Social Mood Conference  |  Socionomics Foundation
By Ben Hall | Excerpted from the Oct. 2009 Socionomist

Originally published under the title “Political Polarization: Social Mood and the Disciplinary Actions of Congress”


[Ed: In a 2003 forecast, Robert Prechter wrote, “The coming trend of negative social psychology will be characterized by polarization between and among various perceived groups, whether political, ideological, religious, geographical, racial or economic” (Pioneering Studies in Socionomics (2003)).

[In a 2009 article, socionomist Ben Hall illustrated that political polarization was indeed on the rise during the then-current social mood decline, as manifested by deep partisan divisions in Congress and Congress’ increased use of disciplinary actions against its own members. Here is a short excerpt of Hall’s 2009 article.]

As socionomists, our interest is not politics per se. Instead we are interested in politics as a manifestation of human behavior.

Befitting the current large-degree negative social mood trend in the States, anger flowed at myriad town hall meetings over the summer. Citizens spoke their minds on the healthcare debate and more. In September, protesters came to Washington, D.C. for a second Tea Party protest to oppose tax increases and government spending; it was the biggest anti-Obama protest to date.

Also in September, President Obama’s plans for a televised address to the nation’s schools were met with accusations that Obama would try to indoctrinate children with a liberal agenda. Some parents kept their kids home; some districts refused to air the speech.

These events are evidence of increasing polarization in politics.When the next major negative social mood phase begins, this trend will become noticeably amplified.

Social Mood and the Disciplinary Actions of Congress
Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst during the president’s speech before a joint session of Congress—and his subsequent reprimand—reflects the tense environment that negative social mood has created. The New York Times reported, “The vote came after a congressional clash over civility that showcased the deep partisan divisions in the House.” Observe that phrase, “deep partisan divisions.” A reprimand is less severe than a censure or expulsion, but the bear market is  young. This is emerging bear-market polarization.

Figure 4 shows that most Congressional disciplinary actions are clustered in and shortly after bear markets.

Expulsion is the strongest show of Congressional anger and scapegoating, and the chart shows that historically, most expulsions come near the low point of a decline. …

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In the remainder of this two-page article, Ben Hall reviews the disciplinary actions of Congress – including resignation, censure, reprimand, and expulsion – over the past two centuries and the negative social mood environments in which they occurred. Hall goes on to describe how you can expect Congress to respond as the negative social mood trend progresses and picks up steam in the coming years.

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Socionomics InstituteThe Socionomist is a monthly online magazine designed to help readers see and capitalize on the waves of social mood that contantly occur throughout the world. It is published by the Socionomics Institute, Robert R. Prechter, president; Matt Lampert, editor-in-chief; Alyssa Hayden, editor; Alan Hall and Chuck Thompson, staff writers; Dave Allman and Pete Kendall, editorial direction; Chuck Thompson, production; Ben Hall, proofreader.

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Most economists, historians and sociologists presume that events determine society’s mood. But socionomics hypothesizes the opposite: that social mood regulates the character of social events. The events of history—such as investment booms and busts, political events, macroeconomic trends and even peace and war—are the products of a naturally occurring pattern of social-mood fluctuation. Such events, therefore, are not randomly distributed, as is commonly believed, but are in fact probabilistically predictable. Socionomics also posits that the stock market is the best available meter of a society’s aggregate mood, that news is irrelevant to social mood, and that financial and economic decision-making are fundamentally different in that financial decisions are motivated by the herding impulse while economic choices are guided by supply and demand. For more information about socionomic theory, see (1) the text, The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior © 1999, by Robert Prechter; (2) the introductory documentary History's Hidden Engine; (3) the video Toward a New Science of Social Prediction, Prechter’s 2004 speech before the London School of Economics in which he presents evidence to support his socionomic hypothesis; and (4) the Socionomics Institute’s website, www.socionomics.net. At no time will the Socionomics Institute make specific recommendations about a course of action for any specific person, and at no time may a reader, caller or viewer be justified in inferring that any such advice is intended.

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