Posts Tagged ‘India’

How Civilizations Go Down. Why There Is Hope

January 2, 2016

Gloom and doom go only that far. A number of commenters, or authors such as Machiavelli, entertained pretty abysmal considerations on humanity and its future.

In the case of Machiavelli, pessimism was understandable: he rode two horses condemned to decline and fall, namely the Republic of Florence (which was turning into a plutocracy), and Caesare Borgia, Cardinal at 18 years of age, who later resigned his church position in an attempt to seize power in Italy, a place where Spain had invaded the south (freed centuries prior, by the Franks, from the Muslims), France was trying to hold onto Naples (but lost because the Spanish general in command was too good). Most of the peninsula was covered by forts and domains which had feuded for centuries.

Nowadays, we have grounds to be optimistic. I will explain why below. However with a caveat: history is now flowing extremely fast, as we are approaching a technological and computational, thus theoretical singularity.

We Already Have A Better Understanding Of What Brought Rome Down The First Time, We Can No Doubt Avoid It, The Second Time, With Even More Understanding

We Already Have A Better Understanding Of What Brought Rome Down The First Time, We Can No Doubt Avoid It, The Second Time, With Even More Understanding

There are three reasons why civilizations collapse: invasion, ecological collapse, plutocracy.

I use all the time analogies with Rome’s Decline and Fall, yet on a much grander scale than Edward Gibbon. I root firmly the Decline and Fall as starting in 200 BCE, with the rise of plutocracy. There are a lot of deep analogies between what happened then, and what is happening now.

Yet we also enjoy major differences with Rome. To avoid Rome’s fate, we have to cultivate these differences. (And our gaze turns towards the European Union.)

Rome was a quarter of humanity, and Roma was ALL the civilized, and Republican influence zone. Yes, China, India, Persia, and well before Egypt, were civilized. But only the only drowned and expired Sumerian cities could pretend to have a high Republican index: Sumer invented the bicameral system still in use today. Persia did not, China did not, and, as far as I know, neither did India.

But Rome, like the top Greek cities, was a Republic. However, most Greek cities crashed and burned within a century or so. Rome built a huge empire, and lasted so long, it’s not clear it ever stopped. Although it declined, and fell, it got up again, as the Franks engineered and observed. Thus Rome founded the present political system

Persia was advanced enough to seriously bother Greeks and Romans, it was only or equal civilizational level for a fleeting moment under Darius, and in the late Sixth Century (thus, 1,000 year later). (This is my own observation/theory, sure to rile up some out there!)

All the neighborhood of Rome was vastly inferior. Although the Celts were superior in ocean going ships and metallurgy, and even captured Rome in the Fourth Century BCE, their abominable religion was quite a drag.  Actually, it was such a drag, the Celts embraced Greco-Roman civilization even before Julius Caesar showed up with his ten legions.

The Persian religion, Zoroastrianism was very advanced, arguably more so than Christianism (which copied many of its elements, in particular the obsession with truth and the logos, thanks god). The Middle East got tied down by the instauration of “hydraulic dictatorships” all over. The Persian/Iranian/Mesopotamian ensemble was a vast military mess which never recovered imperially, thus politically, from the People of the Seas invasions.

Now the situation is quite different.

First, the USA is a EUROPEAN COLONY.Rome was not a colony; it was initially occupied by Etruscans, themselves one of the People of the Sea. But, at the same time, the Etruscans civilized Rome. Rome also got civilized by the “Magna Grecia”, the Great Greece of Southern Italy, stating in Nea Polis (Naples).

Second, the mother ship, Europe, gave birth to a gigantic empire. It’s not just that European colonies control the Americas and Australia. France, the USA and Britain Exclusive Economic Zones, EEZs, covers much of the world’s exploitable oceanic depths.

