Archive for February 7th, 2009

WHY THE SLUMP

February 7, 2009

 

DEVOURING CIVILIZATION BY LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE PEOPLE, AND TOO MUCH FOR THE PLUTOCRACY.
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Abstract: The process of decay the USA has engaged into has been seen before. A particularly clear case is that of the decline of the Greco-Roman empire. The ever more greedy Roman plutocracy, and its rampant anti-intellectualism were central, as were games and throwing money at the people (“tax cuts”). The Imperium Francorum got out of the Greco-Romano-Christian mess through a drastic philosophical revolution backed up by force.

The same illness calls for a similar remedy.
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What caused the slump? The disorganization of the US economy, its inefficiency and inequity, increasing until the system became unsustainable, and 10% of those who had to pay the gages of death (that is what mortgage means in its original French) refused to pay them. The financial system, overburdened, and overleveraged in mysterious ways by the money manipulators, then collapsed. All large US banks are INSOLVENT, a secret that the plutocracy, with an insolent sense of humor, hid below a TARP (Transferring Assets to Rich People).

Resources were plundered by financial parasites, while necessary sectors of the real economy were left to die. The hurricane winds of bad morality tore through the economic landscape until too few things of value were left for sustenance. In the end, the decimated public sector did not support the arena of the free market with enough of the correct public infra-structure (the structure below the free markets).

Moreover, there was ever more money, hence power. in ever relatively fewer hands. The very existence of such an imbalance, especially when it is always increasing, leads those who enjoy it, to get hypnotized by the Dark Side, that they come to see as their benefactor, their way, the way, their God. Soon the plutocrats reinforced darkness by tweaking the institutions, the laws, the culture. Their cruel epigenetics rose to the fore. Thus goes the power of the Underground, of pluto-cracy, ever more obsessive, possessive, all encompassing. (Precious stones and minerals are also underground, not just the darkest emotions, so Pluto, the God of the underground, is often equated with money; but the original sense is more general.) Plutocracy unchained made the average person ever more impotent, robbing them of income, employment, political power.

To hypnotize the masses, the plutocracy persuaded them that they could be rich too, if only they borrowed enough from the plutocracy. That was a nice trap: the more credit, the better the masses felt, and the more the plutocrats made money. The USA became a CREDITIST country rather than a capitalist one (the capital is in China, and in fiscal paradises, escaping the IRS).

Finally the plutocrats came to realize they would make better money overseas, in a form of neocolonialism that allowed them to escape the burdensome laws and regulation democratic civilization had invented to rule itself. The US eco-nomy (“house-management”) became even more impotent. Indeed it came to depend upon other countries for:

Energy procurement
Manufactured goods
Savings
Entertainment (“War on Terror”, imperial overstretch, invading and bombing various countries).

Why such a strange organization? Well, guess who was the indispensable intermediary? The plutocracy (yes it intermingles with itself internationally).

How did this all happen? Very simple: THE PLUTOCRACY SET UP GLOBAL TRADE, BUT WITHOUT GLOBAL LAW.

The plutocracy is global, the law is local. The plutocracy is strong, and reaches all over, the law is weak, and its meek little hand has no reach at all. The plutocracy is about world trade, the law is about savages living in huts in the jungle. And if you don’t like it, the plutocracy has always a gunboat or two to show you.

Understanding this suggests an immediate solution to the global financial and economic crisis; set a global authority (an IFA, International Financial Authority) and pass global legislation (some of the details of what should be passed I exposed previously).

Ultimately an energy cost spike buried that self destructive madness. Borrowing oneself to wealth revealed itself to be borrowing oneself to death. The middle class quit on the plutocracy, so the plutocracy asked for a TARP to hid the horror, and extract a few last gulps of the money nectar. Now the plutocracy is busy hiding its tracks by having its employees push legislation to “Buy American”. Cute. Nothing like a good war, even a trade war, to distract the masses. Maybe one should invade Iran?

Those who make a mix of naivety and submission into a personal religion will hint that the description above makes no sense: why would a society let that happen to itself? Why would a society let itself be eaten alive by its ravenous plutocracy?

But that is what happened. We just explained how it goes: once the Dark Side is engaged, it’s self justifying, by piling ever more of itself onto itself. (The root causes of this, of Evil, have to do with ecology in the grandest sense, so they are as deep as life itself. No averting of one’s eyes, no averting of one’s mind, will resolve the mechanism without mayhem, once it gets rolling, because well, it is made FOR mayhem. Ecology is made whole by mayhem, that’s the old fashion way. The human point of view is to prevent mayhem with intelligent intervention.)

