Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Get the guys on Wall Street to read Vic Hanson (one of my better efforts, that one; and yes, it's that Vic Hanson - the one who was influential and authoritative a few years back) looking at John McCain and seeing not a small, bald, elderly Republican establishment hack from Arizona, but a Washington in waiting, and they'll laugh the Dow Jones up to 30,000.
Monday, September 29, 2008
The Spirit Of 1776 Lives!
I'm tired tonight - can't write much.
Last night, I wrote,
"At a time when the Spirit of 1776 should be stalking the land, everyone's hunkered down to see whether or not they'll be able to pay their mortgage tomorrow. This might just be the end of one America - it is to be hoped that a rather more conservative one takes its place. "
The rejection of the Paulson Plan Mark II by the House of Representatives shows that, contrary to many expectations, the American people are not prepared to be bullied into a fascistic financial regime.
That the markets have tanked today was not unexpected - yet although the prospect of great financial adversity seems horribly real, one can only applaud those Congressmen, of both parties, who elected to prefer liberty and the nation over bipartisanship and managerialism. In the case of the Republicans, it should be noted that many hoped these principles would be discovered before they spent the years 2001 to 2006 spending like drunken sailors. However, it's better late than never - the Paulson Plan would have been a step down a path from which, if trod once, there would have been no turning back.
Let's see what creative destruction's really like.
Save The Republic
No Economic Patriotism Please, We're British
On the day it was nationalised, Bradford & Bingley was still advertising for new business - on Paramount Comedy.
The immediate re-sale of its savings and business network to a Spanish bank, which already owns two other British high street players, is globalisation at the point of the sword. It's a car boot sale of what is probably the most valuable part of the business.
In all likelihood, the Spanish would deem it both culturally and politically unacceptable for a British bank to own three of their major high street brands. If it is considered politically necessary for the Bradford & Bingley to be nationalised to save it from its previous management's folly, then so be it - but there will be considerable resentment against what will quite rightly be perceived as yet a further extension of the powers wielded by companies based in one particular foreign country over the British economy; powers that that country would never allow to be reciprocated.
We are being cannibalised, gobbled up by the world one piece at a time.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
The Star Spangled Revolution
This weekend, Channel 4 broadcast 'Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King'.
There's a line in that movie that perfectly encapsulates what seems to be the spirit of affairs this weekend. As Pippin and Gandalf review the state of the war before The Battle of Pelennor Fields, Gandalf remarks, "It's the deep breath before the plunge".
This weekend, taking a deep breath before the plunge, the world waits to see just what the world's stock markets will do when the opening bells ring tomorrow. For ring they must. The ultimate irony of a financial metacrisis brought on by the rabid pursuit of individual financial gain might just be that the whole system will come tumbling down for no reason other than that, like all good small shopkeepers, the stockbrokers felt compelled to open the store.
For once in their lives, couldn't they take a day off?
While I applaud Andrew Sullivan's call for the re-assertion of conservatism, and cheer Simon Jenkins's acknowledgment that Americans refused to suffer "the evisceration of constitutional liberty" in the face of the financial metacrisis, once the dust has settled and the house of cards has collapsed, it will be hard to say what shape the philosophy known as 'conservatism' will be in.
Four years ago, I wrote an article for 'The Washington Dispatch' entitled 'How The Neocons Will Kill The GOP', a prediction that came true at the 2006 Congressional elections. It was the relentless pursuit of ideology that did for them.
Yet the same economic ideology endured for another two years, with catastrophic consequences. The time for mourning fiscal conservatism has passed, sadly just when we will be seeing the proof of its wisdom. As I've noted a couple of times in recent weeks, it doesn't matter what deal gets cut this weekend - the very fact that a government bailout of the financial markets has been proposed by otherwise red-in-tooth-and-claw free marketeers means that ideology, the reason for seeking power, has been defeated by power itself. It doesn't matter who wins the election - the nature of the powers it is being proposed that Hank Paulson and his successors assume means that the nature of American government has just changed, and not for the better. At a time when the Spirit of 1776 should be stalking the land, everyone's hunkered down to see whether or not they'll be able to pay their mortgage tomorrow. This might just be the end of one America - it is to be hoped that a rather more conservative one takes its place.
In the not too distant future, I can foresee a mass uprising of the American people, akin to those seen in Europe's Rose and Velvet Revolutions, peacefully marching on Washington and demanding change. It will be apolitical, monoglot, unisex and colourblind, the greatest single assertion of 'American-ness' that The Great Republic will have ever seen. The historic American nation, and all those with an iota of understanding of just what American history is and was, and who place a value on values, will be there. For the last five years They, the People, have had to suffer horrible, unnecessary war. For the last eight, they have had to suffer a president whose domestic policies have focussed solely on the enrichment of his own caste. For the past 20, they have had to suffer economic displacement. For the last 40, they have had to suffer cultural Marxism, and the teaching of state-sponsored hatred of everything that America is and of what being an American means. Depending on what happens when the bell tolls on Wall Street tomorrow morning, this might just be the point where Dwight, Tyrone, Jubal and Clayton Lee say 'Hell No', lay their forks and TV remotes down and put on their boots. The Star Spangled Revolution will demand a more morally hygienic media, and it will get it. It will demand an economically fair America - and it will get it. It will demand an America that is respectful to Americans - and it will get it. It will demand government not motivated by ideology but by the good of the nation - and it will get it.
