October 27, 2011

Just Some Rusty Barbed Wire…

Money can legitimately be nothing but a unit of account (and there only as a transition away from debt money); anything other is a tool of domination. Our natural history proves that our natural economies are based on cooperation and community credit, not commercialization, money debt, or “barter”. I highly recommend David Graeber’s new book Debt: The First 5000 Years. I’m not kidding when I say that if you’re going to read only one new book, that’s the one. It’s a revelation.
So true morality, true justice, true reason, true practicality would do away with the cash economy (which is by definition a command economy, since only government command enforces the prerogatives of this cash in the first place; there’s a reason they call it “fiat” money; and all money is really fiat money or the residue thereof). It would purge the parasites now worthlessly squatting on the land and destructively hoarding the resources.
We have the will and ability to work, and we have the land and resources. Those are the only two components necessary for a human economy and society. But this barbed wire which has been strung between the two, through which we’re forced to squirm in order to get “employment” which “allows” us access to OUR WORK, and in our wildest dreams a tiny lump of dirt from OUR LAND AND RESOURCES in the form of “property”, is nothing but the alien imposition of criminals. The only redistribution we need is to blast away that wire.
We have the ability and will to work. We have the land and resources. So what prevents us from going about our work, cooperatively or if one prefers autonomously? What gets between us and our work?
At this point many among the 99 immediately throw up their hands in cynicism and despair and say, “What can we do about it?” or “Nothing can be done about it” Many even surrender to lies about how there’s some kind of progress during history, or on the contrary that the way things are now is the natural way of things. Many believe both simultaneously even though they contradict one another.
If this is the case (the illusion, not the truth), then perhaps it’s better to take a step back, breathe, and forget about “what is to be done” for the moment. Maybe it’s worthwhile to simply look at the situation as it is, in its most stripped-down denotative clarity. What is the situation? What’s the basic answer to the questions above? What prevents the vast majority of humanity from attaining freedom and prosperity? It’s just a handful of criminals. It’s a vicious, worthless 1%. Even if it’s not clear immediately how to do it, if we simply contemplate the basic fact it should be obvious what to do.


  1. Do you really believe this ?
    Only a vicious 1% of the population is locking up resources ?
    I have a story for you.
    Four years ago, when I returned to the U.S., I stayed in a youth hostel in a major east coast city.
    Youth hostels CAN be extremely.. COOPERATIVE ways of living. Not always, but sometimes.
    After breakfast in the morning, I saw MOST residents leave their piles of dishes on the side of the sink, FOR HIRED HELP TO CLEAN UP. (That meat and potatoes game, but, how else are those non English speaking immigrants going to put meat and potatoes on the table ??…)
    And then I saw the immigrant hired help, most of whom could not speak English well enough to converse with THAT RESIDENT ELITE, sticking the dishes under RUNNING HOT WATER for hours.
    When I went to the youth hostel director to suggest to him that maybe… THE DISHES COULD BE DONE ANOTHER WAY, that a little WORK, or ELBOW GREASE might be better than using running hot water, he looked horrified, and told me that he couldn’t possibly ask his EMPLOYEES to WORK for him…
    That old elbow grease was asking too much.
    Do you really think that the 1% has anything to do with the above situation ?
    I definitely do not.
    As I have said before, ALL social justice utopias break down over the…OBSERVABLE REALITY of voluntary servitude.
    Voluntary servitude is inconvenient, it is unbelievable, it throws a definite chink in all of our best well laid plans and theories, BUT IT IS THERE.
    After all, voluntary servitude is probably the most animal part of us, and one that is not going to go away by wishful thinking, be that Jesus’s thinking, or any other utopian thinking.
    So… am I being nihilist by making this observation ?
    There is a saying in French : be careful what you pray for, you JUST MIGHT GET IT.
    Wise words, and well followed, I say. “If to do where as easy as to know what what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions ; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than be one of the twenty to follow my own teaching…” dixit Portia in “The Merchant of Venice.”, Act 1, scene 2, 12-16.
    Why is it so much easier to preach than to follow what we preach ??
    Back to my piano, and my garden…

    Comment by Debra — October 27, 2011 @ 5:29 am

    • I not only really believe this, I know it as a fact and a truth.

      Publius already said well what I was going to say in response to this.

      I have been careful in wishing, and I sure hope we do get it.

      Comment by Russ — October 27, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

    • Akrasia is the state of acting against one’s better judgment. Examples of akrasia include procrastination and inability to form strong cooperating communities.”

      Comment by reslez — October 28, 2011 @ 3:57 am

      • Akrasia is my middle name!!

        Comment by paper mac — October 28, 2011 @ 8:53 am

      • I procrastinate sometimes, but I’ve gotten better with it. Lately I’m feeling like I’m sort of lying fallow as far as writing stuff.

        Comment by Russ — October 28, 2011 @ 9:19 am

  2. Freedom vs Slavery
    The history of debt based economies from 300 bc to today in a nine minute video.

    David Graeber’s new book Debt: The First 5000 Years


    Comment by jwbeene — October 27, 2011 @ 7:08 am

  3. Russ sorry I posted the wrong author for your post. I posted before checking and see no method of correction.

    Comment by jwbeene — October 27, 2011 @ 7:19 am

    • You posted the wrong stuff? From the heading, “why government is good”, I might have gathered that. 🙂

      I’ll delete it if you want. Feel free to post what you really wanted to.

      Comment by Russ — October 27, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  4. Debra’s comment was convincing to me for a moment, until I thought of the Amish, and the Mennonites who live up north of here, and the many other groups (Quakers, community churches, community garden groups, ancient and modern tribes) who actually DO contribute real work and skills to communal activities and the common good.

    Debra is making the common and completely fallacious mistake of observing humanity in its current degraded state and then assuming that that is human nature. As Russ and Rousseau and others have pointed out, this is absurd! Take lab rats: the behavior of lab rats, or monkeys in the zoo, is almost unrelated to the behavior of the species in their natural habitat.

