Bitcoin and the Power Grid

BPowerGrid

“Bitcoin is evil” articles exist in profusion, and these days I pretty much ignore them. But one of the recent types – raising awareness of Bitcoin’s environmental unsustainability – has engaged me. As it turns out, I have an unusual background to bring to this topic, and I think I should contribute.

So, here we go:

Another Apocalypse?

Let’s be honest and admit that most of the “environmental movement” sells fear of an apocalypse. And as we should all realize by now, humans have an innate weakness for fear.

More or less every apocalyptic environmental prediction has failed. (I’m talking about those that could actually be measured, obviously.) That won’t stop the fear-sellers of course, and now Bitcoin has come into their sights.

The fear is that because crypto mining uses so much power, it will bring down the grid or cause various environmental disasters. The advocates of this fear throw around scary sounding numbers (measured in terawatts) and assorted scientific terminology. (“They understand it and you don’t… don’t expose yourself to ridicule.”)

But it’s mostly just fear. Sure, proof-of-work sucks up power, but that’s nothing new. How much power do you suppose all those millions of air conditioners suck up every summer? I haven’t dug up the figures, but I’m ready to take bets that it’s several times more than crypto mining. Shall we now fear the air conditioner?

Further Factors

I worked for decades in the electrical industry, and so I’d like to give you some facts from that perspective:

  • Power use has been going up since the beginning. These days most houses get 200 amperes of electrical service. But there are still thousands of houses that are wired with only 60 amperes. That was plenty 60 years ago. New loads (devices using power) come along all the time. In just my time, we’ve added air conditioning, microwaves, and lots of computers.

  • Mining is a nice, steady load. The kind power companies thrive on. What makes their lives crazy are seasonal loads like air conditioning, which occur only a few months per year.

  • Power failures happen every year, especially in summer due to the aforementioned air conditioning load. It’s a good bet that several fear-sellers have press releases ready to go for this summer.

  • The utilities are making money on this. More power use means more income.

  • If people use too much power, the providers will raise their prices. Econ 101.

And the Big One

Cryptocurrencies don’t finance war.

The public hasn’t actually paid for a war since WW2. Since then the whole game’s been run on credit. (The same goes, more or less, for everything Big Guv does to save us poor, helpless sheep.)

With Bitcoin and all the cryptos that I know of, you can’t do such things. If you want to throw a war in a crypto-based economy, you’ll have to convince people to pay for it. Good luck.

* * * * *

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  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

More Revolutionaries Are Coming

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.
– Princess Leia, Star Wars



Assange, Ulbricht, Manning, Snowden… we’ve seen a slow stream of revolutionaries over the past decade or so, a few of whom became well-known. More will be coming.

Revolutionaries

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

– Princess Leia, Star Wars

Assange, Ulbricht, Manning, Snowdenwe’ve seen a slow stream of revolutionaries over the past decade or so, a few of whom became well-known. More will be coming.

The reason I’m sure of this is that the two forces driving it are increasing:

  • On one hand, humanity is becoming better. You’ll never believe that if you watch “the news,” but out here in the real world humans are slowly improving. I’m tempted to say that I’d like the progress to be a bit more rapid, but the truth is that recent progress has sometimes been faster than I expected.

  • On the other hand, elite control, empowered by the internet’s parasitic “free stuff” model, has bypassed all known limits and is riding the numbness and compliance of the past few generations into new territory.

And so the best and brightest are increasingly caught between hammer and anvil. And when struck, they’re tending to see the entire system as retrograde and absurd. Which of course it is.

What happens when the young and healthy see themselves cast in the role of “the permanently abused,” then, is quite predictable, all the more so because they’re expected to thank their abusers: They rebel. As they should.

The Path Around Violence

You’ll notice that the four revolutionaries mentioned above have been fully non-violent. That of course is a very good thing and can be attributed to a mix of intelligence, information, and general goodness. What truly healthy person, after all, prefers violence as a tactic?

This, however, is bad news for elite power addicts. They need rebels to lash out violently. Their propaganda systems are designed to scare the rest of the sheep with images of violence and to use the whole drama to their advantage. That’s “their thing,” as John Lennon noted decades ago:

When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.

This is why, as you may also have noticed, all four of these revolutionaries have relied upon cryptography: because cryptography transcends violence.

You can bomb a car or a building, but you cannot bomb a math problem… and cryptogrphy is simply math.

The Crypto Platform

In the end, it is cryptographers who are preventing violent revolution, while the elites are provoking it.

And so, whether or not you think new tools like cryptocurrencies are flawed (and why would we expect perfection of anything?), it remains very much in your interest to support them in one way or another. We do not want violence, and the current system is pushing the young generation into it. Instead, we want abused young people to find peaceful, productive outlets, and crypto is pretty much it these days. (Though others would certainly be welcome.)

