finem respice

Turn Those Machines Back On

Submitted by ep on Wed, 01/27/2021 - 20:19
A long lost institution.

One wonders how essential a part of the decline of empires it is for the plebs to turn on the establishment. Of course, finem respice has its own ideas (as may the always astute finem respice reader) but events in the Western world seem more and more tied to the conflict (quickly approaching lethal) between an increasingly sclerotic (perhaps even corrupt) establishment and a rebellious populist class. At times one wishes the Tea Party had not been entirely gelded, as this meant that a potential safety valve was sacrificed on the altar of progressive hegemony. It is hard to claim that 2016 (and Election Day 2020) was not well earned by the left in the latter months of 2009 and beyond.

Though it was a hegemony destined to be short lived, the crushing defeat in 2016 has now transformed the singular goal of the left to restore it, a quest for which the left is prepared to have others (whether they wish progressives well or ill) pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any foe, oppose any friend, in order to assure the survival and the success of a permanent progressive electoral majority. From across the sea it appears a goal that is within their grasp.

Yet signs of discord now and again appear.

What, for instance, is the finem respice reader to make of the battle between Reddit and Melvin Capital (beyond raiding that fund's 13F filings for potential short theses, naturally) on the field of Gamestop? And what of the earlier "Bull Raid" occasioned by the unlikely likes of Barstool Sports on the even less likely field of Hertz (about which long-time finem respice readers may remember something)? Certainly, the establishment has decided to fight back. NASDAQ threatens, as one does, to halt trading in any stock in which "social media chatter" seems connected with outlandish valuations (at least for some establishment approved definition of "social media chatter" and some decidedly inconsistent establishment definition of "outlandish valuations"). Always introspective finem respice readers will remember Silver Thursday, the Hunt Brothers, and the wholesale cheating and unilateral changing of the rules (to wit: "Silver Rule 7") by COMEX to frustrate their efforts. An example for our current times, no? After all, let's be serious. We cannot have these upstart plebs usurping full-blown ISDA members now, can we? And who among us actually believes that Securities Exchange Commission regulations (or any establishment rules after 2008-2009) are there foster the investment confidence of the "little guy" or the "individual investor"?

And so the plebs shall be quashed. Shall be frozen. Shall be locked out of markets. Perhaps shall be prosecuted. (Can it really be that Janet Yellen shall be the Czar Nicholas II of the First American Empire?) And so the establishment shall hasten the inevitable (and perhaps bloody) backlash that likely follows. And what of those plebs? Well, though Reddit (and the larger world of crowd-sourced plebs) seems ready to flex and test their recently developed muscles; to experiment with their newly discovered power to crush not only Melvin Capital but also the other firms which rushed to its aid (the establishment may be slow to awake, but once roused is vengeful and ruthless--though it would now seem pathetically and not a little comically powerless), there is something that the plebs, so happy to tout their anti-establishment credentials and defy all comity and decorum (even if they do not yet entirely appreciate the full power of decentralised systems) must consider: Be not so quick to affix labels. You may find them adhering to your forehead before all is said and done. Melvin Capital may have been hedge fund yesterday. Today, and perhaps hereafter, it is Reddit.

[Art Credit: Unknown Photographer "Untiled," Photograph (Unknown Date), from the author's private collection. Long ago in the Second City.]

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