Saturday, September 20, 2014

CRAIG EDWARD KELSO, The Case for Rational Optimism

We live in incredibly exciting times.

Multiethnic democracies such as India to the East (nearly one billion people) and Brazil in our own hemisphere are slowly challenging American exceptionalism – the tired, tired notion the United States has a lock on progress or human decency.

Relatively peaceful transfers of power are making their way across the globe, and while I don’t necessarily agree with political power AT ALL, in any form, it is comforting to know sane people exist elsewhere.

In roughly a decade balances of influence are dramatically shifting.

The century got off to a bang with, and sorry for the cliché, September 12th of its second year. Yep. Nothing has been nor will ever be the same as a result. With a tidy google search and some intellectual honesty, September 10th, 2001 should be a day for sober reflection.

Think on it.

On THAT day, all was well.

TRILLIONS in American military spending, the public were assured, made the US’s population safer and safer and safer. Then, a mere DAY LATER, 19 desert maniacs armed only with box cutters foiled the US’s ENTIRE security apparatus. That alphabet soup of abbreviations: FBI, CIA, NSA, USN, USMC, USAr, USAF, USCG, USNG, etcetera, along with local and state cop-pery … were … completely … impotent.

All those uniforms for nothing.

All the munitions for nothing.

All steels and various alloys for nothing.

Tens of thousands of troops spread out for nothing.

The shock to US rulers, watching a $300,000 hit (yeah, that’s what it cost) by a rag-tag group of stateless terrorists take down the Trade Center buildings and put a hole in the goddamn Pentagon, was comical if not downright terrifying.

What a joke. Yet, the response by government and military bureaucrats was to INCREASE military spending astronomically, to redouble and triple US efforts in a war on an invisible enemy, a noun. Scary shit. The march to bounce rubble in ancient cultures, and in-effect cripple already devastated societies (American apathy toward history comes into clear focus: Southwest Asia’s partitioning, essentially at the hands of British topographers, nary gets a mention; US support for and active backing of the exact regimes it was to then rid the world isn’t laughed at nearly enough), draped itself in patriotic fervor – the last refuge of scoundrels, indeed.

The current US administration’s quixotic foreign policy is to use the big stick judiciously, or so it claims. Shifts of boots here and there, along the global chessboard, combined with a colossal leaving behind of bureaucratic shadows (the vaunted pull-out of US troops in Iraq is classic shadow-play: something close to 20,000 US “advisors” stayed behind, hardly a gift of sovereignty) are the norm for the foreseeable future. For perspective, consider as well the end of World War II seventy years ago. US troops remain in essentially the same positions – a sobering thought for those who assert the US is a benevolent and non-imperialist power.

Blowback, as was the case with regard to the September 11th, 2001 attacks, will come, hard.

I won’t pretend to understand the entire dynamic of so-called globalization, but it sure makes for fascinating study.

As of this writing, the European Union (EU) is coming apart at the seams. Social engineering programs are rocking. The most generous welfare policies are roosting. Greece. Portugal. Spain. Ireland. The virus spreads, a cancer and pox on their houses. Who would have ever thought the Germans and French, when the dust settles, carry the mantle for fiscal sanity! Both governments are charged with wielding the European Central Bank (ECB), implementing so-called austerity measures to tighten belts.

The response to ECB meddling in the affairs of their comrades is illustrative.

Riots, protests, gaggles of aged hippies and feckless youth roam Greek streets, Spanish plazas, Portuguese halls, and Irish pubs. They’ve been lied to, and lied to good. They’ve been told not only IS there a free lunch, but that its tab doesn’t exist anywhere. Now their French and German masters (I am on purpose being unfair to make a point) are stepping-in and wagging fingers. No, babies, they essentially lecture, it’s time to get a job, save money, and plan for the future. WHAT? Work? Thrift? Investment?

The dance is careful, unsure, and, again, fascinating.

The roll of US central banking policies in the EU mess makes an appearance in the financial press, little elsewhere. It’s fairly well known The Federal Reserve (Fed) notes are reserve currencies for the world. And the temporal success of Fed monetary acceleration and breaking domestically became the general model for the EU. Some say the EU’s Euro was a trial run for a WORLD central bank and a WORLD currency. Rather than having a note backed by a commodity, limiting its circulation and holding its value simultaneously (the theory goes), the world too would administer something akin to a universal fiat currency.

Mind blowing.

The EU is essentially a copy of stringing together a US-like monetary system. EU countries are to US states. You get the idea. And up until recently, the biggest debate I remember was whether Turkey should be allowed in (its Muslim population and geography placed it at the debate of what constituted Europe). Something tells me it is now Turkey who is having second thoughts! 

