Dung loaming: how llamas aided the Inca empire Guardian (hat tip reader May S)
Swiss energy minister to back nuclear exit -papers Reuters
Words matter Daily Kos
When Austerity Fails Paul Krugman
Cosmetic surgery will not save the eurozone Wolfgang Munchau. Both Muchau and Krugman point out that the ECB is making what amounts to batshit crazy threats. Per Munchau:
The ECB has since stepped up its rhetoric, and is now threatening to deny Greek banks access to the ECB’s refinance operations after any restructuring.
Think about this for a second. Cutting Greece off from ECB liquidity would constitute a dramatic escalation of the eurozone debt crisis. It would force Greece out of the eurozone within days. You could say that the ECB is threatening to create so much mayhem in the financial system that the monetary union would effectively collapse.
Any explanations of ECB Derangement Syndrome very much appreciated.
VIDEO: Saturday Night Live’s Amazing Strauss-Kahn Eurozone Crisis Opener Clusterstock (hat tip reader Scott). In case you missed it.
When Institutions Rape Nations Rebecca Solint, TomDispatch
$1bn fraud at Kabul Bank puts UK’s Afghan pull-out in peril Independent (hat tip reader May S)
Nato’s mission in Libya needs a complete rethink, says former admiral Guardian (hat tip reader May S)
Frustrated with Democrats, some large unions cut back on donations Washington Post
In the 2012 campaign, environmentalists don’t matter Los Angeles Times (hat tip reader Francois T)
States shorten duration for unemployment benefits Associated Press (hat tip reader May S)
Wall Street and ‘aggressive sexuality’ Aljazeera. The rest of the world seems puzzled by behavior we have sadly come to accept as normal. (hat tip reader Jerry F)
Antidote du jour:
Still no links for the Spanish Revolution?
Listen, people took the main squares of all main cities in Spain for more than a week now!
What a good job is mass media doing of hiding this movement!
And check this ‘antidote do jour’:
(sorry for the dup, posted to old page)
Meanwhile the Irish flock like sheep to failed US president Obama:
Note that the newspapers over here are still running headlines based on Obama’s campaign rhetoric. You’d think that with access to the internet Irish newspapers would realise that Obama’s campaign rhetoric went stale months ago. But no — the Irish people love a spectacle and the media are more than eager to flog more copies.
No disrespect intended to the Irish, but with a political IQ like that, they’re about to get royally hosed.
Royally , actually that happened last week.
Okay, you’re Spanish, right? Well, this protest movement is a perfect opportunity for you and your friends to try to change the political discourse in your country.
One problem that all the news stories on what’s going on in Spain at the moment note is that the protesters don’t have a coherent alternative. Here’s an idea: why not give them one?
Which? Okay, I’ll spell it out. Demand that the EU stops forcing the Spanish government to borrow on the international bond markets. You can do this by telling the EU to put aside a funding package for EU member-state governments which these governments can then use for public spending projects.
Warren Mosler goes into the details in this interview — but you don’t really need details, just throw the idea out there and if it sticks it will change the political discourse:
Tell the Spanish government that if the EU doesn’t respond to this they must threaten to pull out of the Eurozone.
So, that’s the message. Keep it simple:
(1) The EU must put aside a funding package that allows the Spanish governments to run public spending programs without relying on the international bond markets.
(2) If the EU refuse, threaten to pull out of the Euro currency and fund the projects yourselves.
Now, how do you get this message out there?
Simple. You look for the leaders of this movement and you email or speak with them. They don’t have a real platform beyond vague rhetoric — so give them one.
But the papers say there is no leadership — so what do you do then? Well, you seek out people who are speaking publicly. You also seek out the websites that a read by protesters and get in contact with the editors.
You must emphasise how important it is that the editor or speakers push this alternative program to the front of their discourse. Explain that they don’t have to give up their rhetoric, but they must be clear and communicative in advocating these alternatives. They must emphasise these alternatives to the media especially — THIS is how you reframe the debate.
So, go get to work. If I spoke Spanish and lived in Spain I’d do it myself. But I don’t. If this movement ever comes to Ireland, this is exactly what I’ll be doing. Don’t feel powerless — don’t let the protests burn out without changing the discourse — push these alternative programs as hard as you can. Trust me, if you do this right, you’ll soon see these ideas turning up in the mainstream press and even, perhaps, in the political discourse surrounding your coming election.
Wow Philip that’s some homework you are throwing on my shoulders!
I happen to live in Dublin (lovely city lovely people), where we held a 500-people support demonstration last Saturday. Irish (and other nationalities) are more than welcome, and there is another scheduled for next Saturday.
I take notice of your very interesting proposal, and will do my best to translate and share it. I am already trying to sort thoughts together, it is a hard work to do it in a hurry. All the positive changes we have been thinking of for long but never written down, they have to be exposed ASAP because this is a one-in-a-million opportunity.
Things have happened too fast these days, 10 days ago I had no faith in such a thing happening so soon. But we are organizing fast too, at least by comparison to ‘official’ movements.
After the initial euphoria (great party, we needed it!), the moment to put minds to work has come. There is urgency because we don’t want to lose impulse.
The amount of information, proposals, and discussion generated is huge, I have still not found a reliable method to participate on-line. But there is a lively and organized discussion going on in the streets, something the Net cannot compete with. Remotely I suppose we can only contribute well exposed ideas and push them there somehow.
I believe the so-called ‘lack of leadership’ is more a problem for the ‘enemy’ that would like to behead the movement… The challenge is big, we could easily not achieve anything at all, like happened with May’68 movements.
Thanks for the support and feedback. And welcome to the Spanish Revolution, since you have just participated!
I’m Irish and I will tell you: Ireland’s a basket-case.
But some of the other countries are showing some resistance to the bailout measures — they just, as I pointed out above, don’t have a viable alternative.
If I were you I’d focus on the Spanish protests and ignore the Irish — as I seriously doubt they’ll go anywhere. If you live in Ireland I presume you know such sites as ‘indymedia’ and ‘irishleftreview’. In my experience, this is where protesters get their news and opinions.
