The Pentagong Show

The Pentagong Show
United State of Terror: Is Drone War Fair?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

It's All about Me Meme, Mimi Rogers, Over and Out.

Sick Decrees of Segregation

I subscribe to a number of financial newsletters. Not that I use them for investment advice, most of them are either pump-n-dump cheerleaders, trade pushers, options charlatans, or snake-oil salesmen, but they all write about the financial sphere, and, pre-2008, were the only source of unorthodox economic thinking, much of it wrong, as it turned out, but most of it at least questioning the grim situation we were in that was being instead hailed as a Great Moderation, a Goldilocks Economy, or a "DOW to 36,000", road-to-riches, that the greater part of my countrymen were unquestioningly buying into.

Some of these pundits were just blazingly wrong. For example, Peter Schiff, who contended, and in fact still contends, last I heard, that hyperinflation is going to blaze through the economies of the world, leaving all of our savings in a pile of ash. He may be right ... eventually, but in more than a decade, he's been playing the same tune, so why listen, having read his opinion of 12 years ago, no update necessary, as he's selling the same set of silverware. The same  thing goes for what were referred to as the Gold Bugs, James Turk and his acolytes who swore that gold would be selling for $1500/ounce soon (usually meaning, like next week, so divest from paper wealth and buy gold Now!). It just took ten years for it to finally do so, and then go as high as $1900 before settling, permanently it seems, at its current valuation. Which doesn't keep some of its more fervent disciples from insisting it's on its way to $3000 any day now, since it is only via Goldman Sachs and the Fed's manipulation that it isn't that high already.

But many of the newsletters were less prognostication mills than cogitation mills, like Comstock, Best Minds (a Texan runs this one, so I run the  other way, but his essays are very good), Eliot Wave, Maudlin Economics, Rude Awakening, and Agora Financial, as well as financial blogs such as Doug Noland's CBB (Credit Bubble Bulletin), Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism, Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis, Zerohedge, Wolf Richter's Wolf Street (formerly the Testosterone Pit) and Ilargi's Automatic Earth, with The Oil Drum, Resilience, and lately, Seemorerocks, offering more rounded news . Now, why I bring this up is that the apocryphal title of my blog, which I've never seen, even in those dark days before the 2008 crash when most of the sites listed above, that were extant then, had far better economic analysis than on any MSM outlet, or governmental (as in, it did little to govern, and its plaudits were mental) body, any reference to the Dollar as toast, never mind that it's the government's own machinations that are toasting it.

This, just recently, has changed dramatically. It is almost now a meme that the cashless society, the government's ruse to trap all the cash, or assets, in accounts where they are illiquid, is now a major theme, as in this Elliotwave International article, "The War on Cash", from their newest Club EWI report.

 From the April Elliott Wave Theorist:

"Apologists for governments, central banks and the bankers of the world are not content with the current situation in which people have a refuge. They want to make sure their confiscatory policies ensnare everyone. They do not want anyone to escape the trap, especially the most financially prudent and responsible people, i.e. savers.

Setting up a system in which bankers can keep all the profits on their good trades while tapping taxpayers to bail them out of all their bad trades is not enough for them. They want more. They want you locked into their system so they can steal value from your bank account without going through the tiring and politically sensitive medium of government bail-outs. They want to ensure that you have no possible route of escape.

How will they do it? By outlawing cash."

They then exhort you to log in to read 'Cash is King -- And Authoritarians Want Him Dead'.

Notice that those authoritarians to which they refer are "governments", and since the reserve currency is the US dollar, that would include the US government, thus, what they are talking about, at least partially, is the USA's War Against The Dollar! Wow! After eight years I'm topical. And for the reason I chose to name it that, although, to tell the truth, it was partially because I felt that the USAsians are so in love with War, anything with "war" in its title would get more 'hits', which it has done, but, as a googling of the name, "USA's War Against The Dollar", suggests, works even better in Russia, ever since the imposition of the US sanctions, and lately in Ukraine, because of the bellicose attitude of Washington toward that unfortunately-located piece of geography.

 The chief benefit of QE was the cheapening of the dollar to its lowest level in the postwar era. For it was for the benefit of not exports, which did give jobs a temporary boost, but mainly for the benefit of developing economies, to keep them using the dollar as a medium of exchange, but this puts a burden on the US economy, for which the dollar, although it's hard to remember sometimes, is also used as it's currency. Now the whole concept of QE brings me back to my last post, in which I show that, economics, if it's to be taken seriously as a science, which all economists insist it should be (taken seriously and taken as a science, both ideas which no one does better to undermine than the prognostications of those self-same economists), which therefore means it can't simply ignore the most basic of scientific principles, ie the laws of thermodynamics. In the last post, it was the 2'nd law of thermodynamics that I discussed money's relationship to, but in terms of QE, it is the first law of Thermodynamics which I wish to address. Namely, that neither matter nor energy can either be created or destroyed. Now, if one doesn't believe that money equates with energy, then one must then concede that it is matter, because everything in the universe is one or the other, unless one's living in a vacuum or believes that money is either dark matter or dark energy, in which case, however, you're still stuck with the slight problem that, dark or not, it is still either matter or energy.

So when the Bernanke creates billions in cash reserves and uses those funds to buy up more fraudulently package mortgages and more Treasuries, he is allocating huge stores of energy to the purpose of propping up the teetering housing market and allowing the National debt to soar to such stratospheric levels that the richest corporate "Citizen", the one with the most ability to help pay down that debt, or even keep it from climbing so high in the first place, Apple computer, pays nothing toward it, in fact, contrarily, uses its easy moneyness policies to borrow on the cheap and buy back its own stock, thereby buttressing its price to unsustainable levels and siphoning wealth to the accounts of its Chief Executives in a form that remains beyond the reach of the IRS, as it is in Capital gains, and not earnings. In normal times, those execs would be risking that the capital gains would evaporate in a stock selloff, but in what is the new normal, they have a patsy in the form of the Federal Reserve, that will make sure that such an event doesn't occur.

So what we have evolved, isn't just a simple "QE" as it's euphemistically called. The 'easing' in that acronym refers to how easy it now is for the Fed to use the earnings of the taxpaying public to enable Apple exec's to use public funds to pad their own pockets, load up on pilfered goods, and sing Hallelujah's to the wonders of the Free Market place and Capitalism, even as they erode its very foundations, because Capitalism's strength comes, more than anything, from its power as an accounting system. Just as your electric bill is based on your usage, your meter providing a record of such to both you and the utility that provides the juice, Capitalism's accounting system does, well, more accurately, did, the same, as best as can be done: provided accounting of who got what and who paid for it, how it was used, and how it's going to be used. That has all but been destroyed on the national level, with economists, the best-paid and best-positioned ones in the so-called service of the nation, being the ones who're swinging the wrecking ball with complete abandon, using such obfuscating terms as "Quantitative Easing" as the crane to swing it from.