Although weakened by its own crazies (Prussia/Germany/Nazis, Mussolini, Franco, Lenin/Stalin and their subordinates), plus major American plutocratic maneuvering, and in a bad state presently, Europe not quite done yet. After all the good guys (French Republic and British pseudo-monarchy) won. Now the French Republican systems, and monarchies to the same effect, cover Europe. Germany is sister republic to France, in particular.

Third, the Roman Republican system spread way beyond Europe and her colonies. China and India, and most of the rest of the UN have actually adopted (and adapted) many of WESTERN civilization’s better sides. However, China is still a dictatorship, and (partly) India a mess.

Another difference with Rome starts with a similarity: Rome got in a huge ecological crisis, starting around 100 CE. The Romans could not understand what was happening. They said:”The world is getting old”. Well, what was happening is that Romans had exhausted the soils, and the mines. However we know what they did not: tremendous technological progress can enable to change exploitation regimes.

Thus, the fourth difference with Rome; a huge CO2, GHG, Climate Crisis is incoming, but everybody knows about it, and fixes are in sight. A crisis is an opportunity as the Chinese would say.

Hope? People have to learn from history, and that means, the real history. Hyper maneuvering by USA plutocracy happened in much of the Twentieth Century, and is still ongoing right now. People can’t understand that, as long as they don’t realize that, without American plutocracy, Hitler just won’t have happened. At least, not happened as catastrophically as he did.

But there is hope that people, thanks to the Internet, realize that they have been manipulated in both what they know, and what they can hope to achieve. In particular, Direct Democracy is in the best position to succeed ever. The Athenian Republic found difficult to achieve Direct Democracy, because it did not have the Internet. The average Athenian voter was one day’s travel away from the voting booth. Nowadays, the average voter has her, or his hand on the voting device, namely the smartphone. No more excuses.

Objections can be raised. The preceding was a partial answer to several commenters on this site, John, Aaron, GlouconX, Eugen… The latter jumped on Machiavelli to object to Direct Democracy; however, Machiavelli was not just an author and philosopher. Like Plato, and especially Aristotle, he was a vested ACTOR of the disasters he described, and thus deeply biased, all the way to the greatest depths of the human soul. People who have interest to be stupid, will be stupid. Be it only to forget the fools leading us by the nose. Direct democracy is the answer to stupidity.

However, there is snow outside and further comments will be delayed until enough snow will have been mastered by the imperialistic author of these lines. Hey, it may be the last snow ever, let’s enjoy a cold El Nino, while it lasts! Non-Linearity is ready to ambush us. Let’s build memories while we can, be it just to be melancholic later… being of many minds is what intelligence is about.

Patrice Ayme’  

Quake In Nepal, Or Why Exploitation Does Not Help Natives

April 26, 2015

It is not very surprising that a 7.9 Richter quake hit Nepal, half way between Pokhara and Kathmandu. It was expected, and overdue (they come every 75 years, latest big one, 8.1 Richter, was in 1934). More worrisome: a “Megathrust” quake could happen throughout the region, a continuation of the one which happened to the east of the Indian plate in 2004. Plates move, that’s what they do, as the Earth’s innards swallow all this carbon, which, otherwise, would turn Earth into Venus.

Many of the quakes, including of the horizontal slip type, are upper crust readjustments from motion that occurred lower down already.

In California, the faults creep roughly twice faster in depth than on the surface. 5 centimeters a year down below, only half that, on the surface (with luck; in many places, the surface is stuck).

The means exist, in developed regions, to build constructions that are impervious to earthquakes, as Japan and Chile have demonstrated. However, steel is expensive.

Everest Looks Strikingly Like A Giant Wave. It’s A Wave Of Rock Breaking Onto Tibet.

Everest Looks Strikingly Like A Giant Wave. It’s A Wave Of Rock Breaking Onto Tibet.

