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The famous Doomsday Clock — it’s a key visual motif in the Watchmen graphic novel and television miniseries — was created by Manhattan Project scientists as a metaphor to suggest how close mankind might be to global catastrophe, originally atomic war. And over the subsequent seven decades, it seems like we’ve typically been pretty close to disaster. The clock was set at seven minutes to midnight in 1947, and it’s averaged between five and six for more than 20 years. Midnight always looms.
Similarly, so does the end of capitalism. It’s always quite late, apparently. The sun is always setting. German economist Werner Sombart coined the phrase in the early 20th century, and European socialists popularized it during the Great Depression when it probably seemed about 30 seconds to midnight for capitalism. But things were darkest before the dawn. Capitalism survived, flourished, and spread across the globe. And even small doses generated near wondrous improvement.