What they will demand is that most curious of beasts, a conservative revolution - and they will get it.
Anyone Wondering How Debate Would Be Conducted In An Independent Scotland...
Gordon Brown's Nixonianism Revisited
Hat tip - Tim Worstall.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Variations On A Theme Of Impending Fascism
Finding Yourself In The Oddest Places
Today, I discovered that I'm in the footnotes of Naomi Klein's 'The Shock Doctrine', and quoted on Page 409.
Does this make me a bona fide public intellectual? Can I get my invite to appear on 'Question Time' now?
Friday, September 26, 2008
Bits And Pieces On A System In Bits And Pieces
The news that Washington Mutual has tanked and that HSBC has announced four figure job cuts will become drearily familiar in the coming weeks and months.
Tracy Corrigan is right; that Warren Buffett should have made a crazy profit on Goldman Sachs shares should be no surprise. He's a creature of the system. Goldman Sachs is like the Krupps or IG Farben of The New American Fascism, a corporation vital to the administration of the new order. It cannot be allowed to go down, particularly when it's going to benefit from massive state aid.
Although Jeff Randall and Michelle Malkin are well-intentioned in their concerns over impending economic slavery and the end of fiscal conservatism, neither of them seem to get the point of the very big picture that has been painted before their eyes over the past week - as I wrote of others on September 21,
"Having sat in their ideological bunkers for so long, none of these boys actually get that this is beyond ideology; what is now being seen is the defeat of ideology, the reason for obtaining power, at the hands of power itself."
The Great American Coup of Black September 2008 is extra-ideological. The scale of the power being seized renders ideology redundant. Want evidence? Why did Obama go the White House to take part in a meeting over the crisis? If ideology still mattered, he would have been standing outside, in the midst of a group of protestors, instead. But where was the man who aspires to be America's foremost community activist? Inside round the fire, enjoying the beer and sandwiches. Both he and his camp have fallen so hard for the intellectual claim of national crisis that they see no political disadvantage in attempting to be seen to be bipartisan, at precisely the time when they should both be being partisan and being seen to be being partisan.
Call me sentimental, but one of the most affecting moments of the 2008 Democrat National Convention was Barney Smith's address just before the candidate's final speech. Mr. Smith, an offshored factory operator and previously lifelong Republican from Indiana, called for a president that 'who puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney'. The Mile High Stadium seemed to start to rock to chants of 'Bar-NEY! Bar-NEY! Bar-NEY!' The voice of America spoke that night, through the mouth of Barney Smith. The hatred of ordinary Americans for the economic policies and business practices of the past eight years seems to be such that if an election had been held at the moment, Obama would have landslided it.
And yet last night, The Champ was at The White House, selling out Barney Smith all over again, for no reason other than his own gullibility and self-importance.
I disagree with The Daily Telegraph's claim that 'once-in-a-lifetime threats can never be made — or taken — lightly'. That's nonsense - over the past 20 years, they've been made all the time. Not so long ago, a ruthless political spin machine told the British people that there were only 24 hours to save the NHS. The same ruthless political spin machine later made the egregious claim that the state of Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction that could be deployed within 45 minutes. Neither claim was true. It is neither true nor false to say that this crisis is the mother of all crises - but all the pointers sure look that way.
However, the claims of George W. Bush, who this week has exuded the charisma of Elmer Fudd without the sex appeal, that the markets have not been functioning properly gives an interesting insight into how he thinks markets should function. Did his understanding of economics not stretch to grasping the point that sometimes markets can go down as well as up? Seriously? He didn't get it?
One final thing - yesterday, I commented on the speed with which this coup seems to have been effected. Given the very, very short time - three days - between the collapse of Lehman Bros and the announcement of the bailout plan, isn't it just possible that its terms had been worked out before the crisis began? That for all its vagueness, the Paulson Plan is a financial Schlieffen Plan that those in charge of economic policy have kept on the shelf for just such a time as this? And that by extension, they always thought such a day would come?
Thursday, September 25, 2008
A Die Is Cast In Every Crapshoot, Soapy, And Old Father Log
Some scholars believe that when Julius Caesar uttered the words, 'I came, I saw, I conquered', he was not referring to the act of conquest itself, but to its speed - that he conquered a territory as soon as he clapped his eyes on it.
The Republic's decline into Empire began on the banks of a muddy stream in north Italy. It was on its banks that Caesar said 'Alea iacta est' - 'the die is cast' - and began his illegal march on Rome.
The die was cast in Washington today, with lightning speed. Sieg Hank Paulson seems to have got his bailout, the Great American Coup of Black September 2008 is now complete, and history may record that a liberal Democrat Congress, addled by allegiance to agendas which may just have helped cause this crisis in the first place, signed over unlimited executive power to the most unpopular Republican administration in history, weeks before a Presidential election. If that's competent government, never show me ineptitude.
The Democrats had a chance to save the Republic today - like all good children of the counterculture, they blew it. It doesn't matter what piddling, footling changes they have made to the draft Bill - what mattered was they had a chance to reject the sheer insolence of an executive seeking almost dictatorial powers, and threw it away. In historical terms, it doesn't make any difference whether or not Sieg Hank gets the full $700 billion now, or only $250 billion up front with the rest for afters. What matters is that the precedent has been set. The die having been cast, it can't be recalled. The Democrats didn't lose the argument; they threw it away, like a die in a crapshoot, in a gamble that, having been granted these powers, Sieg Hank won't use them.
