Bill Black: Roger Cohen’s Ode to Colonialism and Imperialism: Why is It “Insidious” to Want Justice for Banksters?

Yves here. One of Bill Black’s regular themes about too much of what he sees in the media is that it reads like unintended self parody. Roger Cohen’s bankster defense in the form of Scotland shellacking is yet another revealing example.

The reason it’s important to keep tabs on these articles and ridicule them is that they are close cousins of the Big Lie strategy. The Big Lie in these cases isn’t in the headline, but it is such a strong part of the thesis of the article as to give any one who actually gets through the piece a major dose of propaganda. And unless you have trained yourself to read articles both for content and for argumentation, it’s very easy for this sort of intellectual toxin to start rotting your thinking processes.

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Originally published at New Economic Perspectives

In another proof of our family rule that it is impossible to compete with unintentional self-parody, Roger Cohen has penned “The Great Unraveling.”  What makes the article perfect is that it brings together Cohen’s worst traits – and ends with praise for Rudyard Kipling, who set the bar for those traits.  Cohen is distressed about many things, but the first one that I focus on is his claim that the Scots’ response to the City of London’s elite financial criminals is “insidious.”  In the passage that he makes this claim Cohen denounces the Scots as childish Celts.

The northernmost citizens were bored. They were disgruntled. They were irked, in some insidious way, by the south and its moneyed capital, an emblem to them of globalization and inequality.


Roger Cohen, the inept apologist for centuries of despicable colonialism and imperialism, cannot even bring himself to feign enough respect to for the People he wishes to damn to use the words “Scots” or “Scotland.”  The Nation of Scotland and the Scots are reduced, like Woody Hayes’ famous refusal to utter the word “Michigan,” to the equivalent of “that state up north.”  But that is the point, only a Nation can demand and achieve respect for its People.  That is the primary reason so many Peoples have sought independence – including the U.S., Canada, Eire, Australia, and New Zealand.  Each of those Nations has been an enormous success largely because they chose independence.  Cohen crafts this paragraph to deny the Scots even the status of being a People.  They are reduced to being mere residents of a particular geographic area that is not even worthy of a general place name.

The Scots are not “bored” with England’s rule.  The Scots are not “bored” by the corrupt and anti-democratic process that produced the “union.”  The Scots are not “bored” by the fact that so many Scots fell and were maimed in England’s wars of aggression and colonialism.  The Scots are not “bored” that their young men bled so often in their role as England’s sharp spear that was wielded so shamefully to cut down the brave people in dozens of lands when they risked their lives to try to achieve independence and the ability to protect their families from the rapine, ruin, and famines produced by English colonial rule.

The most revealing and despicable word in Cohen’s attack on the Scots as immature adolescents (another direct steal from Kipling) is the word “insidious.”  That word means a subtle, secret, and treacherous strategy to cause undeserved harm to the righteous victim.  Cohen’s claim is that it is “insidious” of the Scots to be “irked” with the elite banksters of the City of London who “won” the global “race to the bottom” and created the global cesspool of finance that is the City of London.  The banksters caused the global financial crisis and the Great Recession.  The banksters created the largest cartel in history (Libor) – by three of four orders of magnitude.  The City of London’s banksters deliberately targeted – during and after the financial crisis – the elderly for the sale of grotesquely unsuitable financial products.  The City of London’s banksters became wealthy by leading these frauds and abuses.

The people then bailed out the banks and the banksters.  Virtually none of the controlling officers have been prosecuted or even had their fraudulent proceeds “clawed back.”  The Scots are not “irked” with the elite banksters of the City of London, the odious Tory mayor who slavishly protects the interests of the worst banksters, or the hundreds of “financial journalists” like Cohen who serve as apologists for the banksters.  The Scots are furious with the banksters and their fury is not “insidious” it is righteous.  Cohen indicates how deeply he is in the pocket of the banksters (and how willing he is to torture the English language) by claiming that it is “insidious” for the Scots to demand openly that the City of London’s banksters be brought to justice.

But Cohen’s horror that the Scots are “irked” with the City of London’s banksters is far more bizarre than I have yet explained in the context of his column.  Cohen’s primary claim is that civilization is “unraveling” and that it is vital that the civilized States “go to the mattresses” to fight and destroy the barbarians.  He begins with the sentence “It was a time of beheadings.”  It has apparently escaped Cohen’s attention that it has been the “time of beheadings” for many years.  Hundreds of Mexicans have been beheaded annually by drug lords.  (As I’ll explain in future columns, the British call their most murderous drug lord, Dr. William Jardine (a Scot), a “merchant.”)

The City of London’s banksters, of course, do not wield the knives personally when the Sinaloa cartel beheads its victims in order to sow terrorize.  The banksters’ $2,000 suits could be ruined by direct butchery – and if they actually used the knives they might see a murderer in the mirror rather than a “merchant.”  HSBC, however, knowingly laundered billions of dollars for the Sinaloa cartel while the cartel’s leaders were beheading hundreds of Mexicans.  If Cohen thinks that it is “insidious” for the Scots to be “irked” at the City of London’s banksters, he must be furious at Mexicans given how “irked” they are about HSBC’s hundreds of thousands of felonies on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel – and the fact that no senior HSBC banker was prosecuted for those acts.

But Cohen’s column also decries the failure of the civilized nations to go to war against the nations that support the terrorists.  HSBC and Standard Chartered took the lead in committing hundreds of thousands of felonies designed to defeat U.S. sanctions against a passel of nations that the U.S. government claims are actively funding terrorism (and seeking nukes).  Standard Chartered and HSBC trained their staff how to commit these tens of thousands of felonies in a manner that U.S. authorities would find difficult to spot because of false statements by HSBC personnel and the stripping of accurate information from the files.  When a U.S. manager warned his City of London counterpart that Standard Chartered’s actions were unlawful under U.S. law he reported that the City of London officer responded:

“You fucking Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians?”