If the Spanish have similar platforms to this — and I’ll bet they do — these are the places you want to target. If you’re effective and can come up with good slogans based around the points I’ve put forward above (something like: “EuroJobs or EuroExit” or “Ditch the bond markets or ditch the Euro” — sorry, they’re not great, but they’re off the top of my head), put them in a headline of a piece you write and communicate to the editors how important these points are.
Do this right and you’ll soon see your points turn up on billboards and in speeches. That’s only one step away from the mainstream press. Which, in turn, is only one step away from the political arena.
“What a good job is mass media doing of hiding this movement!”
They are very good at their jobs. They work for the best oligarchs.
It appears the Spanish are one step ahead of the Americans, having moved past the discussion stage to the action stage. In complex social systems, the move from speech to action can happen suddenly, catching the status quo, and perhaps even the participating activists, by surprise. These things are like a storm, seemingly coming out of nowhere.
A live feed of what is happening at ground zero in the “Spanish Spring” can be found here. The organizers have also put together a video that sets out the philosophy of the movement—-“True Democracy Now”—-which can be seen here. These are the bullet points from the video, and I think you’ll see they are some of the same points that are frequently discussed here on NC:
• The day has come, we have taken to the streets for a True Democracy Now (as opposed to polyarchy, or what bmeisen below calls the “2-party oligopy”)
• We are not safe in politicians and bankers hands
• The day when the citizens have decided to meet and join their voices, and the message took the streets across the whole country
• And streets celebrated that day as the first of many others which will take to a true change
• A change depends on you, on me, on all of us
• The media won’t silence our voices any more because we have seen we are true people, just as the democracy we are demanding
• There is no excuse, history is looking at us and it is our turn to make a movement
• Let the world know we are ready. We are ready to change injustice into coherence, change corruption into responsibility, change outrage into action
• They don’t represent us! They don’t represent us!
• Today the citizens of this country—-free, conscious and outraged. We have taken to the streets in the whole country from Oviedo to Cadiz, from Vigo to Barcelona, demanding that the politicians and financial leaders to change the course and stop stealing our democracy.
• The politicians and economic power have perverted the democratic ideal, plundering the welfare state, cutting back the rights of all people, students, workers, unemployed, citizens all
• Today has been the beginning of something unstoppable: the true democracy of people who consciously choose their path for a fair, free and egalitarian society; for a decent, solid and sustainable future; and above all, for common sense.
• Still thinking you cannot do anything? Accept your responsibility. Take on the challenge. Be a part of the necessary change for a world which will be as you want it to be
• Democracy is your choice. Use it.
• Mass media won’t show you the truth.
My hat goes off to the Spanish. We can certainly do better than we have of late. Representative democracy is broken.
But I also think the recent spate of revolutions has to be tempered by the critiques of those like Adam Curtis. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace – video: An exclusive taster of Adam Curtis’s new series about how computers have not liberated us but distorted and simplified our view of the world around us. (This is a preview with a link in the sidebar to an interview with Curtis, but Curtis’ program starts airing tonight on BBC.)
There is no paradise on earth: no coercion-free and non-hierarchical society. That is nothing but a utopian dream—-the same earthly paradise first promised by liberalism, then by Marxism, and most recently by libertarianism. As Curtis puts it, in the imagined earthly Promised Land “the power hasn’t away.” “It never does.”
*hierarchical society’s* are corruptible if not compromised from the very start, how much more history do we have to suffer before we accept this, towers have to be climbed.
Skippy…king of the hill stuff, yeah that always works…for the sociopaths….eh….behavioral environment thingy.
What was the upshot of this “Revolution”?
The Conservative Party in Spain wins the election by almost 10% points?
it’s been a while since I commented on your blog. I am sure you’ll remember me.
gatopeich is right. The self-styled “Spanish Revolution” deserves a link. It may -just may- be the beginning of a wave of European-wide protests against the lack of real democracy.
May I humbly suggest my own take on this issue?
Diego – thank you to the link to your post. I feel rather foolish for not having read-up on what is going on in Spain. It is wonderful news.
It’s great to see Spain taking this action and asking these questions. If they’re really thinking about democracy, that means they’re questioning representative government and all versions of “Leadership”. (Are these protests happening under the people’s own auspices? They better not be listening to the Leadership of pre-existing unions and NGOs. In France we just had the latest of hundreds of historical examples proving that trusting in system Leaders guarantees treachery and failure.)
We know by now that representative pseudo-democracy was a sham in principle (as the Federalist papers admitted) and is a failure in practice. The measure of success is that a system creates stable, broad economic prosperity and broad political participation.
If one still wanted to believe in elections, the only way these could be even quasi-democratic would be if we had proportional democracy. If America had proportional representation we’d have a real populist/socialist party. That’s why we have the winner-take-all system, which is by definition and intent anti-democratic.
By now we know that representative government is illegitimate. It’s irrational (it fails even to select the most intelligent, wisest citizens for office), immoral (representation of the people’s sovereignty is a usurpation on the part of the elites and an abdication on the part of the citizenry), and doesn’t work in practice (as I described above).
Rationally, morally, practically, the only way forward is toward direct democracy. It’s time for humanity to grow up and take responsibility for itself.
So the question, Is Democracy Real?, can have only this vector for its answer, or else nothing. There’s a growing awareness of this across the Arab world. I hope Spain’s an indication that it’s spreading to Europe.
Quasi-democracy is the best thing that ever happened to politics. People think they are free, that if they aren’t it’s their own fault, and then they don’t revolt. It leads to the most stable outcomes for the nobility.
I wonder when China is going to wake up and institute quasi-democracy in their own country?
Direct democracy is an interesting idea. It’s definitely a lot more workable now with technology than ever before. People could vote on bills from the comfort of their own smartphones.
There are many obstacles to that though. One economic psychology article I read a while ago posited that individuals choose not to vote because they’re not knowledgeable about the issues. Thus, they’re hoping that others are more knowledgeable will vote in the public interest. With potentially thousands of bills every day, can the public devote enough energy to read or even vote on them all?
