Explaining The Time of Nutcases

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright August 2015


The Time of Nutcases is an expression I use regularly. This is a definition of what I mean by it.

Times of Big Stress... with no solution in sight

The Time of Nutcases happens when a community gets severely stressed by a problem, usually economic, and the problem won't solve -- it keeps going on, and on, and on.

The feeling of the people experiencing this is that something must be done, right now, but the conventional problem solvers and their conventional solutions aren't working. This means it is time to look around and seriously consider other solutions to the problem.

As this thinking grows in strength the solution-spouting people who are normally ignored when they spout unconventional solutions to social problems are now paid attention to.

Some of what is being advocated is new, innovative and beneficial. But those good ideas are gems in a sea of rehashed urban legend and feel-good/don't-work ideas that will just waste time, money and attention. The problem for the people listening is trying to tell the difference, and discover the gems.

Again, the people are paying attention to these alternate ideas because the solutions currently being tried aren't working.

It is an interesting time; a scary time; and what becomes popular as the next "good ideas" to try for solving the current situation will be surprising. It is... a Time of Nutcases.

Note: Nutcases in this context refers to what the people of the stressed community are feeling about these alternative leaders and their ideas. Think of the term in that context, in the context of the time and people where the event is happening.


o Picking Roosevelt and Hitler for leaders. -- The early-to-mid 1930's were a scary time around the world. The Great Depression which had started late in 1929 wasn't solving and leaders such as Hoover in the US and Hindenberg in Germany had not found solutions to the problem. The peoples of the various nations around the world started listening seriously to leaders with lots of different, and more unconventional, ideas. During the mid-1930's many of these unconventional leaders got put into power around the world, and these became the national leaders for World War Two and the Cold War. Roosevelt and Hitler are two examples of this happening.

But the Time of Nutcases didn't stop with the election of these new leaders because these new leaders didn't solve the problem, either. It continued right on into World War Two which started in 1939. Then it stopped. It stopped because the start of World War Two changed the world "problem set" (my term) so dramatically, and cooperation to win the war became so much more important.

o The rise of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street in 2010. -- The financial crash in 2007 brought on the Great Recession, and that downturn lingered on for years. This was another time of great frustration for many people, and the conventional solutions enacted by The Fed and the Obama Administration in the US were not solving the problem. Three years into the recession the Time of Nutcases started flowering, with the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street being examples. In the run up to the election of 2016, it was still in bloom.

This 2007 financial downturn and subsequent frustration was not just a US problem, and the Time of Nutcases was not just a US phenomenon. One spectacular example of the overseas version was the Arab Spring of 2012.


The Time of Nutcases happens when a community is feeling a lot of stress, has been feeling it for much longer than community members think is necessary, and they feel the currently in-place solutions for solving the stress aren't working. People are feeling that the conventional leaders with their conventional solutions have dropped the ball.

When this is the case, many people of the community start listening to people who are offering alternate solutions. What is offered by the alternative aspiring leaders is wild and wooly, but hidden in all the craziness there may be a gem or two of constructive innovation that can solve the current stress. So people listen. It is a time when nutcases can have their day in the sun.


--The End--