It really boils down to a type of equation:

Pressure A + Pressure B = Expulsion Energy C

Whatever values we plug in for these variables, we know that A and B are increasing. Humans really are improving and the elites have become degenerate control addicts; they can’t even see anything else.

Expulsion Energy C, therefore, will increase. We’ll be having more and more revolutionaries, whether or not they show up on authorized vid feeds.

It is very important that these young people find productive avenues. If they do, a benevolent future can form.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

TheBreakingDawn

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The 16 Years’ War and Its Cost

WarItsCost

Every night on American TV you can see repeating commercials to raise money for young people who’ve had limbs blown off. It might be cruel to ask the following question in the presence of these veterans, but millions of other people have been forced to pay for all of this, and they need to be protected as well.

And so, with condolences to the young people who signed up for these wars believing they were actually defending the good, we must ask this question: What was the payoff?

Some people will evade this question by maintaining that “freedom was preserved,” but that statement rests on a nebulous and self-serving definition of freedom… a definition that boils down to, “What we have is freedom.” Or it’s variant: “It’s worse in North Korea; therefore we’re free.” These lines of reasoning, of course, are fallacious.

The 16 Years’ War (Heading for 20 or More)

So, with apologies where due, I must assert that the payoff from all the bloodshed in Afghanistan and Iraq has been negligible. Both places are still a mess, and both places will likely remain a mess for a long, long time.

Almost 16 years of war have gone by in Afghanistan and more than 14 in Iraq. I think we should admit that any possibility of a “respectable win” is long past.

So, what was it all for? To make people feel they were getting revenge after 9/11? Was that really worth the cost? Bin Laden (whose official death story reeks) was sick and dying anyway. Or to “get” Hussein? He had been a US ally for many years before he was pushed into the role of the villain. So how reasonable is revenge in that case?

Were these two snorts of emotional cocaine worth their price?

Ah Yes… The Price

War is insanely expensive, so I’ve decided to crunch the numbers on this, and I think you’ll want to see them, especially if you’re an American.

And so, here, courtesy of Wikipedia, are the costs of the US military-industrial complex for the years 2001 through 2017:

2001                  $335 Billion

2002                  $362 Billion

2003                  $456 Billion

2004                  $491 Billion

2005                  $506 Billion

2006                  $556 Billion

2007                  $625 Billion

2008                  $696 Billion

2009                  $698 Billion

2010                  $721 Billion

2011                  $717 Billion

2012                  $681 Billion

2013                  $610 Billion

2014                  $614 Billion

2015                  $637 Billion

2016                  $522 Billion

2017                  $524 Billion

That comes to a staggering $9.751 trillion. And we should remember that this is for a nation bordered on the east and west by immense oceans, and on the north and south by nations that are more likely to dissolve than to invade. On top of that, The War on Drugs and other programs are only partly accounted for in these numbers.

The costs of just the Iraq and Afghan wars – if they could realistically be separated from the rest of the military-industrial complex – would be substantially lower. One report (PDF) has those costs for 2001 through 2011 at $1.28 trillion. Extending that figure through 2017 would yield a rough cost of $2.2 trillion.

But since no war can be fought without the underlying military-industrial complex (bases, training, recruitment, hospitals, logistics and so on), let’s split the difference between the total budget and $2.2T and call the money spent by the US government on these two wars $6 trillion.

And That Comes To…

The cost of the past 16 years of these unresolved wars comes to $44,776 per household. That’s a lot of spare change.

If you want to look at it on an individual basis, it comes to $18,809 per man, woman, and child in the United States ((I am using Wikipedia’s figures of 319 million persons and 134 million households in the US.)).

Revenge, we see, is very, very expensive.

The full cost of the military-industrial complex (excluding parts of the War on Drugs, some intel agencies, and so on) comes to $30,567 per man, woman, and child and $72,769 per household.

Can We Please Be Honest?

I really can’t see a reason to say that the two wars in question kept America safe. I’m not sure how you’d make an argument for that without resting entirely on dark imaginations.

And please remember this: Imagined terrors are infinite. You could imagine terrifying possibilities for as long as you had time and energy.

And so, any conclusions based upon “what might have happened” are useless. More terror attacks might have happened, or there might have been a Muslim Enlightenment if we hadn’t blown away a few pieces of collateral damage. Both of these are imaginary and neither is an excuse to spend fifty cents, much less trillions of dollars.

That first one is scary, however, and fear is great for making humans act stupidly.

I’d also like to add that these expenditures have not gone to the young people who were blown up in these wars and who should have been a top priority. If they had, there’d be no need for perpetual charity appeals on TV. That very expensive segment of the military-industrial complex (VA hospitals, etc.) has failed horribly. Ask a vet.