If Cohen were inclined to introspection, he might have noticed a tension between the positions he thinks he’s championing.  Jardine, Lord Palmerston, HSBC, and Standard Chartered’s controlling officers’ view is that it is an obscene violation of the inviolable principle of “free trade” to keep a City of London bankster (sorry, “merchant of death,” check that, “merchant”) from financing the sale of opium to China, cocaine to the U.S., poison gas to Sudan, or nukes to Iran.  As the always elegant English officer at Standard Chartered put it, who are we, “fucking Americans” to tell the City of London’s banksters that they are not allowed to profit from mass murder?  After all, our effort to stop a voluntary transaction prevents a pareto-optimal gain in efficiency as any neo-liberal economist would be delighted to explain.  Cohen’s view in his article, however, is that there is an urgent need for the white man to again take up Kipling’s burden and make unremitting war on drug dealers (the world’s leading beheaders) and terrorists (number two in beheading and eager to be number one in mass murder).

If I did not know that it would be “insidious” to do so, I would have thought that Cohen should be “irked” at the City of London’s banksters choosing to grow wealthy by knowingly financing the groups that behead and terrorize and seeking to deceive we “fucking Americans” about this financing in violation of U.S. law.  Were it not “insidious” to be upset about elite banksters growing wealthy through knowingly aiding mass murderers, Cohen might even join the Scots (sorry, “the [bored] northernmost citizens”) and the American people (sorry, the “fucking Americans”) in being “irked” that no senior banker at Standard Chartered or HSBC was prosecuted for leading tens of thousands of felonies.  Cohen might even join us in calling for Attorney General Holder to resign in disgrace be replaced by a real prosecutor.

Indeed, if Cohen were ever moved to analysis and introspection he might consider the issues I’ve just discussed in light of the Kipling poem from which he drew his inspiration and the conclusion to his article.  Cohen might ask himself why he did not quote the next line of the poem.  Here is the full conclusion of Kipling’s poem.

There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.

That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Kipling warns that when “no man must pay for his sins” the system will collapse.  Kipling, for all his faults, would have agreed that the collapse would be prompted when elites of enormous power no longer must pay for their sins.  Given Kipling’s ideology and biases and his obvious mocking of the entire concept of “Social Progress” it is clear that Kipling intended his conclusion to assert the folly of trying to help the poor, the sick, and those Kipling dismissed as inferior.  But it you reread the seven lines closely you will also see how much better they describe the banksters who “return” to their “toxic mortgages” (“vomit” and “mire”) because doing so makes them wealthy by following the “sure thing” of the accounting control fraud recipe.  The banksters were “paid” not because of their hard work or skill in making good loans but “for existing.”  And “no [bankster] must pay for his sins.”  That is guaranteed to produce economic “terror and slaughter” through the “return” of the fraud epidemics that drive our recurrent, intensifying financial crises.

Roger Cohen is so deep in the banksters’ pockets that he cannot see that he is a leader in the movement to ensure that no bankster will ever “pay for his sins.”  Cohen has already written to decry criticisms of the banksters.  He does not write to protest the refusal to prosecute the banksters or “claw back” their fraudulent proceeds.  He does not write to demand that they at least suffer the loss of their reputations.  Instead, he denounces Scots who criticize the banksters as “insidious.”

In an earlier passage that is actually the recurrent motif of the poem that Cohen cites, Kipling warns that crises came because “we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.”  I discuss this motif in future articles in greater detail, but for now it suffices to say that the economic and regulatory systems became controlled in the U.S. and the City of London by virulent anti-regulators who “worshipped the Gods of the Market” and “promised these beautiful things.”

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  1. The Dork of Cork

    I have to say I enjoyed the visceral nature of both Cohens and the counter Blacks argument but I don’t buy any of Cohens product and I am suspicious of Blacks direct appeal to the heart rather then the head.

    Just to add about this Cohen characters “beliefs”
    “not because it had failed (refugees from across the seas still clamored to get into it), ”
    The UK is one of the biggest shitholes of the world.

    The UK union lays waste to the world and receives refugees , they are not clamoring to get in , they are simply trying to escape from the global scarcity engine by heading straight to Mordor.

    As for this beheadings lark.
    We all know what this is about.
    Its a macabre global. theatre.
    A sort of sick Vaudeville designed to somehow restart the war economy proper.

    “we are trying to make a international dish , do you understand ????”

    1. trish

      “suspicious of Blacks direct appeal to the heart rather then the head.”

      First, Black’s got plenty of that “head” stuff behind him to back any “heart” stuff, as anyone who has read any of his work knows. Plenty.

      But second, at the risk of appearing headless and blathering and blundering on with just my heart, how, if one is a human being does one look at all these seriously harmful things being done to people globally in the name of profit, to people like the Scots, and not feel it acutely in one’s heart? And occasionally express it? (particularly when it’s addressing another person’s sneer at these people being harmed and expressing it).

      Even people who, unlike me (a mere relatively-uneducated single-mother minimum-wage-pauper peruser-of- sites like naked cap), have economics, law, bank regulation etc under one’s belt?
      Why does the writing have to be sterile, devoid of the more human content? Can appeal to both.

      1. The Dork of Cork

        I am a unnatural cynic or at least try to remain agnostic.
        I sort of question the motive of somebody trying successfully to pull me heart rather then head.
        But that of course does not mean I have no heart.

