Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cui Bono?

Der GeltnarrThe venerable phrase Homo economicus refers to the theory that all human actions are determined by a rational calculation of personal gain. Drawing on Adam Smith’s famous description of the behavior of the market as an “invisible hand”, Homo economicus moves a step further into an all-encompassing determinism. For post-Christian academics, perhaps it’s compensation for the melancholy, long, withdrawing roar of their ancestors’ Calvinism.

But for anyone who’s not a diehard determinist, human behavior, both individually and collectively, cannot be entirely explained by rational economic motivations. Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, for example, with all its destructive consequences for millions of people, was neither rational nor economically motivated. The most consequential behavior in human history can only be explained ideologically, not economically, and certainly not rationally.

Economics, however, does provide significant constraints on human agency. No matter how fierce and pure are the beliefs of the religious zealot or the Communist revolutionary, the operation of markets will eventually bring them to heel. Economic laws may be ignored, but they cannot be avoided.

However, the fact that human behavior is not totally determined by rational economic calculation does not mean that it is not explicable. When plain old-fashioned self-interest falls short as an explanation, forget Homo economicus, and look for ideology to take up the slack.

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When attempting to make sense of the affairs of men, it’s important to ask the venerable question: Cui bono?

Uncle ScroogeWho benefits?

This is often, of course, a question of simple economics. Who gets the most lucrative deal? Which public official stands to line his pockets the most under this particular policy?

Follow the money!

When any political economy is enjoying a period of relative stability, economic motives become paramount, and the calculus of self-interest is the best slide rule to employ. Whether legal or illegal — a normal business deal or kickbacks, extortion, and bribes — the money trail is the surest guide.

But human societies are prone to waves of extravagantly irrational mass behavior, whether overtly religious, or in pseudo-rational creeds like Communism. Economics takes a back seat while the violent and ruthless ideologues hold sway.

But even then we can ask, Cui bono? Only this time the benefit comes to those who seek power, the intangible coin of influence and control. Osama bin Laden’s behavior cannot be explained economically, but he is still acting quite rationally in a calculation of what will benefit him the most.

These two strands of cui bono converge in the power politics of the Middle East. The traditional economic incentives are at work among the princes and sheikhs who control the flow of black gold, and the resulting lucre frees up the likes of bin Laden to pursue the other type of self-interest, the lust for power of the ruthless ideologue.

Here in the West we are mesmerized by those barrels of viscous hydrocarbons, and the relentless upward creep of their price. Last month, in response to some of my usual rhetorical excess on the topic, Unaha-closp had this to say:
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Baron, If you were to make “Iran, Iraq, and the Arabian peninsula” into a “smoking wasteland” it would seriously damage oil supply. Lead to large increase of gas price and have a negative impact on the American economy. Perhaps this economic cost plays a large part in reducing the political will to act.

Any military action against Iran and/or Saudi jeopardises a lot of oil production, bad news for those importing oil.

Kowtow to the pump!I have no argument with this logic. And, for each of the players in the geopolitical petroleum game, from the oil companies to our political leaders, a rational economic calculus of benefit is what keeps the system in stasis. We are in thrall to the price of oil, and as a result can make no serious move to subdue our real enemies.

But there are other non-economic costs. These are ideological, but not from mad ideologies like Scientology or Communism. These ideological costs involve liberty, the rule of law, the right of free expression, and various other time-hallowed tenets of the American creed.

If we decide that economic calculations require that we surrender this or that small piece of our ideological heritage, will we do so? And if we do so, then cui bono?

In the long run, our ideological self-interest and our economic self-interest converge, because only our traditional liberties are capable of maintaining our economic well-being.

But put that aside for the time being. What happens in the long run, if we give in to this ongoing Wahhabist extortion? Lower prices, now, perhaps… but not forever.

If we took action now, there would be costs — serious costs — but the costs in the long run will be even more severe.

Because make no mistake, we will pay the cost, one way or another, and the cost will be higher later. The cost of the oil will eventually be nothing less than full submission.

Act prudently now, and pay $10 a gallon for a while.

Or wait until later, and say La illaha ila Allah, wa Muhammadun rasul Allah.

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There are many people among the elite in the West who seem only too eager to say the shahada and begin their perfunctory attendance at the mosque for Friday prayers. This readiness to cave, to submit, to roll over in the face of the threat from the Great Jihad — it can’t be explained entirely by economic self-interest. Something else must be at work.

