America Was Always A Governmental Project


The colonization of the West Indies, Central and South America, but also North America, were all governmental projects manipulated by private individuals. The “Crowns” of Spain, France, Portugal, England (in that chronological order) financed them. And so it was for centuries: government first, organized everything. The myth that the “Free Market” colonizes all, and is the ultimate organizer was just a (self-serving) myth invented by US plutocracy to better colonized all. Wait, some will say, aren’t you contradicting yourself? No, century or so was a period when the wealthiest individuals in the world, US plutocrats, acquired a variable, but occasionally domineering level of control of the US government: cursus honorum, as the Romans used to call it, American style.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the government, in a real democracy (people-power)… Except for the flaws Athens exhibited in its short lived total democracy dominance (namely over-passionate, poorly studied, hubristic and intemperate decisions). Now Athens had a basic problem: it was not the domineering military power (Sparta was stronger on land, and Persia was immensely stronger on land, more than equal at sea). Right now, the West is domineering militarily. but democratically incomplete. Biden is trying to grow government. He can be exactly what the doctor ordered, IF done right (spending where government spending will change the future for the best).

Governmentalism, done right, is growing, and has to grow… Be it only because it works so spectacularly in China,while the “free market” is failing spectacularly in Europe (see the European COVID debacle; Europe did less well than China, or the US, the latter mostly at the origin of the vaccines, through Trump’s efforts).

Overall, since the Communists took control, China has been driven by smart (and violent) governmentalism… when the government intervenes in all ways. For example, the Chinese Communist Party intervenes decisively by outlawing marriage with close relatives (which bolster kinship). What the CCP was doing was to impose frantically laws similar to those of Western Europe. Western Europe, led that way mostly by France, had been, for two millennia, the prime actor of governmentalism. England, a subsidiary of France initially, was not far behind.

(I prefer the word “governmentalism”, to “statism” which is too… static. The most dynamic societies have practiced “governmentalism… but were, precisely, far from static. Landing on the Moon, a government project, was not static!)

In 2020, massive intervention of the US government in private research, through development funding and rewards brandished, brought the spectacular arrival of half a dozen vaccines (“Operation Warp Speed”). The European Union did nothing similar to what Trump did, brutal governmentalism. Instead Europe waited for private enterprise (much of it now financed by Trump or… Boris Johnson!) to come up with solutions. So Europe failed monstrously, and now depends upon Trump financed vaccines. Now this is not exactly about Trump: governmentalism and mercantilism (governmentalism applied to “free trade”) have always been American traditions.

The part of America which became the USA has long been a government enterprise. English America was first founded by the “West Country Men”, a group of famous plutocrats which had included Sir Francis Drake, who died in an American military expedition… and where King James I would be most prominent.  

The Erie Canal made New York the economic capital of the USA, displacing Philadelphia.

The English North American colony, the 1607 project, was founded by the Virginia Company, a joint-stock entity which was empowered by the Crown to govern itself… with the help of military officers (such as the fierce and experienced Captain John Smith who was part of the governing council). So, from the beginning, the North American colony was a joint military-government-investors venture. 

Biden wants to augment significantly government spending, in a reversal of the Reagan program of considering the government as the enemy. There are powerful antecedents to this: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, JFK and LBJ. Ike rose the marginal tax rate to 91% (a bit higher than Truman left it).

Nowadays, what needs to be industrialized correctly is the entire world. In particular, in the long term, no more fossil fuels, no more deforestation, no more environment killing plastics, chemicals, heavy metals, phosphates, etc.

This reconfiguration of the world economy can only happen at the direction of governments. Taxation, anywhere in the world, just as the economy, anywhere in the world, or democracy, anywhere in the world, is a global problem. There never was, and never will be, a free market as the adjudicator of all things economic: it is the government itself which is the adjudicator. The government determines what freedom is, and what the market is. 

Around 655 CE, the government of Queen Bathilde of the Franks ruled that trading slaves was unlawful: this restraining of the free market led to investments in education and higher technology, making Europe what she became: a fulcrum of progress and relative freedom… As usual the link is indicative; I do not fully agree with the description of Bathilde as given by Encyclopedia Britannica; in particular, the British encyclopedia lies about Bathilde freeing only Christians. Bathilde [correct spelling from contemporaneous 7C, Seventh Century Latin documents] OUTLAWED SELLING and BUYING SLAVES… Even from OUTSIDE FRANCIA: more exactly, a slave bought outside Francia was automatically freed when brought into Francia. The religion, ethnicity, gender and origin of the slave did not matter; the slave was freed. The Bathilde governmental policy of outlawing slavery did not just change the socioeconomy of Europe, but of the planet.

