Sunday, July 19, 2015

Not Yet Checkmate, But Close, Links

What's happening in Greece makes Crassus look dignified. Moderate citizens assuming they live in a European Civilization have now been disabused. A situation so fluid now exists that no one can say how it will resolve, but the bad faith with regard to representative government in the Euro zone is now on open display. Neither the electorates of Greece nor Europe, nor the emperor have had their final say, but that Finland can block a deal or that NATO can force one both belie all democratic pretenses.

It is not to late for Europe to save itself, but the precipice is near. If Eurocrats continue to terrorize the victims of corruption rather than the perpetrators, as they have done now in Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Greece while threatening the Italians and French, men with guns will take from them such power as they have. At present it is the comparatively benign guns of NATO insisting on a civilizational deal, but should this fail more radical alternatives are preparing themselves in the wings.

The Eurocrats seem quite happy with the men with guns they've supported and who support them in Finland, Spain and Latvia, but at some point men with guns will not brook bureaucratic power and will turn. And this will complete the cycle. What Latvia, Lithuania, Greece, Spain and Portugal all have in common is their recent military dictatorships. While this governmental structure has formally expired in each instance, it's residue of power constitutionally unscripted lives on and is what we like to call "corruption" when it is not found in our allies. Tariq Ali summarizes below.

Athens Dairy: Tariq Ali: LRB
Plus Ca Change: Neil Clark: RT

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Greek Lives Don't Mater: Ed Walker: EmptyWheel
Setting Them Up For Slaughter: Raul Ilargi: The Automatic Earth
Neo-Liberal Seas: Ian Urbina: New York Times
It's Not Just Fox News: Thomas Frank: Salon
Fixing Money: Adrian Kuzminski: ClubOrolov

Money is an IOU from civilization. Those who would prefer gold would prefer that they owe nothing to the civilization that feeds them and wish they could extract the richness that is civilization and carry pieces of it away for themselves.

In their folly they cannot see that any piece they pull free and abscond with is worthless once absented from civilization.

Gold, art, real estate, and any financial assets are worthless without the dense network of human bonds that give them what value they have within consensual networks of exchange, only within the constraints of civilization does this so called wealth bear fruit.

War, an acute absence of civilization, is the perennial reminder that it is civilization that lends value to wealth, not the other way around, need we be reminded?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thomas Friedman

A friend, in discussion of the proposed TPP, referred me to this column by Thomas Friedman, what follows is my response.

This is more or less where I stand on trade, that it's good in theory but only marginal in importance as compared to maintaining full employment, which we haven't. The most salient feature of the proposed treaty about which Thomas Friedman (TF) is opining is its secrecy: no one really knows what is in it except for the corporate lawyers who wrote each of its thousands of clauses, but none of them really have an umbrella understanding of the whole. I support fair trade, which is different from free in that "free" has so many meanings as to be an empty signifier: if TPP were fair what would be the point of its secrecy? That it is secrete states a clearly as one could hope that its contents would be disagreeable to someone. That someone would not be who wrote it. Who do you suppose might not like it if they could see it?

So before tackling Friedman's column I suppose I have to clarify where I'm coming from and the interpretive schema I use to evaluate a column like this. It is to my eyes is an almost infinite Russian doll of nested assumptions. Then I want to look at what case can be made for the current TPP proposal.

Only then will I return to TF and his rhetoric.

Part 1

Morality is what we owe one another directly in our face to face relations, ethics is what we owe one another through the operation of our systems, through our social, economic and political interfaces. Such interfaces, beginning with language and mathematics, are man made artifacts I'll be referring to by their ironic quality as infrastructures. These infrastructures are systems that to the extent they work appear to be natural, like the air we breathe. Words or numbers just seem to be there, the irony is that although they are our inventions, they change our underlying realities so extremely as to defamiliarize us instinctively with our resulting environment.

Even as we make them, they re-make us: as electricity, telephony, highways and aqueducts have made our cities an environment alien from the savannas on which we evolved, language and math have made our social spaces even more remote from that of our evolutionary progenitors. Language is a symbolic system that lets us say anything, math is an alternative system where everything reduces to zero. Money, which will be central to my argument, aggregates the two into a confounding system that scrambles our ethics and morals. Our