As an East Asian, I’m partial to a benign dictatorship akin to Singapore, Hong Kong, or Japan before the LDP got thrown out (though the LDP was prone to infighting). An enlightened individual, a village elder, or a group of bureaucrats would be much more efficient at implementing needed policy and making long-term plans. I admit I’m tired of bickering in Congress over raising the debt limit, restructuring entitlement programs, and reforming the tax code. Also, the system in the US is prone to bribes and blackmail by special interests: insert the oil and agriculture tax breaks. Another fault of the US system is that it lends itself to short-term policies. Bush tax cuts were designed to expire at the end of his term for political reasons. Obama is trying to float the economy along, as opposed to making hard choices, until he is out of office. Whenever an individual or party attempts to make the hard but needed decision, the opposition hammers it with false characterizations.
Yes, I know that is a pipe dream. How would we ever find someone so enlightened and selfless? Also, rarely does an enlightened despot stay that way.
The problem with a benign dictatorship is that you need someone who is wise, benevolent, strong, and farsighted; a very rare combination! China was lucky with Deng Xiaping, Singapore was lucky with Lee Kuan Yew. And consider, that although these men were if great merit, there were other historical and cultural factors that aided them (I. E cold war, American industry resentful of union power) as well as a strong team of trusted men who helped them implement their changes. Imagine if a myriad of factors did not favour the dictatorship, just look at all of the failed dictatorships in Africa and South and central america.
It might be better to live under an enlightened despot than a democracy. But the issue is how the system fails. Despotism is fragile. Democracy, crippled as it is in the US at the federal level, is considerably more robust.
What’s your take on this critique of the movement in Spain?
Movimiento 15-M o Democracia Real Ya: otra estrategia para el control de la oposición.
I tend to agree.
However, the cooption of revolutions by the elite is nothing new or unique. In fact, it’s pretty much been the rule. And for that reason I think criticisms of this sort should be taken seriously, and deserve an honest and thoughtful response.
As Hannah Arendt points out in On Revolution, even that great revolution in the sky—-the French Revolution—-succumbed to elite rule:
However, no sooner had Robespierre risen to power and become the political head of the new revolutionary government—-which happened in the summer of 1793, a matter of weeks, not even of months, after he had uttered some of the comments which I have just quoted—-than he reversed his position completely. Now it was he who fought relentlessly against what he chose to name ‘the so-called popular societies’ and invoked against them ‘the great popular Society of the whole French people’, one and indivisible. The later, alas, in contrast to the small popular societies of artisans or neighbors, could never be assembled in one place, since no ‘room would hold all’; it could exist only in the form of representation, in a Chamber of Deputies who assumedly held in their hands the centralized, indivisible power of the French nation. The only exception he now was ready to make was in favour of the Jacobins, and this not merely because their club belonged to his own party but, even more importantly, because it never had been a ‘popular’ club or society; it had developed in 1789 out of the original meeting of the States-General, and it had been a club for deputies ever since.
So The Reign of Terror (5 September 1793, to 28 July 1794) was not visited upon France by the French common man, or any “excess of democracy,” as the mythmakers would have us believe, but by the French elite.
The claim that this movement is orchestrated by some elite was there from the beginning, precisely proposed by elites pointing each other.
No matter who started it, this is a people movement.
The biggest risk is letting the opportunity pass without introducing the changes necessary for enabling a better form of government: by the people, for the people.
I feel like if I read your excerpts every day, I will have read all of Arendt and Niebuhr in about a year.
this movement is independent and free from political parties and trade unions. It is against the lack of democracy and the shared opinion that bankers’ and politicians’ behaviour caused the crisis.
You can find both right-leaning and left-leaning people supporting the main political reforms proposed by the different civil groups behind the protest (this is just a very short summary):
1. Political reform:
1.1 the Electoral law makes the system a “vote against the enemy” system, rather than a “vote the proposals you most agree with”. More parties are needed. More opinions should be introduced into the system, both from the right and from the left.
1.2 any important measure must be approved by referendum.
1.3 measures against corruption, among them: people under investigation for corruption must not be allowed a post in the administration.
1.4 citizens should be able to propose referendums.
2. Independent judges. Right now, top judges have been appointed by PP and PSOE, so they are not independent.
3. Economic measures, like ending subsidies to banks and subsidizing poor families instead. There are many more, but that’s where fewer people will agree.
You could say this is not a revolution, but an evolution. In fact, many Spaniards are calling it “r-evolution”, which is fine. We are not going the Chávez way, we just want a deeper democracy. And there are many enemies against deeper democracy. Nonetheless, major political parties and mainstream media.
Media have said: that the revolution is backed by terrorists (ETA), that it was a leftist coup, that it goes against democracy, that it calls for people not to vote (which is false! It called for people to vote for new, fresh, different parties to end two-party rule), etc.
I really think small structural changes in politics may go a long way. We’re Spain. We wanna be Sweden, politically. That’s just 2,000km away (and out of the euro *grin*).
I want you to know that all my hopes and best wishes are with you and the Spanish protesters.
I think you guys and gals, if you want bona fide change, are sailing in unchartered waters. Solutions from the past simply will not work. Something new, heretofore unheard of, is needed. And who knows, maybe you will be the one to hit upon it. As the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson puts it: “Confront a human group with a novel problem, even one that never existed in the so-called ancestral environment, and its members may well come up with a workable solution.”
The reason for studying history is not so much to be apprised of what will work, but to know what will not work. And in this regard, I’d just caution to be on guard for what Arendt, in On Revolution called the “professional revolutionists”:
[W]hile the part played by the professional revolutionist in the outbreak of revolution has usually been insignificant to the point of non-existence, his influence upon the actual course a revolution will take has proved to be very great. And since he spent his apprenticeship in the school of past revolutions, he will invariably exert this influence not in favour of the new and the unexpected, but in favour of some action which remains in accordance with the past.
Thanks for the response. It certainly was honest and thoughtful.
Diego Méndez Romero said:
After all, some of the roots of the financial crisis – financial de-regulation, distorted trade with China, and an ill-conceived euro – were measures taken by experts with no popular backing.