That's one gamble nobody will get rich shorting.
I'm reading an excellent book at the moment entitled 'The Soap Man', Roger Hutchinson's history of Lord Leverhulme's attempts to 'improve' the Isle of Lewis. According to the BBC, Gordon Brown, ever the master of priorities, has addressed the UN on the urgent need to keep funnelling money into Africa and calling it 'aid'. Perhaps that's a cynical interpretation, but Brown's failure to keep his remaining eye on the ball shows something of a monocular monomania, similar to that once suffered by a discredited employee of a now discredited bank, in pursuit of his place in history. In his desire to 'improve' Africa, Gordon Brown does not exhibit any particular love of either Africa or the Africans; having no sense of his own nation, he is only interested in the ideas of 'Africa' and 'the Africans'. As he seriously believes that the United Kingdom is a proposition nation, it takes no great leap of the imagination for him to believe in Africa as a proposition continent. He is not interested in Africans as they are, but as he would want them to be, regardless of whether they want to be that way or not. In this sense he is identical to Leverhulme on Lewis - and in the long run, he will be just as unsuccessful as the old soapmonger was. His ambitions will founder on the same rocks of stubborn culture and ignorance of history.
However, his commitment to maintaining aid flows when he has no money shows just how committed he really is to the policy, not a process, called 'globalisation' - he'll have a global economy even if it bankrupts him; even if, as Laban Tall has pointed out, foreigners decide to turn the lights out on him while he's singing their praises.
In 'Claudius the God', Robert Graves gave Claudius some wonderful words with which a sensitive, thoughtful ruler could express his concern for what would happen to his realm once he had gone - "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out". Graves's imagination had Claudius spending the last five years of his reign as 'Old Father Log, King of the Pond', still and motionless, yet ever watchful of the machinations of Agrippinilla, Nero, and his own freedmen.
Sometimes it takes more than one death for all the poisons that lurk in the mud to hatch out. In the case of the last seven years of history, it took 3,000 of them. Both the beardie professional Europhile Timothy Garton Ash and Justin Raimondo have recently written reminders of the wonderful words that a Bush Administration official once uttered to Ron Suskind - "We're an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality."
Yeah, dude, whatever. Tell that to the Chinese who have clung on to your dud paper like a Roman holding a bag of Nero's gold coins that he can feel is just too light to be the genuine article. I do hope that the idea that Sieg Hank's brand new, super-duper powers will stop them trashing what's left of your economy when it suits them keeps you warm at night.
Wandering Clueless Into The New Dark Ages
The Martyrs Of Cordoba
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Was The Reproletarianisation Of The 1990's The Start Of The Serfdom Of The New Dark Ages?
The news that Ben Bernanke is reported to be 'demanding' that Congress ratify The Great American Coup of Black September 2008 should come as no surprise.
Although John McCain has 'suspended campaigning', it's a surefire bet that, should he win the race for the White House, Sieg Hank Paulson will be re-appointed as Secretary of the Treasury. Should the Obamessiah win, it's a strong bet that his likely choice of Treasury Secretary would be return contender Robert Rubin, Wall Street Guy and High Priest of the Skills Canard.
What is painfully clear is that, should the bailout-cum-coup-cum management buyout of the USA's financial and political systems be successful, the fact that a particular individual will be elected President is going to make absolutely no difference to how the country is going to be run - does anyone seriously think that, when the chips are down, Obama would ever stamp on Wall Street?
I've seen some comment to the effect that it is possible that the egregious Article 8 of the draft Bill before Congress, the one that would grant Sieg Hank powers which would not be subject to review, might be considered unconstitutional - to which one can only reply, who's going to challenge it? Jesse Jackson? The ACLU? The Southern Poverty Law Centre? To its framers, this might be considered part of the beauty of the coup - to do something you know may be illegal while at the same time knowing absolutely nobody will come forth and challenge you.
And if somebody actually does, you know that they'll have to plead their case in front of the Roberts court. Good luck with that one.
Fears of the return of serfdom as a consequence of the financial metacrisis might be overheated - however, I can't remember whether it was John Gray or Richard Sennett who coined the term 'reproletarianisation' to describe how the IT-driven productivity boom of the 1990's had not resulted in an increase in the real wages of the lower and middle classes, but in the erosion of their place in society instead. If further proof is required that the process of the reduction of the people to serfdom has already been happening, take the 'skills canard' beloved by Bob Rubin and Niall Ferguson, the line of guff that states that, in a hypercompetitive 'global economy', the workers of the West have nothing to fear if they keep re-skilling themselves.
Never mind that, in a global labour arbitrage, no matter how many times you skill yourself you'll still always lose out to cheaper labour with the same skills elsewhere. What is telling about the people who peddle this rubbish is that they do not seem to believe that it is not conducive to a person's economic good to spend their entire working lives always starting over on the ground floor, in jobs which get cut from under them every few years. People can't plan for the future; what Steve Sailer calls 'affordable family formation' becomes difficult or impossible; pension contributions and future financial planning becomes severely curtailed - perhaps another reason why folks have been buying and selling houses as if they weren't building them anymore.
Maybe the metacrisis is the culmination of a policy, not a process, which has been in operation for many years - we shall see how it pans out.
