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Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy

There is no economics, only political economy, stupid

News Casino Capitalism Recommended Links Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Number racket Efficient Market Hypothesis Economism and abuse of economic theory in American politics
Supply Side or Trickle down economics Invisible Hand Hypothesys Twelve apostles of deregulation Monetarism fiasco Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy Samuelson's bastard Keynesianism Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo
Libertarian Philosophy Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Deep State
Free Market Fundamentalism Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Lawrence Summers Corruption of Regulators Glass-Steagall repeal Rational expectations scam Free Markets Newspeak
In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers Mathiness GDP as a false measure of a country economic output Introduction to Lysenkoism Republican Economic Policy Think Tanks Enablers  Small government smoke screen
Hyman Minsky John Kenneth Galbraith  Bookshelf History of Casino Capitalism Casino Capitalism Dictionary :-) Humor Etc
Is it really necessary for every economist to be brain-dead apologist for the rich and powerful and predatory, in every damn breath?

Bruce Wilder in comments to Clash of Autonomy and Interdependence

Smith briskly takes a sledgehammer to any number of plaster saints cluttering up the edifice of modern economics:

"assumptions that are patently ridiculous: that individuals are rational and utility-maximizing (which has become such a slippery notion as to be meaningless), that buyers and sellers have perfect information, that there are no transaction costs, that capital flows freely"

And then...papers with cooked figures, economists oblivious to speculative factors driving oil prices, travesty versions of Keynes's ideas that airbrush out its most characteristic features in the name of mathematical tractability.

And then...any number of grand-sounding theoretical constructs: the Arrow-Debreu theorem, the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium model, the Black-Scholes option model, Value at Risk, CAPM, the Gaussian copula, that only work under blatantly unrealistic assumptions that go by high falutin' names - equilibrium, ergodicity, and so on.

The outcome of this pseudo-scientific botching is an imposing corpus of pretentious quackery that somehow elevates unregulated "free markets" into the sole mechanism for distribution of the spoils of economic activity. We are supposed to believe that by some alchemical process, maximum indulgence of human greed results in maximum prosperity for all. That's unfair to alchemy: compared with the threadbare scientific underpinnings of this economic dogma, alchemy is a model of rigor.

How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism

How many others are being paid for punditry? Or has the culture of corruption spread so far that the question is, Who isn't?

PAUL KRUGMAN, NYT, December 19, 2005

"MIT and Wharton and University of Chicago created the financial engineering instruments which, like Samson and Delilah, blinded every CEO. They didn't realize the kind of leverage they were doing and they didn't understand when they were really creating a real profit or a fictitious one."

Paul Samuelson


Introduction

When you see this "neoclassical" gallery of expensive intellectual prostitutes (sorry, respectable priests of a dominant religion) that pretend to be professors of economics in various prominent universities, it is difficult not to say "It's political economy stupid". Those lackeys of ruling elite are just handing microphone bought by financial oligarchy.  Here is am Amazon.com review of  ECONned How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism eBook Yves Smith that  states this position well:

kievite:
Neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy

There are many good reviews of the book published already and I don't want to repeat them. But I think there is one aspect of the book that was not well covered in the published reviews and which I think is tremendously important and makes the book a class of its own: the use of neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy. I hope that the term "econned" will became a new word in English language.

Neoclassical economics has become the modern religion with its own priests, sacred texts and a scheme of salvation. It was a successful attempt to legitimize the unlimited rule of financial oligarchy by using quasi-mathematical, oversimplified and detached for reality models. The net result is a new brand of theology, which proved to be pretty powerful in influencing people and capturing governments("cognitive regulatory capture"). Like Marxism, neoclassical economics is a triumph of ideology over science. It was much more profitable though: those who were the most successful in driving this Trojan horse into the gates were remunerated on the level of Wall Street traders.

Economics is essentially a political science. And politics is about perception. Neo-classical economics is all about manipulating the perception in such a way as to untie hands of banking elite to plunder the country (and get some cramps from the table for themselves). Yves contributed to our understanding how "These F#@king Guys" as Jon Steward defined them, economics professors from Chicago, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and some other places warmed by flow of money from banks for specific services provided managed to serve as a fifth column helping Wall Street to plunder the country. The rhetorical question that a special counsel to the U.S. Army, Joseph Welch, asked Senator McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency?" applies.

The main effect of neoclassical economics is elevating unregulated ( "free" in neoclassic economics speak) markets into the key mechanism for distribution of the results of economic activity with banks as all-powerful middlemen and sedating any opposition with pseudo-mathematical mumbo-jumbo. Complexity was used as a powerful smoke screen to conceal greed and incompetence. As a result financial giants were able to loot almost all sectors of economics with impunity and without any remorse, not unlike the brutal conquerors in Middle Ages.

The key to the success of this nationwide looting is that people should be brainwashed/indoctrinated to believe that by some alchemical process, maximum level of greed results in maximum prosperity for all. Collapse of the USSR helped in this respect driving the message home: look how the alternative ended, when in reality the USSR was a neo-feudal society. But the exquisite irony here is that Bolsheviks-style ideological brainwashing was applied very successfully to the large part of the US population (especially student population) using neo-classical economics instead of Marxism (which by-and-large was also a pseudo-religious economic theory with slightly different priests and the plan of salvation ;-). The application of badly constructed mathematical models proved to be a powerful tool for distorting reality in a certain, desirable for financial elite direction. One of the many definitions of Ponzi Scheme is "transfer liabilities to unwilling others." The use of detached from reality mathematical models fits this definition pretty well.

The key idea here is that neoclassical economists are not and never have been scientists: much like Marxist economists they always were just high priests of a dangerous cult -- neoliberalism -- and they are more then eager to stretch the truth for the benefit of the sect (and indirectly to their own benefit). All-in-all this is not unlike Lysenkoism: state support was and still is here, it is just working more subtly via ostracism, without open repressions. Look at Shiller story on p.9.

I think that one of lasting insights provided by Econned is the demonstration how the US society was taken hostage by the ideological views of the neoclassical economic school that has dominated the field at least for 30 or may be even 50 years. And that this ideological coup d'ιtat was initiated and financed by banking establishment who was a puppeteer behind the curtain. This is not unlike the capture of Russia by Bolsheviks supported by German intelligence services (and Bolshevics rule lasted slightly longer -- 65 years). Bolsheviks were just adherents of similar wrapped in the mantle of economic theory religious cult, abeit more dangerous and destructive for the people of Russia then neoclassical economics is for the people of the USA. Quoting Marx we can say "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce".

That also means that there is no easy way out of the current situation. Ideologies are sticky and can lead to the collapse of society rather then peaceful evolution.

So it's no surprise that there is a strong evidence that neo-classical economics is not a science, it's a political ideology of financial oligarchy masquerading as science. Or a religious cult, if you wish.

So it's no surprise that there is a strong evidence that neo-classical economics is not a science, it's a political ideology of financial oligarchy masquerading as science. Or a religious cult, if you wish.

The cult which served as a Trojan horse for bankers to grab power and wealth by robbing fellow Americans. In a way this is a classic story of a parasite killing the host. The powers that be in academia put their imprimatur on economic ‘theory,’ select and indoctrinate its high priests to teach it, and with a host of media players grinding out arguments pro and con this and that, provide legitimacy sufficient for cover of bankers objectives. Which control the disposition and annuity streams of pension fund assets and related financial services. In his new documentary Inside Job, filmmaker Charles Ferguson provides strong evidence of a systematic mass corruption of economic profession (Yahoo! Finance):

Ferguson points to 20 years of deregulation, rampant greed (a la Gordon Gekko) and cronyism. This cronyism is in large part due to a revolving door between not only Wall Street and Washington, but also the incestuous relationship between Wall Street, Washington and academia.

The conflicts of interest that arise when academics take on roles outside of education are largely unspoken, but a very big problem. “The academic economics discipline has been very heavily penetrated by the financial services industry,” Ferguson tells Aaron in the accompanying clip. “Many prominent academics now actually make the majority of their money from the financial services industry, not from teaching or research. [This fact] has definitely compromised the research work and the policy advice that we get from academia.”

... ... ...

Feguson is astonished by the lack of regulation demanding financial disclosure of all academics and is now pushing for it. “At a minimum, federal law should require public disclosure of all outside income that is in any way related to professors’ publishing and policy advocacy,” he writes. “It may be desirable to go even further, and to limit the total size of outside income that potentially generates conflicts of interest.”

The dismantling of economic schools that favor financial oligarchy interests over real research (and prosecuting academic criminals -- many prominent professors in Chicago, Harvard, Columbia and other prominent members of neo-classical economic church) require a new funding model. As neoliberalism itself, the neoclassical economy is very sticky. Chances for success of any reform in the current environment are slim to non existent.

Here is one apt quote from Zero Hedge discussion of Gonzalo Lira article On The Identity Of The False Religion Behind The Mask Of Economic Science zero hedge

"They analyze data for Christ sakes"

Just like Mishkin analyzed Iceland for $120k? a huge proportion in US [are] on Fed payroll, or beneficiaries of corporate thinktank cash; they are coverup lipstick and makeup; hacks for hire.

Like truth-trashing mortgage pushers, credit raters, CDO CDS market manipulators and bribe-fueled fraud enablers of all stripes -- they do it for the dough -- and because everybody else is doing it.

It's now a common understanding that "These F#@king Guys" as Jon Steward defined them, professors  of neoclassical economics from Chicago, Harvard and some other places are warmed by flow of money from financial services industries for specific services provided managed to serve as a fifth column helping financial oligarchy to destroy the country. This role of neo-classical economists as the fifth column of financial oligarchy is an interesting research topic. Just don't expect any grants for it ;-).

As Reinhold Niebuhr aptly noted in his classic Moral Man and Immoral Society
Since inequalities of privilege are greater than could possibly be defended rationally, the intelligence of privileged groups is usually applied to the task of inventing specious proofs for the theory that universal values spring from, and that general interests are served by, the special privileges which they hold.

I would like to stress it again: they are not and never have been scientists: they are just high priests of dangerous cult -- neoliberalism -- and they are more then eager to stretch the truth for the sect (and that means their own) benefits. Fifth column of financial oligarchy. All-in-all this is not unlike Lysenkoism: at some point state support became obvious as financial oligarchy gained significant share of government power (as Glass-Steagall repeal signified). It is just more subtle working via ostracism and flow of funding, without open repressions. See also Politicization of science and The Republican War on Science

Like Russia with Bolsheviks, the US society was taken hostage by the ideological views of the Chicago economic school that has dominated the field for approximately 50 years ( as minimum over 30 years). Actually the situation not unlike the situation with Lysenkoism is the USSR. It's pretty notable that the USA suffered 30 years of this farce, actually approximately the same amount of time the USSR scientific community suffered from Lysenkoism (1934-1965)

Rules of disclosure of sources of financing for economic research are non-existent


"Over the past 30 years, the economics profession—in economics departments, and in business, public policy, and law schools—has become so compromised by conflicts of interest that it now functions almost as a support group for financial services and other industries whose profits depend heavily on government policy.

The route to the 2008 financial crisis, and the economic problems that still plague us, runs straight through the economics discipline. And it's due not just to ideology; it's also about straightforward, old-fashioned money."

Peter Dormat noticed amazing similarity between medical researchers taking money from drug companies and economists. In case of medical researchers widespread corruption can at least be partially kept in check by rules of disclosure. Universities are being called out for their failure to disclose to public agencies the other, private grants researchers are pulling in. This is not perfect policing as the universities themselves get a cut of the proceeds, so that the conflict of interest exists but at least this is theirs too.

But there is no corresponding policy for economics. So for them there are not even rules to be broken. And this is not a bug, this is  feature.  In a sense corruption is officially institualized and expected in economics. Being a paid shill is the typical career of many professional economists. Some foundations require an acknowledgment in the published research they support, but that's all about “thank you”, not disclaimer about the level of influence of those who pay for the music exert on the selection of the tune. Any disclosure of other, privately-interested funding sources by economists is strictly voluntary, and in practice seldom occurs. Trade researchers can be funded by foreign governments or business associations and so on and so forth.

In this atmosphere pseudo-theories have currency and are attractive to economists who want to enrich themselves. That situation is rarely reflected in mainstream press. For example, there some superficial critiques of neo-classical economics as a new form of Lysenkoism (it enjoyed the support of the state) but MSM usually frame the meltdown of neo-classical economic theory something like "To all you corrupt jerks out there: shake off the old camouflage as it became too visible and find a new way misleading the masses...". At the same time it's a real shocker, what a bunch of toxic theories and ideologies starting from Reagan have done to the US economy.

That suggests that neo-economics such as Milton Friedman (and lower level patsies like Eugene Fama ) were just paid propagandists of a superficial, uninformed, and simplistic view of the world that was convenient to the ruling elite. While this is somewhat simplistic explanation, it's by-and-large true and that was one of the factors led the USA very close to the cliff... Most of their theories is not only just nonsense for any trained Ph.D level mathematician or computer scientist, they look like nonsense to any person with a college degree, who looks at them with a fresh, unprejudiced mind. There are several economic myths, popularized by well paid propagandists over the last thirty years, that are falling hard in the recent series of financial crises: the efficient market hypothesis, the inherent benefits of globalization from the natural equilibrium of national competitive advantages, and the infallibility of unfettered greed as a ideal method of managing and organizing human social behavior and maximizing national production.

I would suggest that and economic theory has a strong political-economic dimension. The cult of markets, ideological subservience and manipulation, etc. certainly are part of neo-classical economics that was influenced by underling political agenda this pseudo-theory promotes. As pdavidsonutk wrote: July 16, 2009 16:14

Keynes noted that "classical theorists resemble Euclidean geometers in a non Euclidean world who, discovering that in experience straight lines apparently parallel often meet, rebuke the lines for not keeping straight --as the only remedy for the unfortunate collisions. Yet in truth there is no remedy except to throw over the axiom of parallels to work out a non-Euclidean geometry. SOMETHING SIMILAR IS REQUIRED IN ECONOMICS TODAY. " [Emphasis added]

As I pointed out in my 2007 book JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (Mentioned in this ECONOMIST article as a biography "of the master") Keynes threw over three classical axioms: (1) the neutral money axiom (2) the gross substitution axiom, and (3) the ergodic axiom.

The latter is most important for understanding why modern macroeconomics is dwelling in an Euclidean economics world rather than the non-Euclidean economics Keynes set forth.

The Ergodic axiom asserts that the future is merely the statistical shadow of the past so that if one develops a probability distribution using historical data, the same probability distribution will govern all future events till the end of time!! Thus in this Euclidean economics there is no uncertainty about the future only probabilistic risk that can reduce the future to actuarial certainty! In such a world rational people and firms know (with actuarial certainty) their intertemporal budget constrains and optimize -- so that there can never be an loan defaults, insolvencies, or bankruptcies.

Keynes argued that important economic decisions involved nonergodic processes, so that the future could NOT be forecasted on the basis of past statistical probability results -- and therefore certain human institutions had to be develop0ed as part of the law of contracts to permit people to make crucial decisions regarding a future that they "knew" they could not know and still sleep at night. When the future seems very uncertain, then rational people in a nonergodic world would decide not to make any decisions to commit their real resources -- but instead save via liquid assets so they could make decisions another day when the future seemed to them less uncertain.

All this is developed and the policy implications derived in my JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (2007) book. Furthermore this nonergodic model is applied to the current financial and economic crisis and its solution in my 2009 book THE KEYNES SOLUTION: THE PATH TO GLOBAL PROSPERITY (Palgrave/Macmillan) where I tell the reader what Keynes would have written regarding today's domestic crisis in each nation and its international aspects.

Paul Davidson ghaliban wrote:

July 16, 2009 15:34

I think you could have written a shorter article to make your point about the dismal state of economics theory and practice, and saved space to think more imaginatively about ways to reform.

A bit like biology, economics must become econology - a study of real economic systems. It must give up its physics-envy. This on its own will lead its practitioners closer to the truth.

Like biological systems, economic systems are complex, and often exhibit emergent properties that cannot be predicted from the analysis of component parts. The best way to deal with this is (as in biology) to start with the basic organizational unit of analysis - the individual, and then study how the individual makes economic decisions in larger and larger groups (family/community), and how groups take economic decisions within larger and larger forms of economic organization. From this, econologists should determine whether there are any enduring patterns in how aggregate economic decisions are taken. If there are no easily discernable patterns, and aggregate decisions cannot be predicted from a knowledge of individual decision-making preferences, then the theory must rely (as it does in biology) on computer simulations with the economy replicated in as much detail as possible to limit the scope for modeling error. This path will illuminate the "physiology" of different economies.

A second area of development must look into "anatomy" - the connections between actors within the financial system, the connections between economic actors within the real economy, and the connections between the real and financial economies. What are the precise links demand and supply links between these groups, and how does money really flow through the economic system? A finer knowledge of economic anatomy will make it easier to produce better computer simulations of the economy, which will make it a bit easier to study economic physiology.

"Markets uber alles" or more correctly "Financial oligarchy uber alles"

In her interview What Exactly Is Neoliberalism  Wendy Brown advanced some Professor Wolin ideas to a new level and provide explanation why "neoclassical crooks" like Professor  Frederic Mishkin (of Financial Stability in Iceland fame) still rule the economics departments of the USA. They are instrumental in giving legitimacy to the neoliberal rule favoured by the financial oligarchy:

"... I treat neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is "economized" and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not simply a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere-that's the old Marxist depiction of capital's transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising-in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value. ..."

"... The most common criticisms of neoliberalism, regarded solely as economic policy rather than as the broader phenomenon of a governing rationality, are that it generates and legitimates extreme inequalities of wealth and life conditions; that it leads to increasingly precarious and disposable populations; that it produces an unprecedented intimacy between capital (especially finance capital) and states, and thus permits domination of political life by capital; that it generates crass and even unethical commercialization of things rightly protected from markets, for example, babies, human organs, or endangered species or wilderness; that it privatizes public goods and thus eliminates shared and egalitarian access to them; and that it subjects states, societies, and individuals to the volatility and havoc of unregulated financial markets. ..."

"... with the neoliberal revolution that homo politicus is finally vanquished as a fundamental feature of being human and of democracy. Democracy requires that citizens be modestly oriented toward self-rule, not simply value enhancement, and that we understand our freedom as resting in such self-rule, not simply in market conduct. When this dimension of being human is extinguished, it takes with it the necessary energies, practices, and culture of democracy, as well as its very intelligibility. ..."

"... For most Marxists, neoliberalism emerges in the 1970s in response to capitalism's falling rate of profit; the shift of global economic gravity to OPEC, Asia, and other sites outside the West; and the dilution of class power generated by unions, redistributive welfare states, large and lazy corporations, and the expectations generated by educated democracies. From this perspective, neoliberalism is simply capitalism on steroids: a state and IMF-backed consolidation of class power aimed at releasing capital from regulatory and national constraints, and defanging all forms of popular solidarities, especially labor. ..."

"... The grains of truth in this analysis don't get at the fundamental transformation of social, cultural, and individual life brought about by neoliberal reason. They don't get at the ways that public institutions and services have not merely been outsourced but thoroughly recast as private goods for individual investment or consumption. And they don't get at the wholesale remaking of workplaces, schools, social life, and individuals. For that story, one has to track the dissemination of neoliberal economization through neoliberalism as a governing form of reason, not just a power grab by capital. There are many vehicles of this dissemination -- law, culture, and above all, the novel political-administrative form we have come to call governance. It is through governance practices that business models and metrics come to irrigate every crevice of society, circulating from investment banks to schools, from corporations to universities, from public agencies to the individual. It is through the replacement of democratic terms of law, participation, and justice with idioms of benchmarks, objectives, and buy-ins that governance dismantles democratic life while appearing only to instill it with "best practices." ..."

"... Progressives generally disparage Citizens United for having flooded the American electoral process with corporate money on the basis of tortured First Amendment reasoning that treats corporations as persons. However, a careful reading of the majority decision also reveals precisely the thoroughgoing economization of the terms and practices of democracy we have been talking about. In the majority opinion, electoral campaigns are cast as "political marketplaces," just as ideas are cast as freely circulating in a market where the only potential interference arises from restrictions on producers and consumers of ideas-who may speak and who may listen or judge. Thus, Justice Kennedy's insistence on the fundamental neoliberal principle that these marketplaces should be unregulated paves the way for overturning a century of campaign finance law aimed at modestly restricting the power of money in politics. Moreover, in the decision, political speech itself is rendered as a kind of capital right, functioning largely to advance the position of its bearer, whether that bearer is human capital, corporate capital, or finance capital. This understanding of political speech replaces the idea of democratic political speech as a vital (if potentially monopolizable and corruptible) medium for public deliberation and persuasion. ..."

"... My point was that democracy is really reduced to a whisper in the Euro-Atlantic nations today. Even Alan Greenspan says that elections don't much matter much because, "thanks to globalization . . . the world is governed by market forces," not elected representatives. ..."

 


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I find an attempt to elevate academic finance and economics to sciences by using the word "scientism" to be bizarre. Finance models like CAPM, Black-Scholes and VAR all rest on assumptions that are demonstrably false, such as rational investors and continuous markets.

May 11, 2012 at 1-40 pm

[Oct 23, 2019] 'We Need a New Capitalism'

Oct 23, 2019 | news.slashdot.org

(nytimes.com) 427 writes in an op-ed : Yet, as a capitalist, I believe it's time to say out loud what we all know to be true: Capitalism, as we know it, is dead. Yes, free markets -- and societies that cherish scientific research and innovation -- have pioneered new industries, discovered cures that have saved millions from disease and unleashed prosperity that has lifted billions of people out of poverty. On a personal level, the success that I've achieved has allowed me to embrace philanthropy and invest in improving local public schools and reducing homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area, advancing children's health care and protecting our oceans. But capitalism as it has been practiced in recent decades -- with its obsession on maximizing profits for shareholders -- has also led to horrifying inequality. Globally, the 26 richest people in the world now have as much wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion people, and the relentless spewing of carbon emissions is pushing the planet toward catastrophic climate change. In the United States, income inequality has reached its highest level in at least 50 years, with the top 0.1 percent -- people like me -- owning roughly 20 percent of the wealth while many Americans cannot afford to pay for a $400 emergency. It's no wonder that support for capitalism has dropped, especially among young people.

To my fellow business leaders and billionaires, I say that we can no longer wash our hands of our responsibility for what people do with our products. Yes, profits are important, but so is society. And if our quest for greater profits leaves our world worse off than before, all we will have taught our children is the power of greed. It's time for a new capitalism -- a more fair, equal and sustainable capitalism that actually works for everyone and where businesses, including tech companies, don't just take from society but truly give back and have a positive impact. What might a new capitalism look like? First, business leaders need to embrace a broader vision of their responsibilities by looking beyond shareholder return and also measuring their stakeholder return. This requires that they focus not only on their shareholders, but also on all of their stakeholders -- their employees, customers, communities and the planet. Fortunately, nearly 200 executives with the Business Roundtable recently committed their companies, including Salesforce, to this approach, saying that the "purpose of a corporation" includes "a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders." As a next step, the government could formalize this commitment, perhaps with the Security and Exchange Commission requiring public companies to publicly disclose their key stakeholders and show how they are impacting those stakeholders.

[Oct 23, 2019] The idea of tribunes a a check on ruling financial oligarchy can probably be reinstituted under late neoliberalism

That creates somewhat artificial division with the ruling elite, which might help to prevent stagnation and degradation.
Oct 23, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

hemeantwell , October 22, 2019 at 12:50 pm

In trying to make up for my ignorance on Rome's history I came across P. A. Brunt's "Social Conflicts in the Roman Republic." His account of the innovation of the office of the tribune gave me a good sense of the intensity of those conflicts:

"In 494 a great body of the plebs sat down en masse outside Rome and refused to serve in the army. Such a 'secession' or strike undoubtedly occurred in 287, and similar revolutionary action must have been taken now, to account for the concession the patricians were forced to make: the creation of the tribunate of the plebs. The ten tribunes were plebeians annually elected by an assembly organized in voting units calle tribes; these were local divisions of the state, originally four within the city and seventeen in the adjoining countryside. This assembly was truly democratic at the start, when the tribes were probably more or less equal in numbers; the rich had no superior voting power.

The original function of the tribunes was to protect humble Romans against oppression by the magistrates; they did so by literally stepping between them and their intended victims (intercessio). The magistrates did not dare touch their persons, which were 'sacrosanct'; that meant that the whole plebs were sworn to avenge them by lynching whoever laid hands on them. But their power was confined to the city; outside the walls, Roman territory was still too insecure for any restriction to be allowable on the discretion of the magistrates to act as they thought best for the public safety. This limitation on tribunician power subsisted throughout the Republic, long after its rationale had disappeared." p.52

In this light, it seems that the obstructionist quality of tribunician power that Yves' refers to stemmed from the original need to allow plebs to put the kabosh on patrician power to avoid revolution. Another instance of when peace brought about by a veto power eventually makes the veto power appear unnecessary.

The limitation on the power of the tribunes in rural areas was relevant to a factor in Rome's development Brunt places a lot of weight on: the breakdown of plebian farmholding, in part through loss of land through absence brought about by conscription, but also by patrician gang violence. In his telling this alienation by dispossession was ongoing to varying degrees during the Republic.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , October 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Tribunes.

Do we have something similar today, anywhere in the world?

likbez , October 23, 2019 at 12:29 am

Yes, I think so.

During the New Deal, the union leaders were effectively tribunes without veto power, but still considerable influence as they controlled a large number of voters belonging to respective unions.

Similar short story was with Russian "Soviets" -- worker and peasant consuls until Stalin centralization of governance. They were kind of power check on Bolshevik party Politburo (a kind of Senate, the Bolsheviks party nobility )

[Oct 23, 2019] The Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic Part 1 of 4 Structure and Background naked capitalism

Oct 23, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic: Part 1 of 4: Structure and Background Posted on October 22, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. Historical lessons for the present are a favorite topic here, and particularly from the Roman Republic and the later empire. So enjoy! I'm sure some of you will qualify or add to these views.

By Newdealdemocrat. Originally published at Angry Bear

"Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny," by Edward J. Watts
"The Storm Before the Storm,: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic" by Mike Duncan
"Ten Emperors: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine," by Barry Strauss

I've recently mentioned that lately I've been unable to read most American history books, with their currently unwarranted chipper optimism. Instead my recent reading has focused on other periods of crisis.

One question I've been considering is, just how rare, and how stable have Republics historically been? There are few antecedents for the experience of the US, because it has aspires to both be a Republic under the rule of law and simultaneously a superpower. In fact I believe there are only four, in reverse historical order:

The British Empire (yes, I know, it's technically a monarchy, but it has been a parliamentary democracy really ever since the Glorious Revolution 400 years ago). The Dutch Republic (I'm not sure if this really qualifies, since it was more a confederation of principalities, but it was styled a Republic, and it did have global interests.) The Republic of Venice (this is a dark horse contender, but this Republic lasted almost 1200 years, from roughly 600 A.D. until it was conquered by that other "republican," Napoleon, in 1797). The Roman Republic.

In these four posts, I'm going to summarize what I've learned about the Roman Republic from the three books that lead this post.

While we're all familiar with Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, and probably all had to read Shakespeare's Tragedy of that name (but really about Brutus and Cassius) in high school, I don't think much attention has been paid in modern education to the Roman Republic, which lasted 450 years – almost as long as the subsequent western Roman Empire – and was avowedly the model that inspired the Framers of the American Constitution. None of the books that have come out in the past few years, to my knowledge, have discussed either the Roman Republic or other historical antecedents to the US. I believe studying the rise and demise of the Roman Republic, which during its existence was extremely – probably too – successful, is well worth the effort.

Without intending so, I read the above three books in reverse chronological order above. "Ten Emperors" was first, followed by "The Storm Before the Storm." Unfortunately this latter book (in my opinion) wound up being a chronological blow-by-blow vomiting of not well organized facts. It desperately needed a list of "dramatic personae" with at least a couple of lines describing the most prominent 20 or 30 individual's role, so that when they re-appeared after a 30 or 80 page hiatus, I could recollect who they were. It also needed an initial chapter setting forth the basic governing details of the Republic, and most importantly the roles of the Senate and the Assemblies. In the end it left me so unsatisfied I went back and found "Mortal Republic," which was a much more orderly and understandable if less detailed treatment.

If you are interested in the material, I recommend you read "Mortal Republic" in segments, and then read so much of "The Storm Before the Storm" to fill in the details until you reach the same chronological point. Once you do that, when you start the final book, you will see that the process of Imperial succession in the Empire was very much like the power struggles in the last 60 years of the Republic, and in particular sets forth Augustus's programme and genius in more detail.

To cut to the chase , the Roman Republic, which was previously quite stable (as Republics, once they last a generation or more, tend to be), was toppled by a series of hammer-blows that fell over roughly a 100 year period. The shortest version is that the type of factional political violence that brought down the Weimar Republic in 10 years took 100 years to infect and ultimately destroy the Roman one.

There were three levels of causes for this fall, in order of importance:

The de facto requirement that all senior magistrates and in particular the consuls (analogous to Presidents) be military commanders, who frequently raised, and increasingly paid for, their own armies. The increasing breaches of "mas maiorem," or the customs and norms by which the Republic had operated, on all sides. The split between the oligarchical "optimates" who dominated the Senate on the one side vs. the "populares" or ordinary Roman plebeians who dominated the Assemblies, and also the Italian allies who were not Roman citizens, on the other.

More basically put, #3 was the substantive source of disagreement over which all parties were willing to go to extremes; #2 was the procedural unraveling of the manner of government; and #1 over time ensured the rise of what we would now call "caudillos," or political generals, who had the force to overthrow it.

Both histories I have read suggest that the "turning point" where the stresses started to undermine the Republic was after its greatest triumph: the defeat and obliteration of Carthage after the third Punic War.

The Structure of the Roman Republic

From its founding as a trading point on the Tiber River until roughly 600 B.C., Rome was ruled by Etruscan kings, who were then overthrown and the Republic was founded. On a broader historical scale, it seems that Republics are actually pretty sturdy forms of government once their institutions take root after a generation or two. That's good news at the present, where at very least, for example, Russians and Iranians are getting used to the concepts of having elections and courts.

The Roman Republic was a system by which "Assemblies" of the tribes of Romans directly elected the executive officers of the Republic for one year terms. Meanwhile the Senate, essentially a council of notables, gave direction to those executive officers in the carrying out of their duties. The lowest level official was a "quaestor," basically an aide de camp and accountant for a legion; followed by aedile, in charge of religious observances and festivals. The next rung higher was "praetor," similar to a colonel or brigadier general in an army, who also acted as a "president pro tempore" when the highest officials were absent. Finally, the highest office was "consul," of which two were chosen every year, as co-chief executives, lead prosecutors, and commanders-in-chief of the legions. Upon completion of their terms, consuls joined the Senate.

Another important office was that of the 10 Tribunes. These were explicitly open only to plebeians, and were designed to protect their interests. Each of the 10 Tribunes could propose legislation before the Assemblies, and veto legislation proposed by others. Further, none of the other Tribunes could override the veto of any single one. As we'l see, this chokepoint proved a weakness in the structure of the Republic. Additionally, there were also "military tribunes" in the legions, who represented the interests of the soldiers.

Finally, in case of emergency the Republic allowed for the office of "dictator." Most importantly, for the first 400 years of its use, this office had a strict 6 month time limit, which was faithfully respected. At the conclusion of the 6 months, the dictator was required to hand back power to the normal offices, and the status quo ante structure of government was to resume. The most famous of these was Cincannatus, who returned to his farm after his six month office expired.

So powerful was the civic pride in the Republic that, when the Macedonian Pyrrhus (of "Pyrrhic victory" fame) tried to bribe a relatively poor Roman general, Fabricius, Fabricius refused by rejoining that the Roman Republic provided those who went into public service with higher honors than mere wealth could supply. In any event, by 300 B.C. Rome had brought all of Italy except for the far north under its domination. The other Italian city-states were called "allies," but really they were tributaries, their form of tribute being the provision of soldiers to fight in Rome's legions. Upon reaching adulthood, Roman males owed 10 years service in the legions. Importantly, the pattern was the planting of crops in the early spring, then going off to fight in the legions' campaigns during the summers, and returning to harvest the crops in late autumn.

In any event, the accounts agree that matters began to change after 146 BC , when Rome simultaneously was victorious over Carthage and also Corinth in Greece. Both treatments of the Republic pick up at that historical turning point. Little known fact: Carthage was also a democracy, in fact the Romans considered it "too" democratic. Someone go tell Tom Friedman that two countries having democratic institutions does not mean that they all go happily ever after to McDonald's.

But it was with the conquest of Carthage, that by happenstance coincided with the sacking of Corinth in Greece, also by Rome, that the scrappy little Roman Republic, which was founded roughly in 500 B.C., and had grown to the dominant power in Italy such that the other city states on the peninsula were its inferior "allies," simultaneously turned into an empire, dominating the Mediterranean from Spain to Greece on the European side and present day Algeria and Tunisia on the African side.

The inhabitants of those unfortunate cities who weren't slaughtered were sold into slavery, and the treasuries of each were sacked, the riches transported to Rome. Rome also thereby came into possession of extensive silver mines located in Carthage's lands of present-day Spain. In short, overnight Rome became filthy rich as well as controlling an empire in the central and western Mediterranean.

But this very wealth permanently upset the balance between the landowning oligarchs in the Senate vs. the ordinary urban plebeians and rural farmers. For it was the Senate that had the power of the purse, and thus the power to distribute the land, gold, silver, jewels, slaves, and other loot plundered from the vanquished states, as well as the new precious ores mined in Spain. And, unsurprisingly, they allocated it to themselves. Even worse, because the wars in North Africa, Greece, and Spain lasted years, the legionnaire farmers spent multiple years away from their fields. When they returned home, they were victors, but their farms had fallen into ruinous disrepair. For all intents and purposes, they had to sell -- and the buyers who had money were frequently none other than the wealthy Senators.

A second form of gross inequality was between Roman citizens and their Italian allies. Because while the allies were vital to Rome's military success, the allies could be treated as slaves if the Romans wished to do so.

A final form of inequality affected the affluent or wealthy merchant class, called variously Knights or Equestrians, because they could afford to own horses, and thus serve as cavalrymen during military campaigns, depending on the account. But because they were not "old money," their path to the top rungs of power was blocked by the oligarchs who controlled the Senate.

The huge inequalities just described gave rise to seething resentment by both the urban and rural plebeians as well as the Italian allies and the Equestrian class as well. The essential story of the Roman Republic between 146 BC and its fall a century later was the refusal of the oligarchs who usually controlled the Senate to make any significant compromises to this state of affairs, and the increasing violence used both by the opposing classes to wrench change, and the oligarchs to resist it.

(Continued in part 2)

michael hudson , October 22, 2019 at 6:37 am

Me: Oh, dear. This isn't "wrong" factually, but it misses the essence of Rome, inborn class war of creditors vs debtors.

The Republic was never remotely a democracy. It was always run by the autocratic Senate. The wealthiest 10% controlled the majority of votes which – like the DNC today – was weighted by wealth categories. 90% of the population's votes counted for just 10%. Leaders proposing more democratic economic policies were murdered, century after century. Assassination was a normal tool of the oligarchy.

Rome under the kings was stable. It was the America of its day, attracting immigrants with their wealth, followers and slaves. They were traditionally non-Roman – Sabine (Numa), Latin, or from Veii (probably Servius), and although chosen by the Senate, they kept the oligarchy from waging the class war that ensued under the Republic. In 504 Appius Claudius brought his wealth and 5,000 men from Sabine territory and was admitted to the Senate. His namesakes throughout Roman history were intransigent opponents of democracy, triggering Secession of the Plebs (494 and 450) and subsequent confrontations. They were sort of like the post-Batista Cubans fleeing to Florida and becoming ultra right-wingers.

Fast forward to the Punic Wars. Toynbee wrote a book saying that the aftermath in 201 was Hannibal's Revenge. The oligarchy gave the rich campagna lands to itself instead of settling war veterans. Greek and Macedonian slaves stocked the great plantations being assembled. This led Tiberius Gracchus and his brother to press for limits on public land grabbing. They and their followers were killed, as were those of Marius (by the prescriptions of Sulla) and of Catiline.

I'm writing the 2nd volume of my history of debt to review the collapse of antiquity. The social struggles were all about debt and land redistribution.When Yves finishes posting this series, I may provide a sample chapter.

vlade , October 22, 2019 at 9:25 am

republic != democracy

The UK doesn't claim to be a republic, but does claim to be a democracy (although technically since the UK's executive is elected and not inherited, it'd be a republic. Sort of republican monarchy).

The US claims to be a republic ah well.

Titus , October 22, 2019 at 11:10 am

Vlade – there is how one is 'organized' and then how one seems to function as to how one actually functions. Definitions matter at least in knowing A from B.

UK wise if in Commons MPs are going to say as they having being lately that they must 'act' in the best interest of blah, blah – note not represent, but 'act in', then I don't know why people even bother to vote.

With Parliament being Sovereign, they do as they like. As to the US well Lincoln did what he had to be win the war but that and changes to how Senators got elected, and the ever present electoral college, if we have a republic I don't know who is being represented (I do but it's depressing).

Rome, all I have to say is, to me it's amazing how many emperors got whacked or killed in battle. Not a place I would have wanted to live in. Yes, I use 'titus' as in Titus.Andronicus.

Synoia , October 22, 2019 at 1:19 pm

The UK is a "Parliamentary Monarchy," In no way does it describe itself as a republic.

"Parliamentary Monarchy" is a typical British ambiguity.

SufferinSuccotash , October 22, 2019 at 10:05 am

Assassination only became a common weapon in Roman politics towards the end of the second century (the murder of Tiberius Gracchus is considered a major turning point). Up to that point the nobility favored co-optation instead.

Starting in 367 the consulship was open to plebeian candidates and within a few decades plebeians were able to gain access to every high office in the Republic. Wealthy plebeians, that is. You needed money and aristocratic connections to get elected (nobles had extensive followings of clients whose votes they could deliver).

Plebeians who served in high office were then eligible for membership in the Senate. Welcome to the club. The newly-ennobled senators could bring their wealth into play, marrying into old (and sometimes not too wealthy) patrician families.

A familiar story. And of course our shake-and-bake aristocrats would "forget where they came from" and become lifelong supporters of the oligarchy.

Colonel Smithers , October 22, 2019 at 11:33 am

Thank you.

"And of course our shake-and-bake aristocrats would "forget where they came from" and become lifelong supporters of the oligarchy." Not just in the US, but the mother country, too.

The deracinated elite known as the Chipping Norton Set, which also includes its Notting Hill and Primrose Hill outposts in London, is a mix of aristocracy, vide David Cameron, and new money (or "nouves" as old money calls them, as per what Alan Clark said about Michael Heseltine and other Tory MPs), vide Michael Gove and his wife Sarah Vine, currently gunning for Meghan Markle.

Synoia and I went to schools with both types. At my alma mater, it was interesting to observe the "nouves" trying so hard to fit in. The (now) peers I knew, four earls, a viscount, a baron and two baronets, were easy going and had a sense of paternalism, quite different from Thatcher's children.

Joe Costello , October 22, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Rome wasn't a democracy has been a constant meaningless statement, starting with many of the US founders, even to the point more recently in Symes book "The Roman Revolution" where many argue Rome wasn't a "republic"!

Both words, one Greek, one Latin simply define systems that may best be described as some sort of self-government, where the general populous – the citizenry – had some sort of direct role in politics and governance, leadership changed by elections as opposed to monarchies, "oligarchies" and "dictatorships," once again mixing Greek and Roman terms.

Democracy in Athens wasn't even democracy as defined by notions in many academics' heads. After all they had slaves, how could it be a democracy? The Greek assembly wasn't the only institution of government in Greek democracies, the "demes" were numerous local structures connected horizontally as much as vertically and more fundamental, along with various hierarchical tribe elements, wealth factors etc., similarities the Romans shared.

The Senate in Rome ran foreign affairs, the assemblies, whether organized by tribe or military unit were composed of every citizen and passed legislation and elected officials and yes the votes were weighted, but that doesn't discount them. The Senate certainly didn't have authoritarian control. And yes, the history of Rome was constant struggle between the plebs and patricians, for example the plebs sitting out of battle till the office of Tribune was instituted, the simplistic claim Rome wasn't "democracy" is to miss the whole 450 year plot of the republic.

