While Cyprus Sinks, France and Slovenia Start to Founder

The official sick man list of Europe has long been the PIIGS, or if you prefer, the GIPSI: Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal. As the Cyprus restructuring drama has moved into high gear, it’s obscured news of a serious deterioration in the French economy and the weakened condition of Slovenia, which has a population and GDP roughly 1.5 times as large as that of Cyprus.

MacroBusiness cited the terrible PMI report on France overnight, and quoted Markit’s chief economist Jack Kennedy:

The latest Flash PMI data spell further bad news for the French economy, with the downturn in output accelerating to the sharpest in four years. Again it’s difficult to find any crumbs of comfort among the data, with new orders and backlogs both declining at sharper rates and employment cuts continuing. Moreover, future expectations in the service sector slumped to the lowest level since the peak of the financial crisis in late-2008, underlining the extent of companies’ worries over a persistently bleak economic climate.

Quartz (hat tip Richard Smith) had a similar bad reaction to the Markit report:

To frame it in another horrifying perspective, the PMI of the euro zone’s second-largest economy was lower than that of Spain and Italy—and almost down to Greek levels (video), as Reuters’ Jamie McGeever explains.

What’s most worrying is when you look at how France’s data stacked up against the euro zone’s as a whole, which were also published today. While the euro zone’s PMI (blue line) and its GDP growth (orange line) have moved pretty closely in sync, France’s PMI has become unhinged in the last couple of years. And that’s bad because, as PMI reflects business confidence, it’s typically a leading indicator of GDP growth (click to enlarge):

….But even if PMI continues to fall, the chart above shows that France’s GDP has proven fairly resilient—especially compared with the euro zone’s trend. So things should be okay, right?

Probably not. Kennedy chalks this ”puzzling” gap in GDP and PMI up to the difficulty in accurately measuring service-sector output in the official data. The recent blindsiding slump in French industrial production may show official data finally falling back in line with PMI, he says.

That means that the gap you see in the above chart could be about to close. GDP growth for the first quarter of this year could come in surprisingly low. If so the country’s chances for a near-term recovery are receding faster than its leaders may be willing to admit.

And while the cognoscenti were wondering when austerity would hit the core, and expected France to take the hit, I doubt many investors have Slovenia on their watch list. But Reuters argues Slovenia will be next to ask for a rescue:

Slovenia’s mostly state-owned banks are nursing some 7 billion euros of bad loans, equal to about 20 percent of GDP, underpinning persistent speculation that the country might have to follow other vulnerable euro zone countries in seeking a bailout…

Commerzbank says “Slovenia is likely to seek a refuge under the bailout umbrella in the second half of this year”. According to Christoph Weil, senior economist at the German bank:

I think Slovenia will ask only for a banking bailout but I would expect the euro finance ministers would demand a full economic adjustment program and measures to consolidate the budget and to reform the economy, meaning it would end up being a full-blown bailout.

They will need to issue bonds in the primary market if they need to recapitalize their banking sector but recent history does not bode well for this, Weil said:

Since March 2011…Slovenia has not issued any more new bonds in euros. In October 2012, one dollar bond was issued -Slovenia’s first. Only one dollar bond in two years is a bad omen for Slovenia’s ability to tap into the capital market.

Slovenia at least does not have the messy issue of boatloads of foreign depositors. But Slovenia needs to issue bonds before June 6, which means its weak financial condition is likely to command more attention in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

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  1. Swedish Lex

    On France:

    The traditinal French way of kick-starting the economy by fueling consumption is blocked. Reason; Merkel’s & Sarko’s extraordinarily stupid “growth” pact. France is thusly tightening the belt as the economy is in downfall.

    Francois Hollande is trying to play with the cards he was dealt. Trying to increase exports to re-create a positive trade balance (takes years) and trying to move towards more high-value goods (more years). In the short term, he is in principle blocked from expanding the economy while consumers are in the shelters.