So let’s be clear on this:

The average American family would be at least $44,000 richer if these wars hadn’t been run. And given that most of these families are just scraping by, that seems like a pretty big deal.

And given that the net gain from all of this was nil, I don’t know what to call it but a disaster… save for the people who’ve been empowered and enriched by it.

Almost no one living has been more damaged by this than all those young people missing limbs. Without this debacle they’d still be whole… and probably a lot wealthier too.

* * * * *

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  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The Disgrace of War

DisgraceWar

Here’s a simple question. Give me the first answer that pops into your mind: What’s the purpose of the state?

Most people would probably answer, to keep us safe. I can argue that this isn’t the state’s true purpose (and I will, below), but it’s clearly its primary selling point.

And so, every war – and there are generally at least 20 of them under way at any point in time – is a screaming condemnation of the state. War is people dying; it is property being destroyed; it is market processes being torn apart. It’s the precise opposite of keeping people safe.

Yes, war is sold as “fighting bad guys elsewhere to keep us safe here,” but it’s boys and girls from here who must do the killing and dying… and there’s a whole lot of damage contained in just that.

Every war is a massive failure of the “keep people safe” system. For modern Americans, it means “your children will have their feet blown off” more than it does “your children will die,” but is that okay? Is that, somehow, “not a failure”?

A Small War Is Worth 30,000 Crimes

War is “unsafeness” on a huge, gigantic scale. Just a small war – perhaps like the invasion of Panama by the US in 1989 – is far worse than garden-variety crime. And Panama, we should note, is a very long way from an enemy of the US… and certainly no threat to Americans.

That little Panamanian war lasted only about a month, including the occupation, and resulted in “only” about a thousand deaths((Other figures run as high as 3,500 deaths. I’m not sure which are more accurate.)) and an unknown (but almost certainly much larger) number of wounded. And as you can see from the photo below, a large amount of property damage.

170328-img1

Since the argument goes that the state protects us from harm… and since harm includes crime… how many crimes was this war worth? The properly damage in the photo above has to be worth at least a dozen crimes, and that was just a single incident – there were hundreds of the type. So, perhaps we have a few thousand crimes worth of damage there.

And the deaths and injuries, how shall we count them? They are the equivalent of how many thousands of crimes?

Safe from What?

Still, this war was supposed to “keep us safe.” So, what did it keep us safe from? Reportedly, it protected US citizens and “combatted drug trafficking.” But since none of those citizens had been harmed, and since drug trafficking has continued unabated, I think we have to say that there was no safety gained from the exercise.

The real reason of course was to get rid of Noriega, the Panamanian boss who had worked closely with the CIA for years but was getting uppity. So, the US military “saved” the American people from someone who didn’t threaten them, but who rather irritated the US establishment.

So, we have a tremendous amount of damage, hundreds of thousands of Panamanians becoming much less safe, and Americans becoming no safer. (Indeed, the rest of the world has come to despise the US for such reasons.)

Even the “good war,” World War II, has a rather dubious standing as having kept us safe. Yes, it got rid of Hitler, and that was a very good thing. But at the same time, it protected, empowered, and glorified Stalin, who went on to kill far more people than Hitler ever did. So, how well did it really keep the world safe?

The Bottom Line…

The bottom line here is that nearly every war is a condemnation of the state. Pick a war, run the numbers, compare safety versus cost.

Still, people don’t want to do this. They want to believe that their state works righteousness. Part of this is simply that they don’t want to go through the effort of changing their mental furniture, but the bigger reason is that most people have made what I call “The Great Trade.” Here’s how I explained it in Production Versus Plunder:

[M]ost men and women feel conflicted, insecure and confused, and lack the time, skill or desire to fix the problem. So, they find ways to work around it, most notably to seek belonging in a group…

[And so,] the state and/or church present themselves to men as a superior entity… To be joined to them provides sanction from a higher source than that of their internal conflicts.

In our times we often hear this expressed as: People need to belong to something larger than themselves. They need to sublimate their confusion and conflicts into a higher entity.

So then, “keeping us safe” is not really the purpose of the state. The state, rather, is a psychological crutch that serves the purposes of its operators.

And the truth is that many of us have outgrown this crutch. It’s time to let it go. If we end up with a small increase in crime, would that really be worse than dozens of wars every year?

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.

  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.

  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.

  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

TheBreakingDawn

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The Necessity of Transnational Warfare

warfare

A new type of warfare has sprung up in our era: transnational warfare. These are not wars between states; that was the old model: Germany attacks France, France takes Egypt, and so on. These, rather, are wars conducted only incidentally through states. And they present a serious threat to the future.

