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Nick Booth: May knows Trump relies on animal spirits


In the traditional gift exchange between the President of the United States and the visiting Prime Minister, Theresa May plans to give Donald Trump a copy of her new etiquette guide, May’s Modern Manners.

If he were to actually open the leather bound covers, Trump would discover a short explanatory text followed by a URL with a login ID and password. This is because May’s Modern Manners turns out to be an app. The rationale of this online educational work is explained in the introduction.

The modern world is terribly confusing and there are no easy rules to follow. The old days of rigid moral frameworks are deader than a fact-based, free speech newspaper aimed at the Dodo community.

In the modern, constantly shifting moral landscape, there are no certainties. Modern manners are a much more fluid entity. While moral frameworks were infuriatingly rigid, modern values are more electric, based purely on emotion. The physical act of doing something – like voluntary works, attending church or being part of a genuine charitable action – have long been separated out from the virtue signal. In the world of virtual manners, emotion and value signals are divorced entirely from base reality, so trade-offs can be conducted in seconds.

Morality now has complete liquidity. Rights and respect can go down, as well as up, at the speed of a mouse click.

To put this in the trader’s terms you might understand, think of modern civilisation as a sort of Emotional Currency Exchange (Emotex). Nobody really knows which way the panic undercurrents will drive values next, so you need to keep a constant eye on it.

It’s a bit like the Futures and Options markets used to be. Lots of young aggressive people in brightly coloured jackets, making rapid calculations, waving their arms in the air and screaming for attention. The difference now is that the commodities being manipulated are kindness, empathy and tolerance.

For example: On New Year’s Eve the women of Cologne thought their rights were sacrosanct, but the next morning they found they’d been completely devalued. All those feminist pundits who had gone long on women’s rights and rape culture – making small fortunes in newspaper columns, books and TV appearances – suddenly ditched this stock for a more valuable commodity, Rape-u-Gee Holdings, which currently has enormous emotional currency. Buy low, sell high and dry (as traders say on the Emotex). Whether this fashionablility is sustainable is another matter.

Nobody can predict the Emotex, but some set patterns of behaviour seem to have emerged. UK Prime Minister Theresa May is probably one of Britain’s most successful emotional traders. Here are Seven Golden Guidelines for playing the Emotional Currency Markets, using May’s Modern Manners.

  1. Buy the facts, but always sell the rumours (BuzzFeed’s Law)
  2. Nothing’s illegal if Goldman Sachs wants it enough. (Clinton’s Law)
  3. Always be bang on the trends – they won’t see you were wrong at both ends (Corbyn’s Law)
  4. Everybody’s a passionate investor – until the emotional markets go down (Cumberbatch’s Law)
  5. You’ll never keep an issue alive, if you step outside the M25 (BBC News Law)
  6. When they’re buying, you should be crying, when they’re selling, you should be yelling (Watson’s Newspaper Scoop Law)
  7. Your bigotry is bovine, my zero tolerance divine (Lily Allen’s Law)

Well, you may notice that a lot of these rules are practically direct rip-offs of old Wall Street maxims. That’s because emotion is a currency, and everyone’s trading in other people’s misery.

Hope you find this useful. Theresa M, new PM.

Here’s my favourite: Sell-in May, then go away.

(Image: Gage Skidmore)

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Nick Booth
Nick Booth
Nick Booth is a freelance writer.

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