    The situation is thusly a direct consequence of Merkozy’s incredible stupidity. Hollande knows this and is now trying to work within what is possible. He yesterday announced that he will adopt decrees (by-passing Parliament) to kick-start housing, including by reversing some of his previous decisions to increase the value added tax on housing. I suspect/hope that there will be more of these announcements soon.

    Also, Hollande is keeping a low profile with regard to the overall euro mess. Very careful not to appear to be too close to Merkel (the exact opposite of his predecessor). Presumably biding his time before the German elections in September.

    1. notabanker

      Creating a positive trade balance with a workforce that is legally entitled to seven weeks vacation, 21% of which works more than 40 hours a week and can never get fired is an interesting strategy.

    1. William C

      Maybe we will see some intervention in the FX market to drive down the euro? I know that is against international agreements but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. I doubt the Chinese would hesitate.

      1. Swedish Lex

        Draghi’s improvised “I’ll do whatever it takes to save the euro” speech in July 012 came as a surprise then. Will he surprise us again, given the Cyprus FUBAR and the economy tanking?

        The question is whether he would be prepared to step into the middle of politics, again, and pretend that his measures are pure monetary policy, Bundesbank style, while they are anything but.

        At least he is clever, so he will consider all options, unlike the Talibans in Berlin.

  2. Aussie F

    Maybe Europe’s ‘suicide bankers’ are all members of a secret, Shiva cultus, determined to cast the cleansing fire of creative destruction across the entire universe? It would explain a lot, though their physical appearance isn’t really what one would expect after years of disciplined Yoga practice. However, the ways of the Vama Marga are strange indeed, transcending the grasp of mind, eluding the senses.

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      Disciples of Kali, maybe?
      So there really are such things as Thugs after all.

      1. diptherio

        I know you’re just joking, but for the record my guru is a worshiper of Kali and he’s a vegetarian and opposed to animal sacrifice (as well as human). Real sweet guy, actually. Point being, the thuggees had about as much to do with Hinduism and Kali as the mafia has to do with Christianity and Jesus.

        Traditionally, Kali is the Goddess that the Gods call upon when they have gone and done something really stupid that they can’t fix on their own (usually the stupid thing is having granted a demon near-omnipotent power…sound familiar?). She looks pretty fearsome, to be sure, but those severed heads she wears as a necklace are the heads of demons she has slain; ditto for her skirt of severed arms. Her job is to protect humanity, which is why she’s pictured as being such a bad-ass, but it should be noted that she is also merely a form of Parbati (being her “angry face”), who is the sine qua non of graciousness and approachability.

        Honestly, I see quite a bit of Kali Maa in women like Yves and Sheila Bair. I think the spirit of Kali is something western society could do with a lot more of.

        1. DANNYBOY

          Tried it, and it works. True that

          but those severed heads Yves wears as a necklace are the heads of demons she has slain; ditto for her skirt of severed arms. Her job is to protect humanity, which is why she’s pictured as being such a bad-ass, but it should be noted that she is also merely a form of Parbati (being her “angry face”), who is the sine qua non of graciousness and approachability.

    2. from Mexico

      In Political Ponerology, the psychologist Andrew M. Lobaczewski formulates a coneptual framework that helps explain much of what is going on. He calls it “pathocracy.”

      Pathocracy is a polity in which an assorted lot of psychopaths, sociopaths and other lesser charateropaths — which constitute 15 to 20% of any given random population — have seized the levers of political power.

      The pathological authorities are convinced that the appropriate pedagogical, indoctrinational, propaganda, and terrorist means can teach a person with a normal instinctive substratum, range of feelings, and basic intelligence to think and feel according to their own different fashion. This conviction is only slightly less unrealistic, psychologically speaking, than the belief that people able to see colors normally can be broken of this habit….