To grasp the danger involved in increasingly centralizing the world, consider the US’s on-going financial crisis. It was created by politicians. THEY pick winners and losers. They decide policy, and they were the ones who pushed for mal-investments based upon sly political considerations rather than rational market adjustments and factors. Housing market collapse. Banking and finance meltdowns. Even the automobile industry was fucked by political shenanigans. Record bailouts. Unprecedented ceding of government control.

Now imagine THAT on a world scale. Wow-zers.     

It’s kind-of, sort-of happening if you think about it. If you accept my premise (the dollar as world reserve currency), then you might agree the EU and ECB problems are really just an extension of the US financial crisis. I think so, yes.

Cranks like me also see an ominous parallel between the military call to arms & expenditures and the TARP, Quantitative Easing fiascos. Governments use a crisis to CONSOLIDATE power, to flex those naturally centralizing muscles. Never a good thing.

There’s little doubt in my mind those who argued and continue to argue for US military interventionism are perverse enough to credit themselves with popular Arab uprisings. That is, of course, assuming the growl of the Arab Street turns into something other than a fundamentalist mandate.

The Arab Spring was coined to conjure images of an awakening. Arabs long repressed by governments they’d little control over are to usher-in a new era of democratization.


But Libya, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia aren’t burning in typical ways. To my mind they’re very different revolutions. Each has its root causes and flavors. Each will work its way toward versions of openness, whatever that means to their given societies. What they have in common is the desire to topple arbitrary power. That’s something.

Vox populi, vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God) is more or the less the mantra being followed. The pitfalls of such thinking are legendary.

The principal issue is Islam, the faith of Muslims. An easy way to think of Islam is the stillbirth version of Christianity. If Judaism is Version 1.0, Christianity is Version 2.0, then Islam is Version 3.0 – the combination of earlier versions. Get it? In recent years Islam has been given a popular make-over in editions of The Koran, its main holy book. Unlike the Jewish and New Testament canon, The Koran can be read in a relatively short time. A couple of nights ought to do it. It is a vile, vile text. No mercy. The planet is divided between believers and infidels. A careful read will crush any notion that Islam is a religion of peace. It is not.

Not all Muslims are of Arab decent (the largest Muslim country is Indonesia, for example), but nearly all Arabs are Muslim. And Islam officially over-took Christianity as the world’s largest single religious denomination.

So here’s the contrast: the Arab Muslim is confronted with modernity, especially as that relates to social media (plenty has been written about the Arab Spring being the result of Facebook and Twitter) while trying to hold onto its other-than-modern values.

The power of free, unfettered market forces demonstrated just WHY governments seek to reign them in at almost any cost. The aspects of the Net we love are outside government purview. They are wild. They are free. And, what’s worse for governments, is how they connect humans.

Capitalist business ventures, like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, are greatly responsible for the REAL and violent overturn of the Arab world!

We’ve not seen the end. Not by a long shot. 

It’s hard to know if industrialized and emerging countries are truly disgusted by American flexing, be it militarily or monetarily. They’ll claim to want less US involvement, yet in back-door deals actively lobby for its help, for its intervention.

I am not privy.

What is for sure is how US influence will change, and change dramatically. And since the US is The Wheel of commerce and power on the planet, what it does or doesn’t do will have profound and lasting impacts.

Asia, led by India and China, will have a say.

Latin America, led by Brazil and blocs of smaller states, will have a say.

The Muslim world, led by Egypt and Gulf blocs, will have a say.

Europe, as it should, will fade.

Africa hasn’t even BEGUN to realize its potential, to say nothing of the Baltic Republics and the on-going tension inside Russia.

Terrorism, the growth of the Total State (monitoring and controlling virtually every aspect of your life), commercial trade and who owns money, along with popular movements of oppressed peoples to get their piece of the pie … make for a most interesting century, OUR century.

Murphy, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression

 Craig Edward Kelso is the author of Anarcho-Capitalism (2014), a primer on the philosophy of peaceful, stateless cooperation. His curriculum vitae include a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from San Diego State University, and a Post-Baccalaureate secondary education credential in both Social Science and English Language Arts. Kelso taught for nearly a decade in the American public school system, and was voted by colleagues Teacher of the Year, twice in his short tenure, earning numerous accolades from chambers of commerce, mayors, state assembly persons, governors, congresspersons, senators, and even Wal-Mart. Currently he struggles to earn an opportunity to be employed, working as a laborer, dishwasher. He is deliriously happily married to Myra Kelso, living in Southern California with their adorable children.

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