The end of the world may not be coming, but whatever is coming might as well be the end of the world. And as we walk in this twilight, perhaps at the very least, we would do well to enjoy the sunset while it lasts.

As We Traverse Towards Tribulation

MarketWatch's Paul B. Farrell had an interestingarticle Tuesday on how America is on the path for a decade from hell. In Farrell's opinion, this "decade from hell will get worse in 2012". Farrell portends a coming stock market crash, political dysfunctionality, revolution, and various wars that stem from class differences and commodity clashes between countries in the near future.

Farrell compared the stock market crash in 2008 to the one that occurred in 1929, i.e. both were followed by European banking crises. In light of worldwide protests, the collapse of the euro, and income inequality, Farrell suggested that tough times are most likely ahead for Americans. Farrell suggested that throughout next year the world will have to come to terms with "more bad news". By ignoring history, Farrell wrote that we are missing the fundamental economic shift that is occurring owing to factors like excessive debt, unemployment, and world tumult.

Farrell's dire forecasts for the next nine years are quite ominous. Among them include ideas that the "super rich" will continue to spend billions to control Washington culminating in a system where the wealthy have absolute power over everyone else, rising global population will give way to commodity wars throughout the world, class war will spread, and the American form of capitalism will collapse in on itself.

In light of various global commodity wars, the rising global population will have to address a decline in resources. Thus, there will have to be a "total rethinking of the balance between spending to protect against external enemies and a rapid deterioration of domestic programs: employment, education, health care, [and] retirement." According to Farrell, in the end the established order will be turned on its head as the world rejects the wealthy and male leaders in order to effectively rebuild human civilization.

I am not sure if it was Farrell's intent, but his analysis reads somewhat like a post-apocalyptic science fiction storyline -- a storyline worthy for perhaps a sub-par made-for-TV movie or even an episode of the Outer Limits. This is not to say that Farrell's analysis was poor or off-the-mark; Farrell's article was great, but such scenarios have been explored numerous times in fiction. In Farrell's article, you have the setting of the plot, the conflict, and resolution over the course of a mere decade. Speaking as one who has written a healthy amount of science fiction in his life, as I am sure other science fiction writers have discovered, oftentimes reality is not as exciting as science fiction. I would say in all honesty that most of the time reality is not as exciting as science fiction; that's part of the reason why we enjoy science fiction.

In that light, Farrell's insights may be outrageous, but I do think that Farrell is on to something. It can be easy for critics to contend (regarding any dark economic forecast) that such dark forecasts are engineered for the sake of an agenda (or as I might say, "agendeered") or wildly fantastic. Even so, we are now living in a world with nuclear weapons, lasers, supersonic jets, submarines, space stations, hi-tech gadgets, and satellites that makes for a seedbed of science fiction being made into reality. In some ways, a lot of our recent history reads like a science fiction novel. What then stops forecasts of the future from reading like a science fiction storyline as well?

Between Tribulation and Hell

Whether or not Farrell realized it at the time, in some ways Farrell's dark forecast sounds akin to the Great Tribulation. Farrell may have called it a "decade from hell", but it sounded a bit like a great tribulation. Throw in a little Mayan 2012 prophecy & St. Malachy's Prophecy of the Popes and Farrell might as well have been writing that the end is nigh. Given the convenience of the decade-long time frame, Farrell's commentary fits well into the seven-year mold of the Great Tribulation. Farrell discussed that by 2020, people will realize that "male dominance of leadership roles in philosophy, economics, politics and culture throughout history...has failed our civilization, bringing the world to the brink of total destruction." Bringing the world to the brink of total destruction? How much closer to the Great Tribulation can you get?

As I wrote previously, some religious circles believe that "during the Great Tribulation much of the Earth would suffer, many would die, the Antichrist would reign supreme instituting severe economic policies culminating in the 'mark of the beast' necessary for buying and selling, and the Antichrist would later set himself as a god over the entire planet demanding worship from all Earth's humans. After the seven-year Tribulation, Jesus Christ would come back, defeat the Antichrist at the Valley of Megiddo (Armageddon), and institute a millennial reign where the devil is banished from Earth."

In theological terms on the historical timeline, where the world began as a sort of paradise under the command of God (the Garden of Eden), the world ends in a sort of hell under the command of the devil (the Great Tribulation) before once again being restored by God. It is important to note that at its core, the concepts of both God's function in paradise and Satan's function during the Tribulation are economic in nature, i.e. their respective functions deal with the actual economic activity of humanity in the course of the struggle for survival. In God's case in the Garden, God has control over man's intelligence and physical survival. In Satan's case in the Great Tribulation, Satan has control over man's economic affairs via the mark of the beast, man's spiritual affairs via a one-world religion, and man's political affairs via a one-world government.

Aside from the fantastic religious and mystical concepts involved, what Farrell described in his article sounds a bit like fertile ground for a worldwide Great Tribulation. Commodity wars, class warfare, revolutions, economic collapse, all the world's individuals looking for a world leader to deliver them...the makings for truly a great tribulation. Perhaps Farrell did not intend his words to be interpreted in this way, but if what Farrell portends is not indeed the Great Tribulation, how much worse could the Great Tribulation actually be? I mean, seriously, for 2019 Farrell wrote that "global commodity wars [will] spread, killing millions, wasting trillions." If Farrell is correct in his analysis, even if that is not the Great Tribulation, it might as well be. And in that light, it would be hell-on-earth for many. So what Farrell sees may not be the Great Tribulation and may not be hell; given the actual experience of Farrell portends, it would seem that many in the world would not be able to tell the difference.

