Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sarah and the Apocalypse, Part II.

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 9/1/10

“There comes a moment, said Edward Edinger, New York’s pioneering psychoanalyst, when something comes unfettered and free as if from nowhere and brings an end to all the systems and their agents and arts that we take for granted as part of who we are and what we always expect to be. This, said Edinger, is the apocalypse and it could just as easily be bloodless as not.” – from “Sarah and the Apocalypse,” pt. 1, The Hill 10/2/08 – day of the VP debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden

Will Beck’s big day be good for Americans? In my opinion it will be. Will it be good for the economy? Maybe. Maybe not. As Hayek once said, economy responds to subtlety. People notice when prices of groceries are going up and down and it affects their behavior. Some historians and thinkers – Spengler, Jung, Toynbee maybe – say it goes deeper than that. People sense everything although economists do not. They sense a shift in cultural paradigm in places of the heart and gut. Economists are often the last to know. Very few sensed a moment of archetypal change when Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain’s vice presidential candidate in the first week of September, 2008. But the market crashed unexpectedly within the month. Some felt it was a sign from God as it fell 777 points on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. 777 is the holy number of God blogs in this vein say. And the bell broke on Wall Street when they tried to ring it in the morning. I felt it was a sign of Sarah Palin.

The arrival of Palin was an archetypal shift exactly like the ones described in Edinger’s “Archetype and the Apocalypse”; a tectonic shift in politics and culture. It was the beginning of the “fourth turning” which generational historians William Strauss and Neil Howe had been prolifically writing about in the 1990s. It would be especially devastating to the national collective psyche as we had just triumphantly put all of our eggs in another basket just 12 hours before: Barack Obama’s.

That the opinion makers at the NYTs today field an op-ed writer to find “a Palin of our own” – the Washington Post last week also talked of the “new Sarah Palin” - is an indication that the hysteria which accompanies the archetypal transition – much like the hysteria which accompanied Elvis on the early Milton Berle and Ed Sullivan shows from cultural conservatives – is finally passing and the new cultural situation is being realized and accommodated. That is how Abraham Lincoln got the rural rep and stove top hat. But it was still Alexander Hamilton is country whiskers accommodating the rustic Jacksonians.

The change we face today is vast. It begins the century. The post-war American cycle was based on American conquest in World War II. America expanded externally then but will grow and change internally now. Outward post-war expansion has ended. It is virtually impossible for most economists today to understand that an economy can grow internally as all models in current use are expansionist. But we can, as Rick Perry says, compete internally among regions and it would make us a better place if we did.

The Empire State has a dilemma. The Hamiltonian “empire” instinct is waning and NY is without defenses. Historian Frank Owsley has written that our country has two directions; Hamilton and Jefferson. Jefferson awakens. Trying to find “our own Sarah Palin” could bring the New Yorkers problems. They tried to do that with The Beatles and came up with The Monkeys.

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