In fact, Machiavelli in his "Discourses on Livy" states this struggle was at the heart of the dynamism of the Roman republic.

It can also be noted for all our neo-socialists, it was this "class" struggle that formed the foundation of Marx's thought and where he got the idea of the "proletariat" as a revolutionary class, though how one could look at the Roman proletariat in the republic's last half-century as revolutionary is more than a mystery.

In short, to simply throw away the Roman republic as not being democratic is both wrong and removes from Western history one of the few examples of self-government we have, as opposed I suppose to some sort of Platonic notion of "democracy" which never existed.

hemeantwell , October 22, 2019 at 12:50 pm

In trying to make up for my ignorance on Rome's history I came across P. A. Brunt's "Social Conflicts in the Roman Republic." His account of the innovation of the office of the tribune gave me a good sense of the intensity of those conflicts:

"In 494 a great body of the plebs sat down en masse outside Rome and refused to serve in the army. Such a 'secession' or strike undoubtedly occurred in 287, and similar revolutionary action must have been taken now, to account for the concession the patricians were forced to make: the creation of the tribunate of the plebs. The ten tribunes were plebeians annually elected by an assembly organized in voting units calle tribes; these were local divisions of the state, originally four within the city and seventeen in the adjoining countryside. This assembly was truly democratic at the start, when the tribes were probably more or less equal in numbers; the rich had no superior voting power.

The original function of the tribunes was to protect humble Romans against oppression by the magistrates; they did so by literally stepping between them and their intended victims (intercessio). The magistrates did not dare touch their persons, which were 'sacrosanct'; that meant that the whole plebs were sworn to avenge them by lynching whoever laid hands on them. But their power was confined to the city; outside the walls, Roman territory was still too insecure for any restriction to be allowable on the discretion of the magistrates to act as they thought best for the public safety. This limitation on tribunician power subsisted throughout the Republic, long after its rationale had disappeared." p.52

In this light, it seems that the obstructionist quality of tribunician power that Yves' refers to stemmed from the original need to allow plebs to put the kabosh on patrician power to avoid revolution. Another instance of when peace brought about by a veto power eventually makes the veto power appear unnecessary.

The limitation on the power of the tribunes in rural areas was relevant to a factor in Rome's development Brunt places a lot of weight on: the breakdown of plebian farmholding, in part through loss of land through absence brought about by conscription, but also by patrician gang violence. In his telling this alienation by dispossession was ongoing to varying degrees during the Republic.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , October 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Tribunes.

Do we have something similar today, anywhere in the world?

run75441 , October 22, 2019 at 10:09 pm

lambert:

I would like to read it also. Let me know when it is up.

RBHoughton , October 22, 2019 at 10:09 pm

Same here but for the meantime ..

Carthaginian silver from Spain poisoned Rome as assuredly as South American silver poisoned Spain. There is a rule operating there which our men of commerce probably don't like much.

Amfortas the hippie , October 22, 2019 at 6:50 am

my favorite part of that story happened before what's laid out here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_of_the_Orders

makes one feel a little Wobbly.

"we are many, they are few"

Lee , October 22, 2019 at 8:51 am

Also of interest is the Social War, 91-88 BC, in which tributary Italian tribes fought, not for independence but for Roman citizenship. Somewhat analogous to modern civil rights movements. Interestingly, the Romans won the war but in order to avoid further costly conflict, acceded to the tribes' demands.

And then of course there's this: What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?

pretzelattack , October 22, 2019 at 6:56 am

a very interesting series. i hope to hear about the gracchi brothers.

Joe Well , October 22, 2019 at 7:01 am

I've been unable to read most American history books, with their currently unwarranted chipper optimism.

Only true for mass market history, particularly by non professional historians, who have to be chipper to sell books and/or get MSM attention.

Academic historians (I am tempted to say "real" historians) such as Eric Foner, to pick one example among 10000s, are quite damning in their analyses.

Seriously, people. You need to step away from the mass media to get a clear view of anything, even the past.

Titus , October 22, 2019 at 11:19 am

Who are you talking about? Having read, "A. Lincoln: A Biography", by White Jr., Ronald C, I can tell you it is not a 'chipper' book, assuming I know what that is. It is one of the most intense books I've ever read – you get to be Lincoln the whole time he was President, it is white hot painful.

Joe Well , October 22, 2019 at 3:59 pm

Maybe instead of "chipper" they meant "hagiographic." I am not familiar with that work by Ronald C. White, but the blurb includes the phrase, "offers a fresh and compelling definition of Lincoln as a man of integrity."

Many people would say that Lincoln's greatest contribution was getting assassinated, paving the way for Radical Reconstruction, which he was against. I do not expect a book making that case to appear in any airport magazine rack.

JBird4049 , October 22, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Maybe a book could be found titled the greatest tragedy, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. His death just added anger to the North's desire for payback. There was simultaneously too harsh and too lenient treatment of the Southern Slaveocracy. Followed by the abandonment of the Southern governments then under the control of the black leadership in 1877 with the withdrawal of the army. The country then ignored the very violent takeover of the South by the waiting white elites causing the undoing much of the conflict and death of the previous thirty years. A worse of all outcomes except the continuation of slavery you could say. Although with the new forms of slavery created in the South after Reconstruction were not technically slavery, they were damn close at times.

Colonel Smithers , October 22, 2019 at 11:39 am

Thank you, Joe.

"Only true for mass market history, particularly by non professional historians, who have to be chipper to sell books and/or get MSM attention." As above, we have the same problem in the mother country. Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Jeremy Paxman write for a certain audience and are often serialised in the Daily Mail and given air time on state broadcasters like the BBC and Channel 4. The trio have been joined by once serious historians Simon Schama and David Cannadine. It would be difficult for an EP Thompson or Eric Hobsbawm, whose daughter is a staunch Blairite, just like the children and grandchildren of Wedgie Benn, to get published or air time now.

Joe Well , October 22, 2019 at 4:09 pm

The gap between academic British history and the propaganda peddled by the likes of British state media organ bbc.com (let alone Boris Johnson) is astounding. Just one example: I once forced myself to read a bbc.com article that explained how Britain's primary role in the history of slavery was to end it, and have encountered that unique version of history in a few other British mass-media productions.

And did you know that in London there is an actual place called the Imperial War Museum, and it is not some kind of collection of Marxist diatribes and Global South protests, it is a state-funded temple of reverence for Britain's wars (and admittedly some solid academic history)?

It is as if an entire country were naked and they were the only ones who didn't know it or else thought they were hiding it.

Janie , October 22, 2019 at 2:09 pm

Echoing recommendation of Eric Foner.

RBHoughton , October 22, 2019 at 10:17 pm

We have had that problem in UK all my life. State historians have conspired to create a clean and uplifting version of British history, over the last 200-300 years, and it is only now that we Poms are beginning to get our real history, courtesy of Andrew Roberts (on Napoleon) and David Starkey (on most everything else).

One hopes that academics are respectable people. Can they look in the mirror and recognise the problem?

Harry , October 22, 2019 at 7:14 am

You know, Machiavelli wrote quite a thorough treatise on this subject. Discourses on the first decade of Titus Livius

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourses_on_Livy

Amfortas the hippie , October 22, 2019 at 1:05 pm

and Livy what we have of him is very readable and engaging, too.

The Rev Kev , October 22, 2019 at 7:26 am

I am afraid that Newdealdemocrat's views on Republican Rome do have to be heavily qualified. And I won't mention that the British Empire and the Republic of Venice were actually oligarchies. Wait – I just did!
Anyway, when he gets to the part about the Punic Wars he tends to mash the events of the different wars together. The Romans were not the same people that they were at the beginning of these wars. The social conditions and mores had changed too much. A serious use of a timeline is needed so a bit of context here. The three Punic wars were epic on scale and amounted to world wars at the time. In the second war, Rome went right to the brink and was nearly snuffed out but managed to hold the line. When the British were fighting the French during the Napoleonic wars, a lot of British were equating their struggles to the 2nd Punic War. Here is how it went.
During the first Rome and Carthage went at it for over twenty years until it finally ended. After a break of twenty years, the went at it again for another seventeen years. After that war was over, you had peace for about fifty years until the last war which only lasted three years and after hard fighting, Carthage was no more. And no, it was not really a Republic at all. So all in all these three wars were spread over nearly 120 years. So lets equate that with a history of the United States.
Suppose that the US were fighting a country going from the Spanish-American war until the end of WW1. Then they fought this enemy again from WW2 to near the beginning of the Vietnam war. The final war would have broken out a few years ago and just finished. So using this idea, would Newdealdemocrat argue that the Americans of the 1890s were like the Americans of the 1940s & 1950s who would be like modern Americans? Too much water has passed under the bridge and so it was with the Romans. And certainly you cannot mix up events from these different American eras without a serious misrepresentation of history.

vlade , October 22, 2019 at 8:38 am

Re Venice – a republic can be an oligarchy – the point is that the executive is elected (from some body), not inherited.

From that point, Venice wasn't a republic until about 1000AD, when the Concia started to form (of all free men). Before that it was appointment from Byzantium. The democratic attempt changed to oligarchic in about 1300. As a republic it was still pretty stable due to the extremely convoluted (on purpose) sortition election mechanism, which was making it pretty hard to impossible to rig future Doges w/o very large consensus in the electorate.

The Rev Kev , October 22, 2019 at 8:57 am

Granted that a republic can be an oligarchy and a good example was East Germany which was called the German Democratic Republic. I am here to say though that I spent a few hours in that place and it definitely did not feel like a democratic republic. A few months ago I read a history of the Republic of Venice and from what I read, it had the same feel as East Germany once did with its strict controls and ruthlessness.

vlade , October 22, 2019 at 9:30 am

Indeed (and most of the Soviet-block countries were republics and 'people's republic' and 'democratic', when they were none of these. DPRK is a prime example none. Not democratic, not peoples' not republic, and partially Korea).

I just want to be reasonably precise, as lots of people assume that democracy and republic are equal. I don't know whether the author was making that assumption too, or was looking at republic in the wider sense.

The US can be a republic and not being democratic at all .

DJG , October 22, 2019 at 9:24 am

vlade and Rev Kev: The Serenissima is fascinating, and it is hard to draw lessons because it was a highly contradictory place. Venetian justice was supposed to have been relentless and severe–yet histories tend to clump the repression. Over the long span of time, Venice wasn't such a bad place to live, and the Republic had a reputation for being more just than any of the surrounding states. (Although I just peeked at the list of doges, and it was hard to be a doge in the 900s or so.)

The Republic was highly skeptical of the Inquisition and kept it under control. Compared other Catholic–and Protestant–states, the Venetians didn't allow the mass panic and miscarriages of justice that the Inquisition was famous for.

What the Venetians were good at was a kind of civic esprit de corps–all Venetians seem to have been committeed to the city. There was considerable openness–Venice was a center for book publishing for centuries. Of course, those in charge of the Republic kept the university in Padua. On the other hand, Galileo taught at Padua, without incident. Marin Falier and his attempted coup were a notable exception, which is why history books dwell on those events.

Venetians loved minutiae, which may be their odd distinguishing characteristic. They saved everything, in their enormous archives–every record, every blunder, every victory. They made officials obtain a countersignature–that skepticism, slight lack of trust, was everywhere.

And what may make them the most exceptional was their island empire: They rule the Ionian islands in Greece pretty much to the end of the Serenissima. Yet they weren't insular. There was a reluctant tolerance–the Ghetto in the city itself, the Armenian monasteries in the lagoon, the large populations of Greek Orthodox on Crete and Cyprus whom they did not bother much.

Much to contemplate here: But most USonians consider Venice these days to be a shopping mall. It is hard to find decent books in English on the complicated history of Venice.

vlade , October 22, 2019 at 9:33 am

John Julius Norwich, History of Venice.

Synoia , October 22, 2019 at 1:12 pm

Gibbon Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, although I find Gibbon biased

John Julius Norwich, Byzantium, as one cannot focus on Rome and not Byzantium, and their adoption of Christianity

And reflect and the stunning success of the Roman Catholic Church which converted Western Europe to its Spiritual Leadership.

Conrad , October 22, 2019 at 1:59 pm

Gibbon covers the history of Byzantium right up to the fall of Constantinople.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , October 22, 2019 at 3:02 pm

Their naval shipyard was quite impressive in turning out warships efficently.

Titus , October 22, 2019 at 11:24 am

Rev, excellent. I would only add the Romans really hated Carthage and today was the first time I ever heard they were a republic.

Synoia , October 22, 2019 at 1:23 pm

Carthage delenda est!

Something about elephants and a surprise from the North.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , October 22, 2019 at 3:00 pm

A Roman politician could go far with "Remember Cannae."

lyman alpha blob , October 22, 2019 at 2:13 pm

I'm not sure it's exactly clear how their government compares to modern types. The best place to look is Polybius, who was alive during the final Punic war. Here's what he has to say –

51 1 The constitution of Carthage seems to me to have been originally well contrived as regards its most distinctive points. 2 For there were kings, and the house of Elders was an aristocratical force, and the people were supreme in matters proper to them, the entire frame of the state much resembling that of Rome and Sparta. 3 But at the time when they entered on the Hannibalic War, the Carthaginian constitution had degenerated, and that of Rome was better. 4 For as every body or state or action has its natural periods first of growth, then of prime, and finally of decay, and as everything in them is at its best when they are in their prime, it was for this reason that the difference between the two states manifested itself at this time. 5 For by as much as the power and prosperity of Carthage had been earlier than that of Rome, by so much had Carthage already begun to decline; while Rome was exactly at her prime, as far as at least as her system of government was concerned. 6 Consequently the multitude at Carthage had already acquired the chief voice in deliberations; while at Rome the senate still retained this; 7 and hence, as in one case the masses deliberated and in the other the most eminent men, the Roman decisions on public affairs were superior, 8 so that although they met with complete disaster, they were finally by the wisdom of their counsels victorious over the Carthaginians in the war.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Polybius/6*.html

Worth reading the beginning of book 6 too where he compares the different types of governments and how they evolve, or more likely, devolve. Here he seems to be making that case that whatever form of republic or democracy the Carthiginians once had, it had devolved to mob rule by the time of the Punic wars.

lyman alpha blob , October 22, 2019 at 4:24 pm

I had a comment that skynet seems to have eaten. Anyway, check out what Polybius has to say about it – section 51 is the relevant part.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Polybius/6*.html

Another Scott , October 22, 2019 at 7:28 am

I'd like to wait for the entire series before commenting too much, but based upon my readings on the subject, the connection between oversees military operations and the disposition of the farmers is incredibly important. It seems to underlie many of the subsequent problems that contributed to the Fall of the Republic. Without the farmers being forced off their lands after fighting wars in Africa, Greece, and Spain, they would not have become reliant upon generals for patronage nor joined the poor masses in Rome itself.

SufferinSuccotash , October 22, 2019 at 8:54 am

Describing Britain as a "parliamentary democracy" for the past 400 years seems a little far-fetched. "Constitutional monarchy" would be more accurate, with the monarch sharing power with Parliament. Parliament itself was a highly elitist affair, dominated by the "landed classes" (aristocracy & gentry) and chosen by a tiny and well-managed electorate. In addition, monarchs retained a great deal of power over the choice of ministers. This state of affairs lasted well into the 19th century. The young Queen Victoria was the very last monarch to attempt (unsuccessfully) to keep a Prime Minister in office without parliamentary approval. And democracy (defined as universal suffrage or something close to it) had to wait until the Reform Bills of 1867 and 1884. By the time a parliamentary democracy exists the Empire has become a well-established fact.

RBHoughton , October 22, 2019 at 10:25 pm

I believe it was the Irishman Castlereagh who almost single-handedly brought down the monarchy because of the unparliamentary George III, specifically the attempted seizure of South America. Once that powerful and knowledgeable King was pushed aside, the next couple of clowns were dog's meat to politicians determined to center power on the Commons. The MO was to give a bit and take a lot and thus whittle down the Civil List to a point no future British monarch had independent power.

DJG , October 22, 2019 at 9:27 am

I think that the writer misunderstands Roman offices. An aedile was more of an inspector of public works. The word edile / edilizia is still used in Italian for building / construction.

The college of pontifexes were the ones in charge of festivals and religious events. And there were complicated qualifications for membership (involving social class) as well as complicated rules of behavior expected of these priesthoods.

Janie , October 22, 2019 at 2:07 pm

Related to edifice, although a quick look-up did not show aedile as a root?

shinola , October 22, 2019 at 10:08 am

Thanks for this post – very interesting. Looking forward to the next 3 parts.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , October 22, 2019 at 12:14 pm

The de facto requirement that all senior magistrates and in particular the consuls (analogous to Presidents) be military commanders, who frequently raised, and increasingly paid for, their own armies.

-- -

We can look to Marius for that.

From Wikipedia*:

Marius and his contemporaries' need for soldiers cemented a paradigmatic shift away from the levy-based armies of the middle Republic towards open recruitment. Thereafter, Rome's legions would largely consist of poor citizens (the "capite censi" or "head count") whose future after service could only be assured if their general could bring about land distribution and pay on their behalf. In the broad sweep of history, this reliance on poor men would make soldiers strongly loyal not to the Senate and people of Rome, but to their generals whom would be perceived as friends, comrades, benefactors, and patrons of soldiers.[57]

*We can find this subject, Marius military reform, covered in many places, some not as readily quotable as Wikipedia, which is cited here as an introduction to those who are not already familiar with. People who want more details can do further research, and those who object to part or parts of the above can raise them here for readers to discuss/debate or to correct/update.

Susan the Other , October 22, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Well even the billionaires are panicked now. Whereas traditional oligarchs have sewn their diamonds in their petticoats and still been massacred. That's very symbolic. Talk about blood diamonds. It's possible that we are facing the end of an era. To go forward now we can no longer take from the environment frivolously, beyond our needs. And we will be required by Nature to leave the world better than we found it. In my mind that leaves all dysfunctional governments looking pretty stupid.

Kingfish , October 22, 2019 at 1:54 pm

I recommend Colleen McCullough's First Man in Rome and the subsequent books. It's historical fiction but is heavily based upon the original sources and provides an entertaining way to study the fall of the Roman Republic.

The post briefly touches upon it but the rise of the commercial class played directly into Plato's cycle of governments. The landed aristocracy (Senate) became threatened by the commercial class (Assembly). This will explode when Marius and Sulla go to war with each other as the Assembly took away Sulla's rightful command and gave it to Marius.

Of course, back then, losing in politics increasingly became a case of losing your head, citizenship, or all property. A strong motivation to stay in power regardless of the cost.

The Historian , October 22, 2019 at 2:01 pm

This ought to be an interesting series! I am hoping Newdealdemocrat doesn't just regurgitate the books he/she mentions but gives us some critical insight of his/her own.

Obviously the Roman Republic is important to Americans since the Founding Fathers were enamored of Polybius's writings, but it sad they weren't equally interested in understanding the reasons the Roman Republic collapsed; they might have put more protections into our Constitution. But in fairness to them, perhaps there just wasn't that much literature on the subject of the Roman Republic's collapse at that time since it seem that writers previous to 1776 were more interested in the collapse of the Roman Empire than in the Roman Republic.

The collapse of the Roman Republic was very complex and cannot be simplified down into just one thing or one set of things so I tend to discount those writers who do that. And every historian that has written about the Roman Republic/Empire's collapses is ethnocentric and weights history based on what is important to him/her and I don't expect this writer to be any different. Since I don't know how a writer can avoid understanding history in terms of his/her own culture instead of the culture that existed at the time, I usually try to find out who the writer is and what is important to him/her and then I read his/her history within that context. Since I don't know anything about this writer, I am inclined to withhold judgement on the validity for now. But even those writers on the Roman Republic who were obviously biased have provided valuable insights. I am hoping for at least that and maybe more from this writer.

Jeremy Grimm , October 22, 2019 at 2:03 pm

As the 2nd millennium passes into the 3rd I believe it grows plain our Empire is crumbling and I fear its last days will come in my lifetime. Empires have ended before – but this time is different. This end will be far more complete, further reaching, and perhaps more final than any collapse which occurred in the past. This collapse will signal the end of Empire but also the end of the Age of Fossil Fuels. And the scale of our collapse will dwarf the scale of all the collapses of the past. It is strange and eerie to live through last days – strange days watching the emergence of signs of collapse.

Our civilization is built on the power we obtain from burning fossil fuels. But fossil fuels are finite. We extracted and burned them at such a rate as now seems unimaginable. They were a legacy of energy and chemicals such as might have nurtured Humankind for many millennia. We wastefully burned-up this legacy in less than a century. And now our bright candle's wick burns close to the pan as we burn what remains of our fossil fuel legacy. If Humankind's capacity to replace fossil fuels relies upon the use of fossil fuels to discover and build that replacement – our bridge to the future – I fear we have so completely burned that bridge and all the bridges behind us. Our collapse will come before we see full scope of the wonders Climate Chaos holds in promise. Not only have we burned our bridges, we have so changed our world that our survivors will face constantly changing and difficult adaptations for many millennia to come.

If only the collapse of our Empire were more like the collapse of Rome or the other Empires mentioned.

Janie , October 22, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Many thanks to Yves for this post and to the commentariat for their excellent contributions. Another trip to the library is in order; as often happens, I am made aware of huge gaps in my knowledge.

Lambert Strether , October 22, 2019 at 2:15 pm

It's too bad that Duncan's book seems to have had structural issues, because I like the podcast so much. Oh well!

Summer , October 22, 2019 at 5:35 pm

At what point can one come to the conclusion that modelling after fallen Republics is a design for an eventual fall?
Conveniently or not .

RubyDog , October 22, 2019 at 7:12 pm

I think he is a little harsh on Mike Duncan's "The Storm Before the Storm."

"Unfortunately this latter book (in my opinion) wound up being a chronological blow-by-blow vomiting of not well organized facts."

There are many ways to tell the story of history, and there is not such thing as an unbiased, factual account, given the intellectual and ideological biases of any given author, and the necessary basis in available sources that are in themselves biased to begin with. That being said, Mike Duncan's book (which I just finished) tries to give a chronological account of "what happened", and (in my opinion) does so in a clear and coherent fashion, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions and interpretation. I wouldn't want people to avoid the book due to one person's opinion. I agree though that it's helpful to read as many different takes on a given historical topic as one has the time and inclination for, as there is no one "correct" or "best" interpretation.

If you like podcasts, "Death Throes of the Republic", by Dan Carlin, covers the same territory in Carlin's highly engaging and addictive style.

Jack Parsons , October 22, 2019 at 10:07 pm

Duncan's book is derived from his podcast of the same name. I haven't listened (I'm an "I, Claudius" guy) but his "Revolutions" podcast is very very good.

It might be that his Rome podcast works better than his book.

Michael Meo , October 22, 2019 at 8:57 pm

As my mite to the discussion I'd like to recommend as a valuable contribution to the history of the fall of the Republic Gareth Sampson's The Collapse of Rome. Marius, Sulla, and the First Civil War (91-70 BC) , Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Pen & Sword Military, 2013, 284 pp. Sampson's thesis is, as has been already pointed out, that the Republic was inalterably changed by the Social War and Sulla's assault on Rome when he returned from the East.

[Oct 22, 2019] US foreign policy is now based on virtual facts

Being a neoconservative should receive at least as much vitriolic societal rejection as being a Ku Klux Klan member or a child molester, but neocon pundits are routinely invited on mainstream television outlets to share their depraved perspectives.
Notable quotes:
"... Some of the "virtual facts:" ..."
"... The Soviet Union never ended. Russia is still communist and an inevitable and indeed indispensable enemy of the US. Anyone who challenges that certitude is an obvious agent of the Russian government. ..."
"... Iran is the "greatest supporter of terrorism" in the world." ..."
"... The Syrian Arab Government is an abomination on the scale of Nazi Germany and must be destroyed and replaced by God knows what . ..."
"... Saudi Arabia is a deeply friendly state and ally of the US. ..."
"... It is beyond scary to see just how entrenched and powerful Deep State is and how it involves/controls both political parties ..."
"... I doubt there is any magic bullet website or other source of information that would turn people over night. A good start would be encouraging them to read transcripts of various Putin and Lavrov speeches and pressers, also Valdai Club, economic forum ect. ..."
"... The colonel's complaint implicitly assumes that things were not always thus. My adult experience since I saw a war up close has been that the "facts" of our public discourse are always simplified and usually grossly distorted. ..."
"... Not only are the MSM married to a narrative but they feel compelled to attack the few who ever challenge the orthodoxy. For example, 'Tulsi Gabbard met with the war criminal Assad'. ..."
"... It is certainly true that Russia is being demonized in all the MSM I have sampled. A frequent criticism is that Putin, like Assad, and earlier Saddam and Quadaffi, is essentially an illegitimate ruler of his country, ruling through brute force and without the consent of his countrymen. (Thus the WaPo editorials routinely call Putin a "thug", just as they call Assad a "butcher".) ..."
"... Not to defend Trump and his balance sheet mindset with respect to the Saudis, the reality is that both parties and presidents from George H.W to Bill Clinton to W and Obama have treated the Saudi monarchy as our "friend", even when they sponsored the terrorists that attacked us on 9/11. ..."
"... Tony Blair became a wealthy man after his prime ministership on the back of money thrown his way by the Arab sheikhs ..."
Oct 22, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Mika B remarked a couple of years ago on the show that she and her sex slave stage in the early morning that the social media were out of control because it is the job of the MSM to tell people what to think. The Hillary stated recently that life was better when there were only three TeeVee news outlets because it was easier to keep things under control. Now? My God! Any damned fool can propagate unauthorized "facts." What? Who?

Well, pilgrims, the US government (along with our British and Israeli helpmates and masters) are the preeminent creators and purveyors of the manufactured virtual facts on which we base our policy. These "facts" are "ginned up" in the well moneyed hidden staff groups of "hidden" candidates that are devoted to the seizure of power made possible by a deluded electorate. These "facts" are then propagated and reinforced through relentless IO campaigns run by executive "bots" in the MSM and in such remarkable and imaginative efforts as the "White Helmets" film company manned by jihadis and managed by clubby Brits left over from the Days of The Raj (sob). These "facts" are now so entrenched in the general mind that they can be used to denounce people like Rep. (major ) Gabbard as traitors because they challenge them.

Some of the "virtual facts:"


Harper , 21 October 2019 at 07:50 PM

Yes I fully concur. We have gone from fact-based news to faith-based fake news led by the MSM. I recall at the start of the Iraq War in March 2003, the line was out that British PM Tony Blair was George W. Bush's "poodle," forgetting entirely that it was the first of the British "dodgy dossiers" that made the totally discredited claim that Saddam had gotten tons of yellow cake from Niger. So the British have no military resources but they continue to maintain the idea that they can manipulate the U.S. and make up for the demise of the old British empire.

The Steele dossier was the second British "dodgy dossier" that got the ball rolling on Trump the Russian mole and Putin's "poodle."

So much fraud. But now social media must be patrolled and anyone daring to challenge the voice of the MSM must be purged by Google, Facebook, Twitter et al.

My question is: When will the machinations of the Big Lie MSM Wurlitzer cross the line and trigger the backlash that they secretly fear so much? MSM has to destroy Trump by 2020 or else his "fake news" polemic will stick... because there is no much truth to it. The messenger may be crude, but he has the bully pulpit to have a real impact.

I await the release, as Larry Johnson pointed out, of the Horowitz IG report on the origins of the fake Trump-Russia collusion line. Also the pending Barr-Durham larger report which is zeroing in on John Brennan.

Fred -> Harper... , 22 October 2019 at 08:28 AM
Harper,

"MSM has to destroy Trump by 2020 or else..."
The MSM are joined by all those folks who were wined, dined, and degraded by Jeffrey Epstein and Hollywood hero Harvey Weinstein. Nobody seems to care about who Jeffrey abused, or who enjoyed his island paradise. Harvey, he's about to buy a free ride out of jail. Meanwhile we jail idiots who "bribe" there kids way into that "elite" institution - UCLA.

Vig said in reply to Harper... , 22 October 2019 at 11:31 AM
Great response Harper,

an ideal study would no doubt want to look into the Italy-GB-US angle already concerning the "first dossier", or whatevers. Didn*t that have mediawise an intermediate French angle?

But is that what is looked at? At present?

VietnamVet , 21 October 2019 at 08:03 PM
Colonel,

This is what happens when the deciders believe their own propaganda. The media now says that a residual force of American troops and contractors will stay behind at the Deir ez-Zor oil fields and Al-Tanf base near the Jordon border. The media moguls dare not mention that the real intention is to prevent the Syrian Arab Army from retaking its own territory or that Turkey is seizing thousands of square miles of Syria. Syrians with Russia, Chinese and Iranian aid won't quit until Syria is whole again and rebuilt. This means that America continues its uninvited unwinnable war in the middle of nowhere with no allies for no reason at all except to do Israel's bidding and to make money for military contractors. The swamp's regime change campaign failed. The Houthis' Aramco attack shows that the gulf oil supply is at risk and can be shut down at will. Continuing these endless wars that are clearly against the best interests of the American people is insane.

CK said in reply to VietnamVet... , 22 October 2019 at 10:05 AM
It strikes me, as a matter of observable fact, that the Houthi attack had almost no long run affect on oil production. Everything was back to normal within 10 days. I think that the attack was allowed to occur for exactly one reason and that was to start a shooting war between the USA as KSA's great defender and Iran as the horrible nation that has a mild dislike for Israel.
It failed. So far.
To believe that the 24/7/52 AWACS, Ground radar, Israeli radar, and the overlapping close in radar coverage of the Saudi oil fields all failed to detect the drones and cruise missiles is to believe in more miracles than I can handle on a good day. It also means that assets in other parts of this world covered by these same type of radars are just as vulnerable to local disaffected groups.
j , 21 October 2019 at 08:22 PM
The FUKUS thinks we are all a bunch of brainless sheep to be led by a ring in our noses. The 'Muktar' is clueless regarding our Saudi brethren, he's supposed to administer how the overlords say he's to administer, nothing more. The CIA administration still has a hard-on because they blew it regarding Iran and they're still embarrassed about it.

In two days, counting closer to a day and a half will be the sad anniversary (October 23) where the Israeli government willfully with forethought let our Marines and other service personnel bunked with them at the barracks in Beirut die needlessly, because Nahum Admoni wanted U.S. to get our noses bloodied.

Never mind that the Russians lost close to 30 million to the brotherhood of the Operation Paper Clip, and the Bormann Group that today controls from behind the scenes most of the World's money thanks to Martin creating over 750 corporations initially to start with, that has expanded like a Hydra. Any time that truth (Russia is no longer Communist) rears its ugly head, the Bormann group goes into overdrive to ensure that the big lie perpetuates.

The FUKUS think we're all a bunch of sheep to be led off a cliff, and the propaganda mills have created the trail right up to the edge of the precipice that the sheep are trotting.

Heaven help our children and grandchildren.

Larry Johnson , 21 October 2019 at 08:29 PM
Amen. The landslide of disinformation and bullshit disseminated on a daily basis by a pliant media is happily lapped up by ignorant, uninformed Americans. I've had quite an exchange with a liberal friend of mine who was shrieking MSNBC talking points on Syria and the Kurds. Mind you, this fellow never served a day in the military. Never held a clearance in his life. Didn't know a thing about JOPES and how Special Ops forces use a series of written orders signed off on by the CJCS. Yet, he was qualified to criticize Trump. At the same time not one of his kids or grandkids are signed up to fight on that frontline. I told him politely to STFU and get educated before trying to comment on something he knows nothing about.
Thanks Colonel.
JJackson said in reply to Larry Johnson ... , 22 October 2019 at 06:41 AM
I am British and did consider the military in my youth but if I were that age now I would not. Having seen what my political master, and yours, have asked the military to do the danger of being sent on some counter product regime change mission or to prop-up someone I would rather fight is just too great. I would only end up refusing to follow orders which I understand the military takes a rather dim view of.
Vig said in reply to JJackson... , 22 October 2019 at 12:03 PM
... regime change mission or to prop-up someone I would rather fight is just too great.

once upon a time, and strictly I had opted not to believe either side before that, but yes, at one point I wondered fully aware they may be legitimate complaints, how would the UCK, or the Kosovo Liberation Army become the "Western" partner in war.

In hindsight I was made aware of this one grandiose British officer ... once upon a time.

Fred -> JJackson... , 22 October 2019 at 12:04 PM
JJackson,

"if I were that age now..." That is the same line used by the American left since the '60s.
"I would only end up refusing to follow orders..."
Samantha Power at the UN and James Comey at the FBI both had a "higher loyalty" than to the elected government or the Constitution on which it is based. That's why they are busy trying to subvert it.

The Twisted Genius , 21 October 2019 at 10:01 PM
There's a lot of truth there, Colonel. Life would be better with just three TV new outlets, huh. Which three? Can you imagine being limited to three cable new outlets? Actually most people probably limit themselves to three news outlets or less. They find an echo chamber and stick with it. I thank God I don't have cable or satellite TV and I have too many interests to engage with talk radio.

I couldn't agree more with your characterization of "virtual facts" about Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. I also agree that those who continue to view Russia as an implacable enemy bent on our destruction and world domination are liars and/or fools. The Soviet Union was just a phase, a phase now past. Russia never ended. Conversely, those who insist that Russia is a newly minted nation of glitter farting unicorns incapable of nefarious behavior are also fools and/or liars. Russia is a formidable competitor, fully capable and willing to take prudent actions in pursuit of her interests. We should respect her and seek cooperation where we can and tolerance where we must.

How the never-Trumpers treat Tulsi Gabbard is shameful. What Clinton recently said is mild compared to what others have been saying for quite some time. Calling Tulsi a Russian asset is foolishly wrong. That Russia may prefer Tulsi over other potential Presidential candidates should be seen as a positive thing. A policy of mutual respect, cooperation and tolerance between our two countries would benefit the entire world.

Sbin , 21 October 2019 at 10:21 PM
The nonsense is endless.

America needed to restore the Kuwait monarchy for freedom and democracy. Remember defense Secretary Dick Cheney sending captured Iraq arms to the Taliban.

Same play book was used to run Libyan arms through Bengazi to Wahhabism freedom fighter "ISIS" and the al Lindsey McCain head choppers.

Babak Makkinejad -> Sbin... , 21 October 2019 at 11:25 PM
The nonsense will end since not even the United States can endure these costs. Did you hear Trump? 8 trillion yankee dollars and nothing to show for it.
Fred -> Babak Makkinejad... , 22 October 2019 at 08:23 AM
Babak,

He left out thousands dead and injured and not a single one of them a politician, banker, professor or news anchor.

walrus , 21 October 2019 at 11:43 PM
What is highly alarming, almost terrifying, is that really well educated people who have achieved great things in their careers and are pillars of society believe this crap.

I had dinner guests last week; a former Chairman of a bank and his wife who is a highly acclaimed Professor of public Health and Epidemiology who told me how awful Trump and Putin are neither of these friends are what you could remotely classify as Social Justice leftists.

My problem is that I don't know where to start to try and put them right without them thinking I'm a tinfoil hatted conspiracy nut. I wish there was a website dedicated solely to purveying basic truthful information that is not perhaps as esoteric as SST. Should I try and start one or are there already good examples to point to?

Voatboy -> walrus... , 22 October 2019 at 05:10 AM
https://www.wanttoknow.info/ is a useful resource for educating citizens.
John B said in reply to walrus... , 22 October 2019 at 09:21 AM
I'm thinking this is so far and so deep there is nothing that can or will be done. Trump's election and presidency has lifted the curtain on the puppet show. This recent Syria troop removal is Trump's second attempt at openly declaring troops will be pulled out of Syria only to have the military has said, "Um, no, we will stay and simply relocate."

Trump openly called for FISA warrants to be declassified only to have the DOJ and FBI either ignore and defy him. Groups like Judicial Watch and others go into court to get the requested information through FOIA and DOJ and FBI lawyers and the courts block them.

It is beyond scary to see just how entrenched and powerful Deep State is and how it involves/controls both political parties. Trump has faced hurricane winds of opposition from day one and has been constantly subverted by his own party and his own people. I don't know how he can get up every day and continue to fight the obvious and concerted Deep State coup against him. I pray for him. I pray the rosary for him.

There are members within Trump's own party who have agreed that there should be an investigation into the impeachment of Trump for running a yellow light (at most). Again, members of his own party. Renowned Constitutional lawyers John Yoo and Alan Dershowitz, from Cal-Berkeley and Harvard laws schools respectively, have said that not only has Trump done nothing, even remotely, which could trigger an impeachment inquiry but if Congress were to do so it would be unconstitutional and illegal. But alas, who would enforce this? Deep State snakes like John Roberts at the Supreme Court? Robert has already signed off on the coup ( https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/10/john-roberts-mitch-mcconnell-trump-impeachment-trial.amp).

The only thing that separates America from falling into the abyss is Trump, a handful of people in Washington, a few conservative talk show hosts, and about 40% of America. Many people have talked a good game at points but I think in the end are just double agents of the dark side/Deep State (Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, ... IG Horowitz, etc.). And some, such as Chris Wray, are unabashed dark side/Deep State agents in good standing.

As St. Thomas More said, "The times are never so bad that a good man cannot live in them." I have faith in Barr. I have faith in Durham. Two men whose Catholic faith is integral to every aspect of their lives and work. But with as pervasive, entrenched, and powerful as the Deep State is I'm skeptical they have the power to do anything. Btw, here's U.S. Attorney John Durham's lecture before the Thomistic Institute at Yale (hosted by the Dominican Order): https://soundcloud.com/thomisticinstitute/perspective-of-a-catholic-prosecutor-honorable-john-durham

One thing that really amuses me is that the marionettes of Deep State in the media and politics actually believe that once Trump is gone their puppet show theatre can resume like nothing happened. Sorry, but there is no coming back from this. They will be lucky if the worst thing that happens is a sizable part of of the American populace protests by throwing sand in the gears. I'm afraid it will end much worse.

Peter AU 1 said in reply to walrus... , 22 October 2019 at 01:12 PM
I doubt there is any magic bullet website or other source of information that would turn people over night. A good start would be encouraging them to read transcripts of various Putin and Lavrov speeches and pressers, also Valdai Club, economic forum ect.

Most only get to see the odd sentence or paragragh in western MSM with an entirely fictional story built around it, so perhaps and MSM piece like that and the transcript of the relevant presser or speech alongside it.

I suspect the fine detail in Putin and Lavrov's replies to press questions rather than cliches would surprise many people.

Glorious Bach said in reply to walrus... , 22 October 2019 at 02:29 PM
Walrus--100% my experience as well. Many dinners with "liberal" even "progressive" friends, mostly of the retired kind require great psychic energy. Their Overton Window is 1"-square, making exchanges very difficult to squeeze even minimal bits of political reality.

My daily blog tour, like MW's above, takes me through: Moon of Alabama, Naked Capitalism, SST, Caitlin Johnstone, Grayzone and a few others. I'm intel gathering -- but I need to figure out how to convey broader perspectives even to my 40-45 year-old children and their friends. Inside the Beltway assumptions are hard to de-program.

Vegetius , 22 October 2019 at 12:13 AM
The CIA is a clear and present danger.
b , 22 October 2019 at 01:31 AM
While I agree with the essence of the post I disagree with the characterization of SOHR. It tends to get its stuff right. I have listed several significant events where SOHR disagreed with the official narrative: On Sources And Information - The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights . Those are exactly the moments where SOHR is disregarded by the pressitude.

It is the selective quoting of such sources that paint them as partisan even as they try to stay somewhat neutral.

---
@Pat - Any comment to the Gen. McRaven op-ed in the NYT?
Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President
If President Trump doesn't demonstrate the leadership that America needs, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office.

Isn't it a call to mutiny? It seems to me to be far beyond the allowed political comment from a retired General.

Anonymous , 22 October 2019 at 01:34 AM
Those that look up the pole, all they see is assholes. Those that look down all they see is assholes, but those that look straight ahead, they see which path to take.
fredw , 22 October 2019 at 08:13 AM
The colonel's complaint implicitly assumes that things were not always thus. My adult experience since I saw a war up close has been that the "facts" of our public discourse are always simplified and usually grossly distorted.

