Period of deception

A warning to all: this will be a very long and very amateur philosophish look at the crisis. And also, an attempt to defend the libertarian view, which I know WP, and probably lots of you guys, dislike very much (to say the least). But then we all believe in the virtue of freedom of speech, right? That virtue is contained in the guy who will totally shame me to death, should I say something that is demonstrably inaccurate. I trust that you won’t spare me.

This post is also published in French on my blog. I like the title because deception is what we call a “faux-ami”, a fake friend. Although this word exists in both the French and English language, the meaning is different. But you wouldn’t know on first sight, and so it happens that guys like me trust these fake friends, who then turn out to be traitors.

1. Double-meaning

The title, though, happens to be accurate in both cases: there is indeed a deception in America, as in, something is hidden. And there is a déception in France, as in, the reaction of the left is very disappointing. By left, I mean those people that I consider to be pretty well informed and pretty much anti-capitalist, and certainly not your average Democrat.

The deception has been adressed by many of our favorite bloggers, including of course WP himself just Tuesday. And there was Arthur Silber before him; and there was also Chris Floyd; and probably a host of other bloggers. There’s one passage I want to quote quickly, from one of Whitney’s excellent articles on Counter Punch (and my thanks to Arthur for bringing it up).

Market Ticker’s Karl Denninger has this to say:
The Fed claims to be an ‘independent central bank.’ They are nothing of the kind; they are now acting as an arsonist. The Fed and Treasury have claimed this is a ‘liquidity crisis’; it is not. It is an insolvency crisis that The Fed, Treasury and the other regulatory organs of our government have intentionally allowed to occur.

This is only part of the deception, although probably the biggest part of it. There are obviously other lies. And I won’t take the time to list them, since all the bloggers mentioned above have done so very well. Just one simple point from Sheldon Richman:
The biggest lie there is not financial but political. Even if there are gains, they will not go to the taxpayers but rather to the government. For some strange reason, this distinction is lost on virtually everyone, especially the news media.

The déception-disappointment in France comes in the form of a double irony. Just like some Republicans have rejected the plan in the name of non-interventionism (Ha ha ha), the French left (or what I’ve seen of it until now) is unanimous in its glee over the idea that the system has failed. It is their revenge on neoliberalism. Nevertheless, Socialists do support the bailout plan, for a short-term solution. (Ha ha ha ha) With, you guessed it, regulations to take care of the long-term problem. Uh? You might say. Well, of course. We need “to save the economy.” And put a stop to this crazy unfettered capitalism. This last part can be found many times over in the discussions I’ve seen. So here you have the French left, doing what big business wants, so they can screw big business really hard.

2. There is no ‘market’

Before I launch into my own view and comments, I want to emphasize that I come from a communist household. Therefore, the idea of the self-regulating free market sounded just as crazy to me as it probably does to you now. I think the terms “self-regulating” and “invisible hand” are totally inappropriate, to advocate for something like the free market.

With these, you get a feel that the market is a being that knows better and that will “correct himself” according to the situation that arises. Taken thusly, you don’t even need to know what happened in Chile to guess the actual and very real preference of neoliberals for big money players. No matter what those big corporations do, it’s ok. The market will correct himself. Let them do what they want, it’s natural baby. Alas for us, there is no such thing as a market that knows best. The market has no existence. It is not a being.

Actions have consequences and everything that goes up falls down. I believe this is all they mean, when they talk about an invisible hand guiding stuff. By the way, when are people going to make the connection between this very expression and Christianity? Actions have consequences, and wrongdoing brings down evildoers. Sure. I suppose if I lay off thousands of innocent people, so I can get richer, and they don’t have any means to protest, it’s going to have an impact on the market. The market will be fine. Have no worries. Big deal huh ?

Now, I know neolibs are big on imposing themselves on others. I am familiar with the neoliberals’ reverence for numbers and theories, a reverence that trumps up their perception of the reality of the situation. While I used to study mathematics (I got a bachelor’s degree), I know next to nothing about economics. But this doesn’t matter anyway. Whatever the situation of the Chilean economy is now, and no matter whether these guys’ calculations were correct or not, the evil of their deeds came in the form of sacrificing people’s lives and livelihoods, for a good that only they saw coming, and that they decided alone to go get. Again, at the expense of other human beings. And they turned out to be wrong; the economy didn’t bounce back quickly. “It’s for their own good.” Those familiar with Arthur Silber know that sentence and its worldwide consequences.