        Why is this lying bastard lying to me ? is a defence I use when dealing with the media given its structure but not basic human social interaction which depends on trust above all else.

        Trust is only possible working within a village setting of 100 ~ max
        It most certainly does not work in internet la la land.

        Whats your home phone number Trish ?
        Are you feeling lonely ?
        Horny perhaps. ?
        I am sure you get the picture.

  2. proximity1

    While I’d first written the following to go into Yves’ thread “Media Giving Corporate Exectuives a Free-Pass on Their Value Extraction,” (*) I paused because I thought it was too long and word-y. But, reading Bill Black’s commentary here, I think it’s better suited for this thread. So, voilà!

    Some interpretive conjecture based on the picture as presented above (*)–

    These features are interesting for their mutually-reinforcing character (a vicious circle). Value-extractors, super-managers and vampires are all species of business executive who it appears happen to thrive in a degraded (and further degrading) environment since their operative assumptions are (apparently) that a vanquished regulatory system which would otherwise work in the interests of long-term corporate and social health, means that unbridled corporate short-term profit extraction is free to continue to degrade the corporate environment for as long as the system’s ultimate limits haven’t been surpassed.

    All that is rather mutually- reinforcing. Structured finance is free to devise ever more baroque concepts of investment vehicles, management will entertain these, lack of regulation will allow them to enter the marketplace where they’ll be free to run amok until they crash and others bear the losses. This leaves education’s feeder-system undisturbed, so it can continue to feed bright minds into the flow of finance and management talent. The revolving door goes on revolving. Corporate pay and parachutes are left undisturbed–and all for the same basic set of assumed conditions: as we’ve won the struggle against accountabitity, things now operate by a de facto boom-and-bust cycle by which only those seemingly most “fit” are thought likely to survive the expected succeeding shocks. So, lop-sided balance sheets, unused investment potential, mean that when things crash next time, the biggest players can again prey upon the weaker and gain by the consolidation.

    All of this is fed and reinforced by a “things are ‘bad’ –i.e.for long-term, slow, socially-responsible growth and, conversely, “good” for their opposites– and they’re very likely to stay that way or get even worse. We have to, then, keep to the course that accepts these assumptions until they’re reversed by circumstances beyond our control.” “Not only can we loot–we practically have to because, indeed, the city is burning and vandals are at the gates. They’ve learned from us!”

  3. Aussie F

    Bill Black actually understands Scotland. Most commentators don’t. Scottish nationalism is not driven by tribal chauvinism or blood and soil mythology, rather it’s informed by a sense of community and a desire for peace and social justice. Scottish social attitudes are similar to those expressed across the broader UK: overwhelmingly social democratic and anti war. The difference is that in Scotland the remains of a shared social ethos still enjoys some institutional support. In the England the institutions are completely closed off and the political class spans an increasingly narrow ideological spectrum.

  4. The Dork of Cork

    Wow – Bill is correct.
    This other article strikes home.
    Its a sort of Mawkish Materialism
    A strangely sentimental view of the satanic mill (efficiency).

    These guys don’t want the French to get bread in the local boulangerie
    Don’t want the Irish to drink in pubs.
    Don’t want connection or happiness related to the village bedrock.
    They want us to become atomic units of consumption.
    If this is not a jewish war on the hybridized Christian / Pagan culture of Europe I don’t know what is.

    This of course goes right back.
    The CFO of Irish state television during the 60s was from the Anglo / Dutch elite.
    There was a huge internal war between him and Gaelic Revivalists back then.
    He wanted to bring in cheap American cowboy films supposedly based on cost (I think there was a deeper reason) rather then spend money on domestic programmes orbiting resident people.
    Now of course Irish Pravda has no relationship with reality on the ground (in truth this corporate structure never did)
    But now it has become a parody of itself.

    The Gaelic mind sometimes finds it hard to express his true feelings on the world.
    But the suppression of these people since the so called Glorious
    Revolution must stop.
    I have never said this before but I see hope.!!!!!!!!

    1. nycTerrierist

      “If this is not a jewish war on the hybridized Christian / Pagan culture of Europe I don’t know what is.”

      Roger Cohen is a sanctimonious shmo but next time, could you pls hold the anti-semitism?

      1. The Dork of Cork

        Many times I have made anti English comments and got no indignant and petulant response from Hobbits or deluded redcoats.
        I have used Rab C Nesbitt scketches which many people think is offensive to Scots. ( although in reality they are not)
        But always and I repeat ALWAYS – the trout rises to the Jewish fly.
        Strange that……
        If you don’t think most non beliveing Jews are grossly materialistic & non local in outlook (read Marx) then you don’t get out much boy.

        1. Xelcho


          I appreciate your comments. I suggest that you consider, how our Mr. Black backed himself into the same corner by simply using information.

          I too find it very amusing how quick and acrimonious that trout can be. It is almost humorous how crazed he can become, yet as you said, non local and uninterested in the condition of others, as evidenced by your comment about how no issue was taken when other groups were identified.



          1. The Dork of Cork

            I dislike these knickers in a twist articles.
            They are not a productive use of time on this Earth.

            The one jewish bloke I got to know was a OK guy but with some strange beliefs , especially on nature & politics which merely confirmed my prejeudice ( I have yet to hear a Jew who thinks the Soviet experiment on the Russian village was on balance a bit of a disaster)
            But in fairness he seemed to be trying to break out of his Materialist worldview while undergoing some sort of culture shock within the back end of Aragon.