Is the Iranian regime terrible? Well, yes, but it is also a regime that holds real elections and often loses them. Not in the same league of awful with Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.

Similarly with the other examples. The "facts" have in each case a basis in truth but do not by themselves give a true picture. Is our discourse more unfair to Russia than it was to Nasser's Egypt? Is our promotion of Saudi Arabia any worse than our adulation of Chiang Kai-shek?

Christian J Chuba , 22 October 2019 at 08:30 AM
Not only are the MSM married to a narrative but they feel compelled to attack the few who ever challenge the orthodoxy. For example, 'Tulsi Gabbard met with the war criminal Assad'.

It would do our vaunted free press wonders if they traveled to Damascus instead of repeating the same tired talking points about Syria. I'll never forget the look on Gabbard's face when she talked about the Syrians came up to her and said, 'why are you attacking us, what did we do to you'. Meeting real people can undo a lifetime of blather and must be stopped at all cost.

turcopolier , 22 October 2019 at 08:56 AM
b Perhaps memory fails me but I think SOHR propagated the SAG gas attacks mythology. I have stated that McRaven should be recalled to active duty and court-martialed. I could find several punitice articles in UCMJ under which he could be charged.
CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 22 October 2019 at 10:21 AM
When McCain returned from the Hanoi Hilton he could have been prosecuted for treason he was not because "peace with honour" overrode UCMJ and honour. McRaven is being offered up as a distraction. Call him back to active duty yes, and assign him somewhere dreary, unimportant and far from CONUS. Ignore the stuff he is blathering while he is retired, if he repeats blather while on active duty then the navy might be able to recover some honour.
Elora Danan said in reply to turcopolier ... , 22 October 2019 at 12:50 PM
No...your memory does not fail you, Colonel, the SOHR was the main source cited at MSM level on the alleged protests which gave place to the destruction of Syria and the legitimation and labelling of alleged "moderate rebels" which then resulted being but terrorist jihadi groups brought mainly from abroad under financing and mtrainning of non Syrian actors...

The source on the alleged atrocities commited by Assad was SOHR at the first years of the war on Syria, along with Doctors Without Borders and "special envoys" by British and French main papers reporting from the former, and first, "Baba Amr" caliphate in Homs....I am meaning the times of Sunday Times´ Marie Colvin and the other woman from Le Figaro , who then resulted or KIA or caught amongst the jihadists ranks along with other foreign "special envoys" who then were released in a truce with Assad through a safe corridor, especially made for that end, to Lebanon.

I fear SOHR was the source of the super-trolling consisting on inundating the MSM comments sections, like that of El País , with dozens of vertical doctored photographs every time any of us aware entered commenting to debunk their fake news.
I remember this since that was the starting point of Elora as net activist...( till then, just a baby, peacefully growing up...unaware....but had no election, felt it was a duty, since, as you comment here, so few people aware...Having known Syria few years before she could not believe what they were telling about Assad, who, eventhough not being perfect, as it has been long ago proved any other leader in the world is, had managed to show the visitant a flourishing Syria where misery present at other ME countries was almost absent...

It is only lately, when the Syrian war was obviously lost for the US coalition, that the SOHR started contradicting some fake claims by the White Helmets, especially last two alleged chemical attacks, if Elora´s not wrong.

Why this, why now, why in this form? Probably those powers behind SOHR trying to secure a part in the cake of reconstruction and future of Syria...since, it got obvious, love for Syria is not amongst one of their mottos...

Dave P. said in reply to Elora Danan... , 22 October 2019 at 04:04 PM
This news just broke:
Trump approves $4.5 million in aid for Syria's White Helmets

WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump has authorized $4.5 million in aid for Syria's White Helmets group, famed for rescuing wounded civilians from the frontlines in the civil war, the White House says today...

https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/trump-approves-4-5-million-in-aid-for-syrias-white-helmets/

Steve , 22 October 2019 at 09:41 AM
Col Lang,
I'm an extremely grateful for you and your blog. We are all very fortunate to have you.
PeterVE , 22 October 2019 at 09:58 AM
Thank you for this refuge from the noise. How long before the strangling of information makes its way here, and to Craig Murray, Naked Capitalism, and others who look on with clear eyes?
Terry , 22 October 2019 at 10:13 AM
Humans are copy/paste artists and generally not very good at creative thinking. When shown a series of steps to achieve a reward people will repeat all the steps including clearly unnecessary ones. Monkeys will drop unnecessary steps and frequently show more creativity by using a different method to achieve the reward instead of copying.

The old story goes how a woman always cut the ends off a roast before putting it in a pan. When her daughter asks why she doesn't know, asks her mother who doesn't know and asks the great grandmother who laughs and says her pan was too small.

I suspect it is a functional tradeoff that lets us transfer great amounts of cultural information and maintain a civilization of sorts. It creates a tough environment for innovators and allows for easy manipulation of the majority.

Nature of course always has a sprinkling of minority traits in the gene pool to allow for sudden changes in the environment. Most likely those of us that are more critical thinkers and like in depth, multi-dimensional viewpoints and historical knowledge are always going to be standing by watching the crowd do their copy/paste thing.

The rise of the internet giving easy access to more "sources" means more fragmentation in worldviews than ever before depending on where people copy/paste from.

prawnik , 22 October 2019 at 10:56 AM
To be fair, Russia is portrayed as a sort of resurrected Soviet Union intent on world conquest when the audience are conservatives.

Russia portrayed as a fascist theocracy when the audience are liberals.

prawnik , 22 October 2019 at 11:05 AM
Re: only three TV channels and they all said the same thing!

Once Upon a Time, not so long ago, publishing news was hard. For one thing, you needed a printing press, which was big, expensive and required housing and specialized technicians to operate it. Not only that, but a printing press cost money for every sheet of paper printed, and you had to spend more money to distribute what he printed.

They say that "freedom of the press belongs to those who own one" but there's more! Unless you were already rich and planned to publish as an expensive and time-consuming hobby, you needed an income stream. You would get some money from subscriptions, but subscriptions are really a means to sell advertising. Dependence on advertising meant that there were some people the publisher had to keep happy, and others he could not afford to annoy.

Anyone who knows anything about local news knows this. At best, it's a tightrope walk between giving subscribers the news they want to know, and not infuriating your advertisers. The result was a sort of natural censorship. Publishers had to think long and hard before they published anything that would tork the bigwigs off. The fact that a publisher was tied to a physical location and physical assets also made libel suits much easier.

The same thing applied to broadcast TV, only more so. It took orders of magnitude more money, and you were restricted to a limited amount of bandwidth.

The internet changed all that. Now, any anonymous toolio with a laptop ($299 cheap at WallyWorld) and WiFi (free at many businesses) can go into the news publishing business by nightfall, and with worldwide distribution and an advertising revenue stream, to boot. Marginal cost of readership is zero.

Needless to say, this development has The People That Matter very concerned, and they are working hard to stuff that genie back into the bottle.

casey , 22 October 2019 at 11:32 AM
For what it's worth, I found the late Udo Ulfkotte's personal-experience book "Bought Jounalism" to be quite interesting on this topic, as it details the kind of nuts-and-bolts of print-media prostitution. But I would really like to see an org-chart sometime of the overlapping, possibly competing, mission control centers (if that's the right phrase) that control the various "Wurlitzer" messaging and who, ultimately, is on charge of these. It has been intriguing to watch, since Kerry uttered his "the Internet makes it very hard to govern" line years ago, the blurry outline of a vast operation to shut down any non-approved media messages, now including all social media. To give credit where credit is due, "they" sure have done a bang-up job in feeding bullshit across all platforms down the throats of a Western people, like a goose being fattened up for foie gras.
Jack , 22 October 2019 at 12:04 PM
"...the US government (along with our British and Israeli helpmates and masters) are the preeminent creators and purveyors of the manufactured virtual facts on which we base our policy."

Sir

I've been perplexed for some time what the objectives are of these virtual fact creators? When one digs into who the movers & shakers are in the virtual fact creation apparatus then it seems very much analogous to the Jeffrey Epstein orbit. Folks bound together through the carrot of extraordinary personal gain and the stick of personal destruction. Your Drinking the Koolaid, is a seminal work in exploring how these virtual facts are created and how those who challenge the creation are marginalized and even destroyed personally.

IMO, policy making on the basis of virtual facts extends beyond foreign policy to economic and financial policy as well as healthcare policy in the US. The symptoms are seen in growing wealth inequality and increased market concentration globally and financial policy completely unmoored from common sense and sophistry an important element in virtual fact creation.

We're seeing signs of the early breakdown in social cohesion with social unrest in France, Spain, Hong Kong, Chile, Lebanon, Ecuador. Brexit and the election of Trump despite the intensity and vitriolic nature of how the media was used against them. The impeachment of Trump another tool in the desperate attempt to retain and consolidate power. Maybe we're in the Fourth Turning as Howe & Strauss label it.

Keith Harbaugh , 22 October 2019 at 12:43 PM
"The Soviet Union never ended. Russia is still communist ..."
In the interest of specificity and accountability, where/who in the MSM are asserting that?
You (PL) are making a serious charge.
Just who is guilty of perpetrating such a blatant falsehood?
Terry said in reply to Keith Harbaugh... , 22 October 2019 at 04:19 PM
Google "Russia like USSR". It has to be google tho, not Qwant or Duckduckgo. The bias is thick on google.

Back in the U.S.S.R.? How Today's Russia Is Like the Soviet Era
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/back-u-s-s-r-how-todays-russia-soviet-era-n453536

Russia vs. Ukraine: More Russians Want the Soviet Union and Communism Back Amid Continued Tensions

https://www.newsweek.com/russia-vs-ukraine-soviet-union-communism-1264875

Putin's Russia is becoming more Soviet by the day

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2018/02/26/putins-russia-is-becoming-more-soviet-by-the-day/

Joseph Stalin: Why so many Russians like the Soviet dictator

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47975704

Putin says he wishes the Soviet Union had not collapsed and many Russians agree.

www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/03/03/putin-says-he-wishes-he-could-change-the-collapse-of-the-soviet-union-many-russians-agree/&usg=AOvVaw22Q9M8lhhTo8IYh6rl-FCi

oldman22 , 22 October 2019 at 01:04 PM
John Helmer has today published a comprehensive piece on Syria.
The details of history and current affairs are comprehensive.
Highly recommended, a reference work.
His cartoon is good too!
http://johnhelmer.net/oil-and-water-dont-mix-the-solution-to-the-war-in-syria/print/
oldman22 , 22 October 2019 at 01:13 PM
pardon me, should have said the article that John Helmer published
was written by Gary Busch
divadab , 22 October 2019 at 01:15 PM
well it seems to me that the groundwork is being laid for an authoritarian state - and it already has sophisticated tools that are unprecedented in their scope and depth and ability to store data. And the whole enterprise is based on three rules:
1) secrecy - data is restricted to "insiders";
2) deception - the "outsiders" (you know, the citizens) are regarded as a herd of cattle to be managed - with lies and disinformation so we don't get any ideas;
3) ruthless enforcement to dehumanize and destroy dissent. Just consider the torture and destruction of Journalist Julian Assange: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

Not sure what the appropriate response is but I spend a lot of time at my camp working in the woods. Thanks, Colonel Lang, for maintaining this site.

turcopolier , 22 October 2019 at 01:24 PM
Elora Danan

You are more and more interesting.

turcopolier , 22 October 2019 at 01:28 PM
Keith Harbaugh
This is my opinion. I am uninterested in proving anything to you. If you listen to what is said on the MSM (including Fox) it is evident that in the "minds" of the media squirrels Russia is just the USSR in disguise. Try listening to what they are saying as sub-text.
Jackrabbit , 22 October 2019 at 02:21 PM
Thank you pl!
Keith Harbaugh , 22 October 2019 at 02:25 PM
The request was not just for my benefit, but with the thought that it would be useful to document the occurrences of such clearly false statements in the media.

It is certainly true that Russia is being demonized in all the MSM I have sampled. A frequent criticism is that Putin, like Assad, and earlier Saddam and Quadaffi, is essentially an illegitimate ruler of his country, ruling through brute force and without the consent of his countrymen. (Thus the WaPo editorials routinely call Putin a "thug", just as they call Assad a "butcher".)

I am certainly not endorsing that view, just reporting what I hear and read. When I hear that, I harken back to my graduate school days, when the same sort of charges were leveled against America, which was usually spelled "Amerika", or sometimes "AmeriKKKa", and described as a racist, imperialist, fascist country whose establishment must be "Smashed". I believe the core group of people who so wanted a revolution in America in 1970 (which they essentially got, as we have seen over the last 50 years) are much the same as those now demonizing Russia.

Here is some specificity on their complaints against Russia back then: They were not opposed to the USSR, or communism. Many of them were in effect communists. The cry among many was : "Marx, Mao, and Marcuse" (Herbert Marcuse was a former Brandeis professor who extolled cultural Marxism). What they did have, in spades, was a feeling that their ancestors had been victimized by the Czarist regime in Russia, which, among other supposed sins, had not done enough to prevent pogroms against them. They seemed to have a deep fear of the Russian people, based on their long experience with them.

My suspicion (actually, belief) is that the opposition to Putin is based on the fact that he is sometimes viewed as a throwback to the the Czars, and that is definitely not something looked upon favorably by many Jews.

arze , 22 October 2019 at 02:33 PM
This is SOHR, Tweet, Dec. 6, 2014

"Regime forces use Chlorine gas to stop ISIS advances in Der-Ezzor military airport http://fb.me/4qb09QhnH
3:01 AM - 6 Dec 2014"

https://twitter.com/syriahr/status/541185710443995136?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dw.com%2Fen%2Fsyrian-observatory-reports-assad-gas-attack-on-is%2Fa-18113807

blue peacock , 22 October 2019 at 03:33 PM
Col. Lang,

"Trump has a balance sheet where a soul should be and that is the basis for the belief that MBS and/or his "country" are our friends."

Not to defend Trump and his balance sheet mindset with respect to the Saudis, the reality is that both parties and presidents from George H.W to Bill Clinton to W and Obama have treated the Saudi monarchy as our "friend", even when they sponsored the terrorists that attacked us on 9/11.

Tony Blair became a wealthy man after his prime ministership on the back of money thrown his way by the Arab sheikhs.

[Oct 22, 2019] SJWs As Bourgeois Bolshies by Rod Dreher •

Oct 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

October 22, 2019, 2:09 AM

LGBT Pride poster in Soviet Style ( Design Boom ) I'm reading one of the best books I've ever seen, historian Yuri Slezkine's The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution . It's a massive -- over 1,000 pages -- history of the Bolshevik movement, focusing on the people who lived in a vast apartment building constructed across the Moskva River from the Kremlin, for party elites. In the 1930s, during the purges, it was the most dangerous address in the country. The secret police came for people there all the time.

The book has given me a breakthrough in understanding why so many people who grew up under communism are unnerved by what's going on in the West today, even if they can't all articulate it beyond expressing intense but inchoate anxiety about political correctness. Reading Slezkine , a UC-Berkeley historian, clarifies things immensely. Let me explain as concisely as I can. All of this is going into the book I'm working on, by the way.

In my book, I identify two main factors that make the "soft totalitarianism" we're drifting into different from the hard totalitarianism of the communist years. One is the vastly greater capabilities of surveillance technology, and its penetration into daily life in this current stage of capitalism. The other is the pseudo-religion of Social Justice, the holy trinity of which is Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The mathematician James Lindsay last year wrote an insightful essay analyzing Social Justice ideology as a kind of postmodern religion ("faith system," he writes). Reading Slezkine on Bolshevism illuminates this with new depth.

To be clear, Social Justice religion is not the same thing as Bolshevism, which conquered a nation and turned it into a charnel house. But the psychological dynamics are so similar that I can understand now why Soviet-bloc emigres feel in their bones that something wicked is coming, and coming fast.

I'm going to give a brief overview of the ideas in this part of Slezkine's book. Slezkine describes the Bolsheviks as "millenarian sectarians preparing for the apocalypse." He gives a short history of apocalyptic sects, which he said began in the Axial Age , the period between the 8th and the 3rd centuries BC that saw parallel developments in civilizations -- Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, Greco-Roman -- that caused a fundamental shift in human consciousness. The Axial Age introduced some concepts that are still with us today, including the idea that history is linear. Religion and philosophical systems of the Axial Age developed a sense of separation from the Real (that is, what is material), and the Ideal (what is transcendent). They also introduced the idea that time would culminate in a final battle between Good and Evil that would result in the End of History and the everlasting reign of Justice. The rich will be conquered, and the poor will triumph.

Slezkine writes at some length about these themes in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), but points out that they also existed in parallel in other religions of the era. The two Abrahamic religions that emerged from Axial Age Judaism -- Christianity and Islam -- modified these same concepts for themselves. The Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible is the standard Western account of the Apocalypse, but not the only one.

In the 16th century, the radical Protestant theologian Thomas Mόntzer , leader of an apocalyptic Reformation sect, led an armed revolt against the Catholic Church, Martin Luther, and feudal authority. He and his followers believed the Last Days were upon the world, and that revolutionary violence was necessary to prepare for them.

These movements, says Slezkine, often depend on the virtuous mutually surveilling each other to keep everyone in line. Calvin's Geneva was like this, and had laws prescribing the death penalty for relatively minor violations of its purity code. In the 17th century, the English Puritan movement under Thomas Oliver [the mistake was mine -- RD] Cromwell (the "Puritan Moses") was in this same vein.

The Enlightenment birthed apocalyptic millenarianism without God. Slezkine doesn't mention him, but I want to put in a plug for the book Black Mass by the English political philosopher John Gray, which I wrote about here. Gray is an atheist, but he cannot stand the militant atheism of people like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. In the book, Gray writes about how the instinct for utopia, born out of religion, keeps surfacing in the West, even without God. Nothing is more human, he writes, than to be prepared to kill and die to secure meaning in life. More Gray:

Those who demand that religion be exorcised from politics think this can be achieved by excluding traditional faiths from public institutions; but secular creeds are formed from religious concepts, and suppressing religion does not mean it ceases to control thinking and behaviour. Like repressed sexual desire, faith returns, often in grotesque forms, to govern the lives of those who deny it.

Slezkine writes that this same apocalyptic millenarianism erupted in anti-Christian form in the French Revolution. The Jacobins were Enlightenment apocalyptics, believing in the triumph of Reason, Science, and Virtue. And they were proto-Bolsheviks. Robespierre, in a 1794 speech to the National Assembly, praised "virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. The Terror is nothing but justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is thus an emanation of virtue."

In 19th century America, millenarianism took more gentle forms, but was still popular. Baptist preacher William Miller prophesied the end of the world in 1843, and reached a national audience with his forecast of doom. It didn't happen, but his work gave rise to the Adventist movements, which are still with us today. Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter-Day Saints faith, was another millenarian -- a more successful one.

Slezkine says that apocalyptic millenarianism in 19th century Europe often took the form of nationalism. Karl Marx advocated German nationalism as the first step in the worldwide communist revolution. Following Hegel, History was Marx's god. Slezkine:

[F]aith in progress is just as basic to modernity as the Second Coming was to Christianity ('progressive' means 'virtuous' and 'change' means 'hope'). 'Totalitarianism' is not a mysterious mutation: it is a memory and a promise; an attempt to keep hope alive.

By "totalitarianism," he means the system by which apocalyptic millenarians enforce the conditions they believe will constitute the New Jerusalem -- the utopia in which their sect believes.

The Marxist faith system prophesied a worldwide conflagration -- Revolution -- that would see the saints (the Proletariat) cleanse the world of the wicked (the Bourgeoisie) and their false religion (Capitalism). The Revolution would establish Communism: a paradise in which the state would wither away, because the cause of man's alienation would have been dealt with. Marx despised religion, but he did not believe that his system was religious at all. It was, he taught, entirely scientific -- thus making Marxism entirely compatible with what Enlightenment-era elites believed was the prime source of authority.

In Russia of the late 19th century, there was a great deal of apocalyptic fervor, and, of course, a number of Marxist and other left-wing revolutionary groups. The Bolsheviks were the most ruthless and disciplined of them all. Slezkine says it doesn't matter whether the faith of the Bolsheviks was really a religion or not. The fact is, it functioned like one. If religion is a set of agreements about sacred realities, though sacred realities believed to be objectively true, and the community organized around those beliefs, then every state on earth is religious. The Bolshevik "faith" united people, focused them around what Slezkine calls "the ultimate conditions of their existence," and told them what they had to do.

For the pre-revolutionary Bolsheviks, the priests and the prophets were their intellectuals, who were "religious about being secular." Writes Slezkine: "A conversion to socialism was a conversion to the intelligentsia, to a fusion of millenarian faith and lifelong learning."

The Bolshevik faith was initially spread among the intellectuals primarily through reading groups. Once you adopted the Marxist faith, everything else in life became illuminated. The intellectuals went into the world to preach religion to the workers. These missionaries, says Slezkine, appealed to and tried to intensify hatred in the hearts of their listeners. They spoke to the moral sense within the common people, and gave them what, if taken in a strictly religious sense, would be called prophetic revelations.

The pre-revolutionary Bolsheviks denounced "Philistines" -- people who are sunk in their everydayness, and lack revolutionary consciousness. It is chilling to read the lines of description they had for people like this. Slezkine calls the Philistines the "stock antipode of the intelligent" -- that is, the kind of person that a member of the intelligentsia saw as his exact opposite. In pre-revolutionary Russia, the intelligentsia saw themselves as a kind of secular priesthood. The way they wrote about their enemies, and the way they rhapsodized about revolution, was utterly fanatical and inhuman. Slezkine:

The revolutionaries were going to prevail because of the sheer power of their hatred. It cleansed the soul and swelled like the flood of the real day.

The "real day" is the day of Apocalypse, when the truth is fully made manifest, and all evil, injustice, and lies are cleansed from the earth. It would come about through "sacred fury." Slezkine quotes Bolshevik memoirs recalling the revolutionary days of 1917-18. Pure ecstasy, like the day of Pentecost in the New Testament.

Slezkine draws this interesting distinction:

Marx and Engels were not utopians – they were prophets. They did not talk about what a perfect system of social order should be and how and why it should be adopted or tested; they knew with absolute certainty that it was coming – right now, all by itself, and thanks to their words and deeds.

The Bolsheviks, however, did have a complex plan for creating utopia. Reading Slezkine, you can't help but be impressed by the power and discipline that Lenin and his lieutenants exercised. He was one of the most evil men who ever lived, Lenin -- Slezkine's accounts of Bolshevik mass murder of class enemies on Lenin's orders make Robespierre's bloodthirstiness seem like amateur hour. But he was a true revolutionary genius.

For young people in pre-revolutionary Russia, being part of these leftist groups "gave one a great sense of purpose, power, and belonging." Note this: one reason for the advance of revolutionary consciousness is that parents, despite depending on the stability of Tsarist autocracy, would not turn away from their radicalized children. Slezkine: "The 'students' were almost always abetted at home while still in school and almost never damned when they became revolutionaries."

Bolshevism in power tried to destroy the traditional family, seeing it as an incubator of capitalism. Slezkine writes about how this form of Bolshevik radicalism had to give way to a more conservative ideology of the family, because it caused problems that Soviet society could not deal with.

In power, Bolsheviks carried out apocalyptic destruction of the old order, including the mass murder of class enemies. I have just now arrived at the point in Slezkine's narrative in which he describes the "Great Disappointment" -- a term (borrowed from the Millerites) for the experience of the New Jerusalem not having arrived as promised. As I understand it, Slezkine will describe the homicidal spasms of the 1930s, under Stalin, as the vengeful Bolshevik reaction to utopia's failure. Utopia can only have failed because its proselytes were weak in faith -- and therefore deserve to be punished for their infidelity.

So, what does this have to do with our own Social Justice Warriors? There are clear parallels. Again, I encourage you to read James Lindsay's analysis of the postmodern faith system of Social Justice for more. I believe that this is what those who lived under communism intuit from the Social Justice Warriors -- I mean, why it frightens them:

Like the early Bolsheviks, the SJWs are radically alienated from society. They regard ordinary people as the intelligents regarded the so-called Philistines: with visceral contempt.

Justice depends on group identity. For Marxists, the line between Good and Evil ran between classes: the Proletariat and the Peasants on one side, the Bourgeoisie on the other. Marxism sees justice as entirely a matter of taking power away from the Bourgeoisie, and giving it to the revolutionary classes. Some in the bourgeoisie acquired revolutionary consciousness, and aided the Revolution.

Similarly, for the SJWs, the line also passes between groups, based on group identity. The Oppressors are whites, males, capitalists, heterosexuals, and Christians. The Oppressed are ethnic minorities, women, anti-capitalists, LGBTs, atheists, and other "marginalized" people. Justice is about taking power from the Oppressors and giving it to the Oppressed. Some among the Oppressors acquire revolutionary consciousness and aid the revolution; they are called "allies," and practice "allyship."

Social Justice Warriors, like the early Bolsheviks, are intellectuals whose gospel is spread by intellectual agitation. It is a gospel that depends on awakening and inspiring hatred in the hearts of those it wishes to induce into revolutionary consciousness. This is why it matters immensely that they have established their base within universities, where they can train those who will be going out to work in society's institutions in ideologized hatred.

SJWs believe that science is on their side, even when their claims are unscientific. They are doing the old post-Enlightenment utopian trick of making essentially religious claims, but claiming that they are objectively true. Quote from a Times story: "We're all born nonbinary. We learn gender."

SJWs are utopians who believe that Progress requires smashing all the old forms for the sake of liberation. After we are freed from the chains that bind us, we will experience a new form of life. From a June 4 New York Times Magazine story on destroying gender binaries :

Our talk shifted again from the past to the future. Jacobs spoke about foreseeing a time when people passing each other on the street wouldn't immediately, unconsciously sort one another into male or female, which even Jacobs reflexively does. "I don't know what genders are going to look like four generations from now," they added, allowing that they might sound utopian, naοve. "I think we're going to perceive each other as people. The classifications we live under will fall by the wayside."

Among the voices of the young, there are echoes and amplifications of Jacobs's optimism, along with the stories of private struggle. "There are as many genders as there are people," Emmy Johnson, a nonbinary employee at Jan Tate's clinic, told me with earnest authority. Johnson was about to sign up for a new dating app that caters to the genderqueer. "Sex is different as a nonbinary person," they said. "You're free of gender roles, and the farther you can get from those scripts, the better sex is going to be." Their tone was more triumphal: the better life is going to be. "The gender boxes are exploding," they declared.

In the case of transgender SJWs, parents can become the greatest advocates for their children, as in pre-revolutionary Russia with the radical youth. A distressed parent of a female-to-male transgender told me that in her child's high school, the pressure on parents from other parents to suppress all doubts about transgenderism was intense. Here, from that same NYT Magazine piece I quote above, is another anecdote:

Kai grew up in the Maryland suburbs outside Washington; both his parents are economists. He came out to them as genderqueer a year and a half ago, and they, as he put it, were willing "to step through the door" he held wide for them, the door into his way of seeing himself. They read a piece of creative writing he gave them, a meditation using Dadaism to explicate the nonsense of either-or. His mother asked if she could buy him new clothes. "Shopping for clothes was something we'd always done," he said. "It was her way of saying, 'I want to keep being part of your life.' That was really stepping through the door. And then, all the nerve-rackingness of shopping in the men's section of a department store and trying on pants and worrying about how people are looking at you and reading your gender, it would have been really hard to do on my own. But my mother was there. Just like when we'd shopped together before. And that made it normal."

Here's an interesting difference: from what I can tell, most SJWs don't have a clearly envisioned utopia. What will the world look like when whiteness is once and for all defeated? When toxic masculinity has been fully vanquished? And so forth. They don't know; all they know is that these things must come to pass, and will come to pass. We have to first destroy the old world and its corrupt structures. From the point of view of someone who stands to be smashed by these revolutionaries, it doesn't really matter whether or not they have a plan for what to do after you're overthrown.

Here's another interesting difference, and an important one: SJWs may want to destroy the oppressive practices, but unlike the Bolsheviks, they don't want to destroy the institutions of society. Rather, they want to conquer them and administer them . The religion of Social Justice has already conquered the university, as James Lindsay points out, and is moving quickly into other institutions: media (the NYT is its Pravda ), law, tech, entertainment, and corporate America. The Social Justice faith system can be easily adapted by the institutions of bourgeois capitalism -- a fact that conceals its radicalism.

The people who have lived in societies suffused with this kind of ideology -- emigres from Soviet-bloc countries -- can see through the veil. With this new book I'm working on, I'm going to do my best to help readers see through their eyes. Meanwhile, if you are really interested in the Russian Revolution, I strongly urge you to read The House Of Government -- all 1,128 pages of it. Yuri Slezkine is a masterful storyteller. It reads like a novel.

[Oct 21, 2019] Idolatry of money and the so-called market and its allegedly 'neutral' distributive mechanisms do not produce the best of all possible worlds as a result of people trading with each other in pursuit of ever more money

Oct 21, 2019 | off-guardian.org

Toby Russell

If it is true that humans very often fall in worship at the feet of Mammon, which very few reasonable people would contest, and if this idolatry produces almost wholly unwanted outcomes, a few important observations immediately follow.

The first might be that the so-called market and its allegedly 'neutral' distributive mechanisms do not produce the best of all possible worlds as a result of people trading with each other in pursuit of ever more money. The primary reason for this is that market fundamentalism takes no account of power and its symbiotic relationship with money; indeed, it is logically required by its fundamental tenets to deem money a 'neutral veil' that enables market activity as a kind of infinite and inert catalyst.

The second, and far more important, is what we hold to be valuable at the cultural level, and how we go about systemically measuring and distributing that value. Currently, money is the primary, almost only, tool for that job. Thus, if we cannot financially afford to do a thing, that thing is not worth doing by definition, even to the point of actively not doing what is actually affordable and desirable in terms of available resources and know-how to protect and nourish the environment that makes our very existence possible. Essentially, this 'illogic' is how societies operate today. With money as their guiding value system deep in their core functioning we are congenitally condemned to choose 'profitable' endeavours that are in fact destructive and socially corrosive over the long term.

The third is that there is thus something badly wrong in our cultural sense of what value is, how to generate it, and how to distribute it. The cure for this ill lies, in part, in dissolving the boundaries between various relevant disciplines – e.g., ecology, physics, sociology, economics, etc. – to some degree. For, while market-based economics wholly dominates how we think about and operate money, the general problem so sharply illustrated in the article above will persist, even though most of us, the vast majority of us, want that problem to go away. One pivotal element of what ought to be undertaken, in my view, is a very critical and open-minded look at how price and scarcity are interlocked, and how their symbiotic relationship influences how we perceive value, then over-consume as guided by that highly incomplete perception, and consequently fail to prioritize vital human vales such as trust, meaning and belonging.

Toby Russell
I wish I could, vexarb, but know only of a few decent ones that critique rather than offer solid ideas for complete overhauls, which is what is needed. One little volume that at least examines some alternative money systems and is also easy reading is Richard Douthwaite's "The Ecology of Money".

Aside from that there's Herman Daley's multi-decade commitment to steady-state economics, though he only recently began looking at the money system as a driver of perpetual growth, and I'm not sure what he's put forth on that pivotal point.

There's also "Sacred Economics" by Charles Eisenstein, but his offered solution – negative interest rates funding a guaranteed income as a kind of flowing 'money out from the top / money in at the bottom' dynamic – is likely both impractical and paradoxically too rooted in compound interest and money-profit to really work as expected, though that's my personal opinion. Besides, when radically new is needed, open-minded experimentation is the order of the day.

There's also biophysical economics , but I've only looked at it briefly and that was quite a while ago.

If you read German, there's Franz Hoermann's Infogeld , which is the idea that most interests me. It includes novelties such as asymmetrical prices that are determined scientifically/democratically in terms of actual biophysical costs rather than via so-called 'price discovery', guaranteed basic provision (not income), earning Infomoney for studying, parenting, staying healthy, etc., and a broad philosophical approach that recognizes how complex and subtle real value is, and that linear numbers simply cannot measure it. I translated/paraphrased much of his work a few years ago. It can be found here . It's not a fully fleshed-out idea, just a collection of sketched pieces, but with work and experimentation it might become what's needed

vexarb
Toby, many thanks for your considered reply. I have marked two of your recommendations for my own reading and as presents for the Festive Season to my grand daughter who is studying both ecology and biophysics: "The Ecology of Money" and Biophysical Economics. The latter seems to be an expansion of Findlay's notion (as a chemist) that wealth ought to be measured in units of energy (an idea which was taken up by our professor of Chemical Thermodynamics in the 50s by comparing nations in terms of their "energy slaves per capita". Ecology and Biophysics are sciences, which is why I was attracted by your 3 principles in the first place.

Anecdote to explain where I am coming from: Many years ago Shell Oil inflated the price of their oil reserves; this caused a flutter in business news but I could not understand what the fuss was about because Shell's figures did not affect the real amount of oil that was actually there, underground.

Toby Russell
Interesting. And if we go back to the 1930s we find the work of another chemist, Frederick Soddy, who also tackled economics and wealth, in particular how to design a money system that acted in accordance with physical laws, so to speak (e.g. "The Role of Money"). I believe he won a Nobel Prize for his chemistry, but was soundly poopooed by the economists of the time for meddling in their business.

I personally think that wealth and value, as synonyms, cannot ever be objectively defined or measured as they are rooted in subjective experience. Any new economics worth the effort will need to take proper account of this fact, alongside all the necessary biophysics and ecology of course. All schools of the dismal 'science' do address this issue, but with varying degrees of philosophical rigour. The treatments of subjective value I have looked into within economics thus far are unsatisfactory (behavioural economics somewhat excepted), with the market invariably posited as a neutral (thus scientific) 'objectifier' of all that subjective trading between households and firms.

vexarb
Toby, firstly thanks for the gentle correction: yes it was Soddy who proposed "energy pence", though Findlay was very keen on Chemistry in the Service of Humankind. And I agree thoroughly with your own doubt "that wealth and value, as synonyms, cannot ever be objectively defined or measured as they are rooted in subjective experience."

"A person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing" -- Oscar Wilde.

Your remark seems to throw an interesting light on a well known saying by Rabbi Jeshuah of Nazareth: "You cannot serve both God and Mammon" -- if by God you mean the Creator of All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small, All things Wise and Wonderful"; and my Mammon you mean the Creator of Fiat Money alone.

Toby Russell
Excellent, thank you for that, BigB! Wow, and John McMurtry got a mention in there. I'll see your McMurtry and raise you a Jackson

(I have to say, your thinking and hopes align quite tightly with those of Franz Hoermann. Shame his work is in German. He's a kind of nutty professor, works in a Viennese university in Rechnungswesen or something, which is some form of accountancy, but is very widely read and open-minded.)

Around 2007/2008, I became obsessed with money systems for obvious reasons. I started a blog sharing my angry insights and laying out as clearly and angrily as I could Why Money Has To Go! What I discovered is that people don't want to know, can't imagine a world without money, and I concluded that the cultural lag preventing radical change is a true representation of where we are as a species, as consciousness in human form. Our state of consciousness is as natural as everything else. After all, there is only nature. Even deliberate, malicious distortions of nature are part of nature. And that's when I really started working on myself, which is of course the work of lifetimes. Because, to paraphrase that infamous Michael Jackson song; you can't change them, you can only change yourself.

BigB
Have you read any late Merleau-Ponty? He was largely overshadowed by his better known friends Sarte and Simone de Beauvoir. After his death he slipped into the shadow of Sartre's shadow of fame – and was largely forgotten.

He was a huge influence on Varela. Around 2005: some of his late lecture notes turned up – made by an anonymous student – and there were several books published. This has sparked a minor revival in his significance: which I have been revisiting for the last few years.

He held the view of the nature we know as a *constructum* a scientific representationalism that is an active barrier – not to the nature 'without' but the nature within. The *chair du monde* the 'flesh of the world' the heart of all creation and experience.

He was undergoing a Gestalt: to put pure phenomenological experience at the heart of nature – thus liberating science from itself. Echoes of Schrodinger, Bohr, Eccles,: presaging Bohm, Varela, Bitbol etc.

Unfortunately, he died suddenly of a stroke. Sartre and de Beauvoir stole the limelight 'till now.

https://www.radicalphilosophy.com/article/late-merleau-ponty-revived

Regarding money value systems. I wholly concur with you and your "nutty professor" Hoermann. The general or Husserlian 'natural attitude' is based on money. What is hard to discern: is that it is based on it whether people have 'skin in the game'. Everyone wishes the market to do well: because they have 'dreams in the game'. If the economy does well: there will be a return to progress and prosperity – where 'I' will do well. This has nothing to do with access to capital. Access to dreams and values linked to capital are all that is required. Free-enterprise market based economies are really 'desire-dream production' facilities. Linking Freudian pleasure principles to actual production and valorisation of capital. This is Mark Fisher's 'Capitalist Realism'.

That is why the production function is not linked to any real world values. If it were: production – desire-dream production – would stop. Which is why Ayers, Keen, Kummel, Spash et al will be rejected. Because exergy and entropy considerations end the desire-dream "actual fantasy" production. And it can never be restarted.

The real reasons for which are not lack of resources (input source degradation) – or waste pollution of sinks (output sink degradation) they are lack of imagination. If you take away the current money-value nexus: you take away the Self that is invested – self-invested: at all market levels (not just capital markets) – in those values. Value and asset stripping the epochal Cartesian subjectivity of its worth. The paradox is that worth is already less than zero – due to the market failure and artificial intervention of the Central Banks.

Cartesian subjectivity is self-invested in a Capitalist Realism that is about to asset strip and devalue every form of desire-dream production – downgrading entire continents of human aspirations to 'negative yielding junk' status. That is Capitalist Realism. In the coming market failure: everyone fails. There will be carnage – and deaths. And a tsunami of recrimination and blame.

A tiny percentage of 'Cassandras' will be powerless to stop this. All the information is in the public domain. I had no trouble finding any of it. The picture is crystal clear. Whilst the majoritarian involvement is with desire-dream production of perpetual motion prosperity: something entirely different is actually occurring. I cannot think of anyone that is looking at the coming collapse as anything other than the end of another business cycle. We'll just start another business cycle. How?

It's a fair question: one very few want to confront. There is no Plan B: because there is no doubt of the answer. The current political debate is pure pantomime and fantasy if you apply real world dynamical constraints. I wish Steve Keen every success: though I truly believe it has come too late in the day.

I think we would have more success following Merleau-Ponty and foregoing the entire reliance on desire-dream production. Whole people who are actuating life and creation as a syngenesis – the 'together creation' of a valueless value-equality system – don't need spurious dreams. They are living the dream right now. No need to rape the earth. Only preserve it as the only shared value production system we have. But you already know this.

BigB
Unbeknownst to me: Ted Trainer has been reviewing a similar reading list to me. And drawn the same "true prophecy" conclusion: we are already in a post-production world.

https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-10-17/why-de-growth-is-essential-a-rejection-of-left-ecomodernists-phillips-sharzer-bastini-and-parenti/

Maybe we will notice one day!

vexarb
From the above discussion, one could conclude that conventional economic theory is standing on its head: it uses money as a measure of wealth, when in reality wealth is the measure of money.

Take the Icelanders for example: the only "Western" country to follow China's excellent practice of jailing crooked bankers. The Icelandic Leader did not look at the enormous sums stolen, and exclaim in awe, These crooks are too big to fail. Instead, Iceland looked at their real wealth: water, fish, a fragile but productive soil, and geothermal energy. So they cocked a snook at British PM George Brown who called Icelanders "terrorists", jailed their crooked bankers and their crooked politicians, and are doing much better than the UK's Classical Monetarist economy.

Toby Russell
Precisely. In a very real sense, we are a simple 180 degree twist away from something wonderful. Its our collective somnambulist imagination that stands in our way.
BigB
Precisely.

WEALTH:
From Middle English – *wele* = wellbeing; welfare

closely allied to HEALTH – *hoelp* = wholeness; being whole (among other roots).

The word has been engineered in use into a narrowly defined measure of accumulation.

Real wealth is simply being here. Economies do not allow for that anymore.

