Posts Tagged ‘history of ideas.’

CIVILIZATION ILLUSION: Shocking Arabophilia?

November 15, 2014

Who invented “Arabic” numerals? Well, actually not the Arabs. (Let me hasten to point out that if I have nothing against the Arabs, especially considering my personal history; quite the opposite, I want Arabia to be a beacon of civilization! But this starts with explaining that Arabia lost a grip on civilization, and why. But first one has to adjudicate the progress of civilization correctly.)

In truth, the Indians. Great civilizations invent great ideas, that’s why they are great. Some civilizations are great, others are small, too small to produce enough new ideas to survive. The “Pythagoras” theorem, that the square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the side of a triangle, was known (at least in part) to Babylonians and Egyptians, a millennium earlier (and the Greeks got it from them). This means the latter two made great civilizations, and the roots of Greece.

I do believe that there is such a thing as a superior culture, incarnated by a superior society, causing superior civilization, organized as a superior state, defended with superior skills at war. All great civilizations shared in that primary certainty: the very ancient Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Chinese, the Franks… And the Europeans, up to a recent time.

This chain of superiority is not just a belief, it has to be a requirement: when the culture fails, so, in the end, does the society, crushed by plutocracy, and then so do military defenses. That argument was made by a Mongol general to the Caliph in Baghdad, shortly before crushing him, and his family, under a carpet, with horses.

Al-Khwarizmi In Bagdad’s House Of Wisdom, Yet Not An Arab

Al-Khwarizmi In Bagdad’s House Of Wisdom, Yet Not An Arab

Here I was, enjoying the company of three superbly French fluent American girls. For some reason I forgot, the conversation veered to the French and American educational systems. I said they used to be the best, and are now going down. (See the PISA, UNESCO ratings.)

OK, as usual my conversational skills are tuned to make a good situation bad, and a bad one, worse. Something about me loving to pierce deeply the human soul with thought torpedoes. Indeed those smart and bilingual girls are enrolled in the one and only public high school in a city viewed in many places as an apex of intellect.

I added somberly that this degeneracy is particularly striking in the case of France. After all, the Franks, and then the French, were at the apex of civilization for more than 15 centuries. Education was made mandatory by the Carolingians in mid-Eight Century (before Charlemagne… whose father was strangely derelict by not teaching him how to read; but that’s another plot.)

If I expected a favorable audience. A rude surprise came my way.

I was told: ”What are you talking about?”

Well, I insisted, you know, even the USA, in more than one way, descends directly from France. After all the Franks of “Francia” not only conquered most of Europe, including Britain. They imprinted their superior Frank civilization on all of Europe. You know, Charlemagne “renovated” the “Roman empire”…

Those nice, well educated, polite girls fell on me. I had not taken the appropriate classes. They just did. Europe, the Franks, etc., were not the superior civilization. The Arabs were. The Arabs were the superior civilization, they invented all what mattered, while Europe lived in savagery.

The Arabs “invented everything, all the mathematics, the science, even the numbers and the zero. We just learned it at school.”…

“Learned it at school?” I felt like asking them if one of their professors was called Osama bin Laden Junior.

As they already looked at me as if I were an unreconstructed racist loony just emerging from a swamp somewhere in the company of a few dinosaurs, I did not try the flippant side.

Instead I asked whether they knew that, under the Arabs all women lived in slavery, and the Caliphs were obsessive about marrying Greco-Roman princesses or slaves (presumably because Arab women, having been enslaves abused and mistreated from birth were of insufficient quality; one does not imagine European lords desperate to acquire Arab slaves to marry them! Yet, that’s exactly what Arab worthies were doing; a lot of the business of Venice consisted in ferrying slaves picked-up in what is now Ukraine, and sell them to Arabs; Frankish law did not forbid that trade).

I told those students that the Greeks invented the zero, and part of the numeral system we used today. However blocked by the arrogance of Euclid, contempt for traders (who used a part modernized numeral system), and increasing fascism, the nascent numeral system was exported to India, where it was fully developed.

