Today’s guest columnist John Day is an American who describes himself as a “1958 baby boomer, Buddhist, bicyclist, military-brat, kitchen-gardener, public health doctor, interested in life, the universe and everything”. With little or no reference to contemporary “news” (a blessing in itself), Mr Day here uses history to suggest what we’ve lost, what might be coming down the road, and what would be a far more preferable future. Whether you agree with everything he records and suggests (and I don’t) he is and will always be very welcome at The Slog because he expresses his open mind free of ideology, using the spare capacity thus made available to house a wealth of functional philosophy and anthropoligical common sense.
We humans are now in a phase of our history as a life form where we have to change paradigms to survive going forward, or at least for most of us to have a chance to survive. This is not a shaming thing at all, as some would apply it. Shame is an instrument used to force compliance upon others, and forced compliance is the paradigm we have already overgrown. We can easily see physical threats and threats of homelessness and starvation coming our way. We are acutely alert to them.
People don’t do their best work under those threats. It is grudging, inefficient and poor quality work. We do our best work when we are cooperating in small to medium groups to achieve a common goal, like growing and preserving food, building a barn or engaging spiritually. We do best at the kinds of work that let us sing together.
Coal drove the industrial revolution as iron machines wove cotton cloth and mined coal, powered by coal and steam. Humans did not do good work, but the raw power of machines was able to apply forces at a great scale, even with poor human effort, and sick workers. This industrial revolution made sick, short-lived wage slaves of English workers, who were getting evicted from their ancestral farms. The American Revolution also came at this crux of history. Americans saw and feared the subjugation and clearly saw the promise of local industry, as opposed to colonialism extracting their wealth.
For people to risk their current livelihoods and lives, and to willingly undergo great hardship and travail, there must be either complete desperation, or some likely hope of a big improvement in their lives. Usually, there must already be a societal stress, a deep and broad unease that something is terribly wrong, and then it must focus upon a culprit. The culprit will be raised as an effigy, denounced in public gatherings, and judged. Public consensus will be created that this culprit must be vanquished for the deserved good to come to the society.
Once a consensus of blame has been accepted, a casus belli, or immediate justification for war is required. The powerful few, who stand to increase their power and wealth most from the war, will then need to arrange and publicize such an event. When we look back at history, we find that most of these events were either created as false-flags, with hired agents impersonating “the culprit”, or were secretly provoked, so that when “the culprit” responded with force, it was declared to be an unprovoked attack, obviously the first strike of an onslaught.
9/11 comes to mind as a false flag casus belli for the Global-War-On-Anybody-No-Matter-What.
Within this contextual framework, we have considered peoples, nations, and the power elites within nations to be the actors, making power alliances and social contracts, but that framework is now too constrained to be useful. It has been superseded by transnational global powers.The Roman Catholic Church outlived the Roman Empire and was a framework of coordination of power throughout Europe for more than a thousand years after the final fall of Rome. The Roman Catholic Church had widely established itself as the ultimate arbiter of God’s Will, of Divine Judgment. That was a powerful currency among the peoples of Europe, and kings had to negotiate with the Pope to have a divine Right, which the people would accept and follow to their deaths. The printing press gradually changed that. Moral authority was removed from the Pope.
Moral Authority became a ball in play again. The Founding Fathers of the American Revolution certainly called upon a higher moral authority than kings, stating that moral authority was bestowed by God upon the people, each person, all of the people. The king was trying to violate that moral authority over here, and God was clearly on the side of the people. The people would make their own choices about how to seek and worship the divine, and they would be free to do so. The people would be free to meet, to talk, to share letters and publications, free to organize politically (against the king) and free to keep and bear firearms (to oppose tyranny from the king, but also future tyranny arising domestically).The people would be free to do business, and to be taxed only with their broad consent, for the common good.