By now we’re all familiar with the four big transnational wars:

  • The War on Drugs

  • The War on Terror

  • The War on the Internet (Cybercrime)

  • The War on Cash

All four of these wars are being fought across borders… with just a polite hat tip to those borders as they step over. More importantly, these wars were begun with little or no explanation of how they were modifying the Westphalian order of states that has been the world model since 1648. They were well-sold to the public of course, with the typical and always-effective applications of fear, but how these wars would modify the world order and what might come of it was very little discussed.

A Brief Overview

Briefly, here are background facts on the big four:

The War on Drugs

The American “war on drugs” began in the early 20th century and has steadily escalated to the point where the Drug Policy Alliance estimates that it spends $51 billion per year, with absolutely disastrous results. It was sold initially as a quasi-racist and anti-immigrant measure, then escalated in the Nixon presidency as a sop to the conservative half of the country. (See FMP #11 for details.)

The war on drugs was the program that cleared the way for subsequent implementations of transnational warfare.

The War on Terror

This war, as we all know, took form after the 9/11 tragedy (though it was hardly new at that time). The costs of this war are well into the trillions of dollars and has a death toll in the hundreds of thousands. And of course, it is continuing as it moves through the Middle East and Africa.

The War on the Internet

This is a newer one, and the fear is ginned up every time some large entity gets hacked. (I will refrain from inserting a discussion on how the government-corporate alliance makes cyber-attacks inevitable.)

The War on Cash

Switzerland, Denmark, and other countries are now charging interest on deposits at their banks. France and Italy have banned any transaction over €1,000 from using physical cash; Spain has banned transactions over €2,500; and Uruguay has banned transactions over US$5,000. Furthermore, several countries have said they want to move to a cashless society.

Beyond this, the OECD, the US, and others are trying very hard to shut down offshore commerce.

The Reasons

Again very briefly, here are the reasons why Western governments require transnational warfare:

The sovereignty trap. Nation-state rule is being undermined by something I call a “sovereignty trap.” It works like this:

  1. The system of sovereign states requires the operators of nation states to respect borders and not to cross them without publicly declaring their reasons.

  2. By hiding in a state that can’t or won’t hurt them, criminal groups are insulated from the other states of the world. Al Qaeda for example hid for a long time in Sudan, then in Afghanistan. National borders can provide excellent protection for criminal groups.

Certain non-state organizations are able to create and support corrupt states, essentially renting their infrastructure and hiding behind their sovereignty. This strategy was held in check under a bipolar US/Soviet world, but it has since become viable. This is why the US, UK, and other large powers require transnational warfare; without it, they’d have to reconsider the system of sovereign states.

In addition to this, each of the big four carries its own reasons.

The war on drugs thrives on inertia. It is far too large for any politician to cut. Furthermore, it is surrounded by childish but effective rhetoric. (“So, you want children to have access to cocaine?”) And the US program, while clearly the largest, is far from alone.

The war on terror keeps militaries and intel groups rich and powerful. They are keeping US police departments rich as well. And at this point, a good deal of Western culture is focused around the war on terror; breaking the expectations of millions of people at once would call far more into question.

Uncontrolled information is bad for obedience. Thus the war on the Internet. Once minds get unfiltered information, thoughtless obedience tends to decline. At the same time, modern political systems are built on an assumption of near-100% obedience. Most Internet traffic has by now been routed into government-aligned systems like Facebook, and regulations to drive out noncompliant outlets are circulating in capital cities.

The war on cash protects governments from fiscal collapse. If the fiat currencies of the major nations collapse (as they must eventually), readily available cash and other untraceable currencies would make governance in its current form impossible. Therefore, they must be eliminated or controlled.

And…

Beyond all this, the entire industrial model of civilization is fading away and must be maintained contrary to nature. You can find details on this in issue #65 of my subscription newsletter.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

War Isn’t Actually Pointless

warpointlessPeople often say that war is pointless, and it must be admitted that their argument is a good one:

What was gained in Iraq and Afghanistan? Things there are just as bad today as when the Western armies rolled in. And the threat to the West seems no less. To what end were all those people killed, mutilated, and terrorized?

What was the point of all the kingdom-versus-kingdom wars? Borders shifted left; borders shifted right; but the daily lives of the farmers, bakers, and traders mostly went back to normal after all the death.

And so on.

Even in the case of World War II – our best “wild man must be stopped” scenario – the facts don’t actually bear out the effectiveness of war. Yes, I’m very glad that Hitler was stopped (had I been there, I might have undertaken to kill him myself), but in full honesty, we must also admit that while the war stopped Hitler, it also made the world safe for Stalin, who went on to kill more people than Hitler ever did.

And without Stalin and a strong USSR, would Pol Pot have been able to kill a fourth of the population of Cambodia? Would Mao have been able to rack up the greatest death toll in human history… as much as Stalin and Hitler combined?

So, even in our very best scenario, a good argument can be made for war’s pointlessness.