      Pathocratic leadership believes that it can achieve a state wherein those “other” people’s minds become dependent by means of the effects of their personality, perfidious pedagogical means, the means of mass-disinformation, and psychological terror; such faith has a basic meaning for them. In their conceptual world, pathocrats consider it virtually self-evident that the “others” should accept their obvious, realistic, and simple way of apprehending reality.


      [An] extensive and active indoctrination system is built, with a suitably refurbished ideology [formulated by taking an existing, benign ideology and perverting and corrupting it] consituting the vehicle or Trojan horse for the purpose of pathologizing the thought processes of individuals and society. The goal — forcing human minds to incorporate pathological experimental methods of thought and thought-patterns, and consequently accepting such rule — is never openly admitted. This goal is conditioned by pathological egotism, and the possibility of accomplishing it strikes the pathocrats as not only indispensable, but feasible. Thousands of activists must therefore participate in this work. However, time and experience confirm what a psychologist may have long foreseen: the entire effort produces results so very limited that it is reminiscent of the labors of Sisyphus. It only results in producing a general stifling of intellectual development and deep-rooted protest against affront-mongering “hypocisy.” The authors and executors of this program are incapable of understanding that the decisive factor making their work difficult is the fundamental nature of normal human beings – the majority.

      The entire system of force, terror, and forced indoctrination, or, rather, pathologization, thus proves effectively unfeasible, which causes the pathocrats no small measure of surprise.

      1. Jim

        But what if the creation of the EU, our contemporary plutocracy in the U.S, and Stalinism as well Nazism were not pathological in origin–but instead were regimes that were largely created as a consequence of routine bureaucratic procedure–an attempt to find rational solutions to successive problems of governing?

        1. from Mexico

          But if we look at the long history of “rationality,” all the way down from late antiquity (Plato and Aristotle), to the Middle Ages (the Scholastics), to the Moderns (Descartes and Hobbes), and right on down to the Enlightenment (Smith and his begets — the classicists and neoclassicists), what do we find? Don’t we find subjectivity masquerading as objectivity, all with the purpose of lending moral and intellectual legitimacy to some predetermined (read monarchical or oligarchical) social, political and economic order?

          No one has ever put it better than the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:

          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 itnerests are served by, the special privileges which they hold.

          –REINHOLD NEIBUHR, Moral Man and Immoral Society

          A close second to this was articulated by Stephen Toulmin:

          The function of cosmopolological arguments is to show members of the lower orders that their dreams of democracy are against nature; or conversely to reassure the upper class that they are superior by nature.

          — STEVEN TOULMIN, Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity

          What could be more pathological than clinging to the ficticious belief that the world is a rational place, when all experience, not to mention purely mathematical arguments, have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that reality is not rational?

          1. Jim

            When I look at the long history of rationality I do, indeed, see “the fictitious belief that the world is a rational place.”

            But how did this belief become so predominant?

            Could it be that our modern world view is a consequence of our dismissal of traditions as largely dogmatic superstitions and of our subsequent attempts to fill the resulting values vacuum with arbitrary “rational” constructs (such as the recent macroethic/microethics analysis of Michael Hoexter)?

            Could it be that reason itself does not have any rational foundation and that any authority it may claim derives from extraneous non-rational sources?

            Could it also be that since the time of the Enlightenment there has been an attempt to develop a rationalism supposedly unsupported by any extraneous value framework?

            Could it also be, From Mexico, as illustrated in your numerous citations from Niebuhr and Martin Luther King, that you are attempting to instruct us on a rediscovery of our traditional (religious) roots as a precondition for a general cultural repoliticization?

          2. from Mexico

            • Jim says:

            When I look at the long history of rationality I do, indeed, see “the fictitious belief that the world is a rational place.”

            But how did this belief become so predominant?