In the latest quake, the whole city of Katmandu slipped to the south 3 meters. Severe quakes are expected in notoriously unprepared places such as Tehran and Lima. In general, wherever there are (non totally senile) mountains, quakes are to be expected. In Eurasia, the Indian plate is pressing north at a steady 5 centimeters per year. One does not know exactly if it exactly mashes, compresses, or pass below the Eurasian plate, or a mix of these. Although globally India slips below Eurasia, the world’s largest continental plate.

The point of the following graph is that the quake which just happened was fully expected. A Republican Empire, considering this, would have mandated by law the reinforcement of old buildings (many of which just collapsed). This is actually what the Turkish Republic has done (not really democratic, all too Islamizing, but definitively imperial). To help Nepal, really, it would have been good to insist that it does the same.

As the editor of the Nepali Times put it after the quake: “Nepal’s politicians have been too busy battling one another, most recently over constitutional reform, to treat disaster preparedness as a priority.”

The Segment Just West Of The 1934 Quake Slipped

The Segment Just West Of The 1934 Quake Slipped

Within hours, it was known that a Google executive had been killed on Everest, from one of the many avalanches caused by the quake (there were avalanches all over, especially as it is the best season for avalanches). This ‘important’ news attracted a lot of attention in the USA media. The San Francisco Chronicle made it its cover story, dwarfing any news from Nepal itself. The 33 year old “tech executive” was famous for being famous. He had dated “stars” and attended “red carpet events”. It was his third time on Everest. Please fasten your seat belt for my own view.

Google had apparently planned to “street view” Everest (the mountain-executed executive headed (the notorious lack of) privacy at Google X, a part of Google into experimental projects).

My sarcastic tone may hurt. I share the pain. However, so many people die in the mountains, and the mountains are such a symbol, an experience, of the good graces, and awe, of nature, that I feel mountains should be approached with reverence, not advertising and an exploitative, self-glorifying mood, masquerading as clownish behavior.

Why reverence? Because reverence is an important emotion. People used to encourage it in temples, mosques and churches. But that was then. And we cannot have reverence, be it only by principle, for our many (more or less self-declared) leaders out there. OK, I pay my respect to the Pope when he commemorates, deplores, condemns and draw the necessary lesson from the Armenian Genocide.

Whereas I can only despise Obama for breaking his promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide, as president, seven year in a row. Here, despising Obama has become a moral duty. Here is a quote:

“The Armenian Genocide is not , an allegation, a personal opinion, a point of view, but rather a widely documented FACT, supported by an overwhelming body of HISTORICAL EVIDENCE” [Obama much reiterated personal opinion, 2007… when I was campaigning for him…]

However, as AMERICAN president, Obama has turned into a mouse with Turkey. So how come the FRENCH president is like a roaring lion, and accuse Turkey of genocide, every day, on all TV, radio, media? And gets away with it totally.

Turkey is just forgetting to growl at the French, while threatening tiny Austria with various horrors; notice the deafening also Turkish silence since Germany recognized the genocide, too…

The truth is that Turkey respects German seriousness and French craziness, whereas it knows all to well that Obama just smells the money, ready to follow the scent, as a rat the cheese.

This is why despising Obama about Turkey is a duty (Obama may do something behind the scene, but, since we don’t know, let’s despise.

And that brings us back to commercialization, or, as I call it more generally, the EXPLOITATIVE MENTALITY. So Google wants to “Street View” Everest. Why? Because it’s all about “Beaucoup Bucks”, just as making nice with Turkey is about Beaucoup Bucks. when the American presidency is all about “Beaucoup Bucks” for all to see, Google “Don’t YOU be Evil” can only parrot the attitude. Obama was supposed to lift the morality, instead, he raises money.

When money is the only light that enlightens, one ends down into the abyss, profiting from holocausts and genocides, as if there were no tomorrows.

American presidents do not feel that holocausts are the end-all, be-all. After all, serial genocide is how the USA was built, grew, and prospered.

(Europe has a completely different mentality, because history there has amply shown that what goes around comes around, and holocausts are no way to treat resentful neighbors; Nazis forgot this, and thus Nazis got decimated, and Germany got severely amputated, accordingly, in territory and population.)

