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Being prepared

Last week I finally started watching The Handmaid’s Tale, after reading the book a few years ago. I was blown away by the series, it’s one of the best series I have seen in recent years, both in terms of camera work and the story line. The drama series shows an alternate reality, in which a totalitarian regime based on fundamental religious views takes over the US. The story takes place around 2016, a few years after faked terrorist attacks allowed the government to radically change its laws and create a new country (Gilead) in which women are second-class citizens, who are not allowed to work or even read. A public security system with spies (‘Eyes’) was set up and people can get arrested for minor things and get publicly executed. The story goes much deeper, but this is the basic structure of society.

One reason the series is so good, is because I realize this is not just fiction but something that could happen in reality. In a way Gilead is an exaggerated version of Trump’s America. What Trump is doing with fake news is done in Gilead at a much bigger scale (season 2 makes that clear when June is hiding in the now closed offices of The Boston Globe). It’s not unthinkable that Trump and his GOP enablers would try to turn America into a kind of Gilead, the signs are there if you look for them (polarizing and dividing society (“us against them”), creating fear among the masses, mass surveillance). It has been done before, even in recent history: look at East Germany after WWII, China during the Cultural Revolution, North Korea right now (and Trump admires Kim Jong Un!), or what ISIS is trying to create in the name of religion.

The thing is, it seems most people don’t want to see. They live their lives as if it’s business as usual, just as in the Handmaid’s Tale. The series shows flashbacks in which you learn how the US changed within a short period from a normal society to a dystopian one. Just like frogs don’t realize they are slowly dying when you put them in water and slowly turn up the temperature, people in the Handmaid’s Tale don’t realize what is happening until it is too late. When they still had time to prepare (=flee) they did not do it. Women were suddenly not allowed to work anymore, but people still stayed around. The signs were all there but most people just lived live as if this would blow over. People were not prepared for what was going to happen.

Guess what? The same is happening right now in the world. To me it has been clear for years that the financial system is not sustainable. Fiat currencies are being debased by printing money and interest rates have dropped below zero in parts of the world so governments can finance their huge debts. We are living in a huge bubble, a bubble that pushes up stock prices (the printed money has to be invested somewhere) and that allows us to live our lives in luxury just a little bit longer.

But it won’t last, the bubble will eventually burst. And then we are in big trouble. People will lose their jobs, pensions and investments, and we will get into a huge recession. Governments could in theory stop this by going back to some kind of gold standard, but they are not doing that because they are addicted to printing money to finance their deficits. So you have to be prepared yourself, get out of fiat currency as much as possible and buy assets that will go up in value when the markets start to crash (gold, silver, and if you are smart of course cryptocurrency). Most people won’t do it, they don’t see that the water around them is starting to boil until they are caught in it and can’t get out anymore.

The climate crisis is another example where people keep on living life as if we are not heading for the end of a cliff. Over the past couple of months I have become much more pessimistic about how this is going to end (just like Jonathan Franzen in the New Yorker…). The world does not seem to wake up even though it is probably too late already. Yes, there will be a climate strike and yes there will be new IPCC goals, but it feels like too little too late. Maybe carbon sequestration or other new technologies can still save us, but time is running out fast. Most people don’t seem to be preparing for this while there is still time. Look at Grand Bahama, people are actually starting to rebuild there… Next year it will probably be business as usual there again – until the next big hurricane hits.

History repeats itself. Even though people know rationally that something bad will happen they will not be prepared for the consequences. People know it but don’t want to see it. Because their friends and neighbours are not doing anything they don’t do anything either. Until it’s too late.

Be prepared!