    Of course hostel guests in the current social order tend to be uncooperative consumers-slobs: that is the behavior that is expected and rewarded.
    Debra’s comment shows a tremendous lack of imaginative vision, but it’s also a symptom and sign of one of the biggest barriers to a change in the political order.
    Even if Debra were correct, however, reality would still dictate the necessity of periodic and complete debt jubilees, because even if the cynical and nihilistic order she claims is natural really is “natural,” increasing levels of indebtedness would eventually destroy this social order based on venality. In fact, a social order based on venality is even more vulnerable to the instability of prominent levels of debt, because there is little in the way of natural human feeling and community to counteract it.
    Conclusion: Really, Debra? Really?

    Comment by publius — October 27, 2011 @ 9:53 am

    • Exactly right. If systematic crime were natural, that would be yet another reason not to maintain systems so easily put to the ends of organized crime.

      Comment by Russ — October 27, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

    • Nobody said that there were not groups that were not capable of contributing work and skills to communal activities and the common good. (But frankly, I wish we would spend less time haggling about the ABSTRACT COMMON good, like good little Jews at the yeshiva. There’s a beautiful world out there, just waiting to be noticed, and loved.)
      Humanity in a degraded state ? Due to what ? Society ? OUR society ?
      I have watched the hawks sitting in trees by the side of the road WAITING for roadkill, rather than going out to hunt for their own food.
      They are NOT part of our society.
      I have watched the sparrows outside who rather easily manage to find the biggest piece of food and carry it off, and prefer feeding at my feeder, rather than going out to hunt for their own food. And they do not live in a corrupt decadent society either.
      Human nature is also ANIMAL NATURE.
      When was the last time YOU saw the animals “work” ? (Actually, it is one of the most refreshing things about them, that they can live life while the water drips off their backs, with no SUPEREGO, or no social body to decree that they MUST work in order to EARN the filthy lucre for the newest model of cell phone.) I am not sure that hunting for food really qualifies as work. Certainly not in the same way as we have changed the meaning of the word “work”. Did the nomadic Indians in the U.S. “work”, when they followed the bison around, for example ?
      I watch the ducks at my local pond. They swim around in it all day, snacking for the daily hours. Is that work ? That idea sounds strange to me…
      Work doesn’t HAVE to be total alienation. But that lethal cocktail of work FOR filthy lucre, and ONLY work for filthy lucre has further degraded its status. We are rightfully suspicious of ANY indication of idolatry of filthy lucre. In France, if you say someone is “interested”, YOU MEAN THAT HE’S GETTING A KICKBACK. Lots could be said about this, and should, mainly as the result of the collapse of our belief systems, but this is not the place or time.
      Personally, I think that I AND PUBLIUS would last five minutes in the Amish setup. ( I’M A LAZY PERSON, and I particularly despise having people order me around, too, even if it is supposedly for my own good OR FOR THE COMMON GOOD.) But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I would be ecstatic in the Amish setup, who knows. Maybe Publius would be a true believer in the Amish setup too ?
      (And if I get to choose between living a duck’s life, and living an ant’s life… well you can guess whose life I prefer. AND YOU ??)
      Who’s unimaginative ? Because after all these years, I can see the Christian utopia at work, and I sigh at it now ?
      Homework : Stefan Zweig’s “Virata”. I read it last night. I can understand why Zweig committed suicide, and it can not be totally explained by the Nazi war crimes…
      When Etienne de Boétie wrote his pamphlet on “Servitude Volontaire” capitalism was in its infancy. HE noticed it before there were stock exchanges, and credit cards… So maybe it’s been there with us longer than we ARE COMFORTABLE thinking, because we spend so much time wishful thinking it away ?
      Anybody who has worked with alcoholics, OR ANYBODY DESPERATELY NEEDING “SAVING” (…..) has noticed voluntary servitude.
      Voluntary servitude is why I have abandoned social and political utopias. As I often say : there is perhaps ONE place where change is the most potent : in the individual human heart. That is NOT a nihilistic position.
      Time to get back to my piano, and my duck’s life…

      Comment by Debra — October 29, 2011 @ 11:13 am

      • Debra, You are correct, I probably would not want to be told “what to do.”
        However, when my work has meaning for me, and is work and effort the goal of which is my own, I can work very hard, non-stop, until it’s complete. Thus, I am fairly certain than tribes, small villages of like-minded people (sometimes Amish or other sects), or committed workers in a cooperative business, etc., can work very hard, willingly and joyfully.
        You are talking a little more refreshingly like Rousseau now, about the animals. Voluntary servitude has made most people unable to experience the playful joy of “work” for the sake of one’s family or neighbors: barn raisings are a good example. The reward is mainly social and spiritual, but very real.
        I have seen much addiction in my family and acquaintances, so I appreciate your equation of addiction with this voluntary servitude. In fact, one of my immediate family is a highly successful but unhappy business man. He has been addicted to cigarettes and such, but is now addicted to triathlons and endurance sports. He is very conformist in his attitudes and beliefs, and cannot even imagine not believing in “the American way.” We live in the best country in the world, love it or leave, is something he has said to me. Any eccentric belief or unusual habit is considered strange or condemnable. You get the idea… I believe this servitude is the result of spiritual asphyxiation in early life. This spiritual death is one of the goals of the media and our “educational” system.

        Comment by publius — October 31, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

      • Voluntary servitude has made most people unable to experience the playful joy of “work” for the sake of one’s family or neighbors: barn raisings are a good example.

        People don’t understand the world of difference between hierarchical servitude (which we shouldn’t call “voluntary” even if the sheeple have let the knowledge and feeling of coercion be brainwashed away) and the real work we can freely choose as creative producers or, even where nature compels it, we’re still working for ourselves and our own families, friends, communities, rather than for any alien and enemy.