That the Exploitative mentality is strong among the Anglos, the Yanks, cannot be questioned. Compare with Spanish and Mexicans (who do not have a particular reputation for gentleness; even the man-eating Aztecs were horrified, as intended, by Spanish tortures!)

Under the Spanish and Mexicans, for centuries, there were around 250,00o Native Americans in California. The Natives lived in reasonably good intelligence with the Spaniards, their “Missions”, and even with the Mexicans. Spaniards and Mexicans protected Indians and wilderness with extensive parks. In the Bay Area, the Oakland-Berkeley Hills were a park, complete with California grizzlies (the largest grizzly subspecies, a bear which did not hibernate). And with, by far, the tallest trees in the world (they were used as beacons for navigation in the San Francisco Bay. To the east of the park were Spanish ranches.

The Spaniards amused themselves by organizing fights between innovative grizzlies and ferocious bulls. (So Spaniards had a vested interest in grizzly survival, as the species was a source of entertainment.)

When the Anglos and their Exploitative Mentality got to California, all of this strange Eden was gone in a few years. Indians and grizzlies were exterminated with relish, as they did not generate Beaucoup Bucks.

So now Everest is the very symbol of exploitation gone mad. Mad, because people who have never climbed anything can get to the top of Everest, pushed, pulled, dragged, oxygenated, attached, ferried, by exploited sherpas. Most tellingly, those freaks of human nature perverted get to show part of their facebooked face and their oxygen mask all over the Internet, to satisfy their pathetic Will to Gossip, and Self-Glorification. While celebrating the power of money over basic human decency.

Frankly, most people who are Chomolungma should not be there. Mountains ought not to be climbed that much artificially, especially the highest.

The first French rescue plane, coming from Abu Dhabi with doctors and medical supplies, circled the airport, but could not land, as the Kathmandu Control Tower did not answer. The obvious method, in future disasters is to send first military transports. Military transports can land on short pieces of runways.

This is one world, and it’s good that it is not one mentality. However, good mentalities ought not to hesitate to stab the bad ones to death.

That there was a quake in Nepal is not surprising. They happened before, there will be (much) worse in the future, maybe even next week (megathrust quakes have often enormous foreshocks). What is surprising is that so little preparedness is in evidence (this being said, even in the city of San Francisco, 50,000 houses are considered ready to collapse, by City Hall, and nothing much is done about it).

Seems like, for most people, the best way to avoid a disaster, is not to think about it.

Nepal is a beautiful place. Visit, appreciate, calmly enjoy, help. Just don’t climb all over it, to turn it into a “street view”. Or face the wrath of fate. That ought to be lesson number one.

Patrice Ayme’

What Plutocracy Giveth…

August 21, 2013

Paul Krugman long favored currency collapses to solve economic problems efficiently (he said). He advocated such curative apocalypses for Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy… while lamenting for years that the Euro was an unquestionable disaster because it… prevented such disasters!

I think that currency dramas do not reflect economic reality, as much as they reflect the wealth of highly leveraged currency manipulators feeding off the Public.

Not yet aghast, the noble Princeton luminary is looking at the Rupee Panic: “OK, the plunging rupee is the big economics story of the day, and I’m trying to get up to speed on the issues. My immediate question, however, is why the panic?

rupeekrugman

We are talking about the worth of entire countries going down 20% in a few days. Krugman, unfazed, pursues:

“Yes, the rupee is down a lot in a short time — along with other emerging market currencies. In fact, its fluctuations are small compared with the obvious comparator, Brazil…

So the recent decline is sharp. But should India panic?

This would be scary if India was like the Asian crisis countries of 1997-1998 or Argentina in 2001, with large amounts of debt denominated in foreign currency. But unless I’m misreading the data, it isn’t… So at first examination this doesn’t look like as big a deal as some headlines are suggesting. What am I missing?”