How Indians React To Being Laid Off
They murder the CEO.
As one commentor on the original article has said, guess they forgot their Gandhi.
As one commentor on the original article has said, guess they forgot their Gandhi.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The Great American Coup Of Black September 2008 Seeks Congressional Approval
According to the BBC,
"BBC Business Editor Robert Peston said the US Treasury Secretary's proposal to buy bad mortgage debts from banks represented "the mother of all bail-outs".
He said that during the hearing Fed chairman Mr Bernanke disclosed that the Treasury would attempt to buy these debts from banks at close to their "hold-to-maturity" value, not the market value.
"In practice, it means banks who sell their debts to the Treasury would receive cash equivalent to something like twice the value in their books of these poisonous assets," our correspondent said.
"In other words they would book a profit from selling to taxpayers.
"It would represent a massive injection of new capital into the US banking system - for which taxpayers would receive nothing in return, except for the assurances from Mr Paulson and Chairman Bernanke that their banking system would not collapse," he added. "
Will nobody in the mainstream media ever come out and say that what is being proposed here is nothing less than fascism?
What Not To Do When The Seat's Just Fallen Out Of Your Economy's Pants
Monday, September 22, 2008
The Redundancy Of Politics (Did Anyone Ever Vote To Have A Global Economy?)
Janet Daley has published a piece in today's 'Telegraph' concerning the political difficulties of Gordon Brown - as if people of goodwill should still care about what outcomes their electoral choices will eventually bring to their lives.
The ongoing chaos wrought by the financial metacrisis means that for its duration, politics, politicians, and by extension their electorates, are redundant. The fact that the USA underwent a silent coup last week doesn't even seem to raise a shudder. In less heated times, suggestions that a single unelected official would assume powers that would be expressly beyond any form of supervision would be regarded as treasonable, or else laughed out of court - but it's happened, or in the process of happening.
This can only mean that those responsible for the administration of public affairs consider the salvation of the financial markets to be of greater importance than the preservation of law, legal norms, democracy and traditions. The economists, at best and at root just another bunch of technocrats, now rule the world.
And the fact that nobody ever voted for their rule is neither here nor there. Most of them probably consider elections to be inefficient anyway.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Maybe Isolationism's Time Really Has Come
Four months ago I wrote a post called 'Isolationism's Time Has Come'. Libertarians didn't like it.
According to Marginal Revolution, a French politician named Bernard Carayon has commented on The Great Dead Cat Gambit that,
“Today the actions of American policy makers illustrate the need for economic patriotism...I congratulate them.”
Carayon is wrong; what has been seen is not economic patriotism, but fascism. As a fan of economic patriotism oneself, one's mind inevitably turns to the kind of economic and trade policies that an independent Scotland might pursue. My own view can, of course, be found in 'An Open Letter to Nicola Sturgeon'.
Sieg Hank, Our End Of The Republic Moment And The New Dark Ages
On January 26 2005 I published an editorial on 'The Washington Dispatch' entitled 'War In The Graveyard Of Empires'.
It wasn't very good; but the sheer power which Hank Paulson is either assuming or having thrust upon him in order to ensure that The Great Dead Cat Gambit actually works makes me wonder whether my decision to label George W. Bush as 'Bush Augustus' might not have been far off the mark.
The greatest feat of Augustus's reign was not to find a city of brick and leave one of marble, but to assume the previous powers of the Republic to himself in a way which would have been previously unthinkable. Some scholars - if memory serves it was Le Glay, Voisin and Le Bohec - have postulated the thesis that Augustus was able to do this because the Republic had become unmanageable as a Republic; that the transition to Empire demanded that the nature of government change.
David Farrer has linked to a report which summarises the basics of the Financial Crisis Legislation. Article 8 states,
"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."
Pat Buchanan has written that,
"Hank Paulson of Goldman Sachs and Ben Bernanke of the Fed chose to bail out Bear Sterns but let Lehman go under. They decided to nationalize Fannie and Freddie at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of billions, putting the U.S. government behind $5 trillion in mortgages. They decided to buy AIG with $85 billion rather than see the insurance giant sink beneath the waves.
An unelected financial elite is now entrusted with the assignment of getting us out of a disaster into which an unelected financial elite plunged the nation. We are just spectators."
On Friday September 19, Paul Krugman told BBC's Newsnight that, to all intents and purposes, Hank Paulson was now the President of the United States. I'd respectfully disagree - the nature of the extra-judicial, extra-electoral powers which it is proposed that Paulson assume are directly analogous to the powers of dictatorship which the Roman Senate voted to Augustus. The nature of the remedies which the American Republic's governing class seems to feel are necessary to cope with this crisis have thus gone beyond fears for the survival of mere constitutions and presidencies; how that nation will be governed in the future has just changed, just as the way the Roman Republic was governed changed. Last week, the United States of America underwent what was, to all intents and purposes, a coup d'etat; and nobody seemed to notice.
The USA, whose business was once described as business, has just been subject to the biggest management buy-out in history. It will not be without consequences.
The Sunday Telegraph has published an editorial on the financial metacrisis entitled 'Financial Crisis: Build a better capitalism'. It contains the following paragraphs -
"The lesson of the past year is indeed that capitalism needs to be saved from itself - but the temptation, in looking for a cure for its ills, will be to destroy its essence.