It’s true that Constantinople theocratic fascism had led many Roman intellectuals and their books to flee to Zoroastrian Persia. When Persia fell to the ISLAMIC STATE (no kidding!), the invading Arabs found themselves in command of many intellectuals and books (plus tens of millions of Christians, Zoroastrians, and Jews).

The Arab army conquered with unbelievable success and savagery (killing the wounded, and all military age men throughout Syria, which was very rich, and Roman Catholic). The parts of the world it had acquired possession of, Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, Persia, were, at the time, the richest (because of superior agricultural production, irrigation, and, well, civilization). Fundamentalist Islam was going to durably spoil the soup.

So did the “Arabs” invent lots of things during the Middle Ages?

Well, if you are ready to call Spaniards, North Africans, Persians, Kurds, Turks and Jews “Arabs”, they sure did.

Now, of course, if one goes to North Africa, many people call themselves “Arabs”. So it is, for example, in Algeria. However, genetic studies show that Algerians are European with 1% of Arab genes (one probably would get similar results in France… As France was partly occupied for decades in the Eight Century by the main armies from Arabia… Amusingly, because these armies were busy getting killed in France, they were NOT in North Africa…).

The girls objected that the Church killed all intellectuals in Europe. Was not Copernic killed? Was not Galileo killed, or put in jail, or something?

The truth is horrifying: Copernic was not only not killed by the Church, but he was an Abbot. He died in his bed, clutching his book, dedicated to… the Pope (that the book was plagiarized from Buridan, and that Copernic removed the thanks to Aristarchus of Samos for having invented the idea, were probably subtle maneuvers of Abbot Copernic to circumvent the crusade of the Church against the hyper genius Buridanus… Who had proven Aristotle wrong, thus was an enemy of the Church!)

Galileo Galilei was best friend to the Pope (from when they were kids). Yet they got into a tiff about the tides. Galileo was wrong, but he pulled rank, as a university professor, on the Pope, telling him he did not know what he was talking about. This goes a long way to explain why Galileo ended his life confined by law to his mansion.

Make no mistake: the Church assassinated a number of thinkers.

However, overall, intellectuals fared much worse under Islam.

You see, Muhammad was a bandit, a raider, a war chief, the head of state, a prophet, and the head of Islam all at the same time. His “successors” (“Caliphs”) were supposed to be the same: head of state, and head of the state at the same time.

The relationship of the Christian Church with the state was different in the West. First, for nearly three centuries, it was viewed as an enemy of the state (as Christian officers refused to take the military oath of obedience, and Christians had made the Church into secretive, paramilitary organization). Then Roman emperors, from Constantine to Theodosius saw they could use it to their advantage, and made “Orthodox Catholicism” into the official religion.

This led to disaster.

Basically, the problem of the Late Empire was barbarity, and plutocracy running out of control. Christianity, with its insistence on non-violence, and that this city was not worth saving, made the problem worse, and the plutocrats loved it.

In the end, after two centuries of this increasing mess, the Franks took control, and remade Christianity, and an armada of saints they invented, to reflect their own secular humanism, cynically founded as the shock part of the Roman army, ever since Constantine.

Yet Church and State became completely separated.

The Frankish state principles, freedom, tolerance, secularism, mitigated plutocracy, outlawing of slavery, became the founding principles of Western civilization.

How come none of this is taught?

And if the “Arabs” invented something, then, what is it?

Arabic numbers? Well not really. The first work in the West (meaning west of India) on the modern number system is Al-Khwarizmi‘s On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals (ca. 825).

The author, a famous thinker and mathematician was born in Eastern Greater Iran, now called Uzbekistan.

As I projected my flow of knowledge their way, far from being awed the little girls started to look at me as if they had met the Devil incarnate. One brandished Sumer.

Yes, Sumer. Sumerian cities (partly) invented many ideas at the root of civilization, including the bicameral system, and the alphabet (in collaboration with mathematically refined, inventive Egypt).

Yet, Sumerian cities have little to do with the nefarious ideology which has oppressed the Middle East for most of the last 14 centuries. Quite the opposite.

Meanwhile, in Canada, a university professor is in jail. French justice is after him for taking part in an act of terrorism which killed 4 people in Paris… 34 (thirty-four) years ago. Those people did not just happen to be Jewish, they were targeted, because they were Jewish (there is no prescription for Crimes Against Humanity; killing people because of whom they are, instead of what they did, is a Crime Against Humanity).