Well, honorable Krugman, you are missing most of the argument. What has animated the BRICS (Brazil Russia India China South Africa) is the massive flight of Western plutocrats there. For various reasons, the plutocratic tide is now recessing, so Old Economies Rise As Emerging Markets Falters.

India’s population is growing at 1.4% a year, three times the Chinese (or French!) growth. So India needs to grow fast, just to maintain the status quo ante, especially considering that most of India’s population is very poor (much poorer than China; around $6,000 per capita in China, a fourth of that ($1,500) in India).

Thus India is very sensitive to its lifeline to the world’s economy, in other words, the plutocracy. (Apparently India has 172 billion dollars in short term debt owed by March 2014; the collapse of the Rupee will not make this easier.)

This planet’s main organization is the global plutocracy. Not the United Nations. Thus greed, not human rights.

The plutocrats go somewhere, corrupt all their interlocutors, make their money, and flee before the short arm of the law can catch them. Or, at least they used to operate that way (and they dearly hope their boy and symbol, Mr. Summers, will come to head the federal Reserve of the USA, as a reassuring presence). It’s becoming harder these days. Is the game over?

Global plutocracy? What’s that? The few getting all the money, hence all the power. Let me illustrate.

Watch the 30 year old Chelsea Clinton buying herself a 10.3 million dollars apartment, across the street from her present 4 million dollars home. Or watch the children of the Fats Cats who lead China (yes, some attend Harvard, of course!).

In most countries, fate is what the global plutocracy does.

In the world we live in, no idea is an implemented idea, unless it’s backed by power, that is money, that is the plutocracy and its hungry babes. So don’t worry your little head: Chelsea thinks for you. Or prepare for war.

Plutocrats loved India in recent years, but now a cold breeze is rising, as the People of the West are starting to ask questions about the way their masters treat them. Their lords act concerned and have imposed a few regulations. Which are starting to bite.

Industry is actually coming back to the USA, and not just because of fracking (saving the auto industry helped).

I have personally advocated a worldwide carbon tax to hasten this movement (not just to fight unemployment in the West, but also as transportation is subsidized now, an unfair advantage to the mighty plutocracy, and a cause of major pollution that kills the planet).

In 2003, it used to cost 60% LESS to produce in China rather than in the European Union. Ten years later, in 2013, the gap is down to only 23%. A major (Swedish headquarterd) textile maker followed others, Chinese ones, and opened a factory in Ethiopia. Textile workers are paid about 40 euros a MONTH in Ethiopia, a tenth of what they are paid in China.

China has a solution to save itself from the retreating plutocratic tide: hunkering down, purifying itself with time-tested Maoist redemption. It’s not called the Middle Kingdom for no good reason. President Xi, himself the half billion dollars man, seems aware that the compromission with the global plutocracy has gone far enough.

Interestingly, Mr. Xi had his justice department accuse some major Western pharmaceutical companies of massive corruption inside China.

The USA department of justice followed. Not to enquire about Xi, but about the pharmaceuticals the Chinese are accusing. (It’s completely obvious that the pharmaceutical-health industry machine in the USA is corrupt from top to bottom; Obama, too crafty by half, apparently thinks his ObamaCare monster is going to eat it alive, with its full cooperation… well, good luck!)

Sending corrupt plutocrats to jail for life will do wonders in China against the frantic corruption (the wife of the ex-mighty princeling on trial tomorrow, Bo Xilai, an assassin of a dubious UK businessman, is already enjoying life imprisonment).

India does not have a solution at the ready. India, a representative democracy, is much less in a good situation to crack down than China is, should the population get more agitated. It is already agitated: a Marxist rebellion reigns over a huge part of the country (maybe a third; there is no rebellion even remotely resembling that in China).

There is every reason to believe that, should the plutocrats be forced to invert their globalized flight to distant shores for tax and law evasion purposes, the West could monopolize growth. After all, that’s where most of the know-how is.