It is this very concept of accountability that, as we're seeing played out now in the City of Baltimore, that explains the reason for taking such underhanded methods of allocating huge energy resources to a select part of the economy, thereby starving other sectors. Because when the inevitable blowup occurs, no one knows that the blames lies at the financial gerrymandering taking place at the heart of the economic system and instead lash out at the 'thugs and criminals' in the streets who feel that they have, now that their lives have been utterly destroyed and their hopes completely crushed, no other recourse.

In the title of this post, the Mimi Rogers film I am referring to is called "The Rapture" in which a mother takes her daughter out in to the desert and murders her, in order that she, the daughter, might go, innocent that she is, straight to heaven. She plans to make it a murder/suicide pact, although the pact, much like the TPP and its doppelganger, the TTIP, is reached without the consent of her intended victim and supposed partner in the contract. When she puts the gun to her own head, however, having already dispatched with her daughter, she realizes that, far from joining her little girl in blissful celestial reunion, she will, suicide being a heinous crime (somehow the murder isn't, which, had she been Catholic, she could confess and be absolved, so then the dilemma about suicide, but she isn't so how is the murder of her own offspring not a one-way ticket to everlasting torment? Anyway  ...). And it is this strange twisted logic that we have been living with for some time now, wherein we have to terrorize people to fight a War on Terror, we have to wage War to keep the peace, impoverish entire countries to get them on their feet again, refer to the world as a "Global Village" yet rain down depleted uranium bombs and send shock troops in to destroy the entire livelihoods of our fellow villagers on little more than a whim, and, as spoken by none other than that Avatar of privilege and excess in the name of Freedom and Demockracy, GW Bush, "Abandon free-market principles (for the rest of society) to save the free market system (for my own hand-picked cronies and stooges)."

But even after having confessed that the system as it stood was/is a chimera, a government/corporate prop, used to browbeat the masses into accepting the blame for the constrained circumstances inflicted on them by a well-heeled Plutocracy that's riddled with corruption that was directly responsible for a failure so fundamental to it that only an enormous government raid on the assets of the public, euphemistically referred to as a "bailout", could hope to keep us all from utter ruin, no one has done anything to change a damn thing. And only a very few have even suggested we need do anything in the least to change a damn thing, except to make it, via the two treaties cited above, more prone to failure, less answerable to anyone, and less accountable for the suffering it continues to inflict.

All this brought about by that same Rapture attitude the Mimi character epitomised, wherein you, who professes no belief in the next life, suffer, while I, the supposed Christian, who supposedly believes in said afterlife, set up a system to destroy you and rob you of all your worldly goods, because, Jesus, goddamn it, would want it that way. Mimi, naturally was jailed for her crime, but there's no one to jail the criminals running the country now, there's not even any statutes under which to charge them as they buy the Congressmen who make the laws, own the officers who enforce the laws, and control the judges who interpret them so as to fit their nefarious purposes and leave you voiceless. Unless, that is, you comply with their wishes, and shoutdown those who finally do rise up against the Corpocracy's utter lawlessness with a violent lawlessness of their own. Then, as reward for your submissiveness and involvement in your own destruction, you will be rewarded by being left alone in your trailer, or your cellar, or the back seat of your auto, which has lately become your bedroom, so that they can continue to pile their hoards on high and curse those hordes down below.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Equation of Inequality is not a bug: it's a feature.

Elle Presidente: Yeah, that's right Jebbush the Nebbish, it's ON!

Perhaps in the phrase "Time is Money", resides the true nature of Money that we are trying to tease out, and with it, going a little into the math of the subject, as opposed to Math as a subject, which is the only way far too many of us see it, we can decipher its tendencies and what their meanings are in the light of Hillary Clinton statement of surprise that money's so inequitably distributed, despite the fact that the "Fickle Finger of Fate" points to her husband's administration for its culpability in exaggerating exactly that inequality which she is now using as her pretext for needed Change while she pretends to ladle out Hope as she starts to stump the country.

Although I can't remember who said it, I came upon a quote from a man in the financial sphere claiming that, contrary to popular belief, most of the advances in mathematics during the last century or so came, not from the scientific field, but from the realm of economics/finance. Nassim Taleb (author of Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, and Opacity) would perhaps be more in tune with this phenomena, as well as a good example of its veracity, but the formula which I've been lately interested in refutes that belief, as it is the most famous one in the history of mathematics, namely Einstein's E=MCsquared.

We often forget that within this formula is embedded the concept of energy as a function, not only of matter, (the E and the M), but also, as represented by C, given that it is the speed of light, of time, as it contains within it the distance that light travels as measured in a snapshot of time, namely, the 186,000 miles it travels in 1 second. You can therefore solve the problem, not only for matter, but for time instead, such that E/M=C(squared), making it mathematically obvious that if time is indeed money, then money, and its velocity, is indeed a function of both energy and matter.

Although this seems a bit abstracted and even beside the point, prompting one to perhaps ask, "What does it matter?", if not "What is the Matter?", there are two other important bits to be considered. First, that information is physical, and second, the second law of Thermodynamics, which states that states of low entropy always degrade to those of high entropy without an external source of constraint. Hydrogen atoms will never coalesce into helium without the incredible forces of gravity that pack them so tightly they form a new structure, helium, with the aid of nuclear fusion, in the heart of stars.

In other words, money, a form of energy, doesn't by its nature accrue into the hands of a few without the economic system in which it is active being structured in such a way as to concentrate it in that arrangement. Then, once so concentrated, it would, in obedience to the second law of thermodynamics, of its own accord, become less concentrated, unless there were an opposing force that kept it from doing so. Therefore, since its conglomeration has undeniably been, like climate change, accelerating, (I mean, if a presidential candidate is addressing the problem, it must be real, n'est-ce pas?) then like climate change, the fact that it isn't being addressed, and the underlying causes investigated, there has to be a reason for this laxity. Someone who we might think would want to know why this is happening, must instead, like Hillary Clinton herself, be profiting from the phenomenon they are supposed to be so concerned about but, because it is a boon to their own circumstances, is not only uninterested in ferreting out it roots, but is, on the contrary, intent on keeping them as opaque as possible.

A business is a good example of what, in the classical capitalistic systems, we can liken to the stars' engine. Whereby initially, dollars are concentrated for the intended purpose of building a factory that manufactures pants, let's say. The investors deliberately concentrate the disparate dollars into investment pools, which are then disbursed to the various entities that have to be brought together to build the plant, and then to the workers who run it, the consumers being the method by which those invested dollars are then attracted back to the factory owners just as hydrogen is gravitationally pulled further into the heart of a star.

