You first became aware of them when you were in grade school—self-appointed leaders, directors of taste and trend, unchallengeable because their mockery and physical abuse could make life quite uncomfortable—the in-group. As you got older, you discovered there was always an in-group. An in-group runs the country and indeed, the world. Just like grade school, they flaunt their exalted status and make life miserable for outsiders. SLL hereby christens this group: A Special Society of Hubristic Oligarchs and Leaders of Extraordinary Sagacity. For convenience, we’ll refer to both the society and its members by the acronym ASSHOLES.
The caveman who bludgeoned other cave people until they made him king, hailed him as a god, and were forced to let him and his crew run things, and later, the pharaohs, emperors, kings, queens, tzars, kaisers, fuehrers, dear leaders, dictators, etc. who did essentially the same things, are testament that notwithstanding the occasional setback—revolution, coups, foreign conquest—ASSHOLES have dominated and subjugated throughout history. There have been rare and fleeting times when ASSHOLES have left their serfs alone, but anyone who lived during those periods should have counted themselves lucky. The present age is certainly not one of them.
No particular virtue is required for membership in ASSHOLES; many members have been virtually virtueless. One sociopathic character trait is necessary: a neurotic compulsion to tell others what to do and a willingness to use any means available to enforce compliance. An exercise in proctology—studying ASSHOLES—is as distasteful as it sounds, but an examination of their last one hundred years or so is instructive.
Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, JP Morgan, and John D. Rockefeller, et. al., were the ASSHOLES of their day, and two “innovations” they thought Americans ought to have “for their own good” (a favorite phrase of ASSHOLES), were a central bank and an income tax. Funny money and government theft weren’t really new ideas, but in 1913, America got the Federal Reserve and the income tax. Not to worry, the ASSHOLES assured, “elastic money” would prevent panics and the income tax would only be exacted in almost imperceptible levies on the fattest of the fat cats.
One year later, European ASSHOLES started a glorious little war to further their convoluted geopolitical interests and aspirations. Four years later Europe lay in ruins with 17 million dead and another 20 million wounded. Empires were in tatters and a war-weakened Russian government had succumbed to Bolshevik ASSHOLES. Just to prove that war is the gift that keeps on giving, a war-spread Spanish Influenza pandemic killed another 50 to 100 million people. Just to prove that ASSHOLES’ work is never done, the winners imposed on the losers terms so onerous they almost guaranteed another war.
The Federal Reserve blew up a bubble during the Roaring 20s, which is why it roared. The bubble popped in 1929, ushering in a recession. Hoover, Roosevelt and fellow ASSHOLES believed that what ailed the economy was a lack of government intervention, a “flaw” they “fixed.” Their fix turned the recession into the Great Depression and left a legacy of business regulation, welfare state spending, and ever-rising governmental indebtedness that lasts to this day. Meanwhile, over in Europe, Adolf Hitler, one of history’s biggest ASSHOLES, capitalized on Germany’s Treaty of Versailles misery, rose to power, kindled the Holocaust, and started the next world war.
The US-led alliance won WW II, but the carnage was even greater than WWI, an estimated 50 to 80 million dead. One of the few things that keep ASSHOLES in check is other ASSHOLES, and the US emerged from the war as the world’s preeminent power. American ASSHOLES made two mistakes: they believed their power was unchecked, and that it would last for the foreseeable future. They didn’t foresee the detonation of the Soviet atomic bomb in 1949. Now there were two sets of ASSHOLES who could wipe out the planet, which led to the Cold War. Both sides sold their people on the notion that the other side posed an existential threat. They produced huge amounts of armaments and promoted puppet governments, proxy wars, domestic surveillance and repression, and spy versus spy. The “global struggle against the other side’s hegemony” was the story fed to the serfs, but it was the same old story: ASSHOLES grabbing more power.
A membership requirement for ASSHOLES is monumental incompetence, like “making one’s bones” is necessary to join the Mafia. By the late 1960s, it was clear that the supposed best and brightest had the US in a war in Vietnam it wasn’t going to win. Refusing to raise taxes to fund the unpopular war and an expanding welfare state, first Johnson and then Nixon resorted to currency depreciation. In an act of supreme assholiness, Nixon in 1971 broke the US’s promise to redeem foreign nations’ dollars for gold, the foundation for the post-WWII monetary order. Subsequent emissions of untethered dollars led to double-digit increases in the price indexes, the first in the US since the Civil War, and a global plague of fiat debt backed only by more fiat debt.
Any system that steals from the competent and gives to the incompetent is doomed to failure, but the patently illogical has never stopped ASSHOLES. Proving that Americans had no monopoly on military and economic incompetence, the Soviets got bogged down in Afghanistan and ran their creaky state-controlled economy into the ground. The government finally collapsed in 1991. This left American ASSHOLES without an enemy with which to roust the serfs, but resurgent Islamic ASSHOLES came to the rescue. After 9/11, the serfs practically begged our ASSHOLES to do what they do best: expand their power, arrogate more of the national product, increase the national debt, make war against other ASSHOLES, expand domestic surveillance and repression, and lie about it.
Since then, ASSHOLES have never looked back… and never stopped lying. They’ve careened from disaster to disaster: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, the housing bubble, the financial crisis, bailouts, crony capitalism and corruption, quantitative easing, Obamacare, the Greek debt crisis, immigration, and the refugee crisis. Remember when ASSHOLES assured us that deficits don’t matter? Six years of anemic growth and the unfolding debt deflation and depression, slated to be history’s largest, are giving the lie to those assurances.
Believe ASSHOLES now like you did when grade-school ASSHOLES told you to give them your lunch money and they’d pay you back tomorrow. Their latest ploys are trade agreements and global warming. The title of SLL’s article on the trade agreements conveys its skepticism: “Trust Me, Charlie Brown,” and anthropogenic global warming (AGW) evokes more of the same. The definitely unsettled science is reflected in the morphing of “global warming” into “climate change” or “climate variability,” as the climate refuses to conform to the predictions of the computer models. However, the larger point is that even if the AGW hypothesis is spot on, decades of ASSHOLES‘ lies, arrogance, and incompetence have obliterated whatever goodwill and trust they once enjoyed. They’re the little boy crying wolf and asking for trillions of dollars, supranational organizations, extensive, unaccountable powers (wielded for the good of all, of course), and a reordering of global economics and politics.
They feign astonishment that anyone could doubt their science or good intentions, dismissing it as ignorant populism. However, that won’t-get-fooled-again populism is staging an upside breakout all over the world as people rediscover an ancient truth. The only effective strategy for dealing with ASSHOLES is the BIRD: Boldly Intransigent Resistance and Defiance. There are far more of us than there are of them.
A TOWERING TIME, A TOWERING DYNASTY, A TOWERING NOVEL