While neoliberals will never say they are anti-workers, you must not believe them. I’m pretty sure that nowhere in the neoliberal ideology there is anti-worker hatred in plain words, and it does not matter. Remember the Founding Fathers were slaveholders. Watch this video with George Carlin.

3. No hypocrisy

This brings me to my next point: there is no such thing as hypocrisy, and the way we are educated to treat each other precedes any ideological drive by far. Arthur explained this, on Monday from last week:
I plan to analyze many aspects of the mechanisms of manipulation, control and coercion in my series on tribalism. These mechanisms will be found in social networks, in political organizations, and -- most importantly, for this is the ultimate origin of all the rest -- in the family. And it is, in fact, in these other forms of order that many of the State's enforcement mechanisms find their start.

A quick note to say this is a series I’ve been dying to read for months.

Let’s return to what I was saying, and the Founding Fathers, who said in the Declaration of Independence, all the while holding slaves, that all men are created free and equal. Most people, like Carlin, would say that the Founding Fathers were therefore hypocrites. This is not true. [Besides, Carlin said this then, but later on, he will say “Hey it was the 18th century. What did you expect?”] They were perfectly honest, when they wrote that declaration. People think coherence is natural. No. Coherence is something for which you must work, it is something you attain. Incoherence is the natural state of your opinions and actions. You must sort them out yourself, and check your beliefs against the facts.

I say the Founding Fathers were not hypocrites, but rather, the way they were educated to treat other human beings (in particular, human beings with a black skin) prevailed by far over what they thought and wrote, on the philosophical level. This is why Arthur says that everything goes back to the family. A communist (but alas, homophobic) rapper, Immortal Technique, also says in Caught in a Hustle that “the mind of a child is where the revolution begins.” The way you are educated and treated by your parents is what matters.

[The same rapper has other lines that I like. From the song Dominant Species: “In a hundred years from now, everyone who’s living on this planet will be dead. So it’s inconsequential really, all the shit that you talk, all the bullshit that you stand for. It’s more important really, what you’re ready to build, what you’re ready to create, what you’re ready to pass down to your children.” And from the song Poverty of Philosophy: “My enemy is the white man I don’t see.”]

4. A personal digression

When the neoliberals had Chile under a military dictatorship, so as to impose their own petty ideology, they couldn’t care less about the people of Chile. They simply did not care. They did not consider them as equals, or as worthy of consideration, care, humanity. While I am a libertarian now, and I was a communist before, I could never have done anything like this to anyone, not then, and not now. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me that I had the right to even make them slightly hurt.

When I say I’m living with communist parents, most people ask me “Are you alright?” It seems Staline has forever carved the stereotype of the blunt and sadist, communist and mustachoed father in the minds of the entire world population. I am alright. My father is the nicest guy on Earth, except with homeless people, whom he can’t stand for political reasons (which are basically: why don’t they join the party, attend demonstrations, they’re living like shit and they won’t do a thing).

Thankfully, the way he treated me and my brothers has turned us into normal human beings, who care and worry about others. It’s actually embarassing, cause me and my brothers are often like “Okay, is this what you want? _ No no, do as you want. _ No, you! ” Another situation that’s kinda funny, is when I listen to loud death metal, and my father comes to me and says “You know… you can raise the volume, it’s fine, don’t worry about us. _ No no, it’s fine too.” Very very kind we are. It’s like a competition of kindness every day. Of course, it does not mean there are no tensions and conflicts. There are, and some arise out of this very humanity.

For instance, my mom is a refugee activist, and she just hates cops. Can’t stand them and regularly calls them f------s. (Don't want to risk another ruinous trial. You know what she calls them.) She actually wanders the streets with a camera, shoots pictures and basically works as some kind of Cop Watch representative. You can see her work on this website (in French) and here is an example. Alas, it seems she is infected with dualism, in the way that Arthur explained here. Well, because we are very very nice, we don’t hate cops and my brothers are regularly defending them. After which, there are more cries of “f--s!”, but hurled at the persons inside the house, just before the door is loudly closed.

