|Originally published in the March 2011 Socionomist|
Socionomists hypothesize a connection between negative social mood and social polarization, distrust and scapegoating. Bear markets lead people to categorize and divide others into groups of them and us. As the December 2009 issue of The Socionomist reported, increasingly negative social mood will deepen polarization along political, ideological, religious, geographic, racial and economic lines. We can see several aspects of this development.
A March 8 CNBC article points to anger among private sector workers over the pay and pensions that public sector workers receive. The article cites a USA Today/Gallup poll in February in which 40% of respondents supported tighter controls on government pay and benefits. CNBC says struggling private sector workers are experiencing “pension envy” as they consider the benefits received by their counterparts in the public sector. If social mood continues its current downward trend, expect this polarization to intensify.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented a new record in the number of hate groups. There were 1,002 such groups operating in 2010—the first time the number topped 1,000 since the SPLC began counting in the 1980s.
Last year’s hate group count represents a 7.5% increase compared to the 932 groups active in 2009 and a 66% increase since the major social mood peak of 2000.
In addition, the SPLC says the number of “nativist extremist” groups rose from 309 to 319 in 2010, an increase of 3%. These groups not only advocate restrictive immigration policies but actually confront or harass suspected undocumented immigrants or their employers. However, the greatest growth—61%—came in the number of “Patriot” groups, which rose from 512 to 824. According to the SPLC, these groups are conspiracy-minded and see the federal government as their enemy. Right or wrong, these ideas counter the status quo.
Altogether, there were 2,145 hate, nativist extremist and Patriot groups in 2010, a 22% increase compared to the 1,753 groups recorded in 2009.■
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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.
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