            I suspect many working class Jews did not get all the memos from above.
            Perhaps it functions much like Irish society with a division of Knowlege between Christian brother and Jesuit teaching (but never the truth)
            Anyhow I continue to believe that the bankers report to some Talmudic elite / priesthood with deep goals as the information around us points (screams) in this direction.

            I advise you to pick up this tape.
            Pi (1998)
            A jewish roboten stumbles upon knowlege known only to the elite class above him.
            Perhaps the best film of the 1990s (age of spirtual darkness)

  5. Clive

    Bill’s excellent piece above needs no additional comment from me, but I will chip in a diatribe against Rudyard Kipling. An appalling writer, his appalling-ness all the more appalling because it was, in places, so seductively cutesy that it can easily lull the unwary reader into a false sense of security. Heck, it was even a set text when I was at school, and my teachers back then were a pretty lefty sort of lot, I’m surprised they didn’t notice. Maybe they did and I just didn’t pick up on their counterpoints. Us Thatcher’s children were a generally pre-indoctrinated lot and most of us thought had little respect for our teacher’s socialistic waffling. Talk about (ideologically) Marry in haste, repent at leisure…

    So, parents especially, please, if find your children in possession of one of Rudyard’s little treasures either in book or kindle etc. form (or even watching Disney’s The Jungle Book on DVD) please treat it as a child protection measure of the upmost importance and remove the offending (very offending it is too) material from the child without delay.

    Yuck. Even thinking of Kipling makes me come over all cold and clammy. I’d call him the epitome of a narrow minded little Englander. But that would make him sound way too cosmopolitan. I was dragged round his home once (now inexcusably a museum). It was like Rand Paul’s mind committed to bricks and mortar. Even the cream tea was crap.

    1. proximity1

      Pompted by your comments, I looked up Kipling at Wikipedia’s pages. Somehow, all I’v ever read of his writings were bits and pieces of the “Just So Stories” and, from my parent’s “101 Famous Poems”, his poems “Gunga Din” and “If” –the collection is one from which I read over and over as a child.

      I found that Kipling encouraged his son to fight in World War I where he was killed. (Wikipedia) “After his son’s death, Kipling wrote, “If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied.” Authority was kind to Kipling— “In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and to date he remains its youngest recipient.” …”and his ashes were buried in Poets’ Corner, part of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey”….

      No surprise: Orwell was no admirer while T.S. Eliot was. I was surprised to read that Henry James, another writer I somehow never took an interest in, said of Kipling, “Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known.”

      1. Mark P.

        ‘ I was surprised to read that Henry James (wrote)… “Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known.”’

        If you actually read the great Orwell essay on Kipling, Orwell — while despising much (but not all) of Kipling’s politics — more or less says the same. Read the Orwell essay; it’s very fair —

        Likewise, Auden wrote in ‘In Memory of W.B. Yeats’

        Time that is intolerant
        Of the brave and the innocent,
        And indifferent in a week
        To a beautiful physique

        Worships language and forgives
        Everyone by whom it lives;
        Pardons cowardice, conceit,
        Lays its honours at their feet.

        Time that with this strange excuse
        Pardoned Kipling and his views …

        Unpalatable as it may be, many other writers — from Borges to, for heaven’s sake, Neil Gaiman — have echoed this view. Kipling is problematic, but if you read not merely a few of his children’s stories, but the novel KIM, the early Indian stories in PLAIN TALES FORM THE HILLS, the late dark proto-modernist stories like “Dayspring Mishandled’ or even Kipling’s science fiction, which is comparable to H.G. Wells’s, it’s pretty hard to deny Henry James was correct.

        1. proximity1

          Though I haven’t re-read that essay recently–and so perhaps I shall do that soon–I’ve have read and re-read it. My “No surprise…” comment was intended as praise of Orwell’s views on Kipling and disparagement of Eliot’s.

          Quick!– this is addressed not to you (as you already know a thing or two or perhaps a lot about Kipling, James, Orwell and Auden) but to other readers here—and without looking anything up, using only your unaided memory :

          How many lines can you cite by Auden? None? Well, then, how many titles from his poems? And mind you well: this is a much-above-average audience.

          But, based on my experience, I just don’t expect that more than a very few readers here could cite more than one line or phrase from a poem by Auden–and likewise for various poems’ titles. Most people, if polled on it, couldn’t even identifty Auden–or inform you that he was a 20th century poet, or that he was British. That’s because they’ve never heard of Auden. And, now, things being what they are, some of them are actually working in bookstores!

          I mention that because a little reflection informs us that this “Time” (i.e. the perspective that grows with experience’s distance from a once-present order) is completely contingent on one’s (and on people’s (generally) acquaintance with history and literature. If that acquaintance is generally poor, then “Time’s” perspective on the past is correspondingly poor. And as for our own time, our general acquaintance is much worse than poor–it’s practically non-existent. Wells–a fine writer and adventurous thinker–has his fans and so does Auden. But just as with Henry James and even a popular, populist, writer like Orwell, these fans constitute tiny little worshipful sects compared to what these writers once had in readers-as-a-proportion of the general population.

          Thus, “Time,” today, neither forgives nor condemns much since “Time” today “doesn’t (much) know shit.”

          1. proximity1

            Since re-reading Orwell’s essay “Kipling” :
            Yes, one of the great virtues of Orwell’s polemics is that he is able to present people and views with which he disagrees in much of their complexity, giving them credit where credit is due. This essay is very characteristic of all that is best and so familiar throughout Orwell’s essays, with their vital mix of literary criticism and political commentary. His presentation of Kipling is not one-sided. On the other hand, having just re-read it, I don’t think that it is at all accurate to say that Orwell says –even “more or less”–the same thing as Henry James’s “Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known.” Not by a very long shot.

