Sovereign Man: Everything’s Fine, There’s Absolutely Nothing to See Here

This is fine.

Simon Black, the Sovereign Man, writes Everything’s fine, there’s absolutely nothing to see here about normalcy bias and the failure to see the oncoming truck.

In the darkest corners of our human instincts lies a psychological phenomenon that is the result of millions of years of evolutionary biology.

It’s called “tonic immobility”. And it refers to a form of paralysis that occurs when we’re terrified and facing extreme mental or emotional trauma.

Tonic immobility is common in nature. Animals in the wild will often freeze in place when confronted by a predator; the idea is that making no movement, and doing absolutely nothing, increases their chances of survival because the threat will simply go away.

But as anyone who has ever been on safari or seen a nature documentary knows, the danger seldom goes away on its own.

This instinct to ‘do nothing’ in the presence of danger runs very deep in our instincts; and it’s related to a cognitive quirk within our brains that psychologists call ‘normalcy bias’.

We’ve discussed this before. Normalcy bias is what causes human beings to believe, even in the face of obvious perils, that everything is going to be just fine.

Humans are creatures of habit. We easily fall into routines—waking up, going to work, stopping by the coffee shop on the way, spending time with the family in the evening, etc. And those routines define ‘normal’ for each and every one of us.

When the routine is disrupted, we often have a difficult time coping—even with little things. If the bakery down the street is out of the croissant flavor that we order every morning on the way to work, we’re irritated by it and don’t want to break routine by trying something new.

And major disruptions to our ‘normal’ are met by severe psychological backlash. Our brains simply refuse to acknowledge it.

This is normalcy bias. It’s one of the reasons why denial is the first stage of grief. We cannot accept the loss of a loved one who has been part of our routine– our brains won’t allow it.

Or occasionally we might find out someone has passed, and our first reaction is, “But I just saw them last week!” Again, our brains have an extremely difficult time grasping the concept that our deeply entrenched ‘normal’ is about to change.

And that’s why, when faced with something obvious that threatens our ‘normal’, it’s common for us to instinctively do nothing. Our brains are hard wired to believe that the danger will resolve itself and everything will go back to ‘normal’.

Many of us felt this way in 2020.

When the pandemic struck, it was terrifying. No one really understood anything about it; the media practically made it out to be a flesh-eating superbug that would vaporize everyone immediately.

And in the face of this threat, it was easy for politicians to convince people to literally do absolutely nothing: stay home, and shelter in place.

The idea was that if we waited long enough—if we froze in fear long enough—then the danger would pass.

And people maintained a belief throughout the year that life would eventually return to normal, no matter how crazy the world became.

When we were locked down in our homes, we believed that life would return to normal.

When mostly peaceful protestors were rioting and raging in the streets, torching private businesses that had absolutely nothing to do with their cause, we believed that life would return to normal.

When angry Marxists political candidates raged that they want to confiscate private property and nationalize entire industries, we believed that life would return to normal.

Today there are literally tanks lining in the streets of Washington DC and attack helicopters roaming the skies. A new US President is set to be inaugurated tomorrow with more than 20,000 troops guarding him.

They have already announced sweeping legislative and policy changes, ranging from substantially higher taxes to Green New nonsense to debilitating business regulations that will likely frustrate an already weakened economy.

There is absolutely zero fiscal or monetary restraint in government; there’s hardly a single policy initiative that doesn’t carry at least a trillion dollar price tag.

No one cares about the national debt—which is set to reach $30 trillion within the next few months, or the fact that the central bank balance sheet will likely pass $10 trillion this year.

Their solution to everything is to squash productivity and print money.

Yet still, countless people believe that life will return to normal. For them, part of their ‘normal’ is that America is safe, stable, and powerful… and always will be.

Their brains simply cannot accept a reality in which the country they love so dearly has changed. And it’s not going back.

This is normalcy bias, and it compels countless people to do absolutely nothing in the face of obvious threats.