One of its most obvious ills is that, under the system we now operate, profits are privatised but losses are nationalised: individuals get to keep the millions they make, because when their decisions lead to losses, they do not pay - the rest of us do. That is not a viable "social contract". The lack of reciprocity inherent in it is simply not acceptable to any electorate"
As I have noted in the comments, the notion that profit is private and loss public and social is a precise re-statement of the definition of Italian fascist economic theory provided by Gaetano Salvemini in 1935. That profit will be private and loss social will grotesquely restrict the liberty of Americans, and, through the demands of taxation, turn them into serfs.
As I noted yesterday, none of the media's well-credentialled navel-gazers seem to be even close to getting a handle on the nature of this crisis, let alone its scale. In the Sunday Times, the old media Junker Simon Jenkins can only see fit to call for a public enquiry. Also in that paper, Andrew Sullivan hangs onto the lifebelt of his teenage Thatcherism and critiques the comparative records of John McCain and Barack Obama on fiscal conservatism - as if the outcome of the 2008 presidential election will actually matter to how the USA is going to be governed for the forseeable future.
In the Observer, the best that Henry Porter can do is rail against ostentatious wealth, while Will Hutton fails to recognise the fascism in front of his face and calls for such fascism to be imposed on the United Kingdom - a very British fascism, indeed.
Having sat in their ideological bunkers for so long, none of these boys actually get that this is beyond ideology; what is now being seen is the defeat of ideology, the reason for obtaining power, at the hands of power itself.
However, there are some particularly well-credentialled voices that seem to be silent.
One wonders what particular hole Niall Ferguson, the occasionally vocal Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard, Scotland's Malcolm Gladwell and self-described 'fully paid-up member of the neo-imperialist gang', has dropped into. His insights into this crisis and how to solve it would be at best illuminating, at worst amusing.
On the other hand, we should be grateful for apparent silence from Jeffrey Sachs. Sachs is the sage of 'economic shock therapy', the program of insanity which brought Russia to the point of destruction in the 1990's. The second that anyone proposes shock therapy for the American and British economies is the second to turn your face to the wall like a Pompeian under the onslaught of Vesuvius, and pray.
Altogether now - Sieg Hank!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Not Balkanisation, But Balkenendisation
The Dead Cat Bounces Right Into The New Dark Ages
The stock market's revival upon Hank Paulson's fascistic, Frankensteinian attempt to revive American banking will hopefully be permanent.
However, there is one group of market players whose importance to our stability everyone seems to have forgotten.
Pat Buchanan doesn't name them.
In an otherwise very thought-provoking piece, Naomi Klein doesn't name them.
In a largely unreadable, rolling on the floor laughing piece which is perhaps the final proof that he really does believe much of the rubbish that he writes, Simon Heffer doesn't name them.
In a paean to the American spirit which seems to equate merchant bankers with pioneersmen, Damian Reece doesn't name them.
In an otherwise relatively good piece which demeans itself by repeating the 'No Blacks or Irish' canard, Matthew Parris doesn't name them.
Larry Elliott doesn't name them.
And Tristram Hunt, chasing the spirit of Engels, doesn't name them.
As Butch said to Sundance - who are these guys?
They're the Sovereign Wealth Funds.
Yep, folks, not a cheep has been heard from the SWF's, and probably for good reason. What? You didn't really believe that they weren't instruments of state policy along all, did you? That they might one day be used to manipulate the markets in which they invested, perhaps to devastating effect? You didn't believe that so-called 'globalisation', whatever it is, and the worship of the false religion of economics had killed nationalism - did you?
All that the SWF's have to do in the current market is wait for it to recover even slightly, and then take profits en masse. Call me paranoid, but right now I would be fascinated to know whether or not the governments of Russia and China are in communication on this very topic; let us hope they are not. It would be the capital flight to end all capital flight, and if such a move were to be made, it would be with only one purpose in mind - to destroy the economic power, and thus the political power, of the United States; not for a generation, but forever.
The shockwaves would be felt in all nations which squandered their own patrimony by enabling foreign entities to purchase national assets. It is very possible that the norms of civil society would break down, perhaps irretrievably.
Let us hope that those who put profit before nation will then take the time to reflect on the consequences of their actions. The rest of us will be trying just to survive. Personally, I hope that James Gordon Brown, the perpetual student politician who never grew up in any meaningful sense, suffers a very, very rough week in Manchester. Having betrayed their interests, it will be fascinating to see how members of the Labour Party will react when he tries to patronise them - as he will.
Friday, September 19, 2008
A Reminder To Supporters Of The Scottish National Party
The Tartanissimo's ravings about 'spivs and speculators' driving Halfars-Halifax Bank Of Scotland into the arms of a better-run bank must be taken with a strong pinch of salt.
Some wise soul, I think it was on one of The Daily Telegraph's message boards, made the very cogent comment that Salmond had nothing to say when spivs and speculators were driving the oil price, upon which the SNP seems to have founded most of its economic projections, up to $147 a barrel. Oil spivs who make the SNP's funny money projections, good; banking spivs, bad.
It is also to be remembered that the SNP once bore the nickname 'Tartan Tories', with good reason. They are extremely business friendly, if not very perceptive - the paragraphs in Dennis McLeod's and Mike Russell's 'Grasping the Thistle' about how Scotland would have to survive in the world of hypermobile capital such as that which seen its kilt fall round its ankles this week may need some revision for the next edition.
