The Times They Are A Changin

Yes… “The times they are a’changin’.” One age gives way to another. One delusion is followed by another delusion.

Once people killed for religion… then they killed for politics… and now what? We believe this is the Age of Mammon; and that people will lie, cheat and steal for money. Will they kill too? Will they go to war over money? According to some analysts, that is always why people have gone to war.

But now, if you are hip, you are interested in money – not politics, nor religion. Only retrograde, dimwitted, or culturally by-passed people are interested in politics or religion now. Hilary Clinton, with her ‘politics of meaning’… the neo-cons with their dreams of world domination… the Army of Heaven… the Marxist university professors… Osama bin Laden – they are all reactionaries… relics of previous enthusiasms. Diehards, with the illusions of previous generations that they refuse to give up.

We were sitting with Elizabeth, having breakfast at a café on Sunday.

“You know, our ideas don’t come from out of nowhere,” she remarked. “That new book you are working on, for example, the ideas would have seemed extremely cynical… almost unbelievably cynical… 50 years ago.

“But then, the book couldn’t have been written 50 years ago. You can write it now because we have lived through a time when we’ve seen almost all the ideas we and our parents had – at least, about public life – discredited. We grew up worrying about Communism taking over the planet… and then the Berlin Wall just fell down. We marched in anti-war protests in the ’60s. And when the Vietnam War was over, we assumed that never again would any government be stupid enough to do that again… and here we are!

“We believed in federal poverty programs and later found that they did more harm than good. And even the war on drugs seems to have become a nightmare. It’s no wonder we are so cynical about what governments can do…and cynical about ideas in general.

“Our parents read Dr. Spock… and took it seriously. Our parents didn’t believe in breast-feeding; they were told it was old-fashioned and unsanitary. And then it turned out that it was actually important for other reasons. Very important for the child’s immune system, apparently, and maybe for the emotional well being of the child, too.

“And then, we lived through all those fads – such as taking out tonsils. Who gets tonsils taken out now? And we all dressed in those silly clothes from the ’60s. And went to discos in the ’70s. And believed all kinds of things that turned out not to be true. We’re now embarrassed by those things… and try to make sense of out them.”

Every generation has its particular experiences. Each learns lessons.

“That’s probably why people are so fixated on money now,” Elizabeth continued. “Because they feel a little silly proposing to change the world with politics… or join a religion. They’ve seen too many disappointments. And they’ve grown cynical. Smart people now go to Wall Street, not to Washington. Nor to Rome, for that matter. Money is all that is left.”

Yes, it is time for Mammon to have his day. And then, people can be disillusioned with him too. Then, where will they turn?

Bill Bonner
for The Markets and Money Australia

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

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