She outlawed slavery: Most important political leader of the planet? Ever?

All the great civilizations have been driven by smart governmentalism: Darius greatly improved the Achaemenid Empire by experimenting with the free market, while engaging in massive government spending in all sorts of infrastructure, canals, some underground, irrigation, communications, roads, state banking, a powerful navy, etc. China built a giant canal system, over millennia, and had a powerful educational system. Nowadays the most important spending should be research in fundamental science, something the “free market” and its greed can’t provide for… The world CO2 crisis can only be solved scientifically, not fiscally

Bidenomics consists, roughly speaking, of more of what I call “governmentalism”: large-scale public investment paid for with more taxes. 

The Biden administration infrastructure fact sheet alludes to part of that history, declaring that the plan “will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways [Ike] and won the space race [JFK, LBJ].” I have long advocated to bring back the Dwight stuff — with much higher government investment as a share of gross domestic product than we do now, and also much higher tax rates on both high-income individuals and corporations.

The era of big government investment and high taxes on the rich coincided, not incidentally, with the US and Europe’s 30 glorious years the greatest generation — the post WW2 decades of rapidly rising living standards….

Public investment and progressive taxation in America in particular and the greatest civilizations in general goes back much further than the mid-Twentieth Century.

An example is the construction of the Erie Canal between 1818 and 1825. It imitated what the Romans and the French had done. When Marius’ legions arrived in Provence and waited two years for the savage German invaders to deign showing up, he occupied his soldiers by building a canal. The land which came to be known as France would keep on building canals, at government expense, for another two millennia. 

Unlike the privately owned canals of 18th-century plutocratic Britain, the original Erie Canal was built by the government of New York State, at a cost of $7 million (in 1818 dollars). This was carried out over the years 1818 to 1825. The canal is a 363-mile  (nearly 600 kilometers) waterway that connects the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River in upstate New York. It connected New York City to the Great Lakes, and through Chicago, to the Mississippi system. 

The legislative act allowing bonds to be sold to finance the canals’ construction specified a maximum interest rate of 6 percent… apparently was the interest rate which the bonds actually paid. Over the period from 1824 to 1882 the total tolls collected amounted to approximately $121 million. This ranged from $300 thousand in 1824 to $4.5 million in 1862. Thus the canal paid for itself in less than twenty years.

Britain had immensely wealthy individuals and banks, the USA did not (both the US Revolution and presidents such as Jackson made sure to keep away European plutocrats and their banks). So governmentalism was a necessity in the USA. As a share of state G.D.P., the canal was probably the equivalent of  $1 trillion today

Big public role in infrastructure continued down the generations, and it was accompanied by a policy not of “Free Trade” but “Mercantilism“: the US government would mostly maneuver to advantage private enterprise and greed, at the cost of all and any notions, including basic decency or filial piety… for example profiting from World War One by selling to racist fascist invasive mass homicidal genocidal Kaiser Germany what it needed to keep fighting World War One, by evading the Franco-British high seas blockade; this caused great suffering and weakening of France and Britain, the parents of the USA.

The US government would send the US Cavalry, massacre and clear the Indians, and distribute their lands around the newly built railroads. Land grants enabled railway construction and universities. Teddy Roosevelt finished the Panama Canal (started by the French Ferdinand de Lesseps and his French banks). F.D.R. brought electricity to rural areas. Eisenhower built the interstate freeway network.

So what is today’s infrastructure to be built? Mostly fundamental science. We need to leap scientifically: COVID was just a little warning. Very sophisticated scientific advances (mRNA vaccines and Adenoviruses gene carrier vaccines) enabled to solve the crisis promptly. Meanwhile the climate and toxic crises are squeezing ever more the world ecology. After the enormous expansion of the world population, it is to be feared that, barring spectacular scientific advances, cannibalism may come back. After all, it was practiced in the original English colony of 1610 CE, not just the Donner Party of the Nineteenth Century.  

When India was created as a modern country, respect was paid to Islam: (wealthy) Muslim men were allowed to follow their religious edict, the Sharia, and marry several women. Meanwhile, China, duplicating Europe, was explicitly outlawing polygeny. So India was created with a low level of government intervention, the opposite of the brutal dictatorship of the CCP. India was then wealthier per capita than China. Now China is much wealthier than India in capital (but not in capita).