Now, just as a star accumulates in its center, via a gravitational pull so intense it further restructures the atoms in order to avoid collapse, into other elements, the business accumulated gold, usually referred to as profits, and did so in such an excess, its gravitational pull being irresistible, that keeping all that gold was beginning to take more of the company's resources than it was actually using in conducting its business, and that's when we needed a banking industry to disburse it back out, to intermediate between accumulation and disbursement, in the form of dividend payments to those investors who initially were responsible for the concentration of capital in the first place. Like the radiance of the sun, it needed to rid itself of the waste heat from its activities.

These banking institutions, however, were not incorporated in order to perform a public service, but, like the businesses they served, to make a profit from those services without, this time, providing anything tangible from their operations. It is this aspect of its business model that apparently, from the history of such institutions, invites the least competent, and therefore, most parasitic, of the greedy into its employ, so that eventually one bank failing after another, as its funds are either embezzled or simply absconded with, causes the rabble to rise up and demand that the government either take over the industry or regulate or at least guarantee, its honest functioning, insuring that its citizens' funds, entrusted to such institutions, would be, not only returned to them, but that they should be, just like the investors that risked their dollars to build the factories receive dividends as recompense, have their trust, which always entails risk, since it can be misplaced, rewarded, only this time in the form of interest payments.

Now, all of theses ancillary industries, one of which, insurance, has only been hinted at, but which, as in the case of the FDIC, also extract from the profits being spun off from the productive enterprise of the pants factory, result in the need of charging more and more for the same pair of pants unless the industry can either cut expenses of its various inputs, (energy, raw materials, and labor), or raise the price it charges for the end product.

And just as it happened time and again that banks failed, what happens hand in hand with that is that the intermediaries, those in the ancillary industries of what has lately been referred to as FIRE -Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate, and the employees thereof, elevate their importance in their own minds, such that, like the miners in Upton Sinclair's, "King Coal", or Emil Zola's, "Germinal", workers become of secondary importance, their contribution, although at the very heart of the entire structure and the foundation upon which all the rest is leveraged, are conspired against. Consequently it is their wages, as well as their numbers, that are considered to be one of the more onerous costs of the enterprise, and hence are targeted as being in need of reduction and eventual eradication.

Thus does enterprise take upon itself the work that landowners once had, as illustrated by one of Scotland's history's saddest chapters known as The Clearances, wherein tens of thousands of Highland residents were evicted from their ancestral lands by the landowners in order to facilitate the more profitable enterprise of the grazing of sheep. In this episode that we still hear the echos of today in the voice of Alvin Toffler, as he used the sobriquet of the "electronic cottage" to assuage industry's conscience at the eviction of tens of thousands from their jobs, their tasks replaced with computerized apps, Duncan Forbes expressed a similar sentiment during The Clearances with the wish that the tenants' now-idled hands would be free to work the land for himself. It enabled just the opposite, however, and instead freed the hands of the chieftains to treat people as temporary tenants who could remain on the land if they could afford it, but otherwise would have to go.

With the same dynamic at work today, with the FIRE blazing across the landscape, first selling people the electronic cottages, but then, instead of the electronic part of these cottages enabling the revenue stream Toffler envisioned, contrarily creating a revenue drain as devise after devise becomes, not a luxury, but like most luxuries, which come as a guest but take a slave, result in the inability to maintain residency in said domicile for more than a fraction of the time necessary to pay the 30 year mortgage, and instead being subjected to the 21'st Century version of The Clearances as millions now, instead of the tens of thousand then (1807 -1821 or so), are thrown into the street. The difference being that, this time, there is no relief valve of America to flee to, only penury, despair, and early death.

To this end, an entire industry, ready-made under the auspices of government investment, the computer industry, was called into play, to increase the productivity of said workers such that fewer of them would be needed to produce the same, and indeed, increasing, amount of output. But now, how to pay for the increasing energy costs as those were the new expenses taking the place of the workers, and thus management, now with no one left to manage, had to go.

Yet with all this decimation of the workforce, one layer, the intermediary known as banking, together with its stepchild, the computer industry, far from shrinking with it, not only kept on growing, but was now growing exponentially, since much of the R&D that went into creating it was never borne by the industries that benefited the most from it, but was instead, since it was being done by the military for their own nefarious purposes, and then handed over to what is cynically referred to as the "private sector" which wrangled all these marvels out of the hands of the military that got its monies from taxing the very people that were being thrown out of their jobs, and their homes, that is, the very public on whose backs these so-called entrepreneurs used the government to wrest the funds for the research, and who took on the risk, albeit unknown to them, as military spending on technical R&D is largely kept secret under the auspices of "National Security", needing a conduit through which to funnel those funds, and then one to offload the risk of selling houses to people whose jobs were being systematically eliminated, fostered an entire shadow banking industry to hide those risks from investors and have it also be borne, once again unknowingly, by a hoodwinked public that was entirely convinced that their prosperity was assured and their fortunes rising as inexorably as the star in the East.

But like the dot-com boom before it this chimera came crashing down, pulled to the ground by the absurdity of its own pretensions, but, unlike the dot-com boom which used Ponzi-dynamics to turn the housing market into a pyramid scheme, there was no ready-made new collusion waiting in the wings to put into place. There is only what we are seeing the last fumes of now, a pretense that we can just get the whole gas bag back up in the sky by filling it with what by now everyone already knows is just hot air, desperately pumped by desperados feuding a public's newly acknowledged desperation.

But the equation doesn't work for another reason. The scenario of the factory outlined at the start of this essay, even if it were humming along in full productivity, couldn't afford the overhead of the current banking system, not in the new modern monstrous TBTF proportions it has taken, yet that now performs few of the services for which it was first devised. The energy in the equation is no longer viable. Like the rainforests, that have been, via the machinations of man, turned from being carbon sinks, which provided so much oxygen to the atmosphere they were referred to by scientists as the "lungs of the planet", been transformed into carbon generators, the banks have similarly reversed their roles, and far from being facilitators of commerce, are instead, like all the components of FIRE, parasites on the body of commerce, sucking in more and more of the money, ie energy, needed by industry, to fuel the conflagration that is turning entire industries that took mankind centuries to construct, into a pile of ash. The very machine they used to help wipe out those millions of jobs had done to them what Amazon has done to bookstores, or MacDonald's to local restaurants, or Home Depot to your local hardware store, or War-Mart to entire downtowns: made their existence untenable. Because, just as those industries suck the life out of Downtowns, by the very nature of Monopolization whose operations and consequently, jobs, have, thanks to the computer, become more and more centralized, thus concentrating their currency flows into a reservoir from which there is no flow back to the communities, dammed up, the turbines of commerce without the great torrents turning their blades, but by design been and trumpeted as having been, to a strangely complaisant public, reduced to a trickle, can naturally create none of the energy, in the form of flow of funds, necessary to provide any enterprising populace with anything but a trickle of current: thus instead of dollars, all we get is the promised loose "Change".