Toby Russell
Thank you. No, I hadn't heard of Merleau-Ponty but will now look into him. It sounds very observant, clear sighted. There is so much of this stuff out there, but the deep dog-whistle excellence of public-relations brain washing has been able to keep the infantile solipsism – which I take to be Cartesian subjectivity – alive and kicking in its pram of consumer conveniences. Who knows what the cost will be.
BigB

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It is way to early to falsely declare that the individual Cartesian subject is dead. But it its disembodied subjectivity is under threat: from the very science that stands between us and nature.

We supposedly live in a positivist empirical scientific paradigm. Supposedly: because we left us out of the representation. And the rational empirical Self we invented from science and philosophy is nowhere to be found for anyone who cares to look. Which is too few unfortunately.

No one wants to totally debunk science: only to liberate an observer participant/dependent second order science – with first person phenomenology at its heart. After all: we do not experience ourselves via self-reports to others who dictate back to us what and who we can be. Actually, we pretty much do exactly that for the moment.

To bridge the gap: Varela proposed his 'neurophenomenology' – which was a rigorous first person accounting "mutually constraining" the third person neursoscientific lab approach (how much we are supposed to learn from 'rubber hand' illusions – I have never quite been sure. In fact I believe this 'third person' approach to be quite distorting and very possibly even dangerous we 'hallucinate' consciousness; reality is an illusion; etc).

We need to end up with a holistic account – not a 'Frankenstein' paradigm stitched together from phantom limb pains; whole body illusions; aphasia and lesion studies; etc.

We are whole: not the sum of our dead deterministic parts! What a pity Varela died too soon too.

Toby Russell

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Yes, a holistic account. For me that starts with accepting there is no matter, just information; no space, just the mathematics of dimension, volume, distance, etc.; no energy, just the mathematics and physics of force, attraction, repulsion, etc.: all information. There is only experience, which is a necessary property of consciousness. We cannot know what is 'beyond' that, because it lies outside what we are. We cannot even know if anything 'beyond' consciousness is possible.

And yes, the proposition that dead bits and pieces can be arranged in such a way as to create the 'illusion' of life and consciousness is wholly untenable. Just the simple query: "Who or what is being deceived by the illusion?" bursts that bubble. Or ought to. People do so cling to their beliefs

Tim Jenkins

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Fine comment, Toby and may I submit that for real values to shine through, on collective societal 'growth' & evolution of consciousness, harmonised with critical reasoning, then the very first thing we need to get rid of is the IMF & Co.

Now that Kristalina Georgieva is the new M.D. people should be able to quickly see clearly, that after her 1,001 days at the WBO and her previous pathetic E.U. C.V. one does not need to understand ANYthing to do with how the system truly functions presently & how it could be made to work for the people.

Stalinka's wholly unsuitable levels of deception, distraction & professional incompetence, combined with her love & respect for Mafia Bosses, (literally), in her own personal drive of pure self-interest and fuck Bulgaria and the Bulgarians mentality, was well proven when she sided against Irina Bokova for Secretary General of the U.N. :- purely to get on side with Merkel, May & BG PM Borisov's alliance with Anglo-Zionist-Capitalists & NATO's non-existent interest in the Palestinian Problem. Bokova, on the other hand, had actually done more than just getting down to work in changing Law and scything Budgets @UNESCO and since serving as boss of UNESCO, thanks to Bokova we can now proceed legally, theoretically, against any genocidal policy of war, because in Law,
"The Destruction of Culture is a Terrorist Act "
A solid foundation from which to work from,
in securing Palestinian 'values' & property rights.
Forget the IMF & Stalinka's rhetoric: we don't grow olives in Bulgaria, but have much to trade with those who do and after Erdogan's "Operation Olive Branch", it is high time people penalised Rhetoric & rewarded Sincerity in actions, not empty words inverting
& perverting reality . . . to twist trust, spin meaning & annulate cultural belonging.
"This idolatry produces almost wholly unwanted outcomes" no 'ifs', Toby.

Greetings,
Tim

Toby Russell

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Thank you, Tim.

Yes, the evolution of consciousness is central. Indeed, I don't think we'll manage to lastingly root out our need for corruptible institutions like the IMF and World Bank and BIS etc., until we have developed or evolved a robust cultural desire to do things very differently. I don't feel a top-down change can happen. And for radical change to be bottom up, effective, sustainable and true to who we are as humans, we have to change in our consciousness, away from fear, distrust and greed, towards love, trust and sharing. And these things take time

smoe

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yes , boundaries present profit opportunities. The nation states are bounded human containers.. the humans caught in the containers are fed the information that makes up the environment and so they only know what is made available to them. That means those in control of the propaganda can differentiate the humans and then sort them by binaries..
like gun control, or politicians, or race, place of origin, social factors, education, mental ability, religion or just about anything.. But separation is not enough, those in control of the information (propaganda) then polarize the thinking or feelings of the persons in the differentiated groups; its like a football game, everyone is either for the Red Team and strongly against the blue team, or vice-a-versa.

If you exchange a new born child, born to a Jewish family in New York, for a child born the same day in Iran.and and the parents of the exchanged children mature in their own native societies the non genetic child, 24 years later. the adult version of these two now matured children will hate each other, not be able to speak the language of the other and be committed to a vastly different set of goals and hold a vastly different set of basic beliefs.

Nation state encapsulation allows to different humanity and propaganda allows to polarize the thinking of those incarcerated within the nation states. These two things (boundary and propaganda) account for, or are the basis of citizen support for all wars, and binary differences that lead to reasoned differences of opinions. War comes about when some greedy person (usually those supporting the leader and the leader) wants something the polarized other side has or refuses to yield on.

Toby Russell

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Yes. Your summation reminds me strongly of Lewis Mumford's The Myth of the Machine, which is about how unchecked ego – the mythic solar hero run rampant – structures societies as mechanical-processional systems revolving around its hidden fears and need for final control of everything. Of course there is never enough control and it all breaks in the end, as narcissism must.

I should add, though, that diversity is vital. Life without diversity is impossible. The way for us all, unique as we are, to communicate as successfully as possible with each other, is to have zero beliefs, as you suggest in another comment above. That means almost zero propaganda, and that little which might remain – there may always be a need for some common vision of what life is about as part of meaning making and the fact that humans are social beings – must be explicit and transparent, and always open to robust questioning.

[Oct 20, 2019] Growing Secularism Is Pushing Religion, Traditional Values Aside, AG Barr Warns by Janita Kan

Notable quotes:
"... "Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic," he said. ..."
Oct 12, 2019 | aim4truth.org
Share U.S. Attorney General William Barr raised concerns about the increase in secularism in society in a speech on Oct. 11, speaking about how that has contributed to a number of social issues plaguing communities across the nation.

Barr, who delivered his remarks to students at the University of Notre Dame's law school, drew attention to the comprehensive effort to drive away religion and traditional moral systems in society and to push secularism in their place.

"We see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism," Barr said.

He said that the forces of secularism are using mass media and popular culture, the promotion of greater reliance on government intervention for social problems, and the use of legal and judicial institutions to eliminate traditional moral norms.

Barr explored several of the consequences of "this moral upheaval," highlighting its effect on all parts of society.

"Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic," he said.

"Over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses," he said. "But I won't dwell on the bitter results of the new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has coincided, and, as I believe, has brought with it, immense suffering and misery."

Barr said religion has come under increasing attack over the past 50 years, underscoring how secularists are using society's institutions to systematically destroy religion and stifle opposing views.

"Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values. These instruments are used not only to affirmatively promote secular orthodoxy but also to drown out and silence opposing voices," he said.

He said that people are moving away from "micro-morality" observed by Christians, a system of morality that seeks to transform the world by focusing on their own personal morality and transformation. Instead, he said the modern secularists are pushing a "macro-morality," which focuses on political causes and collective actions to address social problems.

"In the past, when societies are threatened by moral chaos, the overall social costs of licentiousness and irresponsible personal conduct become so high that society ultimately recoils and reevaluates the path it is on," Barr said.

"But today, in the face of all the increasing pathologies, instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have cast the state in the role as the alleviator of bad consequences. We call on the state to mitigate the social costs of personal conduct and irresponsibility. So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility but abortion; the reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites."

"The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with this wreckage, and while we think we are resolving problems, we [actually] are underwriting them."

He also pointed out how the law has been used to "break down traditional moral values and establish moral relativism as the new orthodoxy," giving the example of how laws have been used to aggressively force religious people and entities to subscribe to practices and policies that are antithetical to their faith .

"The forces of secularism have been continually seeking to eliminate the laws that reflect traditional moral norms," he said.

Barr also highlighted the role of religion in society, saying it promotes moral discipline while it influences people's conduct.

"Religion also helps promote moral discipline in society. We're all fallen. We don't automatically conform our conduct to moral rules, even when we know that they're good for us. But religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what's good," he said.

"It doesn't do this primarily by formal laws -- that is, by coercive power -- it does this through moral education and by framing society's informal rules -- the customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages. In other words, religion helps frame a moral culture within society that instills and reinforces moral discipline."

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan

[Oct 15, 2019] https://glineq.blogspot.com/2019/10/why-it-is-not-crisis-of-capitalism.html

Oct 15, 2019 | glineq.blogspot.com

October 11, 2019

Why it is not the crisis of capitalism

There has recently been an avalanche of articles and books about the "crisis of capitalism" predicting its demise or depassement. For those old enough to remember the 1990s, there is a strange similarity with the then literature arguing that the Hegelian end of history has arrived. The latter literature was proven wrong. The former, I believe, is factually wrong and misdiagnoses the problem.

The facts show not the crisis, but on the contrary, the greatest strength of capitalism ever, both in terms of its geographical span and the expansion to the areas (like leisure time, or social media) where it has created entirely new markets and commodified things that historically were never objects of transaction.

Geographically, capitalism is now the dominant (or even the only) mode of production all over the world whether in Sweden where the private sector employs more than 70% the labor force, the United States where it employs 85% or in China where the (capitalistically-organized) private sector produces 80% of the value added.[1] This was obviously not the case before the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and Russia, nor before China embarked on what is euphemistically called "transformation" but was in reality replacement of socialism by capitalist relations of productions.

In addition, thanks to globalization and technological revolutions, a number of new, hitherto non-existent markets have been created: a huge market for personal data, rental markets for own cars and homes (neither of which was capital until Uber, Lyft, Airbnb etc. were created), market for housing of self-employed individuals (which did not exist before WeWork) and a number of other market such as those for taking care of the elderly, of children, or pets, market for cooking and delivery of food, market for shopping chores etc.

The social importance of these new markets is that they create new capital, and by placing a price on things that had none before transform mere goods (use-value) into commodities (exchange value). This capitalist expansion is not fundamentally different from the expansion of capitalism in the 18th and 19th century Europe, the one discussed both by Adam Smith and Karl Marx. Once new markets are created, there is a shadow value placed on all these goods or activities. This does not mean that we would all immediately run to rent our homes or drive our cars as taxis, but it means that we are aware of the financial loss that we make by not doing so. For many of us, once the price is right (whether because our circumstances change or the relative price increases), we shall join the new markets and thus reinforce them.

These new markets are fragmented, in the sense that they seldom requite a sustained full-day work. Thus commodification goes together with gig economy. In a gig economy we are both suppliers of services (we can deliver pizza in the afternoons), and purchasers of many services that used to be non-monetized (the already mentioned: cleaning, cooking, nursing). This in turn makes it possible for individuals to satisfy all their needs on the market and in the longer term raises big issues such as the usefulness and survival of the family.

But if capitalism has spread so much in all directions, why do we speak of its crisis? Because the malaise which is limited to rich Western countries is supposed to afflict the entire world. But this is not the case. And the reason why this is not the case is because the Western malaise is the product of uneven distribution of the gains from globalization, an outcome not dissimilar to what happened in the 19th century globalization when the gains were however disproportionally reaped by the Europeans.

When this new bout of globalization began, it was politically "sold" in the West, especially as it came on the heels of "the end of history", on the premise that it will benefit disproportionately rich countries and their populations. The outcome was the opposite. It benefited especially Asia, populous countries like China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia. It is the gap between the expectations entertained by the Western middle classes and their low income growth, as well as their slide in the global income position, that fuels dissatisfaction with globalization. This is wrongly diagnosed as dissatisfaction with capitalism.

There is also another issue. The expansion of market-like approach to societies in all (or almost all) of their activities, which is indeed a feature of advanced capitalism, has also transformed politics into a business activity. In principle, politics, no more than our leisure time, was not regarded as an area of market transaction. But both have become so. This has made politics more corrupt. It is now considered like any other activity, where even if one does not engage in explicit corruption during his political tenure, one uses the connections and knowledge acquired in politics to make money afterwards. That type of commodification has created widespread cynicism and disenchantment with mainstream politics and politicians.

Thus the crisis is not of capitalism per se, but is the crisis brought about by the uneven effects of globalization and by capitalist expansion to the areas that were traditionally not considered apt for commercialization. In other words, capitalism has become too powerful and has in some cases come into collision with strongly held beliefs. It will either continue with its conquest of more, yet non-commercialized, spheres, or it would have to be controlled and its "field of action" reduced to what it used to be.
________________________________
[1] World Bank data, quoted in Capitalism, Alone

-- Branko Milanovic Reply Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 04:46 AM likbez said in reply to anne... "In addition, thanks to globalization and technological revolutions, a number of new, hitherto non-existent markets have been created: a huge market for personal data, rental markets for own cars and homes (neither of which was capital until Uber, Lyft, Airbnb etc. were created), market for housing of self-employed individuals (which did not exist before WeWork) and a number of other market such as those for taking care of the elderly, of children, or pets, market for cooking and delivery of food, market for shopping chores etc."

Opening new markets was the key feature of capitalism from the very beginning. Marx wrote extensively about this particular feature in his Capital. The current problem is the "end of growth" and whether capitalism in the form of neoliberalism can deal with "secular stagnation". So far the answer was "trade wars"

In this particular case Branko Milanovic wrote a weak neoliberal crap, almost apologetic of neoliberalism in best style of Milton Friedman (who now is really past its self value).

This crisis of neoliberalism (which is the current stage of capitalism, if you want to use Marxist's terms) is systemic and no tricks like Uber can save us from the "secular stagnation".

Brexit, Trump election, Trade War with China, EU frictions are all symptoms of the larger problem: the idea "Financial elites from all over the globe unite" did not work well; the rule of financial oligarchy always kills growth.

There is also another systemic problem which is known under the name "the end of cheap oil"


That's why we now have the "secular stagnation" in the USA despite all wonders of modern technology.


BTW Marxism proved to be mixed blessing with the analysis of capitalism withstanding the test of the time, but with its idea of "proletarian" as the new ruling class being adamantly false (and converted into a new secular religion paving the way to Bolshevism and national socialism, among other things), so anything written by reformed Marxists would be taken with the grain of salt. Reply Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 07:18 PM

[Oct 10, 2019] Trump, Impeachment Forgetting What Brought Him to the White House by Andrew J. Bacevich

Highly recommended!
The term "centrist" is replaced by a more appropriate term "neoliberal oligarchy"
Notable quotes:
"... Furthermore, Donald Trump might well emerge from this national ordeal with his reelection chances enhanced. Such a prospect is belatedly insinuating itself into public discourse. For that reason, certain anti-Trump pundits are already showing signs of going wobbly, suggesting , for instance, that censure rather than outright impeachment might suffice as punishment for the president's various offenses. Yet censuring Trump while allowing him to stay in office would be the equivalent of letting Harvey Weinstein off with a good tongue-lashing so that he can get back to making movies. Censure is for wimps. ..."
"... So if Trump finds himself backed into a corner, Democrats aren't necessarily in a more favorable position. And that aren't the half of it. Let me suggest that, while Trump is being pursued, it's you, my fellow Americans, who are really being played. The unspoken purpose of impeachment is not removal, but restoration. The overarching aim is not to replace Trump with Mike Pence -- the equivalent of exchanging Groucho for Harpo. No, the object of the exercise is to return power to those who created the conditions that enabled Trump to win the White House in the first place. ..."
"... For many of the main participants in this melodrama, the actual but unstated purpose of impeachment is to correct this great wrong and thereby restore history to its anointed path. ..."
"... In a recent column in The Guardian, Professor Samuel Moyn makes the essential point: Removing from office a vulgar, dishonest and utterly incompetent president comes nowhere close to capturing what's going on here. To the elites most intent on ousting Trump, far more important than anything he may say or do is what he signifies. He is a walking, talking repudiation of everything they believe and, by extension, of a future they had come to see as foreordained. ..."
"... Moyn styles these anti-Trump elites as "neoliberal oligarchy", members of the post-Cold War political mainstream that allowed ample room for nominally conservative Bushes and nominally liberal Clintons, while leaving just enough space for Barack Obama's promise of hope-and-(not-too-much) change. ..."
"... These "neoliberal oligarchy" share a common worldview. They believe in the universality of freedom as defined and practiced within the United States. They believe in corporate capitalism operating on a planetary scale. They believe in American primacy, with the United States presiding over a global order as the sole superpower. They believe in "American global leadership," which they define as primarily a military enterprise. And perhaps most of all, while collecting degrees from Georgetown, Harvard, Oxford, Wellesley, the University of Chicago, and Yale, they came to believe in a so-called meritocracy as the preferred mechanism for allocating wealth, power and privilege. All of these together comprise the sacred scripture of contemporary American political elites. And if Donald Trump's antagonists have their way, his removal will restore that sacred scripture to its proper place as the basis of policy. ..."
"... "For all their appeals to enduring moral values," Moyn writes, "the "neoliberal oligarchy" are deploying a transparent strategy to return to power." Destruction of the Trump presidency is a necessary precondition for achieving that goal. ""neoliberal oligarchy" simply want to return to the status quo interrupted by Trump, their reputations laundered by their courageous opposition to his mercurial reign, and their policies restored to credibility." Precisely. ..."
"... how does such misconduct compare to the calamities engineered by the "neoliberal oligarchy" who preceded him? ..."
"... Trump's critics speak with one voice in demanding accountability. Yet virtually no one has been held accountable for the pain, suffering, and loss inflicted by the architects of the Iraq War and the Great Recession. Why is that? As another presidential election approaches, the question not only goes unanswered, but unasked. ..."
"... To win reelection, Trump, a corrupt con man (who jumped ship on his own bankrupt casinos, money in hand, leaving others holding the bag) will cheat and lie. Yet, in the politics of the last half-century, these do not qualify as novelties. (Indeed, apart from being the son of a sitting U.S. vice president, what made Hunter Biden worth $50Gs per month to a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch? I'm curious.) That the president and his associates are engaging in a cover-up is doubtless the case. Yet another cover-up proceeds in broad daylight on a vastly larger scale. "Trump's shambolic presidency somehow seems less unsavory," Moyn writes, when considering the fact that his critics refuse "to admit how massively his election signified the failure of their policies, from endless war to economic inequality." Just so. ..."
"... Exactly. Trump is the result of voter disgust with Bush III vs Clinton II, the presumed match up for a year or more leading up to 2016. Now Democrats want to do it again, thinking they can elect anybody against Trump. That's what Hillary thought too. ..."
"... Trump won for lack of alternatives. Our political class is determined to prevent any alternatives breaking through this time either. They don't want Trump, but even more they want to protect their gravy train of donor money, the huge overspending on medical care (four times the defense budget) and of course all those Forever Wars. ..."
"... Trump could win, for the same reasons as last time, even though the result would be no better than last time. ..."
"... I wish the slick I.D. politics obsessed corporate Dems nothing but the worst, absolute worst. They reap what they sow. If it means another four years of Trump, so be it. It's the price that's going to have to be paid. ..."
"... At a time when a majority of U.S. citizens cannot muster up $500 for an emergency dental bill or car repair without running down to the local "pay day loan" lender shark (now established as legitimate businesses) the corporate Dems, in their infinite wisdom, decide to concoct an impeachment circus to run simultaneously when all the dirt against the execrable Brennan and his intel minions starts to hit the press for their Russiagate hoax. Nice sleight of hand there corporate Dems. ..."
Oct 10, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

There is blood in the water and frenzied sharks are closing in for the kill. Or so they think.

From the time of Donald Trump's election, American elites have hungered for this moment. At long last, they have the 45th president of the United States cornered. In typically ham-handed fashion, Trump has given his adversaries the very means to destroy him politically. They will not waste the opportunity. Impeachment now -- finally, some will say -- qualifies as a virtual certainty.

No doubt many surprises lie ahead. Yet the Democrats controlling the House of Representatives have passed the point of no return. The time for prudential judgments -- the Republican-controlled Senate will never convict, so why bother? -- is gone for good. To back down now would expose the president's pursuers as spineless cowards. The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC would not soon forgive such craven behavior.

So, as President Woodrow Wilson, speaking in 1919 put it, "The stage is set, the destiny disclosed. It has come about by no plan of our conceiving, but by the hand of God." Of course, the issue back then was a notably weighty one: whether to ratify the Versailles Treaty. That it now concerns a " Mafia-like shakedown " orchestrated by one of Wilson's successors tells us something about the trajectory of American politics over the course of the last century and it has not been a story of ascent.

The effort to boot the president from office is certain to yield a memorable spectacle. The rancor and contempt that have clogged American politics like a backed-up sewer since the day of Trump's election will now find release. Watergate will pale by comparison. The uproar triggered by Bill Clinton's " sexual relations " will be nothing by comparison. A de facto collaboration between Trump, those who despise him, and those who despise his critics all but guarantees that this story will dominate the news, undoubtedly for months to come.

As this process unspools, what politicians like to call "the people's business" will go essentially unattended. So while Congress considers whether or not to remove Trump from office, gun-control legislation will languish, the deterioration of the nation's infrastructure will proceed apace, needed healthcare reforms will be tabled, the military-industrial complex will waste yet more billions, and the national debt, already at $22 trillion -- larger, that is, than the entire economy -- will continue to surge. The looming threat posed by climate change, much talked about of late, will proceed all but unchecked. For those of us preoccupied with America's role in the world, the obsolete assumptions and habits undergirding what's still called " national security " will continue to evade examination. Our endless wars will remain endless and pointless.

By way of compensation, we might wonder what benefits impeachment is likely to yield. Answering that question requires examining four scenarios that describe the range of possibilities awaiting the nation.

The first and most to be desired (but least likely) is that Trump will tire of being a public piñata and just quit. With the thrill of flying in Air Force One having worn off, being president can't be as much fun these days. Why put up with further grief? How much more entertaining for Trump to retire to the political sidelines where he can tweet up a storm and indulge his penchant for name-calling. And think of the "deals" an ex-president could make in countries like Israel, North Korea, Poland, and Saudi Arabia on which he's bestowed favors. Cha-ching! As of yet, however, the president shows no signs of taking the easy (and lucrative) way out.

The second possible outcome sounds almost as good but is no less implausible: a sufficient number of Republican senators rediscover their moral compass and "do the right thing," joining with Democrats to create the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump and send him packing. In the Washington of that classic 20th-century film director Frank Capra, with Jimmy Stewart holding forth on the Senate floor and a moist-eyed Jean Arthur cheering him on from the gallery, this might have happened. In the real Washington of "Moscow Mitch" McConnell , think again.

The third somewhat seamier outcome might seem a tad more likely. It postulates that McConnell and various GOP senators facing reelection in 2020 or 2022 will calculate that turning on Trump just might offer the best way of saving their own skins. The president's loyalty to just about anyone, wives included, has always been highly contingent, the people streaming out of his administration routinely making the point. So why should senatorial loyalty to the president be any different? At the moment, however, indications that Trump loyalists out in the hinterlands will reward such turncoats are just about nonexistent. Unless that base were to flip, don't expect Republican senators to do anything but flop.

That leaves outcome No. 4, easily the most probable: while the House will impeach, the Senate will decline to convict. Trump will therefore stay right where he is, with the matter of his fitness for office effectively deferred to the November 2020 elections. Except as a source of sadomasochistic diversion, the entire agonizing experience will, therefore, prove to be a colossal waste of time and blather.

Furthermore, Donald Trump might well emerge from this national ordeal with his reelection chances enhanced. Such a prospect is belatedly insinuating itself into public discourse. For that reason, certain anti-Trump pundits are already showing signs of going wobbly, suggesting , for instance, that censure rather than outright impeachment might suffice as punishment for the president's various offenses. Yet censuring Trump while allowing him to stay in office would be the equivalent of letting Harvey Weinstein off with a good tongue-lashing so that he can get back to making movies. Censure is for wimps.

Besides, as Trump campaigns for a second term, he would almost surely wear censure like a badge of honor. Keep in mind that Congress's approval ratings are considerably worse than his. To more than a few members of the public, a black mark awarded by Congress might look like a gold star.

Restoration Not Removal

So if Trump finds himself backed into a corner, Democrats aren't necessarily in a more favorable position. And that aren't the half of it. Let me suggest that, while Trump is being pursued, it's you, my fellow Americans, who are really being played. The unspoken purpose of impeachment is not removal, but restoration. The overarching aim is not to replace Trump with Mike Pence -- the equivalent of exchanging Groucho for Harpo. No, the object of the exercise is to return power to those who created the conditions that enabled Trump to win the White House in the first place.

Just recently, for instance, Hillary Clinton declared Trump to be an "illegitimate president." Implicit in her charge is the conviction -- no doubt sincere -- that people like Donald Trump are not supposed to be president. People like Hillary Clinton -- people possessing credentials like hers and sharing her values -- should be the chosen ones. Here we glimpse the true meaning of legitimacy in this context. Whatever the vote in the Electoral College, Trump doesn't deserve to be president and never did.

For many of the main participants in this melodrama, the actual but unstated purpose of impeachment is to correct this great wrong and thereby restore history to its anointed path.

In a recent column in The Guardian, Professor Samuel Moyn makes the essential point: Removing from office a vulgar, dishonest and utterly incompetent president comes nowhere close to capturing what's going on here. To the elites most intent on ousting Trump, far more important than anything he may say or do is what he signifies. He is a walking, talking repudiation of everything they believe and, by extension, of a future they had come to see as foreordained.

Moyn styles these anti-Trump elites as "neoliberal oligarchy", members of the post-Cold War political mainstream that allowed ample room for nominally conservative Bushes and nominally liberal Clintons, while leaving just enough space for Barack Obama's promise of hope-and-(not-too-much) change.

These "neoliberal oligarchy" share a common worldview. They believe in the universality of freedom as defined and practiced within the United States. They believe in corporate capitalism operating on a planetary scale. They believe in American primacy, with the United States presiding over a global order as the sole superpower. They believe in "American global leadership," which they define as primarily a military enterprise. And perhaps most of all, while collecting degrees from Georgetown, Harvard, Oxford, Wellesley, the University of Chicago, and Yale, they came to believe in a so-called meritocracy as the preferred mechanism for allocating wealth, power and privilege. All of these together comprise the sacred scripture of contemporary American political elites. And if Donald Trump's antagonists have their way, his removal will restore that sacred scripture to its proper place as the basis of policy.

"For all their appeals to enduring moral values," Moyn writes, "the "neoliberal oligarchy" are deploying a transparent strategy to return to power." Destruction of the Trump presidency is a necessary precondition for achieving that goal. ""neoliberal oligarchy" simply want to return to the status quo interrupted by Trump, their reputations laundered by their courageous opposition to his mercurial reign, and their policies restored to credibility." Precisely.

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

The U.S. military's "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad at the start of the Iraq War, as broadcast on CNN.

For such a scheme to succeed, however, laundering reputations alone will not suffice. Equally important will be to bury any recollection of the catastrophes that paved the way for an über -qualified centrist to lose to an indisputably unqualified and unprincipled political novice in 2016.

Holding promised security assistance hostage unless a foreign leader agrees to do you political favors is obviously and indisputably wrong. Trump's antics regarding Ukraine may even meet some definition of criminal. Still, how does such misconduct compare to the calamities engineered by the "neoliberal oligarchy" who preceded him? Consider, in particular, the George W. Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq in 2003 (along with the spin-off wars that followed). Consider, too, the reckless economic policies that produced the Great Recession of 2007-2008. As measured by the harm inflicted on the American people (and others), the offenses for which Trump is being impeached qualify as mere misdemeanors.

Honest people may differ on whether to attribute the Iraq War to outright lies or monumental hubris. When it comes to tallying up the consequences, however, the intentions of those who sold the war don't particularly matter. The results include thousands of Americans killed; tens of thousands wounded, many grievously, or left to struggle with the effects of PTSD; hundreds of thousands of non-Americans killed or injured ; millions displaced ; trillions of dollars expended; radical groups like ISIS empowered (and in its case even formed inside a U.S. prison in Iraq); and the Persian Gulf region plunged into turmoil from which it has yet to recover. How do Trump's crimes stack up against these?

The Great Recession stemmed directly from economic policies implemented during the administration of President Bill Clinton and continued by his successor. Deregulating the banking sector was projected to produce a bonanza in which all would share. Yet, as a direct result of the ensuing chicanery, nearly 9 million Americans lost their jobs, while overall unemployment shot up to 10 percent. Roughly 4 million Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. The stock market cratered and millions saw their life savings evaporate. Again, the question must be asked: How do these results compare to Trump's dubious dealings with Ukraine?

Trump's critics speak with one voice in demanding accountability. Yet virtually no one has been held accountable for the pain, suffering, and loss inflicted by the architects of the Iraq War and the Great Recession. Why is that? As another presidential election approaches, the question not only goes unanswered, but unasked.

Sen. Carter Glass (D–Va.) and Rep. Henry B. Steagall (D–Ala.-3), the co-sponsors of the 1932 Glass–Steagall Act separating investment and commercial banking, which was repealed in 1999. (Wikimedia Commons)

To win reelection, Trump, a corrupt con man (who jumped ship on his own bankrupt casinos, money in hand, leaving others holding the bag) will cheat and lie. Yet, in the politics of the last half-century, these do not qualify as novelties. (Indeed, apart from being the son of a sitting U.S. vice president, what made Hunter Biden worth $50Gs per month to a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch? I'm curious.) That the president and his associates are engaging in a cover-up is doubtless the case. Yet another cover-up proceeds in broad daylight on a vastly larger scale. "Trump's shambolic presidency somehow seems less unsavory," Moyn writes, when considering the fact that his critics refuse "to admit how massively his election signified the failure of their policies, from endless war to economic inequality." Just so.

What are the real crimes? Who are the real criminals? No matter what happens in the coming months, don't expect the Trump impeachment proceedings to come within a country mile of addressing such questions.

Andrew Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular , is president and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft . His new book, " The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory ," will be published in January.

This article is from TomDispatch.com .


Mark Thomason , October 9, 2019 at 17:03

Exactly. Trump is the result of voter disgust with Bush III vs Clinton II, the presumed match up for a year or more leading up to 2016. Now Democrats want to do it again, thinking they can elect anybody against Trump. That's what Hillary thought too.

Now the Republicans who lost their party to Trump think they can take it back with somebody even more lame than Jeb, if only they could find someone, anyone, to run on that non-plan.

Trump won for lack of alternatives. Our political class is determined to prevent any alternatives breaking through this time either. They don't want Trump, but even more they want to protect their gravy train of donor money, the huge overspending on medical care (four times the defense budget) and of course all those Forever Wars.

Trump could win, for the same reasons as last time, even though the result would be no better than last time.

LJ , October 9, 2019 at 17:01

Well, yeah but I recall that what won Trump the Republican Nomination was first and foremost his stance on Immigration. This issue is what separated him from the herd of candidates . None of them had the courage or the desire to go against Governmental Groupthink on Immigration. All he then had to do was get on top of low energy Jeb Bush and the road was clear. He got the base on his side on this issue and on his repeated statement that he wished to normalize relations with Russia . He won the nomination easily. The base is still on his side on these issues but Governmental Groupthink has prevailed in the House, the Senate, the Intelligence Services and the Federal Courts. Funny how nobody in the Beltway, especially not in media, is brave enough to admit that the entire Neoconservative scheme has been a disaster and that of course we should get out of Syria . Nor can anyone recall the corruption and warmongering that now seem that seems endemic to the Democratic Party. Of course Trump has to wear goat's horns. "Off with his head".

Drew Hunkins , October 9, 2019 at 16:00

I wish the slick I.D. politics obsessed corporate Dems nothing but the worst, absolute worst. They reap what they sow. If it means another four years of Trump, so be it. It's the price that's going to have to be paid.

At a time when a majority of U.S. citizens cannot muster up $500 for an emergency dental bill or car repair without running down to the local "pay day loan" lender shark (now established as legitimate businesses) the corporate Dems, in their infinite wisdom, decide to concoct an impeachment circus to run simultaneously when all the dirt against the execrable Brennan and his intel minions starts to hit the press for their Russiagate hoax. Nice sleight of hand there corporate Dems.

Of course, the corporate Dems would rather lose to Trump than win with a progressive-populist like Bernie. After all, a Bernie win would mean an end to a lot of careerism and cushy positions within the establishment political scene in Washington and throughout the country.

Now we even have the destroyer of Libya mulling another run for the presidency.

Forget about having a job the next day and forget about the 25% interest on your credit card or that half your income is going toward your rent or mortgage, or that you barely see your kids b/c of the 60 hour work week, just worry about women lawyers being able to make partner at the firm, and trans people being able to use whatever bathroom they wish and male athletes being able to compete against women based on genitalia (no, wait, I'm confused now).

Either class politics and class warfare comes front and center or we witness a burgeoning neo-fascist movement in our midst. It's that simple, something has got to give!

[Oct 06, 2019] How An Ever Sanctioning Superpower Is Losing Its Status

Notable quotes:
"... Combat crews of S-400, in Astrakhan Region, held combat exercises against hypersonic target-missiles "Favorit PM" and destroyed all targets. The statement of the press-service of Western Military District announced. The crews of S-400 Triumphs were from the units of air-defense of Leningrad Army of Air Force and Air Defense of Western Military District. ..."
Oct 06, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

" When Ukraine's Prosecutor Came After His Son's Sponsor Joe Biden Sprang Into Action | Main October 04, 2019 How An Ever Sanctioning Superpower Is Losing Its Status

The Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke yesterday at the yearly Valdai Discussion Club meeting in Sochi. A video with English translations and excerpts of the transcript are here .

With regards to the global system Putin made an interesting historic comparison:

in the 19th century they used to refer to a "Concert of Powers." The time has come to talk in terms of a global "concert" of development models, interests, cultures and traditions where the sound of each instrument is crucial, inextricable and valuable, and for the music to be played harmoniously rather than performed with discordant notes, a cacophony. It is crucial to consider the opinions and interests of all the participants in international life. Let me reiterate: truly mutually respectful, pragmatic and consequently solid relations can only built between independent and sovereign states .

Russia is sincerely committed to this approach and pursues a positive agenda.

The Concert of Europe was the balance of power system between 1815 to 1848 and from 1871 to 1914:

A first phase of the Concert of Europe, known as the Congress System or the Vienna System after the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), was dominated by five Great Powers of Europe: Prussia, Russia, Britain, France and Austria. [...] With the Revolutions of 1848 the Vienna system collapsed and, although the republican rebellions were checked, an age of nationalism began and culminated in the unifications of Italy (by Sardinia) and Germany (by Prussia) in 1871. The German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck re-created the Concert of Europe to avoid future conflicts escalating into new wars. The revitalized concert included France, Britain, Austria, Russia, and Italy with Germany as the main continental power economically and militarily.

Bismark's concert kept peace in a usually warring Europe for 43 years. If Putin wants to be the new Bismarck I am all for it.

Putin also made a rather extraordinary announcement :

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow is helping China build a system to warn of ballistic missile launches.

Since the cold war, only the United States and Russia have had such systems, which involve an array of ground-based radars and space satellites. The systems allow for early spotting of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Speaking at an international affairs conference in Moscow on Thursday, Putin said Russia had been helping China develop such a system. He added that "this is a very serious thing that will radically enhance China's defence capability".

His statement signalled a new degree of defence cooperation between the two former Communist rivals that have developed increasingly close political and military ties while Beijing and Washington have sunk into a trade war.

That is as good for China as it is for Russia. China has an immediate need for such a system because the U.S. is taking a significantly more bellicose posture against it.

The U.S. left the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia to build a nuclear missiles force in South Asia that will aim at China. It is now looking for Asian countries in which it could station such weapons. China is using its economic might to prevent that but the U.S. is likely to succeed.

While China has capable weapons and can defend itself against a smaller attack the U.S. has about 20 times more nuclear warheads than China. It could use those in an overwhelming first strike to decapitate and destroy the Chinese state. An early warning system will give China enough time to detect such an attack and to launch its own nuclear deterrent against the U.S. The warning systems will thus checkmate the U.S. first strike capability.

Over the last two years Russia and China both unveiled hypersonic weapons. Currently the U.S. has neither such weapons nor any defensive system that can protect against these.

Russia was smart enough to develop both - the super fast offensive weapon and a defense against it. Via Andrei Martyanov we learn of a recent Russian press notice:

Translation: Combat crews of S-400, in Astrakhan Region, held combat exercises against hypersonic target-missiles "Favorit PM" and destroyed all targets. The statement of the press-service of Western Military District announced. The crews of S-400 Triumphs were from the units of air-defense of Leningrad Army of Air Force and Air Defense of Western Military District.

And what this "Favorit PM" missile-target complex is? Very simple, it is deeply modernized good ol' S-300 P series which allows to use missiles of types 5V55 which have their explosives removed and are capable of atmospheric maneuverable flight with the velocities of Mach=6 (in excess of 7,000 kilometers per hour). These are genuine hyper-sonic missile-targets and, evidently, and I don't have any reasons to doubt it, S-400 had very little problems shooting them down.

On top of the missile warning system China will also want to have that most capable air and missile defense system. Russia will make it a decent offer.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's talked a day earlier than Putin. His speech and the Q & A with him are here . The talk was mostly about the Middle East and Lavrov's tone was rather angry while he passed through a long list of U.S. sins in the region and beyond. There were also some interesting remarks about Turkey, Syria and the Ukraine. The most interesting passage was his response to a question about U.S. sanction against Russia to which some senators want to add even more. Lavrov said:

I have heard that Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin are two famous anti-Russia-minded members of the US Congress. I don't think that this implies that they have any foresight. Those with a more or less politically mature opinion of the situation should have realised long ago that the sanctions don't work in the direction they wanted them to work. I believe that they will never work. We have a territory and its riches that were bestowed on us by God and our ancestors, we have a feeling of personal dignity, and we also have the armed forces. This combination makes us very confident. I hope that economic development and all the investment that has been made and continues to be made will also pay off in the near future.

The U.S. loves to dish out sanctions left and right and the Trump administration has increased their use. But sanctions, especially unilateral ones, do not work. The U.S. has not recognized that because it has never assessed whether those sanctions fulfill their aims. A recent Government Accountability Office report found :

The Departments of the Treasury (Treasury), State (State), and Commerce (Commerce) each undertake efforts to assess the impacts of specific sanctions on the targets of those sanctions. [...] However, agency officials cited several difficulties in assessing sanctions' effectiveness in meeting broader U.S. policy goals , including challenges in isolating the effect of sanctions from other factors as well as evolving foreign policy goals. According to Treasury, State, and Commerce officials, their agencies have not conducted such assessments on their own.

The U.S. sanctions and sanctions and sanctions but never checked if sanctions work to the intended purpose. The efforts to sanction Russia have surely led to some unintended consequences. They are the reason why the alliance between China and Russia deepens every day. The U.S. has the exorbitant privilege of having its own currency being used as the international reserve. The sanctioning of U.S. dollar transactions is the reason why the U.S. is now losing it :

Russia's Rosneft has set the euro as the default currency for all its new export contracts including for crude oil, oil products, petrochemicals and liquefied petroleum gas, tender documents showed.

The switch from U.S. dollars, which happened in September according to the tender documents published on Rosneft's website, is set to reduce the state-controlled firm's vulnerability to potential fresh U.S. sanctions.

Washington has threatened to impose sanctions on Rosneft over its operations in Venezuela, a move which Rosneft says would be illegal.

Iran has taken comparable steps. It now sells oil to China and India in either local currencies. Other countries will surely learn from this and will also start to use other currencies for their energy purchases. As the transactions in dollars decrease they will also start to use other currencies for their reserves.

But the U.S. is not losing its financial or sole superpower status because of what China or Russia or Iran have done or do. It is losing it because its has made too many mistakes.

Those states who, like Russia, have done their homework will profit from it.