Canada agreed to extradite him to France. Canada, and the rest of the Anglosphere is becoming more aware of the vicious thought and mood system emanating from the (literally interpreted) Qur’an.

If no one is here to fight for civilization, it will die. It starts by calling the Barbarians barbarian, as the Greeks pointed out.

Teaching little girls that Francia was nothing and Arabia everything in the way of thinking, is uprooting their roots. It’s even uprooting the roots of civilization.

One can teach parrots French. One cannot teach parrots civilization. Time to treat young human beings with the dignity of truth, to help raise them above the status of parrots. It starts with the reality of history.

Great civilizations invent great ideas, that’s why they are great. It matters who invented what, and how deep: because it enables to find which civilizations were great. Great thinking doesn’t arise ex-nihilo. Egypt, Babylon, Sumer, Greece, were great because they were more open, smarter societies than their more close minded and brutish competitors. Open to new ideas, open to common sense, always beat brutes with their heads in the sand.

Patrice Ayme’

TRIBALISM IS FASCISM.

March 13, 2008

TRIBES KEPT THE EARTH IN BALANCE AND MINDS SHARP, BUT HAVE TO BE PHASED OUT. IN AFRICA, AND ELSEWHERE.

Abstract: Tribes are WMD, Weapons of Mass Destruction. In light of this, overall, and nevertheless, empires allowed progress: transnationalism and overlords are a necessity to hold back the well ingrained tribal Dark Side of man. Although, in a further Machiavellian twist, one should not forget that the battle of ideas has been helped by the battles of tribes: in the fullness of time, tribes with superior ideas win. Or said otherwise better ideas win, thanks to making the tribes which carry them, superior [1].
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EMPIRES CONTROL TRIBES WITH HIGHER PHILOSOPHY:
In a more distant past, land transportation was very difficult, so the nations were smaller. Now we call them tribes. But tribes were a stronger notion than nations. Tribes are often characterized, and separated, by language, religion, color, often biological inheritance. Denying the later is futile: just look at Pigmies.

When Africa was completely administered by Europeans it was cut up in larger administrative units the size of large European nations (except Ethiopia). This arranging was not arbitrary. For example, there used to be an empire of Mali, pretty much where the French decided Mali was. Nevertheless, the creation of each of the African nations was an experience in TRANSNATIONALISM (otherwise we would have several hundred African nations). Under the overlordship of the Europeans, that forced experience in calm understanding of the other worked just fine. But it’s unlikely it can be pursued without overlords.

In Europe nations fought each other for centuries, and before this, tribes did it for even longer. Europe has improved recently, but mostly because of the presence of OVERLORDING STRUCTURES (occupational armies and now the EU).

Lesson? Africa should be overlorded upon. The African Union (AU), the EU, the UN, the IMF and NGOs can play such roles. This is how the crises in Rhodesia, South Africa, the Sahara, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Darfur and Kenya have been dealt with. This is how Europeans have been dealing with their own tribal conflicts, using supranational structures (many now part of the EU).

It’s fashionable among some shallow European intellectuals to scorn the Europeans for having “created” a mess in Africa, although such an attitude only denotes a dismissive lack of knowledge of not just World, but, also, of European history. Europe used to be all cut up in smaller nations, in other words, tribes. Tribes used to fight all out (with plenty of Shoahs, as in the Bible). The Celts invaded North Western Europe, and then half of Italy (where Rome stopped them with extreme difficulty); some Celts invaded all the way to the center of present day Anatolia, “fearing only that the sky would fall on their heads”. Four centuries later, Julius Caesar used a migration of the Helvetic tribe across Long-Haired-Gaul (Gallia Comida) as a pretext to invade all of Gaul. Caesar won, because Rome represented progress and union, and many Celts could feel this, so they did not resist (a similar phenomenon happened when Judea got conquered). Europe united because the empires of the Romans and Franks crushed most tribal organization (including, in the end, their own: Romans were forbidden to enroll in the … Roman army!).