        Comment by Russ — November 2, 2011 @ 10:44 am

      • Well, it’s obvious you “get it,” Russ! There’s also an element of “I’m suffering, so everyone else must, too,” in terms of resistance to freedom. Nothing is more dangerous than an angry Puritan, worried that someone, somewhere might be having a good time! Have you ever read Marcuse’s, “Eros and Civilization?” Interesting read. Freud’s goal was to make people accept their dismal fate in bourgeois society with resignation. Marcuse saw an alternative: joy and freedom. Eros/sexuality he saw as one of the innate sources of energy that could be harnessed and used to drive freedom and creativity. I know it’s off-topic, but this may have something to do with the strange tie between this nation’s obsession with crapitalism and punishment, drug war, etc. A nation that is at the same time awash in the most grotesque sexual imagery and pornography, as though the repressed side of human nature is forced out through subterranean routes. A visit to Sweden or other European countries will demonstrate that a rich, sensual life does not produce a society of immoral chaos… that chaos seems to be reserved for nations in the sway of neoliberal dogma and social Darwinism.

        Comment by publius — November 2, 2011 @ 10:57 am

      • I haven’t read the Marcuse, but that’s true about Freud. He’s often seen as some kind of liberatory force, but he never actually tells anyone to rebel, certainly not vs. socioeconomic structures. (Did you know that in 1914 he “found himself, to his own surprise, an Austrian patriot”? The quote is from memory from something I read about him many years ago. It’s typical that he would have thought himself above that kind of thing, and typical that he really wasn’t above it.)

        A nation that is at the same time awash in the most grotesque sexual imagery and pornography, as though the repressed side of human nature is forced out through subterranean routes.

        That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes I also read years ago, I forget where: “America isn’t permissive, it’s merely promiscuous.”

        Comment by Russ — November 2, 2011 @ 11:56 am

  5. In some ways, “the 1%” are the owners of corporate equity. They siphon the excess “money” off the economy through things like price increases, and “quality control.” Does your pension hold funds that invest in Monsanto? What about Dupont? People should face up to owning JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs. They really support all this? Really? No one asks them to their face yet.

    Comment by Ross — October 27, 2011 @ 11:11 am

    • Pensionism is part of the “ownership society” scam, meant to turn part of the populace temporarily into petty rentiers, in order to astroturf them into supporting big rentiers. (I stress the “temporary”, since group by group pensions are now being liquidated. “First they came for the private sector unions,……then for the public sector unions….but I don’t care because I have a 401(k), which they’ll never come for.”)

      Petty rents are just like small corporations or property – it’s an illusion that one has anything at all. The 99 would be better off if the thing in itself completely ceased to exist.


      Comment by Russ — October 27, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

  6. Recently, my company announced a layoff of a substantial percentage of our workforce. As a member of the executive team, I was one of those who signed off on that decision.

    Here is, in essence, what I told one of my direct reports one-on-one behind close doors.

    “With respect to the worldview that we have been taught to have, the layoff is absolutely the right thing to do. It positions the company and the remaining employees to grow and, therefore, succeed together. I can say without hesitation that this is absolutely the right thing to do given the ruleset we live by.

    With respect to reality, however, the layoff is bullshit. In an effort to maintain the illusion of perpetual, exponential growth in a finite world– which is what the current ruleset requires us to accept as reality– we are sacrificing the lives and livelihoods of people who just want to earn their own way through life (which I view as a human right). And those people have been trained to go quietly, and so they accept their fate without a fight. It’s just wrong.”

    Personally, I’m too close to the 1% (I’m not one of them, statistically, I’m in the 3%, but I know a lot of the 1%) to view most of them as “vicious” (often venal and narcissistic, yes), and within the neoliberal ruleset as has been constructed, they are hardly “worthless” (those who produce the illusion of prosperity are the true producers under neoliberalism), but I do find the ruleset that they (actually, we, I cannot exclude myself given my position) enforce is categorically vicious, worthless and evil. I am trying to change the ruleset from within, but that kind of change can only be incremental..

    Closing thoughts: “Soylent Green is people.”

    And Soylent Green is what it takes to feed the illusion of perpetual exponential growth. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people in my position do not understand this, and they are hooked on the myth that everything will be okay if we just put a happy face on.

    Sorry. It’s game over, man.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — October 27, 2011 @ 11:08 pm

    • It’s weird, but whenever I hypothetically picture myself trying to explain to mercenaries how they’re really serving organized crime (hypothetically – I haven’t yet actually tried to do it), for some reason I always picture the scene from “Aliens” where the guy is briefing the cadres on their mission. I picture such a “tough” and skeptical audience.

      Do you really call a spade a spade like that among your colleagues? Even that stuff isn’t really true; most “downsizing” and “offshoring” isn’t really good for anyone but Wall Street’s stock manipulations. That is, it’s counterproductive from the point of view of the capitalist textbooks.

      But of course capitalism itself is nothing but a scam. It’s just one big con job for the benefit of a few thugs, the execs among them.

      So you really think “libertarians” like Denninger mean well but are misguided? I find it hard to believe anyone really thinks the stock market could exist at all without the goon government propping it up. As I always say, figuratively, part of my One Simple Demand is one big bucket law. No financialization “contracts” are real contracts at all, and no state apparatus should exist to enforce them. The community should laugh at them.

      Comment by Russ — October 28, 2011 @ 9:40 am

      • I think a lot of people like Denninger are confused and a bit nutty. I get that way myself. You really have to keep pinching yourself to face what life will be like once we don’t have the financial system (the tail) wagging the dog (society.) Denninger and Shedlock and Yves are all finance people. They cannot believe that what they know how to do should be a useless activity. They really don’t have a grip on what we used to call politics, philosophy and economics (PPE.) Plus, they are making a good living doing what they do so why would they want to change?