When you see a government racking up trillions of dollars a year in wasteful new debt, and a central bank printing trillions of dollars of new money, a rational person would take steps to preserve his/her savings.

When the Treasury Secretary states in black and white that the Social Security trust funds will run out of money in a few years, a rational person would take steps to safeguard his/her retirement.

When the nation has become so fractured in conflict that it takes tanks and 20,000+ troops to hold a ceremony in the capital, a rational person would create a Plan B and have some backup options.

But normalcy bias makes us believe that everything is going to back to normal. So we freeze in place and do nothing.

There are plenty of solutions to mitigate these threats. But the most important thing to do right now is overcome normalcy bias.

Sovereign Man: It’s Started Already – “We Have a List”

Simon Black of Sovereign Man writes about the fall of empires in It’s Started Already: “We have a list.”

On September 18 of the year 96 AD, a fairly obscure and elderly politician named Marcus Cocceius Nerva was proclaimed Emperor of Rome by the Senate.

Rome was in chaos at the time; the empire had suffered from years of turmoil, economic decline, and oppression.

Most of the last several emperors– going back before the suicide of Nero in 68 AD– had been extremely destructive… plundering the treasury, waging expensive wars, and dismantling individual liberty.

The government was also extremely unstable; it was not uncommon at that point for emperors to be deposed or even assassinated.

In fact, Nerva’s predecessor– the emperor Domitian– had literally been murdered that morning.

Nerva was seen by many Senators as the ‘safe choice’ to take over the government. He was old, frail, and sick… so he wasn’t expected to last very long.

Most of all, Nerva was completely unremarkable.

He had spent his entire professional life in the service of the Empire, yet his name is barely mentioned in any historical record or associated with any major achievement.

But ‘unremarkable’ was exactly what Romans felt like they needed at the time: Nerva would be a break from the chaos. Or so they thought.

We know now with the benefit of hindsight that Rome would never fully recover.

There would be a few ‘good’ emperors along the way– people like Marcus Aurelius who were able to temporarily hold back the decline.

But the long-term trends were unstoppable.

Rome was slowly going bankrupt, destroying its currency, and rejecting the basic principles of its civilization that made it so powerful and prosperous to begin with.

And no politician was able to put the brakes on those big trends and reverse the inevitable decline.

This is a common theme throughout history: empires rise and fall, not because of a single individual, but from decades of major trends that gradually cause an inevitable decline.

These same trends keep surfacing over and over again across the centuries.

Economic mismanagement is an obvious one: empires in decline almost invariably hold an arrogant belief that they are exempt from the natural laws of finance.

In other words, they believe they can spend as much as they want, accumulate infinite amounts of debt, and debase their currency without limit, and somehow there won’t be any consequences.

Another trend is that the empire abandons its core values. Integrity, civic-mindedness, and hard work give way to corruption and entitlement.

And perhaps the biggest trend of empires in decline is that society frequently turns on itself. Civility ends, and rage takes over.

It goes without saying that these trends are alive and well in the West today, especially in the Land of the Free.

US finances have been in disarray for decades. Just this year alone, the national debt has grown by $4 trillion and the Federal Reserve has conjured another $3 trillion out of thin air.

And even before Covid struck when the economy was firing on all cylinders, the government was still adding more than $1 trillion each year to the debt.

Now there are entire factions of politicians that want to take those numbers to the next level.

In fact, there’s an entire school of economics now called “Modern Monetary Theory” which poses that governments can simply print as much money as they want without consequence.

This is pretty classic empire arrogance.

But, again, the even more powerful trend now is the growing rage that’s so prevalent.

We’ve seen it unfold in front of our very eyes– violence, arson, assault, looting, vandalism, intimidation.

And if the this angry mob isn’t out in the streets causing mayhem, they’re on social media trying to destroy someone’s life who committed the thoughtcrime of intellectual dissent.

The election results last week proved that this angry mob is still a numerical minority.

Unfortunately they are a very powerful minority that has taken over a number of important institutions.