Nevertheless, as much as she hates them, as much as she sometimes hates us for not being as virulently anti-cops as she is (I said sometimes, we're cool most of the time), and I do think they are f-----s, none of us would or could seriously think to hurt them.

5. They cannot care

But the elites could. The elites have sacrificed people in Chile, and in most countries around the planet. The elites think of us as cannon fodder. Remember this is not on the ideological level, ideology is only the surface, contrary to what people think. If you ask them, we are equal. They think they arrived where they are mostly by working. They think they deserve it. And if bad comes to worse, they’ll make stuff up about how special they are. This is the myth they hold on to, because, I think, they need to have a good conscience. That’s my interpretation, I might be wrong. I haven’t diagnosed them as a psychiatrist.

But what they say and think does not matter. What matters is how they were educated. Remember: the mind of a child is where the revolution begins. It is also where it is killed. The very fact that they are born and/or live in immense wealth influences the way they treat others who are not, and by far, as wealthy. They literally live in a world of their own, far apart from the rest of the population. Their way of life determines their way of behaving towards others, and it does so a hundred times more effectively than any Marxism course you can take.

This idea that life, in a sense, determines you is also adressed by Immortal Technique, when he attacks rappers who compromise themselves:
Niggers talk about change, and work within the system to achieve that. The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it’s not you who changes the system; it’s the system that will eventually change you. There is usually nothing wrong with compromising a situation, but compromising yourself in a situation is another story completely. And I’ve seen this happen long enough, to know that this is a serious problem.

I could offer many other anecdotes of people who changed because they changed their lives. It’s a very obvious point and everyone knows about it. So I’ll draw the obvious conclusion: elites can never care about us, because of the way they live, because of the way they are educated, growing, living with, and behaving according to lies and myths they have to create in order to sustain/justify themselves and their lives of immense wealth. Ask yourself this: could you have this kind of wealth, and act normally towards others ? No. If you cared about them, you would question this very discrepancy, you would give up this wealth and power.

6. Freedom or equality?

When I still considered myself a communist, I was always battling with this question. Which to choose? This is a very dangerous question and the implication is just as dangerous: there cannot be both freedom and equality. This is most probably drawn from the Soviet experiment. Most people will say that someday in Russia, the peasants decided to take power, and to impose equality. Thus, freedom was banished.

Therefore, and in the very usual tradition of dualism that Arthur talks about, we must not look forward to equality. Equality is wrong. It is, as that Reverend Republican candidate guy said, an idea that comes from Hell. Equality is un-natural.

While I agree that complete equality between each and every human being, on every level, let’s say on the salary, the size of your house, the number of children, etc. is absolutely impossible and crazy, I would still point to one huge flaw in the simplified analysis of the USSR debacle: there was no such thing as equality. This was the stated aim of the all-powerful state.

But what is a state, and how does it operate? It has laws, and enforces those laws on everyone, by use of deadly force if necessary. Although today people are no more killed for not paying taxes, but rather, for doing innocent stuff like: being agitated in an airport terminal. Another characteristic of the state is it does not tolerate any force other than its own. In order to apply those laws, or collect those taxes, the state must be able to enforce those on everyone, by force. If any kind of meaningful and lasting resistance arises, it will be crushed, by necessity.

The very existence of the state therefore implies a cruel inequality of power, between the masses of people, who are ruled, and the small group (at least, in comparison) who rules them. Overtime, this kind of power gives birth to a select group. And this elite, as I said, will not care, by virtue of its very way of life.

Freedom and equality are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other.

7. A “free” market

If you ever visit libertarian blogs, from real libertarians I mean, then you have stumbled onto this many times already. They will complain that the market is not free, there is still a Federal Reserve, and there is still government intervention in the market, etc. This remark is often given when neoliberals talk about defending the free market principles against the interventionism of liberals.

