From the Preface to the 1852 Edition of Charles MacKay’s Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (caps in original):
IN READING THE HISTORY OF NATIONS, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.
MacKay’s account of what he called The Tulipomania in 17th Century Holland has received the most attention in modern times. The entire nation of Holland was seized with affection for the tulip, sending prices soaring (chart right) beyond any rational measure. The collapse came unexpectedly:
At last, however, the more prudent began to see that this folly could not last for ever. Rich people no longer bought the flowers to keep them in their gardens, but to sell them again at cent per cent profit. It was seen that somebody must lose fearfully in the end. As this conviction spread, prices fell, and never rose again. Confidence was destroyed, and a universal panic seized upon the dealers.
Attempts by the government to nullify contracts entered into during the mania were to no avail (can you say “loan modification program”), and the courts refused to enforce such “gambling” contracts:
To find a remedy was beyond the power of the government. Those who were unlucky enough to have had stores of tulips on hand at the time of the sudden reaction were left to bear their ruin as philosophically as they could; those who had made profits were allowed to keep them; but the commerce of the country suffered a severe shock, from which it was many years ere it recovered.
I have described Obamamania, as evidenced most recently by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize, as farce. I stand by that description. But farce is not the only apt term. I think the “folly” described by Charles MacKay over 150 years ago fits as well.
Where are we on the chart of Obama’s rising star at this moment in time? Hard to say. The Dutch tulip mania lasted years. And as with The Tulipomania, the worship of Obama by a large portion of the population is based upon expectations and imaginations beyond any rational measure, rising to the level of mythology.
It is impossible to predict the timing of the collapse — the point at which those gripped by mania recognize their own delusion and refuse to continue. Given how much the mainstream media, Hollywood, academia, European socialists, internationalists, and the left-wing blogosphere have invested in perpetuating the Obama mythology, it may take a while.
But I do know that when the bubble bursts, it will make The Tulipomania seem like a fond memory, because it will not be just those who took part in the mania who will be hurt, but the entire nation.