Posts Tagged ‘Western civilisation’
To do or to be

Fall-Of-Roman-Empire

Boyd nailed why our politicians tend to be useless:

You are at a point in your life where you have to make a choice about what kind of person you are going to be. There are two career paths in front of you, and you have to choose which path you will follow. One path leads to promotions, titles, and positions of distinction. To achieve success down that path, you have to conduct yourself a certain way. You must go along with the system and show that you are a better team player than your competitors. The other path leads to doing things that are truly significant for the Air Force, but the rewards will quite often be a kick in the stomach because you may have to cross swords with the party line on occasion. You can’t go down both paths, you have to choose. So, do you want to be a man of distinction or do you want to do things that really influence the shape of the Air Force? To be or to do, that is the question. Source: Grant Hammond, The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security.

They’ve opted to be somebody, rather than to do something. There are exceptions. Sometimes after a successful career “doing something” they plump for public service. Arguably Trump fits this mold. Then there are those driven by ego. Their ego may or may not be the enemy to them, but it certainly is for us. In my opinion Turnbull fits into this category. He’s there for ego purposes, not to improve our lives.

Politicians such as Australia’s Cory Bernardi who leave the safe confines of a major party to strike it out alone have opted to do something. In trying to do something they may also become someone. But they have definitely foregone the comfortable safe rout of a cabinet ministry, for the opportunity to do something.

Western politicians have been able to get by as do nothing (good) elected members on the back of their forebears. As Adam Smith said, there’s a lot of ruin in a nation. They’ve been ruining their nation. They’ve eroded the ethical and cultural base which built and is necessary to maintain our wealth. They’ve also often allowed the physical infrastructure to erode. Indeed the very fabric of their nation states has been eroded with the creation of “no go areas“:

The British capital is named alongside cities such as Paris, Stockholm and Berlin as home to ‘more than 900’ areas where the authorities have ‘little or no control’.

The problem is that much of the West has been living off its cultural and physical capital. It’s starting to run on empty. South Australia can’t even provide reliable energy to its industry and citizens.

All this while citizens and governments become increasingly indebted. Yet the so called “intelligentsia” can’t understand why establishment parties and candidates are on the nose.

As they say, something which can’t continue forever, will not. Cultural phase shifts, like so much else, occur much slower than expected and then happen much quicker than anyone can believe. Have we reached our tipping point? The mainstream media will not tell you. Neither will the shadow banning twitter. Political correctness is having its fangs drawn, but they can still hide much of the festering mess they have created behind the curtain of continuity.

 
Rule of law no more

One of the bedrocks of our affluent way of life is the rule of law. Absent that I suspect we would not have had  the massive increase in living standards and length of life over the last couple of hundred years. Without it we will not maintain our current lifestyle or average length of life, let alone improve it.

Make no mistake, our actual life as well as way of life is threatened whenever the rule of law is abrogated. When a cavalier attitude to the removal of rights becomes established, we will soon have no rights. Having no rights we will soon have nothing. Not even our health.

Our rights and the rule of law are being undermined as never before, at least without armed conquest. There is an international tide to the affairs of man. No nation is an island, just as no man stands truly alone. We are all embedded within a world, within geographic, social and economic systems. There is a physical reality to our existence. Changes in one area flow to others. To know what may come to be in your country look at what as and is happening elsewhere.

A Russian aware of the French Revolution may not have been so surprised at the blood baths entailed in his own progressive revolution. Similarly someone in China aware of the millions killed in the Russian revolution may have had an inkling of that millions could be killed in their own great leap forward. Similarly a Cambodian knowing what happened under Mao could have guessed at the possibility of Cambodian killing fields under Pol Pot. Be aware of what has and is happening around you. It may not just save your wealth, but your life.

Do not be insular in your outlook. Even in liberal Western democracies the tides of socialism, fascism and political correctness flow across countries. Activist judges cite international precedent. Governments sign international treaties and then legislate for them without adequate consultation. Vested interests bribe, flatter or otherwise charm politicians into removing some of your rights to increase their wealth and power. It has always been thus. Accept it, so you can fight it. It’s time for some of that eternal vigilance to come into play.

