yells over to stop fighting and ride the current.  When he does, he quickly observes that the current in circular and is slowly returning him back to shore.  He states that it was a profound moment for him, and in the audience, I immediately understood the revelation he had experienced.

Once we stop fighting and learn to ride the Cycles, we find that we expend a lot less energy and enjoy the ride a whole lot more.  Furthermore, we have the time to track the Cycle itself and see a minuscule part of the Grand Design, and no experience is more profound than that.

P.S. - I highly recommend Spalding's other show, Monster in a Box, as well.

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