Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Oh the irony the irony, it abounds in all of today's headlines, the wringing of hands as pundits bemoan, "Who coulda known", the shaking of heads, as this or that is now too much, then old hat, the shrugging of shoulders as we indicate another cherished belief has been jettisoned or another War on Fill-in-the-blank has been lost, but not a word on the name freakism that is Ferguson. And not Ferguson Plumbing or Ferguson Carpentry, Ferguson Accounting or Ferguson Baths, but Ferguson Mo., and the three Fergusons that seem to be to be an ironic historical trio to line up with the goings on in Ferguson Missouri.
Historically, first in the queue would be Adam Ferguson, but first in irony is, of course, Plessy v. Ferguson, that being the landmark SCOTUS decision that upheld the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of "separate but equal", before being overruled in 1954 by "Brown v. The Board of Education."
Now, in our current Ferguson first, we're being shown the separate but decidedly unequal treatment of the racial minority in question, where this time it is the Police Force that is separate and the minority that's proven not equal to the task of fending off their Military-style attacks against them.
The next Ferguson apropos to our discussion is, although seemingly unrelated, gets included because he, as an advocate of the USA's taking up of the mantle of Empire it wrested from Great Britain, he espouses a philosophy that explains exactly what those, and other police forces, were doing with having military weapons in their armamentaria in the first place, and that Ferguson is Niall, of the take-it-in-the Chinamerica lexiconcoction: Chimerica, a frightening chimera if there ever was one.
Perhaps it sounds unrelated to the events in Ferguson, but the fact that the so-called Republic isn't one, because an Empire simply is not a Republic, not by definition, not by its economics and finance, and certainly not by the power of its citizens over the actions and directions of its government. To an Empire, the decisions it makes are based not on how they affect its own electorate, but how they affect those of other countries, be they China, Japan, Israel, the Philippines, Iraq and Iran, Russia, Egypt, Somalia, Nigeria, or any of another dozen countries, their citizens' welfare being effectively managed by Washington, with their local leaders lining up for position at the Washington Consensus patronage trough as willingly as any State Senator. Their voices and concerns are considered as much, and as Ferguson, Missouri, not Niall this time, knows, often carry more weight in his, our Black President's, decisions.
Now, whereas it is admittedly difficult to find common ground with the only group of people that feels free to refer to my President as a nigger, black people, those who call each other brother one minute and nigger the next, pretending that there's no disrespect meant, even as they feel quite justified in physically assaulting anyone who isn't of the same complexion simply because they called them a name they claim they don't like, yet is a name which, to listen to them talk at one another, you would think is their favorite appellation, the images of military vehicles being brought to bear against these US citizens is disturbing for a number of reasons, the first of which is the resemblance it has to the too-eagerly-resorted-to deployment of stealth technology against the Iraqi's in the first of the Gulf Wars by George HW Bush, once the Soviet Union was safely out of the picture as a restraint against unbridled US power.
The citizens of the US, not just their government, seem to think people, in this Globalized world, a world that one of the most rabid War-mongers in the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, likes to call a village, are far too ready to start dropping phosphorous bombs and firing depleted uranium weaponry on their fellow villagers. Either it's a village or its a world of Sovereign nations each trying to derive advantage by undermining and otherwise putting their neighboring countries into dire straits. Since it's obviously the latter, why is it surprising that whenever the US government has a domestic problem, they use the only tool that's proven effective elsewhere: Military force and paid assassins glamorized as "Warriors", but are nothing more than snipers-for-hire. And this is but one of many instances where we keep, and by we I mean black people as well as white, and maintain the separate but equal doctrine, not caring so much about the equal part, only maintaining the separate.
So when you adopt a term like Global Village to justify your ambitions to rule an Empire, pretending the world's just a quaint hamlet wherein every one has a voice, and then bomb the bejeezus out of a part of it, the Niall Ferguson picture of the US as World Police maintained via Empire Militancy always has a way of creating a similar dysfunctional dynamic back in the Homeland, Fatherland or Mother country that results in a Ferguson, Mo.wherein a minority, that insists on striking down Separate but equal doctrine while maintaining views, such as their cry for reparations, that are at complete odds with it. In this respect, the masses, as epitomized by the behavior in Ferguson, remind one of Adam Ferguson's comments on Adam's Smith's observation that "in free countries, where the safety of government depends on the favorable judgement which the people form of its conduct a mass of ignorant, culturally degraded citizens easily becomes an immense drag on the system, because they become easy prey to demagogues and applaud every attempt to undermine the foundations of that 'natural liberty' which they've enjoyed in the first place."
