- In business, it’s the point where the sellers stop holding out for a "soft landing" and accept the deep "haircuts" their stupidity merits.
- In war, it’s the surrender. On V-E day we wept and prayed. On V-J day we wept and prayed some more. On both sides.
- In law enforcement, it’s the point where the accused accepts their punishment, as Paris Hilton did once she hit jail for the second time. Only at this point should mitigation be considered. (Scooter Libby, I’m looking at you.)
- In psychiatry, it’s that vital moment when the patient surrenders their trips, whether those trips involve rage, drugs, violence, or the repeated cycle of letting themselves get beaten up. Only when you accept your helplessness in the face of these trips can you begin to master them.
It’s this last which is the real key to the whole thing.
For the most part this summer represents a wait for that point of capitulation.
It is assumed, for instance, that Republicans will capitulate on the
Iraq War in September, or thereabouts. (I don’t buy it, but that’s what
Dana Milbank keeps insisting.) Housing sales won’t begin to turn around
until those with homes on the market reach this capitulation point, and
only those who’ve been foreclosed have done that so far. Republicans in
general watch polls and contributions continue to fall, but we
know they won’t capitulate until that’s all confirmed by a general
Lots of things are falling. Cable news ratings. Hollywood grosses. CD
sales. Restaurant crowds. We await the fall-out in all these cases. We
wait for capitulation, a change in what’s covered (or the closing of a
network), a slowdown in deals, the "closed" sign.
What is clear is that the American system, with its connections to the
world system, has become enormously resilient over the last 20 years.
Crashes come — the Asian contagion, the dot-bomb — yet there’s always
a replacement game, and growth seems to continue. The idea of a general
world recession still seems far off.