            When Orwell can write of Kipling that,

            “Kipling is a jingo imperialist, he is morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting. It is better to start by admitting that, and then try to find out why it is that he survives while the refined people who sniggered at him seem to wear so badly.” (emphasis in the original)

            then I cannot reconcile those views with James’s judgment of Kipling as “the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known.” This tells us at least as much about Henry James as it does about Rudyard Kipling. Surely Henry knew his own brother, William, no? Thus, we have to suppose that in Henry’s view, his brother, William’s “genius” did not compare quite favorably with Kipling’s– I suppose that’s because, at a minimum, he distinguished William’s “fine intelligence” from Kipling’s “genius.” Offered a choice between a gift of the works of Rudyard Kipling or the works of William James, (or Henry James, for that matter) I’d immediately choose the works of William James any day of the week.

            One of the remarks of Orwell’s which most struck as showing its age is this one,

            “But because he (Kipling) identifies himself with the official class, he does possess one thing which ‘enlightened’ people sledom or never possess, and that is a sense of responsibility. The middle-class Left hate him for this quite as much as for his cruelty and vulgarity.”

            Note that the essay was originally published in the February, 1942 number of the periodical Horizon. Looked at today, I think that many people would be particularly struck by the pointed association of those having “a sense of responsibility” with what are called “the official class.” The vast majority of people who, today, have anything like Orwell’s political sensibilities and his discernment would not associate these two things except facetiously.

    2. abynormal

      “remove offending material from the child without delay”
      “Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book.”
      Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

      “I will remember what I was, I am sick of rope and chains –
      I will remember my old strength and all my forest affairs.
      I will not sell my back to man for a bundle of sugar cane;
      I will go out to my own kind, and the wood-folk in their lairs.
      I will go out until the day, until the morning break –
      Out to the wind’s untainted kiss, the water’s clean caress;
      I will forget my ankle-ring and snap my picket stake.
      I will revisit my lost love and playmates masterless!”
      Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Books

      1. Clive

        I very — very — purposefully didn’t in any way suggest or recommend book burning or the denying or what exists in historic literature or even that any particular texts shouldn’t be read. Those were words you put in my mouth (or actions you attribute to me taking or my encouraging others to do so).

        What I did suggest was that the output of this particular author was treated with a great deal scepticism and that while a lot of his material was superficially emollient the author’s attitudes were anything but. Just because it’s cuddly doesn’t make it okay to accept it unquestioningly. If you are happy to take distinguished-looking prose and suspend your critical reasoning just ‘cos it sounds nice, fine, but be prepared to have the wool pulled over your eyes.

        There is, trying to be charitable, a case to be made that Kipling was being ironic in some of his works. I don’t buy it, but people can decide that for themselves.

        1. proximity1

          Clive, Clive, Clive, (snark-alert!)

          Please, let’s confess. I was caught, you were caught–we’ve both been caught, betrayed by the “tells” which hang all over us like Christmas-tree ornaments. You stand there revealed in all your secret thoughts— just as I have been before you. And, unless we make ourselves properly penitent, unless we find and take the cure that we need, we’re going to continue to be pointed out by this master-reader of our thoughts as revealed by our tells. What exactly the “tell” was in your case, I can’t say. That’s poker stuff and I don’t do poker, I do expository writing. In that game, we go in under the terrible burden that is every even-mildly-self-respecting expository writer’s burden–we have improper thoughts and we’re narcissists if we’re only honest with ourselves about it. These hazards come with the vocation. A writer is necessarily his or her own favorite subject ( and that is no snarking matter, it’s the honest truth) –whatever the form or the superficial topic may be, the writer is always writing about his or her selfish preoccupations and interests–in essays, poetry, in novel or play or short-story.

          You did a pretty good job there of trying to disavow the thoughts which your “tell”-and-tale reader-advisor saw you having, that’s true. But, you’re risking the harms that come from denying that another knows you better than you know yourself. Or, there might just be a way out for you. You have perhaps a musical pipe somewhere near at hand. If so, then you could ask your most clever “Guildenstern” to play a tune for us upon it. It is easier to do than to read another’s “tells”, at which art he is a master. Confess yourself and feel welcome relief from confession’s grace.

          1. abynormal

            A tell or tel, (from Hebrew: תֵּל,[1] Arabic: تَل‎, tall)[2] is a type of archaeological mound created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries. A classic tell [your post] looks like a low, truncated cone with a flat top and sloping sides.[1]

            1. proximity1

              And you expect me to believe that your use of the term as you apply it disparagingly to me–clearly as a source of revelation to you (LOFL!)– is this archeological sense of the term? One not adapted by analogy to what you quite apparently intend as a psychological sense? Do you expect me to accept this re-direction to archeology’s realm as a rebuttal of my claim that your use of “tell” is completely consistent with the commonly known poker term?

              Then why refer to my “dark” tells? What possible ineterest is there in an archeological “tell’s” color for use in supposedly “decrypting” (no pun intended) a person’s personality traits? And, if that isn’t what your annoying bullshit here is all about, then what is it about? archeologically, that is.

              As a reader of personality, you’re a buffoon. If you actually “saw” into me other than in the most moronic and superficial of ways, I would not have had to explain to you–twice–that a writer’s pupose is to reveal himself, not to hide behind a poker-face—but, perhaps the embarrassing obviousness of this has prompted you to seek refuge in the patently stupid suggestion that your use of “tell” as you apply it to me here in these threads, comes from the poker term:

              “A tell in poker is a change in a player’s behavior or demeanor that is claimed by some to give clues to that player’s assessment of their hand. A player gains an advantage if they observe and understand the meaning of another player’s tell, particularly if the tell is unconscious and reliable.”