This reflects on the cultural costs of Kamikaze Kapitalism, which Adam Smith, the economist most cited by the Wall St. trading community as justification for giving them a "Free Hand" to steal whatever they wanted from whomever they wanted, whenever they found it convenient, and thus brought the world to the edge of the financial abyss, from which position they then blackmailed it into meeting their ransom demands, threatening to push it crashing into oblivion otherwise. But Smith had argued that no society benefited from becoming entirely "commercial" in its mentality and attitudes, yet that is what the Wall St. cohort and their bought politicians insist the US, and of course, if you want to be held in favor by the US (i.e. be allowed to exist), other countries as well, turned into, as they monetized everything that wasn't nailed down, and then started on those things that were.
It was Adam Ferguson who argued, contrarily, in his "Essay on the History of Civil Society", published in 1768, and which was richly informed by both Adam Smith and Hume, not to mention Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that commercial society, with its over-specialization and mental mutilation, destroyed the integrity and courage of native peoples everywhere. The effect of Capitalism on those qualities, he argued, is to eat away at them as they are replaced with new, self-centered, modern traits wherein the individual considers his community only so far as it can be rendered subservient to his personal advancement and profit. Humans become weak and soft, and lose their sense of honor and courage. They must have their creature comforts, no matter what. Freedom itself becomes a commodity, to be sold to the highest bidder - or seized by the strongest power - or used as an excuse for waging interminable conflicts all around the globe.
Ferguson saw history moving along the same lines as his fellows amongst the Edinburgh literati, but the ultimate destination would be very different from what the prophets of progress were forecasting, and the events that are being show-cased in Ferguson, Mo. are proving his more sobering views to be more in line with reality as it has unfolded. Kamikaze Kapitalism has proven his thesis that although it builds walls and ramparts, it enervates the minds of those who are placed to defend them; although it forms disciplined armies, it reduces the military spirit of the entire nation, and by brandishing the sword as the alternative to the civil establishments for which it has cultivated a distinct distaste, prepares mankind for government by force.
Thus, the last stage of modern history, which is exactly what the US claimed itself to be in its post-USSR hubris-soaked triumphalism, as evidenced by its spouting such absurdities as, "The End of History", Adam Ferguson claimed, Niall Ferguson boasted, Plessy v Ferguson denied, but Ferguson Mo. highlights, would not be liberty but tyranny, unless something was done to prevent it. Because "left to itself Capitalism would become humanity's tomb." So, as you can see, when I call it Kamikaze Kapitalism Kultur, I am not being overly pessimistic nor out of line with the thinkers at the very beginnings of Capitalism, including Adam Smith himself who is cited as though he were Ayn Rand, which only the ignorance of the polity allows to happen because they swallow the rhetoric, believe the lies, without ever bothering to take up the most famous book written by the man the Wall St. swindlers quote as justification for their high-handed abuse of that most precious of commodities: Your money. A commodity that proves again that what is separate, can never be equal, otherwise, what's the justification for the separateness?
Well, Power and Control, of course. The justification for everything, and the one that Niall Ferguson uses when he advocates that the US Empire replace their empire. Wherein Great Britain, would, of course, be separate, and equal, but more equal than any other country. So the irony in the situation that I mention in the opening paragraph is one we all share, but becomes more austerely evident in the racial component of Ferguson, Mo, in that a minority, one that has blithely accepted the subjugation of the rest of the globe via military ascendancy, riots in the streets and is surprised when that military might is then turned on them. To me it appears similar to the outrage about the NSA spying that Snowden exposed. My reaction is the same. "What did you think?" Do you really think that you're immune to the whirlwind you've unleashed onto the world? Such power without restraint is, well, power without restraint, Once you've taken the muzzle off the pit bull, it can well prove impossible to get it back on, or keep it from turning on You.
Posted by Robert Lowrey at 12:52 PM
Monday, November 3, 2014
|Voodoo Economix Works: Just not for You. (Hint: it was never supposed to).|
In an article in Der Spiegel, in which Michael Sauga wonders how Capitalism has "gone off the rails", he posits that "Financial institutions, focused as they are on repairing the damage done, are inhibiting the recovery". Well, maybe that's because the only damage they're focused on repairing is that done to their balance sheets. The recovery of the underlying economy, under the Kamikaze Kapitalism regime we've instituted worldwide, is none of their concern. And the damage they inflict on the rest of the world is none of their responsibility, as evidenced by the fact that not one of them have been either jailed or even curtailed in their nefarious shenanigans as they unabashedly reap enormous rewards for inflicting economic pain on the rest of humanity and the ecological systems we, as animals, need to keep healthy so as to eke out some subsistence therefrom.
