by Naresh Jotwani for The Saker Blog
This post attempts to dig a little deeper into the dynamics of ‘the empire’ and ‘the resistance’. In particular, we examine the specific psychological drives at work. Surely the Saker community understands these issues very well, but another honest perspective can still add value.
Then there is the somewhat distracting effect of naming specific individuals or groups, when our interest is in specific human traits. Suppose someone says to me, ‘My neighbour Bob is a very greedy person’. Then my mind turns naturally to Bob, rather than to greed. Our talk veers to Bob, or to other greedy persons – but not to greed. After all, Bob is the subject of that sentence, not greed.
Our subject here, however, is greed and rapacity – not any specific individual or group. No effort will be wasted to identify specific individuals or groups who are consumed by greed or rapacity. Suffice it to say that, at any given time, there are plenty such among Homo Sapiens. The point is that a mind consumed by greed is diminished, its powers of discrimination being totally enslaved to greed. So it serves no purpose to even attach a name to such a mind!
Also, terms such as ‘capitalism’, ‘free markets’ et cetera usually mean different things to different people. But if we speak in terms of the basic human drives at work, greater clarity may well emerge from the ensuing discussion.
War is said to be the continuation of diplomacy by other means. But then what is the deeper goal of diplomacy – behind the publicly traded and often misleading verbiage?
We look for an answer based solely on observed human nature – without any fig-leaf of ‘cover story’ based on ideology, history, economic theory, political theory or other blah blah blah.
History shows that human nature has the potential to be both sublime and ugly almost beyond belief. Sages have said that the two evil genies of greed and lust, once they are ‘out of the bottle’, are inimical to the development of discrimination and wisdom – and therefore to the attainment of durable peace. In recent centuries, it is the first of these two evil genies which seems to have dominated global diplomacy.
[Unlike in the time of Henry VIII, today the second evil genie does not have much direct effect on how ‘the empire’ behaves. ‘Trophy wives’ and other discreet service channels exist for those with the moolah, and awkward matters are easily hushed up. Even then, a mind consumed by the second evil genie is incapable of sound and rational decisions. So this genie must also have a strong indirect effect on how ‘the empire’ behaves – for example, by exposing decision-makers to blackmail. But such shadowy matters are necessarily speculative, and are therefore left out of further discussion here.]
So we narrow our focus to greed, to which we must add rapacity – since historically rapacity has driven many a wannabe ‘world conqueror’. A rapacious person need not be greedy; he or she may well enjoy throwing around or sharing the loot; conversely, a fearful greedy person may not be outwardly rapacious.
It is time now to turn our attention to the modern – or ‘high tech’ – instruments of greed and rapacity. Clearly, financial power is the preferred instrument of sophisticated ‘raiders’ today.
So what exactly is financial power? How come person X has it but not person Y?
To get to the answer, we consider an example of financial power at work. Our cast of characters here is: banker B, company C, hedge fund manager M.
M decides to ‘make a hit’ on C, not too different from a mob hit. With money borrowed from B, M short-sells C and hammers down its price, making it difficult for C to raise capital. Perhaps M also arranges some bad publicity for C. Then, again with borrowed money, M executes a hostile takeover of C at its lowered price. Under the new ‘efficient management’, M strips C of its assets, leaving it crippled by debt and on the verge of bankruptcy. M – or another hedge fund manager – then makes more money from C’s bankruptcy.
Huge profits and commissions are made by B and M, with no mercy shown to anyone formerly making a decent living from C. The whole episode is not unlike a pack of wolves attacking a prey.
To create another example of financial power, we only have to make C into a country. B and M now merge into a gang of banks, hedge funds and diplomats; the gang is backed up by threats of military power, and joined by readily available disgruntled elements within the target C.
To raiders and marauders, there is no fundamental difference between a company and a country; they are just two types of prey.
So what do these examples tell us about the make-up of financial power?
We learn that its main elements are: Easy access to finance, sharp eye for juicy and vulnerable prey, contempt for the prey, single-minded focus, skill in financial number-crunching, tight networking, secrecy, shamelessness, and mastery over the legal system.
Sadly, these qualities define the new standard of human excellence and achievement. Self-proclaimed ‘top business schools’ churn out wannabe raiders and marauders by the thousand.
The thrust of ‘the empire’ today comes from such financial raiders and marauders – not the brave and valiant armies we read about in history. Evidently there is no unified command structure among these raiders and marauders; and of course no higher vision either guides them or binds them together.
It should be a no-brainer that a society relying on such unmanly and slimy tactics cannot attain lasting happiness – but of course a brain consumed by greed would not get that.
Physical and political power today is an essential backup to financial marauders, somewhat like lawyers and bouncers employed by casino owners. Taxpayers pay for that backup – in money and in broken lives – while the ultra-rich live behind layers of security.
Bad enough as that sounds, it gets even worse!