The emotional mess in Southern Slav lands (Yugo-Slavia) was a consequence of the fact those were, in the fullness of time, at the intersection of no less than seven empires. Yugoslavia did not erase its tribal differences because it was never solidly inside one empire long enough (emperor Heraclius had allowed the Serbs to settle in present day Serbia in the 7C, to reward them for fighting (the ancestors of) the Mongols; the frontier with the “Pars Occidentalis” was just west).

The Greco-Roman empire and various versions of the Persian empire, were gigantic experiments in transnationalism, in tribal extermination, and in the advancement of higher philosophical principles, especially tolerance, and even enrichment by difference (this is also true for the Mongols and early Islam). This was deliberate: after Rome destroyed “Judea” (70 CE), she immediately installed Yahve, the Jewish God, in the Roman pantheon, to grab Yahve’s best. That courtesy was not extended to Celtic or Punic divinities, which depicted traits Rome viewed as inferior. One hundred fifty years later, all free men of the empire were made citizens.
***

TRIBAL CONFLICT AS AN ADJUVANT TO IDEA FORMATION:

“What does not kill me makes me stronger” said Nietzsche famously. One could say a fortiori the same for ideas: “War does not kill ideas, it makes them stronger” (for examples, the Franks invented plenty of new techniques as they faced the Muslims in a war of extermination, including the idea of nationalization of the church). Inter tribal murder makes ideas stronger, and they don’t even have to die. In other words, inter tribal holocausts have encouraged mental creativity. Desperate situations make for innovative thinking; the brain is first a survival machine. (When Syracuse was sieged, super thinker Archimedes helped with war machines (giant claw, burning mirrors, steam canon) which struck imaginations for millennia to come, if not the Romans; the first recipes for gunpowder are found in a Chinese military textbook of 1044; the first recorded use of rockets was by the Chinese in 1232 against the Mongols.)

So much innovation came from deadly conflicts that it is unlikely that the world of ideas would have achieved as much without the world of war (the point is moot, anyway, because without war, mankind would not have survived agriculture). It is actually unlikely; the human brain’s high energetic demands required fat and flesh. Not only is it in general true that in the fullness of time, the best way to become a successful carnivore is to have a big brain (wild chimpanzees love meat, and dolphin know how to kill sharks), but, as early Homos became more and more delicate and precise in their physiology, hence weaker, armed bellicosity became ever more important (Homo is much weaker than a chimpanzee in muscle and compensate this with brain and weapon).

As we do away with tribes, we want to keep mock, make believe conflicts, lest we fall in mental torpor. That is why a lot of academia is organized so as to promote strong emotions to keep those mental juices flowing with lots of tempting payments, and titles, and even as they had it in the Middle Ages and similarly retarded places, silly costumes.
***

TRIBALISM IS FASCISM:
Hominids are social predators, they fight best in groups, as one mass, and the delight they take in satisfying the fascist instinct makes sure of that. As agriculture made tribes possible, those masses became enormous, and so did the fascism. The Dark Side of human beings made tribes into Weapons of Mass Destruction. The foundational document of Judeo-Christo-Islamism shows Israel being born from holocausts (“Shoahs”). That was pretty much typical. The alternative was to eat everything down to the last rat.

Hominids have been on this planet for millions of years, as top predators, and they knew no enemy as lethal as themselves. This gave plenty of time and necessity for evolution to hardwire the hatred of man towards man in man. Homo killing Homo not only created Homo (by eliminating closely related monsters), but also kept the earth in balance (Homo being the top predator had to self predate). Man had to kill man so man could be, and it’s somewhat hypocritical to deny this. And also dangerous, because the tribal instinct feeds on the fact that the Dark Side, deep down, for the reasons we just sketched, is more enlightened than it looks, and, thus, cannot be completely avoided, ever.

To deny this is to fall into the trap of extinction. Hillel the Elder abstracted his view of Jewish morality this way: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. The rest is commentary” (~0 CE). The problem with this (Babylonian) “Golden Rule” is that it eschews the Dark Side, which, as we said, was necessary not just to the continuation of man, but to his evolutionary creation. If one chooses to ignore this formidable, constitutive element of the moral universe, one ends with a lower dimensional hypersurface in reality. The resulting low dimensional morality can get folded by higher dimensional reality, like a crepe can be, because it’s all it is, and it is so voluntarily naive, that it should be viewed as a morality made conveniently edible, something to consume, a self immolating accomplice of the greatest evil (except in genuine mental retards).