And then he wrings his hands and wonder, what could be wrong? When the system that's been implemented is called, "trickle-down" economics, meaning that, at it's optimal functioning, it is like a huge dam, holding the output of the productivity of the entire labor force in one bowl for a few elites to have access to, and when the wind blows just right, maybe a little will lap over the sides for the rest of the polity to lap up before it evaporates. And now you hypocritically wring your hands when it works just as it's designed to, pretending you can't figure out what's gone wrong? So exactly what is it the so-called recovery is supposed to look like? Sauga refers to the "Real Economy", as opposed to the financial economy, in much the same way as progressive moderns look at man vis-a-vis nature, as though the financial economy is a separate entity that can exist without the real economy that underlies it, just as mankind now thinks, in its progressive hubris, that it's decoupled from nature and is above it, so its total despoliation is simply unfortunate. The language he uses to pose the question thereby answers the very question he poses. The real economy is now considered by the financial economy in the same vein as the Industrial economy considered a coal mine: the riches are to be extracted and distributed to the oligarchs who sit in judgement in a no power to the people arrangement that parodies the freedom it wrings from the rest of humanity while crowing about spreading Demockracy. Should the coal mine collapse or explode from the neglect of taking the simple steps of watering down the coal dust or paying workers to shore up weak supports, the resultant disaster is simply something no one could have seen coming, and therefore could not have been averted, so let's just clean up, dig out the dead bodies and go back to work. Of course, the miners knew what would ensue should the proper precautions not be taken, and warned the Coal Company, but they're ignorant fools, and it was probably because of their own carelessness that the disaster occurred, so well, come on, who ya gonna listen to?
So if finance is above it, it's only above it in the way that Kapitalism is above its proles. Like the description of Old Edinburgh, where there wasn't so much as a "look out below" before a chamber pot's contents were dashed out of a window above down onto the heads of the unwary below, it's only Kapitalism's benefits that are now or ever have been "trickled down", while its costs are thrown wholesale down onto the heads of those least able to bear the burden for the cleanup that's always needed in its wake. The mess made by their betters, which they curse and swear at the assholes above for dumping onto them, vowing to get up there someday and change things so that the well-to-do will no longer be allowed to pour their disgusting filth onto the heads of the innocents they consider too far beneath them to concern themselves with, only to, should they be successful in attaining the position so altruistically desired, forget the reason that drove them to such an intensity of effort, and quickly become in turn so ensconced in their Deserved Ascendancy, that they forget all about those below as they dash their own chamberpot, now filled with their own filth, out the self-same windows.
The fact is that in order for Reagan's trickle down to work industry had to remove itself to the only regime possible for it to continue to make its outsized gains by destroying the very air that's breathed and the water that's needed: Totalitarian China, where it pretended to go despite its lack of freedoms, but where it went precisely because of the lack of freedom. Industry knew the peasants would Kowtow to the demands of the Communist Party or be put into the prison camps and "Rehabilitation" schools, to learn the folly of questioning the policies of the Central Government.
And Kamikaze Kapitalism isn't piloted, it's by definition, laissez-faire, its advocates demanding that the beast of government be skewered to allow them to run roughshod over everything that anyone who opposes it holds sacred, because, how can anything be more important that making money, more and more money, even as it becomes less and less valuable, because it no longer is tied to either the productivity of the workers or the underlying economy on which its supposedly based. After all, the invisible hand will make it all work by magic. Which means of course, that the last thing the world needs is economists, even as they proliferate like mushrooms in a damp forest and suck more and more money out of, not the private systems that eschews their theories, but the public sector that embraces them, but is powerless to implement anything they suggest.
Notice the passivity in the phrase that Capitalism has "gone off the Rails", no engineer, no coalman stoking the furnace of (creative) destruction, no responsibility goes to the banks, even as in the next breath they're referred to as 'the engines of growth', ignoring that cancerous growth is never benign and that a runaway system will, all of its own accord, "go off the rails", because they've all been torn up, and will leave it to the now eviscerated government to clear up the rubble below as it moves on to a newer place to lay waste to in the name of Creative Destruction. Because, by their own definition, there are no rails, it's just an engine, a Market, that knows where its going and is going to drag the rest of us along with it even to our own destruction, because, its staunchest advocates, like David Stockman, who's featured in the article, are supply-side economists, dedicated to the idea that, "If you build it, they will come" (even if we don't pay them anything but subsistence wages to build it ... so we'll then lend them the money they need to buy it, at a cheap price, because we'll get our pound of flesh from the usurious interest rates we'll charge, which they will never be able to pay back, but that's fine too, we'll securitise it, and sell it to their retirement funds, and by the time they go to use it, it'll be far too late for them to do anything about the fact that there's nothing there but a chimera).
