MHB reader reconsiders prophetic analysis of Economist 2015 cover (here), Says message transcends mere economics
Submitted by Toni
A MESSAGE FROM THE ELITES
It is argued by Marshall Swing that the January cover of The Economist magazine is a Revelation foretelling Certain Events, mockingly sent by the Elites to affirm the suspicions of those who can “read” the prophecy. Luckily, Swing can and the message is: Apocalypse arrives on October 23rd, 2015.
I think there is both more and less to The Economist cover than Swing’s prophecy indicates. Less, in that Swing arrives at his thesis through coerced logic, a subject covered in Part Two. More, because the meaning that emanates from the cover collage is broader than the Prophet Swing allows.
My read of The Economist magazine cover is that it is an intellectual exercise in spoofing “conspiracy” culture by creating the appearance of a Message from the Elites. The editorial double-bind is that it then actually becomes a coded message from which elite intent can be deduced.
Where did the idea for a conspiracy cover originate? In what editorial meeting? Was it mandated from on high? I don’t think a mandate was necessary. It arose naturally within a corporate culture that speaks “elite.” These wannabe-elites don’t recognize how financial dependence on the elite informs their beliefs; they think these ideas are their own. They believe that while you, the questioning non-elite, are a conspiracy-minded loon, they are making autonomous decisions that in no way reflect any special coordination beyond that which yields profit. It’s laughable to them that non-elites would consider themselves the direct object of what are, to them, purely business decisions.
When the decision was made to do a conspiracy cover, the editorial staff decided to use images from inside the issue to create a random pastiche, jokingly referencing familiar conspiracy tropes. You can see this in their choice of the Sgt. Pepper’s layout, favorite of conspiracy theorists and satirists alike, as well as the pyramidal hand gesture of German Chancellor Merkel, which framing a coat button, suggests the All–Seeing Eye on the dollar bill.
What the staffers may not have fully realized is that an American magazine called “The Economist” which is owned, moreover, by the Rothschilds, will of necessity exhibit the interests and symbols of global power. The pastiche of images begins to look less random as these patterns of power emerge and reveal their unintended message.
With The Economist cover, the decoding of the unintended message lies in the domain of literary criticism, which sees the meaning underlying the random relationship, and the truth in the joke. It accesses the vast store of references we all share in our collective unconscious, creating a multi-fold impression that changes with every eye.
It’s richer than the linear deduction which comprises Swing’s prophecy. Prophecy, with its allegiance to a fixed interpretation, demands paucity of imagination and denial of personal experience. It doesn’t reflect the real way we tell stories, over time and in an ever-changing context where meaning is cumulative.
SOME DIFFERENCES IN INTERPRETATION
In his take on the January cover of The Economist magazine, Marshall Swing starts with the date October 23rd, 2015 and then, working backward, looks for images to support his claim that a calamity will be occurring on or around that date. All the “clues” he finds are interpreted through a single lens, that of apocalypse and economic doom.
Though I agree that the pastiche of images on the magazine cover was constructed to give a menacing impression, Swing forces these images into his argument of catastrophe by denying their historical implications, and stripping them of any significance beyond the one he assigns them.
A pointed example of this is Swing’s interpretation of the Leonardo da Vinci painting that is sitting in the dirt on the floor. The painting is a portrait of a woman who was married to an ironworker, but mistress to the King of France. The cuckolded husband infected himself with syphilis in order to spread the disease to his wife and on to the king, thus spawning a “romantic legend” (Wikipedia) worthy of a portrait by the master.
For Swing, this story is all about global politics. The woman is China, married to the United States but mistress to the emerging national economies of the BRICS nations. The US has infected itself with debt and derivatives and hopes to take down the world with this disease. Following Swing’s apocalyptic vision, amid these tensions the dirt becomes nuclear rubble. Who is to blame? The faithless wife, China.
In this analogy, Swing seems confused as to who are the elites. In real life, the financial elites are working all sides in the default currency drama playing out among the “nations.”
No matter. The direct message from the elite is easily discerned, ”Even your wife is our mistress, and when your vengeful jealousy is set to destruction, we will make art out of her and blame you, the cuckold.” Dig through the “dirt” of history to uncover these lessons.
(It is, perhaps, obvious only to the English major that the dirt under the painting is the product of the contextual archeology out of which the portrait derives its meaning.)
Swing’s apocalyptic sensibility and neglect of history infuses all his interpretations of the Asian images in the collage. He singles out the mushroom cloud, claiming:
“Mushroom Cloud – This indicates a major bomb event in 2015… if you look to the far left we have an Asian holding up a Singapore banner and wearing a cap that indicates there will be an explosion, perhaps in Singapore.”