        I suspect that none of them has calluses on his/her hands and that none of them wants to be out planting potatoes and milking goats. If money ceases to circulate and complex societies devolve and we stop relying upon fossil fuels that is what most of us will have to do. It can’t come soon enough for me but that is what I love to do anyway. I do wish for that but I am not sure that makes me a good person. What would make me a good person would be to work against injustice which can exist in any society from simple to complex.

        I know a few 1% people (or their servants) and I think most of them are pretty happy with their lives and not about to give up what they have without a struggle. Does that make them evil? Maybe.

        Comment by Ellen Anderson — October 28, 2011 @ 10:16 am

      • Hi Ellen,

        How’s your idea for a “Farmageddon” screening going? I ask because someone just told me she’s interested in organizing a screening for it, and I thought I’d pick your brain about it. I’ll go research it myself as well. I’ve never been involved in organizing screenings before.

        Comment by Russ — October 28, 2011 @ 11:41 am

      • FYI – The italics did not take, but I also told the following to my colleague:

        With respect to reality, however, the layoff is bullshit. In an effort to maintain the illusion of perpetual, exponential growth in a finite world– which is what the current ruleset requires us to accept as reality– we are sacrificing the lives and livelihoods of people who just want to earn their own way through life (which I view as a human right). And those people have been trained to go quietly, and so they accept their fate without a fight. It’s just wrong.”

        i.e., I gave him my real view.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — October 28, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

      • So you really think “libertarians” like Denninger mean well but are misguided?

        Denninger is different than most “libertarians” in that he seems to come first and foremost from the “civil libertarian” school. At least that is my explanation for why he seems able to question things that other “libertarians” accept as unvarnished truth. Also, he is not of either neoliberal school of economics, and he is not a free market purist. He knows that there cannot be fair play without a referee.

        In any event, it is not so much that I think Denninger means well, I just respect the fact that he is a truth seeker. The fact that he is wrong about something today does not mean he will be wrong about that tomorrow. He listens, observes and adjusts. I cannot help but respect people who accept that they have blindspots and try to eliminate them, and I cannot condemn such people when they still have blindspots left to discover.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — October 28, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

      • Thanks Tao. I’m not really familiar with Denninger, so I’ll defer to your judgement. People sometimes link stuff from him, and it seems to me you never know what you’re going to get.

        One of the glitches of WordPress is that if you want to italicize multiple paragraphs in a comment, you need an HTML tag at the beginning of each paragraph. Otherwise it just does what we saw here.

        Comment by Russ — October 28, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

      • Do you really call a spade a spade like that among your colleagues?

        The answer to your question is “it depends.” When it comes to the people who work directly for me, I do. Always. It’s just part of how I coach and mentor my people, particularly those with ambition.

        When it comes to peers and superiors (i.e., the CEO and Board), I am much more cautious and selective. I have shared my view that public companies are managed to simulate a bond that perpetually grows at a rate of interest greater than inflation with my CEO and many of my peers. My CEO agrees, as does our head of investor relations, who used to be the company controller. The difference between the two is the CEO already knew it, and the IR guy agreed with the view but had never really considered it before. But that’s the difference between the 0.1% and most everyone else: the 0.1% understand what the rules are designed to accomplish, while everybody else at best understands what the rules are.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — October 28, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

      • Time to watch “The Misanthrope”. Molière.
        Alceste tells it like it is.
        Painful. A masterpiece, but very very painful.
        At the end… he ends up going off to live in the desert (an uninhabited place).
        He notices that people don’t really want to hear it “like it is”… They aren’t really keen on sincerity, transparency, etc etc.
        How does the line go in “Mary Poppins” ?
        “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medecine go down, the medecine go down, the medecine go down”.
        Even Alceste, who tries the spoonful of sugar in the play, does not manage to make the medecine go down.
        I have told it “like it is” to my colleagues…
        It has not made me popular at all. Do you wonder why ? (I still have a few friends left though.)
        I fondly remember doing an expose about the death penalty about ten years ago, and having a Texas woman pipe up, telling me that she believed in it… in spite of all my rational figures, charts, graphs, even the.. COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS, icing on the cake…
        It was very instructive.
        You can get very frustrated when the person facing you is speaking English, but is from another planet.
        I remained very very polite with this woman (can you believe it ??). NO NAME CALLING.
        And I heard several years later that she is now ardently opposed to the death penalty….
        Truth is much stranger than fiction.
        I fear that the Internet is not designed to encourage our politeness, though…

        Comment by Debra — November 1, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

      • Russ,

        I dream of a world where the arts are valued and respected, where people can do meaningful work and all the parasites and bankers hang from lamp posts. This is NOT life. This sucks.

        Comment by Antiks72 — November 2, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  7. I’m part of the 99.9%. It’s the 0.1% we are against. They are easy to find. Just log into forbes.com. They are our enemy. Let’s take them down.

    Comment by tawal — October 28, 2011 @ 2:46 am

  8. I have not organized a screening yet. There were several awhile ago through FTCLDF but they were in cities about 30 miles away. If your friend is anywhere close to central Massachusetts give him/her my email address and maybe we can work together.

    I think I told you that I bought the rights to do one showing of The Real Truth about Farmer John and the showing went really well. However, I had bought the dvd and watched it first in order to decide how it would go over with a local audience. I wonder whether Farmageddon is available for individual purchase by now? I think once can buy the dvd you can pay a bit extra for the right to own it and do a publicly advertised showing. That would be the way to do it.

    The Transition Town group in the next town over from mine agonizes over whether they have to pay extra to show documentaries because they don’t charge admission. They usually do buy the rights just to be fair to the film makers.

    Comment by Ellen Anderson — October 28, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

    • I don’t know yet what’s the availability of “Farmageddon”. I’ll have to look into it.

      Comment by Russ — October 29, 2011 @ 7:50 am

  9. But of course capitalism itself is nothing but a scam. It’s just one big con job for the benefit of a few thugs, the execs among them.