They already control the media. Objective journalism doesn’t exist anymore– it’s just activism and propaganda.

(And if anyone needs any proof, look no further than a prominent CNN ‘reporter’ weeping tears of joy over the weekend on live television. How can these people expect to be taken seriously as objective journalists??)

The mob has also taken over education too.

Schools and universities are now filled with enraged Marxists who spend dozens of hours each week indoctrinating our children with their new woke religion.

They’ve even reinvented science, history, and mathematics to conform to the principles of critical race theory.

The mob also exerts extreme influence over major corporations.

You can’t watch a Disney movie, or an NFL game, or even a commercial for men’s razors anymore, without having identity politics shoved down your throat.

They also hold extreme influence over Big Tech, whose one-sided censorship policies have become so absurd they’re starting to rival the Chinese Communist Party.

Over the weekend, for example, Twitter was ablaze with activists who launched an ‘accountability project’ to create a database archiving every supporter, donor, staffer, etc. who supported the current Presidential administration.

The project’s tagline is “Remember what they did,” and “We must never forget. . .”

And they’re targeting “those who elected him,” and “those who funded him,” referring, of course, to the President and the 70 million people who voted for him.

One reporter from the Washington Post deemed that everyone archived “should never serve in office, join a corporate board, find a faculty position, or be accepted into ‘polite’ society.”

She concluded her thinly-veiled threat by saying, “We have a list.”

Twitter, of course, did not see fit to censor this shining example of objective journalism, which now has 40,000 likes.

It’s a pretty blatant sign of decline when people start keeping ‘lists’ of political opponents they want to punish. And this madness is just getting started.

Sovereign Man: Don’t Forget to Vote for Yourself

Simon Black of Sovereign Man has few words for you in Don’t Forget to Vote for Yourself

The year 63 BC was an election year in ancient Rome, and an ambitious 37-year old was locked in a heated race for one of Rome’s most powerful offices: pontifex maximus.

The young politician, of course, was Julius Caesar. And he ran a cutthroat campaign against his opponents– two seasoned senators, both of whom Caesar publicly accused of corruption.

Caesar reputedly spent so much money on his campaign that, on election morning, he told his mother that he would either win, or he would have to leave Rome forever to flee his angry creditors.

The Romans didn’t invent elections; there’s evidence of voting that goes back nearly 1,000 years before Rome, to civilizations in ancient India and Mesopotamia.

And the Greeks, of course, developed the concept of democratic elections more than any other ancient culture.

(The Greeks even held ‘negative elections’ where they would vote on which former politicians should be banished for corruption and incompetence.)

But the Romans elevated elections to a full blown commercial enterprise. They were willing to spend big to win– a practice that continues to this day.

The Center for Responsive Politics recently estimated that the 2020 US Presidential election will cost a record $6.6 billion. That’s nearly THREE TIMES as much as the $2.3 billion spent in the 2016 campaign.

It’s not just the Presidency either. Even a ‘lowly’ Congressional seat costs big money these days, with a whopping $7.25 billion spent in the 2020 election. That’s double the amount from 10 years ago.

But the real cost of elections goes far beyond dollars and cents.

The biggest example is the emotional cost; I’m not sure many of us have ever witnessed such drama to the extent that has unfolded in this election.

The constant shouting and screaming, the media and celebrity shrieking, the Twitter rage… it never stops.

Countless people get behind their candidates as if their lives depend on it, with utter devotion and euphoria for their chosen one, and unmitigated hatred for the opposing side.

Things have become so crazy that couples even break up over politics.

A recent study by Wakefield Research found that 11% of couples in the United States have split up over political differences. And among Millennials, that number rises to 22%.

I find it remarkable that we allow extreme emotions for politicians (who we’ll most likely never meet) to cause a breakdown in relationships with some of the actual people who are in our daily lives.

These extreme emotions will be felt even more acutely today, and in the coming days (or weeks) as the results are announced.