But alas, I am drifting from my title subject, where I maintain that war is not pointless.

The Ruler and the “Poor Slob”

One of the more instructive quotes on war comes from Hermann Göring, a key member of Hitler’s inner circle. Notice the distinction he makes between the people and the leaders.

Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood.

But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peace makers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

This explains why we so often see war as pointless: We’re looking at it from the vantage point of the poor slob, not from the vantage point of the ruler.

So, the truth is that war is not pointless… it’s only pointless from the standpoint of the poor slob who has to suffer and die in it.

For the ruler, war has a clear and compelling purpose: it gets rid of competitors.

States fight. That is as accurate as any statement of history that can be found. It was true 6,000 years ago and it is true now. Conflict is part of the core nature of states; they compete like animals over limited territories. Thus, war serves them.

Individuals can fight too, of course, but ask yourself this: Among the 200 or so human beings who live closest to you, how many fistfights have you seen over the last few years?

On the other hand, among the 200 or so states on this planet, several dozen have had wars over the last few years. Doesn’t that say something about the nature of states versus the nature of individuals?

The Other Reason

But it’s not just because of their perpetual competition that war has a purpose for state leaders. They also need it for upholding their legitimacy.

As we mentioned two weeks ago, every state rests on legitimacy: the belief that is it right for the state to take money by force, to punish those who disobey them, and to send children to die in wars.

If people ever stopped believing these things – if they stopped holding them as legitimate – the state itself would fail.

So, the other purpose of war is to uphold the legitimacy of the state.

One way to uphold state legitimacy is simply to work the perennial human weakness, fear. Thus, we have our modern “war on terror,” including this year’s new bogeyman, ISIS. The terror of monsters works for legitimacy, because scary monsters require something equally big and scary to stop them… and that necessary thing is a warfare state.

Interestingly enough, war is especially important for legitimacy just now, since “forever prosperity for all” isn’t working and the less-favored classes remain compliant only because they’re bought off with free food. So, war is one of the few things that still uphold the state’s legitimacy.

Curtailing war would help the economic situation, of course. But that would also remove the bands that tie millions of people to the state for emotional comfort. (See here for an explanation.) So, pulling back on war would probably be a net loss to legitimacy.

This is especially important to the state, because once legitimacy breaks, it’s hard to get it back. Following the Vietnam War, for example, “Team America Always Wins!” stopped selling and didn’t come all the way back for decades. So, with “forever prosperity for all” failing, war remains essential to state legitimacy.

So…

My point in this article is that war tends to be pointless for the average person, but it’s definitely not pointless for their rulers. It is, to quote an old phrase, “the health of the state.”

So, when does war end? I’ll close by letting Albert Einstein answer that question for us:

Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.

That might be a good topic to discuss with friends and neighbors.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

They We Just Don’t Get It

chessI got an email from a reader a few days ago, asking about something we’ve all faced. Here’s a snip:

It gets a little lonely sometimes. At times I feel a little resentful, sometimes just plain angry that so few people know or care to know about economics and/or philosophy when they are so important.

I’m sympathetic, of course, having felt similarly more than once. But, as I often say, perspective is key. We’ve all complained about people who “just don’t get it,” but the real problem is that we just haven’t gotten it.

We have grossly underestimated the kind of fight we’re in. We thought it was about economics and politics, but it’s much more than that. What we’re really fighting is idolatry. If that doesn’t make sense to you initially, I can’t blame you, but allow me to explain.

All Idolatry Shares a Single Root

We’ve all heard slogans like this one:

Why shouldn’t we take money from a billionaire who doesn’t need it, to feed a starving child?

After that, it’s almost impossible to make any argument without appearing heartless. And there’s a good reason for that: The slogan conveys a “first position” that is deceptive and manipulative… idolatrous, really.

This argument starts with an unspoken assumption that the state is beyond question and that any failures must be attributed to someone else. If there are starving kids, it could never be that the state was hurting them. Such a thought wouldn’t register.

Embedded in these questions (and in the minds that form them) is a complete certainty that the state always functions as the agent of good.

This is idolatry, the same as ancient people worshipping their city gods or medieval people holding their Holy Church above all question. In the same way, states are idols to modern people. The lines of thought are identical; the only changes involve the names of the idols – the entities that are given every benefit of the doubt at all times.

The state, our modern idol, steals half of what every working person makes. That means that people are stripped bare for trying to do the right thing. But there is no compassion for them.

And why is there no compassion for these people? Because it’s the state that is stripping them bare, and the state may never be accused; it may only be the agent of good!

It really comes down to this:

Whatever you esteem more highly than reality is your god.

In our time, the thing that is held above reality is the state. One may critique its parts, but the state as a whole is only questioned by crazy, dangerous people. In other words, by heretics.