 And now, The Bush and The Clinton, harking from the two families most responsible for the complete perversion of our economy into a Ponzi scheme that channels its output into the hands of an insatiable Plutocracy of Vampires, blithely comes back for more. Yet there is no outrage; there is no one throwing shoes at their heads, there is nothing but a constrained silence and a muted acceptance of the fate we all see  awaiting us. And you think ISIS are the crazy ones? You think the Muslims are the nuts? That's perhaps because what the Banksters have done to you is nothing compared to what they've done to the rest of the world, and you still reside in the heart of the beast. But that heart, if we include all the OECD nations it encompasses, is only inclusive of barely a billion of the 7 billions of humans on the planet. And despite the miracle of the emerging economies, those billions' lot is to have the rest of their countries' resources siphoned off, confiscated to serve our needs, their labor used to maintain the crumbling edifice of the West, and that is what I suspect gives ISIS and groups like it their strength. But by including Russia in the list of countries we believe we can despoil, I believe that Washington has made a grave error in judgement.

Because, now, no matter whether it's Clinton or Bush, we will be giving the stamp of approval to the government, something ,strangely enough, the peoples of the world have expressed, they don't believe we had, up to now, done. Although there is no explanation I can find that rationally explains this phenomenon, the people of the US, which is the one country on the planet one could refer to as the Avatar of Democracy, if asked to do so in a poll, are always forgiven for the actions of our government. In country after country, I see its citizens quoted as saying as much. Yet, in one Dictatorship after another, many of whom, such as Mubarak and Saddam, received overt support from the US government, their citizens, as evidenced by the repeated use of sanctions aimed directly at them, not their leader, are blamed for the actions of THEIR government. Thus could Madeleine Albright state, while Secretary of State in the Clinton Administration, that she thinks the deaths of half a million Iraqi children due to sanctions were "worth the price"; somehow I think those kids would disagree ... if they could ...only they're dead. Now in Russia, we are squeezing their citizens to revolt against the policies of a ruler we describe as a dictator, meaning he will simply jail, or even kill, those who oppose him, yet we expect them to risk their lives and do so. Whereas here, we do nothing, despite full scale assaults, drone attacks, and illegal sanctions, while they continue to think it's only our government, not we poor well-intentioned citizens, that's forcing the sanctions against them.

I think this next election, given the likely outcome, will take that free pass away. They will finally realize that, if failing to overthrow a Dictator who will gas you in the night leaves you responsible for his continued rule, then it follows that Democracy inaction must also equal complicity. Unless, that is, there is an escalation of the militarism of the police and the world gets to sees what we all dread, even at this far remove from the shootings at Kent State, is true, but have not quite put to the test, as we prefer to quail in silence, hiding the secret knowledge that should mass protests in fact be undertaken, the government response, a preview of which we were privy to in Ferguson last year and dark hints of which are evidenced by the armamentaria being amassed by police forces around the country, may look much more like one you would expect from a dictatorship than what you might think could happen in a Democracy. And should that occur, the true nature of our own government will be revealed, and we may not like what we see.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Putin' Money on The Global Recovery's not ending in a pile of Ruble.

The Yankees' game may be in its last innings.

While the Financial Times worries about the global recovery's risk of stalling, Dimon Jim, the crook running Chase, warns of another bank-caused crash (although he, naturally, did not mention the fact that it's the banks, once again, or more accurately, the shysters running them, that'll cause it), even as his nemesis as well as co-conspiratorial TBTF bank, Wells Fargo, per the WSJ, warms up to risk, mayhaps the very same risk Dimon Jim's worrying about.

Meanwhile financial analysts are worried that risk is too far out on the proverbial limb, and all of us wonder what the hell's going on, but no one talks about the obvious, which has lately been renamed, for some reason, the elephant in the room . If there were an elephant in the room, I think we would be mentioning it, so what that's about, I'll skip, so more to the point, what's money about, and why aren't we collectively, or us, as in you and me, or you and the people you know, or me and the people I know, talking about it and trying to unravel its mysteries?

As the world becomes more and more cognizant of the fact that money, although a man-made invention, runs the world more by its own rules more than by any made for it at its inception, and wielding greater influence than any of the other manmade conventions, such as government, religion , or even corporations (it's interesting to note that as I wrote those three, the one that I went to automatically capitalize before I stopped myself was "corporations", however, since it is they, of the three, that have the most access to and control over the money, I guess that makes sense in a sad sorta way), it becomes more resigned to its dynamics, leaving the intricacies of its workings to economists, who are not in the least concerned about them, and, even if they were, have shown not the least aptitude for either explaining what they are, or, if they were actually adept, we perhaps wouldn't care as much, because they would be proving their expertise by the wise utilization of that knowledge (ie, the world wouldn't be going to  hell in a mortgaged handbasket on the verge of sinking under its own rehypothecated, over-leveraged, risk-laden weight) .  

Like many of man's wonders, whether the automobile for which entire neighborhoods, swaths of open land, and myriad acres of woodlands were demolished and paved over, or computers, whose needs are addressed before those of the users' for whom they're supposedly designed, money itself is no longer capable of providing the very humans that invented it with the services for which it was first devised. It's now running like a Zhiguli, a Soviet-era model Fiat, shaking terribly as it bounces over the bumpy roads of the monde moderne's manufactured mayhem of mystery-money and leveraged debt.

This should not really surprise us. A currency designed to serve the needs of empire has to be kluged in order to fit into the needs of nation-states or, perhaps more relevantly, as we head back to the future and neo-feudalism takes shape, feudal life, for which, although many don't realise it today, there was very little need of actual cash. As recently as the 20'th century, in as modern a country as the US, in as all-American an enterprise as the movie industry, in the film "The Misfits", the protagonists are arguing and struggling for a way to maintain their way of life without having to get a 'job', as they would then be wage-slaves, ie, they would lose their freedom, because that's what they felt a job did, took choice out of your life leaving as your only choice what you can spend the dwindling remuneration that's left after paying for everything the business pays you to give up your freedom for.

But that used to be part of the package: a pension, healthcare coverage, vacation time, education, and training. These are costs and risks for which you now pay, or take out  loans to pay, in order to learn what may be obsolete by the time you're able to present the certificate of training, smirkingly referred to as a degree, to any prospective employer, a liability now borne by the employee. So is the transportation to and from the place where you trade your time in exchange for some monetary compensation. But, with the burden of all those other expenses not only rising, but falling onto the workers instead, even the freedom to consume has been drastically reduced, as that so-called "disposable" income they like to talk so much about, gets eroded to nothing and instead, whatever you have hopes of earning in the future, has already been spent, often via high-interest credit card debt, long before you've gotten paid.