            The explanation I find most plausible begins with this by the historian Carroll Quigley:

            We have already mentioned that these Pythagorean ideas held and propagated by Socrates, Plato, Xenophon, and others were not tenable because long before, while Pythagoras was yet alive, one of his disciples had used the master’s own Pythagorean theorem to prove that space was irrational (because it was a continuum). This means that it was possible to prove the irrationality of reality by purely rational (mathematical) arguments and that, accordingly, the fundamental assumption of this school about the rationality and logic of reality was false…

            The continued adherence by the rationalist school to beliefs they knew were false can only be explained on the ground that they had an interest in these beliefs beyond their devotion to truth. Naturally this interest was not stated by these people publicly… [T]he key to the thinking of the Pythagorean rationalists lies in their fear of change and hatred of change. Beyond the ordinary change of the physical world they saw the social change that, for centuries, had been spreading political power and eocnomic benefits wider and wider. There can be no doubt that the Pythagorean rationalists resented these political and social changes and wished to deny the possibility and reality of change. Pythagoras himself was the founder of an international oligarchic conspiracy, the Pythagorean Brotherhood, which operated out of Croton, in southern Italy, until it was forced to flee from that city by a democratic uprising in about 510 B.C. Thereafter this organization centered in Thebes in Boeotia. In international affairs it operated in support of the oligarchic states and in opposition to the democratic states, like Athens. In intellectual matters it attacked Ionian Science, the sophists, the philosophic nominalists, and the upholders of democracy and human equality.

            –CARROLL QUIGLEY, The Evolution of Civilizations

            The rise of Christianity dealt rationality a blow, but not a fatal one. As Reinhold Niebuhr explains of Christianity in “Optimism, Pessimism, and Relgious Faith,”

            Unfortunately, as this religion was philosophically elaborated in Greco-Roman thought, it borrowed something from and was corrupted by Neo-Platonic dualism. Reason always has difficulty with an adequate view of transcendence and immanence. It inclines either to reduce it to a complete dualism or to a complete monism. As a result it expresses a world view which is either too pessimistic or too optimistic to do justice to all the facts of life.

            With the advent of Modernity in the first half of the 17th century, however, rationalism, or should I say faux rationalism, came roaring back with a vengeance. It might be argued that the motives of Descartes and Hobbes, who ushered in the new reign of rationalism, were less interested than those of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and the other rationalists of antiquity. But the outcome was nevertheless similar, and not without its downside. As Niebuhr goes on to explain:

            Pure science is always secular and horizontal in its references, and cannot express the vertical tendencies in culture which refer to the ultimate source of meaning in life. Modern culture substituted for the dualism and pessimism of medieval culture a simple naturalistic monism and optimism…

            The old mythology is sloughted off for being inexact, and a new mythology is created which is supposedly scientific but which ceases to be scientific as soon as it achieves mythical-religious proportions. Its laws are not laws at all, but projections of human ideals (“liberty, property and equality”). Its inability to discriminate between “nature as the entire system of things with the aggregate of all their properties” and “things as they would be without human intervention” (J.S. Mill) reveals that it has no recognition for the problem of depth and height in life. Human ideals are uncritically read into the natural process.

            The religion of modern culture is, in other words, a superficial religion which has discovered a meaningful world without having discovered the perils to meaning and death, sin and catastrophe. History has an immediate, an obvious, meaning because it spells progress. Progress is guaranteed by increasing intelligence because human sin is atributed to ignorance which will be removed by proper pedagogy… There is no recognition in it of the perils to anarchy which reside in human egoism, particularly collective egoism.

            But things didn’t pan out as the Modernists believed they would, and thus the optimism of pure rationalism degenerates into a fairly consistent pessimism:

            If anything further were required to complete the self-destruction of modern optimsm we have it in the tragic events of modern history. They have negated practically every presupposition upon which modern culture was built. History does not move forward without catastrophe, happiness is not guaranteed by the multiplication of physical comforts, social harmony is not easily created by more intelligence, and human nature is not as good or as harmless as had been supposed. We are thus living in a period in which either the optimism of yesterday has given way to despair, or in which some of the less sophisticated moderns try desperately to avoid the abyss of despair by holding to credos which all of the facts have disproved.