Posted by b on October 4, 2019 at 18:03 UTC | Permalink


Don Bacon , Oct 4 2019 18:33 utc | 1

next page " b: [Iran] now sells oil to China and India
Not to India, but India has said that that will change. India has to be deliberate because it is angling for a permanent seat in the UNSC.
Red Ryder , Oct 4 2019 18:35 utc | 2
Russia is building a network of missile defense, early warning, electronic weapons systems that will ring Greater Eurasia, not just the Russian Federation.

Russia may not produce smart phones and have their own Amazon or Alibaba scale e-commerce platform, but they have the world class defenses and leading edge counter-strike weapons that overwhelm anything the US has or will have for a decade to come.

Putin and Lavrov have laid out the diplomatic talking points for a safer, saner world.

And as the saying goes, if you don't talk to Lavrov, then you can talk with Shoigu (MOD).

The Russians have warned the West. Maybe the West is hard of hearing.
But what is clear, the rest of the world has heard it and they are gravitating toward Russia and China.

Don Bacon , Oct 4 2019 18:36 utc | 3
b: The U.S. sanctions and sanctions and sanctions . . .
It even sanctions itself, with tariffs. Free trade is dead!
Jackrabbit , Oct 4 2019 18:38 utc | 4
It is losing it because its has made too many mistakes.

A statement that deserves to be unpacked. I think at the core of the "mistakes" is a certain exceptionalist attitude which carries with it a combination of greed and hubris that promotes moral turpitude.

Kiza , Oct 4 2019 18:38 utc | 5
When the re-alignment of Russia and China started, I compared them to two soldiers, standing back-to-back, defensively pointing their guns forward. This is becoming an integrated continental defense now. Do you think that the two missile warning system will remain separate? It is sad that it had to come to this, but the AngloZionist mindset of domination and exploitation is what it is. Russia and China are not benevolent, but a big majority of countries prefers their economic approach to the Western military - bombed and killed if you do not comply with master's wishes. Simply, the West is a one-trick-pony in decline,
Beibdnn. , Oct 4 2019 18:39 utc | 6
As the U.S.A.slowly petrifies into an ever more fragile state of existence will the blow that finally causes it to fracture into a state of catastrophic impotence,( in it's eyes ) mean that it will die with a whimper or a bang?
Will the politik of the U.S.A.wake up before it's demise and re-orientate it's ethos so as to integrate with the new order instigated from the east or, like an enraged, immature being try to bring the rest of the world down with it?
I hope wiser minds than those in the Senate prevail. However I'm not really that optimistic that they are capable of serious self reflection.
Sally Snyder , Oct 4 2019 18:39 utc | 7
Here is an article that looks at a WikiLeaks document that explains how the United States Army is preparing to help Washington achieve its national strategic objectives:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2019/04/us-power-wielding-unconventional.html

This Army manual gives us a very clear view of how Washington uses manipulation through its influence on the World Bank, IMF, OECD and other "global" groups to wage unconventional warfare on any nation that doesn't share its view of how the world should function and that threatens America's control of the globe, including nations like Venezuela, Iran, Russia and North Korea.

Barovsky , Oct 4 2019 18:41 utc | 8
While China has capable weapons and can defend itself against a smaller attack the U.S. has about 20 times more nuclear warheads than China. It could use those in an overwhelming first strike to decapitate and destroy the Chinese state.

b, in a nuclear exchange, all it takes is a tiny fraction of the US/China/Russia's nuclear arsenals to finish off human civilisation, so numbers are irrelevant. Radiation knows no borders.

Paul Damascene , Oct 4 2019 18:46 utc | 9
Such contributors and Don Bacon, Grieved and Karlof1 might help me (dis)confirm this, but my impression is that Russia is or could make a case for selling only or primarily defensive weapons, to pretty much anyone ... with the effect and, say, the intent, to make wars of aggression, particularly pre-emptive strikes, much less tempting.

By shifting the field advantage towards defense, can it be plausibly proposed that Russia is working to make the world, overall, a safer place (even if their primary intent might be to make it safer from attacks initiated by the Unipolar Axis)?

Barovsky , Oct 4 2019 18:49 utc | 10
Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 4 2019 18:36 utc | 3

b: The U.S. sanctions and sanctions and sanctions . . .
It even sanctions itself, with tariffs. Free trade is dead!

Don, there's NEVER been free trade, ever, no matter how far back you look in history. Free trade is imperial speak for the dominant economies dictating to the weaker.

William H Warrick , Oct 4 2019 18:50 utc | 11
These Globalist maniacs we are supposed to fear are unbelievably stupid.
Barovsky , Oct 4 2019 18:53 utc | 12
Posted by: Paul Damascene | Oct 4 2019 18:46 utc | 9
my impression is that Russia is or could make a case for selling only or primarily defensive weapons, to pretty much anyone ...

Isn't this exactly what they're doing. Martynov's writings reveal this proces in detail. It's a process that has its origins in WWII, a process that also has economic implications for Russia.

psychohistorian , Oct 4 2019 18:56 utc | 13
Thanks for the posting b

I agree with Barovsky in comment # 8 about the MAD nature of any nuclear war

I also want to posit that until China has its own air and missile defense system that Russia will use its to insure that any nuclear attack on China will result in global MAD

@ b who wrote
"
But the U.S. is not losing its financial or sole superpower status because of what China or Russia or Iran have done or do. It is losing it because its has made too many mistakes.
"
it is not the US necessarily that has the sole financial superpower status but the cult of global private finance ownership that is international and not just the US. And now that financial superpower status is not just being challenged from outside the Western nations of empire but from within as I continue to write about in the latest Open Thread. The US state of California has instantiated public finance for the state...it was signed into law this past Wednesday and the Western MSM has yet to report or comment on this game changing initiative.....speaks volumes to the threat it creates to global private finance because California has the 5th largest GDP in the world.

Casey , Oct 4 2019 19:09 utc | 14
I had been leaning toward the scenario where the Empire would, eventually, have to be put down in a violent confrontation, with a CBG sunk, but I am really feeling now, given the Singapore deal in the EAEU with India and Iran in the wings and the missile-shield over PRC and Rosneft selling product in Euros and Syria and Iran and Venezuela not being wiped out, that maybe, just maybe, the Empire will be left in the dust, with no climactic confrontation required. Maybe I am being naive, but there seems to be evidence to support that idea.
rt4 , Oct 4 2019 19:31 utc | 15
I wish since a while for an US American Gorbachov. This kind of person only is able to bring down the still running war economy. You would expect some hero like spiritual leader is necessary. The only thing what was special about the russian version for that job, he was young. Able to imagine a world without that permanent pressure, that everybody can feel in every cell of society. Of course, I hoped that trump maybe will do this, but he is twisted in his own challenges, already old, no real love for the people around him in general. The actual task is to lead down US from the sole position of power to become the most important country in the world. I hope US Americans can fell save one day without spending half of world's expanses on war, which equals that US budget is more than half for this reason. Who will be able to explain to voters, this isn't a sound deal?
Barovsky , Oct 4 2019 19:34 utc | 16
Posted by: Casey | Oct 4 2019 19:09 utc | 14

I'm loathe to posit this but if the US follows the demise of previous empires, then only war will accomplish this but perhaps, just perhaps the mold (or is that mould?) has been broken? After all, WWI and WWII came about because of competition between dominant economies and ultimately a redivision of the world into new blocs. But then again, the emergence of the USSR changed everything, the most momentous event of the 20th century. So perhaps we need a new USSR but this time a transnational USSR?

Barovsky , Oct 4 2019 19:37 utc | 17
PS: Let's call it WUSR, the World Union of Socialist Republics?
Summer Diaz , Oct 4 2019 19:39 utc | 18
My country is in a sorry state of affairs indeed, and listening to those around me, a common theme occurs, a wish that that slow-coming line in the sand which will truly mark the end of our illusion of exceptionalism would just get here and be done, so we, or those of us who are left afterward, can work through those damnable five stages of grieving, and begin the process of reconstruction and healing what remains.

Judging by comments made here, I've withdrawn hope of either party having anything to present the citizenry as a way out of our demise, so coast toward that necessary line we do. Is that too negative?

Barovsky , Oct 4 2019 19:39 utc | 19

Posted by: William H Warrick | Oct 4 2019 18:50 utc | 11

These Globalist maniacs we are supposed to fear are unbelievably stupid.

Stupid maybe but incredibly dangerous!

Kiza , Oct 4 2019 19:49 utc | 20
Slightly off topic, but is not the Western use of children for nefarious purposes increasing? From the first Hong King rioter who got shot for attacking a policeman, at all of his 14 years of age, through Epstein's sexual use of young girls for blackmail, to Greta and the climate change screaming kids. If you are younger than 18, and without or with weak parental oversight due to challenging economic conditions (struggle to survive), you are a fair game for the Western "elite". Earn some pocket money by burning down Hong Kong.

This will only increase, because it runs parallel to the tactics of turning adults against each other to miss to notice the "elite's" hand in all of their pockets. Fight each other people and send your children into the front lines. That is how they channel anger toward's "elite's" alternative-model enemies (China) and away from the real perpetrators and the real issues. This is why the images of Hong Kong riots overlap with the two minute hate from the movie 1984.

Finally, the Communist elite used children too, to do the dying in revolutions, to report their own parents the communist authorities and to severely punish ideological opponents. The use of children is nothing new, but it shows total moral depravity.

Don Bacon , Oct 4 2019 20:02 utc | 21
@ Sally Snyder 7
Thank you for that! And I thought Special Forces was only interested in assassinations.

As you indicate, it's surprising that they put such self-damaging information in print. They think they're invincible, so we need more Lavrovs to set them straight.

uncle tungsten , Oct 4 2019 20:22 utc | 22
re Paul Damascene #9, I see mutually assured defense as a highly desirable strategy emerging from Russia and China. If that new 'mad' is expanded to friendlies in the middle east then a very large sector of the planets continents can be enclosed in a single defensive frame.

I see this as a mighty good potential to arrest the lunatic tendency to war constantly being chanted by the five eyes and their vassal toadies.

Certainly the elimination of nuclear weapons entirely should be the global objective. Failing that, the prevention of ground blasts with the consequent dust and threat of nuclear winter is desirable in my view. High altitude interception may prevent premature detonation of attacking warheads but it will most likely lead to highly contaminated hot spots on ground.

There is an evil in warmongering that is utterly beneath contempt.

imoverit , Oct 4 2019 20:46 utc | 23
I see on AMN, the Syrian News site, an article speaking about a new KFC in terrorist-held Idlib ...

If this isn't a statement about who is collaborating in these wars I don't know what is !! It is partially about the globalists wanting to increase the extent of their reach (apart from all the religious and cultural issues too)

Hoarsewhisperer , Oct 4 2019 20:47 utc | 24
...
...but my impression is that Russia is or could make a case for selling only or primarily defensive weapons, to pretty much anyone ... with the effect and, say, the intent, to make wars of aggression, particularly pre-emptive strikes, much less tempting.

By shifting the field advantage towards defense, can it be plausibly proposed that Russia is working to make the world, overall, a safer place (even if their primary intent might be to make it safer from attacks initiated by the Unipolar Axis)?
Posted by: Paul Damascene | Oct 4 2019 18:46 utc | 9

Imo that's a perfectly sane assessment. It's just an unfortunate prerequisite, and a sign of the times, that M.A.D. had to be looming in the background before the wisdom could be recognised and de-escalation could commence.

Don Bacon , Oct 4 2019 20:47 utc | 25
@ PD 9
shifting the field advantage towards defense

>Actually all nations are supposed to concentrate on defense. The US changed its War Dept to Defense Dept. --( to throw us off? ) There are few nations that have an overwhelming offensive capability. Its expensive and requires a lot of people, including mostly draftees.
> The F-35 jet fighter now goes for about $150 million per copy, in large part because it is stealthy and can get through enemy defenses. At least that's the plan. But after eighteen years (and counting) of development, the F-35 still has not been approved for full production. That's an offensive weapon.
> Another expensive piece of gear is the aircraft carrier, now going for $13 billion per copy, and several of the newfangled complex features on the new carrier design don't work. High maintenance, too. Of eleven carriers only two are deplorable currently, none on the east coast. Carriers have been mostly used to facilitate bombing runs over defenseless third-world countries. They need a cheap defense.
> Regarding soldiers, few countries have a draft, or a large draft, any longer. No more major land armies, required for offense. People are expensive, and 70% of US youth don't qualify for service.
> The US Marine Corps is now going through a change with a new commandant. The main US enemy now is China, and there's no thought of any war on China itself, only on allied islands they might grab. So the Marines want to back out of their land warfare stance and concentrate on Iwo-Jima type operations like the good old days. New USMC Commandant Berger: "We are too heavy, too cumbersome. We're built for another Desert Storm. We have to go on a diet. . .we're not going to go head-to-head, tank-on-tank," he said
> The recent Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia was a wake-up call. Drones and missiles, inexpensive unstoppable and effective.
> So there's a lot of work to do, but yes one can say there is a trend from offense to defense, and little by little the world might be safer against offensive actions.

Don Bacon , Oct 4 2019 20:54 utc | 26
@25 - carriers
Make that deployable, not deplorable. Freudian slip.
Barovsky , Oct 4 2019 21:03 utc | 27
@#9:
I see mutually assured defense as a highly desirable strategy emerging from Russia and China. If that new 'mad' is expanded to friendlies in the middle east then a very large sector of the planets continents can be enclosed in a single defensive frame.

Excellent observation Uncle! It's the Empire (and its vassals) versus the planet.

vk , Oct 4 2019 21:03 utc | 28
@ Posted by: rt4 | Oct 4 2019 19:31 utc | 15

There will never be an American Gorbachev because the American system is completely different from the Soviet system.

In the USSR, the Communist Party was everything and commanded all the sociometabolical aspects of society through a centralized State. When the Gorbachev killed the Party, he killed the USSR. That's why it simply collapsed overnight and in a relatively peaceful way.

The USA is a pure-blood capitalist society. It functions through a confederation of capitalists, who command and owns different parts of the means of production. The State, albeit powerful, is just one instutition among many others in this free market anarchy. The USA, therefore, is a relatively decentralized society (for its size, it is incredibly decentralized). In this sense, the USA is more akin to the old Roman Empire than any other recent liberal or late-feudal empire.

My guess is the USA will degenerate slowly and very violently and chaotically, with a succession of weak POTUS over a course of at least many decades. It can or cannot lose territory in this process (I don't think it ever will, unless you're talking about Puerto Rico and other possessions in the Southwestern Pacific). It almost certainly will provoke many more wars against foreign nations in the process. It will be a very dangerous period of Humanity's History, if not mark its end (if a total nuclear war happens).

--//--

I don't think Putin wants to be "the next Bismarck". Bismarck's new Concert was a failure: it didn't relieve pressure between the imperialist powers in Europe and only gathered pressure overtime in order to create an even bigger meatgrinder (WWI), which generated an even bigger revolution (1917). By all intents and purposes, Bismarck's foreign polices were an abject failure. His domestic record, on the other side, is stellar, since he turned Germany into a world superpower which, by 1900, had already surpassed the UK in industrial terms to reach second place overall (behind only the much bigger USA).

Taffyboy , Oct 4 2019 21:03 utc | 29
..."But the U.S. is not losing its financial or sole superpower status because of what China or Russia or Iran have done or do. It is losing it because its has made too many mistakes."...

The cadaver that is the USA, a ruptured spleen of financial criminality, is in it's end stage of sucking the life of the world, it's host. Russia, China, and like minded sovereign states are backstopping the US buck into oblivion with their gold purchases. Gold continues to show the absurdities of the financial status of the US dollar. Gold is inoculating these states that are being sanctioned and financially harassed. The USA, is a drunken bum in the gutter looking for his next drink. Time is running short as the world economies are now contracting into a spiral down the toilet drain taking the great financial criminal with it.

DontBelieveEitherPr. , Oct 4 2019 21:03 utc | 30
If any politicians on the global chessboard can rival the statesmanship and intellect in strategy, it sure is Putin.
Before him maybe de Gaulle, Helmut Schmidt or Churchill. But now? No where in the western states.

To the growing ties with China and Russia: Irony is, Putin warned the western world, that if his and Russia's preference of joining the western states would be denied, Russia would be forced into China's arms, even though they are culturally and religiously much more tied to Europe and the western world.

US and NATO policy brought the Russians to see the former "yellow menace" as their only hope; Equally China was forced into the arms of its Russian neighbor, despite the Chinese tradition of seeing the Russians equally as a not much loved neighbor.
So the "social Imperialists" and "Barbarians" of Russia and the "Yellow Menace" were forced to overcome their old prejudices.

De Gaulle once said: "One day the Russians will realize again that they are white." Meaning, when the Soviet system would come crashing down, the Russians would realize, that they and their culture are European, and not Asian.
When this prophecy actually came true, and Yeltsin and Putin tried to rebuild the bridges back to their cultural fellow European states, the Neocons destroyed that historic chance of healing decades and century old wounds.

Putin and Russia actually tried for over a decade to avert this. Only most recently the fight in the Russian bureaucracy is leading into going into the partnership with China more broadly. It still is a partnership not of love or true desire, but of simple survival. And that won't likely ever change.

I am currently reading a great book of the legendary German-French journalists and author Peter Scholl-Latour about the new cold war against Russia. he published it IIRC over 12 years ago, with research since the 90s for it, and including previous reports from his visits in Russia since 1958.
He saw what he discusses here 20 years ago. And the strategic consequences of this idiotic rejection of Russia's wish to come back into the fold of European nations by the US will haunt us for generations to come, if it is not fixed.

Only way to that would be if we would have politicians in the EU and Europeans states like Putin; more concrete: With the backbone, strategic insight, and a strong stand on national sovereignty.

But with the current politicians in the EU and its states? Certainly no one on the left, as "sovereignty" is now seen as "Nazi", and left politicians at least here in Germany being "educated" by NATO think tanks, supporting military "interventions". The only ones who realize how important sovereignty is for any country, are the new right like Salvini, Le Pen, and the Nigel Farage. Which maybe a big part of why they are so hysterically attacked by the MSM and establishment.

But sovereignty is important for the left too, and historically e.g. the older generations social democrats here knew that. People like Helmut Schmidt realized that no people can be free, and exercise its self-determination as a nation, without true sovereignty.

But the time of politicians of this class and caliber in the west is long gone. Maybe another reason, why our politicians hate Putin so much. ;)

Barovsky , Oct 4 2019 21:05 utc | 31
Apologies, @#22 not #9
Ian2 , Oct 4 2019 21:19 utc | 32
It should be obvious to anyone that we're going to see some kind of a joint Sino-Russian military organization like NORAD. I was wondering about this after Russia sold their S-400 to China. However, I'm not sure if the Chinese, or Russia, would be open to a Warsaw Pact version 2. IMO, the inevitable collapse would be like the Soviet Union as WMDs will prevent a war fought directly between the larger powers. In the meantime, expect more proxy wars fought globally.

Kiza | Oct 4 2019 19:49 utc | 20:

It's always been like this as that is the most impressionable stage of one's life. I don't know if this is an increase or not, but I see these useful idiots as activation of sleeper cells cultivated in educational institutions.

steven t johnson , Oct 4 2019 21:20 utc | 33
The "Concert of Powers" was marked by numerous wars. Great power conflict in Europe was avoided in favor of colonial wars. England against Indians, Africans and Asians, but Russia against Turks too. So much for "truly mutually respectful..." relations. Putin speaks gibberish. Today, "sovereign" means claiming the right to wage war at will. This is not a premise for solid relationships, but shifting alliances against the current enemy.

It is incidentally highly unlikely that a basket of currencies could possibly substitute for a single reserve. If people couldn't make bimetallism work, making bi-, tri-, poly-fiat currency work isn't happening either. The fluctuations in relative value will destabilize the financial systems of smaller powers.

Kooshy , Oct 4 2019 21:31 utc | 34
Don
I don't see possibility of India getting a UNSC permanent seat any time coming soon, it's a permanent wishful thinking on India's part. India will need to resolve her problems with Kashmir and Pakistan before even she be considered. Indian realist analyst know this well. As matter of fact I don't see any hope that anytime soon we can see a structural change in UN. It's more possible UN be dissolved like the League was before it be reformed. US and India only can be short term tactical allies against China, and not even strategic allies since they both have different postures toward the subcontinent's, Indian Ocean states.
Sorghum , Oct 4 2019 21:33 utc | 35
@ 27 Barofsky

Exactly, which is why I am both confused and frustrated by people taking a side in the Ukraine-gate farce. Does it matter which flavor of evil is currently provably less corrupt? They all have almost the same goals: peanuts and platitudes to placate the peasants at home and Full Spectrum Imperial Dominance abroad. I get trying to figure out the Gordian Knot, but the Make Believe of Good Cop/Bad Cop is annoying.

Willy2 , Oct 4 2019 21:39 utc | 36
- No, when Rosneft is chosing the Euro as its trading currency then that will increase - IMO - the risk of a (MAJOR) war.
dh , Oct 4 2019 21:40 utc | 37
@23 It's true! A KFC opened in Idlib. Here is a video with some amusing comments.

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1247614/pg1

Willy2 , Oct 4 2019 21:51 utc | 38
- Wars like WW 1 & WW 2 are not going to happen anymore because such wars have simply too expensive. But instead we'll see a series of smaller wars or proxy wars.
lysias , Oct 4 2019 21:53 utc | 39
Germany before Hitler was a pluralist capitalist society like America has been. Didn't stop Hitler from centralizing everything.

If Germany could have a Hitler, America can have its Gorbachev.

Jen , Oct 4 2019 21:54 utc | 40
VK @ 28:

I should think that one reason for the failure of the Second Concert of Europe was that Britain was determined to eliminate Germany as an economic and political rival and as an example of what centralised government economic and social planning could do to improve people's lives and the conditions in which they lived and worked. The reforms that Bismarck brought to Germany, if only to keep 1848-style revolutions at bay, challenged the prevailing laissez-faire economic policies (precursor to neoliberalism in our day) in Britain that favoured the landowning and military elites.

The period 1871 - 1914 was one in which British aristocracy "revitalised" itself (for want of a better term) by taking brides from American families that made their wealth from investing in railway development across the US and in new American industries. (Perhaps "vampirising" American money is the better term.) The classic examples of such marriages are those of Consuelo Vanderbilt, of the wealthy Vanderbilt family, marrying into the Spencer-Churchill family; and of Winston Churchill's mother marrying his father. Acquiring American wealth in this way was one way in which British elites could maintain enough power to keep a grip on British politics and British colonial politics.

The same period was also one in which European powers competed to chop up Africa and Asia into colonies or "spheres of influence". So in a sense, the Europeans were already at war with each other (and the Second Concert was a facade, just as the Cold War of the late 20th century was a facade): they conducted this war away from their own publics, in areas distant and remote enough, that most incidents of mass violence or outright land theft could be covered up. The major exception was Belgian King Leopold's treatment of the area that is now the Democratic Republic of Congo / Congo (Kinshasa) as he ruled it in the manner of a mediaeval feudal lord and the atrocities committed there by his government were on a scale too huge to ignore.

c1ue , Oct 4 2019 21:54 utc | 41
@Paul Damascene #9
Not strictly true.
Two nations, one with sword and shield but the other with only a shield. The first nation can attack with little fear of reprisal.
Russia is still not going to sell defensive weapons to anyone unless there is a clear overall strategic benefit.
lysias , Oct 4 2019 21:57 utc | 42
Norman Angell argued in "The Great Illusion" that a great war was no longer economically possible. Published in 1909.
lysias , Oct 4 2019 22:06 utc | 43
Ironic that the Great War had to wait until 1914, when Britain's Liberal government was adopting many of Bismarck's social welfare measures.

I suspect that America's increasing hostility to China reflects a fear of contagion from the more successful and fairer Chinese system. Just like Britain and Germany in 1914.

Peter AU 1 , Oct 4 2019 22:16 utc | 44
A number of the S-300 standard missiles are just into the hypersonic range.
Missile spec section in wikipedia give missile velocity and maximum target velocity.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-300_missile_system#Missiles

Two are listed as being good for target velocity up to 6,415 mph which is well into hypersonic range.
Another two, target velocities up to 11,185mph - mach 14.7 according mph to mach converter.

lysias , Oct 4 2019 22:19 utc | 45
Helmut Schmidt's books on China are impressive, but it's striking that in the first one, "Nachbar China," of 2006, he totally failed to anticipate the economic collapse of 2008.
Barovsky , Oct 4 2019 22:42 utc | 46
Posted by: lysias | Oct 4 2019 22:06 utc | 43

Actually, that's not true. When the UK went to war in 1914, they discovered that their soldiers were so undernourished and unfit to fight for the Empire, that a series of 'social reforms' were enacted to improve the lot of the working class (or cannon fodder).

Annie , Oct 4 2019 22:50 utc | 47
"While China has capable weapons and can defend itself against a smaller attack the U.S. has about 20 times more nuclear warheads than China. It could use those in an overwhelming first strike to decapitate and destroy the Chinese state."

B, I read your analysis of the China weapons parade and came away with the impression that US air & sea superiority was over. I thought China already had the S-400 too. I had no idea that the US was in possession of more nukes than China. I hope that China gets that system set up quickly, as well as the S-400.

The US is a psychopathic control freak, whose mask has slipped, yet the only one who doesn't know that is Washington, but when it realizes it, that's when it will become far more dangerous and may think that their time for a US first nuke strike is running out. Let's hope they are not that stupid.

Ian2 , Oct 4 2019 23:07 utc | 48
Anybody that believes China have only 290 nukes are naive. Look at all those DF-41 and JL-2/3 missiles they've made. Some of those missiles have MIRV capability.
William Gruff , Oct 4 2019 23:21 utc | 49
Ian2 @48

What point does lying that way about a deterrence weapon serve? China only has nukes to deter America from attacking them. The nukes are not intended to ever actually be used, so why would they lie and pretend to have less than they really have? That makes no sense. If anything they would lie and pretend to have more than they really do to enhance their deterrence.

Secret weapons do not make an effective deterrence.

On the other hand, like Japan China probably has big stockpiles of fissile materials sufficiently enriched that they could make many hundreds of additional nukes in a matter of a couple weeks, or maybe even just days, if they needed to.

William Gruff , Oct 4 2019 23:42 utc | 50
Ian2 @48

Just to clarify, a 100kg solid chunk of iron traveling at hypersonic speeds and with decent accuracy would ruin the day for an American aircraft carrier. No nuke is needed.

Furthermore, if China has only 290 nukes, but 5,000 launch vehicles, which ones out of that 5,000 are armed and have to be destroyed if America does a first strike and wants to avoid several dozen of its biggest cities being turned into glowing craters in response? Hint: All 5,000.

So you see, China doesn't really need much more than 290 nukes to prevent America from attacking, assuming Americans are not stupid. Unfortunately that could very well be a losing bet.

Josh , Oct 4 2019 23:45 utc | 51
Washington is not a nation. It is only a city. If the rest of the world wants an honest glimpse of what this city intends, all it has to do is look at what it has done, and is still doing, to America's population. Take an honest look, disregarding all testimony. When you completely disregard the narrative of dc and the media, the picture becomes quite stark quite quickly.
FKA_Realist , Oct 5 2019 0:00 utc | 52
> Washington is not a nation. It is only a city.
Posted by: Josh | Oct 4 2019 23:45 utc | 51

The only "city" you should worry about is The City of London. The root of evil on this planet, for the past few centuries.

---
[Iran] now sells oil to China and India

Posted by b on October 4, 2019 at 18:03 UTC | Permalink

The exploitation of Iranian national wealth continues to support the Cabal's projects.

lysias , Oct 5 2019 0:13 utc | 53
The reason for the constitutional crisis in Britain in 1910, which resulted in the House of Lords losing most of its power, was that the Lords refused to approve Lloyd George's People's Budget, which, according to Wikipedia, "introduced unprecedented taxes on the lands and incomes of Britain's wealthy to fund new social welfare programs." The upshot of the crisis was that the budget became law.
Don Bacon , Oct 5 2019 0:16 utc | 54
. . . picked this up on the web:
In his seminal work On War, Carl von Clausewitz famously declared that, in comparison to the offense, "the defensive form of warfare is intrinsically stronger than the offensive."

The defender being in his homeland contributes to defensive strength. It's certainly contributed to US offensive failures in the last fifty years. It took the mighty US Army four years and over a thousand deaths to pacify Baghdad. So what to do, the US has reverted to high-level aerial bombing and long-range artillery to kill foreigners. This increases US opposition, creating more enemies. No shortage of them.

karlof1 , Oct 5 2019 0:44 utc | 55
lysias @53--

Gotta give you a big Shout-Out for providing that ultra important fact as that marked the beginning of the reaction to Classical Economists in the UK which was already happening within the Outlaw US Empire, thus the seed of UK's Neoliberalism was planted and watered. It also brought the UK and US elite together mind-set-wise.

Josh @51--

Your observation is 100% on the mark! The utterly gross neglect of the USA's human capital's been ongoing for decades, and was given a great boost by the adoption of Neoliberalism as basic policy during Carter's presidency, which was subsequently turbocharged by Reagan/Bush. Profit before people had always been present; but after the "Saving the bond-holders" deliberately deep recession caused by Volker from 1979-1982, there would be no more policies aimed at improving social welfare. Instead, they were targeted for destruction as the Full Employment Act of 1946 was 100% ignored by both Rs & Ds as jobs went offshore and the Rust Belt oxidized.

--//--

Today, the hollowed-out Outlaw US Empire is a mere Paper Tiger reduced to using terrorists and terrorism as its policy tools. Slowly, the nations of the world are enacting a de facto form of containment that will eventually result in the diminishment of The Empire's abilities and force it to become a normal nation for the first time in its history--hopefully without a nuclear conflagration.

ben , Oct 5 2019 0:46 utc | 56
Putin is a voice of reason in a very sick and twisted world, one that is dominated by an evil empire whose only purpose seems to be global corporate hegemony.

His voice should be heard by the American people.

Grieved , Oct 5 2019 1:28 utc | 57
@2 Red Ryder - Russia is building a network of missile defense, early warning, electronic weapons systems that will ring Greater Eurasia, not just the Russian Federation.

Always good to see your sweeping strategic view from the commanding heights. I quoted your opening sentence because it makes such total sense, and also sounds so good. Mackinder has no need to turn in his grave - the heartland has upended the world to save him the trouble ;)

There will be the invulnerable Eurasia, and the outside.

~~

I'm enjoying all the comments jumping onto the notion of Mutual Assured Defense. It seems a concept that many here can readily relate to - and sign me up for sure. Thanks to Paul Damascene for the concept, and uncle tungsten for coining the phrase.

Sharmine Narwani in her recent interview with Ross Ashcroft cited a Twitter comment somebody made, to the effect that the S-400 was Russia's foreign policy. She was struck by how perfectly this actually works as a policy. In a world where everybody has an S-400, no war. Mutually assured defense.

I have long theorized, without a grain of collateral to prove it, that there is only one security strategy for Russia. If I had a border as extensive as Russia's, I would see that the only security possible for me would rest in an entire world at peace.

Therefore Russia works towards peace. It's how she conquers the world. As we saw in Chechnya and in Syria, Russia builds and not destroys. Syria in particular over a long period showed us precisely how Russia fights - not to "win", not to destroy an enemy, but purely to lock down the peace and make everything safe. Only those restless souls who would not become still were killed.

China too shares this same understanding of the Tao - not surprisingly of course. The game is not to crush the opponent but to render the fight unnecessary. If China conquers the world it will mean the Mandate Of Heaven has come to rule everywhere. The fight will become unnecessary.

~~

Federico Pieraccini in his latest article had this to say about China's strategy:

Beijing's strategy seems to be designed to progress in phases, modulating according to the reaction of the US, whether aggressive or mild; a kind of capoeira dance where one never actually hits one's opponent even when one can.

I had to look it up, Brazil's amazing contribution to world peace, the capoeira. I had never heard of it and now I will never forget it. A brilliant comment from Pieraccini.

Peace is coming to the world faster than war is being left room to break out. And this is because peacemaking is as dynamic an activity as warmaking . But by its very nature of not breaking things, it is far less visible.

Don Bacon , Oct 5 2019 1:47 utc | 58
. . .from Putin
Truly mutually respectful, pragmatic and consequently solid relations can only built between independent and sovereign states.
. . .from the UN Charter
The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
somebody , Oct 5 2019 2:25 utc | 59
Putin is pointing backwards not forwards when you think it through.

No "souvereign" state can be independent in the age of global supply chains and markets, refugees and global warming. The world is interdependent and always has been since the evolution of the human species in Africa.

"Souvereignty" and statehood has always been achieved (and lost) by military power. It is a recipe for war.

This is for the theory. Now for the practice. Of course, Russia has been intervening in the affairs of other "souvereign" states. Of course Iran has been striving for dominance in the Middle East. And of course Eastern European states feel squeezed between Russia, the US and Germany. And of course China pressures Vietnam for the resources of the South China Sea.

Putin is talking about being polite.

Europe will have neither economic nor political or military power dealing with Russia, the US or China as individual "sovereign" states. And this is what this populist dance is about.

The US has not lost influence because of the sanctions, they have lost influence because they have no longer the technological edge and "souvereign states" have the alternative of allying with Russia and China. That is a binary choice, not souvereinty.

Paul Damascene , Oct 5 2019 2:36 utc | 60
ciue @ 41:
An intelligent observation, thanks. Though I find myself wondering if the world in which everyone has a shield, and only one, a sword, is not, perhaps, a world quite changed.

In reading Don Bacon @ 58 and Grieved @ 57, something slid into place for me. As a child of the Enlightenment, pained as I have been--for all its failings--to see it slip under the waves, it has been especially painful to see the West despoiling its legacies of democracy and universal human rights. Nothing has done these more damage than our corrupt, cynical exploitation of them. When I look to the emergent multipolar model with not inconsiderable relief, I see it as one in which democracy will not necessarily be a central value or form of polity.

But if this multipolar principle of the sovereign equality among all of its members is considered from a certain vantage point, the principle's equivalent in a democratic system of individuals would be an acceptance of its various citizens as of fundamentally equal worth regardless of their ideologies or beliefs.

Perhaps if that feature of our own systems were not so close to being lost, a glimpse of this quality of an international comity wouldn't come to me now as a revelation.

somebody , Oct 5 2019 2:44 utc | 61
Posted by: Grieved | Oct 5 2019 1:28 utc | 57

I guess it is a Rorschach test. I don't see how anything in Syria has been resolved peacefully, I just don't. I am not blaming Russia for it. Putin virtually waited until it became clear that the US (Obama) would not intervene.

Russians had the worst WWI and WWII experience, plus Chechnya and Afghanistan. No Russian leader would be able to motivate them for anything else but defense. It took the Moscow apartment bombings to motivate them for the Chechen war.

Political power in China has grown out of the barrel of a gun - since Mao Tse Tung. It has grown out of the barrel of a gun world wide since the invention of gun powder.

Peace might come not because of defense systems but because of cheap and simple technology to defeat these defense systems.

snake , Oct 5 2019 2:49 utc | 62
weaponized economics USA says it has ability to affect the economic environment, says it can influence international financial institutions .. says it can use such abilities and influence to cement multinational coalitions for unconventional warfare campaigns or dissuade adversary nation-state governments from supporting competitors"

financial blackmail .[nations either join/suffer], the stores of value can be exploited.. the economic space is a war zone the tax, interest rates, legal and bureaucratic measures used locally, by target states, can be [manipulated] to persuade adversaries, allies, and surrogates to modify their behavior.. Entire agencies specialize in identifying. opportunities where financial weapon(s) can be used to provide leverage [to achieve goals]? Thank you Sally Snyder @ 7 for that link and great explanation. I want to add that I see evidence the USA uses that same strategy domestically against the leaders of its states, its cities, its counties, its political parties and privately against the leaders and activist the world over. Americans rarely have the opportunity you afforded @7 to understand why things are happening in the USA the way they are.

new subject:
The Great War had to wait until 1914, when Britain's Liberal government was adopting many of Bismarck's social welfare measures.to Lysias @ 43 <==I certainly do agree with your reason.. Consider the following

The great war was on hold since 1897, waiting on the British and French bankers to create a means to finance the war. That financing required the warriors in Europe to invade and overthrow the US Constitutional prohibition (Article I, Section 9, paragraph 4) which prohibited Capitation or other direct taxes, not based in proportion to the population. Amendment 16 ratifed on February 3, 1913 reads, the Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
Within minutes after the US. Supreme court took up taking non proportional taxes from the pockets of working Americans the privately owned Federal reserve bank was created, and made by congress the central bank of the world (1913). So to recap, British adoption of Bismarck's measures had little to do with the war in Europe, instead it was the the money to be taken by taxation from the pockets of every American that satisfied the bankers requirement of suitable and ample capital (Federal Reserve Act of 1913); USA taxes on Americans would collateral the FR lending, and the USA would guarantee the taxes would be collected and rendered as required. Once constitutional intent was thwarted, the federal Reserve could lend to the global warriors who wanted to destroy Germany and take the oil rich land (entire Middle East) from the Ottoman. It took two world wars and trillions of tax dollars, not to mention millions of lives, for the pubic nations states to enable the private theft of the oil rich Middle East lands owned by the Ottomans.

additionally .. Barovsky responded also to lysias @ 43 with "Actually, that's not true. When the UK went to war in 1914, they discovered that their soldiers were so undernourished and unfit to fight for the Empire, that a series of 'social reforms' were enacted to improve the lot of the working class (or cannon fodder).by: Barovsky @ 46

Don Bacon , Oct 5 2019 2:55 utc | 63
@ somebody 61
I don't see how anything in Syria has been resolved peacefully, I just don't.
Russia's strategy of giving foes a choice of fighting or being bused elsewhere, a choice they took, was a truly unique peaceful resolution. Never been done before, to my knowledge. Revolutionary. Wonderful. Peaceful. I liked it.
Don Bacon , Oct 5 2019 3:08 utc | 64
@ PD 60

If I may: A big part of national strategy is to have the populace focusing on "foreign threats" which takes citizens' minds of their domestic problems. Part of "sovereign equality" is (at the national level) to mind our own business, not somebody else's.

George Washington dedicates a large part of his farewell address to discussing foreign relations and the dangers of permanent alliances between the United States and foreign nations, which he views as foreign entanglements.

Later, we have "War is the Health of the State"
by Randolph Bourne (1918) . . here
". . .The republican State has almost no trappings to appeal to the common man's emotions. What it has are of military origin, and in an unmilitary era such as we have passed through since the Civil War, even military trappings have been scarcely seen. In such an era the sense of the State almost fades out of the consciousness of men. With the shock of war, however, the State comes into its own again. The Government, with no mandate from the people, without consultation of the people, conducts all the negotiations, the backing and filling, the menaces and explanations, which slowly bring it into collision with some other Government, and gently and irresistibly slides the country into war. . ."

b4real , Oct 5 2019 3:10 utc | 65
I think we are seeing more like russia/china using a strategy similar to Muhammad Ali's rope a dope against the u.s. They are both spending their money wisely on building effective military forces, both defensive and offensive, but they are not wasting their treasure on imperialist adventures. At the same time, everywhere U.S. has tried to corner a market or extend itself, they have been getting cut off at the knees by either Russia or China. Russia put a monkey wrench in U.S. goals in Ukraine, Syria and Venezuela. U.S. went after Iran and China stepped in with a huge oil purchase and development project. Now I'm reading that Russia is getting ready to assist Cuba in a major way.

Was it napoleon who said, "when you see your enemy making mistakes, let him"? (paraphrase) I think they are going to continue trying to avoid a fight while they wait for the U.S. to either come to its senses, collapse or come to blows, but they won't be the instigator.

U.S. is capitalist and this kind of society is more likely to destruct through a financial collapse or a civil war than declaring war on either China or Russia. Not that war with China or Russia can be ruled out, but if it occurred I think it would probably start as a result of U.S. accidental blowing something up with one of our smart missiles....