"Like the actor-turned-president from California, Stockman believed in free markets, low taxes and reducing the role of government", yeah, so as to allow the complete destruction of anything resembling Democracy by eviscerating the wealth of the middle class and thereby their power to put any restraints on their Masters. Stockman soon enough left the Reagan administration and started putting the theory into practice, amassing enormous wealth on the backs of laidoff workers and debauched Enterprises, plundering across the entire swath of the country.
Yet Reagan is a hero to all the people he totally stabbed in the back because he "brought down Communism", the only source of stability in the world, the only force able to resist the Full Spectrum Domination fantasies of the Uber Class that still lusted after what was left of the rest of the world's economies and resources, determined to pry them open to the rapacious maw of destructive creation of a new world order, where the newly ascendant oligarchs give the orders and the newly impoverished peasants get back down on their hands and knees for them to step on while economic writers make coin by publishing articles that wonder, "What happened to growth?"
What happened to growth was that there are far fewer people left with any form of security, and yes, a roof over one's head and food in your belly are more compelling than the latest i-pad, pod, or phone. You don't buy a toaster when you're living in your car that's not really your car, because you still owe five more years of payments ... Surprise surprise. And this isn't going to change ... ever. You don't see your parents, other relatives and friends lose everything they've worked for their whole lives, thanks to the machinations of the Central Government, via the Fed and their friendly neighborhood bankers and mortgage brokers such as American Century, Coutrywide, Wamu, CITI, BofA, Lehman's, AIG, Chase, Wells Fargo, etc., in short, the entire Banking and insurance industry, all run like a racket to steal every penny you've ever earned and leave you destitute, and then, without declaring that anybody did anything wrong, or that any thing was wrong with anything really, expect people to trust you again. They now all know, because that's what the system is telling them, that this is the way it's supposed to work. This is the system and there's nothing we can do about it, because it's the wisdom of the Panglossian Markets and what that wisdom is shouting in their collective face is that they are worthless and nothing they work for is theirs, nor will it ever be theirs. either the government-run banks will take it right out from under their noses, or the government will tax it away, not to 'build infrastructure', or to make a safety net, those concepts are oh-so-last-century, but to build more and more sophisticated armaments to sell to 'rebels' to funnel into the hands of terrorists, to attack "our" interests abroad so that they can raise taxes to build even more sophisticated weaponry to sell to even more rebels to funnel to even worse terrorists .... There's the other place your growth has gone to. Wealth squandered in exponential amounts to fuel the most-favored of our Destructive Enterprises: WAR. Nothing creates wealth in such prodigious quantities and siphons it to such a small, unanswerable elite as constant and unending War.
And remember, all of this was undertaken via the Voodoo economics of the Reagan Era in order to shrink government and to stymie its power and to lower taxes, and these same blandishments are spewed year after year decade after decade, and the government only gets larger and larger, and never so much as when the loudest advocates of shrinking it are at the helm, its power more and more invasive, its financial burden growing ever more unwieldy, without anyone questioning the premises upon which it's founded. The world has quite literally gone mad, and yet we can still wonder how the likes of ISIS can have appeal, as though nothing we've done could ever have had anything to do with it. Such is the result of being cushioned from the repercussions of your own actions while no such buffer is enjoyed by the rest of the world. Corseted in an economy that's so tied up by its debt that the so-called resilience of Kapitalism that's constantly trumpeted, has instead been rendered so rigid it is unable to take the slightest shock, or consider the least alteration in its assumptions, so anyone suggesting tinkering with its structure (ie reform of any kind) is accused of 'rocking the boat' and summarily tossed overboard and left to their plight.
This is the new Loss, same as the old Loss, in which, now that's it's six years since 2008 (the same amount of time between 2000 (the year of the tech implosion) and 2006, when the harbingers of disaster started baring their Dragon's Teeth), since the financial crisis, signs are accumulating that the cycle of despair is beginning to tighten its grip around the throat of the helpless as we start yet another spiral into the next maelstrom of Creative Destruction, of wealth, of families, of enterprises, of entire nations, as the ascendancy of the Market once again claims its meat and once again voraciously tears the flesh from those it supposedly exists to benefit, while our economic journalists will again bewail the fact that no one could have seen it coming as they wonder "What's Happened to Growth?", "How did Kamikaze Kapitalism go off the Rails?" Gee, yeah, I wonder.
Posted by Robert Lowrey at 1:17 PM