Tuesday, August 5, 2014


The Grosse Politik approach has been used up. Besides, it is misleading because it allows us to rest on the easy illusion that it is "they," the naughty statesmen, who are always responsible for war while "we," the innocent people, are merely led. That impression is a mistake. The diplomatic origins, so-called, of the Great War are only the fever chart of the patient; they do not tell us what caused the fever. To probe for underlying causes and deeper forces one must operate within the framework of a whole society and try to discover what moved the people in it

The Proud Tower:
A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914;
Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series

The above sentences have been weighing heavily on me lately.

More and more I am beginning to see the fate of the West sealed in its own inherent weaknesses. It is not the rise of militant Islam, or a resurgent Russia that is the cause of our fate. The root cause lies in what we have become during the last century or so. We have restarted the age old heresy of worshiping the golden calf. That has never went well.

In her books on the Great War, Barbara Tuchman offers up a stew of root causes. The Ubermensch of Nietsche, coupled with the frightened aristocracy of Europe, seasoned with the anger and hopelessness of the poor.

We have a differing set of causes leading us to the next war. The Randite/Reaganite worship of money, coupled with an increasingly segregated and defensive uberklass seasoned with a middle class that is in the process of being systematically sheared of the comforts it has come to view as its rights.

I think that many will find this thought unpleasant, but we seems to be following the path taken by Germany prior to 1914. Granted, the parallels are not absolute, but the theme and the emotion are the same. The German Volk and American exceptionalism are the same coin. We toss our weight around rudely. We attempt to rule the world by edict. Militarism and a false worship of the military.

But the actions taken by our government are merely actions required to keep the largess flowing to the masses here in the USA. Right now, 70% of our economy is consumer goods. Our self-worth and our barometers for personal success are wound around the stuff we own and the oversized and overpriced houses that we live in. The government is doing its job in a democratic system and supplying it citizens with what they want.

And we keep demanding. Oh there are folks out there like Raul (Ilargi) and John-Michael Greer and Charles Smith who suggest that we learn to live within a shrinking system. But they are fringe players, preaching, for the most part, to the converted. But the great bulk of the commentators are trying like hell to sell the idea that one can keep what they have.

This is sad. Because the root of the problem is that we have taken too much. The consumer economy needs to be sheared down to a manageable 35-40% of the economy. The rich need to give up a huge amount of their amassed wealth. The poor need to develop rational expectations. The middle class needs to stop aping the ways of the wealthy.

Lots of easy things need to happen. Houses need to shrink and become radically more efficient. Jetting around the world to attend to either a useless conference or ones own cupidity has to stop. More beans need to be eaten, less meat will become the norm. Cars will become lots less common, gardens will become much more common. Retirements will become less everything.

But you see, no one wants to do these simple things. We are living in a society where the voters and the common man see constant and unstoppable growth as the natural state of things. Upward mobility is a watchword, opportunity and physical accunulation the highest God.

When the reversal of fortunes that lies ahead of us starts getting traction, the masses of Americans will move. They will not ask that the government teach them how to live in a world of constraints. They will ask the government to go get them what they want.

It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In ten or fifteen years, food. Plutonium. Maybe even sooner. Now, what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?
Joe Turner:
Ask them?
Not now - then! Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to get it for 'em!

Three Days of the Condor (1975)

1 comment:

russell1200 said...

Chinese behavior is much closer to German Second Reich behavior. The brash up and comer with the sharp elbows wanting to gain (regain) its place in the sun.

I am not sure of a real good analogy for our current empire where we use cash payments as much as boots on the ground as our method of control. Possibly very early British Empire before the grab for Africa started.