Not the most encouraging headline, I know, but the only one that seems appropriate to describe a taxpayer-funded bailout of private companies that will result in profit being private and individual while loss will be public and social.
I hope that Paulson's gambit works. If it doesn't, and any confidence that the markets has gained is just another postponement of oblivion, the American people will have come a step closer towards becoming serfs, and the New Dark Ages will be upon us.
Let us hope that the Chinese decide to hang onto their dollar holdings. If they do not, and start a capital flight, you can kiss the West goodbye.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The Return Of Serfdom In The New Dark Ages
The news that central banks have pumped £99 billion into the world's markets to 'lift the amount of credit available' is not good news; indeed, possibly the worst of all possible news for all those concerned about what our society will look like, and how it will function, in the aftermath of the current crisis.
This credit will be used. One day, it will have to be repaid. Assuming that its deployment has not had the desired economic effect, it is not inconceivable that the methods by which it will be recouped will either be by through crippling taxes of the kind that the Roman Empire levied on its citizens during the financial crises at the time of Constantine; or else by the reduction of citizens to de facto serfs, as happened in Germany in the aftermath of the Thirty Years War.
Both were times of civic catastrophe. Both mechanisms enabled social and economic elites to secure their positions. The United Kingdom possesses social and economic elites endowed with almost divine senses of their own entitlement. At this point in their history, they resemble the Junkers and the patricians more than they have ever done. My fear is that, when faced with similar problems, they will not hesitate to deploy the remedies used by those two groups.
If you think this could not happen, think on this; over the past 10 years, the British Government has consistently sought to limit the rights of British citizens to think, speak and associate freely. Laws passed to combat terrorism have been used to police schools admission policies by those charged with their administration. This has happened in times of relative tranquillity. If the current economic crisis were to develop and worsen, it is perfectly possible that our uniformly authoritarian political class would take the next step of either grinding citizens into the dust through taxation, or of commandeering their labour to those ends that the dominant minority would think most likely to ensure its own survival. Instead of being able to divide our labour in the pursuit of efficiency, we would be subject to the discipline of robot.
The great question would be whether British citizens would be prepared to resist such incursions on their freedoms. My fear is that the majority, petrified by the thought of any further drops in their standard of living, would not.
That's one possible outcome; another is hardly any more appealing.
Civic British culture stands on a knife-edge. It is not unreasonable to suggest that our public life is now as weak as it has ever been. Should a sufficient number of citizens be sufficiently disgruntled by the social and economic changes that have been wrought upon them in the name of their own good, will we stand in danger of a bona fide revolution?
Just for once, I can't think of an answer.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Cultural Issues And Threats To Peace In The New Dark Age
Following upon my post of yesterday concerning how the collapse of Lehman Bros, and the chaos that will inevitably follow, may herald the commencement of a dark age, a few other thoughts which are perhaps worthy of expression have come to mind.
The Dark Ages which began with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire were heralded by a 'Volkerwanderung', a phenomenon on which I have previously written here, here and here. It's quite clear that the Anglo-American economies have been subjected to a similar 'Volkerwanderung' for many years, driven by the demands of economic elites shameless in their employment of the Marxist inspired language of 'diversity'; however, there are two critical differences between the migrations of the early Dark Ages and those of the past 20 years.
The first is that the concept of the civil nation state did not exist in the early Dark Ages as it does now. As opposition to the expansion of the European Union continues to prove, the attachment felt towards nation states by their citizens cannot be easily overcome. The Dark Ages migration occurred into areas where the civil authority had, to all intents and purposes, abandoned the residents to their own devices; the modern migration has happened with the active complicity of the civil authorities into regions already strongly governed.
The second is that the majority of Dark Age migrants shared many characteristics with the inhabitants of the areas into which they moved. Most were already Christian, albeit Arian; the migrations were less of a conquest than a corporate takeover. The Volkerwanderung of the past 20 years has seen a massive influx of non-Christian, particularly Muslim, immigrants to Europe.
It is, or should be, a matter of grave concern to those in charge of policy whether or not a shock to civil government caused by, for example, a deep and sustained economic depression, would be able to prevent religious tensions from coming to the surface. There has recently been much hand-wringing over the establishment of Sharia courts in the United Kingdom - it might perhaps be doubtful whether such entities could survive in a society whose majority population felt themselves abandoned by their government, under severe economic pressure and subject to the threat of religiously motivated terrorist attack.
A second thought was that if a depression does occur, it will start in a United States weakened by eight years of a subprime mixture of war, globalism and epic profligacy. The formerly Trotskyite entryists known as the 'neoconservatives' have been the authors of this - it is disturbing to see that they appear to have hijacked Sarah Palin.
Yet although Governor Palin's remarks about Russia might strike the majority of reasonable people as being profoundly stupid, they must have sounded like music to the ears of the neoconservatives. The neos hate Russia, bottom line; they don't care whether or not any assault of any kind on that nation has the slightest relationship to the wishes and desires of rational people.
This would be bad enough, even if the year 2009 was not always going to be a difficult one for Anglo-American-Russian relations.
June 28 2009 will be the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava, Peter the Great's Waterloo. It will be the occasion of much celebration in Russia. It may even lead to outpourings of nationalist sentiment on a scale which has not been seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
When you hate a nation so much as to say you wouldn't hesitate to go to war with it; when you see it gearing up for a celebration; and when you are suffering the consequences of policies that you have pushed and from which they have abstained, might the temptation to start a war of convenience be almost impossible to resist?