This (entertaining) article was written by some street fellow in ukraine around the time Yanukovich was ousted, but the similarities between Ukraine and US shares a common perspective of a lot of USA common folk. In usa,you don't ever get to own much (its all leased or financed) and even if you do, its not hard for them to find a way to liberate it from you.


b4real

chu teh , Oct 5 2019 4:14 utc | 66
Barovsky | Oct 4 2019 22:42 utc | 46

re WW1 UK malnourished soldiers

I recall US journalist George Seldes remarking his observations as he met the UK conscripts coming to the WW1 front. His on-the-scene notes of malnourishment and inability to handle repetitive lifting of ammunition to feed mortars/small cannon, relative to German conscripts, were telling. Explains the postwar emphasis on sports and diet just to prep for the next war. Lessons perhaps also applied to American emphasis on spoprts may just be the overt signs of underlying gov covert funding/subsidies and legislation enabling "league" monopolies.

Ian2 , Oct 5 2019 4:23 utc | 67
@William Gruff:

Why the understatement? It's the same reason why militaries don't showcase their latest greatest hardware to the public. Secrecy provides maneuvering room and is only revealed when appropriate. It's also about managing fear and public opinion in hopes of exerting some influence over your adversary.

AFAIK, China have not officially stated their holdings. The 290 figure is really an estimate given by various NGOs.

ziogolem , Oct 5 2019 4:25 utc | 68
Time is on the side of the new eastern powers, that is, with each passing month the US military (& economic) superiority shrinks.
I think that is why China has been able to exercise such restraint with HK, they can put up with the tantrums till 2047.

The big danger is if those who own the USA try to use their advantage before they lose it.

They already assume that an apocalypse is inevitable;
When the elite retreat to bunkers and private islands in Hawaii, New Zealand, Tasmania or Patagonia , their main concern is how to keep the deplorable's grubby hands off their stuff when the shit finally hits the fan.

chu teh , Oct 5 2019 4:51 utc | 69
...re China's invention of gun powder. IIRC Marco Polo brought it back to Europe in 1400s at a time when China had already advanced it to hand-held-cannon status.

Note well that Europe itself was already in an advanced state of acquisitive madness, as much as could be enabled by formations of swords and horses occasionally being an overwhelming weapon .

With gunpowder, force-of-arms were now an overwhelming weapon in far more areas of the continent.

Then, and only then, could a Columbus et al have set out on voyages of discovery with confident ability to claim any "new" lands for some king who would fund the mission.

I submit, there is no way a Columbus could set-sail unless he had on-board such overwhelming weapons.

Else, landing anywhere without such would only permit some sly smiling and trading and scouting. Any overtly aggressive landing party would be slaughtered by the sheer numbers of home-team locals.

Re "power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely", gunpowder was the 1st overwhelming weapon that enabled conquest.

The 2nd overwhelming weapon was the atom-bomb. But IMO, some heroic figures understood the ramifications its overwhelming-nature; thus they felt motivated to force its sharing, bec a monopoly guaranteed its use to permit limitless conquering.

Then at that point, science was funded by .govs to invent the next overwhelming weapon and use it before any delicious target could duplicate it. We are here.

The acquisitive-syndrome.

FSD , Oct 5 2019 4:54 utc | 70
Lavrov: "Those with a more or less politically mature opinion of the situation should have realised long ago that the sanctions don't work in the direction they wanted them to work."


Oswald Spengler is good here. What he called Western 'money-thinking' is moving at the moment in contrary, self-extinguishing, directions. Full spectrum dominance, bankrolled by reserve currency status, seeks the whole enchilada and potentially once had the wherewithal to achieve it --if not for the punitive subtractions necessitated by sanctions regimes. Compounding matters, the exiled nations, having escaped the comforts of the lab, develop fearsome powers of self-reliance (what North Korea proudly calls juche). Banded together, these hardened exiles will some day go on to decimate the King's Army:


"Spengler, more poet than historian, offers the penetrating eye of the stranger. His prescience for the Russian destiny is paraphrased by Kerry Bolton here:

The Russian soul is not the same as the Western Faustian, as Spengler called it, the 'Magian' of the Arabian civilization, or the Classical of the Hellenes and Romans. The Western Culture that was imposed on Russia by Peter the Great, what Spengler called Petrinism, is a veneer The Russian soul expresses its own type of infinity, albeit not that of the Westerner's Faustian soul, which becomes enslaved by its own technics at the end of its life-cycle."

Many of those 'technics' fall under what Spengler called "money-thinking". At the twilight of its life-cycle the West threatens to withhold its toxicity from all those who don't 'play fair', plying its financial sanctions like an overused tool-set: fractional reserve banking, impudent debt-money that arrives ex nihilo seeking its keep from God-knows-where, leverage that belabors ever-narrowing denominators of intrinsic value."

https://thesaker.is/sins-without-recourse-beast-without-remorse/

The Western debt pyramid can ill-afford meting out the punishment of exile. On the contrary it needs everything on Earth plus the minerals of passing meteors and Martian water. However its petulance and hubris can't resist banishing nations that displease it. When its petulance exceeds its own diminishing critical mass, the seesaw tips against it.

Peter AU 1 , Oct 5 2019 4:58 utc | 71
Re ""power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely", gunpowder was the 1st overwhelming weapon that enabled conquest."
The history of empires is as long as the history of agriculture and herding, nearly ending with the advent of nuclear weapons and MAD.
Only one country left trying that needs some sense knocking into it.
somebody , Oct 5 2019 6:05 utc | 72
Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 5 2019 2:55 utc | 63

I don't think the bussing to Idlib was Russian strategy. The Syrian civil proxy war was a lot about demographics, Hezbollah tried to save Shiites from mixed areas, dito the Syrian state with their supporters. It was a local solution that was necessary as Jihadi fighters come with huge families. Turkey might have had a part as their interest was to have the Jihadis at the border to fight against the Kurdish groups. You may have noticed that the Syrian government with support of Russia now attacks the Jihadi fighters in Idlib.

Russia's strategy was to force Turkey on its side without alienating Iran or Syrians. Iran at one stage seemed ready to support a religious power share the type of Lebanon. The Russian intervention stopped that idea.

Russia saved the Syrian state and the Syrian state insisted on being secular and getting rid of all internal ennemies. That is a kind of peace but the peace of the graveyard.

somebody , Oct 5 2019 6:27 utc | 73
Actually it is quite funny that Putin has started to go back to the 19th century, to "development models, interests, cultures and traditions " and the "concert of power".

After the Congress of Vienna there was the Russio-Persian war, the Russio-Turkish war, the battle of Warsaw against Poland, the Crimean war against the Ottoman empire, Britain and France, advancement in Central Asia and one of the tsars banned Ukrainian language in print. Never mind the tsars successfully fighting the rebellions of the Russian middle classes. Though in 1861 Russian serfs were finally freed as they were needed in newly developing industries. The century ended in 1900 with the Russification of Finland, making Russian the official language.

Never trust a historic reference.

psychohistorian , Oct 5 2019 6:29 utc | 74
@ Peter AU 1 who wrote about the history of empires
"
Only one country left trying that needs some sense knocking into it.
"
That is occurring as we write our textual white noise about the details but the approach is not a Western knocking some sense into it but an Eastern Art of War approach.

It came to me today that instead of WWIII we need to think of what the world is going through as a Civilization war or evolution, assuming we make it out the other side of the conflict. The current empire is trying everything in its quiver of arrows short of MAD to retain control over the form of social organization with private finance at its core.

But the social organization of the East does not think like that and wants to spread the wealth and ownership broadly. The East has been taken advantage of and maligned by the West for centuries and they are not going to continue to let that happen. So they have organized themselves to beat the West at its own game but are doing so according to the Art of War meme instead of trying to knock some sense into the West. Since the East is good at playing the long game in relation to the West they are incrementally wearing down and constraining the West until it collapses of its inability to bully and Might-Makes-Right itself forward.

As we are watching the end game of those efforts, IMO. I don't see the West holding its control on empire for much longer because the East is giving example of a better and more equitable way that will be and is winning over country after country that have been client states of empire held in place by the jackboot of global private finance.

We are witnessing a Civilization war of our species and it is quite the spectacle, eh?

Tom , Oct 5 2019 6:52 utc | 75
Another example of the ever sanctioning superpower is losing its status. "Whistleblower accuses largest US military shipbuilder of putting 'American lives at risk' by falsifying tests on submarine stealth coating" Another day, another example of failure of the MIC to deliver.

Huntington Ingalls Industries, which spun-off from Northrop Grumman in 2011, "knowingly and/or recklessly" filed falsified records with the Navy claiming it had correctly applied a coating, called a Special Hull Treatment, to Virginia-class attack submarines which would allow the vessels to elude enemy sonar, the Sept. 26 complaint alleges.
Instead, the complaint said, Huntington Ingalls' Newport News Shipbuilding facility in Virginia took shortcuts that allegedly "plagued" the class of submarines with problems, and then retaliated against the employee who spoke up about the issues. At this rate most of the US navy will be tied up at their home port waiting for repairs.

According to the complaint, Lawrence, a senior engineer at Huntington Ingalls who has worked there since 2001, has provided evidence of the alleged issues at the company's Newport News Shipbuilding facility in Virginia. Stay safe Lawrence.

https://taskandpurpose.com/lawsuit-huntington-ingalls-whistleblower

Peter AU 1 , Oct 5 2019 6:53 utc | 76
psychohistorian

My thoughts also. And we do live in very interesting times for sure.
When I say knocking some sense into, that includes something along the lines of a soviet style collapse which is the preferable option.

albagen , Oct 5 2019 7:11 utc | 77
@ b4real
re: napoleon quote

replace 'let him' with 'don't interrupt him'

MadMax2 , Oct 5 2019 7:56 utc | 78
~By The Western debt pyramid can ill-afford meting out the punishment of exile.~
71 FSD

Yeah, it is curious. You would think, with an understanding of its own system - infinite growth backed by debt - that empire would wisely choose to employ its tentacles, not deny them. Especially with most states outside of North Korea being open for business in some shape or form. At this rate the US Treasury will need to authorize the advance sale of mortgages to the burgeoning colonies on the moon.

To navigate to the summit for the best part of a century. And to squander those gains within the space of half a young lifetime.

Barovsky , Oct 5 2019 7:58 utc | 79
Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 5 2019 4:58 utc | 71

"power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely"

Correction: It's the quest for power that corrupts....

Jack Garbo , Oct 5 2019 8:30 utc | 80
Putin's concept of strong defense is sound. You don't attack if the other side can defend itself. You negotiate. In Thailand, we rarely see street fights (except between drunk foreigners).
Why? The national sport is lethal Muay Thai (kick boxing), so you never start a fight, since the other side can fight, too. You talk it over, negotiate.
A User , Oct 5 2019 8:38 utc | 81
Lot of nonsense in this thread. From "gunpowder was the 1st overwhelming weapon that enabled conquest." When it is trivially simple to argue that the trained, uniformed and properly regimented Roman Army which came 1500 years earlier was both a better example and likely not the first.
Equally facile is the claim that "It's the quest for power that corrupts" Whilst its probably true that some have been corrupted reaching for power it is equally true that many who for various reasons were not corrupted in the quest, either because they acquired it through serendipity by way of hereditary or accident, came into power as naive or ideologically principled upstarts yet as with every leader, they were corrupted by power as they were convinced no one else could do it (be the bossfella) as well as they.

Emperor Claudius comes to mind as an earlyish big time boss destroyed by power, but callow youths thrust into power as clan leader when dad and/or older bros were killed in battle and went on to become bigger arseholes than Dad, are examples which go back to when us mob first walked upright.

Peter AU 1 , Oct 5 2019 8:47 utc | 82
Barovsky
I quoted a sentence by chu teh and was replying to the piece about gunpowder.

As for the power corrupts part, take a look at the US prior to the fall of the Soviet Union and then what it has become during the time it held virtually absolute power..

Elora Danan , Oct 5 2019 9:18 utc | 83
Yesterday night The Godfather was broadcasted in a foreign private channel....

I saw a comrade telling about that and arguing that this movie contains the world...and it is that indeed it encompasses the history of the USA...

"I have "worked" all my life for the welfare of my family, and I have always refused to be a puppet moved by the threads of the powerful. With you I had other projects Michael. I thought that one day you could move those threads. Senator Corleone, Governor Corleone, or more".

Even in the meeting of all the mafia families in New York for to reach a "pact of no agression" someone states:

"After all, we are not communists..."

somebody , Oct 5 2019 9:18 utc | 84
Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 5 2019 8:47 utc | 82


As for the power corrupts part, take a look at the US prior to the fall of the Soviet Union and then what it has become during the time it held virtually absolute power

That's a myth .

In the decades since the 1972 Watergate scandal, more charges of corruption have been leveled against members of presidential administrations than in the preceding two centuries. Perhaps the most lasting achievement of Ronald Reagan's presidency was the astonishingly successful campaign to delegitimate government itself, at least in the eyes of many citizens, and to enshrine individual economic self-interest, manifested in unregulated "private enterprise," as the paramount value of American life. That transformation, like the rise of so-called rational choice and utility maximization as the governing paradigms in the social sciences, has encouraged citizens to seek wealth -- and to avoid paying taxes or participating in civil society -- as the only sensible strategy. As a result, the homely virtues of self-discipline, moderation, and reciprocity preached by Enlightenment thinkers such as Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Abigail Adams now strike many Americans as outmoded advice for suckers. If "greed is good," as the Wall Street character Gordon Gekko asserted, then Donald J. Trump's career of swindling, debt dodging, and tax evasion might serve as a model to emulate rather than an object lesson in the mainstreaming of corrupt business practices.1

Peter AU 1 , Oct 5 2019 9:29 utc | 85
somebody
US has always been corrupt. Now it can scarcely function. Like a drug pusher consuming too much of the product.
Russ , Oct 5 2019 9:39 utc | 86
No one familiar with Alexander Hamilton, Roger "open the purses of the people" Morris or the roots of the Shay's Rebellion, Whiskey Rebellion, North Carolina Regulator movement and other people's movements and actions, or the 1787-88 counter-revolutionary coup carried out by the Constitutional Convention for the purpose of centralizing economic and military power toward social control and building a continental empire (anyone in any doubt about that should read the proceedings and the Federalist Papers; Hamilton was especially forthcoming about the imperial motivation), would have any illusions about how deeply corruption is inherent in the US system.

Same for imperialism. And all subsequent US history starting and continuing with the genocide of the First Nations bears this out.

Elora Danan , Oct 5 2019 10:11 utc | 87
With respect to sanctions, the EU central power ( i.e. Germany ) impossed harsh sanctions that ended being implemented in full only by southern countries like Spain, who are those who have seen their commercial excahnges with Russia diminished to the least with the conseuqent loses for national business, while, in fact, German business continue their exchnage with Russia as if nothing had happened...

Now that Trump impose import tariffs to Europe, the most affected are, again, those who fulfilled the US sanctions plan towayds Russia at the letter, i.e. Spain and southern countries...

If these Southern European Countries would have a sovereign government with any respect for the people who vote them, they will extract the consequent lesson from all of this...and would apply the recipe for all this with respect to Russia, Iran, and so on...

The lesson would translate like "the more you comply with US mandate on sanctions against any other country you have nothing against, even at the price of harming badly your own economy, the more sanctions/import tariffs will be impossed on yourself at the first necessity...", which is the old lesson from primary school, "the more weak you would show in front of a bully...more beating will come..., oor already in grown mafiosi, "more "special tax" for "protection" to pay"...

Then it is Spain who hosts most of US nuclear deterrence and AFRICOM central command...If Spain would have a sovereign government with a hint of respect for the people who vote it, an ultimatum will be possed in front of the yankees, "eliminate import tariffs, stop meddling with national economy, or pack your things and go home"

Elora Danan , Oct 5 2019 10:27 utc | 88
1.3 billion paper money to prevent the collapse of the Wall Street Stock Exchange.


The Federal Reserve of the United States has injected about 278,000 million dollars in the money market in four days. After injecting 53,000 million dollars earlier this week, the Federal Reserve renewed these operations three times for astronomical amounts representing 75,000 million per day, and has already announced that it will continue to do so daily until October 10.

The newspaper Le Figaro (1) describes as "astronomical" that jet of fiat money that, however, does not seem to worry the New York Stock Exchange, with a Dow Jones index that remained above 27,000 points throughout week. It is normal because, as the Efe agency says, "Wall Street feeds on the flexibility of the Fed" (2), that is, the massive emissions of paper money.

It has no different menu to nourish itself and, as specialists say, "the reasons that lead to lower interest rates are usually not good."

The resistance of Wall Street is explained because these operations only affect the interbank market, which is short of liquidity "temporarily". Banks that are financed on a daily basis in this market would suffer a shortage of liquidity as a result of large debt issues by the Treasury and a strong demand for liquidity from companies facing fiscal maturities.

But there are more than enough reasons for speculators to worry. "The reasons may be not only technical," says the newspaper. Some financial institutions have refused to make their funds available to the market, indicating the possible vulnerability of a participant (bank or companies) who may not be able to repay the amounts borrowed on a day-to-day basis. If this situation is confirmed, which is synonymous with the loss of mutual trust in the interbank market, it could be a more serious crisis than in 2008.

The President of the Federal Reserve, Jerome H. Powell, who took office in February last year, has no different alternative. He has been a member of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve since 2012 and knows nothing more than routine: since the late 1970s he is the first president of the Federal Reserve that does not even have a bachelor's degree in economics. Does he need it?

The question is whether the gigantic mass of fiat money that it has put into circulation will be sufficient to avoid a collapse like that of 2007, or another even greater collapse will occur.

snake , Oct 5 2019 10:38 utc | 89
Russ @ 86.. can you tell me more about the continental congress. where can the biographies and histories be had which might shed some real light on John Hanson first president(1781-1783) of the United States in Congress Assembled(1776-1789) .. and Samuel Huntington (Conn), and Thomas McKeen (Delaware) and the others who were elected and served as Presidents of the [Continental Congress<= the government that defeated the British and that existed between 1776 and 1789}, before the lobbyist imposed ratification to install the US Constitution {a document that cut off (terminated) the right of self determination and denied bottom up democracy to the people of the several nations that were in America at the time]. Before the constitution, the people could and did impose democracy on those who were in charge of the local, state and central governments (The Articles of Confederation, central government from 1776 to 1789] after the Constitution, [the governed were never heard from again. ]. ..
Russ , Oct 5 2019 12:47 utc | 90
@ snake 89

Here's a piece I wrote some years ago on the 1787-88 convention and its goals.

https://attempter.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/the-american-revolution/

William Gruff , Oct 5 2019 13:19 utc | 91
somebody @59 sez: ""Souvereignty" and statehood ... is a recipe for war."

This is the mindset of the hegemon (or the servant of hegemony, whatever). They cannot even imagine "Truly mutually respectful, pragmatic and consequently solid relations" between nations any more than they can imagine others seeking that. They assume that everyone else is motivated to dominate as they are. They project their own damage from having been born into an intensely competitive, egotistical, identity -obsessed culture onto the rest of humanity out of sheer ignorance that things could possible be any different elsewhere.

Western culture, with the purest expression being in the United States, exalts in the individual. That sounds like a noble and wonderful thing on the surface, but the practical effect is to atomize society into isolated and competing hermetic entities. Community is displaced to accommodate the self. This environment favors the sociopath and the psychopath, which is why in the West sociopaths and psychopaths most easily accumulate power and rise to the tops of all of those societies' institutions. It is not surprising that those born into such an environment imagine it to be the natural order and human nature because that is all they know and experience.

But of course that is not human nature. The species would have died out far more than a hundred thousand years ago if it were. Human nature is to build community, and given the opportunity that is precisely what they do. Community, though, is a threat to the power of the psychopaths who ascend to the top of capitalist society, so in all institutions in which those psychopaths gain power they discourage and fight and dismantle community and replace it with social order built around themselves.

This psycho-driven culture grew to dominate in the West because, like slave-based societies before, it was economically progressive. Due to the immaturity of communication technology, individual psychos could assemble and coordinate larger social organizations directed at production than the population could naturally assemble on its own. But technology progresses and naturally formed human communities grow in scale and scope over time. This made slave-based economies obsolete, and is now in the process of obsoleting psycho-centric economies. It should come as no surprise that this replacement is occurring most rapidly in cultures where the psycho-centrism had not fully established itself.

Considering the above, my bet is that as we see China's BRI project mature in Africa, that continent will experience a Renaissance of epic proportions, perhaps even dwarfing China's accomplishments of the last half century. This is because African cultures are similar to the Chinese and other Asian cultures in that they have not yet been fully assimilated into the western worship of "individualism" , so their natural human tendencies towards community-building are not yet corrupted and subverted.

If China's transition to the dominant progressive power on the planet doesn't shatter the dangerous American myth of exceptionality, then big portions of Africa moving into first world status surely will. That's still some decades away, but we should be able to see undeniable signs of movement in that direction by about 2030 to 2040 (growth in industrial output and movement up the value added chain, dramatic development of infrastructure, rapid increases in academic attainment, significant declines in poverty, etc).

Naturally, that is something that few westerners, particularly Americans, can wrap their heads around because they have a flawed (Hobbesian) understanding of human nature. As they do with China now, westerners will deny the evidence from their own eyes with regards to Africa for as long as they can.

bevin , Oct 5 2019 13:27 utc | 92
wikipedia makes no mention of it but for a long time Thomas McKeen was famous as the villain in William Cobbett's The Democratic Judge or The Equal Liberty of the Press.
McKeen was a very nasty piece of work-his origins in Delaware are coincidental
bevin , Oct 5 2019 13:33 utc | 93
"...that is not human nature. The species would have died out far more than a hundred thousand years ago if it were. Human nature is to build community, and given the opportunity that is precisely what they do. Community, though, is a threat to the power of the psychopaths who ascend to the top of capitalist society, so in all institutions in which those psychopaths gain power they discourage and fight and dismantle community and replace it with social order built around themselves..."
How true, if a little unfair to psychopaths.
financial matters , Oct 5 2019 13:37 utc | 94
Elora Danan @ 88

Very interesting.
I don't think it's the use of fiat money itself that's so important but what it's used for. The money you describe as being used to support Wall Street is a great example of the wrong use. Supporting a derivative led financial speculation benefitting the 1% vs the belt and road which is oriented to real economic development which would be a wise productive use of fiat.
-------------

In a famous critical remark directed at China's heavy reliance on western-style, debt-led growth – an anonymous author (thought to be Xi or close colleague), noted (sarcastically) the notion that big trees could be grown 'in the air'. Which is to say: that trees need to have roots, and to grow in the ground. Instead of the 'virtual', financialised 'activity' of the West, real economic activity stems from the real economy, with roots planted in the earth. The 'Belt and Road' is just this: intended as a major catalyst to real economics.When the music stops and the derivative structure starts unraveling showing multiple claims on ownership who will prevail. I think that there's a new sheriff in town with the power to back up the 'roots in the ground' team.Posted by: financial matters | Jan 22, 2019 8:46:28 AM | 100

snake , Oct 5 2019 13:42 utc | 95
The 1776 Constitution was on a vector. By contrast, the 1788 Constitution was designed to foreclose any further democratic movement. On the contrary, its main vector was to concentrate power and wealth up the hierarchy, and to help build an empire for this new ruling class.] the empire class ...needed a constitution which would centralize government, strongly concentrate it, turn it into a versatile and brutal weapon on behalf of finance assaults, military aggression, and police repression. There's only one path forward: We must resume the American Revolution. by Russ @ 90..


very interesting.. 2012 .. discussion.. your paper .thanks . but still no background on the people who brought about the 1776 government. and who operated it between its inception 1776 and the Bankers coup that regime changed the 1776 government into the 1788 Constitution of the United States of America.
As you said in your article, everyone should know about Article 6 in the constitution of the United States of America (the 1788 government) it saved British and French Aristocracy <=and kept in power the very people the Americans had sought to remove=> from the Americans who fought the war. It says All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, shall be as valid against the US under this Constitution, as under the confederation (but no where do I see court cases that say under the 1776 government, that claims to lands, granted by foreign kings and Queens (land grant estates) were valid? In fact, what I see is that the Articles of Confederation government was planning to deny title to, and confiscate the lands which traced to the land grants (G. Washington owned half of West Virginia and all of Virginia) and the AoC plan was to distribute the land grant lands so confiscated among the people who lived in America equally?

Don Bacon , Oct 5 2019 13:47 utc | 96
@WG 91
. . . as we see China's BRI project mature in Africa, that continent will experience a Renaissance of epic proportions
Yes, and they've got a head start:
African countries with GDP growth rates above 5% in 2018
Libya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, The Gambia, Senegal, Uganda, Burkina Faso. Kenya, Guinea, Ghana, Egypt, Niger.
Also: China 6.5, US 2.8, France 1.5, Germany 1.4, UK 1.3 . . here
BM , Oct 5 2019 13:52 utc | 97
Lot of nonsense in this thread. From "gunpowder was the 1st overwhelming weapon that enabled conquest."
Posted by: A User | Oct 5 2019 8:38 utc | 81

...re China's invention of gun powder. IIRC Marco Polo brought it back to Europe in 1400s at a time when China had already advanced it to hand-held-cannon status.
Posted by: chu teh | Oct 5 2019 4:51 utc | 69

Agree with the lot of nonsense bit, although there is also a lot of interest. It is true that China discovered gunpowder, but not sure about the "hand-held-canon status". My version of reality had it that due to differences of perspective between East and West, China discovered gunpowder and used it for firecrackers, and (allegedly) never thought of using it for weapons. Similarly knowledge of the configuration of the stars in relation to location was discovered by the arabs, long before this knowledge was exploited by Europeans for navigation. The claim being, that the practical Europeans put scientific discovery to use for practical benefits while the East - which discovered important segments of that scientific discovery long before - had "merely" put it to spiritual, cultural and other transcendent uses.

I absorbed the above factoids (gunpowder and the stars) over half a century ago before I would have looked at such claims sufficiently critically; to what extent such factoids might be really true I am not quite sure, although I remain somewhat sceptical about the "hand-held-canon" claim. The broader claim though about the application of scientific discovery needs to be reexamined more impartially.

William Gruff , Oct 5 2019 14:03 utc | 98
Ian2 @67: "Secrecy ... is only revealed when appropriate."

And the appropriate moment to reveal a strategic doomsday arsenal that only exists to prevent attack is when that arsenal is fielded. This point is so obvious that it was raised with humorous intent in the 1964 Kubrick movie Dr. Strangelove .

You only keep weapons systems secret that you intend to use in attacks in order to surprise your victims. Since America is violently aggressive and regularly attacks other countries, the US maintains this sort of policy. America is exceptional in this regard, though. America's focus is on offensive weaponry to attack other countries with, so keeping those weapons secret helps limit America's victims' abilities to prepare and defend themselves. Military secrecy is therefore the tool of the aggressor intended to facilitate sucker-punching its victims. Weapons intended to discourage such attacks must be advertised loud and clear for their intended deterrence to succeed. This is why Russia openly announces their new weapons and why China shows theirs off in parades.

China does not intend to use their nukes. They are not like America which is building tactical nukes to make atomic weapons more palatable to use in practice. There are no countries in the world that China has shown any interest in attacking anyway, unlike America which maintains a list of target countries that it is working itself up to attacking.

braindead , Oct 5 2019 14:07 utc | 99
aaaaand the 1 mirrion $ question is: who funds the army?

- the people in the tent cities
- the oligarchs
- none of the above

jo6pac , Oct 5 2019 14:22 utc | 100
Who says V Putin doesn't have sense of humor as trolls Amerika.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATBSulMeXhU

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[Oct 05, 2019] Everything is fake in the current neoliberal discourse, be it political or economic, and it is not that easy to understand how they are deceiving us. Lies that are so sophisticated that often it is impossible to tell they are actually lies, not facts

Highly recommended!
Oct 05, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

likbez -> anne... , October 05, 2019 at 04:40 PM

Anne,

Let me serve as a devil advocate here.

Japan has a shrinking population. Can you explain to me why on the Earth they need economic growth?

This preoccupation with "growth" (with narrow and false one dimensional and very questionable measurements via GDP, which includes the FIRE sector) is a fallacy promoted by neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism proved to be quite sophisticated religions with its own set of True Believers in Eric Hoffer's terminology.

A lot of current economic statistics suffer from "mathiness".

For example, the narrow definition of unemployment used in U3 is just a classic example of pseudoscience in full bloom. It can be mentioned only if U6 mentioned first. Otherwise, this is another "opium for the people" ;-) An attempt to hide the real situation in the neoliberal "job market" in which has sustained real unemployment rate is always over 10% and which has a disappearing pool of well-paying middle-class jobs. Which produced current narco-epidemics (in 2018, 1400 people were shot in half a year in Chicago ( http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-weekend-shooting-violence-20180709-story.html ); imagine that). While I doubt that people will hang Pelosi on the street post, her successor might not be so lucky ;-)

Everything is fake in the current neoliberal discourse, be it political or economic, and it is not that easy to understand how they are deceiving us. Lies that are so sophisticated that often it is impossible to tell they are actually lies, not facts. The whole neoliberal society is just big an Empire of Illusions, the kingdom of lies and distortions.

I would call it a new type of theocratic state if you wish.

And probably only one in ten, if not one in a hundred economists deserve to be called scientists. Most are charlatans pushing fake papers on useless conferences.

It is simply amazing that the neoliberal society, which is based on "universal deception," can exist for so long.

[Oct 03, 2019] Infectious Narratives in Economics

Oct 03, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , October 02, 2019 at 06:25 AM

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-01/robert-shiller-on-infectious-narratives-in-economics-excerpt

October 1, 2019

Infectious Narratives in Economics
By Robert Shiller - Bloomberg

"Narrative EconomicsHow Stories Go Viral & Drive Major Economic Events"

Concerns that inventions of new machines powered by water, wind, horse, or steam, or that use human power more efficiently, might replace workers and cause massive unemployment have an extremely long history, going back to ancient times. Aristotle imagined a future in which "the shuttle would weave and the plectrum touch the lyre without a hand to guide them." In such a world, "chief workmen would not want servants, nor masters slaves," he concluded.

Still, it wasn't until the 19th century, an era that brought innovations such as the water-powered textile loom, the mechanical thresher, and the Corliss steam engine, that concerns about technology-based unemployment took center stage. The narrative was particularly contagious during economic depressions when many were unemployed.

The phrase "technological unemployment" first appeared in 1917, but it started its epidemic upswing in 1928. The count for "technological unemployment" skyrockets in the 1930s in Google Ngrams, tracing a hump-shaped pattern, rising through time for a while and then falling, much as is regularly seen with infection diseases. The "technological unemployment" curve peaked in 1933, the worst year of the Great Depression.

Frequency of Appearance
Appearances in books, as a share of all words

[Graph]

It is curious that the narrative epidemic of technological unemployment began in 1928, a time of prosperity before the Great Depression. How did the epidemic start? In March 1928, U.S. Senator Robert Wagner stated his belief that unemployment was much higher than recognized, and he asked the Department of Labor to do a study. Later that month the department delivered the study that produced the first official unemployment rates published by the U.S. government. The study estimated that there were 1,874,030 unemployed people in the United States and 23,348,602 wage earners, implying an unemployment rate of 7.4%. This high estimated unemployment rate came at a time of great prosperity, and it led people to question what would cause such high unemployment amidst abundance.

A month later, the Baltimore Sun ran an article referring to the theories of Sumner H. Slichter, who in later decades became a prominent labor economist. In the article, readers are told that Slichter noted several causes of unemployment but said technological unemployment was "at present the most serious." The reason: "We are eliminating jobs through labor-saving methods faster than we are creating them." These words, alongside the new official reporting of unemployment statistics, created a contagion of the idea that a new era of technological unemployment had arrived. The earlier agricultural depression, with its associated fears of labor-saving machinery, began to look like a model for an industrial depression to follow.

Stuart Chase, who later coined the term the "New Deal," published Men and Machines in May 1929, during a period of rapidly rising stock prices. The real, inflation-corrected, U.S. stock market, as measured by the S&P Composite Index, rose a final 20% in the five months after the book's publication, before the infamous October 1929 crash. But concerns about rising unemployment were apparent even during the boom period. According to Chase, we were approaching the "zero hour of accelerating unemployment":

Machinery saves labour in a given process; one man replaces ten. A certain number of these men are needed to build and service a new machine, but some of them are permanently displaced.   If purchasing power has reached its limits of expansion because mechanization is progressing at an unheard of rate, only unemployment can result. In other words, from now on, the better able we are to produce, the worse we shall be off.  This is the economy of the madhouse.

This is significant: The narrative of out-of-control unemployment was already starting to go viral before there was any sign of the stock market crash of 1929.

During the week before the October 28–29 stock market crash, a national business show was running in New York in a convention center (since demolished) adjacent to Grand Central Station that many Wall Street people passed through to and from work. The show emphasized immense progress in robot technology in the office workplace. After the show moved to Chicago in November, the following description appeared in the Chicago Daily Tribune:

Exhibits in the national business show yesterday revealed that the business office of the future will be a factory in which machines will replace the human element, when the robot -- the mechanical man -- will be the principal office worker. 

There were addressers, autographers, billers, calculators, cancelers, binders, coin changers, form printers, duplicators, envelope sealers and openers, folders, labelers, mail meters, pay roll machines, tabulators, transcribers, and other mechanical marvels. 

A typewriting machine pounded out letters in forty different languages. A portable computing machine which could be carried by a traveling salesman was on exhibit.

By 1930 the crash itself was often attributed to the surplus of goods made possible by new technology. According to the Washington Post, "When the climax was reached in the last months of 1929 a period of adversity was inevitable because the people did not have enough money to buy the surplus goods which they had produced."

Fear of robots was not strong in most of the 1920s, when the word robot was coined. Historian Amy Sue Bix offers a theory to explain why this was so: The kinds of innovations that received popular acclaim in the 1920s didn't obviously replace jobs. If asked to describe new technology, people would perhaps think first of the Model T Ford, whose sales had burgeoned to 1.5 million cars a year by the early part of the decade. Radio stations, which first appeared around 1920, provided an exciting new form of information and entertainment, but they did not obviously replace many existing jobs. More and more homes were getting wired for electricity, with many possibilities for new gadgets that required electricity.

By the 1930s, Bix notes, the news had replaced stories of exciting new consumer products with stories of job-replacing innovations. Dial telephones replaced switchboard operators. Mammoth continuous-strip steel mills replaced steel workers. New loading equipment replaced coal workers. Breakfast cereal producers bought machines that automatically filled cereal boxes. Telegraphs became automatic. Armies of linotype machines in multiple cities allowed one central operator to set type for printing newspapers by remote control. New machines dug ditches. Airplanes had robot copilots. Concrete mixers laid and spread new roads. Tractors and reaper-thresher combines created a new agricultural revolution. Sound movies began to replace the orchestras that played at movie theaters. And, of course, the decade of the 1930s saw massive unemployment in the United States, with the unemployment rate reaching an estimated 25% in 1933.

It is difficult to know which came first, the chicken or the egg. Were all these stories of job-threatening innovations spurred by the exceptional pace of such innovations? Or did the stories reflect a change in the news media's interest in such innovations because of public concern about technological unemployment? The likely answer is "a little of both."

The "labor-saving machines" narrative was strongly connected to an underconsumption or overproduction theory: the idea that people couldn't possibly consume all of the output produced by machines, with chronic unemployment the inevitable result. The theory's origins date to the 1600s, but it picked up steam in the 1920s. It was mentioned in newspaper articles within days of the stock market crash of October 28–29, 1929.

The real peak of these narratives was in the 1930s, during which time they appeared five times as often as in any other decade, according to a search of Proquest's database of newspapers.

The topic now appears largely in articles about the history of economic thought, but it is worth considering why it had such a strong hold on the popular imagination during the Great Depression, why the narrative epidemic could recur, and the appropriate mutations or environmental changes that would increase contagion.

Today, underconsumption sounds like a bland technical phrase, but it had considerable emotional charge during the Great Depression, as it symbolized a deep injustice and collective folly. At the time it was mostly a popular theory, not an academic theory.

In the 1932 presidential campaign, Franklin Roosevelt ran against incumbent Herbert Hoover, who had been unsuccessful with deficit spending to restore the economy. Roosevelt gave a speech in which he articulated the already-popular theory of underconsumption. His masterstroke was putting it in the form of a story inspired by Lewis Carroll's famous children's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In that book, a bright and inquisitive little girl named Alice meets many strange creatures that talk in nonsense and self-contradictions. Roosevelt's version of this story replaced his opponent with the Jabberwock, a speaker of nonsense:

A puzzled, somewhat skeptical Alice asked the Republican leadership some simple questions.

Will not the printing and selling of more stocks and bonds, the building of new plants and the increase of efficiency produce more goods than we can buy? No, shouted the Jabberwock, the more we produce the more we can buy.

What if we produce a surplus? Oh, we can sell it to foreign consumers.

How can the foreigners buy it? Why we will lend them the money.

Of course, these foreigners will pay us back by sending us their goods? Oh, not at all, says Humpty Dumpty. We sit on a high wall called a tariff.

How will the foreigners pay off these loans? That is easy. Did you ever hear of a moratorium?

On the face of it, underconsumption seemed to explain the high unemployment of the Great Depression, but academic economists never seriously embraced the theory, which had never been soundly explained.

The massive unemployment caused by the Great Depression set off serious social problems. For example, in the United States it caused the forced deportation (then called repatriation) of a million workers of Mexican origin. The goal was to free up jobs for "real" Americans. The popular narrative supported these deportations, and there was little public protest. Newspaper reports showed photos of happy Mexican Americans waving goodbye at the train station on their way back to their original home to help the Mexican nation.

The dial telephone also played an important part in narratives about unemployment and the associated underconsumption. During the Great Depression, there rose a narrative focus on the loss of telephone operators' jobs, and the transition to dial telephones was troubled by moral qualms that by adopting the dial phone one was complicit in destroying a job. Three weeks after dial phones were installed in the U.S. Senate in 1930, Senator Carter Glass introduced a resolution to have them torn out and replaced with the older phones. Noting that operators' jobs would be lost, he expressed true moral indignation against the new phones:

I ask unanimous consent to take from the table Senate resolution 74 directing the sergeant at arms to have these abominable dial telephones taken out on the Senate side .  I object to being transformed into one of the employees of the telephone company without compensation.

His resolution passed, and the dial phones were removed. It is hard to imagine that such a resolution would have passed if the nation had not been experiencing high unemployment. This story fed a contagious economic narrative that helped augment the atmosphere of fear associated with the contraction in aggregate demand during the Great Depression.

The loss of jobs to robots (that is, automation) became a major explanation of the Great Depression, and, hence, a perceived major cause of it. Even if the man hasn't lost his job yet, he will consume less owing to the prospect or possibility of losing his job. The U.S. presidential candidate who lost to Herbert Hoover in 1928, Al Smith, wrote in the Boston Globe in 1931:

We know now that much unemployment can be directly traced to the growing use of machinery intended to replace man power.   The human psychology of it is simple and understandable to everybody. A man who is not sure of his job will not spend his money. He will rather hoard it and it is difficult to blame him for so doing as against the day of want.

Albert Einstein, the world's most celebrated physicist, believed this narrative, saying in 1933 that the Great Depression was the result of technical progress:

According to my conviction it cannot be doubted that the severe economic depression is to be traced back for the most part to internal economic causes; the improvement in the apparatus of production through technical invention and organization has decreased the need for human labor, and thereby caused the elimination of a part of labor from the economic circuit, and thereby caused a progressive decrease in the purchasing power of the consumers.

By that time, people had begun to label labor-saving inventions as "robots," even if there were no mechanical men to be seen. One article in the Los Angeles Times in early 1931, about a year into the Great Depression, said that robots then were already the "equivalent of 80 million hand-workers in the United States alone," while the male labor force was only 40 million.

Though the technological unemployment narrative faded after 1935 (as revealed by Google Ngrams), it did not go away completely. Instead, it continued to exert some influence in the runup to World War II, until new narrative constellations about the war became contagious.

Many historians point to massive unemployment in Germany to explain the accession to power of the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler in the election of 1933, the worst year of the Depression. But rarely mentioned today is the fact that a Nazi Party official promised that year to make it illegal in Germany to replace men with machines.

To go viral again, the labor-saving machines narrative needed a new twist after World War II, a twist that could seem to reinforce the newly rediscovered appreciation of human intelligence, and, ultimately, of the human brain. The narrative turned to the new "electronic brains" -- that is, computers.

anne -> anne... , October 02, 2019 at 06:29 AM
Correcting spacing:

Narrative Economics
How Stories Go Viral & Drive Major Economic Events
By Robert Shiller

[Sep 26, 2019] The decrepitating of the world's society can be traced back to the crap, contemporary economics, the purview of the Ivy league. Somehow, labor arbitrage was accepted as a worthy objective. America lost it's way.

