Success has ruined many a man, Benjamin Franklin reportedly said. It also ruins nations, which is perhaps where the word “ruination” comes from. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:
First they came for the toilet paper and kitchen towels, then they came for flour and now they are taking your coins. Yes, the American public sitting out the COVID-19 virus is now having to deal with what is referred as a “small change shortage.” caused apparently by hoarding. Coffee shops and other retail outlets that deal in cash have been hit hard by the shortage, finding themselves unable to make change. Apparently, people have decided spontaneously and in large numbers that nickels, dimes and quarters, as they have value as being made of metal, will somehow maintain their worth better than the pieces of paper being printed in Washington.
The government has acted decisively to meet the threat by having the Federal Reserve convene a 22 strong U.S. Coin Task Force to “mitigate the effects of low coin inventories caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Ironically, of course, the Fed is the source of America’s long suffering backed-by-nothing currency. As several of the major private banks, including JP Morgan and Bank of America, are represented on the Task Force as well as a swarm of government bureaucrats, one can assume that nothing will happen except possibly a decision to change the design of the coins to eliminate Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. Sacagawea can stay on the funny looking dollar coin, which no one has actually seen in years as she represents an approved ethnic minority.
Humanity’s greatest scourge is groupthink. Millions have marched off to war, convinced of their side’s goodness and the enemy’s evil, and didn’t come back or came back in coffins. Billions have embraced politics and political philosophies with warning labels for anyone who cared to look: destruction and death sure to follow. Against the death toll from groupthink, the Black Plague, Spanish Flu, cancer, heart disease, and every other human malady shrink to insignificance.
If you could somehow open the brains of those who followed leaders and malignant idiocies to their deaths, the one thing you would find is the thought—actually the stale remnant of a thought, a trite rationalization—because everyone is doing it. Fortunately, it’s never everyone doing it, there are always those who oppose; it’s how the human race has survived. When word and deed become too dangerous, they oppose in thought.
Those times when it has been too dangerous to overtly express opposition to groupthink have been humanity’s darkest ages, lived under its most corrupt and barbaric regimes. We are entering such a time now. These descents are always presaged by a deterioration in thought—mob think and mob rule that become increasingly deranged and dangerous. The specifics of the various manifestations are trivial details, the important commonality is their reflexive hostility to independent thought and the truth.
“Probably. But not quite. I’m not afraid any more. But I know that the terror exists. I know the kind of terror it is. You can’t conceive of that kind. Listen, what’s the most horrible experience you can imagine? To me—it’s being left, unarmed, in a sealed cell with a drooling beast of prey or a maniac who’s had some disease that’s eaten his brain out. You’d have nothing then but your voice—your voice and your thought. You’d scream to that creature why it should not touch you, you’d have the most eloquent words, the unanswerable words, you’d become the vessel of the absolute truth. And you’d see living eyes watching you and you’d know that the thing can’t hear you, that it can’t be reached, not reached, not in any way, yet it’s breathing and moving there before you with a purpose its own. That’s horror. Well, that’s what’s hanging over the world, prowling somewhere through mankind, that same thing, something closed, mindless, utterly wanton, but something with an aim and a cunning of its own. I don’t think I’m a coward, but I’m afraid of it. And that’s all I know—only that it exists. I don’t know its purpose, I don’t its nature.”
Stephen Mallory to Howard Roark, Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, 1943
Having lived through the Russian Revolution, Ayn Rand knew well the nature of the mob—a drooling beast of prey or a maniac who’s had some disease that’s eaten his brain out…closed, mindless, utterly wanton, but something with an aim and a cunning of its own.
Who’s going to want to own an apartment building and rent out to tenants after all this? From Doug Casey at internationalman.com:
International Man: In recent months, “rent strikes” have emerged in many cities. There has also been an increasing number of politicians suggesting they’ll pass laws to force landlords to “cancel rent.”
What is your take on this?
Doug Casey: Property rights are basic to human rights. In fact, it doesn’t make any sense to talk about human rights unless you talk about property rights.
Your primary form of property is your own body. But things outside of your body are equally as important. You can’t survive without possessions, things that belong to you alone, and that you are responsible for. “Rent strikers”—who are philosophically aligned with socialists, communists, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and similar groups— don’t see it that way, however. They believe their problems are your problems. They’re completely irresponsible.
They seem to think that saying something, no matter how irrational, can make it so. And saying that you shouldn’t have to pay rent makes it possible to roll back the laws of economic reality.