But even there, they are still wrong. There would not be such a thing as a “free” market, even in the absence of any government intervention. For the same reason Europe’s colonialism has nothing to do with free trade. For the same reason there cannot be equality in a population, while a state rules them all. For the same reason it is useless to talk about freedom of and from religion when the majority of the population is Christian, and a still bigger, almost unanimous majority of the same group, populates the government. For the same reason it is ridiculous to talk about international law when there are super powers with large armies and nukes.

Here’s some context: most of the wealth and power is concentrated in a few hands. The point of contention, therefore, is this: will the absence of protection by the government eliminate the concentration of power and wealth? It is this protection libertarians say actually made the concentration possible in the first place. Will we come to live among a truly free market, that is, a market without concentration, without monopoly, without subordination of democracy to the interests of the few, all this simply by enacting non-interventionism?

I cannot tell for sure, but my communist gut tells me NO. This has to be done. Just doing away with the state will not make the elites go away. We need to destroy the very concept of the elites. And this is the idea that somehow, some people actually are worthy of the millions they’re earning through the work of others. The idea that somehow, some people just can decide for the fate of their company's workers, whether it is through massive layoffs or simply by deciding what crappy pay they’ll get this month. More rantings about this at point 10.

8. Concessions under fear

But let’s continue. One libertarian has reminded everyone the other day that Congress had actually several times pushed banks to offer more subprime lendings. And that the chartering of Fannie Mae, for instance, gave this company sufficient leeway to take extreme risks. The feel of subsequent comments is telling: extreme bitterness.

People still look at the banks as bandits at large, and I certainly don’t blame them. They think they were not caught on time. This could not be more wrong. As the quote from Denninger explains above, it’s not that they weren’t caught on time by an unsuspecting, innocent, and upright state. No, it wasn’t because there were no laws or regulations against subprime lending. [Which, by the way, everyone - with a functioning brain of course - knew it would lead to disaster. Including Tom Tomorrow, who doesn’t hold a master’s degree in economics, last time I checked. This alone proves the government did know and let it happen anyway.] Rather it was because those benefiting from these practices were part of the elite. They raked huge profits and the Federal Reserve, or whatever agency was responsible, was not about to put an end to all this partying, just because there might be a crisis later. Remember they don’t care about us. They can’t.

But people still think that with regulations, it wouldn’t have happened. They still think back to the FDR days, as days of victory for the people’s interests. In France, people look back to 1968 and think about how revolutionary it was. And how it could maybe happen again. Isn’t there a group called Recreate 1968 in America? Yes there is. At this point, I’m sure Arthur would offer some bitter remarks about how some people want events that led to the current disaster to happen again, never actually solving anything.

A few months ago, I saw a French documentary about the “events of may '68” in France. And there was one comment from the narrator which was for once particularly revealing: the base thought the deal with the government wasn’t going nearly far enough. But that’s what they got. I don’t have any idea what the base actually had in mind. But it doesn’t matter.

The elites were afraid of losing their privilege and immense wealth, and ‘negociated’ with the masses. The masses got an actually crappy deal that made their lives easier, with higher wages and a strict legislation. The elites were afraid of the revolution, but they managed to retain their wealth, their position, their importance. I emphasize that the gains were real and important for the masses.

And so they ended up looking back on this year as a year of victory. My father shook his head (as he almost always does when the TV is on), when he heard of the “deal not good enough” comment. The victory of 1968 is part of revolutionary history now. The very same twist works with the New Deal era. But in truth, all the regulations of the past were concessions from the elites to the masses of people who were turning revolutionary by the hour.

9. Regulations maintain the elites

So now, I read my French friends and left economists talk about putting a stop to unfettered capitalism and how we’re going to put regulations. And I’m so disappointed, because I realize we’re all so far behind on understanding what needs to be done. Regulations maintain the elites. The elites maintain poverty. They maintain inequality. They maintain wage-slavery. We need to erase both the state and the elites to put an end to all this.

And I know I’m gonna sound funny but: why do we even have an elite ? What is so special about these guys, that they get to have millions of dollars and hijack the democracy ? Why such a huge discrepancy ? 600 years ago, we had monarchs who ruled by divine right. And anyone on this planet would say today: how can some guy say GOD gave him this right. He’s just some guy ! (Benedict ?) The very same insanity is with us today, in the form of the President, and the ruling elite.