All this because the corporation, by monetizing everything, have, right in front of our faces, monopolized what is considered to be work. Only that which can earn currency is considered work because it is only income from said work that the government can tax to keep its many nefarious operations going, most important of which, is its over-hyped, testosterone-soaked, gargantuan, world-spanning militarism and its many ancillary industries, such that it now feeds more into the US economy, and the global economy, than the largest other industry, the automobile industry. The two of them, together with the nuclear and other energy-producing industries, go hand in hand, usually to the citizens' place of employment to garnish their wages, the rich being immune to such raids because their 'earnings' have no connection whatsoever with labor, or, more accurately, their labor. Because labor is a concept they disdain unless it's somebody else providing it. Another of life's paradoxes that we all like to ignore: the very thing that the rich would sell their own children to avoid having to do themselves, the rest of us fall on the ground in front of them to kiss the hem of their robes for the 'privilege' of doing it for them, and for a pittance instead of its true value.

 In this new arrangement, money's value has no connection with actual work. In the FED's printing of it by the trillions, yes, trillions, something that's supposedly represents work, or value, or as I would argue, energy, is simply, as in banking, when they make a loan, although at least with that there's a mandate to the person the loan is made to to then go out and do some work so as to get the cash to pay back that loan, with  the FED, the Monetary authority (what kind of authority can just go out and break its own rules willy nilly?), just divorces money from its moorings as a product of labor and cynically uses government debt as the vehicle for its monetary legerdemain, stuffing its balance sheet with debt it has no ability to pay down.

So what, then, is money? And if it can make, or does make, as stated in the "Cabaret" song, the world go around, then when it's debased to the degree that it has been now, doesn't it, logically, stop the world from going 'round? Or at least our world? It must at least do the opposite of what their stated intentions are, slow it down, instead of speeding it up. And, as a corollary to that, if, as Einstein, perhaps hyperbolically, stated, "compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe," then isn't ZIRP a policy that ensures the most powerful force in the universe is disabled, and wouldn't that be the surest way to dampen growth and bog down the economy in chronic torpidity, or, I don't know, stagflation, as Larry Summers prefers to call it? And therefore NIRP must be synonymous with institutionalized deflation and a chronically sclerotic, anemic economy ...  one that's that way by design. This is how the powers that be reign in the processes that are causing the very climate to change right before our eyes. Not by redesigning the currency and financial systems so that they serve the greater part of the population, but by keeping and  cementing into place their own places of privilege by calcifying the current hierarchy wherein their position remains in the ascendancy, thereby insuring that it stays that way, yet at the same time, retarding the rate at which CO2 production is accelerating.

But that's not what money is supposed to be used for. It is a unit of exchange, a means of resource transfer, one that has been historically used as a store of value as well, however this last use of money seems to have come to an end. When the sanctions were placed on Russia, the oligarchs who had been fleeing Moscow to take roost in London, stuffing their ill-gotten gains into its banks' vaults, in even greater numbers than the Whites in 1918. Now, fearing for the safety of these pirated funds, they've started relocating these monies back to Russia where the Western Banks can't freeze their assets off. What this demonstrates to much of the world, and the reason that even US allies are supporting China's formation of the AIIB, is that, by first turning it to their own nefarious ends, and then politicizing the World Reserve Currency, which economists claim to be a non-political tool of exchange, the confidence in the 'reserve' part of it, as a store of value, has been even further eroded.

And even as the Russian oligarchs were now placed more under the aegis of Putin, the very man for fear of whom they left in the first place, we see the western Banks, as lawsuits that are still, eight years after they had engineered the collapse of the very institution whose perversion had showered them with fraudulent 'earnings', are still haemorrhaging billions in fines and lawyers fees, yet none of its avatars of defalcation are remotely threatened with any clawback of their ill-gotten fortunes or imprisonment for their criminal behavior.

Thus we see the roles that were assumed following the Revolution of 1918 reversed, with Russia becoming the champion of real monetary legitimacy, upholding the law to protect its citizens from the ravages of a well-ensconced, criminally-minded elite of oligarchs, and the West now the despoiler of nations, the conniver of theft, the debaser of currencies and enabler of the Plutocrats who are all but unassailable. It is in their privileged and cloistered domains, not on the floor of the Senate or House, which have degenerated into nothing more than a Parliament of Whores (to use P.J. O'Rourke's term), that the decisions of our government are now made.

So once again the world looks to Russia for Hope. Because the Obama Presidency, that ran in 2004 on exactly that, Hope, immediately betrayed any belief that anybody had in him by declaring both its intent to "Look forward" and forget the past, ie, not bother to punish the hoods that had hijacked the Banking system, and his statement, a la Bush, that "The American Way of Life Will Not Be Compromised", by which he insidiously promised that the reign of corruption and underhanded financial dealings, and fossil-fuel-based high-octane consumerism, and its associated rampant unabashed militarism, would simply continue until it collapsed from the rot spreading throughout its ever-more tenuous economic underpinnings.

Instead of the spare "Change" that Obama's left us with, though, Russia now perhaps is in a better position, as it has the fervent desire of the  underclasses of the world pinned on its success, to redefine money, and cash, and bankings' role in the economic life of countries, that no other power in the world possesses. Perhaps this time, since the sanctions imposed by West has inadvertently united its population such that, unlike in 1918, there isn't a panoply of squabbling factions ripping it apart, but has formed a consensus among its people who want their lives to matter, who just want a modicum of Hope, and aren't so mired in a tawdry ignoble pursuit of empty materialism, but have a belief, not in the next-world promises of eternal salvation, which they may hold also, but in the hope that a measure of worth can be attributed to this life's endeavors outside of complete dedication to the accumulation of so-called assets, the value of which, as we've now witnessed at least since the turn of this New Century, can dissipate like a cloud into nothing but a chimera, a sop thrown to the unwary who believe they have earned some security when all they've received are empty promises and constant War.

Ian McEwan's novel, "The Innocent", begins with the statement, "It's not the Germans or the Russians who are the problem here. It isn't even the French (Lol). It's the Americans. They don't know a thing. What's worse, they won't learn, they won't be told. It's just how they are." This is said by an Englishman in post WW2 Berlin, but it's still relevant today. Because then, as both The East and The West thought they could use Hitler to their advantage, and Hitler thought he could use the animosity of these two opposing forces as a bulwark of his own, as  it would keep them from uniting against him, all three were proven wrong in their Realpolitik calculations and we reaped the whirlwind, in the form of an orgy of destruction.