I’ve often said that mass insanity is the only possible explanation for some of the bizarre suicidal dhimmi behavior exhibited by various prominent figures in the Western world. When one looks at these incidents and asks cui bono, an answer is not always easy to find.

As an example, take the deliberate policy of facilitating mass immigration into the countries of Western Europe to replace the original population. It doesn’t make any sense. Some businesses stand to make quite a bit of money, but not enough to motivate the whole enterprise. Socialists will gain more votes, but not indefinitely. The traditional rulers — members of the permanent bureaucracy, the managers of state enterprises, the lords of the media — get to maintain and increase their influence, but only for a while.

In the long run, what about the wine and the lager, the nude beaches on the Costa del Sol, bacon and ham, and Frau Schmidt’s pet poodle? What happens when it’s time to say “goodbye to all that”?

Other people are grappling with these same issues. In the comments on a recent post Phanarath, our regular Danish correspondent, had this to say (several comments have been concatenated and edited slightly to make this quote):

Why would anyone want to replace the original populations?

The only logical answer is: to create chaos, and out of that chaos to create a new fascist regime in Europe. But not only in Europe. The same forces are at work in America.

The average European or American is not going to stand for Fascism; it cannot be introduced with the populations we have now. So by introducing more and more and hostile aliens, two things are created. The hostile aliens are used to fascism and are not going to make a big problem out of it, and the original population are made fearful and thereby more easy to handle.

The European Union is clearly heading for a fascist state, and so is the American Union to be.

And most us already know in our hearts where this is all heading. What we don’t know is who wants it to happen. We keep thinking that the “left” are acting out of stupidity or just general dislike of all things western or the “leukophobia” or whatever. We mostly can’t make any sense out of what the motives could be for what is going on, and so we generally think that it’s a sort of accident of different thoughts crashing together in an unlucky way.

You want evidence for a conspiracy? That’s easy.

No population in Europe ever had a majority that wanted huge a immigration of Arab Muslims, but it happened anyway. Not just in one or two countries, but in all countries. And in all countries this fact was kept out of democratic debate.

You talk about PC, as if it was a law of nature. It isn’t. Someone wants it to exist and therefore it exists. To these people right and left is nothing but a joke to keep people occupied.

They want to break down democracy as we know it and take away any real freedom we have. And they will do this while trying to keep us in the illusion that all the adjustments that are to come are being put in place to make us free and/or safe.

It is completely ignorant to believe that all the things that are happening are just happening more or less by accident. The pattern is constant, and therefore it is logical that someone wants that very pattern to be.

Well, I agree with you that it doesn’t make much sense. And the only real argument for a secret agenda I can come up with, is that there really isn’t any other way that things could unfold the way they do.

How can all western nations who are supposed to be free and democratic all the make the exact same mistakes and have the exact same lack of public debate about it, where anyone who speaks against this project is demonized, in the exact same way?

It shouldn’t be possible that many different democratic countries all at the same time decided to eradicate their own populations. At least it’s highly unlikely.

International pressure groups could explain some of it. But its strange that many of them seem more concerned if an imprisoned Muslim doesn’t get his halal food in England than they are about gays being hung from a crane in Iran.

And the EU could be an explanation for what’s going on in Europe. But it doesn’t explain why The US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia are making the exact same mistakes. The US is only about 2% Muslim so far, but they more then make up for this. The US debate about illegal immigrants might very well be one of the world’s most serious cases of mass insanity. I mean, how can you grant a drivers license to someone who is illegally in the country and who is still considered illegal after he gets it? But now he can drive legally? That’s one of the weirdest things I have heard in my life.

Some countries are further along on this path of destruction then others. And here comes another strange thing: The countries that are not so far along seem to learn nothing from the problems the countries further along in the process are having. Every mainstream politician and media outlet seems to be in agreement to ignore all signs of trouble and faithfully continue towards our own demise following the exact footprints of those who went before us.

I know that there are small differences in how things are handled in the different countries. But those differences only seems to be about how fast they are going and how far along they have come. No one takes another path or seeks a different destination.

We have politicians who claim they want to do things differently. But they never do it. They may at best slow the process down for a little while, but basically they stay on track and in line with the other lemmings.

Phanarath has highlighted the essential problem: all these things happening simultaneously across the West can’t be a coincidence. So what’s going on?

Cui bono?