Of course, the whole world has pretty much gone on tilt over the last six months. Not paying agreed-upon rents and mortgages is economically destructive. But that’s exactly the result these people want. It’s a step to completely overturning what’s left of capitalism. That’s bad enough. But saying you don’t have to meet your obligations is simply dishonorable. These people shouldn’t be taken seriously but treated with contempt.
“And the will of Zeus was moving towards its end.” – Homer
The recline and flail of western civilization beats on. Pandemic, economic collapse, full societal breakdown. The sequence grooves from one to the next with the symbiotic disharmony of a minor pentatonic scale.
Peaceful protests devolved to rioting, looting, and structure fires in our own lowly hamlet last Sunday. The Long Beach police couldn’t stop the vandals. So the National Guard was summoned to quell the ransacking. Some Guardsmen even stuck around to help out with the cleanup effort the following day.
The refrain – pandemic, economic collapse, full societal breakdown – has been repeated in many cities across the country. For each: The time is now. The place is here.
The progression from government pandemic lockdown orders to government curfew orders has been as natural as day to night and back again. The difference between the two is subtle; like the difference between ketchup and catsup. The main variance is the local authorities, in what must be an act of public service, now spam our mobile phone each afternoon with warnings to not venture out past curfew.
The events of the last weeks and months have been well covered. We’ll leave the ongoing documentation tasks to those better qualified. Instead, we’ll take a step back and look around. Our aim today is to better understand what’s going on…so we may better anticipate – and plan for – what’s next.
International Man: Amid the Covid-19 hysteria and global shutdown, the drawbacks of living in a big city have become more apparent.
Sure, cities can offer more career opportunities. Still, they are also more expensive, dirtier, have higher levels of crime, crowded, have fragile supply lines, and infrastructure that can get easily overwhelmed.
How do you view the value proposition of living in a big city today, given what is transpiring?
Jeff Thomas: Well, in my college years, I found cities to be very attractive. Lots of social opportunities, lots of shops, a greater variety of goods, etc. But, during that time, I was very fortunate to have experienced two city crises from which I learned valuable lessons.
The first was an oil crisis in the winter of 1973. It was bad enough that many people had to abandon their cars, some out on the highway, in the snow. Some people died from exposure.
When Trump miraculously won the election in 2016, the smarter observers saw that he was not going to be a reform agent, but a chaos agent. Through the ballot, the public had injected a foreign body into the political system. How the system would react to that foreign body was unknown, but after three plus years the results of the experiment are coming into focus. What we are getting is chaos. Everything about the old order is suddenly in question, as everything about it is breaking down.
The most obvious example of the chaos is the old political order. For almost a generation, national politics was Red Team versus Blue Team. Both sides agreed on most everything as they were financed by the same people. Red Team wanted to be more naked in its slobbering than Blue Team over the men behind the curtain, while Blue Team wanted to be more hysterical than Red Team. Otherwise, no matter which way the people voted, the policies never changed.
Three plus years of Trump and we have prominent national politicians calling for a moratorium on immigration. Trump just claimed he signed an executive order temporarily halting all immigration. Whether or not this is true is entirely unknown, as Trump says all sorts of things that mean nothing. That’s not the point. What matters is that things that were forbidden just a few years ago are now being said in public by people who care very deeply about the taboos of modern society.
Once upon a time there was a village right next to a volcano. The villagers spent much of their time watching the volcano, which perpetually sputtered, smoked, and fumed. When they first awakened, they’d look up to it. At night they’d watch its lava glow against the dark sky. A special class of villagers instructed them on how to interpret the volcano and how they must live their lives to propitiate it.
Much of what the village produced was gathered by the special class, an offering tax that was supposedly left in a secret spot at the foot of the volcano (somehow the special class always lived better than everyone else). Unusually intense rumblings of the volcano terrified the villagers. The special class would tell them what village security demanded—usually higher offering taxes and more power for the special class—to prevent an eruption. One day there was an earthquake. A fissure opened and swallowed the entire village and its special class. The volcano never erupted.
Turn on the news and chances are the story concerns the special class. History books are mostly chronicles of the special class—their wars, machinations, depredations, follies, all-too-rare wisdom, monuments to themselves, and the invasions and revolutions that occasionally upend them. It goes far beyond propaganda or brainwashing, it is simply an ingrained fixation, accepted by virtually everyone, that attention must always be on the special class and its volcano—government.
We look up to the special class and their governments and ignore that which will render them irrelevant details—the tectonic shifts below. They perpetuate the illusion of control and many of the subjugated want to believe, but the illusion has always given way to failure and irrelevancy and always will.