All of us Europeans have relied for the last 20 years in a kind of European technocracy, composed of supposedly very knowledgeable specialists that determined almost every important policy (trade, monetary, fiscal, etc.). But as those policies failed, leaving a big financial hole, no one is being held responsible for those past decisions.
Do the Germans, or the French, or the Italians, live in a real democracy? Is fiscal policy or banking regulation discussed publicly, or just taken as a given by supposed experts who later receive no punishment if things go bad?
This is a topic that interests me greatly. Perhaps the first to publicly criticize progressivism was Reinhold Niebuhr, which earned him the eternal condemnation of the Left, and even more the New Left. He called progressivism the dictatorship of the “scientist kings.”
Following in Niebuhr’s footsteps was Hannah Arendt, also roundly condemned by the New Left. In the denigration of politics and concomitant drive to achieve “freedom from politics,” Arendt claims we ended up with “a kind of no-man rule.” As she goes on to explain:
But this nobody, the assumed one interest of society as a whole in economics as well as the assumed one opinion of polite society in the solon, does not cease to rule for having lost its personality. As we know from the most social form of government, that is, from bureaucracy (the last stage of government in the nation-state just as one-man rule in benevolent despotism and absolutism was its first), the rule by nobody is not necessarily no-rule; it may indeed, under certain circumstances, even turn out to be one of its cruelest and most tyrannical versions.
▬Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
The libertarians are phonies, hypocrites. They don’t really oppose the dictatorship; they just want a change of guard of the scientist kings.
The best historical account of how we wound up here that I’ve come across is to be found in Michael Allen Gillespie’s Nihilism Before Nietzsche, in which he concludes that Nietzsche’s “doctrine of radical liberation”
is a nomadic war machine that repeatedly opposes itself to the despotic administrative apparatus of traditional philosophic systems from Plato to Hegel to Marx and Freud. Nietzsche, in contrast to Marx, thus provides a doctrine for revolution that does not degenerate into bureaucratic despotism.
I’m glad Diego mentioned Italy. No one could possibly argue that Bunga Bunga land is ruled by a scientific technocracy.
Great post, Diego!
Reading this paragraph, I wonder if similarly styled protests will happen here in the US at some point. But for now it seems the Dem-Repub, lib-con polarities are still mostly intact with few unsubscribers.
Too bad there is no preview function for the comments, it would make for less errors and omissions.
Two books to be written:
1) The complete history of kleptocracy
2) The complete history of democracies that weren’t/aren’t.
‘Any explanations of ECB Derangement Syndrome very much appreciated.’
I’d proffer one; the effects of substantial cognitive dissonance combined with incompetence. As Munchau and Wolf have been increasingly reporting upon in the last couple of years, ECB and indeed EU policymakers have indulged themselves almost constantly in ‘kicking the can down the road’. This, as a policy reaction to increasingly poor and out of control economic and social outcomes throughout the Eurozone since 2007, has not seen them removed from office and so has become the only game in town.
However as opposed to a seemingly valid route to avoiding the chop, this tactic of non-decisionmaking doesn’t actually solve any problems it just papers over cracks and hopes that general systems resilience begins to reimpose itself and conditions improve. The equivalent of the doctor prescribing a placebo and sending you home to recover under your own steam. The problem is that after nearly four years the situation in most cases in Europe is worse than it was, the patient is not getting better of its own accord, and the ECB and EU policymakers are beginning to realise that they have a bare cupboard of problem-solving options left having spent the last four years carefully avoiding any activity that could tie them to any responsibility and having spent the previous thirty years carefully constructing roles and institutional structures that are designed with avoidance of responsibility firmly in mind.
How do you let a cadre of self-selected, distanced, deliberately elitist and carefully cushioned bureacrats know that that noise at the windows that has been scrupulously shielded from intruding into their hermetically sealed environment until now is real life and it is not happy? They have no way of reacting with any skill to the problems that currently exist, they have been selctively bred for an environment that is totally divorced from reality so have no useful skills to bring to bear and they are, for the first time in many cases, being faced with a nature red in tooth and claw that is alien to them.
A far from unusual combination of selective breeding and changing circumstances requiring novel solutions from committed, engaged, resourceful and able leaders is instead met by chinless, bloodless eunuchs. Are we surprised that policy solutions have been at best inneffective so far?
I think the short version of ECB Derangement Syndrome is the sound of another small corner of our current world trying to retain relevancy and relative power within the international community as it faces its own financial architecture problems.
Re NATO needs a rethink:
When was the first time they did any thinking?
(That’s for anyone who doubts the fact of kleptocracy.)
Of course NATO doesn’t think for itself. The U.S. does all the thinking, and therefore all the rethinking.
“[Rebecca Solnit] is, from kindergarten to graduate school, a product of the California public education system now being decimated.”
Also, I was glad to see Meg Whitman’s name get tossed into the piece. We need more bad women. Right now (ok, all throughout history), men seem to have a monopoly on pernicious acts. And it seems to me, in this modern era of equality, printing presses and computers, there are a lot of women with the sudden capability of chronicling my gender’s every evil misdeed; and quite often (shock!), they hold each of them up to the harsh light of public judgment!
Aside: Remember lads, if we’re going to destroy this world properly, it would be really helpful if we could sign up more gender treacherous women like Meg Whitman. Don’t get me wrong, I think we can annihilate the planet without the participation of a single gal, but it would be a much simpler task if we could just get the ladies to join us, because as of now, believe it or not, there are more than a few female pain-in-the-asses out there, actively trying to stop us!
“Any explanations of ECB Derangement Syndrome very much appreciated.”
It’s not derangement at all. They’re about to make an example of Greece, turning it into the 3rd world country it should be.
Greece is about to be cut loose in a most unpleasant way. There is no other choice. The consequences of violating the ECB rules must be made apparent to the other member states (besides France and Germany of course!)
“Do not ascribe to malevolence what can be attributed to simple incompetence.”
They are neither malevolent nor incompetent. This is the way the the ECB is supposed to work: the weaker countries of Europe must pay tribute to the stronger ones. It’s a universal law of nature.