I’m reluctant to credit any theories that involve a grand conspiracy. Outside of a totalitarian dictatorship, secrets, even among the powerful, are too hard to keep. Nixon couldn’t do it. Even Bill Clinton couldn’t do it.

But that doesn’t mean that there are no connections.

What I see is a grand convergence of interests, a disparate group of fellow-travelers who benefit in their own different ways from the Islamization of the West. Some are the ideologues, like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez, and some are the amoral capitalists who sell them the rope.

Some are the Socialists who stand to gain votes and retain their power and perks for a little while longer. Others are the owners of agribusinesses and factories who stand to gain from cheap illiterate imported labor.

Some are the ideologues of the old order, the apologists for the liberal establishment that vanquished Hitler and brought the sexual revolution to the magnificently narcissistic veterans of ’68. Anything that validates their moth-eaten worldview serves their interests.

And all too many are the guilt-ridden knee-jerk progressives who will go gladly to their own doom, singing “We Shall Overcome” as they open the door to the grinning man who wears a turban and carries a scimitar.

And every single one of them is marching into the same hole, each triumphantly carrying his own banner. Soldiers of Allah, defenders of the Proletariat, right-thinking Vegans, progressives of all stripes…

When they finally get into that hole, they will have to duke it out for supremacy.

Who do you think will win?


Anonymous said...

Phanarath is right. There is a conspiracy, and I feel just as silly as he does to actually have to come to this conclusion.
The way the EU was concipiated leaves no other option though; for a very long time now a group of people have been patiently working towards the goal we are now beginning to discern...: "We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years But, the work is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries"
David Rockefeller, founder of the Trilateral Commission, in an address to a meeting of The Trilateral Commission, in June, 1991

"In the next century, nations as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. National sovereignty wasn't such a great idea after all." Strobe Talbot, President Clinton's Deputy Secretary of State, as quoted in Time, July 20th, l992.

"We shàll have world government whether or not you like it, by conquest or consent." Statement by Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) member James Warburg to The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 17th, l950

The question as to why is still not answered though: why is this dictatorial oligarchy something to strive for, in the eyes of a few rich people? I mean, it's not as if they are shortchanged in life as far as wealth and power are concerned, are they? Or is power a drug, once you get the taste of it, and is it never enough..?
And is that reason enough to plunge humanity in misery?

AWOL Civilization said...

As far as explaining human behavior, may I recommend Adam Smith's lesser known but monumental work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

There are various ways to avoid having to explain change in history and human affairs. One is by reference to mysterious pseudo-laws, such as Hegel's historical world-spirit. Another is conspiracy theories, which mis-identify causes. A certain leader declaring that something must happen does not cause it to happen. A million and one events must fall into place. One could easily find numerous similar declarations that fell into the dustbin of history, because the prophecy never materialized.

BTW, much of the Left's political baggage is composed of a blend of these two approaches.

John Savage said...

Paardestaart wrote:

"The question as to why is still not answered though: why is this dictatorial oligarchy something to strive for, in the eyes of a few rich people? I mean, it's not as if they are shortchanged in life as far as wealth and power are concerned, are they?"

Well, one possible explanation is that no amount of power is ever really enough. The Darwinian conservatives would explain that by the desire to hoard resources that can sustain one's progeny far into the future. Didn't I see that Genghis Khan has something like 16 million living progeny? Such a feat required him to amass huge amounts of resources, I suppose.

Another possible explanation is akin to John Mearsheimer's theory of offensive realism in international relations: It's always good to amass more power, because that's just the surest way to avoid losing it. That's the "beat them while they're down" theory, I suppose you could say.

Those are just a couple of possibilities.

Whiskey said...

One quibble: Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union was neither irrational nor non-economically motivated. Based on the miserable performance of the Red Army in Finland Hitler was convinced the Soviet Union was easily beaten. "One good kick and the whole rotten house will come down" he boasted to his commanders.

Moreover his massive spending on arms was not sustainable after Jewish wealth was run out in the early stages of the Holocaust. Hitler refused to tax heavily the German people, while in contrast the Brits taxed themselves at around 5 times the rate of the Germans to pay for the war. Hitler was a classic tyrant who needed payoffs as well as fear to keep himself in power. Not the least of his worries was a subordinate who could topple him (hence the need for the Gestapo which ... needed to be paid). Hitler was in the habit of buying off his subordinates which required enormous sums of money. The idea was to run a "slave empire" in the Soviet Union to extract as much money as possible. Which accounts for the extraordinary brutality that turned otherwise sympathetic nations such as the Ukraine or Byelorussia against Hitler.