Grown adults are going to break down and cry as if their dog just died. Others will hoot and cheer like they’ve just won the lottery.

And this happens every time. Every few years it’s the same cycle… the same drama. We’re told every single time that ‘this is the most important election of our lives.’

Naturally there’s an entire industry counting on us being emotional. The media sells more ads, the politicians get more votes. Billions of dollars at stake depend on us being in a total frenzy.

Look, I’m not being dismissive about elections. Obviously the people who come to power can and do have enormous influence on our lives.

They can wreck havoc and destruction, even when they’re well-meaning.

They can burden future generations with ever-increasing debts, debase the currency, regulate entrepreneurs out of business, embolden extremists, tax people’s prosperity away, and all sorts of other terrible things.

So, yes, to a degree, it’s always important.

But in the midst of all this drama is a central theme that’s almost always lost.

People tend to forget that WE have a much bigger impact on our own lives than any politicians or government.

Elections deceive us into pinning all the hopes and dreams for our future on some political candidate, like he or she is going to walk across the water and sprinkle prosperity everywhere.

But this is an absurd fantasy.

What we do matters far more– the plans we make, the actions we take, the things we do to improve our own lives.

This is like voting for yourself. And we have the opportunity to do this every single day.

Sovereign Man: The New Puritans Are on the Prowl

Simon Black of Sovereign Man has a few words to say about Woke-ists in The New Puritans Are on the Prowl.

In the spring of 1692, Giles Corey was 80 years old when his wife was accused of witchcraft.

The entire town was in such a frenzy that even Giles started to believe that his wife might be a witch.

Soon after, another person in the town was accused of witchcraft. Then another. And another. And another.

It wasn’t until Giles Corey himself was accused of being a wizard that he realized the whole thing was a scam.

But it didn’t matter. The Puritan preachers in this small New England town (Salem, Massachusetts) took every accusation seriously.

They felt it was their duty to protect the townsfolk from the systemic witchcraft that was so pervasive in Salem. So everyone who was accused of witchcraft was quickly punished.

That included Giles Gorey, who, at the age of 81, was tortured for three days in September of 1692, in an attempt to extract a plea.

He had been accused, therefore he must be guilty. And Corey was laid in a field with boards placed on top of him, and large rocks piled on top of the boards to slowly crush him to death.

Rumour has it the only words he spoke during the torture were, “More weight.”

These days we have a new breed of Puritans. Their religion is wokeness, and they too see witches everywhere.

What’s really incredible is that these Puritan witch hunters are really just a small percentage of the population.

Most people are completely sane and normal. But this tiny group happens to be the loudest.

And because of that,  they’ve completely upended everything– culture, business, politics, and even science.

They tell us what words we can/cannot use. Some of the largest corporations in the world have already bent the knee, cancelling movies, music, and even food, because it offends the mob.

Disney cancelled the song “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” because it’s offensive. Yet they graciously thanked the Chinese Communist Party in their recent release of Mulan!

And the same doctors and public health officials who tell us that we have to wear masks tell us that it’s OK to not wear a mask when rioting, because hate is a much bigger public health crisis.

Wokeness is such bizarre logic. But it never stops.

Just this morning I saw articles lamenting the lack of diversity in the wine industry; and another claiming that National Parks aren’t welcoming enough to certain minorities.

Even 2+2=4 is now a controversial statement to some mathematics educators, who find the expression grounded in imperialistic, heteronormative toxic masculinity.

But it’s not enough to simply bow out and avoid their intolerance. That makes YOU a target.

You have to denounce family members, grovel to the Twitter mob, raise a fist in solidarity, participate in the chants and rituals… otherwise you put yourself and your family at risk.

They’ll come for your job, your business, and your dignity.

I have no idea how far this will go, or how much more ridiculous it will become.

This is clearly not the first time in history that a small number of crazy people end up causing havoc and devastation to an entire society.

Now, I still believe that, even in the midst of such mindless chaos, the world is still abundant with opportunity.