Of course, the arguement could be made that “simple incompetence” is “malevolence.” That supposes you are using a defining regeime based on outcomes, with a corollary that from results, remedies can be produced that are applicable to any cause that produces said result. A logical fallacy? Maybe, but the results on the ground will prove or disprove.
Not to pick on you. But, that razor is dull from overuse. Malevolent conspirators know to play dumb. This razor is sometimes used as an excuse not to dig further and to think critically about probable conspiracies.
Um, that could only have validity where there’s no evidence record for a particular entity, and where the record in general is that malevolence is rare.
The ECB, on the other hand, has a long record of nothing but malevolence, and it exists within a kleptocratic framework where malevolence is the systematic basis of the entire machine.
But if in your case I take your advice and assume you’re foolish and naive rather than a pro-bank liar, then how should we characterize your comment? Is there a name for the “fallacy of giving a known liar the benefit of the doubt”. (A phrase I borrowed from somewhere, I forget where.)
I’ve never seen that tedious adage (“Hanlon’s razor”? what a lame, soft defense of criminals) properly applied. Not once. It’s just like the way most people seem not to know what “ad hom fallacy” means.
“The ECB, on the other hand, has a long record of nothing but malevolence, and it exists within a kleptocratic framework where malevolence is the systematic basis of the entire machine.”
Then I’m sure you’ll have no trouble at all in providing simple corroborative evidence for those assertions. Don’t forget; ‘Nothing but malevolence’ is what you have to prove, as well as ‘kleptocratic framework’ whose entire basis is ‘malevolence’. I look forward to this simple demonstration of your powers.
Once you have achieved this platform of credibility I’ll happily accept your instruction on how to conduct a meaningful conversation, free from fallacious reasoning and knee-jerk platitudes unsupported by fact.
AllanW said: “Then I’m sure you’ll have no trouble at all in providing simple corroborative evidence for those assertions.”
How about the way the proponents of Eurolandia deliberately butchered and rewrote European history in order to make it conform to their fictional European union?
Granted, the post-WWII histories written by the likes of the French historians Andre Piganiol and Pierre Courcelle that cast the Germanic invaders as ‘barbares’, ‘ennemies’, ‘envahisseurs’, ‘hordes’, and ‘pillards’; their passage through the empire being marked by ‘encendies’, ‘ravages’, ‘sacs’, ‘prisonniers’, and ‘massacres’; leaving behind them ‘ruines desertes’ and ‘regions devastees’ were undoubtedly over the top. So now, in reaction to it, and due to political expediency, comes the manufacture of the opposite myth. Bryan Ward-Perkins notes how a new historical theory has been invented “to elevate the Germanic people to the status of peaceful collaborators with the native Romans”:
The European Union needs to forge a spirit of cooperation between the once warring nations of the Continent, and it is no coincidence that the European Science Foundations’ research project into this period was entitled ‘The Transformation of the Roman World’—-implying a seamless and peaceful transition from Rome times to the ‘Middle Ages’ and beyond. In this new vision of the end of the ancient world, the Roman empire is not ‘assassinated’ by Germanic invaders; rather, Romans and Germans together carry forward much that was Roman, into a new Romano-Germanic world. ‘Latin’ and ‘Germanic’ Europe is at peace. ▬Bryan Ward-Perkins The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization
The European Union’s historians would make the Nazi historians proud. “The struggle that rages today involves very great aims: a culture fights for its existence, which combines millenniums and embraces Hellenism and Germanity together,” wrote Hitler in Mein Kampf. Everything was designed to lend authority to the new system and give it a spurious eternal value. Alfred Rosenberg, the most notorious Nazi theorist, in Der Mythos des 20. Jahrhunderts claimed that “from Aryan India came metaphysics, from classical Greece beauty, from Rome the discipline of statesmanship, and from Germania the world, the highest and most shining example of mankind.” So there is certainly nothing novel about the sort of “history” created by the European Union’s “historians.”
It logically follows then, that for the European Union’s historians, an “interpretation of history that keeps the Roman past, but ‘transforms’ it into a post-Roman Europe dominated by the Franks, is therefore much more satisfactory,” continues Ward-Perkins. “The centre of the present-day European Union, the Strasbourg-Frankfurt-Brussels triangle, and the centre of the eighth- and ninth-century Franking empire coincide very closely: Brussels, for instance, is little more than 100 kilometres from Charlemagne’s favoured residence and burial place at Aachen.” The Franks have been “wheeled out to support Europe in a more populist and explicit way, particularly because they are acknowledged as common ancestors by both the French and the Germans.” But, as Ward-Perkins goes on to observe,
it is doubtful whether the historical Franks can really live up to the projection upon them of such high ideals, though the baptism of Clovis, a powerful Germanic warrior accepted into the Catholic faith by the Gallo-Roman bishop of Reims, does fit rather well with a French vision of the respective roles of France and Germany within the European Union: German might, tamed and channeled to positive ends, by Gallic culture and civility.
As you appear to have been off-planet for the last 35 years, first let me hasten to welcome you back. Second, let me advise you to read up on the last 35 years of economic history and ask yourself one simple question, cui bono?
You see the incompetence defense is just a dodge. It might be possible, if unlikely, that incompetents were say, running the ECB, or the Fed, Treasury, the IMF, etc. But what are the odds that incompetents were running all of these institutions, over the course of decades, or that all their incompetence would just happen to consistently result in the transfer of wealth to the rich?
In such an environment and so late in the process, asking us to prove the existence of kleptocracy de novo and with footnotes comes across as a plea for us to disbelieve our lying eyes, and not just what they see now but what they have seen anytime during those 35 years you were gone.
And of course, kleptocracy is malevolent. Why do you think that people are demonstrating in Spain? Why is the ECB making terroristic threats against Greece? We have only said here about a million times that for every transaction there are two parties, not a profligate party and a virtuous party, just two parties. So why is the ECB taking the side of the French and German banks, other than the obvious reason that it is controlled by these countries?
