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America’s ‘Dark Cluster Decade’
A look into the murky past to see where we might be heading...
Bill Bonner, reckoning today from Baltimore, Maryland…
In the late 1950s, led by the great decider, Mao Tse Tung, and the communist party, China engineered what was to become one of the darkest decades in human history. It was based on lies. And it set in motion a financial and social disaster. A real “cluster,” as kids say today.
It was an ambitious crusade. The whole society – its government, politics, economics, finances, and industries – were all brought together, like an attacking army, to transform China into a modern industrial powerhouse.
At the time, China was an agrarian society. Most people still tilled the soil… and stuck to their traditional ways of life. It wasn’t the most sophisticated economy in the world. But it was capable of supporting 600 million people.
In Mao’s new plan, farmers were forced onto collective farms. Private plots were made illegal. People who tried to keep their own gardens were branded as ‘counter-revolutionaries,’ and often tortured, imprisoned, killed outright, or worked to death.
So too, the customs of the countryside were banned. The ‘old things’ were supposedly holding China back. So, weddings, funerals, feasts – traditional rituals of rural society – were outlawed. They were replaced by propaganda meetings and ‘struggle sessions,’ in which those who didn’t go along were beaten… forced to admit their ‘crimes’… and often executed.
The bigger the lie, the more it needs to be protected from the truth.
A Great Leap Backwards
Early on, Mao had played a little trick on his enemies. He invited criticism. This flushed out his adversaries, conservative intellectuals, and ‘bourgeois elements.’ Later, these people were targeted. The intellectuals were sent to the countryside, where they were worked and starved. The resistors were tortured, tried, and killed.
Critics learned to keep their mouths shut. Even at the height of the madness… when millions were dying, and it was obvious that the modernizing crusade was a ghastly failure… there was very little criticism or debate.
The result? The biggest ‘cluster’ – mistakes combined with lies, arrogance and unrestrained power – in history.
The world changes. People don’t.
They depend on honest money. When they don’t have it, things fall apart.
Little understood about the Great Leap Forward is that it came after China had been completely flattened – by inflation. Between 1941 and 1949, Shanghai’s commodity index rose from 16 to 150,000,000,000,000. This is what gave Mao his communist victory.
Nor was he the first dictator to come to power on a flood of inflation. Germany’s inflation of the early 1920s was what enabled Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.
When people can’t trust their money, they learn not to trust their government or their neighbors. Then, how do you hold a society together? Raw power. In ancient Rome, for example, in what historians call the “crisis of the 3rd century,” the silver denarius – the bedrock coin of the Roman economy – gradually got stripped of its silver content…until there was less than 1% left. This ‘inflation’ reduced the value of the denarius by 99.9%. And it so unsettled Roman society that only the military could maintain control. During this period – 200AD – 300AD – Rome had 26 emperors, every one of them from the military. And only one of them died a natural death. All the others were killed…often by their own troops. Or, in the case of Nero, a suicide.
Herewith, a few predictions...
Under pressure, the Fed will ‘pivot.’ That could happen within weeks.
Inflation will get worse. Prices will go up in fits and starts…but with no relief.
What follows will be a Dark Cluster Decade…a chaotic period, with falling incomes and serial, unpredictable crises.
Yes, America’s decider elites have begun their own version of a Great Leap Forward…a leap into what they see as a better future. And unless you take precautions, I don’t think it is a future you’re going to like.
Who are these deciders? University professors, lobbyists, politicians, activist billionaires, media and entertainment personalities, Wall Street honchos, Pentagon jefes, and Washington heavies.
And like China’s communists, they are shutting down their critics. Whether the subject is the Covid lockdowns, ‘gender reassignment,’ or the war in the Ukraine, only one point of view is permitted. Say the wrong thing and you are branded as a “Putin asset,” or a “white supremacist,” or a ‘climate denier’ or just ‘anti-science.’ You are not just wrong; you are evil. You deserve to be locked down and shut up. Canceled.
Unfortunately, in public affairs, the ‘wrong’ conclusion is often the right one. If the power grab by America’s wealthy elites in Washington and Wall Street goes unchecked, the next ten years will bring a ‘cluster’ for America, a destructive mess of inflation, recession, cut-throat politics, social disorder…and huge financial losses.
Oh….and that’s the best case. As the Chinese example shows, it could be much worse. More tomorrow...
Joel’s Note: Dear readers are kindly reminded that our Winter Catastrophe, 2022 Redux summit is just a few weeks away…
We held our inaugural summit in late December, last year, when we had only just “opened up shop” here on Substack. A few hundred early bird readers were treated to an hour and a half private panel discussion on Zoom with investment legend Rick Rule and energy and resource analyst and geologist, Byron King.
Between the two of them, Rick and Byron called practically every development that has subsequently come to pass in the energy markets… from price spikes to severe shortages to what Byron coined “Germany’s Energy Stalingrad.”
Looking back over that original transcript (which we’ve unlocked for your reading pleasure; click here) it’s eery just how prescient these gents were. Which is why we’re so glad to welcome them back this year!
Bonner Private Research members are cordially invited to join us at noon eastern, on December 13, for this year’s event. But please note: our humble BPR operation has many thousands more readers than this time last year… and spaces are limited, so please register early to avoid disappointment.
If you are unable to make it on the day, no worries. We’ll provide a complete audio and video recording of the event, plus a lightly edited (for clarity) transcript, which you can print and read at your leisure.
Bill Bonner will also be on hand to update us on his Trade of the Decade and we’ll take some questions from the audience to moderate a Q&A after the presentations.
If you want to know what’s in store for global energy markets for 2023 and beyond… the investment implications… how events may impact geopolitics… where the smart money is heading… this is the event not to miss.
Members check your inbox for registration details (Dan has already sent a few links… and will continue to remind as the date draws nearer). If you are not already a member but wish to join us, check out the link below and find a subscription plan that’s right for you today. We hope to see you there!