We can see the same calculus going on today, with the weak Ukraine in the position of the mighty Germany. But Germany wasn't mighty when the initial cynical plans to rape it of all its resources was put into place in 1922 with the inclusion of War Reparations in the Treaty of Versailles. But the very conspiracy that contrived to keep Germany destitute and unable to wage War again, had the exact opposite effect, and, using Spain as the proving grounds for its Wehrmacht and subterfuge to rebuild its arsenal not only right under the noses of those who considered such a circumstance dangerous, but with their funding. Because with the Rentenmark's replacement with the Reichsmark, it, following the rise of the Nazis, was recruited as a financial weapon in the quest to rearm Germany. The Reichsbank, like every Central Bank today, turned on the printing presses to finance Adolf Hitler's jobs programs. To control inflation, severe wage and price controls were instituted, foreign currency exchange rates were manipulated, and interest rates increased.

Companies were created with inadequate capital for their operations and authorized to issue bonds exchangeable at a 1:1 rate for Reichsmarks and sold at a discount. The Reichsbank rediscounted the bills of these companies creating a monetary expansion without formally renouncing the link to gold.
We can see the many of the same subterfuges going on today, not only with nationalistic currencies, such as the Yen and Yuan, Won and Hong, but with the reserve currency itself, such that it had to be taken off the gold standard in order to be viable.

What this means is that a country such as Greece, that owes so much money to foreign debt holders and to its own banks and those of the EU, can, as it did yesterday, sign an agreement for the purchase of S-300 missiles from Russia, a country which , since Greece is still part of the EU, there are sanctions against its trading with. This, together with the sale of the same to Tehran, suggests that some kind of new monetary regime, outside of the purview of the IMF and World Bank, is, whether the AIIB is successful or not, already in de facto formation.

This isn't the kind of new currency or redefinition of money that I started to talk about at the beginning of this post, though. It may, however, be a step that is necessary for the world to take in order to create the conditions under which such a new conception of money, in which it is restored to its position as a true reflection of the value of the economic well-being of the underlying economy and therefore the productivity of its citizens, that we find ourselves in so much need of today. Because, although the honesty of a country's monetary system alone may not preclude War, the current state of utter dishonesty of the entire global monetary regime not only guarantees War, but, despite the vociferous denials from all those who shocked ...SHOCKED! ... that their net worth is completely dependent on it,  requires constant, unending War.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Big Break: Voyna.

Showing its True Face.

While cogitating on how to write this post, I saw Wolf Richter's blog this morning, entitled, "Keep pushing until something really BIG breaks", referring to, judging by the usual topic of his blog, the economy, but which, given my mental predisposition, I read as referring to the geopolitical situation in, not only Ukraine, but the Middle East as well, specifically, given the mindless mutterings of that Cottonmouth viper from Arkansas, Iran. The Cotton tale he's pushing is the same as the McCain "bombbombbomb, bombbomb Iran" adolescent idiocy, and the heartless comparison of the invasion of Iraq with a 'cakewalk', namely that "bombing Iran would take but several days", after which, presumably, we could go back to shopping and football, congratulating ourselves on yet another job well done.

The reason I like Wolf's use of the phrase is because it has the dual connotation of a sudden snap, a division, a rendering into two parts of that which was one, yet at the same time, as in the Hollywood version of the phrase, meaning an opportunity, a happenstance in which your life is changed, usually for the better, and your star is now in the ascendancy.

As we look at Iraq & Syria, then Libya, then Ukraine, each of whose disintegration into warring parties the US, as well as NATO, have had a hand in, there is no resolution for any of these broken eggs, as they are omelets that, once broken, have nothing in common with which to put the pieces together again, beyond  the dictatorial imposition of a Strongman we can then vilify and dispose of once he's served his (and by his, I mean, our), purpose.

American Triumphalism waxes resplendent whenever it refers to the really big break that happened more than a generation ago, when the USSR cracked like an egg, followed by Yugoslavia. But we tend to ignore, if not simply forget, the wars that each of those breakups engendered: Not only in Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and Albania, but in Georgia, Chechnya and Ossetia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Yet, I don't know about in the East, but in the West, or at least the US, the dissolution of the Soviet Union is always described as Peaceful. But although it didn't entail the massive orgy of obliteration  mankind seems to so fervently desire, it didn't occur without a good deal of bloodshed, atrocities, and rancor either. As we can see in Crimea and Ukraine now, is still reverberating across the Continent like the aftershocks of an enormous earthquake. The 8.0 size on the (Wolf?)Richter scale of the original temblor, having been survived with everyone relatively intact, the damage done by the tremors that followed are considered as  unrelated events for which we need neither concern ourselves, nor accept any responsibility for.

Given that attitude, we should hardly be surprised at whatever comes next, as we witness the deployment of the Saudi air force against Yemen, and the sale of more arms to the military dictatorship in Egypt, while Israel's PM struts about the world stage with such infantile rantings you expect to see  him attired in nothing but diapers while he, sans subtlety, shakes his nuclear rattle, whining all the while that Iran has no right to one of their own because .... because .... well, because Israel says so. The fact that Israel was signatory to the same non-proliferation treaty that Iran is, yet not only developed nuclear weapons themselves, but used their privileged position in the high echelons of the US government, their most generous benefactor and staunchest ally in the entire world, to steal the technology from, is something that one simply can't even mention. Most people prefer to forget the fact that it was known for decades that Israel was the proud owner of a nuclear arsenal, yet it could never be mentioned lest rabid screams of antisemitism be used to shout down those who would have the audacity to speak the truth to Nuclear Power.

Leopold Kohr, who, like Orwell, was a journalist during the Spanish Civil War, wrote in "The Breakdown of Nations" (which I personally think would be more accurately entitled if it were, "The BreakUp of Nations"), thought that smallness would be a guarantor of a more peaceful world. However, he was only considering State against State, and, despite the centuries of evidence to the contrary provided by the existence and totalitarian aspects of both the Holy Roman and Ottoman Empires, failed to take religion as an overarching philosophy that could be used to justify a militancy and terror as well as indiscriminate slaughter, as tools to subjugate entire countries to their will, suppressing knowledge and science and relegating sex to a position of superstition and groundless taboo, the breaking of which would result in the torture, murder and destruction of entire families,

But it is exactly that that is happening because, if, as Kohr states, "the only one cause behind all forms of social misery is bigness", then, even should the State of Iraq, Syria, and all the other Sovereignties in the world currently in the thralls of dissolution, actually break apart into smaller units, there will still remain a force in the world that will bring about a bigness that supersedes even the size of those once-massive entities, and that Force is Religion. And unlike the State, Religion has nothing to undercut its merciless mowing down of anyone considered apostate that stands in its way. As we're seeing in the form of ISIS, religion furnishes men with the mental tools needed to not only murder, but to exult in those murders, to treat humans as infidel dogs whose very presence renders prayer unholy, thereby eliminating the need for any POW's, they can, by the will of the almighty, simply be disposed of.