What we are fighting is a different flavor of the dogma that kept medieval minds in chains. It may even be worse now.

Our Enemies Have Understood Better Than We Have

We’ve all seen people who are embedded in the state system fly into a rage upon hearing our ideas. We thought we were just talking about economics, but they acted as if we were trying to destroy everything they loved.

In other words, our enemies thought our ideas were more powerful than we did. And they were right; we haven’t appreciated what we have.

Governments are necessarily against human will. If they can’t make us feel that our desires and judgments are shameful, their entire operation stands in danger of collapse. Their game requires Joe Average to feel insecure and flawed. Our message rips that game wide open.

Our enemies were right to freak out, and we should start accepting the fact that our ideas are huge.

Big Battles Are Slow

We’ve been looking for a “revolution,” which means that we’ve been hoping for fast change, and have been disappointed when we didn’t get it. But those hopes were wrong – we’re not going to get fast change; we’re going to get slow change. If we don’t adjust our minds to that fact, we’ll remain miserable.

Our ideas are big, and our enemies have deep positions in the minds of our friends and neighbors. That means that most of them won’t change their minds overnight. I don’t like that any better than you do, but that’s the way it is. This is going to be slow.

But in this slow battle, we hold the winning hand, and our winning strategy is to work and to persevere. Forget about a fast win; that was a false dream. We must build, and keep building.

What to Do

Here are a few specific suggestions for dealing with people:

  • Rather than arguing words, show them what you’ve built.
  • Give people time to work through their issues. Plant a seed, walk away, and reengage later.
  • Don’t get into fights. If they ambush you, simply tell them that you won’t accept their tactics. Then walk away.
  • People close to you may be there for good reason. Give them time.
  • Remember that most people are confused and insecure most of the time. Offer them things that help, not hurt.
  • Find others who share at least some of your perspective, and work with them. If there’s no one nearby, join an online group.

Keep planting seeds and watering them whenever you can. For us, perseverance is the path to victory.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Yes, the Iraq War Was All for Nothing

IraqAs stories circulated of Iraqi cities falling to Sunni militia groups, I was struck by the words of Former Marine Staff Sgt. Keith Widaman, who spent a tour in Iraq: “When I left in April 2009, I said, ‘In five years there’ll be a civil war.’”

Mr. Widaman was right, as we’ve all seen over the past few days, and the “high officials” were wrong. The result – and I say this with sympathy for the dead, injured, and traumatized – is that the fighting, “nation building,” and trauma were all for nothing.

When it comes to war, always believe the men and women who spent time on the streets, not the politicians and generals.

Iraq is not going to become a Western country. Afghanistan is not going to become a Western country. There is no foundation for Western life there, and as soon as overwhelming force pulls back, life there will return, more or less, to its usual ways.

If you want to change a way of life, you have to change the deep cultural assumptions that give it its shape. Armies and corrupt sycophants won’t cut it.

Saddam Was Necessary

Please understand that I think Saddam Hussein was a monster, and that I’m pleased he’s no longer running around on this globe killing people. But that said, if you want a country like Iraq to hold together, you need more than the usual level of coercion; you require a tyrant.

The borders of Iraq were drawn by the Brits in about 1920. In other words, a conquering power (the Brits ‘won’ World War I) drew lines on the map as it suited them. But when they did, they ignored the fact that they were forcibly grouping Sunnis and Shiites together, and that they hadn’t learned how to mix.

Forced grouping is a very important subject, and one that is almost totally ignored by rulers. They control the borders and they expect everyone to get along. They have scribbles on papers called laws, after all!

But when you force humans together against their will, all sorts of frictions, insults, and misunderstandings arise… and there is no way to escape them, because the grouping is enforced.

If you leave people alone, they generally learn to co-exist. For example, there is a street in my old neighborhood lined with stores owned and run by both Indians and Pakistanis. These people – bloody enemies in their old countries – have learned to get along for one reason: No one forces them to live or work on that street. If they want to open a store or rent an apartment there, they can. If they don’t want to, they don’t have to.

The result of freewill grouping is that people eventually learn to get along. The result of forced grouping is resentment, sectarianism, and all too often, blood.

If you want a nation of Shias and Sunnis and Kurds to function as a single unit, overwhelming force – permanent overwhelming force – is required. Without it, things fall apart, and civil war is the typical result. So, if the Foggy Bottom Gang (that’s the State Department) is religiously committed to sacred, unchangeable borders, the US must become a colonial dominator. That means a permanent military occupation and our sons and daughters spending years, openly and knowingly oppressing people, “for their own good.”

Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a more homogenous country than Iraq, but it’s not going to become a Western nation either. I spent time in Afghanistan in 2007, outside of the safe bases where politicians and media show up, take a few photos, and leave. I dealt with real Afghans, from the lowly to high military.