    All -isms are a scam. Capitalism, feudalism, communism, totalitarianism, fascism, they all exist to create sufficient leverage such that a tiny percentage of people (0.1%) essentially enslave everybody else. The problem is that very few people outside of that 0.1% actually understand this. Most executives are not thugs but pieces on a chess board. The ruleset defines how they move, and the 0.1% define the ruleset for this particular game of chess, as the history of neoliberalism shows us.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — October 28, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

    • I read what you wrote above, and found it interesting. I have felt for a while that the “growth” belief system has got out of hand. Like our language, it is in overdrive mode.
      Actually, if you take a look into Descartes’ “Le Discours de la Méthode”, you will see how the Genesis creation myth becomes a prop for Descartes’ NEW AND IMPROVED system, which involves multiplying exponentially ARTIFICIAL man made items(like the “increase and multiply” in the creation myth), to fuel the “growth” that we hear in our news reports in the morning, and the obsequious lip service that is paid to it.
      When you say something is a scam, you are saying that SOMEBODY ELSE has been taking you for a ride.
      But… I believe… that you notice that the people REALLY BELIEVE what they’re saying. THEY ARE NOT TRYING TO FOOL YOU, or take you for a ride.
      The way that YOU believe something else (or don’t believe, as the case may be…).
      They believe it because they want to believe it, or they are afraid to believe something else, for example. Or because other people tell them that it is GOOD, or right to believe it, or that IT IS THE TRUTH (or reality, lots of other words will fit here…)
      Just watching how people behave with the computers is instructive.
      They behave, most of them, as though THE MACHINE IS OBVIOUSLY “right” (whatever the hell THAT means…) and THEY are wrong.
      And many, if not most of them turn off their thinking WITH THE BELIEF that the machine knows better than they do.
      The machines know better.. OR THE NUMBERS THEY PROVE, etc etc.
      And MORE MORE MORE (numbers…) IS ALWAYS BETTER, and more numbers takes us to Paradise.
      I believe that this logic is at work in the GROWTH BELIEF SYSTEM.
      Now… this is where it gets hard.
      We have been so conditioned to believe that on the one side we have “the truth” (and the good guys tell the truth” and on the other side, we have “the lies”, and the bad guys tell the lies), that it is VERY VERY difficult to get out of that kind of thinking.
      When I go to the supermarket, I look at the people pushing their caddies, and I say to myself… WE ARE ALL ANIMALS.
      And it is really weird, thinking of MYSELF, and of other people as animals pushing around caddies.
      Really weird. But, I don’t feel shame, or contempt for being an animal, and I have no freeze dried prejudices about what it means to be an animal.
      And we are not logical. Our ideas, and behaviors are NOT LOGICAL.
      Not being logical is what enables us to LOVE (our neighbor, or our girlfriend, or our kid, etc.)
      This all sounds really really basic and evident, BUT IT ISN’T.
      Because we have been force fed the religion of being reasonable.
      “All isms are a scam”.
      Polytheism. Rationalism. Capitalism, Christianism. Judaism.
      WHAT IS AN ISM ?
      My neighbor’s face is not an ism. I can touch it.
      I cannot touch, feel, or smell… AN ISM.

      Comment by Debra — October 29, 2011 @ 11:36 am

      • Christianism is the first modern -ism I’ve found. That’s not to say there were not earlier -isms, but the Roman Catholic Church provided the model for all -isms that followed.

        All -isms are carefully constructed and dutifuly enforced false belief systems that allow a tiny a minority to enslave everyone else. They provide certainty in an uncertain world, and people by their nature cling to certainty because uncertainty creates negative emotions. Of course most of the followers of these systems actually believe in them. That’s the point of the belief system.

        Human beings are not conditioned to believe there are only two sides. The human brain naturally does that for us. We compare what we observe to what we expected and react accordingly. That comparison only provides two options: either what we observe is what we expected or it is not.

        The architects of belief systems understand this and use it to their advantage.

        And human beings are both logical and rational, but only if you measure them in human terms instead of machine terms. A person who unexpectedly gets angry at something you say is perfectly rational once you realize that what you said was so far away from what he expected that it caused him to panic and get angry. When you take the time to think about things that way, you can actually trace the emotion back to the expectation, which helps you understand the person better.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — October 29, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

      • Actually, Tao, after cogitating over this problem for quite some time, I have come to the conclusion that it is our language based symbolic systems that are responsible for much of our alienation. Before Christianism ? (I thought that was Christianity by the way…), there was Judaism, THE MOTHER OF ALL MONOTHEISMS, and that monotheistic “ism”, coupled with Greek.. rationalism ?? is big on that there LOGOS, translate to idolatry of language (in my opinion…).
        Along the lines of the… logos, when was the last time you saw a unicorn ?
        You would laugh at me if I suggested that I saw unicorns OR BELIEVED IN THEM, BUT NOBODY LAUGHS dutifully hefting that mighty sword of.. “the truth”…
        So… if you don’t believe in unicorns (just a word, right ??), WHY BELIEVE IN THE TRUTH ??
        I know this sounds convenient, but why not ?
        I have decided that constantly haggling over “the truth” is tiresome, and does not further human relations whatsoever…
        And 99% of the time it ends up getting a significant number of people killed.
        I, like J.K. Rowling believe that it is necessary to be able occasionally to lay down one’s life, BUT FOR THE TRUTH ??
        Na. For flesh and blood people, with faces. NOT “THE PEOPLE”, NOT IDEAS… and certainly not the COMMON GOOD…
        Some people may snarkily remark that I am haggling over the words. True.
        But, unfortunately, all of us have lawyer’s minds under the logos.. Very unfortunately…

        Comment by Debra — October 30, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

      • Debra,

        There is no doubt that language creates a number of problems for us humans, but I would argue that the problem lies in the fact that we often agree without actually agreeing (or the opposite, disagreeing without really disagreeing). That is, different people understand the same terms to mean different things without realizing it (or they understand different terms to mean the same thing without realizing it).