Looking at our own country, how many tens of millions have to be out of work, how many millions have to lose their homes through fraudulent foreclosures, how many hundreds of millions of lives have to be blighted and ruined, how bad does our infrastructure, education, state government, healthcare, and pensions have to get due to all this siphoning of wealth to the rich before we can call it kleptocracy and malevolent? It seems to me that if malevolence can not be used here to describe what is going on then we should simply get rid of the word because it has lost all its meaning.
► “Do not ascribe to malevolence what can be attributed to simple incompetence.”
That is the manifesto of the triumph of rationalism over empiricism, and the antithesis of ancient Biblical wisdom:
You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? ▬Matthew 7:16
Rationality I’ll accept, as in apportioning your views according to the ratio of the evidence for and against. But biblical wisdom? As in ‘military intelligence’ or ‘gentle violence’? I don’t think so.
The aphorism is a simple injunction, used by good scientists all the time, not to overclaim for your data.
It’s amazing how “innocent until proven guilty,” the empiricist manifesto, gets transformed into “Do not ascribe to malevolence what can be attributed to simple incompetence” in the mind of the radical rationalist.
As Michael Allen Gillespie explains in Nihilism Before Nietzche:
Science for Kant and his contemporaries consisted in a system of synthetic truths. Everyone, including Hume, recognized the existence of certain analytic truths, that is, truths in which the predicate can be derived from an analysis of the subject. Such truths are a priori, because they do not require recourse to experience. Everyone also recognized the existence of empirical truths, or truths in which the predicate can be known through perception. These are a posteriori truths. Science [according to Kant’s philosophy], however, depends on the possibility of synthetic truths a priori, that is, truths in which the predicate cannot be logically deduced from the subject but which also do not depend upon the testimony of the senses. Hume believed that there were no such truths. Kant attempted to demonstrate that he was wrong…
“Do not ascribe to malevolence what can be attributed to simple incompetence” is one of Kant’s synthetic truths, a rationalization or ready-made formula that is used to argue against the existence of empirical or posteriori truths.
I, for one, am certain that “it” is always 100% explained by incompetence.
Wait, I meant malevolence.
Wait, I really meant it could never be the combination of the two.
Wait, what was I saying…?
Feed me more! You clearly know what you’re talking about.
Well, which is it, malevolent incompetence or incompetent malevolence? Yeah, probably both. Pass the bong, dude.
To paraphrase great mystic poet/philosopher Rumi: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. Or was it Rummy? I think, therefore I am … sure Saddam has nukes!
I wonder when USA is going to wake up and institute quasi-democracy from the bankers in their own country?
Rebecca Solnit is the most deluded writer ever.
“But that a man who controls some part of the fate of the world apparently devoted his energies to generating fear, misery, and injustice around him says something about the shape of our world and the values of the nations and institutions that tolerated his behavior and that of men like him.”
They didn’t just tolerate it, that’s his job at the IMF: to create misery and injustice all over the world.
“This is what we mean by democracy: that everyone has a voice, that no one gets away with things just because of their wealth, power, race, or gender.”
Solnit is living on another planet.
“He said it even more bluntly last year: “Since 1981, the United States has followed a policy, until the last year or so when we started rethinking it, that we rich countries that produce a lot of food should sell it to poor countries and relieve them of the burden of producing their own food,”
If you believe that, you’ll believe anything. The whole purpose of dumping food on the 3rd world was to destroy local agriculture, sort of the way Walmart destroys local businesses, and then jack up the prices and starve them.
“what we do know is this: a genuine class war is being fought openly in our time…”
If it is, it’s completely one sided. Your side is getting creamed.
“the IMF’s recklessness and disregard for the wellbeing of others reflects the organization’s approach to the outside world, a history of using economic shock therapy on nations around the world with disastrous results. Andy Kroll”
I suppose they’re disasterous for the countries and the people, but they are most enriching for the world of international finance. And that’s what counts.
Bank fraud is everywhere:
$1bn fraud at Kabul Bank puts UK’s Afghan pull-out in peril
Good Sir Externality;
I’m afraid that the UKs’ “official spokerpersons” are willfully misreading public opinion on this one, or perhaps don’t care. The Kabul Bank fraud will stoke anger at the whole sorry mess and increase calls to just get out of Afghanistan and let the region fall apart. As the recent US “judicial murder” of bin Laden shows, outside actors can and will reach inside the area to effect outcomes in their favour. Pakistan has nukes? Coopt the guardians of said nukes. Pakistan and India will end up in a nuclear war? Think of all the rebuilding contracts to farm out to cronys. Such an action will demonstrate “moral bankruptcy” on the part of the imperial powers? What do you think has been happening over the past canturies? Enlightened world altruism? “Stay the course” is usually the political way of saying, “We don’t have the political will to admit mistakes.” The Empire has no clothes.
British and American elites frankly don’t care what their respective constituencies think. Nor do they need to care, the two (or in the UK, three) party system insulates politicians from any accountability. The UK system of party-lists, where the political bosses, not the people, get to choose each party’s candidates, allows the party faithful to be moved into safe seats as a reward for making “bold” (i.e, popular only with the elites) decisions. The advantage of this system is that the elites can claim that the people were to blame — they elected the politicians.
As for leaving, why not? Americans are constantly being told that China and India are replacing the US as global powers. If so, why should poor and elderly Americans (of all races) suffer to keep China, India, and Pakistan from getting into it and destroying their respective economies?
It is not the responsibility of the American people to police the world.
Frankly, I think the US should have stayed completely out of World War I, and allowed the hegemonic European powers (Russia, France, Germany, UK) to completely, totally, depopulate and destroy each other on the way to one side winning a Pyrrhic victory. This would have prevented World War II, prevented post-war settlements which created (e.g., Czechoslovakia) and ended (e.g., Kingdom of Serbia) entire countries, and divided smaller ethnic communities (e.g., Ruthenians (western Ukranians, Carpatho-Rusyns)) into multiple countries without their foreknowledge or consent to settle territorial issues elsewhere. Instead, the US intervened to rescue Britain and Wall Street banks that both purchased Allied war bonds and financed their arms purchases. After losing 117,465 Americans, the Wilson administration agreed to the Treaty of Versailles (and lesser known agreements such as the Treaty of Trianon) which guaranteed further bloodshed.