          3. Banger

            I like this discussion. In fact our analysis of the political economy should start with the sort of discussion about the nature of rationality and reality you have presented.

            In order to avoid more religious warfare western intellectuals decided that disputes were better solved through reason so reality became framed in such a way that only matters easily discerned and measured were going to be put into the realm called “reality.” In many ways this worked spectacularly well by focusing human thought very narrowly. Anomalies, spirituality, mysticism, mystery were classified as weird and outside rational inquiry particularly in the last century. For example, no matter how many people view anomalies whether they are religious visions or UFO phenomena they are all clearly hallucinations and or signs of mental health. We use reason to ward off the irrational which is precisely why we reality as it actually includes the narrow band we observe and the world of Tibetan mandalas and Santeria images.

            It is my fondest hope that we could begin to expand our view of reality to include the world of love, magic, mysticism. A few brave souls have ventured into this area with their reason as tools (rather than ends) but these explorers from our great poets to psychologists like William James, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are largely ignored, particularly by American intellectuals who act as if there were no such thing as the subconscious and other levels of consciousness.

      2. allcoppedout

        The idea of the majority as sane is flaky. The idea of 15 – 20% of pathocrats fits with the general size of elites across the globe. Didn’t know about the book – will look.
        Incompetence is more central to my thinking than insanity, but there is plenty of that.
        I reminded of one of those old films where the white plunderer heroes find a tribe under the heel of priest of a weird religion and pull the edifice down. We are short of the alien race to tell us about our own control fraud religion.

        1. diptherio

          “I [am] reminded of one of those old films where the white plunderer heroes find a tribe under the heel of priest of a weird religion and pull the edifice down [so that later the tribe can be put under the heel of the priests from the white plunderers’ weird religion].”

          There, fixed it for ya.

        2. from Mexico

          allcoppedout says:

          The idea of the majority as sane is flaky.

          Well I suppose that depends on what one means by “sane.” What does and does not constitute psychopathology is not engraved in stone, as the complete reversal between the DSM (1952), which classified homosexuality as a “sociopatic personality disturbance,” and DSM III-R (1987), which dropped all mention of homosexuality as a diagnostic category, demonstrates.

          But if you define “sane” as the classical and neoclassical economists do — “sane” being the category of human beings who are rational maximizers — then I agree, the majority of humans are not “sane.”

          A great deal of recent research demonstrates, as Elinor Ostrom points out, that there are only “30-40 percentage of individuals who act in a purely egoistic way.” “This leaves 60 to 70 percent,” she continues, “of the other individuals who tend to follow more complex strategies involving some levels of trust and reciprocity.”

          So this begs the question: Who is “sane”? Who is “rational”? Do we put the neoclassical economists who cling to the fiction that human beings are rational maximizers who behave in a purely selfish manner, or at least can be transformed into this with sufficient coaxing and coercion, into the category of “sane” and “rational”? Or do we put dissident economists like Ostrom into the category of “sane” and “rational”?

          1. Jim

            My bet would be that most of the creators and perpetrators of the increasingly authoritarian bureaucratic structures of the European Union would be considered normal people who would freely flow through any known psychiatric sieve.

            My bet would also be that most of the major players in our modern public and private bureaucratic structures, that forms the foundations of our modern U.S. Plutocracy, (including most members of the Republican and Democratic parties) would be considered normal people who would freely flow through any know psychiatric sieve.

            Could it be that modern organizational discipline and routine (in both the public and private sectors) rather than pathological individuals is primarily responsible for the drift to authoritarian regimes in modern Western society?

          2. from Mexico

            Jim said:

            Could it be that modern organizational discipline and routine (in both the public and private sectors) rather than pathological individuals is primarily responsible for the drift to authoritarian regimes in modern Western society?

            That sounds a lot like what Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil”?

            The defense didn’t work for Eichmann.

