Tag Archives: Power

The Misconception of the “Man of System”, by Jeff Thomas

The dangers of what Adam Smith termed the “Man of System,” those who want to tell or force other people what to do. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com:

In 1759, Scotsman Adam Smith, who is widely regarded as the world’s first true economist, published his first great work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In it, he postulated that all social evolution can be attributed to “individual human action, as opposed to “individual human design.”

By this, he meant that whatever understanding worked well between any two people was likely to lead to progress. The reason for this was that such agreements would, of necessity, be based upon “trust and empathy.”

He believed that, if mankind were left alone to sort out all commerce and other interaction on their own, using truth and empathy, they’d succeed at moving the society forward.

He further postulated that, historically, the failure to progress could be attributed to what he termed to be the “Man of System.”

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The Rule of the Uber-Rich Means Tyranny or Revolution, by Chris Hedges

Players only love you when they’re playing, and the uber-rich only pretend to love you when they want something from you. From Chris Hedges at truthdig.com:

At the age of 10 I was sent as a scholarship student to a boarding school for the uber-rich in Massachusetts. I lived among the wealthiest Americans for the next eight years. I listened to their prejudices and saw their cloying sense of entitlement. They insisted they were privileged and wealthy because they were smarter and more talented. They had a sneering disdain for those ranked below them in material and social status, even the merely rich. Most of the uber-rich lacked the capacity for empathy and compassion. They formed elite cliques that hazed, bullied and taunted any nonconformist who defied or did not fit into their self-adulatory universe.

It was impossible to build a friendship with most of the sons of the uber-rich. Friendship for them was defined by “what’s in it for me?” They were surrounded from the moment they came out of the womb by people catering to their desires and needs. They were incapable of reaching out to others in distress—whatever petty whim or problem they had at the moment dominated their universe and took precedence over the suffering of others, even those within their own families. They knew only how to take. They could not give. They were deformed and deeply unhappy people in the grip of an unquenchable narcissism.

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The Eagle, the Dragon, and the Bear, by Robert Gore

Does Trump recognize the limits of US power?

Trump’s new world order comes straight from The Godfather. There are three global powers: the US, Russia, and China. None of these powers can militarily defeat either of the other two, and even an alliance among two of them would have trouble defeating the third.

Like Don Corleone, Trump is dividing up the larger territory into smaller, great-power controlled sub-territories. He is tacitly recognizing Russia and China’s dominance in their own spheres of influence, and holding them to account in their territories. The implicit agreement among the three is apparently that each power will, in their, “sphere of influence…enforce peace.”

Trump’s New World Order,” SLL 3/20/18

In one week President Trump confirmed that his first concern is the United States, that he has what may be a workable vision for its place in the world, and he loathes globalism and the globalists. A good measure of his efficacy is the outrage he generates. By that measure, that week was his finest hour…so far.

Europe won’t have a seat at Trump’s great-power table. Its welfare states are addicted to their handouts, deeply in debt, rely on uneven trade arrangements with the US, and have below-replacement birth rates. They are cowed by Soros-sponsored propaganda—Immigration is the answer!—and haven’t shut off the immigrant invasion. Refusing to spend on their own militaries, they’ve used what they save on defense to subsidize welfare spending and state bureaucracies.

They’re ignoring a lesson from history: nations that rely on other nations for their defense generally come to regret it. Instead, they’re wedded to the globalist acronyms: NATO, EU and UN. They have frittered away their power and their glory—Europe’s heritage and civilization—opting for overrun masquerading as assimilation by dogmatic and implacable foes.

Trump is all about power and despises weakness. There isn’t always strength in numbers. A confederation of weaklings doesn’t equal strength, especially when the weaklings’ premises and principles are fundamentally wrong. Strongest of the weaklings is Germany, a trade powerhouse but a US military vassal. It’s hard to say if Trump’s dislike of Angela Merkel is business—she’s one of the world’s most visible and vociferous proponent of globalism, or personal—it’s always her way or the highway. Probably both, and it looks like Germany may finally be rejecting her way on immigration.

Trump clearly relished snubbing her and her G-6 buddies, particularly boy toys Trudeau and Macron, who may actually believe his bone-crushing handshakes intimidated Trump. When you’re paying for a continent’s defense and you’re giving them a better deal on trade than they’re giving you, that’s leverage, and Trump knows it. He’s not intimidated.

US Atlanticists have used that leverage to cement Europe into the US’s confederated empire. That Trump is willing to blow off Europe suggests that he may be blowing off empire. America’s imperialists equate backing away from empire with “decline,” but such a sea change would be the exact opposite. Empires require more energy and resources to maintain than can be extracted from them. They are inevitably a road to ruin.