Monday, September 15, 2008
Behold The New Dark Ages
Nearly four years ago, I wrote,
"The spectre of austerity measures, wages and prices controls, restricted working weeks and gas rationing, is floating above the American economy, an elephant in the room that the White House and Congress refuse to acknowledge. It is in possibly the deepest trouble it’s been in since the Wall Street Crash, a fully avoidable crisis into which its custodians have sleepwalked because of their refusal to face basic economic realities. The malaise of the Carter years happened in a very much smaller economic environment than the Bush one; the Bush malaise in on a truly global scale. When it all falls down, 1929 will look like a picnic."
Lehman Bros. collapsed this morning. The picnic is just getting under way. Lehman Bros. was the first course. Others will follow.
The historians of the future might one day marvel at the lightning speed with which Robert Mugabe embraced a rapprochement with Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change; as far as I can see, nobody seems to have asked the question whether Mugabe's Chinese backers have decided that their money might be better spent elsewhere, leaving Mugabe with no option but to adopt a more Western-donor-friendly domestic policy.
Whatevr the reasoning, Mugabe will probably be gone in no more than a year, a victim of Tocqueville's assertion that authoritarian governments are at their most vulnerable when they attempt to reform. Zimbabwean glasnost will have the same outcome as Soviet glasnost, with hunger fuelling the reform process ever on.
This may be the only good thing to come out of the current crisis. With the greatest of respect to him, I disagree with the blogging Catholic Laban Tall's analysis that this crisis might only result in a correction back to the banking practices of 35 years ago. Unfortunately, it's far worse than that; over the past 35 years, capital has achieved such a freedom of movement that, for all practical purposes, it became independent of state power. Perhaps this is another meaning of 'globalisation'. Defining 'globalisation' can be a hit-or-miss business; I know at least five different definitions of what the phenomenon actually is, provided by Paul Krugman, Niall Ferguson, Stephen Roach, John Gray and Will Hutton & Anthony Giddens. Hopefully history will prove that the globalisation of finance was a policy, not a process; at least people will then have someone to blame. Whenever state power has impinged upon financial power, it has done so in such a way that capital's interest has never been significantly harmed. Like all human entities conscious of their own power and not subject to any restraint, those who wielded financial power inevitably abused it. The losses arising from the collapse of a bank of Lehman's size will be catastrophic; but the world's financial system is so minutely interconnected that we will all be paying for many years to come. This is all the fault of a small group of people.
In the United Kingdom, we have been fed economic lies for many years. Stagflation has been in the works for years, and no action has been taken to stop it. Native workers have been displaced as a consequence of policies for which nobody ever voted. The aggressive de-industrialisation of our economy has caused our government to spread lies and canards about 'skills', and the country's lack thereof. All of these were symptoms that the economy had been failing for many years before the credit crunch finally bit; and it's my belief that everything I have narrated was either engineered or was allowed to happen in order to help keep afloat the fragile house of cards which is the so-called 'global economy'. Because of the internationalist ideology they and their associates espoused, keeping the global economy afloat became the primary policy aim of those in charge of the British government. This was not the job they were elected to do.
My gut feeling is that the change in living standards that we face is so profound that we are standing on the precipice of a new Dark Ages. The outcome will not be pretty - let us hope we all survive.
Friday, September 12, 2008
What HAL Would Say If He Worked In A Call Centre
"My mind is going" -
Wait a minute...he did say that...
Wait a minute...he did say that...
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
St. Thomas More On Feminism
"And...in Saxony many cast fasting off and all other bodily affliction, save only where need to bring the body to temperance. For other good, they say, can it none do to ourself, and then to our neighbour can it do none at all, and therefore they condemn it for superstitious folly. Now, heaviness of heart and weeping for our sins, this they reckon shame almost and womanish peevishness. Howbeit, thanked be God, their women were there now so mannish, that they be not so peevish nor so poor of spirit but that they can sin on as men do, and be neither afraid nor ashamed, nor weep for their sins at all" -
'Utopia', Book 2 (written in the Tower of London)
Monday, September 08, 2008
It's one of those days when one can see that the end of the West is in sight.
And perhaps it deserves to go. We are decadent. We encourage excess, and call it freedom, we encourage blasphemy and call it art. Maybe we'll just join the long line of failed civilisations who made the mistake of thinking they would last forever and took their eyes off the ball. We have squandered our economic patrimony in the name of 'growth'; we have squandered our culture in the names of 'irony' and 'satire'.
Mat The Lord help us all.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Gordon Brown's Ramadan Message
Failing To Discuss The Possible Apostasy Of Sarah Palin Turns Catholics Into Good Germans
In an unrelated post, Father John Zuhlsdorf has published a partial reply to my question concerning whether Sarah Palin should be considered an apostate in a state of mortal sin.
His post is entitled 'Gov. Palin: ex-Catholic? Stop bugging me about it'; hopefully he does not adopt the same offhand approach to penitents seeking Reconciliation outside the appointed hours.
"To my knowledge Gov. Palin was baptized in the Catholic Church, but her parents left the Catholic Church for some Protestant sect when she was around 12 years old."
So by the time she was presumably dragged kicking and screaming from Catholicism, she was old enough to have received a significant degree of religious instruction, together with the sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, Communion and possibly Confirmation; in other words, she was old enough to be expected to know right from wrong.