              Being plumbed psychologically might be rather interesting if it were done by a person of talent–but the interest would mainly be to the subject of the plumbing, not a collection of on-lookers. What makes you (apparently) think that you’re exposing other-than-completely obvious things about my chequered character? What makes you think these things are just as obvious to others here as they seem to be to your practiced eye? And what, finally, and above all, makes you think anyone else here even gives a damn about such stuff? If your prospecting for my “tells” is supposed to be for my benefit, then you’re really wasting my time. You haven’t told me anything (unflattering) about myself that I didn’t already know. Moron.

              1. proximity1


                above, I’d meant to write,

                …but, perhaps the embarrassing obviousness of this has prompted you to seek refuge in the patently stupid suggestion that your use of “tell” as you apply it to me here in these threads, comes from the archeological sense of the, not the poker-term: … ” etc.

      2. trish

        I agree…”remove the offending material from the child” is definitely not the way to go.

        I’ve read tons of children’s books, poems, articles, to my kids these past 20 or so years and run into plenty of things I found wrong/inaccurate/offensive/stupid..whatever (and sometimes in books otherwise pretty good), but unless it’s completely worthless (and there’s some of those), the best thing is to talk about it. a chance to discuss, educate, encourage to find out more, read more, whatever. a “teaching moment,” as they say. though my kids often said, OK enough…I get the point.

  6. The Dork of Cork

    @Aussie F

    “not driven by tribal chauvinism or blood and soil mythology” !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Have you actually ever been to Scotland ?
    If I walked into some bars and said ” I am from Cork boy …where are you from ? ”
    I would not be part of this world any longer.

    The soil was despoiled with the blood of millions.
    Take Massacre cave On Eigg – 400 men woman and children died in this hole.

    Eigg has some of the best (volcanic) soil on the western Isles.
    The land was everything.

  7. McWatt

    Bill Black does it again. Wonderful read, brilliant!

    “Catch-22 says they can do anything we can’t stop them from doing.” Heller

  8. Banger

    This is all about the long and painful battle to define just what “civilization” is. But let’s put that aside and leave our inquiry into what is called “the Wests” and look a little closer. I remember, back in the day, that the conservative critique, like Cohen’s was that we were allowing the barbarians in (jazz, rock n’ roll, non-Europeand) and their cultures to degrade Western civilization from its high ideals expressed so well by WWI. Marijuana was made illegal not just a way to arrest Mexicans, African-Americans, and jazz musicians/artists but because marijuana would cause hips to wiggle and get certain ideas into the head of decent white women. Thus we must hold tightly to the Protestant anti-sexual, anti-mystical, anti-artistic, anti-joy ethic and just put our shoulders to the wheel and nose to the grindstone and so on and so on.

    Cohen’s critique is of this type only updated. The rest of the world is filled with howling barbarians who don’t speak English, for God’s sake–how will anyone ever understand them? We have no need to inquire into Iranian culture to see what they’re about just bomb them because they don’t grovel at our feet in supine gratitude for our “civilization” to overcome their petty little one. Just read their silly poety and laugh–so primitive! Listen to their eerie crazy music–I mean they use these strange tunings–what’s the matter with them?

    If there is a virtue to Western civilization that counteracts the obsession with war, conquest and rapine it is that we have extolled the idea that knowledge is important for its own sake and that we can arrive at truth without resorting to scriptures but by investigating into it ourselves without being blocked by authorities who may be upset with the truths we discover. It is a strain that is not dead but is dying in many areas. Western civilization fot all its faults offers us a vehicle to move from an age of dominator cultures to one of sharing, connecting, and shaking our hips from time to time. We have been able to incorporate elements of many cultures into something that is emerging and positive. At the same time the forces of separation, domination, and, frankly, evil embodied by men and women like Cohen want us to destroy that which we don’t understand.

    I’ve gotten into some heavy conversations with pro-Zionists on the nature of Arabs and Islamic culture in general. They actually say that Arabs are sub-human barbarians who only understand force. And this is also true of many the neoconservatives and “humanitarian” interventionists in the Obama administration. Of course, as you all know, we must stop them as best we can from turning this world into one joyless prison camp.

  9. RUKidding

    Interesting, thanks. I knew/know little about the Scottish Indie movement, but I did witness, at the end, the desperation exhibited by the PTB who went forth to threaten, chastise, entreat, threaten, ask, threaten, admonish, plead, and did I say? threaten the Scottish populace to vote NO, including even the Queen being lured out of her well-appointed hidey-hole to make an appeal based on “togetherness” or some such hoary old nonsense.

    Some people that I know, who typically know better, were claiming that Scotland should vote NO, but then make Westminster/the City “keep promises” to make things better for Scotland. I guffawed. Yeah, right, like that’s going to happen. At best, Westminster *may* do some window dressing stuff, and I think that’ll be about it.

    These 1% bankers are so out of control anymore that they will deeply *resent* the Scots for having the nerve to do this. It’s my feeling that, in the long run, the Scots may face some sort of punishment and retribution from the City, and Cohen’s article points in that direction, methinks.

    Best of luck to the Scots. I admire their stand, and I’m glad they did it. I hope they can parlay it into something better for themselves, but time will tell.