I saw a tremendous amount during my short stay, including the worst corruption I’ve ever seen, anywhere. Everything was corrupt, from the lowest levels of bureaucracy and police power to the Western aid agencies. It was a riot of domination, bribery, poverty, skimming, and dirty deals. That place is not going to become normal in any way that we understand. Not for a long time.

A Few Have Done Well

Seeing that the US government has spent about $2 trillion on these escapades (it was officially $1.283 trillion in 2011), someone had to make money on them.

Those people were Dwight Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex (MIC), with the new mega-intelligence complex tacked on for good measure. The people who make killing machines have done very, very well. As have the people who build spying machines.

Certain engineering and private military contractors have done very well too, but only those who had contacts inside the MIC. Independents got nothing.

The people who were in positions to hand out contracts made a lot of money. Perhaps the oil companies and Middle Eastern royalty did well on it too, but that’s beyond my direct knowledge.

Who Lost Badly

The worst losers, of course, were the dead. I’m not sure how many Iraqis died; estimates range from 100,000 to over a million. That’s a lot of dead people – all of them sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends. The fact that these deaths were far away doesn’t make them any less tragic. The number of injured must be much higher, of course.

On the Westerner side, only a number of thousand died, but that’s not trivial either, nor are the many more thousands of injured. And not only that, but returning soldiers are committing suicide in surprising numbers.

Aside from the military-industrial-intelligence complex, everyone has lost, and the situations in both Iraq and Afghanistan are “reverting to the mean.” And there they will stay, unless Americans commit their children to serve as international oppressors.

It really was all for nothing.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

 

The War Drums Are Beating

war in syriaLast year, lots of powerful groups tried to get a war going in Syria. It seemed to me that the necessary ground work hadn’t been done and that they might not be able to pull it off. Thankfully, that’s how it happened.

And by “necessary ground work,” I’m not referring to the military operators the US government had in Syria for a year or two prior; I’m talking about making the American populace eager for a new war. That’s a crucial and often ignored factor.

What has been catching my eye the past week or so is a new series of efforts to stir up war fever in the US, and I’d like to give them some coverage. Since the mainstream ‘news’ in the US has become almost completely trivialized and neutered, I think it’s important for the rest of us to fill the gap as best we can.

First Points

Before I get to what I see as the new war propaganda, I want to point out what all the ‘respectable’ voices are ignoring:

This leaked recording (embedded in video) is from February 6 – before the deposing of the Ukrainian boss that started the current mess. In it, you’ll hear US State Department officials deciding who should be the new boss of the country, once they’ve had their way. This is clear, uncontested proof that it was the State Department who got things going in the Ukraine. Whatever we think of Putin, it must be acknowledged that these guys stirred it up.

This leaked recording (embedded in video) features an Estonian foreign minister talking to an EU official. In it, he says that the snipers who were said to be killing on Putin’s orders were actually working for the people the US was putting into power.

This video contains conversations of high Turkish officials planning a fake attack to start a war with Syria.

Leaked documents have shown that the Saudis are pushing very hard for a war in Syria (intended, presumably, to weaken Iran). They go so far as to tell Putin that they control terrorist groups, including those who could attack in both Russia and in Syria. (Think about that!) Here’s a direct quote from what they said to Putin:

The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the [Olympic] games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us.

Any coverage of Ukraine or Syria that ignores these facts disgraces itself.

The New Message

The new message I’ve been seeing lately is this:

Obama is screwing up and making us look like wimps! We need to be powerful, not wimps!

What that actually means is, “We should confront Putin and show him who’s tough! We’re still the biggest badass!” That kind of emotion, of course, leads toward war.

Along with this emotionalism travels a peculiar fear found in empires: If we don’t rule the world, everything will break down into death and darkness. The Brits believed this not too long ago, as did many others, going back to the Romans and beyond.

Here are a few passages from mainstream media that have caught my eye:

“The collapse of the Pax Americana under Obama has freed up Russia and China to begin their campaigns of territorial expansionism.”

“Instead of a post-American world ushering in a stable multilateral order, it will revert back to a chaotic Lord of the Flies situation.”

“Russia has taken over Crimea and threatens further aggression. Now is the time to act…”

“Putin has given speeches almost identical to Hitler’s 1938 Berlin address.”

“Fear That Obama Will Let Russia Seize Control Of Internet.”

To this I’ll add one more thing: Millions of people currently believe that Russian troops have invaded the Crimea, which is completely false.

Honestly, I’m not sure that this will work. However hungry the military-industrial complex may be, Joe and Jane Average are just not eager for another war. And I think Putin’s smart enough to withhold any Pearl Harbor-like attacks.