10. Destroy them, but not physically, stupid!

So here I wanna try to destroy the concept, the idea, the forgery, the stupidity, the idiocy that some people are entitled to be part of an elite. First of all, we can all agree that our average elite member sleeps just like we do. Picture that. Picture, say, George Bush, sleeping. He’s in his bed. And suddenly, he gets up. Needs to pee. He gets out of his bed and heads for the toilets, on the other side of the palace. Okay, first difference.

10 minutes later, he finally finds the toilets. Second difference: it’s not any kind of palace; it’s actually difficult to remember where is what. He unzips his pyjamas; because his pyjamas somehow offer that possibility. Third difference. But the point is, he also pees like other human beings, through the urethra. And maybe he even takes a dump after that. Remember, this guy is part of the elite. So be very careful with the words you use. After having gestated inside his body for several hours, the poop, finally and with difficulty [remember, this is a christian elitist, so he’s very self-conscious about anything anal, and taking a crap is probably very close to sacrilege], the poop, I was saying, gets through the rectum and anus, with difficulty. But it does feel better when it’s over. Yes, the elite member takes dumps, and enjoys it when a big one has passed, just like we do. Then the human being gets back to bed, and falls asleep.

What I did was simple, it is the most revolutionary thing you can do, it brought down monarchies, and no one has to die from it. You must always think and talk of the elites as some guys. Some guys who purport to rule us. You must know, each and everyone member of that elite. You must see the ordinary human in them. This goes the same way for your boss. This is some guy who pretends to deserve a much higher pay than you do (we’re talking about a thousand times higher). And you must constantly ask yourself, and ask others, and ask your boss, and ask the elite: Why? What is so special about you, about them? What does my boss do? Spit fire from his ass?

Well he doesn’t, because I’d know: he farts all the time… I did it again! He’s ordinary, they’re ordinary. They don’t deserve all this power and wealth, they don’t even approach the merit required, no one does, not even armed with a million light-years merit-perch!

Another way this is done is by attacking the elites with… cream pies! Here is an actual quote from a French politician, complaining about this practice introduced by our very own and very beloved anarchist, Noël Godin. This is part of a French interview with him:
Lémi : And the pied-on person’s reaction ? Does it matter ?
Godin: A pie is a goddamn uncoverer of the deep nature of the pied-on. Since we chose unpleasant targets, without decency and hooked on their image, almost all of them took it personally. They could have diffused the attack by laughing… When our friend José Bové was pied on in Gênes, he laughed and it’s all fine now. On the contrary the others got mad and put the laughers on our side.
During the trial of the suit that Chevènement brought against us, certain moments made me think of the fake comic trials from Radio Luxembourg in the 1950s. At the bar, he declared: “You have to understand us; we politicians can only live through our image. When we are pied on, it’s our political capital that is pied on.” He went so far as to say: “I would have preferred a slap, some spit, or even a Corsican firecracker, for we, the politicians, cannot be covered with ridicule.” Of course, we were laughing our asses off, and the judge almost had the hall evacuated.

Can you believe this? It’s true! A politician actually said a cream pie in your face is worse than spit! So what are you waiting for?! You can actually destroy the elites by throwing creampies at their faces and proving to everyone how they’re only human beings high on arrogance. Full of themselves, full of shit. Redundancy? OF COURSE.

There’s so much Arthur Silber writes, and I’ve read his stuff for so long, I cannot be entirely sure all this I’ve written is entirely new, or if this is just me rehashing and regurgitating what I’ve read 4 months ago in one of his essays. I do know it resounds a lot with this one essay from a few days ago, including and especially the Robert Higgs' article. So let’s be clear: whatever I know now, and however clever I imagine I have gotten, this is mostly thanks to him. You surely know that feeling, when you get back to some old movie you watched and enjoyed as a kid, and now that you’re grown, it takes on a new dimension. Because there’s so much more you see and understand. This is how I feel in life, after having discovered Silber’s blog. Thanks man.


it's ok if we don't always agree

as you note, I might not agree with everything you say ... but I'm very pleased to have this piece posted here.

Same here

I never had so many readers, this is a blessing to me. Thanks !

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