          3. Banger

            Jim you are right. It is the organizations and the rules that govern them that produce pathological behavior–I would refer readers to system analysis and game theory here. I would put the truly pathological at no more than one percent of the population. What may appear to be pathological are just players who want to win since that is the cultural ethic–these “hustlers” are, in my experience, merely honest and conscientious players who take what they are allowed to take under the rules–these people are not philosophers and, if there were a class of philosophers in this society, would be glad to take direction–but, alas, the wise are not with us–our system, which has developed a virtual life of its own, has weeded out wisdom and those who hunger for it by demonizing them and most have turned to drugs or something like it rather than face our culture that worships trivialities.

          4. skippy

            As an old commenter IOTBP here opined (paraphrasing me) ideology is its own DNA sequencer – human environmental control devise (see Milton Friedman et al).

            Vanilla greed still allows a significant percentage of altruism to exist as a hand break on pernicious greed, although, if pernicious greed gets the upper hand… then its a full blown case of eugenics for altruism.

            Such was his tale of caution, vanilla greed is a gateway drug to eugenics, which is quasi scientifically backed by wealth’s accumulation, as its the only metric the Chicago school deems empiric.

            Wealth = Sovereignty… personal sovereignty is a DNA sequencer see Lamarckian soft inheritance: Social progress:

            Herbert Spencer, the 19th century polymath, first proposed that aggression either between individuals or the state against the individual inhibits sociocultural evolution. Based on his theory of social evolution (from Lamarckian use-inheritance), he concluded that aggression in all its forms impedes progress by interfering with the individual’s ability to exercise his or her faculties. He wrote, “… when each possesses an active instinct of freedom, together with an active sympathy—then will all the still existing limitations to individuality, be they governmental restraints, or be they the aggressions of men on one another, cease. … Then, for the first time in the history of the world, will there exist beings whose individualities can be expanded to the full in all directions. And thus, as before said, in the ultimate man perfect morality, perfect individuation, and perfect life will be simultaneously realized.”[8]

            All this coming from a guy with a back ground:

            As both an adolescent and a young man Spencer found it difficult to settle to any intellectual or professional discipline. He worked as a civil engineer during the railway boom of the late 1830s, while also devoting much of his time to writing for provincial journals that were nonconformist in their religion and radical in their politics. From 1848 to 1853 he served as sub-editor on the free-trade journal The Economist, during which time he published his first book, Social Statics (1851), which predicted that humanity would eventually become completely adapted to the requirements of living in society with the consequential withering away of the state.

            Its publisher, John Chapman, introduced Spencer to his salon which was attended by many of the leading radical and progressive thinkers of the capital, including John Stuart Mill, Harriet Martineau, George Henry Lewes and Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot), with whom he was briefly romantically linked. Spencer himself introduced the biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, who would later win fame as ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’ and who remained his lifelong friend. However it was the friendship of Evans and Lewes that acquainted him with John Stuart Mill’s A System of Logic and with Auguste Comte’s positivism and which set him on the road to his life’s work. He strongly disagreed with Comte.[8]

            The first fruit of his friendship with Evans and Lewes was Spencer’s second book, Principles of Psychology, published in 1855, which explored a physiological basis for psychology. The book was founded on the fundamental assumption that the human mind was subject to natural laws and that these could be discovered within the framework of general biology. This permitted the adoption of a developmental perspective not merely in terms of the individual (as in traditional psychology), but also of the species and the race. Through this paradigm, Spencer aimed to reconcile the associationist psychology of Mill’s Logic, the notion that human mind was constructed from atomic sensations held together by the laws of the association of ideas, with the apparently more ‘scientific’ theory of phrenology, which located specific mental functions in specific parts of the brain.

            Spencer argued that both these theories were partial accounts of the truth: repeated associations of ideas were embodied in the formation of specific strands of brain tissue, and these could be passed from one generation to the next by means of the Lamarckian mechanism of use-inheritance. The Psychology, he believed, would do for the human mind what Isaac Newton had done for matter.[9] However, the book was not initially successful and the last of the 251 copies of its first edition was not sold until June 1861.