        Regarding “the truth,” it does exist, just not as the absolute, static thing that most people think it is. If you take the time to look at the world dynamically as a system that is constantly changing, truth does reveal itself but as a relative, dynamic thing. Thus, when I talk truth about the -isms, I try focus on how they operate and how they came to be. Only then do I reach my conclusion that they are evil and inhuman. Any system that seeks to enforce a vision of humanity that does not pay proper deference to the simultaneous basic need of human beings to be individuals and part of a society is evil. Neoliberalism (only individuals, no society) and communism (no individuals, only society) both insist upon defying nature and forcing humans to act in an unnatural way.

        Regarding Judaism, I cannot say whether it qualifies as an -ism as I think of them. There is evidence that Christianism was carefully constructed to incorporate and mimic elements of Judaism, but I cannot say that Judaism was constructed in a similar way.

        My intuition is that religious Taoism is a control construct, as its very existence is contrary to the Tao. For example, to say one is a Taoist is inherently to claim that others are not Taoist, yet there is no reason to believe that somebody who is not a Taoist cannot find the Tao:

        “The tao that can be told
        is not the eternal Tao
        The name that can be named
        is not the eternal Name.

        The unnamable is the eternally real.
        Naming is the origin
        of all particular things.

        Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
        Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

        Yet mystery and manifestations
        arise from the same source.
        This source is called darkness.

        Darkness within darkness.
        The gateway to all understanding.”

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — October 31, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

      • Tao, I believe that the words mean, only to the extent that when we pronounce them, we understand one word NOT to mean another one.
        We are constantly and unconsciously looking for similarities and differences in the world, and in our words, in order to infuse it/them with meaning.
        The Tao quote is very similar to the Jewish construct around YHVH, the unpronounceable name of God, the one that is supposed to NOT BE WRITTEN, SPOKEN, etc.
        I also believe that the words speak us as much as we speak them…
        The system is much less “they” than we would like to believe.
        In my opinion.
        Some people seem to think that I am a nihilist because of this belief.
        I think not. But I believe that scaling down my ambition to change the world is better for me (and for the world…).
        There is already much to be contented about, and there is already MUCH freedom in our daily lives. More than we seem to believe, because we are not looking at the world.
        We are looking at… the ideas…
        I am NOT a socialist at all at this time. An allergic reaction, if you like.
        But… I do enjoy chatting with people, I have two adult children who are pretty happy, and I have been married for thirty years now.
        So… I would say that socially, I’m doing just fine, EVEN IF I’M NOT WORKING.
        This morning I passed an older man who saluted me, and as we were talking, he suggested that I join a walking club, to be with other people IN ORDER TO WALK.
        I am allergic to clubs these days. Because people are all gung ho about walking FAST, and GETTING THERE, etc etc, and doing all that hygienic stuff, and bringing their blood pressure down, etc etc.
        But when they walk, they do not seem to take the time to look at the world with attention…
        So… I go on my walks ALONE.
        “I VANT TO BE ALONE”. Dietrich ? Garbo ? Help, somebody, help…

        Comment by Debra — November 1, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

      • Tao,

        Human beings are not conditioned to believe there are only two sides. The human brain naturally does that for us.

        So you disagree with Graeber that as what he calls the Axial Age gave way to the Medieval Age, this kind of dichotomous thinking also gave way to a sense of uncertainty and even chaos, for which even religion was more or less consciously seen as a palliative rather than a dispositive answer? If true, that would be evidence that this too is socially determined. I know my reading about primeval humanity never gave me the sense that they were all-or-nothing thinkers. Nietzsche went so far as to speculate that primal humanity didn’t see any clear difference between dreams and waking life, and this was part of the source of believe in life after death. (Since dead relatives and friends would presumably appear in dreams. Granted, this was just one of N’s many speculations on the matter.)

        Comment by Russ — November 2, 2011 @ 10:52 am

      • Russ,

        I don’t know if I disagree with Graeber or not. What I’m saying is that how human beings decide, which is hard wired into the brain, predisposes itself towards simplifying most choices into dichotomies, i.e., this or that. The Tao Te Ching is ancient evidence that this tendency existed at least as far back as the 6th century B.C. On the other hand, the Tao Te Ching encourages people to reject such dichotomies and embrace a broader, truer understanding of the world. (Note: I am not a Taoist, nor am I pushing Taoism. I’m just pointing to it as evidence of my theory, which I started to develop after reading Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide.)

        Another way to say it is that human beings don’t have to give into their baser instincts, of which I include false dichotomies as one. It is possible that societies have existed that embraced reality more broadly and with no good-evil kinds of filters, but my guess is that you would have had to have had social institutions actively pushing that kind of worldview. I believe that human beings, left to their own devices and with no active pushing of false dichotomies by social institutions, will follow their tendency and divide things into such dichotomies (i.e., us versus them). I’d argue that the examples of ancient and/or aboriginal societies that Graeber provides early in his book support that. Barter only happened with strangers (they who are not one of us) . . .

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 2, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

      • Tao- if you’re starting from Lehrer’s book, you’ve already gone astray. Lehrer is not a reliable source on the insights of modern neuroscience. He makes a number of extremely basic errors in his reporting, including the promulgation of the utterly-unsupported notion of a dichotomous “rational” and “emotional” brain, a number of silly just-so stories, an overreliance on dated studies of brain function by lesioning, and fundamental misunderstandings about the nature and function of neurotransmission. It’s worth noting that Lehrer used to work with Eric Kandel, the nobel-prize winner who works with the sea slug Aplysia. Aplysia is an organism which could, to an extent, be said to be “hard wired”- there are literally wiring diagrams for Aplysia brains (which consist of, if I remember correctly, around 150 neurons). There are no such wiring diagrams for human brains, and there is zero evidence for anything like “hard-wired” decision making behaviour in humans (or, for that matter, mammals). Aplysia folks often have a pretty narrow mechanistic view of neural plasticity and wiring, which is inappropriate when applied to more complex central nervous systems.