It is always interesting to watch the order in which information is released. Our government has been talking about what a sleazeball Karzai is for a couple of year, pretending all the while they have a mandate to give the people of Afghanistan democracy. Which as we can see has never happened. The recent article from Need to Know about Afghanistan and our obligation was particularly offensive. Sometime last year they released the first teaser about all the mineral wealth in the mountains of southern Afghanistan. This was purely for public contemplation and the manufacture of consent because all the world powers have always known how rich this mineral wealth is. Then last month came the news that JPMorgan and the Pentagon were “partnering” to go in and work the mines, the gold mines. No talk yet of any rare earths. And nobody seemed to even care. Then we brutally murdered Osama Binforgotten just over the border in Pakistan and leaked the bloody photographs. And voila! The region explodes, just when the Brits were planning to pull out. And now this: Oh the naughty Karazai brothers have stolen a billion dollars and the auditors just caught it. So Britain is now saying it can’t leave because of its obligation to bring democracy to the people of Afghanistan. It must stay. Are you kidding me? Again? Shame on me.
In reference to the “Daily Kos” article, ‘Words Matter’:
I sense a pedagogic purpose in this posting, but must register some pushback anet.
The underlying philosophy of the piece seems to be the old elite centered “Rational Discourse Model.” In effect saying, “We are all well educated, sensitive and empathic individuals here.” Unfortunately, we are talking about politics and political economy . The rules on the ground are anything but rational and discursive. One main reason most of us here and on other “Thoughtful Blogs” decry the state of the political discourse is because we see that at present Right wing emotionalist and irrationalist strategies ARE WORKING despite ‘our’ best efforts to counter them.
We can, as a group, eschew outright vulgarity, which we usually do through ellipsis and allusion. This helps keep self respect, and guarantees a modicum of civility. However, I must point out that in political speech in general, apeals to the “baser elements” of human nature is a winning strategy. How, you might counter, did Obama then win his “historic” victory in the last presidential election? I suggest, and this is very open to debate, that he appealed to the younger generations fears: fear of a declining standard of living, fear of helplessness in the face of “faceless” fat cats and other elite types, fear of falling ‘down’ into the dreaded “underclasses” through no fault of their own, etc. etc. Thus, a subtle playing to peoples fears and angers led to the Democrats win. Yes, I agree, words matter. The important question is, what exactly do we want them to do for us?
How, you might counter, did Obama then win his “historic” victory in the last presidential election?
Contributions from billionaire hedge fund owners? Spending more than his opponent? Lying more than his opponent?
Good start… Team Obama also had better propagandists and the advantage of anti-Bush era anger, plus he was supported by many of the Republican establishment elites… cue David Brooks and some of the WaPo columnists. Suspiciously Bill O’Reilly was overly nice to Obama and Fox News in general was rather tepid in their support of McCain and only went on the Obama attack AFTER he as elected.
btw, Daily Kos may have started out as genuine pushback against the Empire, but it long ago became a propaganda mouthpiece of the pathetic kind, mostly unconscious and trapped in faded ideology. I have always found it interesting that Huffington Post and Daily Kos were both started by Republican defectors… and Media Matters David Brock is an ex-Republican as well. All big Obama supporters who have benefitted financially from that. Follow the money. Ideology is mostly a cover story.
Re: Words Matter Daily Kos
I’m guessing that most who use the words “has no balls” in reference to President Obama aren’t thinking about this nation’s long, vicious history of emasculating and lynching black men, but I’m hoping that anyone now reading this will stop and consider how those words impact people who know or knew people, or who had ancestors who suffered such unthinkable violence.
I’m guessing that most who use the words “lies like a rug” in reference to President Obama aren’t thinking about rolling him up in one.
Because Chomsky is silenced, you have to watch your step. Heard it all before. In the good old days, in the runup to the Great War, they made it a crime to say that the head of state was servile to industries like munitions. Now it’s… hurtful, because, through some hand-waving association with carefully-chosen examples, it has something to do with castration and slavery and balls, or with Cornell West’s ego. This demand that you twist and turn to avoid red-herring attacks on your tone is just another way of shutting you up. People listened to MLK and they listened to the Black Panthers too.
“….they made it a crime to say that the head of state was servile to industries..”
War Is A Racket
Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933 by General Smedley Butler, USMC
War is just a racket. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket…..
War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War.
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill…..
CHAPTER TWO: Who Makes The Profits?
The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are 6, 8, 10, and sometimes 12%. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – 20, 60, 100, 300, and even 1,800% – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let’s get it. Of course, it isn’t put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and “we must all put our shoulders to the wheel,” but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed. Let’s just take a few examples.
Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people – didn’t one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? How did they do in the war? Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year. It wasn’t much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it. Now let’s look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918. Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find! Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good. An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.
And let us not forget the bankers who financed the great war. If anyone had the cream of the profits it was the bankers. Being partnerships rather than incorporated organizations, they do not have to report to stockholders. And their profits were as secret as they were immense. How the bankers made their millions and their billions I do not know, because those little secrets never become public – even before a Senate investigatory body.
CHAPTER THREE: Who Pays The Bills? Who provides the profits – these nice little profits of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent? We all pay them – in taxation
CHAPTER FOUR: How To Smash This Racket!
To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket: 1.) We must take the profit out of war; 2.) We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war; 3.) We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes
CHAPTER FIVE : To Hell With War!
….The professional soldiers and sailors don’t want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments. The chief aim of any power at any of these conferences has not been to achieve disarmament to prevent war but rather to get more armament for itself and less for any potential foe.
There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of practicability. That is for all nations to get together and scrap every ship, every gun, every rifle, every tank, every war plane.
So … I say, TO HELL WITH WAR!
The most powerful indictments of war come from the military: President Eisenhower; H.R.McMaster (Dereliction of Duty); Bacevitch (thank you AmBrit). It is not their cause to perpetuate the system. So whose cause is it? That is the question.