Sep 26, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Mr. Bill , September 22, 2019 at 09:55 PM

The decrepitating of the world's society can be traced back to the crap, contemporary economics, the purview of the Ivy league. Somehow, labor arbitrage was accepted as a worthy objective. America lost it's way.
Paine -> Mr. Bill... , September 23, 2019 at 06:12 AM
Joe stiglitz is an honored product of the ivy system

And he has conducted a 50 year demolition of standard micro economics as taught in the 101 class rooms of collegiate AMERIKA

[Sep 26, 2019] The real trouble with Capitalism: stupid/corrupt economists

Sep 26, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke , September 25, 2019 at 02:30 PM

ICYMI

The real trouble with Capitalism: stupid/corrupt economists
Comment on Chris Dillow on 'The trouble with capitalism'

For the full text (4950 characters) see here
https://axecorg.blogspot.com/2019/09/the-real-trouble-with-capitalism.html

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

likbez -> Egmont Kakarot-Handtke ... , September 25, 2019 at 05:39 PM
Great, thank you !

I would argue that

(1) They are not stupid, they were simply bought

(2) This is not Capitalism, this is Neoliberalism.

But with those minor modifications you point stands: "The real trouble with Neoliberalism: bought/corrupt economists" ... "And this means that [neoliberal/neo-classical] economics is proto-scientific garbage."

Here is an extended quote from your comment so that people can more fully appreciate this line of thinking:

== quote ==

Chris Dillow quotes Martin Wolf: "What we increasingly seem to have is an unstable rentier capitalism, weakened competition, feeble productivity growth, high inequality and, not coincidentally, an increasingly degraded democracy."

Chris Dillow then sets out to explain the trouble with Capitalism: "The Bank of England has given us a big clue here. It points out that the rising profit share (a strong sign of increased monopoly) is largely confined to the US. In the UK, the share of profits in GDP has flatlined in recent years. Few, however, would argue that UK capitalism is less dysfunctional than its US counterpart. Which suggests that the problem with capitalism is not increased monopoly. So what is it? Here, I commend some brilliant work by Michael Roberts. Many of the faults Martin discusses have their origin in a declining rate of profit ― a decline which became acute in the 1970s but which was never wholly reversed."

The whole intellectual/moral misery of economists is contained in this paragraph. Chris Dillow's explanation starts with the "share of profits in GDP" and ends with the "rate of profit". Not only are these entirely different things but macroeconomic profit is not defined, to begin with.

The simple reason is that neither Chris Dillow nor Martin Wolf nor Michael Roberts knows what profit is.#1 This sad fate they share with Walrasians, Keynesians, Marxians, Austrians, and MMTers. The dirty secret of economics is that since Adam Smith/Karl Marx economists do not know what profit is.#2, #3

And this means that economics is proto-scientific garbage but economists have not realized it to this day.

... ... ...
== end ==

[Sep 25, 2019] Capitalism, Alone: Four important -- but somewhat hidden -- themes by Branko Milanovic

Sep 25, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 24, 2019 at 10:26 AM

https://glineq.blogspot.com/2019/09/capitalism-alone-four-important-but.html

September 24, 2019

Capitalism, Alone: Four important--but somewhat hidden--themes

I review here four important, but perhaps not immediately apparent, themes from my Capitalism, Alone. The book contains many other, more topical, subjects that are likely to attract readers' and reviewers' attention much more than the somewhat abstract or philosophical issues briefly reviewed here.

1. Capitalism as the only mode of production in the world. During the previous high point of the British-led globalization, capitalism shared the world with various feudal or feudal-like systems characterized with unfree labor: forced labor was abolished in Austria-Hungary in 1848, serfdom in Russia in 1861, slavery ended in the US in 1865, and in Brazil only in 1888, And labor tied to land continued to exist in India and to a lesser degree in China. Then, after 1917, capitalism had to share the world with communism which, at its peak, included almost a third of the world population. It is only after 1989, that capitalism is not only a dominant, but the sole, system of organizing production (Chapter 1).

2. The global historical role of communism. The existence of capitalism (economic way to organize society) throughout the world does not imply that the political systems must be organized in the same way everywhere. The origins of political systems are very different. In China and Vietnam, communism was the tool whereby indigenous capitalism was introduced (explained below). The difference in the "genesis" of capitalism, that is, in the way capitalism was "created" in various countries explains why there are at least two types of capitalism today. I am doubtful that there would ever be a single type of capitalism covering the entire globe.

To understand the point about the different origins, one needs to start from the question of the role of communism in global history and thus from the interpretation (histoire raisonéee) of the 20th century (Chapter 3).

There are two major narratives of the 20th century: liberal and Marxist; they are both "Jerusalem"-like in the Russian philosopher Berdiaff's terminology. They see the world evolving from less developed toward more developed stages ending in either a terminus of liberal capitalist democracy or Communism (society of plenty).

Both narratives face significant problems in the interpretation of the 20th century. Liberal narrative is unable to explain the outbreak of the First World War which, given the liberal arguments about the spread of capitalism, (peaceful) trade, and interdependence between countries and individuals that ostensibly abhor conflict should never have happened, and certainly not in the way it did -- namely by involving in the most destructive war up to date all advanced capitalism countries. Second, liberal narrative treats both fascism and communism as essentially "mistakes" (cul de sacs) on the road to a chiliastic liberal democracy without providing much of reasoning as to why these two "mistakes" happened. Thus the liberal explanations for both the outbreak of the War and the two "cul de sacs" are often ad hoc, emphasizing the role of individual actors or idiosyncratic events.

Marxist interpretation of the 20th century is much more convincing in both its explanation of World War I (imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism) and fascism (an attempt by the weakened bourgeoise to thwart left-wing revolutions). But Marxist view is entirely powerless to explain 1989, the fall of communist regimes, and hence unable to provide any explanation for the role of communism in global history. The fall of communism, in a strict Marxist view of the world, is an abomination, as inexplicable as if a feudal society having had experienced a bourgeois revolution of rights were suddenly to "regress" and to reimpose serfdom and the tripartite class division. Marxism has therefore given up trying to provide an explanation for the 20th century history.

The reason for this failure lies in the fact that Marxism never made a meaningful distinction between standard Marxist schemes regarding the succession of socio-economic formations (what I call the Western Path of Development, WPD) and the evolution of poorer and colonized countries. Classical Marxism never asked seriously whether the WPD is applicable in their case. It believed that poorer and colonized countries will simply follow, with a time lag, the developments in the advanced countries, and that colonization and indeed imperialism will produce the capitalist transformation of these societies. This was Marx's explicit view on the role of English colonialism in Asia. But colonialism proved too weak for such a global task, and succeeded in introducing capitalism only in small entropot enclaves such as Hong Kong, Singapore and parts of South Africa.

Enabling colonized countries to effect both their social and national liberations (note there was never a need for the latter in advanced countries) was the world-historical role of communism. It was only Communist or left-wing parties that could prosecute successfully both revolutions. The national revolution meant political independence. The social revolution meant abolishment of feudal growth-inhibiting institutions (power of usurious landlords, labor tied to land, gender discrimination, lack of access to education by the poor, religious turpitude etc.). Communism thus cleared the path for the development of indigenous capitalism. Functionally, in the colonized Third World societies, it played the same role that domestic bourgeoisies played in the West. For indigenous capitalism could be established only once feudal institutions were swept away.

The concise definition of communism is hence: communism is a social system that enabled backward and colonized societies to abolish feudalism, regain economic and political independence, and build indigenous capitalism.

3. The global dominion of capitalism was made possible thanks to (and in turn it exacerbates) certain human traits that, from an ethical point, are questionable . Much greater commercialization and greater wealth have in many ways made us more polished in our manners (as per Montesquieu) but have done so using what were traditionally regarded as vices -- desire for pleasure, power and profit (as per Mandeville). Vices are both fundamental for hyper-commercialized capitalism to be "born" and are supported by it. Philosophers accept them not because they are by themselves desirable, but because allowing their limited exercise allows the achievement of a greater social good: material affluence (Smith; Hume).

Yet the contrast between acceptable behavior in hyper-commercialized world and traditional concepts of justice, ethics, shame, honor, and loss of face, create a chasm which is filled with hypocrisy; one cannot openly accept that one has sold for a sum of money his/her right to free speech or ability to disagree with one's boss, and thus arises the need to cover up these facts with lies or misrepresentation of reality.

From the book:

"The domination of capitalism as the best, or rather the only, way to organize production and distribution seems absolute. No challenger appears in sight. Capitalism gained this position thanks to its ability, through the appeal to self-interest and desire to own property, to organize people so that they managed, in a decentralized fashion, to create wealth and increase the standard of living of an average human being on the planet by many times -- something that only a century ago was considered almost utopian.

But this economic success made more acute the discrepancy between the ability to live better and longer lives and the lack of a commensurate increase in morality, or even happiness. The greater material abundance did make people's manners and behavior to each other better: since elementary needs, and much more than that, were satisfied, people no longer needed to engage in a Hobbesian struggle of all against all. Manners became more polished, people more considerate.

But this external polish was achieved at the cost of people being increasingly driven by self-interest alone, even in many ordinary and personal affairs. The capitalist spirit, a testimony to the generalized success of capitalism, penetrated deeply into people's individual lives. Since extending capitalism to family and intimate life was antithetical to centuries-old views about sacrifice, hospitality, friendship, family ties, and the like, it was not easy to openly accept that all such norms had become superseded by self-interest. This unease created a huge area where hypocrisy reigned. Thus, ultimately, the material success of capitalism came to be associated with a reign of half-truths in our private lives."

4. Capitalist system cannot be changed. The dominion of hyper-commercial capitalism was established thanks to our desire to permanently keep on improving our material conditions, to keep on getting richer, a desire which capitalism satisfies the best. This has led to the creation of a system of values that puts monetary success as its top. In many ways it is a desirable evolution because "believing" in money alone does away with other traditional and discriminatory hierarchical markers.

In order for capitalism to exist it needs to grow and to expand to ever new areas and new products. But capitalism exists not outside of us, as a external system. It is individuals, that is, us, who, in our daily lives, create capitalism and provide it with new fields of action -- so much that we had transformed our homes into capital, and our free time into a resource. This extraordinary commodification of almost all, including what used to be very private, activities was made possible by our internalization of the system of values where money acquisition is placed on the pinnacle. If this were not the case, we would not have commodified practically all that can be (as of now) commodified.

Capitalism, in order to expand, needs greed. Greed has been entirely accepted by us. The economic system and the system of values are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Our system of values enables hyper-commercialized capitalism to function and expand. It then follows that no change in the economic system can be imagined without a change in the system of values that underpins it, which the system promotes, and with which we are, in our everyday activities, fully comfortable. But to produce such a change in values seems, at present, to be an impossible task. It has been tried before and ended in the most ignominious failure. We are thus locked in capitalism. And in our activities, day in, day out, we support and reinforce it.

-- Branko Milanovic

[Sep 24, 2019] Trump To UN The Future Does Not Belong To Globalists

Sep 24, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Trump To UN: The Future Does Not Belong To Globalists by Tyler Durden Tue, 09/24/2019 - 21:45 0 SHARES

Authored by Graham Noble via LibertyNation.com,

President Donald Trump delivered a measured speech to the United Nations General Assembly this morning. Ever the showman who usually likes to go off-script, Trump was almost painfully presidential – the UN, after all, is not the forum for off-the-cuff remarks. The speech was wide-ranging, but the overriding theme was the importance of national pride and sovereignty to every country. "The future," Trump told the assembly, "does not belong to globalists." In addition to providing an overview of America's foreign policy challenges, the president berated China for its unfair trade practices and its violation of obligations made to the people of Hong Kong. He called for the empowerment of women and for the rights of the LGBT community to be protected.

Adversaries Singled Out

Taking aim at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for admitting China , Trump pointed out that 60,000 American factories have closed since China became a member-state.

"The World Trade Organization needs drastic change," the president said. "The second-largest economy in the world should not be permitted to declare itself a developing country in order to game the system at others' expense."

Trump also singled out the governments of Iran and Venezuela . Of the former, the president made it clear that US sanctions would not be lifted while the Iranian government continues its aggressive behavior. At the same time, the US leader expressed sympathy and support for the Iranian people. Such a distinction is important.

Of Venezuela's dictator, Nicolas Maduro – whose role as that country's legitimate leader is now in dispute – Trump said: "[He] is a Cuban puppet, protected by Cuban bodyguards, hiding from his own people while Cuba plunders Venezuela's oil wealth to sustain its own corrupt communist rule."

Expanding on the issue of the Venezuelan government's catastrophic political and economic policies, Trump warned that "one of the most serious challenges our countries face is the spectrum of socialism," which he described as "the wrecker of nations and destroyer of societies."

The Injustice Of Illegal Mass Migration

The president also devoted part of his address to the issue of mass illegal immigration . Acknowledging that this was not just an American problem but a global one, Trump told the gathering that every country has the right to secure its own borders. He had a direct message, though, for open-borders activists whom he accused of cloaking themselves "in the rhetoric of social justice":

"Your policies are not just. Your policies are cruel and evil. You are empowering criminal organizations that prey on innocent men, women, and children. You put your own false sense of virtue before the lives, well-being in [sic] countless innocent people."

It is indeed ironic that the same people who champion the alleged right of people from Central America to flow unchecked into the United States also feign concern for the economic deprivation that exists in those countries from which these migrants are coming. Trump made the counterpoint in succinct fashion:

"[T]hese nations cannot reach their potential if a generation of youth abandon their homes in search of a life elsewhere."

A Jab At Domestic US Politics

In a continuation of the anti-globalist, sovereign-nations theme, Trump warned against totalitarianism and the erosion of democracy and individual freedoms. "We must always be skeptical of those who want conformity and control," he told the assembly. "Even in free nations, we see alarming signs and new challenges to liberty."

In what seemed to be a thinly veiled reference to the efforts of Democrats and left-wing activists in the US to reverse the result of the 2016 presidential election, the Commander-in-Chief went on:

"A permanent political class is openly disdainful, dismissive, and defiant of the will of the people."

He was not done. Though it would have been entirely inappropriate to openly call out his political opponents, Trump dwelt on the topic while presenting it as a problem faced by all free nations – which, in fact, it is:

"A faceless bureaucracy operates in secret and weakens democratic rule. Media and academic institutions push flat-out assaults on our histories, traditions, and values a free society must not allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people and a free people must never, ever be enlisted in the cause of silencing, coercing, canceling, or blacklisting their own neighbors."

Still on the subject of individual liberty, the president also warned the UN that Americans would not be deprived of their Second Amendment rights: "There is no circumstance," he warned, "under which the United States will allow international actors to trample on the rights of our citizens, including the right to self-defense." To emphasize the point, the president reminded the assembly that America would not ratify the UN Arms Trade Treaty.

To close his address, the president delivered to the gathered world leaders and ambassadors a message of unity, peace, and recognition that, like the US, every country in the world should, first and foremost, act in the interests of its own people. "Lift up your nations," he told them, "cherish your culture, honor your histories, treasure your citizens, make your country strong and prosperous and righteous. Honor the dignity of your people and nothing will be outside of your reach."


Noob678 , 34 seconds ago link

Trump's UN speech puts his commerce secretary to sleep

Bob_Sacamano , 36 seconds ago link

Trump's speech was the same boilerplate BS he wheels out all of the time - Israel, Iran, black and Mexican unemployment, pissing away Trillions on strengthening the military, etc.

Noob678 , 2 minutes ago link

Throwing stones in a glass house: Trump criticizes the world, but his words are best applied to the US

[Sep 22, 2019] Trump May Get Much of the World's Manufacturing Out of China, but It Won't Be Coming Back to the US

Notable quotes:
"... I always thought globalization was about the opportunity for a handful of businesses and corporations to control major industries around the world. ..."
"... There is an anti-China hawks faction based in the Republican party that has made its present felt. People like Robert Lighthizer, Peter Navarro and Steve Bannon. I have seen this sentiment spill over into Australian politics but they have not reached the stage where they are asking: "Are you now, or have you ever been, born Chinese?". ..."
"... We have also seen hawk factions against Russia, Iran and not long ago Venezuela. The ones for Russia and Iran have been long going but the ones against China and Venezuela were sudden and new. It may be that tomorrow that Trump will do the same against Cuba and threaten any country that does trade with them. Who knows what other country may fall within his sights? ..."
"... it seems business people in the government are being pushed aside by hawkish factions who do not care what effect it has on the economy or the country. Great! ..."
"... Those are the same "hawks" that are busy destroying the rest of America as well. ..."
"... As it is now, China literally has the US by the jewels, and if a serious conflict ever arose, could squeeze them hard. Just their dominance in manufacturing a large percentage of the pharmaceuticals consumed by US patients alone creates a serious vulnerability. ..."
"... Situating the manufacturing in countries that are part of the Chinese sphere of influence won't help much in a conflict. China would probably be able to sweep through much of Southeast Asia quickly or interdict shipments if there was war. ..."
"... the world wide presence/threat of the USA military and diplomatic corps allows globalization to be less risky for USA businesses, so, in effect, the patriotic "spreading of democracy" around the world via military actions is a factor in USA job loss. This is yet another cost of the bloated military to the general USA population. ..."
"... Trump, as usual, got his strings pulled by the Deep State when he went for actual implementation of a campaign promise. The DS doesn't care about working Americans, they are simply against China. ..."
"... as Julius Krein, editor of American Affairs, writes: "United States industry is losing ground to foreign competitors on price, quality and technology. In many areas, our manufacturing capacity cannot compete with what exists in Asia." ..."
"... Back in the early 80s I saw a massive warehouse full of machine tools, Bridgeport mills, and such lined up, it seemed forever, the guy there said they were going to China. I asked my Dad about it, and he told me we were selling them to the Chinese for the price of scrap. The whole thing is mindless and pathetic, but the really maddening thing is the slippery way our 'leaders' can keep dodging the blame by simply pointing a finger in whatever direction, and everybody's eyes move in unison. ..."
"... The argument/discussion is not about how and where to outsource our jobs, it's about how stupid it was to do it in the first place ..."
"... Also the Chinese internal market continues to attract MNC's and this attraction will continue to grow far into the future. China's middle class is already larger than the total population of the US and it continues to grow rapidly. While down presently the Chinese internal consumption continues to grow at an annual rate of some 8.5%. ..."
"... Trump's approach to trade is isolating the US, blocking its Co's from the Chinese market, and incentivizing the Chinese to offer better conditions to Co's of the rest of the world. How can that help the US ? ..."
"... The relentless neoliberal race to the bottom, outsourcing, and austerity that marked the death blow to American Labor is over. In that light it makes little difference whether our corporations pull out of China, go to Vietnam, or come home. The exploitation of the poorest is coming to an end. And none too soon. ..."
"... I hope some candidates discuss the imperative to have the US start making it's own medications again. ..."
"... I could not believe the government has allowed the entire supply chain of building blocks of ALL our antibiotics to be sourced almost solely from China. To me THAT'S the national security issue we need to deal with immediately. As well as other vital drugs.. ..."
"... Chinese manufacturers have the wealth and experience to teach production line workers and make things anywhere. Western companies manufacturing in China have belatedly looked for facilities in neighboring countries and found the Chinese are already there. ..."
"... Trump doesn't give a damn about getting manufacturing jobs back into the United States! (Or at least his advisors don't). ..."
"... Low housing costs, lead to lower wages so UK employers were able to compete in a free trade world. William White (BIS, OECD) talks about how economics really changed over one hundred years ago as classical economics was replaced by neoclassical economics. ..."
"... He thinks we have been on the wrong path for one hundred years. Free trade requires a low cost of living and what was known in the 19th century had disappeared by the 20th. The West's high cost of living means high wages and an inability to compete in a free trade world. ..."
Sep 21, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute

"Chimerica" is a term originally coined by the historian Niall Ferguson and economist Moritz Schularick to describe the growing economic relationship between the U.S. and China since the latter's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. In the words of Ferguson : "The Chinese did the saving, the Americans the spending. The Chinese did the exporting, the Americans the importing. The Chinese did the lending, the Americans the borrowing." Much of the pre-crisis boom in global trade was driven by this economic symbiosis, which is why successive American presidents tolerated this marriage of convenience despite the increasing costs to the U.S. economy . The net benefits calculation, however, began to change after 2008, and the conflict has intensified further after the 2016 presidential election result. Today, the cumulative stress of Donald Trump's escalating trade war is leading to if not an irreparable breach between the two countries, then certainly a significant fraying. The imminent resumption of trade talks notwithstanding, the rising cost of the tariffs is already inducing some U.S. manufacturers to exit China. But in most instances, they are not returning to home shores.

It may have taken Trump to point out the pitfalls of the Chimerica link, but coming up with a coherent strategy to replace it is clearly beyond the president's abilities. America is likely to remain a relative manufacturing wasteland, as barren as Trump's own ill-conceived ideas on trade. At the same time, it's not going to be an unmitigated victory for China either, as Beijing is increasingly suffering from a large confluence of internal and external pressures.

Chimerica helped to launch China as a global trade power. To the extent that this marriage helped the U.S. economy, it skewed toward the largely blue state coastal regions. Wall Street banks located on the East Coast happily collected lucrative commissions and investment banking fees, as China's export proceeds were recycled into U.S. treasuries, stocks, and high-end real estate while the capital markets boomed; on the West Coast, "new economy" companies thrived, their growth and profitability unhindered by the onslaught of Chinese manufactured exports. By contrast, facilitated by technological advances that permitted large-scale outsourcing by U.S. manufacturers, Chimerica laid waste to much of what was left of America's Rust Belt, and the politics of many of the displaced workers mutated to the extent that Donald Trump became an appealing alternative to the establishment in 2016.

The major legacy of Chimerica, then, is that too many American workers have been semi-permanently replaced by low-cost offshored labor. Prior to great advances in technology, along with globalization, displacement of the current labor force could only have occurred through immigration of workers into the country. Historically, displacement by immigrants generally began at the menial level of the labor force, and became more restrictive as when it became correlated with significant unemployment. Given the rise of globalization and the corresponding liberalization of immigration in the past few decades, however, policy no longer arrests the displacement of American workers. The policy backlash has consequently manifested itself more via trade protectionism. Trump has sought to consolidate his Rust Belt base of supporters by launching a trade war, especially versus Beijing, the ultimate effects of which he hoped would be to re-domicile supply chains that had earlier migrated to China.

Early on in his presidency, there was some hope that Trump's protectionism was at best a bluff or, at worst, an aberration, and that the return of a Democrat to the White House in 2020 would eventually reestablish the status quo ante. But the president still can't get a wall, and his protectionism has become more pronounced almost as if to compensate. The problem today is that even if Trump is voted out of office in 2020, corporate America is becoming less inclined to wait out the end of his presidency to return to the pre-Trump status quo of parking the bulk of their manufacturing in China. There is too much risk in putting all of one's eggs in the China basket, especially given growing national security concerns . Hence, U.S. companies are taking action. In spite of decades of investment in these China-domiciled supply chains, a number of American companies are pulling out: toy manufacturer Hasbro , Illinois-based phone accessories manufacturer Xentris Wireless, and lifestyle clothing company PacSun are a few of the operators who are exiting the country.

But they are not coming back to the U.S., relocating instead to places like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Mexico, the Philippines and Taiwan. The chief financial officer of Xentris, Ben Buttolph, says that the company will never return to China: "We are trying to have multiple locations certified for all of our products, so that if all of a sudden there's an issue with one of the locations, we just flip the switch." Likewise, the CEO of Hasbro, Brian Goldner, recently spoke of "great opportunities in Vietnam, India and other territories like Mexico."

All is not lost for the U.S., however, as Goldner did celebrate the success of Hasbro's facility in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, which has resumed production of Play-Doh in the U.S. for the first time since 2004 . It is doubtful, however, that this represents the recapturing of the high value-added supply chains that Trump envisaged when he first launched his trade assault on Beijing.

In general, as Julius Krein, editor of American Affairs , writes: "United States industry is losing ground to foreign competitors on price, quality and technology. In many areas, our manufacturing capacity cannot compete with what exists in Asia."

These are not isolated examples. Defense One also notes the following development:

It came without a breaking news alert or presidential tweet, but the technological competition with China entered a new phase last month. Several developments quietly heralded this shift: Cross-border investments between the United States and China plunged to their lowest levels since 2014, with the tech sector suffering the most precipitous drop. U.S. chip giants Intel and AMD abruptly ended or declined to extend important partnerships with Chinese entities. The Department of Commerce halved the number of licenses that let U.S. companies assign Chinese nationals to sensitive technology and engineering projects.

This development consequently makes it hard to proclaim Beijing a winner in this dispute either. The country still needs access to U.S. high tech. The government announced yet another fiscal stimulus to the economy earlier this month in response to a cluster of weakening economic data, much of which is related to the trade shock. It is also the case that China is being buffeted politically, both externally and internally: externally, in addition to the escalating trade war, China's own efforts to counter the effects of rising protectionism by creating a " reverse Marshall Plan " via the Belt and Road Initiative is floundering . China's "iron brother," Pakistan, is increasingly being victimized by India's aggressive Hindu-centric nationalism . It is hard to imagine the Modi government opportunistically taking the step of annexing Kashmir and undermining Pakistan, had it not sensed Beijing's increasing vulnerability.

Internally, Beijing is finding it increasingly challenging as it seeks to enforce its "One China" policy in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The withdrawal of the controversial extradition law that first precipitated widespread demonstrations in Hong Kong has not alleviated the political pressures in the territory, but simply allowed an even bigger protest culture to take root and strengthen an independent political mindset. Similarly, Taiwan has also openly supported the Hong Kong protesters, pledging help to those seeking asylum . Both regions now constitute both a huge humiliation and challenge to the primacy of China's ruling Communist Party. And now on top of that, foreign manufacturers are leaving the country, weakening a totally leveraged manufacturing complex.

The implications of this divorce go well beyond the U.S. and China. They constitute another step toward regionalization, another step away from a quaint ideological "post-history" construct that saw Washington, D.C., as the head office and the rest of the world as a bunch of branch plants for "America, Inc." It's hardly comforting to contemplate that the last time we reached this historic juncture was the early 1900s, when a similarly globalized economy broke down, followed by the Great War. As Niall Ferguson points out , "a high level of economic integration does not necessarily prevent the growth of strategic rivalry and, ultimately, conflict." There's no doubt that both Washington and Beijing will likely making soothing noises to the markets in order to create favorable conditions for the trade talks in October, but their actions suggest that they are both digging in for a longer struggle . Today's trade wars, therefore, are likely to morph into something more destructive, which is a lose-lose in an era where human advancement depends on greater integration between economic powers.

somecallmetim , September 21, 2019 at 2:43 am

So ultimately trade peace or symbiosis is chimerical?

John , September 21, 2019 at 4:09 am

I always thought globalization was about the opportunity for a handful of businesses and corporations to control major industries around the world.

Who knew that there were people in any country that benefit?

The first country that would address affordable housing, healthcare and education so that people don't need more jobs will win.

The Rev Kev , September 21, 2019 at 4:30 am

There may be another aspect to this development and that is of geopolitics. You can see that in Marshall's article when the CFO of Xentris said: "We are trying to have multiple locations certified for all of our products, so that if all of a sudden there's an issue with one of the locations, we just flip the switch." There is an anti-China hawks faction based in the Republican party that has made its present felt. People like Robert Lighthizer, Peter Navarro and Steve Bannon. I have seen this sentiment spill over into Australian politics but they have not reached the stage where they are asking: "Are you now, or have you ever been, born Chinese?".

So we have seen a long string of sanctions and tariffs at play so that China will change its laws and institutions to suit American interests. Yeah, I can't see that happening anytime soon but hey, America First, Baby. We have also seen hawk factions against Russia, Iran and not long ago Venezuela. The ones for Russia and Iran have been long going but the ones against China and Venezuela were sudden and new. It may be that tomorrow that Trump will do the same against Cuba and threaten any country that does trade with them. Who knows what other country may fall within his sights?

That being the case if you were running an international country, you can no longer just have your manufacturing base or service operations just in one country. If Xentris is an example, US companies may have to split manufacturing into several countries in case one fine day that Trump will sanction yet another country that your company depends on.

I would imagine that it would not be so efficient but it seems business people in the government are being pushed aside by hawkish factions who do not care what effect it has on the economy or the country. Great!

Leroy , September 21, 2019 at 11:51 am

Those are the same "hawks" that are busy destroying the rest of America as well. Another four years of this will, effectively, dismantle what democracy is left. The world trade won't be the big issue. The departure of millions of Americans will.

drumlin woodchuckles , September 22, 2019 at 4:42 pm

If that happens, be sure to thank the Catfood Democrats for it. Because they are the people who will do their very best and hardest to throw the next election to Trump, one way or another.

jeremyharrison , September 21, 2019 at 5:23 am

It seems like diversification of supply chains can only be a good thing. As it is now, China literally has the US by the jewels, and if a serious conflict ever arose, could squeeze them hard. Just their dominance in manufacturing a large percentage of the pharmaceuticals consumed by US patients alone creates a serious vulnerability.

I really don't think it matters if manufacturing jobs are repatriated to the US, or just set up and spread around elsewhere for now – since they'll be obsolete jobs in the near future anyway, as robotics and AI get increasingly efficient at doing the work that human workers currently do.

rd , September 21, 2019 at 5:25 pm

Situating the manufacturing in countries that are part of the Chinese sphere of influence won't help much in a conflict. China would probably be able to sweep through much of Southeast Asia quickly or interdict shipments if there was war.

Dan , September 21, 2019 at 6:28 am

So the status quo was preferable? The tone of the article seems to suggest that America should accept it place as a third-world manufacturer, as if these Asian nations have some magical sauce that can't be replicated. Gawd.

The US does have a lot of magic. Like one third of FDI related to tax evasion. Pulling Mac Book manufacturing out of Austin for the lack of one 'screw', etc. So is the premise of going after China on trade and IP policies good. I would agree. Maybe not in strategy, but at least someone has opened the box.

John Wright , September 21, 2019 at 3:26 pm

I agree with your comment, the article suggests the status quo was preferable. Of note, Trump has shown his supporters that something CAN be done other than follow the "resistance is futile" path of the Bill Clinton/Bush Jr./Obama administrations.

I also suggest that the world wide presence/threat of the USA military and diplomatic corps allows globalization to be less risky for USA businesses, so, in effect, the patriotic "spreading of democracy" around the world via military actions is a factor in USA job loss. This is yet another cost of the bloated military to the general USA population.

I worked in the electronics industry for 30+ years and watched high margin manufacturing move to Asia. Now the lower level component manufacturers (PCBs, passives) are firmly established in Asia as the USA companies have helped train worthy competitors overseas. It took 25+ years to move much of USA manufacturing overseas, indicating to me that it will take a long time to bring it back significantly, well outside the Trump time frame.

But I suspect Trump voters will appreciate Trump's headline efforts. If the Democrats push for more Free Trade as good for the USA, it will hurt them at the ballot box.

GramSci , September 21, 2019 at 6:51 am

The second time as farce. How tragicomic that Trump has succeeded in little more than repatriating the manufacture of Play-Doh. On the other hand, the shipping cost of unbaked brick seems a rational factor in Hasbro's decision. A GND that shortens supply lines would be more effective in repatriating heavy industry, but then printed circuit boards aren't all that heavy .

a different chris , September 21, 2019 at 8:42 am

The thing is Trump, as usual, got his strings pulled by the Deep State when he went for actual implementation of a campaign promise. The DS doesn't care about working Americans, they are simply against China.

So he goes and puts tariffs on a country, not a product. And surprise, said product doesn't come back on-shore. Comical (and yeah, cosmically a bit just) that Vietnam is getting so much of that manufacturing. Wasn't what he was elected for.

Glen , September 21, 2019 at 9:44 am

In general, as Julius Krein, editor of American Affairs, writes: "United States industry is losing ground to foreign competitors on price, quality and technology. In many areas, our manufacturing capacity cannot compete with what exists in Asia."

As a engineer up to my elbows in manufacturing for forty years, this was awfully easy to predict way back then (I gave up complaining about it about 2000), and then watch happen – real time. And to once again state the obvious, China did not TAKE American jobs, American CEOs GAVE them our jobs. We will not fix this problem until we identify and fix the root cause.

Now the only way to fix it is (once again obviously) massive government investment such as mandated by the GND. We need the GND, it is not only required to save the world, it will save our country.

Leroy , September 21, 2019 at 11:57 am

Fully agree Glen. How can we say China stole our "technology" when we placed it on their doorstep and asked them to make some of these for us please ?

Watt4Bob , September 21, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Agree, it was predictable, and it was predicted. What we've been talking about is the "Giant sucking sound" Ross Perot foretold would happen prior to the passing of NAFTA. It wasn't hard back then to see that he was right, but it took a few decades for the public to feel the impact, boiling frogs and all that.

Back in the early 80s I saw a massive warehouse full of machine tools, Bridgeport mills, and such lined up, it seemed forever, the guy there said they were going to China. I asked my Dad about it, and he told me we were selling them to the Chinese for the price of scrap. The whole thing is mindless and pathetic, but the really maddening thing is the slippery way our 'leaders' can keep dodging the blame by simply pointing a finger in whatever direction, and everybody's eyes move in unison.

rd , September 21, 2019 at 5:39 pm

NAFTA and China are two completely separate things. I have actually supported NAFTA in principle because we should encourage trade to be focused on our immediate neighbors. A wealthier and safer Mexico and Central America would create markets for us and virtually eliminate illegal immigrants as the southern border.

China is on the other side of the world and is not part of NAFTA. While we should have cordial relations with it, if we are looking for inexpensive labor, south of the border is the better place to focus on that. So Trump's tariffs on China are not the wrong thing to do per se. The problem is that they are being done in a vacuum of general trade policy where he is looking at everything as transaction bilateral relations with every country on the planet, which requires an immense amount of detailed thought and negotiation, neither of which appear to be a focus of this administration.

The countries that the companies are talking about moving their operations to are generally part of the new TPP which the US is not part of. So, we have removed ourselves from having trade relations with countries US CEOs are setting up operations in, but those countries are now starting to work together to counter both China (original TPP purpose) and the US (now that the US has bailed on it). Sounds like a recipe for a replay of China's giant sucking sound.

Watt4Bob , September 21, 2019 at 6:48 pm

The argument/discussion is not about how and where to outsource our jobs, it's about how stupid it was to do it in the first place. Anyone smart enough to breath knows that Mexico is next door, and China is on the other side of the world, but they are both part of the same giant sucking sound. The fact that you support both NAFTA ,think it was unwise to back out of the TPP, and think the issue is the present administration's lack of " detailed thought and negotiation " indicate a truly unbelievable level of denial.

drumlin woodchuckles , September 22, 2019 at 4:47 pm

NAFTA and MFN for China were two different actions towards the same goal . . . the use of Free Trade to dismantle thingmaking in America and re-mantle thingmaking in foreign export-aggression platforms to use against America.

Free Trade is the new Slavery. Militant Belligerent Protectionism is the new Abolition.

John Wright , September 21, 2019 at 5:41 pm

I remember when a Midwest Democrat (Stabenow?) tried to get a law passed that would prohibit a US corporation from deducting, from their federal taxes, the cost of moving factories overseas. A very minor disincentive, but a disincentive nonetheless. The Repubs beat it down as "anti-business". Concern about American workers is something to express in political speeches around election time but not in legislation.

eg , September 21, 2019 at 7:31 pm

This. As so ably described in Judith Stein's "Pivotal Decade" https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300171501/pivotal-decade

And the consequences of which forewarned in James Goldsmith's "The Trap" https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/2091182.The_Trap

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wwmOkaKh3-s

Ignacio , September 21, 2019 at 10:41 am

Hidden within this narrative is the fact that some countries, and not only China, have for long been playing beggar-thy-neighbor policies by restraining internal consumption and redirecting savings to the rest of the world that in turn finance their exporting machines. IMO, the biggest mistake made by China has been not to force fast enough a transition from a saving economy to a consumer economy with more balanced external relationships.

These kind of policies are confrontational. As confrontational as tariffs or even as economic sanctions in my view. Yet, the prevailing economic narrative is that saving and exporting is the right economic thing to do. In this sense I think it matters a lot to which countries are being re directed investments of american companies leaving China. My intuition is that, for instance, Vietnam migth be willing to play this game while Mexico not. Investing in countries that save too much migth be counterproductive.

I very much regret this aggressive narrative that has become common place in which countries are identified simply as competitors, if not enemies, in a global chess game. Political moves are confrontational and or humiliating. These Game of Thrones dynamics are played precisely when some international consensus in more important things like figthing climate change would be more than desirable. We are headed to truly bad times.

laodan , September 21, 2019 at 11:33 am

Here is an article by Steve Dickinson from the layers office Harris Bricken McVay Sliwoski that is based on his Co's China practice. Steve's conclusion goes as follows:

The Chinese system put in place from 1992 to 2005 was a unique system and not likely to be replaced in S.E./South Asia or in any other region of the world. So for manufacturers, moving to a new region means doing the analysis from the ground up. Simply taking what they do in China and moving it to a new location is not likely to be a workable solution.

Also the Chinese internal market continues to attract MNC's and this attraction will continue to grow far into the future. China's middle class is already larger than the total population of the US and it continues to grow rapidly. While down presently the Chinese internal consumption continues to grow at an annual rate of some 8.5%.

Personal savings deposited in bank accounts reach the equivalent of some $US 30 Trillion ! Compare that to consumer debt at some $US 6.5 Trillion. In other words China is growing into the largest consumer market on earth and the biggest advantage that its internal market procures is its 'economies of scale' that make Chinese productions hyper-competitive. In other words China is gaining the kind of advantage that the US had along the 20th century. The advantage of a super large market size that dwarfs other national markets.

Trump's approach to trade is isolating the US, blocking its Co's from the Chinese market, and incentivizing the Chinese to offer better conditions to Co's of the rest of the world. How can that help the US ?

The biggest problem of the West and particularly the US is its ideological approach to economics. The Chinese adopted a pragmatic approach and it has served them well. Time to relearn the meaning of political economics (économie politique).

JTMcPhee , September 21, 2019 at 3:42 pm

I read Dickinson's PR piece linked by laodan. I used to work for a big law firm that had an international practice group focusing on moving US businesses to China ( I was not involved in that practice area, did environmental law and litigation.) The firm's PR department tasked lawyers with certain expertise to generate these kinds of come-ons as part of the compensation weighting scheme -- publish, and bring in business, or lose out in the annual "whining for dollars" partnership division of spoils. Eat what you kill.

Dickinson is talking his book, of course. I have no idea if his read of the history and the current state of affairs in China and the "Asian Tigers" (does anyone use that term any more?) is accurate and complete, but what he describes is his firm's readiness to help supranational (emphasize SUPRAnational) and post-national corporate entities get a leg up in the race to the bottom. He'll help you find the places where the ruling class will give away the biggest share of the "national birthright" so the corporate entity can maximize profit by streamlining production and consumption, and of course growth. All the stuff that is killing the planet. But his time frame, his personal time frame, presumably, as well as the framing of the corporate shark entities which he is a remora to, cares nothing for the bigger economic and ecological effects of more stuff, more shipping, more energy use, and of course more combustion and consumption.

And I'd note that he carefully omits all the baksheesh and greasing of palms that i read is such an important part of "doing business" at any kind of scale, to varying degrees everywhere in the world. I wonder if his custom analyses of the relative merits of, say, Vietnam vs. China vs. Cambodia vs. Taiwan includes sketching out the bribes that have to be paid to close on the sale of national birthrights on the way to the bottom that the globalist business model drives everything toward?

I'm sure he would be happy to have the ear and hourly billings of all the great decision makers of all the various kinds of businesses, high to low tech, wanting to take full advantage of the "opportunities" that may be on offer, on how to ride the asymptotically downward curve of the race to the bottom, for fun and profit

Looks like China has had a pretty effective industrial policy, unlike the US where corporate vampire capital dominion and corruption have bled the mopery white (not a racial reference, of course ) Do economists and policy wonks in the US even dare to use the phrase "industrial policy" any more? Or is it just presumed that "shareholder value" trumps all else? Especially as the author puts it, again quoting Ferguson, where we are "in an era where human advancement depends on greater integration between economic powers."