Nazism was a typical modern synthetic tribalism. All united, in the hatred of the other (French, Jew, Communist, Slav, etc.). Tribalism is made to kill, the rest is commentary. Commentary can actually augment tribalism: Germany was the most literate country in the world, as she sank into tribal fascism. This has to be kept in mind as, thanks to the Internet, literacy is augmenting worldwide. It’s not reading which does it, it’s what you read: garbage in, holocaust out.

The moral idea of tribe is now too dangerous (because of Weapons of Mass Destruction). The future belongs to the UN, the EU, and honest brokers therein, or imperial principles built along those lines. Tribes have got to go.
***
Patrice Ayme
Patriceayme.com
Patriceayme.wordpress.com

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[1] An example is when Islam ordered to treat girls better (enslave them, but don’t kill them). That was superior to the practices of Saudi tribes, pre-Islam.

WASTE IS THE MAIN PROBLEM OF THE US ECONOMY, IT CAN ONLY BE DISCOURAGED BY CHANGING THE TAX SYSTEM ALONG LINES LONG IMPLEMENTED IN EUROPE.

February 22, 2008

Abstract: To save the planet while allowing most people to become richer, new technologies have to be invented and made mandatory. The EU has played that game, but the USA has obstinately kept on sticking to its old addiction of mindless waste and deliberate consumption. This created imbalances in the US economy leading to the credit crisis, the collapse of the US dollar, a probable recession, poverty, bad health care, and, some will say, invading another country for oil… Besides, interfering destructively with all good-natured attempts at modifying for the best the sorry trajectory of the world’s ecology. To domesticate the reticent Americans, taxes on the European model should work miracles, as they did in Europe. That is part of what change really means. Not just words.
***
    

The esteemed Paul Krugman (Princeton, NYT) compared the percentage of GDP of diverse sectors of the economy in 2007 versus the average over the period 1980-2000. He found that “the main thing at this point is high consumption is offset by a high trade deficit”. (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/16/defining-the-macroeconomic-problem).

In other words, the USA wastes too much, lives above its means from the charity of foreigners, and does not export enough. Countries that have got in this predicament did not end up well. It happened to many in the 20C, Argentina being a spectacular example. It could be argued that this combination of waste and dependence upon foreigners is part of what happened to the Roman empire.

Krugman then wondered what to do. We present here a necessary part of the solution. It is not very original. There are many countries in Europe, and a few are large, and they have encountered similar problems in the past, and they hit on that same basic solution, which is a mix of Added Value Tax (AVT, a French invention), which strikes down exaggerated consumption, and high taxes on energy (another French invention which has been imitated all over Europe). 

US citizens may feel an existential void if threatened with a dearth of stuff, so one should be careful, lest they have a fit, like the spoiled children they are proud to be. But they may consent to make the US economy more efficient, and more able to export. By doing this, a useful change for the better, their psychological condition should improve, and they should open their minds to another way to experience life more compatible with the survival of the biosphere.

In 2004, the USA emitted per capita 20.4 ton of carbon dioxide per year, and France 6.2 (yes, less than three times less!). Since then the difference has got worse, France reducing its emissions, according to the Kyoto Treaty, while the US has enjoyed a rampage of waste. Meanwhile, to ensure future supplies of ever more CO2, the USA chose to invade the country with the largest oil reserves (except maybe for Saudi Arabia). Whereas the most controversial French energy activities have been to build two nuclear reactors of the new third generation (one in Finland), and to push with the European Union for ever stricter carbon emission restrictions, worldwide. France having the world’s best health care system, and armed forces in combat in even more countries than the USA, and an industrial variety as large as the USA, EFFICIENCY PAYS (with the sort of lifestyle US citizens love).

Thus, clearly, its present system having turned into a dismal failure, the USA should follow the European way and capitalize on its know how and great universities to invent and develop futuristic energy procurement and conservation systems, instead of dispatching storm troopers to fetch oil.