Even while availing full protection of law and the armed forces, the ultra-rich do not pay taxes in any country. Instead, they ‘invest’ in government debt. The difference is this: Taxes are paid out to the common pool, whereas a creditor retains legal claim over the principal and interest. Also, sovereign debt instruments are safe and readily marketable; default is highly unlikely, since taxpayers can be forced to pay.
Evidently, the 1% would rather ‘own’ everything around them than be fellow-citizens of the 99%. That they share the planet with the other 99% is a fact they would rather not face up to, while operating without emotional or cultural bonds with any community on the planet.
This is how ‘the empire’ is attempting to expand – through financial and legal shenanigans, supplemented by military force against weaker opponents. It is not true to say that ‘All options are on the table’; the option of peaceful coexistence is absent.
But the seemingly headless ‘empire’ does face a dilemma – ‘expand or bust’.
This is a deadly dilemma to face, and the strain has lately been showing. The incredible scale of ‘quantitative easing’ seen recently is a sign of desperation.
Both psychological and financial reasons underlie the ‘expand or bust’ dilemma.
Psychologically, a paranoiac wannabe conqueror – a bully, in simple words – cannot stand any sign of autonomy in potential prey, viewing that as an existential threat. After all is said and done, truth remains an existential threat to untruth. Further, a bully cannot afford to lose face among peers and potential victims; that is bad for future business. So the option of making a wise course correction is necessarily ‘off the table’.
Financially, ‘expand or bust’ arises from the fact that today’s financial shenanigans are Ponzi schemes. With artificial fiat money created in HUGE quantities, and asset bubbles forming as a result, a ‘musical chairs’ game of bad money chasing sound assets is in progress. Everyone wants genuine assets in exchange for phony ones, and is desperate not to be left behind – creating, in effect, a ‘free-for-all in deception’ as a basis for ‘progress’!
Victory achieved through deception is necessarily short-lived. And, after every defeat, the marauders have no choice but to double down. Therefore, in either case, there is no lasting benefit for these ‘one-trick ponies’. Indeed, the only way any individual can justify playing this game on that side is with the aim of bailing out before ‘all hell breaks loose’.
Underneath the greed and the rapacity, therefore, there is insecurity. Indeed there should be, since the model is not sustainable in longer term. The planet will not support ever-growing Ponzi schemes; and in adversity the marauders will turn on one another.
It helps to recall that much of history is driven by delusion.
If this is ‘the empire’, then what is ‘the resistance’?
Clearly ‘the resistance’ comprises those who resist the raiders and marauders in one way or another. There may be several different motives behind the resistance, for example:
(a) Ongoing defense: A society is actively defending itself against ongoing attack.
(b) Proactive defense: A society has the time to implement suitable defenses.
(c) Wisdom: That is, ‘This cannot be in everyone’s overall long-term interest’.
(d) Compassion: That is, ‘We cannot stand by while communities are being destroyed’.
We must remove (a) from this discussion, since an ongoing battle cannot be captured in the abstract language of such a discussion. We can only wish that the righteous defenders have the strength and wisdom to overcome the threat to their way of life.
As for (b), (c) and (d), what are some of the options available?
One powerful option is so-called ‘soft power’ – that is, spreading honest explanations through the internet and other media. This is akin to immunizing minds against deception. People should not think that non-predatory mechanisms of commerce cannot be devised.
Institutional, commercial and legal mechanisms must be designed to resist hostile takeovers and avoid debt-traps. Of course these mechanisms may be criticized as being against ‘free and open trade’. Such self-serving propaganda must be countered firmly, and proper models of fair and beneficial commerce established.
A hostile takeover is possible only if the relevant laws make it possible. The model of ‘publicly traded joint-stock company’ seems devised for financial skullduggery. A ‘cooperative society’ works on the basis of ‘one member-one share-one vote’, enabling grassroots control.
Every society needs effective defense mechanisms against hostile raids and debt-traps. For this, it is imperative for it to be economically competitive. That is the challenge of the times.
The so-called ‘finance capitals’ of the world must be exposed clearly for what they are: capitals of phony money and shameless financial skullduggery. These ‘phony money capitals’ have no organic ties even to the society in which they function and flourish.
SWOT analysis is needed within a society, and also on the adversary – so that proper economic strategies can be devised. This is what successful football managers do for every match!
It is time now for a simple question. The answer is based on common sense, and as such it should be obvious to anyone without too many university degrees or think-tank experience:
Who protests the most in the village square about his or her impeccable pedigree and character?
Now look around the ‘global village’ and see who is protesting the most.
(1) At Davos recently, the Chairman of a large global bank was interviewed on RT (link). The Chairman put forward a point of view which, presumably, is that of a typical banker. Surprisingly, the interviewer let him off far too lightly on many key points. The response here brings out the points on which the Chairman could legitimately have been pressed for more honest answers.
(2) This post here is a plausible exploration of how debt and money originated, some 5000 years ago.