There were always holes in the moral authority argument, mainly managed by declaring some people to be “people” and others not to be people, or “citizens”. Slavery was in the process of transitioning from indentured servitude, the common slavery of Europe, which largely populated North America, and permanent, hereditary slavery of captured Africans. About 20% of indentured “white” slaves lived through their period of slavery-to-pay-debt, and they had certain rights to some land and money if they did. Those were often ignored. They were whipped for disobedience, as were black slaves. Black Slavery was an open contradiction to moral authority in America, and a lot of moral people always objected. Native Americans were largely excluded from personhood by declaring them to be other-nationals, managed by broached treaties and genocidal wars. They were portrayed as “savages”, attacking good farming families. That justified their slaughter. Savage threats to good people. (I was morally offended when Grandmother Day explained that the cowboys stole the Indian’s land.)
So all of that work of nations was carried out within the paradigm of dominance and submission, justified by Moral Authority, to whatever degree such justification was useful to the dominant elites, in order to gain the willing-enough-to-work consent of the 99% of societies. In the early 1800s some English Elites communicated to their American counterparts that wage slavery, carried out upon those who thought themselves to be “free”, was way more effective than chattel-slavery, because the “free” slaves were more productive and enterprising and motivated to solve problems “for themselves”, which got a lot of problems worked out at ground level, before they became problems higher up in the wealth chain.
Owing one’s soul to the company story sidesteps the issue of moral authority. All players get to remain moral. It’s just a system, and it makes sense. It is completely justified by arguments of individual autonomy (you borrowed) and responsibility (you owe). In fact, there is a class which owns all of the debts-at-interest and a vast class which is paying out interest their whole lives, trapped in the payday-loan debt cycle, or at least mortgages and credit cards. This imbalance naturally worsens over time until it creates a systemic crisis. The financial system breaks.
The rich being so rich and the poor being unable to give any more blood at all to the rich halts the exponential growth of the compound interest money, or even reverses it. The usual solution is a huge war, especially a war of conquest. The spoils of war will pay the interest, and the rich can get richer. World War 2, the Korean War and the Vietnam War explored the limits of that financial solution. Massive war could not include opposing nuclear-armed countries. The threat of annihilation extended to elites as well as commoners.
Global Financial Capitalism, as opposed to Industrial Capitalism, is a system of wealth extraction, with “money” as the solvent, because “money” is interest-bearing-loans, not fixed-value gold, silver or commodity (salt, wheat, oil). The “wealth”, interest bearing debt, concentrates in the control of the few, with great efficiency, until the many have no income beyond what they need to survive and pay debt service. They take out more credit card debt for anything beyond that. Interest rates have been lowered for a dozen years to forestall the crisis, even made negative. Massive government debt is created, pushing fresh money into the system to prevent collapse, but the system keeps getting more and more mismatched against physical reality, now that the mismatch between rich and poor has long been at saturation.
Global Financial Capitalism, Neoliberalism is due for a reset, overdue. The novel coronavirus pandemic is such a shock, and it has been met by both massive increase in governmental debts (owed by impoverished citizens) and destruction of demand for products and commodities such as gasoline and vacations. The model of industrial capitalism supports the overlay of global neoliberal financial capitalism in the “free” countries, like the USA. The fictions are all extremely strained. The “real economy” is broken in so many ways. You can always listen to another robot and be transferred through a looping robot phone message chain, but you cannot get what you need, what you are contractually “entitled to”. All service fallouts are accidental and all fallouts occur to the benefit of the financial institution.
A new social contract is required, because the western postwar social contract is gamed-out. It’s a hopeless game over for 90% of people in liberal western democracies. The upper managers, with stock portfolios becoming more valuable far beyond what could be imagined when they reflected dividend income, are both giddy and uneasy about this grand valuation bubble. They will all get out before the crash.
There is a growing bubble in real assets, because people want the security of owning a home. What are the other options for most people? What is “ownership” if you must pay taxes on a $15 million home?
There is always a reluctance among the powerful, the financial elites, to renegotiate a social contract. If they are constrained within one country, then they must renegotiate at some point, as they did in the Great Depression in the US, though there were something like 8 people killed in assassination attempts on FDR before he was even inaugurated. There was the military coup that USMC Ret. General Smedley Butler outed, after that. Transnational financial capitalists can just be where the danger is not. They can let countries collapse, or make them collapse, which is often a better time to extract profit. This includes the USA, now. We have seen this model of extraction from civil war carried out in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, the remnants of the USSR, Syria and now Lebanon. It also destroys the productive base, the engine of wealth.