This is the big break we're witnessing today, as the Capitalist world, having supposedly relegated Communism to the dustbin of history, as though Communist China, the largest economy in the world, doesn't tip this theory on its head, rips off the mask and shows its true face, and, in the name of Austerity, sabotages citizens' efforts to better their material existence, as we helplessly stand by and watch every one of the OECD countries impoverish their citizens, actively destroy their middle class, and abandon the working poor to a life of destitution and penury. Because, what's hailed as the greatest force on the planet to enable the improvement of one's material existence is crumbling in front of our eyes as it exposes its true nature as a despoiler and a fraud. Capitalism, when allowed to run amok, which it's been not only allowed, but encouraged, to do, even before the fall of the Soviet Union, devours its own seed corn, in the process of which it destroys not only the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil we grow our food in, all nothing but resources to be used up and thrown, like people themselves, onto the slag heap, it now has shown that it will do all of that, not for the edification of the majority of its citizens, as was its promise, but only for that of a small, well-connected clique of the entitled. Expecting the rest of humanity to cower in their presence, and, as evidenced by witnessing the servile pandering of Europeans to their royalty, one that they will eventually, even gladly, nay, gratefully, succumb to, until there's nothing left. No hope; no future. No world.

This is what gives the impetus and power to religiously fanatic groups like ISIS. Better to give your allegiance to a phantom you 'have faith' in, than to a narrative even its staunchest advocates must finally admit they know to be false.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Homage to Catatonia: How the U.S.Sleptwalked into a Cakewalk.

Emperor of Denial.

"You're making it way too easy for them; you're walking right INTO it!"

Or perhaps that should be walked. Past tense. We cakewalked right into it.

That's the quote that went through my head as I read George Orwell's, "Homage to Catalonia", the tribute written to the tragedy of the Spaniards and the love of this tortured country felt by the author after spending time there during the Spanish Civil War as a member of the POUM, one of the many revolutionary groups fighting Franco during the thirties. The complexity of the alliances and counter-alliances, the betrayal and misrepresentation by the press, and the left in other countries, as well as by the leaders of those other countries, banded together in the League of Nations, was partially documented at the time by Upton Sinclair in his "World's End" series, which he started while the conflict was still raging, in 1937 (Orwell's account wasn't published until after the war, in 1952).

Around the turn of the century, I went back to college to finally get my degree, and one of the courses I needed to take was a History course. In one of the first papers due, I likened the point of history we were studying to the present day and was immediately chastened by Le Professeur for so doing. I disagreed with him, but, considering that I wanted to, not only finish my degree, but ace the course, I demurred, and found that I became reconciled to his way and eventually came to understand its merits.

However, I'm no longer in college, alors, there's nothing to stop me from doing that now, so I confess that I do it all the time, and while reading this book, I did it consciously and deliberately, because, ever since reading Sinclair's take on the Spanish Civil War, I had become convinced of the parallels that were undeniable between the dynamics of the Spanish Civil War and those of the Civil War that the US started in Iraq. Lionel Trilling, who wrote the introductory essay to Orwell's novel, fueled my flame, and much of what follows is inspired by that essay, even though he was referring to Communism, whereas I'm using much of his same rhetoric while addressing some of the Ironies of Democracy:

In a Democracy, where politics are presumed to be available to everyone, ideas and ideals play a great part, but there is a direct connection between their power and another kind of power, one we were reminded of by how easily the Bush family was able to get us to silently acquiesce to our ill-fated "cakewalk" into Iraq, namely that old, unabashed, cynical power of Force. Capitalism, the wolf that so scurrilously wraps itself in Democracy and Freedom's clothing, always surprises us with this. Americans are so besotted with their love of War they don't realize it's a racket, and one for which they pay dearly, and because of which they have been  impoverished. Their cities neglected, their infrastructure left to crumble, their offspring rendered unemployable, all as the Aristocracy rake in the profits from this racket, ensconced in their unassailable gated communities, and the reason that all the financial shenanigans indulged in during the Bush reign were not only allowed, but encouraged: to pay for The Wars which were waged with no thought of how we were to pay for it when a sizable tax cut had been extended to the only group of citizens with the wherewithal to do so. But they knew. They knew not jonly that, but exactly how, they would extort their pound of flesh.

We are always being surprised by this. Democracy's use of unregenerate force and systemic fraud was perfectly clear long before Bush fils, but many of us found it impossible to admit this because Democracy speaks boldly, even fondly, to our love of ideas and ideals. We try hard as we can to believe that politics might be an idyl, refusing to discover that what we take to be a political pastoral is really a grim military campaign - or that what we insist on calling American Exceptionalism is in actuality a not-so-new Imperialism. By pretending that the dark meaning of Full Spectrum Domination is a mystery, many good people engage in an ultimate immorality. That the right wing that propagates this militaristic hubris is quite aware of this is evidenced by the clamor by the Moral Majority for strict adherence to sexual mores so that any criticism of the debased immorality of their militarism is drowned out in the clamor.

Whether in Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria, or Iraq, , Iran or Pakistan, we are witnessing not the much bally-hooed Arab Spring, but a deep disillusionment, not only with the Communism so triumphantly relegated to the dustbin of history, but to Democracy so delusionally heralded as their Savior, as it leaves the liberal modernists of each of those countries drowning in a US-inspired-and-funded rise of Religious fundamentalism, whose adherents, lacking any of the amenities  Capitalism promised them, and seeing from the spectacle of Greece, for example, that it will never deliver them, prefer to cling to their traditional values. The majority, which in Democracy, rules, prefer to adhere to a mode of existence that has served them well, (unless perhaps, they're female, yet, even then, - inexplicably to many Western liberals - like the orthodox Babushkas of Russia, it is exactly the women who cling to religion the most tenaciously).

Given their atavistic retrograde nature, it is truly doubtful, even to us, that the commitment to Democracy heralded by the avatars of freedom, as they dropped depleted uranium onto the civilians of Iraq, was made for generous or idealistic reasons, however what is certain is that the revulsion those countries feel for it now was brought about by the very militarism we are insisting on using now, not only against ISIS in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, but against more modern nations like Iran and Ukraine, and, suicidally, Russia (the return to MADness was all but assured as Congress started to  more and more resemble an insane asylum). This painful experience with Democracy and Capitalism is exactly what made me reflect on the situation in Europe, before, and even after, the World War, where, unlike in the US, Capitalism was a bogeyman, the purported cause of the destruction that rained down on them, brought about by their own leaders' lust for power and insatiable greed.