That’s why this type of report from the US is so alarming:

Mr. Ernest Perce V., was assaulted by a Muslim while participating in a Halloween parade. Along with a Zombie Pope, Ernest was costumed as Zombie Muhammad. The assault was caught on video, the Muslim man admitted to his crime and charges were filed in what should have been an open-and-shut case. That’s not what happened, though…. What transpired next was surreal. The (Muslim) Judge not only ruled in favor of the defendant, but called Mr. Perce a name and told him that if he were in a Muslim country, he’d be put to death.

The linked report also notes that the judge refused to allow the video to be admitted and that a Police Officer who was at the scene also testified on Mr. Perce’s behalf, which the Judge also dismissed.

With precedents like that, can we be so sure this chap in the UK is wrong:

Extremist Mohammed Abdin Jailed for Eight Months Over Threat to Machine Gun Police “In 10 or 15 years time when we rule, I’m going to hunt you down and then I’m going to kill you.

“I’m going to burn you to death ……. you are going to die”.

This is not a post on the demographic death spiral of much of the Western world. Everyone can extrapolate what happens if one cultural population segment has lots of children and the others do not. At least in a multicultural rather than assimilation framework. Multiculturalism being one of those ideologies that flowed across much of the Western world.   The results have been fairly consistent. Areas where non-Muslims go at their peril, where firemen and ambulance officers are stoned.

As for the rule of law, what was once inconceivable and would have been viewed with horror becomes commonplace:

  • Sharia courts operating in Britain: Five sharia courts have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester and Nuneaton, Warwickshire. The government has quietly sanctioned that their rulings are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.
  • EU judges want Sharia law applied in British courts: Judges could be forced to bow to Sharia law in some divorce cases heard in Britain. An EU plan calls for family courts across Europe to hear cases using the laws of whichever country the couple involved have close links to.

The law like the police can switch from protecting our way of life to persecuting it. That’s one of the reasons to prefer conservative to progressive judges. A glance at history is more than enough to demonstrate this:

While the part played by the Ministry of Justice in the extermination of Poles and Jews was small compared to the mass extermination of millions by the SS and Gestapo in concentration camps, nevertheless the courts contributed greatly to the “final solution” of the problem.

Posner is a wise man:

Perhaps in the fullness of time the growing of marijuana plants, the “manipulation” of financial markets, the bribery of foreign government officials, the facilitating of the suicide by the terminally ill, and the violation of arcane regulations governing the financing of political campaigns will come to be no more appropriate objects of criminal punishment than “dishonoring the race.” Perhaps not; but [the story of the German judges] can in any event help us to see that judges should not be eager enlisters in popular movements of the day, or allow themselves to become so immersed in a professional culture that they are oblivious to the human consequences of their decisions.”

Well if prosecutions are anything to go by “manipulating” the markets is already not viewed as an appropriate object of criminal punishment. But selective application of the law is a tool of tyranny. The little person, who is not sufficiently well connected or has not hired the right lobbyists or donated to the right campaigns gets prosecuted. The too big to fail banks get government backstops while its executives reap their bonuses and salaries vastly in excess of their contribution to the economies value-add. What will this do for our commonweal?

What will it do for our national wealth is a silly question. Perhaps I should ask if you are feeling wealthy? Are you confident you can look after yourself and your loved ones? Or are you now dependent on noblesse oblige by our political masters? What will happen to you when reality intrudes and your government is forced to live within its means, perhaps cutting expenditure in half? This may happen before or after an inflationary episode. It may happen while financial repression is in full force  – mandating returns on savings at less than the rate of inflation.

We have seen how strongly our governments will fight to maintain the fiction that they are solvent, that their citizens will get what they have been promised. They are lying. The only way this will happen is if there are technological black swans. We will post more on the potential of 3D printing, biotechnology and nanotechnology to radically change our and our governments finances. The Singularity may happen. But it is not sensible to bet the farm on a hope and a prayer. Especially not while undermining the core components of capitalism. Capitalism being our only hope of maintaining the exponential rate of technological progress necessary to generate the productivity increases required to maintain our lifestyles while reducing total debt.

Overriding established rights through bailouts, be they of General Motors or Greece is inimical to capitalism. Bond holders should wear the risks, for both good and ill. It is illegitimate to create a special class of bondholder, just because you can. The European central bank is undermining the very markets it needs if Europe is to prosper.