Nothing is as geopolitically telling as Trump leaving Europe’s most “important” heads of state early to meet with the leader of one of Asia’s most impoverished backwaters. Europe’s time has passed, the future belongs to Asia. Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia may look like the same recognition, but it was not. That pivot was designed to encircle China diplomatically, economically, and militarily. That thinking persists among much of the US military, but Trump may have something different in mind.

China has its problems. Much of its economy, especially its financial sector, is state-directed, despite the capitalistic gloss. There will be a reckoning from its debt binge. The repressive social credit system typifies the government’s immoral objective: keeping China’s people compliant but productive drones. However, enforced docility and innovation—the foundation of progress—mix as readily as oil and water, and theft of others’ innovations can’t fill the void.

Notwithstanding its issues, China is a major power and is not going to be encircled or regime changed by the US. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) it cosponsors and finances with Russia is the centerpiece of a basket of initiatives designed to further those countries’ influence and leadership within Eurasia and among emerging market countries. BRI is an apt symbol of the movement towards multipolarity, with competition shifting from the military to the economic and commercial sphere.

Trump tacitly accepts Russian and Chinese dominance in Eurasia. However, Trump doesn’t give without receiving; he’s going to extract concessions. Number one on the list is North Korea and its nuclear weapons. We’ll probably never know what has gone on behind the scenes between Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, and perhaps Vladimir Putin, but Kim may have received an offer he couldn’t refuse. Both China and Russia would be well-served by a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons and US troops. Whatever transpired, Kim came around. Trump ameliorated any potential humiliation, journeying to Kim’s neck of the woods, laying on an inspirational movie video, and flattering the North Korean leader and his country. Kim the farsighted leader may be able to reach a deal; Kim the browbeaten puppet couldn’t. If he tried, he’d probably be deposed, always a danger for dictators.

As global competition moves from military to economic, Trump is also going to make sure he tilts, as much as possible, the rules of that competition back towards the US. There are the existing trade arrangements with Europe, Canada, and Mexico that he’s willing to blow up, presumably to obtain better arrangements.

China is in a league of its own when it comes to gaming trade, and it’s getting the Trump treatment as well. Much of the Chinese “advantage” stems from Chinese overcapacity, fueled by below market interest rates in China and around the globe. Trump can’t do much about that “advantage.” The low-interest regime will eventually crash and burn, but it’s going to take a depression to clear overcapacity in China and elsewhere.

Innovation and intellectual property are America’s one indisputable comparative economic advantage. It will be a tough nut, but Trump is bent on curbing China’s acquisitions, by fair means and foul, of US know how. If he succeeds it will slow, but not stop, the Chinese economic juggernaut. It has millions of smart, well-educated, industrious people who will continue to fuel indigenous innovation (notwithstanding state-enforced docility).

Three realities confronted Trump when he assumed office. The US empire is unsustainable, so too is the trajectory of its spending and debt, and the government is fundamentally corrupt. It would be foolish to bet Trump doesn’t understand these issues and the linkages between them.

“Trump’s New World Order”

If Trump has recognized that first reality and is implementing Don Corleone’s spheres of influence concept, he may get some breathing room to address the intractable second and third realities: the trajectory of US spending and debt, and the fundamentally corrupt government. On the debt, all the breathing room in the world isn’t going to save him. The US keeps adding to principal, which is compounding at rising rates. Cutting imperial expenditures would help some, although transfer payments are the biggest enchilada. To make even the first step on the thousand mile journey to solvency, however, the US government will have to run a bona fide surplus for many years. That prospect is not on the horizon.

As for corruption, thousands of articles by bloggers and commentators, including SLL, may have less instructional value for the populace at large than one simple demonstration: most of America’s rulers and its captive media are speaking out against a peace initiative, not on the merits of the initiative itself, but because Donald Trump was one of its initiators. That tells those Americans who are paying attention all they need to know about their rulers and their captive media. Whether they do anything about it is another question.

You Should Be Laughing At Them!

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Twelve Tips For Making Sense Of The World, by Caitlin Johnstone

These tips will stand you in pretty good stead. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

In an environment that is saturated with mass media propaganda, it can be hard to figure out which way’s up, let alone get an accurate read on what’s going on in the world. Here are a few tips I’ve learned which have given me a lot of clarity in seeing through the haze of spin and confusion. Taken separately they don’t tell you a lot, but taken together they paint a very useful picture of the world and why it is the way it is.

1. It’s always ultimately about acquiring power.

In the quest to understand why governments move in such irrational ways, why expensive, senseless wars are fought while homeless people die of exposure on the streets, why millionaires and billionaires get richer and richer while everyone else struggles to pay rent, why we destroy the ecosystem we depend on for our survival, why one elected official tends to advance more or less the same harmful policies and agendas as his or her predecessor, people often come up with explanations which don’t really hold water.