For, as in Spain in the 1930's, the Arab nations are less interested in whether Capitalism or Socialism or any -ism is what they want, as they are in simple survival mode, such that if, indeed, politics are to be available to everyone, then everyone must protect his politics from the ravages of ideology, and instead, cultivate a society which reflects the bitter metaphysics of human nature, and not only its basest of drives, greed, that American Capitalism has so proudly prostituted Democracy into strutting around as a virtue.

Just as Communism, by 1936, was losing it hold on the imagination of intellectuals as word of Stalin's purges were seeping into their  hushed conversation about what was going on in Russia, the same doubts and concomitant rejections are transpiring in the Middle East as they become cognizant of the fact that, as deadly and destructive as the Americans have proved as friends, they are even more deadly to themselves, as the number of its own citizens murdered by their police forces has exceeded even the number of its multifarious enemies abroad mowed down by its multifaceted military. Remaining sublimely unaware of the new Russian actuality, NATO pooh-poohs the threat of ISIS and has written off as anachronisms the very forces they themselves are using to shape the world - racial pride, leader-worship, religious belief, patriotism and love of War. In their deadly embrace of Capitalism, they cannot conceive of directing upon themselves the same stringency of criticism they use on Russia, even as the enormity of its failure, and mounting evidence of the intransigence of Western Imperialism's problems, overwhelm their ability to staunch its hemorrhaging wounds.

Yet here I sit, using the very tools that the Imperium has built for its domination of the globe, striking the same  pose as the left-wing intelligentsia of that bygone era, with its "generally querulous negative attitude and complete lack of constructive suggestion" making me feel like I simply engage in the "irresponsible carping of people who have never been and never expect to be in a position of power". Although such criticism stings, I consider my blog, first of all, as the word implies, as a journal, such that its never published to, nor therefore will ever be read by, the masses. It is more a compendium of our era's mistakes that resulted from taking political advantage of using stupidity for a cloak to hide, as Walter Bagehot suggests, ones own private material interests, while pretending it is to merely disengage from the intellectual theorizing of the political motives driving public policy, disingenuously claimed to be beyond one's ken. So, becasue the profession of journalism has completely failed us, I find it incumbent upon myself to ferret out the truth from the lies, distortion, and outright propaganda that we are fed, and see if I can't discern a signal amidst the static and the deliberately inserted noise.

Which brings us back to the several points that I wish to make regarding our current situation's and its multiplicity of warring parties in what has come to be considered the world's oilpatch, but what is in fact the resources of a region that, thanks again to our own machinations, will soon have as much need of the very energy assets for which we became interested in the region in the first place. Because as talk of peak oil has peaked, so has the conversation on the growing energy needs of all the nations that export it, meaning that the same dynamic, albeit indirectly, is in play that drives fracking and tar sands production: increased energy burned for every drop squeezed out of the ground. The only difference is that in the oil-producing nations of the Middle East, those inputs aren't needed in direct production of oil, but in its utilization by their societies as they modernize. But the result is the same, for every drop produced, the amount of energy available to the world market decreases; in the one case because more of it has to be taken back to invest in the next barrel to be produced, while in the latter case, it's burned by the growing energy demands of the producers' themselves.

This is only one of several points that escapes general notice. Which was the case at the time of the Spanish Civil War. As Orwell states (parentheticals are mine):

"To begin with, Franco was not strictly comparable with Hitler or Mussolini. his rising was a military mutiny backed up by the Aristocracy and the Church, and, in the main, was not so much an attempt to impose Fascism as to restore feudalism (the same dynamic in play today: all assets are being systematically funneled into the hands of the Supra Class, the newly-minted peasants are meanwhile weighed down in intractable debt). This meant that Franco had against him not only the working class but various sections of the liberal bourgeoisie - the very people who were supporters of Fascism when it appears in its modern form - (which in turn is merely a secularization of the Monarchy without the Church's granting the Divine right, but the voting public conferring it instead: from leaders of the Masses to leaders from the masses). More importantly, the Spanish working class did not, (as would be the case with modern OECD countries, or even those of the Muddled East), resist Franco in the name of 'democracy' and the status quo; their resistance was made with a definite revolutionary object in mind. Land was seized by the peasants; many factories and most of the transport were seized by the trade unions; churches were wrecked and the priests driven out or killed. That's why the Catholic clergy was able to represent Franco as a patriot delivering his country from hordes of fiendish 'Reds'."

That's how the League of Nations was able to declare its neutrality and disallow any arms sales to the legitimate government, which left, by default, Franco as the only one with a  modern army, as both Hitler and Mussolini poured arms and men into Spain; Hitler using it to test the efficacy of his Wehrmacht before unleashing it on the rest of a Europe that had sat back and let him eviscerate Spain, using Salazar's 'neutral' Portugal as its port of entry and passive war profiteer. Because, although believed in by the peasants and working class whose privations had become unendurable, The Spanish Civil War was, the same as any other, a racket. A loud racket that helped to drown out the reality of a progressive degradation of such things as personal liberty and a truthful press. Thus, one could begin to discern what was likely to happen, and the prospect was not rosy. This is about where we can swap word-for-word what Orwell says about Spain for Iraq:

"As for the newspaper talk about being a 'war for democracy', it was plain eye-wash. No one in his right sense supposed that there was any hope of democracy (especially no one in the Bush administration ... never did), in a country so divided and exhausted as Spain would be when the war was over. It would have to be a dictatorship, and it was clear that the chance of a working-class dictatorship had passed. That meant that the general move would be in the direction of some kind of Fascism. Fascism called, no doubt, by some politer name and - because this was Spain - more human and less efficient  than the German variety. Or, which was always a possibility (it still is) that the war would end with Spain divided up, whether by casual frontiers or into economic zones. Whichever way you took it it was a depressing outlook. Whatever faults the Government might have, Franco's regime would certainly be worse."

The last sentence alone needs to be altered to, "Whatever faults Saddam's government had, the American regime would certainly be worse". As it has proven to be. When you have had a glimpse of such an unequivocal disaster as this - and however it ends the Iraq War and the offshoots that it has spawned throughout the Middle East, such that Civil War is raging or nascent in every country in the region, will turn out to be an appalling disaster, quite apart from the slaughter and physical suffering - the result is more often disillusionment and cynicism.

But the Iraq War was a War of cynicism from the outset. The most it ever hoped for was a Mubarak, or a Shah, or a Poroshenko: a 'democratically elected' conduit to enable the resources and fruits of the labor of the Iraqi people to be siphoned off, in the same way its oil fields were siphoned off - using Halliburton horizontal drilling technology - to Kuwait, into the Empire's coffers. Whatever is likely to happen next, the prospects for the land we cakewalked into, whilst claiming the profits from its increased oil production, post-cataclysm, would pay for the rampage, are anything but rosy.