What Swing misses in his rush to prediction, is that next to the person in the Singapore hat, is a Samurai from the Edo period when Japan was a closed society and culture blossomed. The samurai is staring directly at the mushroom cloud which marked the disastrous end to the period following Edo, when Japan came out into the world.
The Singapore image is one of several, including the kid with the pre-packaged food, that casts Asia in a comforting, western hue. The “explosions” under the brim of the hat are actually fireworks, not bombs. Echoing the US Independence Day, fireworks celebrate Singapore’s independence from Britain.
Swing demonstrates his ahistoric approach again when he picks out the panda as symbolizing China’s economic strength, saying:
“The Communist Bear – As in bear market, the significance of this cannot be overstated. At the time The Economist magazine cover came out, China was in great shape and things were going up, up, up. Notice the underwear, this represents the red star of communism.”
The phrase most commonly associated with a panda from China is panda diplomacy. The image from the cover is panda diplomacy on steroids, strong but muscle-bound. The panda’s exaggerated figure is that of a western-style body builder in a speedo with a logo of the Chinese flag slapped on the crotch. It doesn’t look good for the panda, whose roly-poly cuteness used to open doors. His disfigurement embodies the true influence of the West.
I’m including the clown fish in my catalog of the images in the collage from Asia. The habitat of the clown fish lies across broader Asia in the confluence of the Indian and Pacific oceans, in their “dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity,” as Japan recently told India.
For Swing, the fish exist as only as witnesses to his economic model of doom. He says:
“The Two Fish – The two fish represent the plight of the oceans. The sea creatures are witnesses against the modern commerce of man which cares not how they pollute the earth’s oceans or lands.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY (economy), STUPID!
In reality, clown fish are the servitors of the poisonous sea anemone, doing housekeeping and procuring victims for the anemone in exchange for room and board. The unctuous servility of the clown fish is echoed in the oleaginous mucus that protects it from the anemone’s poison. So anxious to serve are they that the male can feminize completely should the need arise.
Of the Asian images, this leaves the sumo wrestler carrying the big battery. The Economist magazine editor says the battery stands for a new Japanese technology that better stores solar and wind energy. Swing observes:
“The Sumo Wrestler – Japan. The question is can the fiat paper, quantitative easing, inflationary experiment done in Japan so long ago ever go positive again?”
Although it’s hard to tell if Swing connects the battery with “going positive,” he characteristically relates the size of the sumo wrestler only to the weakness of the Japanese economy.
He ignores the history of sumo, a meritocratic sport that developed in the same culturally rich Edo period as the Samurai. The wrestler may be small, perhaps reflecting a diminished cultural influence, but he hardly evokes “weakness” as he is carrying a battery ten times his size.
I think the battery is a stand-in for the symbol of yin and yang, with the positive and negative symbols representing the little circles of opposite color in each half. Created 3000 years ago and brought to Japan from China, it reflects the strength of a cultural exchange that extends back centuries. The new Japanese batteries are said to be a boon to industry because, in good Taoist fashion, they harmonize the volatility of the alternative energies.
I want to draw attention to one more constellation of images in the Economist collage. Above, the skies are filled with menace, while beneath the attention of the world leaders, toys, games and amusements are strewn across polished marble floors like those in our public institutions. Channeling the CIA’s Mighty Wurlitzer, the Pied Piper hovers over this lower scene as if his music maintains the spell. No one seems to hear him but the little servitors of empire, the clown fish, which cling to his knees, staring up.
To Marshall Swing the images in the lower half of the collage are discreet and separate clues pointing only to the real events of economic collapse and military destruction which he predicts for the near future. He ignores nuance and embraces the reductive, which is his downfall.
But it is his ignorance of history which reaches its apex when he doesn’t recognize Alice in Wonderland standing in her own illustration. Preposterously, he says:
“The Little Girl – Reported to be Alice in Wonderland. She is pure, innocent, naïve, and represents those who are pure in heart and spirit, the righteous and those who would be righteous before God. She is watching all the events in the world with utter amazement and wonders what all these things in the news means. She is considered by The Elite to be a child and inept and in a sense she has put herself in the child-like position by not taking dominion in the countries of the world. She is about to be utterly shocked into reality.”
She is none of those things. Most especially, she is not an inept child. She is, if you’ll recall, the original rabbit hole explorer. Brave Alice is not afraid to challenge anyone’s authority. And when the philosophical Cheshire Cat is sentenced to death and disappears, it is Alice who can still see his smile.