Countries/empires like Russia and China have established industrial capitalist economies, despite convenient fictions like the “Chinese Communist Party”. They have growth engines, and do not want their wealth extracted by the banking remnants of the British Empire. Global Financial Capitalism is analogous to the Roman Catholic Church at this historical juncture. Not only do social contracts need revising in “free” countries, but global finance needs to be renegotiated in this multipolar world. To my perception, global financial elites have been happy enough to hitch a ride on the Chinese Industrial Engine, and might well be happy to further formalize that relationship, as the $US approaches the inevitable end of it’s reign as global reserve currency. The Saudi oil which could only be bought in $US is no longer the deciding factor in global oil prices. US shale oil is too expensive to be that any more, either. Russian oil now decides the global price of oil. Iran and Venezuela are excluded from the game, to keep the dollar predominant. Iraq sells oil in dollars, having mended it’s errant ways after invasion.
The final consideration in my argument for a new, cooperative human paradigm is not global warming per se, though it is an outcome of burning the coal and oil that feed the billions of us through factory farming and refrigerated groceries. Global warming is a vague threat, but the more easily understood threat is that of the end of cheap oil. Britain had a crisis during WW-1, which led to WW-2, when their good coal production ran low. Italy had to get good coal from Germany after that. Alliances changed. That’s gross oversimplification.
We know that control of global oil is the lynchpin of power, and that an economy can’t grow without cheap oil, and that only a few places still pump oil cheaply. Russia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran pump oil cheaply, while it lasts. It only seems like plenty of oil because COVID has suppressed the global economy.
We are at the point of the dream where we need to awaken, together, or die. In our individual dreams we awaken before fate befalls us, but can we practice spirituality enough to awaken together, now that our vast, shared dream calls for it?
Our financial masters seek to keep us, in America, divided and conquered. This is the same battle being fought again, as it was in the Revolution, as it was in the Civil War, when the bank of England backed the Confederate States, and Lincoln printed “greenbacks”. It revisits the war that FDR quietly waged against the financial predominance of the Bank of England, and their global “bankster’ confederates. FDR died at an unfortunate moment. Stalin was absolutely convinced that “Churchill’s gang” poisoned him.
Here are 2 videos, which I recently posted, which portray in words and video the acts of agents provocateur, which were carried out at the US Capital on January 6, and portrayed as savage-threats against good Americans by the billionaire-owned media, with cancellation of contrary voices on social media, the new “press”.
Masako Ganaha shows the work of 2 agents provocateur at the capital, breaking the windows, calling people up the stairs to them, urging them to dive in, then immediately spreading the word that police had killed an unarmed young woman Trump supporter, as they changed clothes on the way out. The BLM activist who recorded the majority of this video was interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN later. No questions asked.
Veteran American War Correspondent Michael Yon stayed outside the Capital, observing and recording the actions of agents provocateur, which is an ancient profession. (Agents provocateur were paid by Ross Perot to direct a crowd of angry Iranians to perform a prison break, which released some Americans, when that was never the intention of the revolutionary fervor at all.)
I have been meditating on this and will continue to do so. We cannot strike out at others when provoked, when attacked by others, who may have been told that we are violent-savages, threatening them, the good people. This went terribly for Libyans, who recently had a standard of living higher than any other in Africa, on a par with liberal western democracies, and now have open slave markets and the horrors of war.
We need to have compassion for those who have been manipulated by fear and false images. We need to be stable, and demonstrate our healthy and cooperative nature to them. We must turn our cheeks sometimes, knowing that our greatest existential threat comes from being set against each other, to destroy America internally. We should, at this moment, stop our national support for global financial imperialism: Americans have been the war machine enforcers of the financial empire. It is not our nature as a people. We should live and let live at home, not get pushed into fights over race or gender identification, when we are all being exsanguinated by the same global financial machine. This is already changing dramatically, but we are told that it will go back to normal if we comply and wait patiently.
It will never go back to what has collapsed. We must cooperatively build a new economic paradigm, in the common interest.We must hold fast, do our best, and not be provoked to violence against our neighbors.