  10. fosforos

    Bill Black is almost entirely on target, but one statement is totally wrong. Standard Charter, for all its crimes,was not charged with, nor did it ever, “sell nukes to Iran.” It presumably evaded US sanctions by handling ordinary commercial transactions in a perfectly legal way. It is the US sanctions that are the criminal acts–economic warfare against a country that has consistently been the victim of US subversion (cf. Mossadegh), US-supported military aggression (Saddam), US/Israeli sabotage (Stuxnet), Mossadish assassinations of scientists–and consistently ever-tightening “Sanctions.” “Peaceful Nuclear Energy” is as stupid a delusion for Iranians as for everyone else, and the Iranian regime (like the US Congress) has its full share of theocratic fanatics, but that has nothing to do with Standard Chartered or with that nonexistent “nuclear [weapons] program.” What is involved is economic warfare by an imperial government with utter contempt for its own allies.

  11. MikeNY

    That column was an embarrassment for Cohen. One of the best comments on it I read was, “It was a time of melodrama.”

    1. trish

      I honestly couldn’t get through it. I tried, but it was too much. couldn’t stomach it. god. unintentional self-parody is right.
      and writing like that says a LOT about what cohen thinks of himself as a writer. what an inflated sense of himself. but I guess being one of the regular NYT columnists…

  12. Deloss

    For a good time, look up the history of HSBC on Wikipedia. It starts with the founding of the bank to get a piece of the opium-into-China trade. I can’t say it goes downhill from there, since it starts at the bottom.

  13. down2long

    Thank God Yves and William Black. Otherwise, would be dark indeed out here in the bitter and hopeless darkness

  14. Paul Tioxon

    “It was the time of beheadings.”

    Well, was it the worst of times or the best of times? In Philadelphia, the beheadings go unnoticed for the most part, because here, it was the time raping and murdering. It is definitely not the best of times.

    On July 25, a car was hijacked by 2 criminals, who raped and beat the woman in car as they drove it around the city until they plowed into a family selling fruit on the corner for their church. The 3 young children in the family were killed on the spot and 2 weeks later their mother also died from the injuries. During this period, a 3 year old caught a bullet flying through the air during a shoot out. Last week, a pregnant woman also caught a bullet and was killed, the hospital failed in trying to deliver the baby, therefore leaving 2 murder victims. And last night, a 15 year old High School girl, was killed in front of one of the city’s largest hospitals, Albert Einstein Medical Center, just a short distance from a major public transit center, Broad and Olney, where 10s of thousands of commuters come up from the subway and wait for the many buses that feed from the neighborhoods into the Broad St Subway line.

    I say these people caught bullets, because in these shoot outs, they were not being aimed at to be shot, someone else was the intended target. In what is usually a tragic ending for some young man, now, women and children in or in front of their homes are being gunned down by stray bullets not meant for them at all. And these are just a few of the stories of the death dealing that is going on, unanswered by the Pentagon, to protect the citizenry from an army of equal numbers to Isis who are also armed with AK-47s manufactured from outside this country, much less than the neighborhoods they are used.

    The pronouncements by Cohen about the irked and insidious Scots is a typical example of the false consciousness, a framework of reference consistent with picture of the world that the people with money and power want to promote and uphold. They do not want any possible perspective to take hold among the readership, which are mostly going to be the kind of people you find on NC, and not the kind of people who are car jacked and raped and witness to further murder by her captors. If Isis had done something like this, there would be no end to intrepid reporting and high minded denouncements of unspeakable savagery not seen since middle ages. Of course, the local news is not used to form national consensus in the same way media savvy Jihadists are used by media savvy corporate capitalism to just that affect.

    But, throughout America, we are victimized by savagery on a daily basis, without having to import it from truly pathetic refugees running for their lives by crazed, armed killers organized into military brigades. We have enough of our own right here to worry, not in the sense of a peaceful separate isolationist daydream, but in a clear and present danger just sitting on the stoop of your home, riding the subway or going to see a blockbuster summer movie on opening day. We don’t need the 10,000 mile away threats to cause fear and anxiety, we have it on the streets we walk on, the subways we have rode a thousand times over a lifetime and a never ending random finality of gunfire to reach out and grab us right here, right now and with NO plan for our defense from the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI or Homeland Security.

    When will the National Security apparatus make us secure in our persons, in our homes, and in our communities? Only from head – chopper – offers too far away to hurt us? And even if they send back 10 or 100 well trained killers, will they match of the body count of the killers trained right here in the streets of Philadelphia. The Jihadist went all the way around the world to become trained killing machines, when all they had to do was look out the window and hang out with the guys that do this everyday right here in America. Like a perverted Disney movie ending in reverse, the object of your murderous hate turned out to be the girl next door.

  15. Banger

    The national security state thrives on us not being secure and does what it can to ensure that by creating as much misery and fear as possible as we slouch towards our neo-feudal future.

  16. kevinearick

    Agendaism University: Preschool for Career Juveniles

    The majority flees empire, to build the next empire, global city critters trying to flee their own behavior in the countryside, depending upon natural resource exploitation, both to print money and set up their artificial scarcity toll booths, only to strangle themselves, again.

    With no exit, and collapse from the rot out, the majority is busying itself building a fascist government again, trying to wrest every last opportunity for extortion with technology, out of their own global population.

    If you allow the majority to tell you how to raise your family, with Family Law feudalism, a violation of nearly every clause in the US Constitution, in its implementation by the 4th branch, you get what you see, landlords competing to exploit your children, with isms, in a collapsing system.

    American Capitalism collapsed with the gold standard in the 70s, when labor walked out, and Kissinger was sent to China, for a replacement, and American Socialism can only collapse into the resulting entitlement implosion. Both are imports, from Europe, assuming that labor may be extorted with the occupation of real estate, because that is what their sidewalk survey, History, tells them, always with the same outcome.