I don’t get the credit. It should go to Bill Moyers, who had Bacevitch on his PBS program several times. I’m not sure, but I think these shows are available in archival form at PBSs’ web site. One reason I miss Moyers is because he goes back to Lyndon Johnsons’ administrations and remembers when people in America had real hope for the future. A true “still small voice crying out in the wilderness.”
Really great military thinkers all propound that the moral dimension is paramount in any military exercise. Bacevitch fits into a long, honourable line of “military public servants.” He gave his son to our country and deserves better from it.
Re: Words Matter Daily Kos
… We have to remind them by the very manner of our approach that we are not different or frightening or shrill or radical, rather we are very much in agreement with them, and we have to make it safe for them to recognize those points of agreement, and safe for them to validate their own views. It sounds easy, but it is not.
Let’s take a nap. And no snoring.
‘Just finished reading excerpt of “Reckless Endangerment” @ Huff Po. As hard and fast as things crashed, wouldn’t they have imploded sooner and harder had Bernanke and Paulson not testified (Congressional J.E.C. 3/07) that the subprime crisis was “contained”? How could they have said anything else? What would Treasury Secretary Yves Smith or Federal Reserve Chairwoman Yves Smith have said in testimony?
That’s one fear we shouldn’t fear.
Secretary Smith can speak for herself but this seems to buy into the Establishment line that the only two choices were what they did or nothing. Actually even at the time, many of us were producing lists and plans of how to deal with the 2007 housing bust and the 2008 meltdown.
Indeed if Secretary Smith had been at Treasury back in early 2006 the worst aspects of the bubble could have been aborted. If she had been there back in 2004, we might well have avoided the bubble entirely.
But returning to what could have been done immediately post-meltdown, the banking system could have been put through a controlled bankruptcy. Investors (mostly the rich) would have been wiped out. Bond holders would have taken deep haircuts. CDS could have been nullified as frauds. The investment banks could have been forced out of existence. The shadow banking system could have been brought under tight regulation. Ditto the hedgies. And lots and lots of people could have been sent to jail and their ill-gotten gains RICO’ed to, in some small way, compensate for the damage they inflicted upon us. Much more could have been done, but that would be a start.
The way a hedge fund works is that for every dollar it invests in a politician, it takes a cut of 20% off any profit the politician makes, on top of an annual fee to manage that politician.
I think that’s how it works.
Perhaps current or former insiders can comment more about it.
Re Words Matter, what a load of horsesh*t. The blogosphere is known for its freewheeling, pithy and often earthy, what some would call vulgar, descriptions. I mean the BS is often so heavy that nothing else will cut through it. The blogosphere also has a phrase for those who throw up “civility” defenses rather than engage in substance. It’s called “pearl clutching”.
There are several tells that is what is going on here. As valissa noted above, dailykos and Markos Moulitsas pretty much declared themselves to be mouthpieces of the Democratic party a long time ago. So when the post’s author talks about “we liberals”, you should take what follows with a couple cups of salt. Change that to a couple of buckets when he goes on to describe Cornel West as left of left. How left can West really be if it took him this long to break with Obama? Then there is the completely bogus charge that telling Obama to “get a pair” is inappropriate. People in the left blogosphere have been telling the Democrats, white, black, and Hispanic, to grow a pair for years. It’s pearl clutching now to suddenly make Obama an exception.
This post does fit into another pattern though and that is to play the race card with any criticism of Obama.
If I had any criticism to make of the “stones” language, it is that I think that Obama’s stones are just fine and that he is using them to screw ordinary Americans over and protect the kleptocrats who own him, oh wait, I can see more bogus historical coming…
Yep. The post bugged me as well (and I confess I expected to have that reaction as I was clicking over).
I give the author some credit–he’s refining the tired old “just leave Obama aloooooone” defense. He’s not quite as dismissive of Obama critics such as West, as other Obama fans are. But he still ultimately wants left critics to simply leave Obama alone.
He was just clever enough to mask his appeal, that the left ‘shut up’, as assisting the left in making its argument better (concern trolling). He also hints that he sympathizes with leftist values (which he oddly personalizes, despite his suggestion that leftist critics not personalize politics, by referring to Chomsky in a somewhat positive way while referring to West as the left of the left–which makes one wonder if his political scale measures one’s relative hostility to Obama rather than one’s substantive political beliefs).
Plus, it’s pretty rich to hear “words matter” coming from an Obama supporter. How many times has Obama used words to spread false hope while his actions betray those words?
And if anyone is curious as to the typical “leave Obama alooooone” tactic, simply read the comments at the above-linked Daily Kos post. A commentator mimics West’s criticism about Obama:
“If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck … (0+ / 1-)
Maybe Obama is a closet Republican. He talks like a liberal, but he walks like a Republican. Obama is not weak, he is getting exactly what he wants! And all the Democrats that helped elect him don’t want to hear the truth.
The Corporatist/DLC Democrats are as destructive to progressive ideals, as Republicans. Stop voting for the lesser of two evils, because they are really the same.”
In response to this accurate critique (which the author of the original post even concedes, as he hints that Obama is indeed a conservative/neoliberal), a squad of Obots will surely descend to obscure and harass the critic. Someone replied to the above comment by giving a fake recipe so as to shut down any discussion on this topic and harass the commentator. The critique that Obama is a conservative obviously hit a nerve because the original poster is even challenged on this point (which was tangential to the main point of the post).
The Obama goons are ridiculous. Daily Kos is filled with them and they make it impossible to have a civil discussion. The site is purely a propaganda arm of the Democratic party.
So, some of the big companies in isolated areas are announcing fairly large hiring, to draw the rest of the small businesses to load up, expecting the economy to start up again. They are going to get wiped out in short order. There is 40% more housing than the population needs. The perps have 2,4,5,10, X houses that they cannot defend …
Think of those bonds the central banks are carrying for each other like the paper silver promises. Build your algorithm accordingly.
The load bearing capacity of bridges ain’t what it used to be….eh.
Skippy…fun too watch the gang loaded up with gold and wealth try and cross first…methinks…lol.