The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Friday, September 2, 2022

Megalomaniacs Anonymous -- Simon Sheridan on the Current Crisis

Simon Sheridan continues publishing a series of insightful posts where he tries to understand why the West is engaging in this self-destructive, and frankly idiotic, behavior. Here are some excerpts from his most recent one, "Megalomaniacs Anonymous"

by Simon Sheridan

Until a couple of years ago, I would have counted myself in the slow collapse group. I assumed that, yes, we were pushing a bunch of dumb policies that weren’t going to work. Yes, these were mostly a combination of ambitious politicians promising what they couldn’t deliver, idealistic voters wanting what they couldn’t get and greedy capitalists profiting off that combination. Yes, it was all pie-in-the-sky fantasies that were only ever possible due to the enormous economic surplus enjoyed by modern western societies. But when the proverbial hit the fan, the people who actually understood how things worked in the “real world” would come to the fore. We would stop listening to shysters and charlatans and fall back to the things that worked.

During corona, even in the early days of the hysteria, there were such people who came forward to remind us of the things that had been shown to work. A good example was the Great Barrington Declaration, signed by tens of thousands of experts from around the world. It was little more than a reiteration of the established public health guidelines on how to respond to a middling pandemic. But, of course, it was those exact guidelines that had been thrown out the window in early March 2020. Thus, the Great Barrington Declaration was a bit like the Great Don’t Poke a Bear Declaration or the Great Don’t Stick Your Finger in an Electrical Socket Declaration. It was a statement of the obvious. But we were no longer listening to the obvious.

... If we zoom out, we see that corona is one example of a pattern that has been in play in the West for several decades. It’s the one I described above; pie-in-the-sky fantasies with no basis in history or reality. Why should anything have a basis in history anymore? With the collapse of the USSR, history was over. That’s what we told ourselves. All the old rules were gone and we were free to come up with whatever we liked. And that’s exactly what happened. We came up with a whole bunch of ideas and told ourselves that they had to work because, well, we said so.

In this sense, the Ukraine War is not unrelated to corona. Some pro-Russian commentators have pointed out that the behaviour of the West in relation to Russia since the fall of the USSR has been stunningly dumb. Russia could easily have been integrated into the European economy. It’s what everybody expected to happen. It’s what most people in Russia wanted at the time. And it happened anyway, despite efforts to prevent it. That’s why there’s an energy crisis facing Europe at the moment.

If Russia had been properly integrated into Europe, the West could have completely encircled China and prevented its economic rise from translating into political and military might. With just a modicum of common sense, pragmatism and realpolitik, the unchallenged hegemony of the West that began in the 1990s could have been kept going indefinitely, at least until other problems intervened. But we had other ideas; brand new ideas with no basis in history or reality.

Up until corona, it was possible to argue that such stupidities were allowed to happen because the damage was done in far flung countries where the western voting public didn’t notice or care. But with corona and the Ukraine War, the damage is now being done at home and is going to be felt at home for a long time to come. It is no longer possible to avoid the consequences of the mindset that led to these decisions. ...

Karl Rove put it best when he said “we create our own reality.” The “we” he was referring to were the western “elites”. They were now in the position of Yahweh i.e. all powerful. Anybody who was not a western elite was in the position of Job, although it wasn’t until corona that this fact became clear to the rest of us. It’s plainly obvious now that western elites simply couldn’t care less about representing the interests of their constituents.

It’s quite ironic that Neo-conservatism was actually inspired by postmodernism

What they do care about is a source of much speculation. Some think they are trying to usher in a new world order or a great reset. A couple of posts ago, I posited that they were possessed by their own Magic. I still think that’s true. But maybe that is just a symptom. If so, what is the disease?

I see no meaningful difference between Karl Rove’s idea that we “create our own reality” and the notion that became popular in early 2020 that we could eliminate a respiratory virus. These are examples of megalomania pure and simple. And the results of that megalomania have been identical: total failure. The difference now is that while the damage caused by the neocons was mostly suffered by people somewhere else, the damage caused by corona and the Ukraine War is being felt right here at home. Our megalomania is now actively causing damage to ourselves. I say our megalomania because, although it’s clear that western elites suffer the worst from this malady, they also enjoy much support in the general culture.

What does all this mean? It seems almost certain now that western hegemony is finished and there is going to be an extended period dealing with the consequences of the last several decades of megalomaniacal madness. Of course, this is going to have material ramifications. But it will also have psychological and, dare I say it, spiritual consequences. In our materialist culture, we don’t take psychology or spirituality seriously. These are personal issues to be worked through with your shrink or priest. But what seems up for grabs now is not just some psychological symptom but an entire worldview. What comes after megalomania?


What if we either can’t or won’t find anybody else to blame? This would make sense. Yahweh had nobody else to blame. He was an all-powerful God. The megalomania of our culture puts us in a similar position, at least psychologically. If we are all-powerful, if we create our own reality, then how can Putin or China be the cause of our problems? Like Yahweh, we must be the cause. Is it possible that it’s precisely the megalomania of the West that opens up the possibility for individuation to occur?

In some respects, corona represents an ideal possibility for that to happen. I’ve been fascinated to see that in just the last few weeks the powers that be have begun to float the idea that lockdowns were a mistake and maybe, just maybe, the vaccines were too. For reasons that I don’t really understand, perhaps raw political survival instinct, the politicians seem to be getting ready to throw the “experts” under the bus. Leaving aside why and how this might happen, what would it mean if it does?

The lockdowns and the vaccine had majority public approval. Many people were vociferously in favour of both and not just in an abstract, idealistic sense but in a real, emotional sense. A sizeable portion of the public really thought we were going to stop a respiratory virus. This wouldn’t be the usual business of somebody supporting a political party and then the party not delivering. This would be a real, tangible error made by individuals.