The people of Greece will experience an unpleasant enough time as reality punctuates the great lie, without also being looted by international financiers first. European banks made bad investments in Greek bonds. They should suffer the associated losses. These losses can flow through to bondholders and shareholders in those banks. They should wear the cost before taxpayers and those living off their more prudently invested savings.

Only in this way can the legitimacy of our system be demonstrated. The unintended consequence of all the quantitative easing and interventions is to strip our system of its legitimacy. This will be used to attack the legitimacy of capitalism. Desperate times will make people more susceptible to the siren song of the potential despot. Frustration will create more true believers. Many of us will suffer and die as a consequence. It must be stopped. We must return a more truthful, free way of life. We must do it with love and compassion, but without the compulsion of the socialist state. Only that way can we reap the way of life we want.

 
Destroying Cultural Capital

It is always flattering when a “noble prize” winning economist agrees with you. Stiglitz has noticed the implications of the foreclosure crisis for the rule of law and property rights:

“The mortgage debacle in the United States has raised deep questions about “the rule of law,” the universally accepted hallmark of an advanced, civilized society. The rule of law is supposed to protect the weak against the strong, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly. In America in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, it has done neither.

Part of the rule of law is security of property rights” (Stiglitz, November 2010)

Once Stiglitz pursues this line of enquiry further he will be in agreement with USA destroying cultural intangibles:

“The fault at the heart of the MBS security market is further evidence that the US is in the process of destroying the cultural intangible capital that enabled them to grow wealthy. Gone are accounting standards, the rule of law and the certainty of property title. What next?” (Rob, October 2010)

He may then come to agree with Stock markets, they win we lose :

“Let’s add the stock market to the list of cultural intangibles being undermined – accounting standards, the rule of law, property. Talk about wrecking your cultural inheritance. Like the justice system, free market exchange does not just have to be fair. It has to be seen to be fair. With bailouts followed by bonuses and government endorsing or actively participating in the rigging of markets there will be a crisis of legitimacy.” (Rob, October 2010)

Trust is also a cultural intangible that enabled the West to become wealthy. Even if you don’t agree with much of Francis Fukiyama’s Trust, it contains an element of truth. Like many he takes a good idea and pushes it too far. But trust is central. Hence the problem highlighted in TARP damaging trust:

“When Treasury refuses for more than a year to require TARP recipients to account for the use of TARP funds, or claims that Capital Purchase Program participants were “healthy, viable” institutions knowing full well that some are not, or when it provides hundreds of billions of dollars in TARP assistance to institutions, and then relies on those same institutions to self-report any violations of their obligations to TARP, it damages the public’s trust to a degree that is difficult to repair.” (Neil Barofsky).

If you have any doubts at all about the seriousness of what is happening in America then read Hernando De Soto’s The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else:

In the West, standardized laws allow us to mortgage a house to raise money for a new venture, permit the worth of a company to be broken up into so many publicly tradable stocks, and make it possible to govern and appraise property with agreed-upon rules that hold across neighborhoods, towns, or regions. This invisible infrastructure of “asset management”–so taken for granted in the West, even though it has only fully existed in the United States for the past 100 years–is the missing ingredient to success with capitalism, insists de Soto. But even though that link is primarily a legal one, he argues that the process of making it a normalized component of a society is more a political–or attitude-changing–challenge than anything else.

With a fleet of researchers, de Soto has sought out detailed evidence from struggling economies around the world to back up his claims. The result is a fascinating and solidly supported look at the one component that’s holding much of the world back from developing healthy free markets (Timothy Murphy).

Like Fukiyama I suspect De Soto has focused on only one of the reasons for Western growth. There can be multiple supporting factors behind the success of a society or civilization. It does not have to be an either or situation.

But what is quite clear is that as a society the US is eating its cultural seed corn. If the requirements for economic success are removed there will be no economic success. The US is at the risk of validating John Sinclair (1754-1835):

If we go on at this rate, the nation must be ruined. Smith replied: “Be assured, my young friend, that there is a great deal of ruin in a nation” (Adam Smith, Correspondence of Adam Smith, 1977): p 262, note 3, from Sinclair, Corr., i. 390-1).

Residents of Western Civilization must be thankful that Adam Smith was right in this as well as much else. But while there may be a great deal of ruin in a nation, there is a great deal of debt in the US and other developed countries. Everything has its limits.