The crisis started where it was invented, in the USA, but it is a world crisis, because the US model of economy in the principal service of plutocracy extended worldwide.

Historical examples abound of societies where an increasingly hubristic plutocracy drove the society that supported it, the society that it overlorded over, to complete destruction.

It is exactly what happened to the Roman empire. Rome was the most advanced civilization, with maybe 25% of humankind. Still it collapsed, and a casual contemplation of the facts show that the collapse was first internal. The Roman INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSED FIRST, STARTING WITH THE MORAL AND MASS EQUITY INFRASTRUCTURE. That collapse happened for bad, but powerful reasons, and that is why they tend to recur in all civilizations. Those reasons have to do with the intrinsic nature of human beings and the nature of capital and the exponential function. Left undomesticated and unrestrained, those laws of nature devour civilization. The first collapse turned the Roman republic into the “Principate”, a pseudo republic with reduced mental capability. It was ever more downhill after that.

The USA is following the same pattern. But remember that, between the first clear signals that something was very wrong until the collapse of the republic (Gracchi to Sulla) there was 54 years. The collapse was not instantaneous.

So what should be done? Invert it all. This is the (not so simple) task confronting the Obama administration. It will need to enact powerful new legislation.

It can be done. The history of Europe after the disintegration of the Greco-Roman empire is pretty much a struggle to invert what went wrong with the Greco-Romano-Christian socioeconomy. The first three important measures taken by the Franks in the West were to block the attack of the Christian superstition against education, the second was to throw out a lot of sexism, the third was to outlaw slavery. All these decisions led the economy of Western Europe to become the most energy intensive in the world, by the year 1000. At least for a while, the society was reborn in the liberty, equality, fraternity arena (recent archeological studies show this).

The remedy to the situation nowadays is similar. First the plutocracy should be put back in its cage. That was attempted in Rome by the Gracchi brothers, a pair of tribunes in 2nd century BC who proposed to pass land reform legislation in the Roman republic to redistribute wealth. They, and thousands of supporters were murdered by private armies of the plutocracy (think about Blackwater running amok inside the USA, paid by Halliburton).

The Franks rolled plutocracy back (in part by redistributing land to themselves, in part by outlawing slavery, in part by making inheritance laws more equitable).

Then, just as under the Franks, superstition should be pushed back, reason and education re-expanded. It is no accident that the USA is not evolving: only 40% of US citizens believe in the theory of evolution. No need to evolve one’s society when it has been ordained by God. By comparison, 80% of the French believe in the theory of evolution, and the French are always pushing to evolve their own society (OK, some will say that the French are particularly friendly to evolution because the French research biology professor Lamarck discovered the theory of evolution, around 1800; the Englishman Lyell was Lamarck’s  student, and then Darwin studied under both of them; but it was only natural that evolution theory be discovered in the country, and at the time, when the shattering philosophical evolution of making the Rights Of Man universal had just been proclaimed; emotions are made to melt reason, and allow it to crystallize anew, stronger and better).

The Franks had replaced the exploitation of man by man, by the exploitation of nature by man. Europe, from Holland to Britain, to the Alps, got covered with windmills and waterwheels (the Romans had waterwheel technology, and it was deployed industrially in Gaul, archeology has shown, but no doubt slavery blocked its full deployment throughout the empire).

One should aim to take social, technological, and industrial measures to make the economy much more ENERGY EFFICIENT than it has been in the past.

Indeed, it’s not enough to just use ever more energy. The Franks discovered this during the middle Middle Ages. Carbon from the forests, was necessary for both energy and construction. Nobody owned them, everybody overexploited them. Moreover, forests occupied land where Middle Age peasants wanted to plant crops. So Europe ran out of forests. (The European population peaked around 1300 CE, before collapsing by more than half). Central governments in France and Germany and Italy had to take drastic measures against deforestation (all the way to “banning” people from some areas, under the penalty of death, as happened in the French Alps; the Dominican republic had to take somewhat similar measures in recent decades to avoid the fate of its neighbor, Haiti).