        Comment by paper mac — November 2, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

      • Paper Mac,

        Please drop me a line with more info at “taojonesing” at “gmail.com”

        I have actually gone quite a bit farther than that book, but I always welcome additional leads with which to test developing theories. Thanks a bunch.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 3, 2011 @ 12:13 am

      • On the binary problem…
        Freud has an extremely interesting, very complicated text called “Die Verneinung” “On Negation”, which I have been rereading on and off for years now.
        He posits the first binary experience as being one that founds all ulterior experience in the infant’s swallowing/eating what is “good”, and spitting out what is “bad”. He holds that this initial oral experience founds our way of identifying “inside” and “outside”, and that these categories are necessary for thought, as well as for permitting us to localize ourselves in our bodies.
        I believe that our capacity to understand our ancestors’ way of being in, and looking at the world, is very limited, and particularly limited by our considerable, unconscious prejudices about consciousness, and the power of our will. (I am NOT a pure determinist, however…)
        I think that probably the INCREASINGLY binary way of looking at the world is the result of increasing concentration, and idolatry in our civilization.
        If you take a look at the textile museum in Lyon, you will notice that the machine made tapestries made after the Jacquard loom was introduced into the Lyon area, as a means of destroying artisan monopoly over work, are much more rigid, uniformized, and unimaginative than the HAND WORK that preceded it.
        The machines are greatly responsible for this. But they themselves did not come from nowhere. They were only possible because of the IDEAS underlying and accompanying them.
        From what I understand, the computer is a binary setup.
        Maybe the FIRST binary setup is really the ideological one.. TRUE OR FALSE ??
        As long as you are chasing after “the truth”, you will be NECESSARILY in… BINARY MODE…
        On Freud… I do not hold everything he says to be “truth”… but then any great thinker who has managed to get the goat of almost the ENTIRE AMERICAN society MUST HAVE SOMETHING INTERESTING TO SAY. (Mea culpa, that’s the way I think…)
        Freud predicted that American culture would hate him… he was right about that one….
        Logical. OH SO LOGICAL…

        Comment by Debra — November 3, 2011 @ 8:25 am

      • “there is zero evidence for anything like “hard-wired” decision making behaviour in humans”

        It occurs to me that this statement is unnecessarily imprecise- there are obviously hard-wired “decision” responses like withdrawal reflexes when touching hot objects, etc. I’m referring to decisions with significant cognitive involvement.

        Comment by paper mac — November 3, 2011 @ 8:55 pm

      • I wouldn’t used the term “hard-wired” for what’s still clearly an innate preference for cooperative and mutually “altruistic” behavior. Even the most vicious capitalism requires a huge proportion of anarchism for its day to day function, and would collapse immediately without it. And it requires a huge investment of propaganda and terror to move people’s attitudes away from it even a little bit, and these quickly revert to the cooperative mean as soon as coercion is removed.

        So while hard-wired would be imprecise, just plain wired sounds good to me.

        Comment by Russ — November 4, 2011 @ 6:38 am

  10. A couple of good links:

    Latest Michael Hudson: http://michael-hudson.com/2011/10/trade-theory-financialized/

    Latest Paul Craig Roberts: http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/10/28/living-in-a-delusional-world/

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — October 28, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

    • Thanks Tao. I especially like Hudson.

      Comment by Russ — October 29, 2011 @ 7:53 am

  11. This is a wonderful post! Unique point of view.

    Comment by Tax Savings — October 30, 2011 @ 10:55 am

  12. “Just because you’re immoral doesn’t mean you’re infertile.” I was actually looking forward to another 14% offer from the counterfeiting loan sharks today….

    Comment by Pete — October 31, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

    • Thanks Pete.

      Comment by Russ — November 2, 2011 @ 10:53 am

    • I read a story once about a guy who filled one of these envelopes with a couple bucks worth of pennies. The CC company called him back complaining that they had paid a bunch of money to receive his pennies. He then insisted that he had mailed the pennies to them in error and loudly insisted that they give him his money back. He ended up getting a cheque cut for his $2 or whatever, LOL. Might be another thing to try, although I really like the roofing shingle option.

      Comment by paper mac — November 2, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

  13. Russ,

    Regarding Denninger, he joined the OWS General Strike on November 2nd by shutting down his site for the day and putting up a banner with his grievances. The banner is probably down by now, but if you dig into his posts, you’ll see that he his quite sympathetic to the OWS movement. http://market-ticker.org/

    Charles Hugh Smith, another libertarian-leaning guy, has some interesting things to say, as well. http://www.oftwominds.com/blognov11/democracy-market11-11.html

    Jim Quinn, the true libertarian loon relative to the other two (CHS loves the fourth turning narrative, but is not quite as religious about it), is resonating, as well: http://www.theburningplatform.com/?p=22946

    All three self-identify as modern libertarians, explicitly or implicitly by who they cite as influences. The three actually span a continuum (from KD as a converted religious GOPer the farthest right to CHS as a reformed liberal (from what I can tell) the farthest left) on the libertard spectrum. And all three are waking up, albeit in their own way.

    Neoliberals created modern libertarianism to capture and co-opt free-thinking intellectuals so as to prevent them from promoting real change. These were the people that Murray Rothbard wanted as “true believers,” radicals to promote the neoliberal agenda. Reap what you sow, buddy. These guys actually believe in what you sold them, not what you wanted to sell.

    Interesting times.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 3, 2011 @ 12:37 am

    • Thanks Tao. Do you read Kevin Carson and the C4SS site?


      I’m glad to hear that some among the “libertarians” are realizing they can’t have it all and, facing a choice, are starting to side with the people vs. tyranny, in however halting a way.