"I don’t hold twelve-year-old children accountable for the actions of their parents."
Unfortunately, many 12 year olds have had the fear of Hell put into them for being a bit sluggish about getting out of their beds in time for Sunday Mass. Many 12 year olds have had to sit through sermons warning them of the dangers of sin, death, Hell and punishment. If Father Zuhlsdorf were a cradle Catholic, he would know this. Stating that a 12 year old is not responsible for the actions of the parents is only valid in matters where the 12 year old cannot be assumed to know better, such as whether or not they should own a handgun or get a tattoo. Sarah Palin 'left' the Church at an age when she presumably could be expected to know better. Failing to apportion an appropriate measure of blame for her actions to her seems to deny the efficacy of the sacraments and instructions that a 12 year old can be expected to have received. A 12 year old should have recited the words 'one holy, Catholic and apostolic Church' often enough to know that anything other than Catholicism is guff.
"Would that be even slightly rational?"
Since when were the demands of a religion made subject to the dictates of reason? Have I missed something somewhere along the line?
"I understand she attends a non-denominational Christian church of some sort."
Unless I'm gravely mistaken, there is only one 'non-denominational' Christian Church - the Catholic Church. I will give Father Zuhlsdorf the benefit of the doubt and presume that he is not stating that the Catholic Church is merely one of many valid Christian denominations; the lack of clarity in his prose does not make his position immediately obvious.
"Apostasy" is accomplished by a formal act, not by being taken away from the Church as a child and then growing up in a Christian sect. I wish she were a Catholic! I wish everyone were Catholic! But she’s not, and it seems not to be her fault."
Governor Palin was baptised a Catholic. She was either removed from, or removed herself from, the Catholic Church at an advanced age, by which time she should have received a level of instruction sufficient to educate her that separation from the Church is not a moral good. Again, Father Zuhlsdorf's prose is not clear - he cannot reasonably be saying that receiving Baptism does not make one a Catholic. So what is he saying? He cannot reasonably be saying that instruction in the Catholic faith is ineffective - so what is he saying? He cannot possibly be saying that people cannot be held accountable for their own actions - so what is he saying?
"Some who are Catholic really aren’t… "
One might have thought that a matter for God and the higher clergy to decide.
"...and in the case of some politicians that is their fault."
At last, something upon which we agree.
"Until it is revealed that Gov. Palin has made some sort of formal act of apostasy from the Catholic Church or done something anti-Catholic, I think you ought to breathe deeply and regularly, trying breathing into a paper bag, and maintain some control."
That patronising tone of Father Zuhlsdorf's conclusion does not alter, in any way, shape or form, the fact that Sarah Palin, a baptised Catholic, 'joined' another 'church' at an age when she could have been expected to know that to do so was sinful; and that she does not appear to have made amends for this error. Accordingly, to my mind the question as to whether or not she is an apostate remains unresolved.
Sarah Palin is pro-life - this is good. However, to vote for the secular political party of which she is a bought-and-paid for creature, and to the fate of which she has bound herself, simply because she is pro-life is akin to supporting Mussolini because he made the trains run on time. It turns those Catholics who do so into advocates of the perpetual wars and continuing hellish economic evils that would be visited upon the USA by President McCain. John McCain is the most dangerous kind of old man, in that he is an old man without wisdom - he seems to have no reading, fails to possess an enquiring mind and still seems to revel in the sobriquet 'Maverick' at the age of 72. This is not a good mental place for a man his age to be in. Sarah Palin would be part and parcel of every piece of misbegotten, hellish madness that a McCain presidency would visit upon that greatest of nations; and saying that 'but she's pro-life' as a justification for the further shedding of American blood, and the further impoverishment of the American middle classes, turns those Catholics who vote for her solely because she is pro-life into, in the words of the late Hunter S. Thompson, good Germans.
Personally, I would not want to be an American voter this year, faced as I would be with a choice between a mean old man and a messianic abortionist demagogue. Pray for discernment, and for the soul of Sarah Palin.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
India's Culture Of Death
The recent anyone-on-Christian religious violence in India reminds us how far that society has to go in order to achieve its boast of pluralism; and the very small team that India has fielded in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, both in relation to its population and the size of other teams, is perhaps indicative of just how deeply rooted the culture of casual death is in that nation.
Why Neither The Democrats Nor The Republicans Deserve To Win The Presidential Election
Obama's an abortionist and McCain believes the USA is a nonsensical 'proposition nation'. Pace Kissinger, it's a pity they can't both lose.
Without being absolutely germane to the topic in hand, doesn't Sarah Palin's baptism into the Wasilla Assembly of God make her an apostate Catholic in a state of mortal sin - no matter how pro-life she is? Answers welcome.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
No Time To Blog In The Morning, Too Tired To Blog At Night
The travelling to the new job is taking its toll - as a rule, the mobility impaired should not seek employment on hilltops unserviced by public transport. It's a veritable Trail of Tears through the backwoods of the West of Scotland, 'twixt slagheap and bing.
My apologies if content has been sparse of late, but at the moment Mo and Jo are truanting from my mojo, while my get up and go has got up and went. A few more weeks, and it'll be more settled. Keep reading.
The VanityOf Authorship
A Little Something From The Past
The first Germans to burn books were liberals.