            Spencer’s interest in psychology derived from a more fundamental concern which was to establish the universality of natural law.[10] In common with others of his generation, including the members of Chapman’s salon, he was possessed with the idea of demonstrating that it was possible to show that everything in the universe – including human culture, language, and morality – could be explained by laws of universal validity. This was in contrast to the views of many theologians of the time who insisted that some parts of creation, in particular the human soul, were beyond the realm of scientific investigation. Comte’s Système de Philosophie Positive had been written with the ambition of demonstrating the universality of natural law, and Spencer was to follow Comte in the scale of his ambition. However, Spencer differed from Comte in believing it was possible to discover a single law of universal application which he identified with progressive development and was to call the principle of evolution.

            Herbert Spencer

            In 1858 Spencer produced an outline of what was to become the System of Synthetic Philosophy. This immense undertaking, which has few parallels in the English language, aimed to demonstrate that the principle of evolution applied in biology, psychology, sociology (Spencer appropriated Comte’s term for the new discipline) and morality. Spencer envisaged that this work of ten volumes would take twenty years to complete; in the end it took him twice as long and consumed almost all the rest of his long life.

            Despite Spencer’s early struggles to establish himself as a writer, by the 1870s he had become the most famous philosopher of the age.[11] His works were widely read during his lifetime, and by 1869 he was able to support himself solely on the profit of book sales and on income from his regular contributions to Victorian periodicals which were collected as three volumes of Essays. His works were translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French, Russian, Japanese and Chinese, and into many other languages and he was offered honors and awards all over Europe and North America. He also became a member of the Athenaeum, an exclusive Gentleman’s Club in London open only to those distinguished in the arts and sciences, and the X Club, a dining club of nine founded by T.H. Huxley that met every month and included some of the most prominent thinkers of the Victorian age (three of whom would become presidents of the Royal Society).

            Members included physicist-philosopher John Tyndall and Darwin’s cousin, the banker and biologist Sir John Lubbock. There were also some quite significant satellites such as liberal clergyman Arthur Stanley, the Dean of Westminster; and guests such as Charles Darwin and Hermann von Helmholtz were entertained from time to time. Through such associations, Spencer had a strong presence in the heart of the scientific community and was able to secure an influential audience for his views. Despite his growing wealth and fame he never owned a house of his own.
            The last decades of Spencer’s life were characterized by growing disillusionment and loneliness. He never married, and after 1855 was a perpetual hypochondriac who complained endlessly of pains and maladies that no physician could diagnose.[citation needed] By the 1890s his readership had begun to desert him while many of his closest friends died and he had come to doubt the confident faith in progress that he had made the center-piece of his philosophical system. His later years were also ones in which his political views became increasingly conservative. Whereas Social Statics had been the work of a radical democrat who believed in votes for women (and even for children) and in the nationalization of the land to break the power of the aristocracy, by the 1880s he had become a staunch opponent of female suffrage and made common cause with the landowners of the Liberty and Property Defence League against what they saw as the drift towards ‘socialism’ of elements (such as Sir William Harcourt) within the administration of William Ewart Gladstone – largely against the opinions of Gladstone himself. Spencer’s political views from this period were expressed in what has become his most famous work, The Man versus the State.

            Skippy… it is sad that we still suffer the ignorance of the not so distant past, that this thunkit could be called science by any means, that the examination of human experience is corrupted through the personal wealth effect – which bends reality like light around massive objects.

            Black holes are the wealthiest objects in the universe too! … sigh…

            PS. any ideology – ism that is grounded in this thunkit garbage is a bane to all life… whats still left of it… sigh~~~

    1. Jim

      From Mexico stated: “That sound a lot like what Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil.”

      Indeed it is.

      However it seems to be the case that the lesson she drew from the Eichmann case “on the banality of evil” largely contradicts the central idea in her “The Origins of Totalitarianism” where she argued that absolute evil is a mix of ideology and state terror.