Spengler predicts people will deal with the cognitive dissonance by looking for external things to blame but there is good reason to think that we may not be able to find anybody to blame but ourselves. ..

It seems to me that one of the central points of the Integral Consciousness is to transcend this bias against the unconscious and perhaps even to transcend the whole conscious-unconscious dichotomy. Megalomania can be seen as the complete identification with the Ego-conscious mind. The belief that nothing else matters; that we create our own reality.

What if the unconscious is simply what is not currently elevated to focus. In that case, what is currently elevated to focus has no necessary superiority. It is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but simply one perspective among many. The imperative then becomes to ensure that other perspectives are integrated too. To understand that is to overcome megalomania and also to begin to see the Integral.


  1. I don't agree with the "no brain" concept, I am also pretty sure that most governments, officials, D. Trump inclusive, know the problem, know the limits to growth, knew about the peak oil and climate change (I always found that most Climate Change legislations around the world only made sense if the aim was to deal with peak oil) but people governing also know that they don't have more than 20 years to go, and hope they can find some island where their kids will be able to survive.
    It is nice to read in the chapter 14 of the book "Limits and Beyond" that many young people don't accept the system, don't know if it is the first, the second or the third place to intervene in a system according do Donella Meadows but I'm scared that the next generation, the one that is now between 15 and 20 years old, just don't care anymore. The ones I know feel that if the ones in power don't accept to share any of their comfort with the future generations, that there is no hope for them. We need a Gandhi that could without violence bring the message of degrowth, not over a law, but with a boycott of the useless products and services that we consume everyday (fitness centers are now in, but nobody cares for gardening, bicycling to school or work...), with non violent protests which would make business as usual just impossible like German activist that glue themselves on the streets.
    We don't need a Caesar, south and middle America already tried that option, and it doesn't work.

  2. "What they do care about is a source of much speculation. Some think they are trying to usher in a new world order or a great reset. A couple of posts ago, I posited that they were possessed by their own Magic. I still think that’s true. But maybe that is just a symptom. If so, what is the disease?"

    Its been so long since they've been punched in the mouth they don't think its possible anymore. History says different, simple as that ;)

  3. I don't think there is much intelligence and certainly no high-mindedness in our "elites", who have generally made their money from government corruption and favoritism..I think that the West is being destroyed by two forces...first, the typical all out looting that characterizes the end stages of a civilization, and second, a tiny group of individuals who have a maniacal and irrational hatred of a now-Christian Russia...Hence the acceleration of a process that usually takes longer..

  4. Karl Rove put it best when he said “we create our own reality.”

    But - not without crude oil - which must be traded cheaper than water - practically looted - or the style of our Western Civilisation would cease - in a hurry - along Rove's own created reality

    The seas of finite, one-off fossil fuels burned to create that our own reality - is much more valuable than - the reality created.

    Rove's reality looks peaceful at his location - a hell - elsewhere...

    Until, one day, Baghdad goes to where Rove's location - in the ongoing Energy Musical Chairs Game (watch below - for an idea - what Baghdad really means).

    "Energy, like time, flows from past to future"


  5. In 2017 China effectively barred anglo-american and many european motor manufacturers from China by virtue of an incrementing quota which demanded imports be increasingly electric. Ferrari and others were in a similar boat, but many EU manufacturers were unaffected.

    Looking beyond that, whilst English speaking media was trying to claim 5G might cause covid followed by an unsolved campaign of arson throughout the UK on existing base stations, US Space Command was taking legal action against the US gov to block 5G networks appearing domestically, and Mike Pompeo was going round the EU smacking anyone heading towards 5G. Meanwhile China was accelerating 5G with the two-million base stations that exist today, even one placed on Everest.

    All sorts of 5G spectrum auctions were scheduled from March 2020, all delayed, which in turn has delayed so called "autonomous" vehicles because they are heavily dependent on various technologies including 5G. If a manufacturer is without an e-car programme any designs on auto-automobiles is distant.

    Ukraine added further delays because they supplied 50% of neon gas which is required for chip manufacturing, and there is a conceivable world where both Russia and UK are quite happy with a prolonged war as both economies are reliant on the combustion engine. (Ukraine also supplied the EU with much of its biofuel.)

    Any war in Taiwan will further add to a chip shortage. Last week, US legislated that no company could export AI related chips to China which complements their STRATEGY FOR THE CHIPS FOR AMERICA FUND announced in August.

    Masks also disrupted auto-auto development by increasing the processing cost of facial recognition if that ability was even there. Apple apparently can now deal with masks, but the computational footprint will be increased and accuracy will still be impaired.

    As far back as 2016 motor manufacturers were developing a track n' trace system for pedestrians and people cycling as part of a road safety initiative because autonomous vehicles will require people to carry smart phones that emit a GPS beacon, although this isn't stated publicly. That's also why Ford have sponsored the build of road side benches built with charging points through out London. Ford also has a patent for an app to broadcast a desire to cross the road.

    This is also the lens through which to analyse Brexit, which was a grand political filibuster disrupting any coherent European policy on transitioning from combustion engines, along with road protocols, emissions targets, etc. Brexit was never meant to be a clean separation.

    Auto-autos won't be able to deal with cash very well, far better is to have a digital currency. It was great that covid made many people repulsed with handling cash.

    It's a nonsense to claim any of this was a hubristic failure.

    1. On Feb 24th Ukraine tested a connection to the EU power grid with the aim of decoupling from the Russian grid which had been the status quo for some decades. Three hours later Russia invaded. In June Ukraine started exporting electricity to the EU. Apparently the Ukrainian grid just got taken offline. Also there's a "viral" social media meme going round for Russians in the EU to waste as much electricity as possible. Cui bono?