But this is easier wished than done. The entire US economy has been manipulated for generations to serve powerful corporations such as car manufacturers rather than public transportation, with giant metastatic suburbia, and car drivers, or frequent fliers, taking subsidies for their birth rights, screaming loudly when a penny goes to railroads. All too much of the US economic activity is directed to plane companies and car companies. So great have been these subsidies that these sectors became addicted to them, fat, lazy, numbed out.

Just two examples. In the fifties, General Motors bought the San Francisco Bay Bridge, tore down the railroad that occupied one of the decks, to replace it by a freeway going the other way, and, thus, mission accomplished, sold it back to government. Ever since the San Francisco Bay transportation has been a big traffic jam, as intended. Now for airlines: after 9-11, the US government gave billions to US airlines, whereas the EU allowed no subsidies to its airlines, which were left to mind their business more efficiently. Consequence: Air France and Lufthansa are now by far the largest airlines in the world, many smaller European carriers are even more profitable, all operating efficient new planes. Meanwhile Europe is building thousands of miles of ultra efficient very high speeds train lines (so fast they could cross the USA itself in half a day).

Hence to develop new, more efficient energy sources and usage in the USA, ASAP, one will have to manipulate a full arsenal of government guided activities, removing some, adding others. And not just words. One will have to use tax incentives as carrots, while using a carbon tax and an energy tax as sticks: greed and fear, that’s how to do it. The enormous taxes on energy in Europe, give both an incentive to be ever more efficient, and a safety reserve if an energy supply catastrophe strikes energy taxes are huge not only in the UK, a net energy exporter, but even in Norway, one of the world’s largest energy exporters).

The history of man is the history of energy usage, and especially of Western civilization. By 1,000 CE, Western Europe had the highest energy usage per capita in the world. This energy opulence allowed to free man from slavery (to lords and nature).

But now energy is getting tight, and there is a huge amount of waste (as said above, the USA is three times more wasteful than France, per head). This has to stop: there is no justice in having the USA with 4% of the world population, using 25% of the energy, a lot of it taken from abroad, and most of it polluting the entire planet. The way out is not to economically shrink, but to technologically grow, as the EU is already doing (in 2008, Germany, although as north as Canada, was the number one solar energy nation!).

Of course the economic switch to greater efficiency through higher technology has to pay for itself (otherwise it would not be self propelled). First one has to be conscious of the enormous subsidies old industries profit from (it’s not just from distribution of money, but of laws; e.g., ethanol from corn is mandated, although it’s an ecological horror, while less ecologically incorrect ethanol from sugar cane is barred by tax barriers), Those subsidies are protected by armies of paid lobbyists (nearly half a million of them in the USA alone). By removing those subsidies for an unsustainable past, one makes it so much easier to pay for the future.

The Europeans have found a strategy to make planet-saving and riches-spreading new technology more profitable quicker. The EU imposes new standards onto itself, and then the world, to fight the greenhouse effect. Thus it forces itself to develop new technologies (for example carbon emission which are above 300 mg per kilometer in the USA, have been lowered by law in EU to 185 and now 135). Then the EU sells its newly fanged wares (That only more advanced European technology can develop first). It’s good for European jobs, and good for the world. Strenuous EU emission standards for cars have been adopted by China, making it illegal to buy inefficient US cars (!).

This European way is not new. It is one of the greatest European superiority strategies of all time: USE ETHICAL PROGRESS TO FORCE TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS, ALLOWING ECONOMIC SUPERIORITY. In other words a process which starts with better manners, ends with a chicken in every pot.

That BETTER ECONOMY FROM BETTER ETHICS TRICK was clearly used by the Franks when they outlawed slavery around 660 CE (they understood its importance at the time: from the German point of view, ethics and economy were tied up by family farming, and they looked down on Roman fascism and its giant agribusinesses). The abolition of slavery forced Europe to chose the high technology route that the Roman empire had given up on.