      She seems to have withdrawn from her totalitarian theory after she covered the Eichmann trial and saw evil in the flesh.

      In her introduction to her last work “Life of the Mind” she notes that what she confronted at the Eichmann trial was something utterly different than a Satanic notion of evil: “I was struck by a manifest shallowness in the doer that made it impossible to trace the incontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives.”

      She goes on to add that the doer was quite ordinary, commonplace and neither demonic or monstrous and that there was no sign in him of firm ideological convictions or of specific evil motives.

      He was simply a rational bureaucrat.

      1. from Mexico

        @ Jim

        I have a copy of Arendt’s The Life of the Mind sitting here but haven’t read it. I’m going to have to spend less time on these discussion threads and more time reading!

        Danielle Celermajer claims that Arendt never sought to construct a consistent philosophy, that quite to the contrary, Arendt believed thinking is something that is grounded in the moment, and therefore what you say about Arendt’s philosophy changing should come as no surprise:


  3. Synopticist

    Looks like the Russians have no interest in helping Cyprus out, so maybe it’ll be a big depositor haircut after all.
    We’ll wait and see.

    If they’d planned this a bit better in the first place, a lot of grief might have been avoided. A bit less Euro bullying, and a little more Cypriot realism would have done a world of good.

  4. Malmo

    This is beginning to look more and more as if the EU wants Cyprus out. Once accomplisehed they (EU) will use it as an example for others who think leaving this arrangement is a viable option. Thus they will see to it that Cypriots suffer in ways unimaginable to prove their point.

    1. Banger

      I guess I’m not sure we can say the EU “wants” anything. I think, rather, various forces pulling in very different directions are fighting it out to see just what the new EU framework will look like. Right at the moment it looks like a further attempt by a coalition of bankers to put some firm rules down and lay a good groundwork for the new imperial/neo-feudal order.

  5. Rufus T. Firefly, Jr.

    Re. France:
    As a sure-fire solution to the country’s insurmountable economic problems, I suggest that Hollande immediately attacks another sovereign nation whose name begins with “M”. Toward that end, Monaco sounds like the perfect target.

    Re. Slovenia:
    Serves them right! Slovenia did not have to join this monstrous Eurozone. It did not have to join this gang of thieves. It could have kept its own currency. But no, Slovenia could not wait to become Germany’s “equal.” You did it to yourselves. You demanded to be in the Eurozone, and Germany obliged. That’s what I call a very stupid decision.

    Meanwhile, Slovenia, may I kindly recommend that you immediately make a very long list of assets you are willing to surrender to Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, the UK, the IMF, and other Western predators. I suggest you begin with ALL your hospitals, ALL your roads and railroads, ALL your factories, ALL your universities, ALL your utilities. And, don’t forget your pension plans, and any gold you might have. While at it, you might as well round up all your underage virgins (girls as well as boys), as an offering to your new Western pedophiliac “partners”. I hope you are happy with the new company you are keeping.

    Slovenia must be a very stupid nation, otherwise I don’t understand how else could it have joined the Euro in the middle of this disaster, when it really didn’t have to do it.

    Rufus T. Firefly, Jr.

  6. TC

    As long as attempts to paper over illegitimate debt with hyperinflationary monetarist scams cooked up at the LSE, collapse of the physical economy will continue unabated. The Weimar experience on this account is clear. For now, as long as there remains AAA-rated trash which to absorb the wall of central bank created money venturing to postpone inevitable financial collapse, the obvious effects will remain subdued in manners this article reports. Yet truth is the unviability of wildly mispriced, AAA-rated garbage currently permeating the trans-Atlantic banking system right to its core (most emphatically the U.S. Treasury) is but some number of days from widespread recognition. Then, the hyperinflationary impact of central banks whose philosophical leanings are fascist will become apparent even to the most diehard monetarist.

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