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  1. I don’t know if you are watching carefully the development of the Iranian nuclear situation. I feel that it could suddenly escalate into a major crisis leading to another war in the middle east. Even though Trump doesn’t seem to want a war with Iran because he wants his reelection and he doesn’t want the US gets trapped in another war in the middle east while China gets stronger. But it’s clear there are various interest groups in the US as well as in the middle east are actively trying to escalate the situation. Because of the complexity of the situation involving many countries from Israel, Saudi Arabia to Russia. If the situation does get out of control it could lead to a major conflict in the middle east. If it does get into a war situation Iran will almost certainly try to close the strait of hormuz and use that as a bargaining chip which could shake the world economy. It may turn into the beginning of the third world war.. I’m also very worried about the Taiwan situation and Trump’s desire to use that as a bargaining chip with China. The situation could also get out of control if not managed carefully. I used to love the US as though it’s my own home country after China and the UK but since Trump got elected I’ve been feeling increasingly uneasy about this country. And the fact he’s kept fanning the flames of hatred towards China for his own self interest has gotten even ordinary Americans who don’t know a thing about China suddenly all hate us is rather alarming to me.

  2. I do watch Iran as well but it’s hard to judge for me what is really going on. As long as oil is king the Middle East will remain one of the most complex places in the world.

    The US has gone down the drain over the past decades, but especially since Trump came to power. I believe the country will do everything to remain the main global power house that it used to be and that will lead to wars. Unfortunately for the US their time is (almost) over and people like Trump only accelerate that.

  3. I have a couple of strategies, for example I would never buy a house at sea level or in an area that might be hit by hurricanes. I also make some investments that go up when the climate crisis hits or when the financial meltdown starts. The choice of living in Canada in a house that’s 40 meters above sea level was part of this preparation.

  4. I remember reading this article from a few years back .. this Norwegian professor has made remarkably accurate predictions of major world events. And here’s what he described in his book about ten years ago.. quite amazing how he had seen very clearly what was unfolding with the US back then..

    But the main book setting out Galtung’s fascinating forecast for the US is his 2009 book, The Fall of the American Empire—and then What?

    The book sets out a whopping 15 “synchronizing and mutually reinforcing contradictions” afflicting the US, which he says will lead to US global power ending by 2020—within just four years. Galtung warned that during this phase of decline, the US was likely to go through a phase of reactionary “fascism”.

    He argued that American fascism would come from a capacity for tremendous global violence; a vision of American exceptionalism as the “fittest nation”; a belief in a coming final war between good and evil; a cult of the strong state leading the fight of good against evil; and a cult of the “strong leader”.

    All of which, Galtung said, surfaced during the Bush era, and which now appear to have come to fruition through Trump. Such fascism, he told Motherboard, is a symptom of the decline—lashing out in disbelief at the loss of power.

    He even later made the prediction that the US global power will come to an end by 2020 after Trump got elected. I was skeptical if this will come to pass and I’m surprised how accurate he was again. Now we’re fast approaching 2020 and the US is getting increasingly isolated thanks to Trump and even many of its old allies are distancing them from the US.. I wonder who would actually fight along with the US if the country does go into a war with Iran..

  5. I noticed you are reluctant to say anything negative about China. .maybe because you have current business links there. But when you talk about increasing surveillance state you have to talk about China. In fact their methods are so strong (arbitrary detention and punishing family members of overseas critics) that many in Canada with links to China are afraid of speaking out publicly.

  6. I do not think I am reluctant to say anything negative about China, but I feel they are doing a much better job than the US is. China is indeed even more of a surveillance state than the US, but the difference is that China does it in the open, while the US is less transparent about it. In fact, most of the surveillance in the US is done through private companies (Facebook, Google, Apple etc.). The question is what’s better. I am actually more worried about being too negative about the US and Trump online, I have been stopped in the past and questioned upon arrival in the US. That never happened to me in China.

  7. of course it didn’t happen, most of the surveillance tools are for domestic population control, much less for foreigners

  8. Hi Marc, would you mind telling a bit more about what kind of cryptocurrency you would recommend to invest besides bitcoin now? Just wondering what the other choices are as I only follow the market and buy the funds & shares. Thank you.

  9. Right now I would not buy anything else but Bitcoin. In a new bull market alts may go up again as well, but it’s far from sure given their performance in the bull run in early 2019. If you want to go into alts go into the ones with the highest market cap or the ones that are really different from others (e.g. privacy coins).

  10. Thank you for sharing your opinions on this, Marc. I will take a look what you mean. 🙂