I’ve just always felt that it’s best to tackle those opportunities… and face obvious risks… from a position of strength.

This is the core idea behind having a ‘Plan B’– to put yourself in a position of strength, regardless of whatever happens (or doesn’t happen) next.

This includes things like expanding your network and meeting like-minded people– which is more important than ever.

It means taking care of your finances– protecting your assets, avoiding roller coaster rides in markets and currency devaluations, legally cutting your taxes, and expanding your income.

It also means having a place to go, just in case you might ever need to hit the eject button.

This doesn’t mean having a doom-and-gloom mentality. It’s a sensible, rational precaution in light of such clear risk.

And it’s not a decision you’ll be in the mental state to think through when the mob is at your doorstep.

This is really the most important part of a Plan B: thinking through what’s important to you, and what you *might* need to do… now– while you’re in a rational state.

Waiting until panic sets in means making emotional decisions later… and emotional decisions tend to be very bad decisions.

So take advantage of the relative calm, and make some key decisions now….

Sovereign Man: How Bad Will It Get?

Simon Black at Sovereign Man has a few thoughts/prediction on where the pandemic could take us.

We certainly live in extraordinary times.

Even people who have been irrationally dismissive of the Corona pandemic up until this point finally had to wake up and smell reality yesterday. The NBA. Tom Hanks. European travel ban.

Our human brains, while magnificent and inspiring, are also wired in bizarre ways. We’re filled with countless ‘cognitive biases’ which affect our judgment, usually for the worse.

Among them is that human beings often cannot accept the possibility that tomorrow could be radically different than today.

Things that were completely unthinkable just a few days ago have now happened. And pretty much everything is on the table right now.

So I wanted to spend a bit of time today thinking through some potential outcomes that might have seemed inconceivable before this outbreak.

I’m not suggesting these are foregone conclusions. But they’re definitely possible.

1) Supply chains will break down

Nearly everything you buy at the store or online is the result of a ridiculously complex, global system of commerce, finance, and logistics.

This computer that I’m using right now was sourced from hundreds of different materials—plastics, metals, etc. that were mined and produced from dozens of places. The component parts were manufactured by different suppliers, assembled in China, and transported on boats and trucks to wholesalers, retailers, etc.

The whole process involves countless people, dozens of companies, and thousands upon thousands of miles.

This system works great under normal conditions. But it’s not resilient. It’s unable to cope with severe global shocks like we’re seeing now.

I think we could see (and are already seeing) factory workers stop coming to work. Mail delivery could be curtailed. Or just imagine there’s an outbreak at an Amazon Fulfilment Center, and the company goes down to minimal staffing.

All of this will have an impact in the smooth production and delivery of goods around the world.

I don’t think we’ll have any sort of Mad Max shortages. But the virus effect could likely create scarcity, especially for anything that’s manufactured outside of your home country.

2) Rationing and Export Prohibition

Countries will become increasingly protectionist, especially with critical items like masks and medicine. We’ve already seen the German government blocking a shipment of 240,000 face masks to Switzerland.

And demand for several items is going to skyrocket. You might have heard about the toilet paper heists across Asia, or fistfights breaking out in Australia over antibacterial cleansers.

Here’s a photo that a friend sent to me a few hours ago of the hand sanitizer section at Walgreens– almost empty.

This isn’t going to stand for very long before the companies themselves start to limit purchases, or governments impose full-blown rationing. And that leads to…

3) Some people will become totally unglued. Others will be saints.

Let’s be honest— there’s already so much anger in the world. Strikes, riots, protests, Twitter rants… even armed thugs in the streets (Antifa) physically assaulting people with ideological differences.

Introduce a little bit of scarcity into all that anger and a few people will become totally unhinged.

Just think about how violent some shoppers can be on Black Friday, punching each other’s lights out in Wal Mart for the last big screen TV on special.

At the same time, this pandemic also has the potential to bring out the best in people. And countless others will be at their very best: respectful, generous, and responsible…

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