      OWS General Strike, hmm? I confess I was basically offline for several days and paying no attention even to our kind of news. I was worried about how Manhattan’s Occupation would fare in the the storm (though I also don’t know how bad it was in the city), and have been reluctant to start reading stuff again. But OWSGS sounds good. I’ll try to re-inform myself today.

      Comment by Russ — November 3, 2011 @ 8:56 am

  14. I probably ought not to add to this huge thread of comments, but in response to Publius’ observation about Sweden I wish to point out that they are extremely repressive towards homeschoolers.The “authorities” have seized Dominic Johansson under outrageous conditions and despite his parent’s capitulation on homeschooling him continue to destroy this family.If only they extended their liberal attitudes towards alternative learning and lifestyles!

    Comment by DualPersonality — December 16, 2011 @ 2:31 am

    • Hi DP,

      Yes, Sweden and other “social democracies” are only marginally “better” than the more overtly neoliberal regimes. For example, although Sweden’s 90s-era temporary bank nationalization used to be upheld as a model policy for what the US should have done in 2008-09, in practice this Swedish reform didn’t prevent future finance criminality or save their economy from the crash. By the 2000s Swedish banks were engaging in the same housing bubble and other frauds as Wall Street, gutting the economies of the Baltic states.

      So Sweden, contrary to the rhetoric of its idolators (BTW, if publius reads this, I don’t mean you, but the likes of Krugman and others), is no paragon of sound reformism, but more proof that even the best-intentioned reformism doesn’t work.

      And then we see its own favored elements of fascism, like its aggressive hostility to home schooling.

      Comment by Russ — December 16, 2011 @ 6:03 am

      • I almost moved to Sweden in the mid-90’s, but something prevented me. The people, however nice and liberal in some respects, were creepily conformist in others. I have no doubt that they punish homeschoolers… there’s still a nostalgia for elements of Stalinism there. The worship of the state is almost complete. Political correctness reigns supreme.

        Comment by publius — December 16, 2011 @ 10:29 am

  15. To correct boom and bust cycles one must control inflation and money creation; neither is possible under a system that permitts debt currency creation or inflation by money creation.

    Comment by beene — December 16, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

    • That could be true in theory, but that’s not how capitalism works in practice or intent. In practice the boom and bust cycle is necessary for capital accumulation to continue and profits to remain possible. So in spite of the lies of economists, politicians, as well as theoreticians like the MMTers, the purpose of the money creation power was never to even try to moderate “the business cycle”*, but to impose power and extract rents. The business cycle was always designed to keep going from boom to bust to boom again, with each transition serving as another point for extraction and power accumulation. (The transition from boom to bust is called disaster capitalism.)

      So the only constructive way to look at boom and bust, at inflation and creation, at money itself, is to recognize them all as unnecessary and undesirable. We’d be far more prosperous, free, socially stable, and happy without them.

      *Another artifice lyingly called a law of nature.

      Comment by Russ — December 17, 2011 @ 4:50 am

      • Regardless of the way we define value, printed notes are the easiest way to transport and spend value. The only problem with today’s system is the manner in which notes are created and controlled.

        Through the efforts of Teddy thru FDR, the nation created a system that control the amount of damage that bust could cause. Their only failure was not gaining control of money creation. This system worked well till the Carter administration which on the recommendation of the Fed chairman made changes to the system, which permitted the avalanche of deregulation under Reagan.

        Comment by beene — December 17, 2011 @ 10:28 am

      • Their only failure was not gaining control of money creation.

        In other words, the government aggressively abdicated a core part of its alleged sovereignty as well as its explicit constitutional responsibility, because it functions at the behest of parasitic private banks.

        The government itself is also a worthless parasite, but even if one believes in the good civics textbooks and what “good government” is allegedly supposed to be, then one would have to call for direct government issue of greenbacks. The establishment of the Fed as such (not any Carter tweaking) was a crime against the people, and a monumental piece of “deregulation”/corporatism.

        I can’t imagine how you figure the system worked well from T. Roosevelt to Carter. From a Great Depression needing a World War to end it to the insane war spending of the Johnson and Nixon gangs which required the closing of the dollar window, and all the problems in between, the system has mostly worked terribly for the great majority of people who work. (Meanwhile the few who temporarily were lifted to Western middle class status were the beneficiaries of cheap oil, not sound money policy.)

        Comment by Russ — December 17, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

  16. Not aggressive government/machinations of Morgan to defeat Taft who would have vetoed the bill. Also there’re been several proposals to ensure a stable banking system under Teddy and Taft. That said even Wilson later wrote that signing the Federal Reserve Bill was the worst thing he had done to his country.

    What I said was a system was put in place that kept the downside of bust small. That system started with Teddy and finished developing in FDR’s administration. These regulation controlled speculation and the size of corporations.

    Cater was a victim of the Federal Reserve Chairman; much as FDR’s efforts were thwarted by the Sec. of Treasury by trying to pay down debt during a downside in the economy.
    From 52 till 71 the country grew and was even paying down the national debt. Then we adopted neoliberalism of free trade and that the market knows best. Then the nation went from the greatest creditor nation to the greatest debtor nation, not to mention the fact the only thing bigger than our debt today is our trade imbalance which has been in negative numbers since 1980.

    As far as who benefits and who losses when the government does not print its own money watch the nine minute video posted number two at the top of this thread.

    “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.” MA Rothschild

    Comment by beene — December 18, 2011 @ 6:38 am

  17. […]   We stand here, ready and able to work. Our work is there before us. The only thing in our way is a barbed wire fence which a few gangsters have strung between us and our work. They now force us to pass through […]

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  18. […] assert ourselves as food growers and scientific workers. We have to abolish corporatism. We have to tear down the barbed wire and toll booths which interpose between us and our birthright. We have to redeem our work and through it our […]

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