web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



The Much Deeper Meanings Of Wall Street’s Wild Ride


Beres-Louis-Rene

Share Button

In figuring out the core weaknesses of our troubled financial markets, there is far more than meets the eye. On the surface, Wall Street’s seemingly interminable wild ride is the obvious outcome of purely economic factors. Yet, at a deeper level, the problem of market weakness and volatility is not really fiscal, but human. Sure, the interrelated banking and housing and credit crises have played havoc with securities, but these crises are themselves epiphenomenal. That is, they are a mere reflection of something “underneath” and much more fundamental.

At its heart, the ups and downs of Wall Street are the product of largely engineered and distorted human needs. As Americans, we are what we buy. Our status and self-worth correspond closely with what we own. This palpable celebration of inauthenticity and hyper-consumption is an incessant message received by everyone – again and again, day after day. More than anything else, it has created our broken economy. This economy, like the fragmented society from which it has plainly sprung, lacks any firm foundation. It is built upon sand.

Surely this is not what we hear from the “experts.” It is not their task to go beyond hard economics to soft psychology. But if we should look more closely, it will become absolutely clear that we may have as much to learn about core market crises from Freud and Jung as we do from Adam Smith and Karl Marx. So long as we Americans accept expanding debt and a decidedly negative savings rate as the price of appearing successful to others, all government “stimulus” packages will be utterly beside the point.

Soon we Americans shall have to get a handle on the unceasing public need for more and more things, for tangible goods that can seemingly validate us as individuals. Wall Street’s wild ride will never slow down meaningfully with the arrival of more money to spread around in stores. And even if we could actually fix core market problems by expanding consumption, exactly what sort of society would we be encouraging?

Ralph Waldo Emerson once spoke of “self‑reliance.” He understood that a foolish “reliance upon property” was the result of “a want of self‑reliance.” Today, living amid a humiliating barrage of advertising jingles, delirious collectivism and relentless imitation, the individual American desperately wants to project a “correct” image.

The demeaning consumer message of our American mass society is everywhere, even in the universities. Here, for the most part, mimicry and repetition define “excellence.” Today, almost all higher education is vocational. We generally graduate newly‑minted Ph.D.s, MDs, JDs and MBA’s who know almost nothing but how to progress in their own fields. They may turn out to be perfectly good teachers, doctors, lawyers and accountants, but they are nonetheless trained, not educated.

Do we want a genuinely robust economy and a stable stock market? Then we must first reorient our society from its cheapened ambience of mass taste to a more cultivated environment of thought and feeling. There is great beauty in the world, but it is best not to search for it at the bank, the video store or the shopping mall.

Even in that very large segment of Main Street that still knows little of Wall Street, there is deepening anxiety and considerable unhappiness. Taught that respect and success lie in high salaries and corollary patterns of consumption, the American public dutifully worships the commonplace. Why should it be otherwise? Galvanized by mostly patronizing and vulgar entertainments, this lonely American crowd thoughtlessly follows a flamboyant but impotent ringmaster. However well-intentioned and capable, our newly-elected president can never save us from ourselves.

Wall Street remains a thoroughly corrupted product of mass society. This mutually destructive dependence between Wall Street and Main Street can never bring us any success. Soon we must create conditions whereby each of us can feel important and alive without surrendering to manufactured images of power and status. Without such conditions, millions of Americans will continue to seek comfort in crime, mind-numbing music, mountains of drugs and oceans of alcohol.

Despite all the noise, we are now a largely joyless society that finds little or no authentic meaning within. This plainly human problem of a socially crushed individualism must be understood before we can fix what is actually wrong with Wall Street. It may seem reassuring to count on the next “stimulus package,” but the real benefits will be altogether illusory.

Copyright © The Jewish Press, January 23, 2009. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., Politics, 1971) and is Professor of International Law at Purdue University. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Share Button

About the Author: Louis René Beres, strategic and military affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is professor of Political Science at Purdue University. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law and is the author of ten major books in the field. In Israel, Professor Beres was chair of Project Daniel.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “The Much Deeper Meanings Of Wall Street’s Wild Ride”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Louis Rene Beres
Louis Rene Beres

President Obama’s core argument on a Middle East peace process is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Louis Rene Beres

Once upon a time in America, every adult could recite at least some Spenglerian theory of decline.

President Obama’s core argument is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Specific strategic lessons from the Bar Kokhba rebellion.

Still facing an effectively unhindered nuclear threat from Iran, Israel will soon need to choose between two strategic options.

For states, as for individuals, fear and reality go together naturally.

So much of the struggle between Israel and the Arabs continues to concern space.

An undifferentiated or across-the-board commitment to nuclear ambiguity could prove harmful to Israel’s's overall security.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/the-much-deeper-meanings-of-wall-streets-wild-ride/2009/01/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: