There’s Also a Demon of Small Things

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Tyler Cowen points out that Greece is once again in crisis, this time over a dispute about shutting down its public broadcasting outlet:

The current Turkish crisis was set off by a dispute over a public park, and the recent demonstrations in Brazil seem to have been prompted by a 7% hike in bus fare prices, which is about ten U.S. cents….Many deconversions from religion, or from fandom, or even from marriage, work the same way. Big lies are told and those lies inflict some damage. The institution in question soldiers on. A bit later, an apparently smaller slight or problem brings the whole thing crashing to the ground, precisely when things appeared to be getting better.

I’m not saying it always runs that way, only that it is a very common path. Furthermore the steepest period of decline is very often when people are too preoccupied with coping to make the major adjustment.

The bottom line is that one should not dismiss the importance of small events, especially these days.

This is one of the things that makes foreign policy forecasts so inherently unreliable. Sometimes a small event is just a small event, and it peters out after a few days or weeks. Other times it’s like a snowball rolling downhill. Franz Ferdinand wasn’t that important to the future of the Austro-Hungarian empire, after all.

In any case, this is how I’ve always viewed the euro crisis ending. Things will roll along, with patch after patch calming things down, until someday a metaphorical archduke is assassinated. At that point, either everyone finally gets scared enough to really do something about the fundamentals, or else the eurozone spins apart. But the when, how, and whether are pretty much impossible to predict.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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