What counts is not absolute energy usage (as all too many US citizens believe, from lack of careful analysis). What counts is EFFICIENT WORK (“Work” is taken here in the sense found in physics textbooks). That efficient work should be increased. Overall energy consumption should be decreased. In these crucial parameters, the USA has faltered very badly (France is three time more efficient in carbon usage by unit of GDP than the USA). This all came to roost in 2008, when a spike in energy crisis caused by speculators broke the back of the US consumer (hence the US, and then world economy). Now 10% of US mortgage holders are delinquent, or, otherwise said, they have gone on strike.

By the way, all the decisions taken by the Franks were top down, and had to do with new legislation imposed by a powerful State, the Imperium Francorum. There was nothing “bipartisan” about any of this. The Franks did not sit down with their Christian opposition to make a half way deal. OK, actually they did, but that was only tactical. Less than two centuries after the Franks had taken power, the Christian church had been deprived of the terror it exerted over the educational system, and of the slaves it used, and was ordered to deliver secular education. The Franks named their own bishops. Then they basically financed their own religious institutions, and put themselves inside.  

So the post Greco-Romano-Christian reforms of the early Middle Ages, the true renaissance, had every thing to do with a new imperial State thinking it knew what it was doing, and breaking by force the old conceptual order of the Greco-Romans (outlawing their slavery and sexism), and the conceptual order of the Christians (who had been assaulting reason and education to promote their superstitious rule). Taxation and legislation also broke the extravagant Greco-Roman plutocracy.

Finally when the undefeated Islamist armies invaded Francia, the Franks NATIONALIZED the Christian church. This was a counter intuitive move; Islam invades, Franks nationalize Christianity. But this nationalization allowed the Frankish government to have money to pay for the largest MOBILE army seen since early imperial Rome (the nationalization also made the point that this war was not about religion, but about saving what the Franks called “Europe”). That implied payments to support the families of the drafted soldiers. This was another form of socialism, that was invented just for the occasion (the Roman army never used such a modern system to allow soldiers to have families, but two different systems that did not survive, because they were not as good).

In conclusion, Western civilization, in its sustainable form, was founded on the enforcement of new philosophy, more clever, and more energy efficient and energy and freedom friendly. The Greco-Roman world inventivity had degenerated in a few centuries, but the new order of mind in Western Europe allowed it to survive for 15 centuries, and counting.

The Franks (that is, the “Free”) invented the rights of man (no more slavery), equity (kings were in theory elected by all), beat back superstition, invented nationalization and pushed socialization (taking care of soldiers’ families) where Rome had not gone. Inheritance laws insured that wealth would be distributed (that broke the empire in small pieces). This all brought an economic boom.

So observe the illness, and then repeat its cure. The cure was to break the old mental framework that supported the plutocracy by a deeper philosophical understanding of what happened, allowing to build better and greater things on top of it.

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Patrice Ayme
http://patriceayme.com/

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Note on insolvency: Goldman Sachs just came with a number of around six trillion dollars of default for the large banks; but a giant British bank (RBS) asserted weeks ago that all US banks were insolvent; our own reasoning, for a very long time, has been that somebody had got to have bought the hundreds of trillions of insolvent derivative trades, and if not the giant banks, then who? The Credit default Swaps by themselves were 60 trillions. After nationalization, all these contracts have to declared null, void and unlawful.

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Note on evolution: Why is it so hard for the Anglo-Saxons to admit evolution? Because evolving is antagonistic to the God given plutocracy. So the plutocracy always insists that God figured it all out, and nothing should be changed by little men, from God’s magnificent masterpiece, in which God given profit and exploitation dominates.

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, although having the most prestigious scientific position in France, and having made huge discoveries (he “discovered” and named invertebrates, among other things), was made fun of for the theory of evolution, and died in modest circumstances. So now Darwin, a relative dilettante, has all the glory.

As Lyell put it when he was 27: “I devoured Lamarck… his theories delighted me… I am glad that he has been courageous enough and logical enough to admit that his argument, if pushed as far as it must go, if worth anything, would prove that men may have come from the Ourang-Outang. But after all, what changes species may really undergo!… That the Earth is quite as old as he supposes, has long been my creed.”

Darwin made studies on birds similar to, and inspired by, those the French research professor Lamarck had made on clams. Lamarck’s, clam studies unambiguously revealed that the evolution of clams had occurred, over gigantic extents of time.

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Note on the Roman military versus the Franks: The Roman army never used a modern system to allow soldiers to have families, while being soldiers. Instead it used two different systems that did not survive, because they were not as good. The republican system was to settle old soldiers that often had made 40 years (!) of service, the late imperial one was to settle the army outright (making it static, so the small German armies walked around it!).


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