Now the entire planet has found useful to integrate more and more of the ideas that allowed Europe to take off during the last 15 centuries. Democracy is just one of those ideas, and, clearly, it was preceded by strength and technology (the Franks destroyed the Arabo-Berbero-Syrian armies in a series of battles and wars in 8C Francia, accompanying economic lift, and requiring new, very heavy taxation to pay for the high tech armies of the Franks).

China and India, among others, have understood this, and their success has not escaped notice. The most successful developing countries opt for developing new high tech. For instance, South Africa is inventing “pebble bed” nuclear plants, a completely new technology designed specifically for exports all over the developing world (they are super safe, and never stop). India, having little uranium but lots of thorium, is developing a uranium-thorium breeding scheme which is entirely appropriate to its precarious energetic circumstances.

Sweden has been using a carbon tax for more than a decade, and it’s just a matter of time before the entire EU follows suit. To limit senseless addiction to consuming and reduce fraud, the Europeans use the mighty AVT. The USA has no choice, but to follow what has worked well in dozens of advanced industrial nations.

But, all too often, per the nature of the USA as a big island, and a long settled habit to compare itself to various derelict dictatorships (instead of comparing itself to what’s comparable to itself, the most advanced democracies), Americans often find hard to learn from the outside (something a future president Obama should be able to remedy).

Presented with these solutions, Krugman evoked Saint Augustine to justify doing nothing for now (“Make me without sin, oh Lord, but not yet”). Well, that was a very telling example. Saint Augustine was one of the worst anti-intellectuals and anti-Judaists of all times, in truth one of the greatest criminals against mankind, and this statement of his reflects how he could live with himself so well. His hypocrisy allowed him to do so, conveniently blinding him, and made him the scourge he became for civilization. The hardest in a new task is often just to get started, to make the first step.

The massive energy and consumption taxes the USA needs could be, and would have to be, staggered very progressively. They will allow to reduce taxes in some other areas (say on capital, and the poor, as the EU has done).

The bubble economics, its hedge fund managers, and the tail of the financial sector wagging the entire economy, a sorry mess (engineered by Rubin, Clinton, Greenspan and Bush) weakened the USA. Only taxes reflecting the new (for the US) philosophy of reducing waste and changing the future towards efficiency will allow the USA to join the world, reduce the imbalances, and develop in a sustainable way. It’s a necessity, because the rest of the world cannot be expected to work hard and sacrifice, while the Americans are having an orgy, and burn the house down. A related point is that, as justice spreads and six billion people from the developing world get to enjoy some of the amenities Americans take for granted, grave ecological damage to the entire planet will only be mitigated by using technologies that, at this point, are still in the domain of science fiction.

In conclusion: reducing US consumption and carbon emission, while boosting US exports and efficiency, and providing more jobs and security, can be viewed as one problem which will need a change in the US tax system. Against waste, towards a more economic future. That is part of what change means, or it will be more of the same. Americans are getting intoxicated on the idea of change, but change means changing their own behavior, ultimately a change in the law of what is proper and what is not, and the easiest such change is in the tax law.

***

P/S: So far, to reduce the lending crisis, which came from too much lending, the US president and congress have decided to make it easier to lend some more. So let’s not overestimate the capacity of US decision makers to understand the universe. In a related show of selfishness, the US (through the IMF and the World Bank), forced South East Asian countries, which were experiencing a bout of over-investment (thus diminishing returns, leading to a confidence crisis), especially in real estate (thus comparable to the present US crisis), to rise interest rates sky high. That was supposed to invite foreign investors to come back, and stop the collapse of the currencies. Instead it collapsed the South East Asian economies. Following once again Saint Augustine (id est, I will not do as I preach, but just the opposite, the fundamental saying of priests, and one of the reasons why religion is so big in the USA), the USA, although now in a very similar crisis, is acting according to the exact opposite strategy, namely collapsing interest rates. As we try to explain above, this very short term alleviation of symptoms will not change much. Ultimately, US citizens have to relate to the world in a different way, because the transactions they have among themselves have impacts on third parties (this is the set up for pigovian taxes (after Arthur Pigou, 1877-1959, a Frenchman); theory has proven such taxes more efficient than regulation or markets (the carbon emission trading has turned silly)).
***

Patrice Ayme.
Patriceayme.com


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www.grrrgraphics.com

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Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

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