Even a big terrorist attack might only prove that the intel state has failed again. I’m not sure that people can maintain an endless blind faith in Jack Bauer; at some point, they will say, “That was only a TV show.”

That said…

That said, “Washington Worship TV” continues and they’re still working toward war.

Obama just paid a call on the Saudis, who remain desperate for their war in Syria. They’re so desperate, in fact, that they’re working with the Israelis on it. (War makes for strange bedfellows.)

And on his way to Arabia, Obama called on the Pope. What these meetings were really about, who knows.

Backroom deals between intel agencies take place all the time. No one’s going to admit what the conversations are about, but one can certainly imagine that a deal was underway to give Putin the Crimea in return for the war in Syria that NATO and its friends wanted.

The leaks mentioned above (especially the Turkish leak) may have delayed matters, but since it has never appeared on “the news,” most people have never heard about it. Perhaps the push for war in Syria will continue.

But, it may be that NATO and their allies have given up on their war in Syria and are trying to punish Putin for standing in their way. (It’s likely that Russia was the source of those leaks.) That would involve bloodshed in the Ukraine… as if the Ukrainians haven’t suffered enough in the past eighty years.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that several groups are very eager for a new war. Toward that end, they’re working to stir up emotions. Rationally convincing people to kill and be killed, of course, isn’t terribly effective.

What we have to do now is to keep our heads and be a voice of reason for our friends and neighbors, even if they don’t like it.

War is not salvation; it’s hell.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Insane Dream

insanity wars peaceInsanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

– Albert Einstein (attributed)

The insane dream has streamed endlessly through my lifetime. I saw it as a boy, and I see it still. It has never really produced any results, and it certainly shows no promise of doing so in the near future.

In fact, by all historical accounts, the dream is nearly 100% false – the results are opposite to the hopes and prayers of the dream.

And yet, nearly the whole world believes in the dream to one extent or another.

What can be said about such a thing? It never works, but everyone keeps believing in it all the same. And when I say “it never works,” I mean that its failure is clearly demonstrable – in visible, concrete, measurable terms.

What Is It?

Okay, I’m about to tell you what this dream is, but please be aware: Your defenses are about to jump up against it. Slogans are likely to fly into your mind unbidden. You can expect emotional reactions.

Here we go:

The insane dream is hoping and praying for politicians to bring us peace.

Understand this clearly: It doesn’t happen. It has never really happened. Politicians do not prevent wars; they start them.

Sure, politicians sign cease-fire agreements from time to time, but they’re also the same guys who started those wars! And they’ll happily jump into new wars a few years later!

Please understand, I am not attacking or defending any political party, nor am I promoting any particular cure for war. I am saying one thing only, which is this:

Politicians – rulers of any type – have never really created peace, and they never will.

I say this for a very simple reason: In all of human history, they never have. That goes for all parties, all systems of rulership, and all periods of time.

We’ve just come out of the bloodiest century in human history, and yet we still have a dozen wars going at any point in time. Politicians have started all of these wars. And yet, by some peculiar insanity, most people still expect politicians to save them from more wars.

Are you seeing my point? This makes no logical sense at all.

People all around us are hoping, praying, and begging for politicians to preserve us from war. They may as well pray for purple unicorns to direct traffic in New York City.

I ran across a study on war back in the 1980s. It found that since 3600 BC, there have been more than 14,000 wars. That’s 14,000 wars over 5,600 years. And ALL of this took place in systems that were controlled by rulers of some type: politicians, princes, and so on.

We have 5,600 years of evidence, and yet people are doing the same thing that failed in every one of the previous 5,600+ years. Can you see why I opened with the Einstein quote?

Political systems have shown themselves utterly unable to create peace. They’ve failed every year for nearly six thousand years running. We’re certifiably nuts if we think that next year (or the years after) will be any different.

But Why Not?

This is the next question that people bring up, but I’m not going to explain it today. There are good answers as to why politicians can never really stop war, but I don’t want to derail my main point.

Today, I want to be very clear on one point only, and to let it stick:

Hoping for politicians to give us peace is crazy – fully crazy.

If we have any pretense of thinking rationally, we have to let it go.

I will, however, devote a few lines to internal issues.

The True Opiate of the Masses

Hoping is an act of imagination, divorced from reality and reason. You can hope for anything, and it produces… nothing!

Hope is the true opiate of the masses. Once you make people imagine how great they’ll feel when the impossible blips into reality, they may as well be on drugs… strong ones.

Opium makes people feel good for a while. So does hope.

Opium is addictive. So is hope.

Opium wastes you. So does hope.

Two Choices

Like I say, I want to keep this simple. On the question of politicians creating peace, you have two choices:

  • On one hand, you have approximately six thousand years of clear, unambiguous evidence.
  • On the other, you have an addictive opiate and emotions divorced from reason.

You might think about going with the evidence.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com