It is inevitable, given the trend towards decentralized violence, that any attempt at centralized violence such as the US’s many invasions would result only in chaos. From Danny Sjursen at tomdispatch.com:
U.S. Foreign Policy Goes Off the Rails
In March 1906, on the heels of the U.S. Army’s massacre of some 1,000 men, women, and children in the crater of a volcano in the American-occupied Philippines, humorist Mark Twain took his criticism public. A long-time anti-imperialist, he flippantly suggested that Old Glory should be redesigned “with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.”
I got to thinking about that recently, five years after I became an antiwar dissenter (while still a major in the U.S. Army), and in the wake of another near-war, this time with Iran. I was struck yet again by the way every single U.S. military intervention in the Greater Middle East since 9/11 has backfiredin wildly counterproductive ways, destabilizing a vast expanse of the planet stretching from West Africa to South Asia.
Chaos, it seems, is now Washington’s stock-in-trade. Perhaps, then, it’s time to resurrect Twain’s comment — only today maybe those stars on our flag should be replaced with the universal symbol for chaos.After all, our present administration, however unhinged, hardly launched this madness. President Trump’s rash, risky, and repugnant decision to assassinate Iranian Major General Qassem Suleimani on the sovereign soil of Iraq was only the latest version of what has proven to be a pervasive state of affairs. Still, that and Trump’s other recent escalations in the region do illustrate an American chaos machine that’s gone off the rails. And the very manner — I’m loathe to call it a “process” — by which it’s happened just demonstrates the way this president has taken American chaos to its dark but logical conclusion.
Do the recent rises in the prices of gold and silver signal impending global chaos? From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
After nearly eight years of torment, gold and silver are back. The global political picture is spinning out of control quickly. And the precious metals are here to tell us just how quickly.
Before I get to the charts, however, I think it’s important we review everything that happened this week just to get some context.
Last weekend two gruesome murder sprees were committed in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Both shooters apparently radicalized by the current political climate. The usual suspects used these events to call for gun control, pre-crime prevention straight out of a Philip K. Dick novel while blaming them on the tyranny of white people and Donald Trump’s racism.
Then on Monday morning to the news India revoked Article 370 of their constitution, reorganizing Kashmir & Jammu and putting the entire area on a lockdown so complete many there don’t know what happened.
Protests in Hong Kong continued into their third week as the U.S. is caught openly working with protest organizers and castigates by China.
Libya is one of regime change’s many dark moments. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
More than seven years after NATO launched a regime change war in Libya on the side of anti-Gaddafi rebels, the West is again being asked to intervene as the country further descends into civil war.
Except this time it’s the internationally recognized government since installed in Tripoli that is at war with itself, and the death toll from inter-factional fighting since August has now reached over 100 and is growing as street battles in Tripoli suburbs rage, causing leaders to urge the United Nations to act.
The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) issued a statement late Friday calling on the U.N. to take “concrete and effective” action to protect civilians and halt fighting near the capital. The GNA urged the UN mission to “present the Security Council with the reality of the bloody events in Libya so that it can… protect the lives and property of civilians”.
Since fresh fighting again erupted in Tripoli on August 26 (there’s been internecine battles in the capital for years), whole sections of the city have been shut down, especially the southern suburbs where initial street battles began, which has witnessed the shelling of residential areas, street-to-street fighting, and tanks in the streets — allreminiscent of the 2011 war which eventually led to a NATO air campaign and forcible removal and assassination of Libya’s longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.
According to international reports, some of the feuding militias have come mostly from Libya’s third city Misrata and the town of Tarhouna southeast of the capital; however, the early weeks of fighting were driven mostly by rival factions within the GNA itself.
On Friday UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a statement through his spokesman, saying he is “alarmed by the increasing number of violations of the ceasefire agreement.” Guterres called on the warring militias to respect a prior truce and to “refrain from any actions that would increase the suffering of the civilian population”.
He said groups responsible for “the violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law must be held responsible,” according to the statement.
Previously the UN Support Mission in Libya voiced concerns over “the use of indiscriminate fire and heavy weapons in densely populated residential areas.”
Since the NATO-backed overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has remained split between rival parliaments and governments in the east and west, with militias and tribes lining up behind each, resulting in fierce periodic clashes.
In March 2011 the UN passed Resolution 1973 which authorized the imposition of a No Fly Zone over Libya, ostensibly to protect civilians from pro-Gaddafi forces. The US, UK, France, and other NATO and Gulf allies bombed the country while claiming to act in the name of democracy and human rights.
Though the recently “liberated” Libya has remained conflict-prone after NATO and US forces promised an “Arab Spring”-style “blossoming of democracy” — things have clearly only gone from worse to worse as the capital now again slides toward full blown civil war. Welcome to the “new” Libya.
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