Right.

Susan the other` , September 21, 2019 at 3:06 pm

The relentless neoliberal race to the bottom, outsourcing, and austerity that marked the death blow to American Labor is over. In that light it makes little difference whether our corporations pull out of China, go to Vietnam, or come home. The exploitation of the poorest is coming to an end. And none too soon.

mtnwoman , September 21, 2019 at 7:22 pm

For national security reasons at minimum, I hope some candidates discuss the imperative to have the US start making it's own medications again. Makes more sense to subsidize our production of medication than to give billions in subsidies to very profitable oil companies.

https://www.tribdem.com/news/editorials/rosemary-gibson-u-s-dependence-on-china-for-medicine-a/article_db7c66e6-a407-11e9-a63e-5b2bf9c80820.html

Merf56 , September 22, 2019 at 9:04 am

I agree. I could not believe the government has allowed the entire supply chain of building blocks of ALL our antibiotics to be sourced almost solely from China. To me THAT'S the national security issue we need to deal with immediately. As well as other vital drugs..

Anecdotally, I have started making this my number one political conversation issue – replete with references ( because of course not a soul believes it at first).. I have yet to find a single person Repub or Demo who isn't horrified and against it . Any nation with this much power over our drug supply they could kill millions of us in short order

RBHoughton , September 21, 2019 at 10:06 pm

Even getting manufacturing out of China will not bankrupt that country as intended. If USA is intent on pursuing a nationalistic basis to sanctions, I think its bound to fail. Trade always finds a way as we can well remember from our own commercial / industrial development.

Chinese manufacturers have the wealth and experience to teach production line workers and make things anywhere. Western companies manufacturing in China have belatedly looked for facilities in neighboring countries and found the Chinese are already there. What's still available is land far from roads and rivers with little power supply.

Another thing is preserving wealth. US Industrialists will keep their money offshore and remit only as much as they need in the homeland. A major problem imo is a mental restraint in USA thinking. Life is all about competition and winning. The actual activity, whatever it is, provides no joy unless you win. That fearful tag "No-one remembers who came second" is banded about. Thats not a philosophy for happiness. It forces the population into displacement activities few of which are wholesome. Here endeth the lesson.

TG , September 21, 2019 at 10:48 pm

It's not a bug, it's a feature! Trump doesn't give a damn about getting manufacturing jobs back into the United States! (Or at least his advisors don't).

The trick is to move them out of nationalistic China, which is setting itself up as a competitor for power, and move the jobs into nice docile low-wage colonies, like Mexico and Indonesia and Bangladesh.

The only catch: China has all the integrated supply lines and is stable. Moving your manufacturing into a dozen different uncoordinated unstable third-world banana republics has its own down side.

Sound of the Suburbs , September 22, 2019 at 3:10 am

The UK repealed the Corn Laws to embark on free trade. This reduced the price of bread, and lowered the cost of living, so UK employers could pay internationally competitive wages. Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

Employees get their money from wages and the employer pays through wages, so the employer is paying for that bread through wages. Expensive bread leads to higher wages making UK employers unable to compete in a free trade world. "The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community" Ricardo 1815 / Classical Economist

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living) Employees get their money from wages and the employer pays via wages. Employees get less disposable income after the landlords rent has gone. Employers have to cover the landlord's rents in wages reducing profit. Ricardo is just talking about housing costs, employees all rented in those days. The appalling conditions UK workers lived in during the 19th century were well documented.

Low housing costs, lead to lower wages so UK employers were able to compete in a free trade world. William White (BIS, OECD) talks about how economics really changed over one hundred years ago as classical economics was replaced by neoclassical economics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6iXBQ33pBo&t=2485s

He thinks we have been on the wrong path for one hundred years. Free trade requires a low cost of living and what was known in the 19th century had disappeared by the 20th. The West's high cost of living means high wages and an inability to compete in a free trade world.

Never mind our companies can off-shore to where employers can pay lower wages for higher profits. Look at the US cost of living Donald; this is why those jobs ain't coming back. It's hard to make a good profit in the US, when employers have to cover the US cost of living in wages, reducing profit. The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs + other debt repayments + food + other costs of living

Sound of the Suburbs , September 22, 2019 at 3:15 am

A multi-polar world became a uni-polar world with the fall of the Berlin Wall and Francis Fukuyama said it was the end of history.
It was all going so well, until the neoliberals got to work.

The US created an open, globalised world with the Washington Consensus.

China went from almost nothing to become a global super power.
That wasn't supposed to happen, let's get the rocket scientists onto it.

Maximising profit is all about reducing costs.
China had coal fired power stations to provide cheap energy.
China had lax regulations reducing environmental and health and safety costs.
China had a low cost of living so employers could pay low wages.
China had low taxes and a minimal welfare state.
China had all the advantages in an open globalised world.

It did have, but now China has become too expensive and developed Eastern economies are off-shoring to places like Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

An open, globalised world is a race to the bottom on costs.

"The Washington Consensus was always going to work better for China than the US" the rocket scientists.

The West never really stood a chance.

drumlin woodchuckles , September 22, 2019 at 5:00 pm

Several years ago Naked Capitalism ran an article about how a young George Ball was one of the New Immoralists for International Corporate Globalonial Plantationism. And that was before neoliberalism.

Phillip Allen , September 22, 2019 at 8:06 am

"[A]n era where human advancement depends on greater integration between economic powers."

Oh, by all the gods, no. And what, pray, defines 'human advancement'? What the hell is Mr Auerback talking about?

Further integration only propels the speed at which resources are extracted and the planet dies incrementally more. The future will not be one fully integrated planet guided by whatever-the-hell oligarchs and their 'meritocratic' servitors deign the best options. The future will of necessity be vastly more local, vastly more hand-made, vastly less energy- and resource-intensive, and there will be vastly less intercontinental and intra-continental trade. World-spanning – even continent-spanning political-economic arrangements have no long term viability whatsoever. Trying to maintain such is a foolish waste of effort and resources that could be more usefully be directed at de-growth and de-industrialization.

And with that, The Lord Curmudgeon shook his cane one last time at the kids on his lawn and returned to the troll's cave from which he came.

Merf56 , September 22, 2019 at 9:11 am

I hope you have read James Howard Kunstler's World Made By Hand novelettes. They outline such a future. Interesting and quick reads if you haven't

Sound of the Suburbs , September 22, 2019 at 5:02 pm

The last engine of global growth, China, has now reached the end of the line as they have seen their Minsky Moment coming. China was the latest victim of neoclassical economics. The biggest danger to capitalism is neoclassical economics; it brought capitalism to its knees in the 1930s and is having another go now.

https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.52.41.png

1929 and 2008 look so similar because they are; it's the same economics and thinking. Richard Vague has analysed the data for 1929 and 2008 and they were even more similar than they initially appear. Real estate lending was actually the biggest problem in 1929. Margin lending was another factor in 2008.

This has happened globally. At 25.30 mins you can see the super imposed private debt-to-GDP ratios.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAStZJCKmbU&list=PLmtuEaMvhDZZQLxg24CAiFgZYldtoCR-R&index=6

The 1920s US mistake is now global. Japan, the UK, the US, Euro-zone and now China. The last engine of global growth, China, has now reached the end of the line as they have seen their Minsky Moment coming. The debt fuelled growth model not only runs out of steam, all the debt in the economy then acts like a drag anchor holding the economy back. Japan has been like this for thirty years.

Richard Koo explains the processes at work in the Japanese economy since the 1990s, which are at now at work throughout the global economy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTyJzmiHGk

The repayment of debt to banks destroys money and this is the problem.

[Sep 22, 2019] Is the Unemployment Rate Tied to the Divorce Rate

Yes it is, but only for couples with low level of marital satisfaction.
Notable quotes:
"... They also looked at marital breakup more generally, focusing on when couples decided to end their relationships (not necessarily if or when they got divorced). Their findings revealed that when men were unemployed, the likelihood that either spouse would leave the marriage increased. What about the woman's employment status? For husbands, whether their wife was employed or not was seemingly unimportant-it was unrelated to their decision to leave the relationship. It did seem to matter for wives, though, but it depended upon how satisfied they were with the marriage. ..."
"... When women were highly satisfied, they were inclined to stay with their partner regardless of whether they had employment. However, when the wife's satisfaction was low, she was more likely to exit the relationship, but only when she had a job. ..."
Science of Relationships
The first study considers government data from all 50 U.S. states between the years 1960 and 2005.1 The researchers predicted that higher unemployment numbers would translate to more divorces among heterosexual married couples. Most of us probably would have predicted this too based on common sense-you would probably expect your partner to be able to hold down a job, right? And indeed, this was the case, but only before 1980. Surprisingly, since then, as joblessness has increased, divorce rates have actually decreased.

How do we explain this counterintuitive finding? We don't know for sure, but the researchers speculate that unemployed people may delay or postpone divorce due to the high costs associated with it. Not only is divorce expensive in terms of legal fees, but afterward, partners need to pay for two houses instead of one. And if they are still living off of one salary at that point, those costs may be prohibitively expensive. For this reason, it is not that uncommon to hear about estranged couples who can't stand each other but are still living under the same roof.

The second study considered data from a national probability sample of over 3,600 heterosexual married couples in the U.S. collected between 1987 and 2002. However, instead of looking at the overall association between unemployment and marital outcomes, they considered how gender and relationship satisfaction factored into the equation. 2

They also looked at marital breakup more generally, focusing on when couples decided to end their relationships (not necessarily if or when they got divorced). Their findings revealed that when men were unemployed, the likelihood that either spouse would leave the marriage increased. What about the woman's employment status? For husbands, whether their wife was employed or not was seemingly unimportant-it was unrelated to their decision to leave the relationship. It did seem to matter for wives, though, but it depended upon how satisfied they were with the marriage.

When women were highly satisfied, they were inclined to stay with their partner regardless of whether they had employment. However, when the wife's satisfaction was low, she was more likely to exit the relationship, but only when she had a job.

[Sep 22, 2019] Game of musical chairs became more difficult: the US economy seems to put out fewer and fewer chairs.

Notable quotes:
"... A good economy compensates for much social dysfunction. ..."
"... More than that, it prevents the worst of behaviors that are considered an expression of dysfunction from occurring, as people across all social strata have other things to worry about or keep them busy. Happy people don't bear grudges, or at least they are not on top of their consciousness as long as things are going well. ..."
"... This could be seen time and again in societies with deep and sometimes violent divisions between ethnic groups where in times of relative prosperity (or at least a broadly shared vision for a better future) the conflicts are not removed but put on a backburner, or there is even "finally" reconciliation, and then when the economy turns south, the old grudges and conflicts come back (often not on their own, but fanned by groups who stand to gain from the divisions, or as a way of scapegoating) ..."
"... "backwaters of America, that economy seems to put out fewer and fewer chairs." ~~Harold Pollack~ ..."
"... Going up through the chairs has become so impossible for those on the slow-track. Not enough slots for all the jokers within our once proud country of opportunities, ..."
"... George Orwell: "I doubt, however, whether the unemployed would ultimately benefit if they learned to spend their money more economically. ... If the unemployed learned to be better managers they would be visibly better off, and I fancy it would not be long before the dole was docked correspondingly." ..."
"... Perhaps you are commenting on the aspect that when (enough) job applicants/holders define down their standards and let employers treat them as floor mats, then the quality of many jobs and the labor relations will be adjusted down accordingly, or at the very least expectations what concessions workers will make will be adjusted up. That seems to be the case unfortunately. ..."
Nov 23, 2015 | economistsview.typepad.com
Avraam Jack Dectis said...
A good economy compensates for much social dysfunction.

A bad economy moves people toward the margins, afflicts those near the margins and kills those at the margins.

This is what policy makers should consider as they pursue policies that do not put the citizen above all else.

cm -> Avraam Jack Dectis...
"A good economy compensates for much social dysfunction."

More than that, it prevents the worst of behaviors that are considered an expression of dysfunction from occurring, as people across all social strata have other things to worry about or keep them busy. Happy people don't bear grudges, or at least they are not on top of their consciousness as long as things are going well.

This could be seen time and again in societies with deep and sometimes violent divisions between ethnic groups where in times of relative prosperity (or at least a broadly shared vision for a better future) the conflicts are not removed but put on a backburner, or there is even "finally" reconciliation, and then when the economy turns south, the old grudges and conflicts come back (often not on their own, but fanned by groups who stand to gain from the divisions, or as a way of scapegoating)

Dune Goon said...

"backwaters of America, that economy seems to put out fewer and fewer chairs." ~~Harold Pollack~

Going up through the chairs has become so impossible for those on the slow-track. Not enough slots for all the jokers within our once proud country of opportunities, not enough elbow room for Daniel Boone, let alone Jack Daniels! Not enough space in this county to wet a tree when you feel the urge! Every tiny plot of space has been nailed down and fenced off, divided up among gated communities. Why?

Because the 1% has an excessive propensity to reproduce their own kind. They are so uneducated about the responsibilities of birth control and space conservation that they are crowding all of us off the edge of the planet. Worse yet we have begun to *ape our betters*.

"We've only just begun!"
~~The Carpenters~

William said...

"Many of us know people who receive various public benefits, and who might not need to rely on these programs if they made better choices, if they learned how to not talk back at work, if they had a better handle on various self-destructive behaviors, if they were more willing to take that crappy job and forego disability benefits, etc."

George Orwell: "I doubt, however, whether the unemployed would ultimately benefit if they learned to spend their money more economically. ... If the unemployed learned to be better managers they would be visibly better off, and I fancy it would not be long before the dole was docked correspondingly."

cm said in reply to William...

A valid observation, but what you are commenting on is more about getting or keeping a job than managing personal finances.

Perhaps you are commenting on the aspect that when (enough) job applicants/holders define down their standards and let employers treat them as floor mats, then the quality of many jobs and the labor relations will be adjusted down accordingly, or at the very least expectations what concessions workers will make will be adjusted up. That seems to be the case unfortunately.

[Sep 22, 2019] Paul Krugman: Despair, American Style

Notable quotes:
"... In a recent interview Mr. Deaton suggested that middle-aged whites have "lost the narrative of their lives." That is, their economic setbacks have hit hard because they expected better. Or to put it a bit differently, we're looking at people who were raised to believe in the American Dream, and are coping badly with its failure to come true. ..."
"... the truth is that we don't really know why despair appears to be spreading across Middle America. But it clearly is, with troubling consequences for our society... ..."
"... Some people who feel left behind by the American story turn self-destructive; others turn on the elites they feel have betrayed them. ..."
"... What we are seeing is the long term impacts of the "Reagan Revolution." ..."
"... The affected cohort here is the first which has lived with the increased financial and employment insecurity that engendered, as well as the impacts of the massive offshoring of good paying union jobs throughout their working lives. Stress has cumulative impacts on health and well-being, which are a big part of what we are seeing here. ..."
"... Lets face it, this Fed is all about goosing up asset prices to generate short term gains in economic activity. Since the early 90s, the Fed has done nothing but make policy based on Wall Street's interests. I can give them a pass on the dot com debacle but not after that. This toxic relationship between wall street and the Fed has to end. ..."
"... there was a housing bubble that most at the Fed (including Bernanke) denied right upto the middle of 2007 ..."
"... Yellen, to her credit, has admitted multiple times over the years that low rates spur search for yield that blows bubbles ..."
"... Bursting of the bubble led to unemployment for millions and U3 that went to 10% ..."
"... "You are the guys who do not consider the counterfactual where higher rates would have prevented the housing bubble in 2003-05 and that produced the great recession in the first place." ..."
"... Inequality has been rising globally, almost regardless of trade practices ..."
"... It is not some unstoppable global trend. This is neoliberal oligarchy coup d'ιtat. Or as it often called "a quite coup". ..."
"... First of all, whether a job can or is offshored has little to do with whether it is "low skilled" but more with whether the workflow around the job can be organized in such a way that the job can be offshore. This is less a matter of "skill level" and more volume and immediacy of interaction with adjacent job functions, or movement of material across distances. ..."
"... The reason wages are stuck is that aggregate jobs are not growing, relative to workforce supply. ..."
"... BTW the primary offshore location is India, probably in good part because of good to excellent English language skills, and India's investment in STEM education and industry (especially software/services and this is even a public stereotype, but for a reason). ..."
"... Very rough figures: half a million Chicago employees may make less than $800 a week -- almost everybody should earn $800 ... ..."
"... Union busting is generally (?) understood as direct interference with the formation and operation of unions or their members. It is probably more common that employers are allowed to just go around the unions - "right to work", subcontracting non-union shops or temp/staffing agencies, etc. ..."
"... Why would people join a union and pay dues when the union is largely impotent to deliver, when there are always still enough desperate people who will (have to) take jobs outside the union system? Employers don't have to bring in scabs when they can legally go through "unencumbered" subcontractors inside or outside the jurisdiction. ..."
"... Credibility trap, fully engaged. ..."
"... The anti-knowledge of the elites is worth reading. http://billmoyers.com/2015/11/02/the-anti-knowledge-of-the-elites/ When such herd instinct and institutional overbearance connects with the credibility trap, the results may be impressive. http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2015/11/gold-daily-and-silver-weekly-charts-pop.html ..."
"... Suicide, once thought to be associated with troubled teens and the elderly, is quickly becoming an age-blind statistic. Middle aged Americans are turning to suicide in alarming numbers. The reasons include easily accessible prescription painkillers, the mortgage crisis and most importantly the challenge of a troubled economy. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention claims suicide rates now top the number of deaths due to automobile accidents. ..."
"... The suicide rate for both younger and older Americans remains virtually unchanged, however, the rate has spiked for those in middle age (35 to 64 years old) with a 28 percent increase (link is external) from 1999 to 2010. ..."
"... When few people kill themselves "on purpose" or die from self-inflicted but probably "unintended" harms (e.g. organ failure or accidental death caused by substance abuse), it can be shrugged off as problems related to the individual (more elaboration possible but not necessary). ..."
"... When it becomes a statistically significant phenomenon (above-noise percentage of total population or demographically identifiable groups), then one has to ask questions about social causes. My first question would be, "what made life suck for those people"? What specific instrument they used to kill themselves would be my second question (it may be the first question for people who are charged with implementing counter measures but not necessarily fixing the causes). ..."
"... Since about the financial crisis (I'm not sure about causation or coincidence - not accidental coincidence BTW but causation by the same underlying causes), there has been a disturbing pattern of high school students throwing themselves in front of local trains. At that age, drinking or drugging oneself to death is apparently not the first "choice". Performance pressure *related to* (not just "and") a lack of convincing career/life prospects has/have been suspected or named as a cause. I don't think teenagers suddenly started to jump in front of trains that have run the same rail line for decades because of the "usual" and centuries to millennia old teenage romantic relationship issues. ..."
Nov 09, 2015 | economistsview.typepad.com

"There is a darkness spreading over part of our society":

Despair, American Style, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: A couple of weeks ago President Obama mocked Republicans who are "down on America," and reinforced his message by doing a pretty good Grumpy Cat impression. He had a point: With job growth at rates not seen since the 1990s, with the percentage of Americans covered by health insurance hitting record highs, the doom-and-gloom predictions of his political enemies look ever more at odds with reality.

Yet there is a darkness spreading over part of our society. ... There has been a lot of comment ... over a new paper by the economists Angus Deaton (who just won a Nobel) and Anne Case, showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans has been rising since 1999..., while death rates were falling steadily both in other countries and among other groups in our own nation.

Even more striking are the proximate causes of rising mortality. Basically, white Americans are, in increasing numbers, killing themselves... Suicide is way up, and so are deaths from drug poisoning and ... drinking... But what's causing this epidemic of self-destructive behavior?...

In a recent interview Mr. Deaton suggested that middle-aged whites have "lost the narrative of their lives." That is, their economic setbacks have hit hard because they expected better. Or to put it a bit differently, we're looking at people who were raised to believe in the American Dream, and are coping badly with its failure to come true.

That sounds like a plausible hypothesis..., but the truth is that we don't really know why despair appears to be spreading across Middle America. But it clearly is, with troubling consequences for our society...

I know I'm not the only observer who sees a link between the despair reflected in those mortality numbers and the volatility of right-wing politics. Some people who feel left behind by the American story turn self-destructive; others turn on the elites they feel have betrayed them. No, deporting immigrants and wearing baseball caps bearing slogans won't solve their problems, but neither will cutting taxes on capital gains. So you can understand why some voters have rallied around politicians who at least seem to feel their pain.

At this point you probably expect me to offer a solution. But while universal health care, higher minimum wages, aid to education, and so on would do a lot to help Americans in trouble, I'm not sure whether they're enough to cure existential despair.

bakho said...

There are a lot of economic dislocations that the government after the 2001 recession stopped doing much about it. Right after the 2008 crash, the government did more but by 2010, even the Democratic president dropped the ball. and failed to deliver. Probably no region of the country is affected more by technological change that the coal regions of KY and WV. Lying politicians promise a return to the past that cannot be delivered. No one can suggest what the new future will be. The US is due for another round of urbanization as jobs decline in rural areas. Dislocation forces declining values of properties and requires changes in behavior, skills and outlook. Those personal changes do not happen without guidance. The social institutions such as churches and government programs are a backstop, but they are not providing a way forward. There is plenty of work to be done, but our elites are not willing to invest.

DrDick -> bakho...

The problem goes back much further than that. What we are seeing is the long term impacts of the "Reagan Revolution."

The affected cohort here is the first which has lived with the increased financial and employment insecurity that engendered, as well as the impacts of the massive offshoring of good paying union jobs throughout their working lives. Stress has cumulative impacts on health and well-being, which are a big part of what we are seeing here.

ilsm said...

Thuggee doom and gloom is about their fading chance to reinstate the slavocracy.

The fever swamp of right wing ideas is more loony than 1964.

Extremism is the new normal.

bmorejoe -> ilsm...

Yup. The slow death of white supremacy.

Peter K. -> Anonymous...

If it wasn't for monetary policy things would be even worse as the Republicans in Congress forced fiscal austerity on the economy during the "recovery."

sanjait -> Peter K....

That's the painful irony of a comment like that one from Anonymous ... he seems completely unaware that, yes, ZIRP has done a huge amount to prevent the kind of problems described above. He like most ZIRP critics fails to consider what the counterfactual looks like (i.e., something like the Great Depression redux).

Anonymous -> sanjait...

You are the guys who do not consider the counterfactual where higher rates would have prevented the housing bubble in 2003-05 and that produced the great recession in the first place. Because preemptive monetary policy has gone out of fashion completely. And now we are going to repeat the whole process over when the present bubble in stocks and corporate bonds bursts along with the malinvestment in China, commodity exporters etc.

Peter K. -> Anonymous...

"liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate... it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people."

sanjait -> Anonymous...

"You want regulation? I would like to see

1) Reinstate Glass Steagall

2) impose a 10bp trans tax on trading financial instruments."

Great. Two things with zero chance of averting bubbles but make great populist pablum.

This is why we can't have nice things!

"3) Outlaw any Fed person working for a bank/financial firm after they leave office."

This seems like a decent idea. Hard to enforce, as highly intelligent and accomplished people tend not to be accepting of such restrictions, but it could be worth it anyway.

likbez -> sanjait...

" highly intelligent and accomplished people tend not to be accepting of such restrictions, but it could be worth it anyway."

You are forgetting that it depends on a simple fact to whom political power belongs. And that's the key whether "highly intelligent and accomplished people" will accept those restrictions of not.

If the government was not fully captured by financial capital, then I think even limited prosecution of banksters "Stalin's purge style" would do wonders in preventing housing bubble and 2008 financial crush.

Please try to imagine the effect of trial and exile to Alaska for some period just a dozen people involved in Securitization of mortgages boom (and those highly intelligent people can do wonders in improving oil industry in Alaska ;-).

Starting with Mr. Weill, Mr. Greenspan, Mr. Rubin, Mr. Phil Gramm, Dr. Summers and Mr. Clinton.

Anonymous -> Peter K....

"2003-2005 didn't have excess inflation and wage gains."

Monetary policy can not hinge just on inflation or wage gains. Why are wage gains a problem anyway?

Lets face it, this Fed is all about goosing up asset prices to generate short term gains in economic activity. Since the early 90s, the Fed has done nothing but make policy based on Wall Street's interests. I can give them a pass on the dot com debacle but not after that. This toxic relationship between wall street and the Fed has to end.

You want regulation? I would like to see
1) Reinstate Glass Steagall
2) impose a 10bp trans tax on trading financial instruments.
3) Outlaw any Fed person working for a bank/financial firm after they leave office. Bernanke, David Warsh etc included. That includes Mishkin getting paid to shill for failing Iceland banks or Bernanke making paid speeches to hedge funds.


Anonymous -> EMichael...

Fact: there was a housing bubble that most at the Fed (including Bernanke) denied right upto the middle of 2007
Fact: Yellen, to her credit, has admitted multiple times over the years that low rates spur search for yield that blows bubbles
Fact: Bursting of the bubble led to unemployment for millions and U3 that went to 10%

what facts are you referring to?

EMichael -> Anonymous...

That FED rates caused the bubble.

to think this you have to ignore that a 400% Fed Rate increase from 2004 to 2005 had absolutely no effect on mortgage originations.

Then of course, you have to explain why 7 years at zero has not caused another housing bubble.

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/FEDFUNDS

Correlation is not causation. Lack of correlation is proof of lack of causation.

pgl -> Anonymous...

"You are the guys who do not consider the counterfactual where higher rates would have prevented the housing bubble in 2003-05 and that produced the great recession in the first place."

You are repeating the John B. Taylor line about interest rates being held "too low and too long". And guess what - most economists have called Taylor's claim for the BS it really is. We should also note we never heard this BS when Taylor was part of the Bush Administration. And do check - Greenspan and later Bernanke were raising interest rates well before any excess demand was generated which is why inflation never took off.

So do keep repeating this intellectual garbage and we keep noting you are just a stupid troll.

anne -> anne...
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/10/29/1518393112

September 17, 2015

Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century
By Anne Case and Angus Deaton

Midlife increases in suicides and drug poisonings have been previously noted. However, that these upward trends were persistent and large enough to drive up all-cause midlife mortality has, to our knowledge, been overlooked. If the white mortality rate for ages 45−54 had held at their 1998 value, 96,000 deaths would have been avoided from 1999–2013, 7,000 in 2013 alone. If it had continued to decline at its previous (1979‒1998) rate, half a million deaths would have been avoided in the period 1999‒2013, comparable to lives lost in the US AIDS epidemic through mid-2015. Concurrent declines in self-reported health, mental health, and ability to work, increased reports of pain, and deteriorating measures of liver function all point to increasing midlife distress.

Abstract

This paper documents a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround. The midlife mortality reversal was confined to white non-Hispanics; black non-Hispanics and Hispanics at midlife, and those aged 65 and above in every racial and ethnic group, continued to see mortality rates fall. This increase for whites was largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis. Although all education groups saw increases in mortality from suicide and poisonings, and an overall increase in external cause mortality, those with less education saw the most marked increases. Rising midlife mortality rates of white non-Hispanics were paralleled by increases in midlife morbidity. Self-reported declines in health, mental health, and ability to conduct activities of daily living, and increases in chronic pain and inability to work, as well as clinically measured deteriorations in liver function, all point to growing distress in this population. We comment on potential economic causes and consequences of this deterioration.

ilsm -> Sarah...

Murka is different. Noni's plan would work if it were opportune for the slavocracy and the Kochs and ARAMCO don't lose any "growth".

Maybe cost plus climate repair contracts to shipyards fumbling through useless nuclear powered behemoths for war plans made in 1942.

Someone gotta make big money plundering for the public good, in Murka!

CSP said...

The answers to our malaise seem readily apparent to me, and I'm a southern-born white male working in a small, struggling Georgia town.

1. Kill the national war machine
2. Kill the national Wall Street financial fraud machine
3. Get out-of-control mega corporations under control
4. Return savings to Main Street (see #1, #2 and #3)
5. Provide national, universal health insurance to everyone as a right
6. Provide free education to everyone, as much as their academic abilities can earn them
7. Strengthen social security and lower the retirement age to clear the current chronic underemployment of young people

It seems to me that these seven steps would free the American people to pursue their dreams, not the dreams of Washington or Wall Street. Unfortunately, it is readily apparent that true freedom and real individual empowerment are the last things our leaders desire. Shame on them and shame on everyone who helps to make it so.

DeDude -> CSP...

You are right. Problem is that most southern-born white males working in a small, struggling Georgia town would rather die than voting for the one candidate who might institute those changes - Bernie Sanders.

The people who are beginning to realize that the american dream is a mirage, are the same people who vote for GOP candidates who want to give even more to the plutocrats.

kthomas said...

The kids in Seattle had it right when WTO showed up.


Why is anyone suprised by all this?

We exported out jobs. First all the manufacturing. Now all of the Service jobs.


But hey...we helped millions in China and India get out of poverty, only to put outselves into it.


America was sold to highest bidder a long long time ago. A Ken Melvin put it, the chickens came home to roost in 2000.

sanjait -> kthomas...

So you think the problem with America is that we lost our low skilled manufacturing and call center tech support jobs?

I can sort of see why people assume that "we exported out jobs" is the reason for stagnant incomes in the U.S., but it's still tiresome, because it's still just wrong.

Manufacturing employment crashed in the US mostly because it has been declining globally. The world economy is less material based than ever, and machines do more of the work making stuff.

And while some services can be outsourced, the vast majority can't. Period.

Inequality has been rising globally, almost regardless of trade practices. The U.S. has one of the more closed economies in the developed world, so if globalization were the cause, we'd be the most insulated. But we aren't, which should be a pretty good indication that globalization isn't the cause.

cm -> sanjait...

Yes, the loss of "low skilled" jobs is still a loss of jobs. Many people work in "low skilled" jobs because there are not enough "higher skill" jobs to go around, as most work demanded is not of the most fancy type.

We have heard this now for a few decades, that "low skilled" jobs lost will be replaced with "high skill" (and better paid) jobs, and the evidence is somewhat lacking. There has been growth in higher skill jobs in absolute terms, but when you adjust by population growth, it is flat or declining.

When people hypothetically or actually get the "higher skills" recommended to them, into what higher skill jobs are they to move?

I have known a number of anecdotes of people with degrees or who held "skilled" jobs that were forced by circumstances to take commodity jobs or jobs at lower pay grades or "skill levels" due to aggregate loss of "higher skill" jobs or age discrimination, or had to go from employment to temp jobs.

And it is not true that only "lower skill" jobs are outsourced. Initially, yes, as "higher skills" obviously don't exist yet in the outsourcing region. But that doesn't last long, especially if the outsourcers expend resources to train and grow the remote skill base, at the expense of the domestic workforce which is expected to already have experience (which has worked for a while due to workforce overhangs from previous industry "restructuring").

likbez -> sanjait...

"Inequality has been rising globally, almost regardless of trade practices."

It is not some unstoppable global trend. This is neoliberal oligarchy coup d'ιtat. Or as it often called "a quite coup".

sanjait -> cm...

"Yes, the loss of "low skilled" jobs is still a loss of jobs. Many people work in "low skilled" jobs because there are not enough "higher skill" jobs to go around, as most work demanded is not of the most fancy type.

We have heard this now for a few decades, that "low skilled" jobs lost will be replaced with "high skill" (and better paid) jobs, and the evidence is somewhat lacking. "

And that is *exactly my point.*

The lack of wage growth isn't isolated to low skilled domains. It's weak across the board.

What does that tell us?

It tells us that offshoring of low skilled jobs isn't the problem.

"And it is not true that only "lower skill" jobs are outsourced. Initially, yes, as "higher skills" obviously don't exist yet in the outsourcing region."

You could make this argument, but I think (judging by your own hedging) you know this isn't the case. Offshoring of higher skilled jobs does happen but it's a marginal factor in reality. You hypothesize that it may someday become a bigger factor ... but just notice that we've had stagnant wages now for a few decades.

My point is that offshoring IS NOT THE CAUSE of stagnating wages. I'd argue that globalization is a force that can't really be stopped by national policy anyway, but even if you think it could, it's important to realize IT WOULD DO ALMOST NOTHING to alleviate inequality.

cm -> sanjait...

I was responding to your point:

"So you think the problem with America is that we lost our low skilled manufacturing and call center tech support jobs?"

With the follow-on:

"I can sort of see why people assume that "we exported out jobs" is the reason for stagnant incomes in the U.S., but it's still tiresome, because it's still just wrong."

Labor markets are very sensitive to marginal effects. If let's say "normal" or "heightened" turnover is 10% p.a. spread out over the year, then the continued availability (or not) of around 1% vacancies (for the respective skill sets etc.) each month makes a huge difference. There was the argument that the #1 factor is automation and process restructuring, and offshoring is trailing somewhere behind that in job destruction volume.

I didn't research it in detail because I have no reason to doubt it. But it is a compounded effect - every percentage point in open positions (and *better* open positions - few people are looking to take a pay cut) makes a big difference. If let's say the automation losses are replaced with other jobs, offshoring will tip the scale. Due to aggregate effects one cannot say what is the "extra" like with who is causing congestion on a backed up road (basically everybody, not the first or last person to join).

"Manufacturing employment crashed in the US mostly because it has been declining globally. The world economy is less material based than ever, and machines do more of the work making stuff."

Are you kidding me? The world economy is less material based? OK maybe 20 years after the paperless office we are finally printing less, but just because the material turnover, waste, and environmental pollution is not in your face (because of offshoring!), it doesn't mean less stuff is produced or material consumed. If anything, it is market saturation and aggregate demand limitations that lead to lower material and energy consumption (or lower growth rates).

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, several nations (US and Germany among others) had programs to promote new car sales (cash for clunkers etc.) that were based on the idea that people can get credit for their old car, but its engine had to be destroyed and made unrepairable so it cannot enter the used car market and defeat the purpose of the program. I assume the clunkers were then responsibly and sustainably recycled.

cm -> sanjait...

"The lack of wage growth isn't isolated to low skilled domains. It's weak across the board.

What does that tell us?

It tells us taht offshoring of low skilled jobs isn't the problem."

This doesn't follow. First of all, whether a job can or is offshored has little to do with whether it is "low skilled" but more with whether the workflow around the job can be organized in such a way that the job can be offshore. This is less a matter of "skill level" and more volume and immediacy of interaction with adjacent job functions, or movement of material across distances. Also consider that aside from time zone differences (which are of course a big deal between e.g. US and Europe/Asia), there is not much difference whether a job is performed in another country or in a different domestic region, or perhaps just "working from home" 1 mile from the office, for office-type jobs. Of course the other caveat is whether the person can physically attend meetings with little fuss and expense - so remote management/coordination work is naturally not a big thing.

The reason wages are stuck is that aggregate jobs are not growing, relative to workforce supply. When the boomers retire for real in another 5-10 years, that may change. OTOH several tech companies I know have periodic programs where they offer workers over 55 or so packages to leave the company, so they cannot really hurt for talent, though they keep complaining and are busy bringing in young(er) people on work visa. Free agents, it depends on the company. Some companies hire NCGs, but they also "buy out" older workers.

cm -> cm...

Caveat: Based on what I see (outside sectors with strong/early growth), domestic hiring of NCGs/"fresh blood" falls in two categories:

Then there is also the gender split - "technical/engineering" jobs are overweighed in men, except technical jobs in traditionally "non-technical/non-product" departments which have a higher share of women.

All this is of course a matter of top-down hiring preferences, as generally everything is either controlled top-down or tacitly allowed to happen by selective non-interference.

cm -> sanjait...

"You could make this argument, but I think (judging by your own hedging) you know this isn't the case. Offshoring of higher skilled jobs does happen but it's a marginal factor in reality. You hypothesize that it may someday become a bigger factor ... but just notice that we've had stagnant wages now for a few decades."

I've written a lot of text so far but didn't address all points ...

My "hedging" is retrospective. I don't hypothesize what may eventually happen but it is happening here and now. I don't presume to present a representative picture, but in my sphere of experience/observation (mostly a subset of computer software), offshoring of *knowledge work* started in the mid to late 90's (and that's not the earliest it started in general - of course a lot of the early offshoring in the 80's was market/language specific customization, e.g. US tech in Europe etc., and more "local culture expertise" and not offshoring proper). In the late 90's and early 2000's, offshoring was overshadowed by the Y2K/dotcom booms, so that phase didn't get high visibility (among the people "affected" it sure did). Also the internet was not yet ubiquitous - broadband existed only at the corporate level.

Since then there has been little change, it is pretty much a steady state.

BTW the primary offshore location is India, probably in good part because of good to excellent English language skills, and India's investment in STEM education and industry (especially software/services and this is even a public stereotype, but for a reason).

Syaloch -> sanjait...

Whether low skilled jobs were eliminated due to offshoring or automation doesn't really matter. What matters is that the jobs disappeared, replaced by a small number of higher skill jobs paying comparable wages plus a large number of low skill jobs offering lower wages.

The aggregate effect was stagnation and even decline in living standards. Plus any new jobs were not necessarily produced in the same geographic region as those that were lost, leading to concentration of unemployment and despair.

sanjait -> Syaloch...

"Whether low skilled jobs were eliminated due to offshoring or automation doesn't really matter. "

Well, actually it does matter, because we have a whole lot of people (in both political parties) who think the way to fight inequality is to try to reverse globalization.

If they are incorrect, it matters, because they should be applying their votes and their energy to more effective solutions, and rejecting the proposed solutions of both the well-meaning advocates and the outright demagogues who think restricting trade is some kind of answer.

Syaloch -> sanjait...

I meant it doesn't matter in terms of the despair felt by those affected. All that matters to those affected is that they have been obsoleted without either economic or social support to help them.

However, in terms of addressing this problem economically it really doesn't matter that much either. Offshoring is effectively a low-tech form of automation. If companies can't lower labor costs by using cheaper offshore labor they'll find ways to either drive down domestic wages or to use less labor. For the unskilled laborer the end result is the same.

Syaloch -> Syaloch...

See the thought experiment I posted on the links thread, and then add the following:

Suppose the investigative journalist discovered instead that Freedonia itself is a sham, and that rather than being imported from overseas, the clothing was actually coming from an automated factory straight out of Vonnegut's "Player Piano" that was hidden in a remote domestic location. Would the people who were demanding limits on Freedonian exports now say, "Oh well, I guess that's OK" simply because the factory was located within the US?

Dan Kervick -> kthomas...

I enjoyed listening to this talk by Fredrick Reinfeldt at the LSE:

http://www.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/channels/publicLecturesAndEvents/player.aspx?id=3253

Reinfeldt is a center-right politicians and former Swedish Prime Minister. OF course, what counts as center-right in Sweden seems very different from what counts as center-right in the US.

Perhaps there is some kind of basis here for some bipartisan progress on jobs and full employment.

William said...

I'm sure this isn't caused by any single factor, but has anyone seriously investigated a link between this phenomena and the military?

Veterans probably aren't a large enough cohort to explain the effect in full, but white people from the south are the most likely group to become soldiers, and veterans are the most likely group to have alcohol/drug abuse and suicide problems.

This would also be evidence why we aren't seeing it in other countries, no one else has anywhere near the number of vets we have.

cm -> William...

Vets are surely part of the aggregate problem of lack of career/economic prospects, in fact a lot of people join(ed) the military because of a lack of other jobs to begin with. But as the lack of prospects is aggregate it affects everybody.

Denis Drew said...

" At this point you probably expect me to offer a solution. But while universal health care, higher minimum wages, aid to education, and so on would do a lot to help Americans in trouble, I'm not sure whether they're enough to cure existential despair."


UNOINIZED and (therefore shall we say) politicized: you are in control of your narrative -- win or lose. Can it get any more hopeful than that? And you will probably win.

Winning being defined as labor eeking out EQUALLY emotionally satisfying/dissatisfying market results -- EQUAL that is with the satisfaction of ownership and the consumer. That's what happens when all three interface in the market -- labor interfacing indirectly through collective bargaining.

(Labor's monopoly neutralizes ownership's monopsony -- the consumers' willingness to pay providing the checks and balances on labor's monopoly.)

If you feel you've done well RELATIVE to the standards of your own economic era you will feel you've done well SUBJECTIVELY.

Fo