The most common of these is probably the notion that all of these problems are due to the malignant influence of one of two mainstream political parties, and if the other party could just get in control of the situation all the problems would go away. Other explanations include the belief that humans are just intrinsically awful, blaming minorities like Jews or immigrants, blaming racism and white supremacy, or going all the way down wild and twisted rabbit holes into theories about reptilian secret societies and baby-eating pedophile cabals. But really all of mankind’s irrational behavior can be explained by the basic human impulse to amass power and influence over one’s fellow humans, combined with the fact that sociopaths tend to rise to positions of power.

Our evolutionary ancestors were pack animals, and the ability to rise in social standing in one’s pack determined crucial matters like whether one got first or last dibs on food or got to reproduce. This impulse to rise in our pack is hardwired deeply into our evolutionary heritage, but when left unchecked due to a lack of empathy, and when expanded into the globe-spanning 7.6 billion human pack we now find ourselves in due to ease of transportation and communication, it can lead to individuals who will keep amassing more and more power until they wield immense influence over entire clusters of nations.

To continue reading: Twelve Tips For Making Sense Of The World

Place Your Bets, Hedge Your Bets, Winner Takes All, by Doug “Uncola” Lynn

Doug “Uncola” Lynn doubts that establishment power will be defeated, no matter how well-intentioned Trump might be. From Lynn at theburningplatform.com:

We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.

― George Orwell, “1984”, part 3, chapter 3

In the eight days following Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential Election win, I wrote a series of three (3) articles based upon Charles Dicken’s literary classic, “A Tale of Two Cities”.  The first piece entitled “Best of Times Worst of Times” was a play-by-play of my own election night experience.  The second installment, entitled “A Tale of Two Cities” drew some comparisons between our modern times with Dickens’ major themes of “duality, revolution, and resurrection” against the backdrop of the burgeoning warfare between the aristocratic class and those of the peasants during the French Revolution.  And the third and final article concluded with these words:

 If Trump ushers in a return to constitutionalism, liberty and renewed nationalist vigor across the world; then let us tip our hats, drink wine and dance in the streets.

Conversely, if violent revolution consumes the nations, including America; the ensuing societal breakdown will lead to starvation, mob mentality, war, death, destruction and blood flowing in the streets of cities like wine from a broken cask.  Out of the complete chaos a new world order might then arise as a phoenix from the ashes of the old system still burning.

Will liberty be resurrected? Or tyranny?

There is no middle ground.

Me, “The Good, the Guilty and the Guillotine”, TheTollOnline.com, 11/16/2016

 

I am not linking these articles here because they are beside the point right now; other than, perhaps, my comparison of Trump in the third article to the biblical Samson tearing down the twin pillars of left and right in today’s American political system. Beyond that, however, I want to discuss specific Fourth Turning revolutions in relation to their cataclysmic dynamics of power.

To continue reading: Place Your Bets, Hedge Your Bets, Winner Takes All

He Said That? 6/29/17

From John Adams (1735-1826), American lawyer, author, statesman, and diplomat. He served as the second President of the United States (1797–1801), the first Vice President (1789–1797), and as a Founding Father was a leader of American independence from Great Britain. From notes for an oration at Braintree (Spring, 1772):

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

Mao and the Middle Class: What’s the Source of Political Power? by Charles Hugh Smith

There’s more to power than the barrel of a gun. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Force is not the same as power. If force fails to persuade, power evaporates.
The decline of middle class wealth and income is not just an economic trend–it translates directly to a decline in political power. Chairman Mao famously noted that “Political power grows out of the barrel of gun,”, but this is only true in specific circumstances, for reasons elucidated by author Edward Luttwak in his book The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire.
Luttwak delineated the difference between force and power. Force is what grows out of a barrel of a gun: the ability to coerce people to obey commands.
Force is expensive and labor-intensive. If you want to prohibit people from using alternative currencies or making black market trades, for example, you have to literally follow every individual, as black market transactions can occur virtually anywhere by pre-arrangement.
Forcing people not to horde scarce goods is another example.
Power manifests when people willingly obey or choose to comply. Although it’s tempting to boil power down to threats of punishment/death, history offers many examples of intensive repression and threats failing to translate force into power.
Filing tax returns is an example of low-cost compliance. The IRS audits and prosecutes relatively few taxpayers for non-compliance. The vast majority of people choose to comply without being forced to do so. This leverage is power.
Power ultimately flows from the populace’s belief that the state or other authority could deploy overwhelming force if necessary. The subject populace makes a mental calculation of risk and return, and concludes that the high risks and modest gains of non-compliance make compliance the wiser, lower risk choice.
We are seeing force and power playing out in the Brexit drama. The European Union needs to punish Britain for leaving the EU, as the ability to enforce a painful punishment on any nation leaving the union will communicate (like nothing else can) that there will be a high cost to exiting the EU.
If other nations believe they will share the same fate as Britain and thus decide to stay in the EU, the EU will be manifesting power. Power is persuading people to comply without having to invest any political capital or treasure in the application of force.