Questioning Government, Escaping Hell, and Moving Towards Paradise

Given some of MarketWatch's most recent commentary articles, I have had to check that I was in fact reading articles on MarketWatch and not Zero Hedge. Zero Hedge is one of my favorite trading websites. As some may criticize Zero Hedge for writing articles that deal with doomsday conspiracy theories, MarketWatch appears to have adopted a similar tone recently.

On the topic of government, MarketWatch's Rex Nutting had an article Thursday regarding the question of whether "the government is lying to us about the economy". After citing historical examples that justify skepticism of the US government, Nutting questioned conspiracy theorists' criticism of government numbers. Nutting: "Could there be political manipulation of the data? Sure. But if there is a conspiracy, they're doing a lousy job." Nutting went on to question why, if politicians are manipulating the data regarding the 8.6% unemployment rate, they are not lowering it to 6% or even going "full Pravda" and saying that there is no unemployment at all.

Nutting contended that if critics do not believe the government numbers, they are free to verify the information from secondary sources to make their own determinations. Nutting: "None of these secondary sources are going to match up 100% with the government reports... But they should help us determine if the government's numbers pass the laugh test -- or the sniff test." In the end, Nutting concluded that the US "has the most reliable and trustworthy economic data in the world" owing to professionalism and the diverse range of alternative sources of information regarding the economy. Nutting's bottom line? To echo Ronald Reagan's advice: "Trust, but verify."

On the topic of economic collapse and tribulation, MarketWatch's Matthew Lynn had an article Wednesday suggesting that our current economic situation is parallel to the financial crisis in the 1870s. Lynn: "This slump won't end until 2031." Lynn's analysis is quite compelling in that despite our technological growth and development, humanity still has yet to learn from history. Even in a world filled with cell-phones and computers, we appear to still be dealing with the same economic problems. Lynn noted that "good things are still happening" and the world situation is not "all doom and gloom", but in the end, getting back to normal growth will be a "long, hard haul -- and a lot of work needs to be done needs to be done [to get it] back on track."

The prospect of staving off the Great Tribulation is understandably quite a heavy burden for any political leader. Even in the context of the Republican presidential debates, you can almost hear the frustration and uncertainty in the voices of candidates trying to come to terms with the nation's problems and most difficult economic questions. Even so, it may be time for us to start getting realistic about the global economy. We need to start getting real about the destiny of the world economy. And while we traverse across the seas of time, we are all living on this ship of fools together. If this ship of fools is headed towards a waterfall, we are all in this together.

In taking into account both Nutting's and Lynn's insights, it appears that the human species is at a crossroads with respect to government and the economy. Given this significant crossroads in history, Farrell's aforementioned doomsday prospects regarding the world economy may lead nations and individuals to seek out functional, unified global governance, i.e. a one-world government. That being the case, when all is said and done, we are only human; humans are not perfect. Thus, the question of what the global economy will look like at the end of the decade is really about a balance between optimism, pessimism, and realism. (Of course, for some, the prospect of the end of the world is an optimistic outlook.)

At the end of the day, given the gravity of the world's problems like overpopulation, scarce natural resources, dysfunctional government, and war, as much as things change they remain the same. And as Farrell noted, if we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Further, even if some of us have learned from history, we are susceptible to feeling pain and suffering when global leaders fail to take heed of history.

Nevertheless, we cannot lose sight of the big picture. As even Zero Hedge has at the top of its website: "On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero." One way or another, everything has its end. In that light, while some may fear that "the Great Tribulation" (or what might as well be called "the Great Tribulation") is right around the corner, I think we would do well to keep in mind the ideas of the Sadducees, an ancient Jewish sect that was around at the time of Jesus.

The Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife or the resurrection of the dead. Without the prospect of an afterlife where one would have to account for his or her deeds in a divine court of justice, one has to wonder what the point of being good is at all. Why should we behave and be good people if we will not be rewarded in the afterlife? The answer to this question is that we should behave and be good people not for our own welfare and our own rewards, but for future generations -- that our children and future generations may prosper because we were good people. This goes back to the idea that God rewarded the posterity of individuals who followed God's rules and doctrines. Thus, if you didn't follow God's rules, God was going to curse your children and your children's children. In other words, the hellish result of one's bad behavior would be felt not by the individual himself, but by one's posterity and family.

In this light, the impetus for being good arises not from a desire to escape hell and get into paradise, but to ensure the welfare and survival of your progeny. This concept goes back to the conatus of human economic behavior, the desire for survival. Now, where the Sadducees' beliefs may be ancient and out-of-date, I think the idea that our ethical behavior today extends to our progeny's welfare is important. This concept has strong implications for not only the environment but also societal welfare, technological growth, and human development.

Where many individuals may behave and act ethically solely in the spirit of self-interest and to get into heaven, when it comes to economic decisions, I think it is important to take into account the welfare of future generations. As we appear to be turning the corner in human history into a period of global tumult and tribulation, I think our world could take a hint from the Sadducees' idea. Maybe we should behave ethically not only for our own welfare, but also that of the generations to come. I hope to discuss the substantial long-term importance of allowing the human species to survive and continue in greater depth in a future article.

With hope, even after a great tribulation there will be humans left to carry on and continue in this great universe. As the sun rises the day after the tribulation ends, with hope life will go on.