The very latest growth numbers out of France and Germany (2% and 2.8%, annualized) are now higher than in some BRICS…

This discussion would not be complete without mentioning Quantitative Easing (QE), the Carry Trade and Derivatives. Derivatives allow to use tremendous leverage when trading bets about where currency markets will move. They give sleek operators tremendous manipulative powers, because most of the world “money” is made of derivative contracts.

QE is the giving of money to banks by the central banks, that banks then leverage to create “credit”, that is, money. Then the fast buck artists take the cash and run to places where interest rates are much higher (like emerging markets). That works splendidly, except when said emerging market currencies collapse. Then they stampede the other way.

In other words, the financial plutocrats are still out there, playing, and their accomplices the politicians on the pay roll (see Chelsea Clinton, above) still let it happen. (The total volume of derivatives has barely gone down 10% since 2008, and is still around ten times world GDP.)

Some will say I took a cheap shot at Chelsea Clinton, the first corrupt babe. But she was a hedge fund manager paid by one of the rich financiers who fed her father like a pigeon. So is her husband. How many Indians did they sell to get that rich?

The funny thing is that there are laws against this, such as the “Foreign Corrupt Practice Act”. USA authorities, at the request of the Chinese, are looking at whether the bank JP Morgan (one of Hitler’s sponsors) hired the children of some Chinese officials to win business. What about Ms. Clinton? Ah, I forgot, she is not foreign!  For American justice, corruption happens only overseas.

The number one enabler of the extreme corruption of the plutocracy we, and India, enjoy, is the ex-pigeon in chief. He gave full powers to Rubin, Greenspan and Summers to organize the world as they saw fit.

So here you have it, my dear Krugman: what Our Lord The Plutocracy giveth, Our Lord the Plutocracy taketh away! Especially if We The People of the West spur it that way.

In a world where plutocracy has been allowed to go on a rampage, and control nearly everything, rebalancing the world economy democratically, will not happen without shocks to the system: contemplate Egypt.

The globalization of scoundrels has brought an enormous disorder. A study just published by Nature showed that flooding from sea level rise will cost in excess of 750 billion dollars by 2050. Each year. One will have to build dams along entire coast lines.

This is mostly happening because “democrats” (demoncrats?) such as the Clintons could not care less. All they worried about as the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd just pointed out, was what their sponsors paid them to care about, so they could get more “Money, Money, Money, Money, MONEY!” 

Let me quote Maureen, to show I am not the only one to worry about insufferable Lords: “CLINTON nostalgia is being replaced by Clinton neuralgia… The Clintons’ neediness, their sense of what they are owed in material terms for their public service, their assumption that they’re entitled to everyone’s money.

Are we about to put the “For Rent” sign back on the Lincoln Bedroom?

If Americans are worried about money in politics, there is no larger concern than the Clintons, who are cosseted in a world where rich people endlessly scratch the backs of rich people.”

George Packer observed in The New Yorker: “The top of American life has become a very cozy and lucrative place, where the social capital of who you are and who you know brings unimaginable returns.”

And they suck up it, worldwide: last year, Clinton, Bill, extracted about a million dollars from Nigeria, one of the poorest country on Earth, from which the USA already extracts oil. The giant sucking sound of plutocracy without any decency.

In the future, to limit shocks, and over-exploitation, there is just one solution: the rule of governments controlled by We The People, real democracy, using full blown governmentalism, worldwide.

The Swiss example can be followed, to start with: direct democracy undermining corruptocracy.

But first, one has to get rid of the corrupt ones, and become allergic to the stench of corruption.

A necessary precondition for that would be for the USA, to prefer electing somebody clean and effective, such as the governor of California, Jerry Brown. Rather than the thoroughly corrupt Clintons, and the giant decomposition they wrapped the world with.

Because, yes, of course, it’s Mr. Clinton’s sponsors who profit from the collapse of the Rupee. That’s what Paul Krugman is mostly missing.

***

Patrice Ayme