In 2015, the India Supreme Court found that secular law should apply to Muslim men too. Thus governmentalism has been on the rise in India… And so has been the economy. The smartest governmentalism implies the smartest laws, the smartest “free market”, the smartest tech and science, and the smartest driver of them all, the smartest smarts… The latter point escapes autocrats. As Biden (who has personal experience with them) pointed out, autocrats such as Putin and Xi think the world has become too complicated for democracy and requires autocracy. Well, it is democracy, democratic governmentalism, which created that more complicated, smarter world. Yet, yes, it is a fine line, sometimes democracy backfires, as Socrates pointed out luridly, indeed, there are all sorts of thin red lines not to cross. But, done right, democratic governmentalism can’t be beat.

A piece of advice: too much spending giving money directly to low lives, is what was started in Rome, and it brought only the opposite of what it claimed to want to achieve. Besides many “Republicans” may resist it (rightly). The way to improve civilization the most is through education, availability of work, and fundamental science. A consensus should be buildable in that perspective.

Patrice Ayme

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6 Responses to “America Was Always A Governmental Project”

  1. De Brunet d'Ambiallet Says:

    All out for Bathilde! Roll over Lincoln. She is nobofu anybody speaks of in France. Weird. You would think Mahomet was French not Bathilde

    Like

  2. SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ Says:

    Dear Patrice,

    I like your take on governmentalism in this post. Well done!

    Indeed! Biden is staring into the menacing eye and ugly head of neoliberalism whilst standing on the grand shoulders of Keynesianism (discretionary fiscal policy and monetary policy), Monetarism (rules-based monetary policy by targeting the growth rate of the money supply) and Marxian economics (crisis in capitalism and class conflict).

    Speaking of China, America can indeed learn a lot from China, especially Ancient China, as discussed in my bespoke and animated post entitled “Strong Wind Knows Tough Grass” published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2020/11/11/strong-wind-knows-tough-grass/

    I am very keen and curious to know what you think or make of the post. See you there!

    Yours sincerely,
    ჱܓSoundEagle🦅

    Like

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Sound Eagle:
      When “First” Emperor Qin went out to destroy the “100 philosophy schools”, he ordered books destroyed (that greatly failed, as people copied and hid the books)… but not tech, science and gov records… It seems he was targeting Confucius, some have said… What is sure is that Mao targeted Confucius… Differently from Xi…
      As I have argued Keynes did not invent anything good and new. Governmentalism existed 4,500 years before Keynes (Egypt’s pyramids and other gov program then). All what Keynes did was give the Nazis several of their talking points

      See the map of the main Chinese canals in:
      https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/synthesis-found-governmentalism/

      And for Krugman and Keynes embracing the Dark Side:
      https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/wisdom-not-an-itch-but-economy-hitching-dark-side-a-gangrene/

      Liked by 1 person

      • SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ Says:

        Dear Patrice,

        I agree with you and have known for a long time that governmentalism existed during the heydays of the Egyptian empires and also the Arabian civilization and the Islamic Golden Age, let alone the Ancient Chinese antiquities.

        To clarify, my post entitled “Strong Wind Knows Tough Grass” refers to a specific period in Ancient China. Please read the post to gain clarity.

        Like many occidental counterparts, the Biden administration would not have traced governmentalism all the way back to, and based their decisions and policies on, what the ancient Egyptians, Persians and Mesopotamians had done and achieved in the past. They would be much more familiar, comfortable and willing to learn from and acknowledge those contributions from the major Western canons.

        Like

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Dear Sound Eagle: Yes, well, thank for the thoughtful comment… Knowledge of antiquity, WESTERN antiquity, thoroughly pervaded Western Europe. Charlemagne was called “DAVID” by people close to him, including his ministers… From King David… Montaigne is full of references to antiquity… And Roman Catholicism itself was created by the leaders of the Roman empire in the Fourth Century (Constantine, his sons, Gratian, Theodosius, and the government of the four founding fathers of the Church…)… that is Roman Catholicism itself is an antiquity fully kneaded from “hydraulic dictatorships” religion and ideology… All this together created the “Western Canon”… But here is the most major piece, whom everybody ignores: Bathilde, who OUTLAWED SLAVERY (throughout Europe)
          https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2015/05/10/a-truth-france-outlawed-slavery-1355-years-ago/

          Liked by 1 person

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      For Paul Krugman making the main Nazi lies/talking points, namely that Versailles caused Germany to tank, following Keynes:
      https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/wrong-history-wrong-philosophy-nazi-lies-still-ruling-in-2015/

      What Paul the Nazi fails to say, is that Germany had enslaved much of Eastern Europe… So Versailles decolonized Eastern Europe from German plutocracy… So of course it was bad for German plutocracy (the Nazi argument, excpet they used “Germany” instead of “German plutocracy”)

      Liked by 1 person

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