    As you can see, those plagues in London were no more Acts of God than modern medical science is a solution. And politicians in Scotland are no smarter than politicians in London, playing both sides of the Euro, competing to lead the parade, wherever it may go. Whether the critters expand digital QE, do nothing, raise rates, or go back to the gold standard, they strangle only themselves.

    Nothing destroys spirit like poverty in the context of property, but peer pressure normalization to ensure the outcome, with nothing more than another false entitlement promise, upon consideration of toys, a false dichotomy producing arbitrary and then capricious and then malicious order, of no interest to labor, for gold, fiat or otherwise.

    Regurgitation and peer pressure review, in a positive feedback loop of make-work, to extend the status quo, is neither academic freedom nor education. Labor doesn’t repeat its history, but the majority does, every time. Buying and selling inflation momentum is not an economy; it’s just demand noise, which the Fed is only too happy to supply.

    There is nothing new about governing civil marriage from the pontiff out, with public education propaganda, revolving one moron after the next, followed by a pyramid of morons, between the participants and God, as the foundation of civil authority, where the excuse for extending the next duration mismatch is always the outcome from the last duration mismatch, hiding government from itself, with derivative noise complexity, until it consumes everything.

    “It is in universities that…the soul of a people mirrors itself…Higher education ‘fails to nurture that tradition of self-knowledge’ that has been the basis of serious learning…Like all such isms, humanism is a party label…trapped in the iron cage of reason…Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has obtained a level of civilization never before achieved…The university possessed only an administrative center that held faculty and students together…The ‘Renaissance mind’ had disappeared.”

    Thank you, Clark Kerr, the Chancellor at the University of California, for doing God’s work.

    For all the legalese of fighting empire, the University of Baloney only managed to expand it, because the European University is a feudal incorporation, whether it feeds public, private or non-profit corporations, and may only increase rent on decreasing make-work income, with an inflationary wealth effect temporarily disguising the growing purchasing power output gap, caused by the import/export scam among derivative global cities and derivative navy.

    Education was and is a mess. Brown is escalating the drought war, and Obama is escalating the nuclear war, be afraid, be very afraid, not. Ever notice that all three corporations take turns trying to steal ideas and destroy the idea-holders, expecting not to blow themselves up, when labor exits?

    No majority in History has survived distillation, but maybe this time will be different. Distillation continues, however, regardless of words manufactured at Fantasyland U. If a city critter buys RE in the countryside, expecting RE inflation momentum as profit, and increases rent accordingly, who is responsible for the collapse of entitlements?

    Your children need you, not preschool, brought to by Republicans and Democrats, Capitalists and Socialists alike, all of which share the hidden agenda foundation, but let the empire convince you otherwise, with increasing rent on increasingly vacant units, as you like.

    Parenting is not about being a slave to a mortgage, or any other empire device, as an example to your children. No matter hoe many times you fail to escape gravity, the process tells you nothing. Masquerading stupidity with arbitrary complexity doesn’t work, but that never stops the apes from trying.

    The majority did you a favor when it re-connected Family Law, if you think about it, because it has now subjected itself to fascism, embedded in every line of code, every device and every appliance it uses, and I am telling you how to wire right around their clocks, which you will find has many useful applications.

    It’s the empire’s job to prove that labor is replaceable, which, of course, it can’t. Whether you fed the landlords of feudalism, with civil marriage, is a choice, rewarded by public education, of, by and for consumption, of juvenile toys. Electricity learns, if you train it to do so.

    Remember that cartoon where the tree goes in and a pencil comes out? That’s the politics of civil marriage. How the latest machine works is of no concern to labor, except the price to save the remaining participants from themselves, the wage/rent ratio. Pitting specialists against specialists, as a means of control, to hunt down and exploit labor, cause the empire to crash, but keep trying, to place labor behind the Bell Curve, with Family Law, expecting a different outcome.

    Your children will face what appears to be majority rule, alone. Train them to train their own accordingly, to be timeless. Don’t vote for bondage, to fund competing hidden agenda, and expect discovery. History is never a guide, but for the majority, distilling itself into gravity with a sidewalk survey, on the other side of the telescope. Put away the telescope and open your mind, until you can recognize what you are looking for, your other half.

    Money is just an arbitrary extension of gravity, unless labor chooses otherwise. Fed and Congress are looking to each other for help, both helpless, and the dictator-in-chief is pretending to be in control, of in-bred behavior. FDR just negotiated a socialist face for capitalism, expending natural resources in the process, which is now coming unglued. Replacing physicians with scientists was a really stupid thing to do. That’s t Ron Paul should be saying, if he were sincere; heal thyself.

    $50T and counting…tick, tock.

  17. Banger

    It appears my longer comments disappear somewhere so I will be brief. I’ve interacted with guys like Cohen, from time to time, both on a personal level and in the realm of print. Usually they say something like the West lacks the courage of its convictions and is too tolerant of what they perceive as the anti-humanist “East” or “South” who are, fundamentally barbarians or “primitive.” Often these people criticize the West as having lost their nerve and who therefore needed a “new Pearl Harbor” (PNAC) in order to end the gradual devolution into hedonism. They want us to keep an eye on the prize–Empire! The New Rome!

    This POV, however is stuck in paradox because in order to creat the Empire it must negate then humanist tradition by ignoring inconvenient facts about those who are different in order to slaughter them with equanimity.

  18. Chauncey Gardiner

    Bill Black has hit another home run!! I look forward to his sequel.

    Not to excuse their criminal behavior, but regarding the money laundering I recall that it has not been limited to British institutions.

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