Osama is not acting economically irrationally either. The path to total power and wealth is well trod along his route and the risk is well worth the reward.

Of course high costs for imported oil creates winners and losers. Winners would be domestic oil production, oil shale, coal, nuclear, and solar/geothermal/wind power industries. This explains (the winners and losers) the support for PC, Muslim immigration, mass illegal aliens in the US, and much else.

Feminists win with Islam because it allows powerful, rich men to have many wives and mistresses. Which is what they really want. Gays win because turning a society into a prison (no access to women) makes ordinarily straight men substitute gay sex for straight sex. Elites win because it makes a society stratified and static, no threat from below as potential competitors.

Islam conquered most of the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, and Sicily in about 200 years. Because they offered a "better deal" ... Elites who converted could be even more powerful. A pretty peasant's wife could be a Caliph's mistress. And so on. No convoluted conspiracy needed for "fascism." [For a while it worked the other way, the Crusader Kingdoms lasted as long as they did because the Muslims were divided against each other and sought to use the heavy infrantry of the Crusaders against each other.]

British commenters have written about how they long for the "positive" nature of Islamic Britain, almost word-for-word for how they "longed" for Marxist Britain or before that Nazi Britain. In each case they want a King so long as they may be the King's whip hand and lick the crumbs from his table (which will be substantial in monetary terms).

"How can all western nations who are supposed to be free and democratic all the make the exact same mistakes and have the exact same lack of public debate about it, where anyone who speaks against this project is demonized, in the exact same way?"
Because they want a King. So long as they may help him rule. It matters not if the King is Fidel, or Hugo, or Mahmoud.

Savage is right: Ghengis Khan created about 8% of males in the former Mongol Empire which was considerable. That required massive force and absolute rule to take away tens of thousands of women from other men.

The degree of polygamy in mammals is indicated by sex-size difference. In humans it is about 20% so we are somewhat polygamous. In hunter-gatherer societies polygamy is rarer since the force required isn't there, other men can simply stick a spear into the back of a polygamist. Stronger in herder-pastoralists and stronger yet and the default mode of agricultural societies. Only in Western Europe around the late Dark Ages did men cooperate, largely eschew polygamy, and act in a relatively "flat" hierarchy. This flat social hierarchy and "average guy" family formation is likely the "secret sauce" of the West's success relative to other cultures.

It's not enough to be wealthy. Particularly when the wealth may not be passed on to offspring in a dyanmic economy. Far more beneficial to adopt absolute Kingship. Look at the millionaires around Castro, no doubt they all have many mistresses. Castro himself is reputed to have hundreds. Who live in luxury and have influence on his regime.

Profitsbeard said...

One of the causes of the passivity to this threat is that the educators in the post-Viet Nam era, and the media, and the churches, and political opportunists, have all forgotten to teach rational self-defense to their children.

The post-colonial, post-Viet Nam guilt-peddlers in the EU and U.S. have been teaching "tolerance" and "humility" and "we must learn to get along" and "all men are basically good" and "the nation state causes wars", ad absurdum, to their children for the past 40-50 years. Kids who have not been given instinctual/archetypal guidelines and popular culture models of strength and dignity and self-preservation to help them construct a healthy self-image and spiritual spine from.

In the previous popular culture, films like "Casablance" to "El Cid", and "Blood on the Sun" to "Spartacus", showed clear moral demarcations, evil actions, and the value of fighting for a worthy cause. Nazis and Imperialist Japanese and invading Moors and cruel Roman despots were nakedly brutal and intolerant and needed to be battled to their defeat.

But, beginning with the antiheroic and disillusioning trend in movies like "Paths of Glory" up to "Full Metal Jacket" and metastasizing into the socially-corrosive and suicidally-hysterical debunk-olgy of all once-noble historical figures, starting with "slaveholder" George Washington (while forgetting to mention that he freed all of his slaves in his will, and recommended that his fellow citizens follow his example) and progressing until it became a never-ending, self-loathing self-evisceration, it is no wonder that there is little popular sense of self-preservation in too many of the West's children.*

In the U.S. and EU they were taught that they were "evil" (either as colonialists or imperialists) and were thus deserving of being taught a "lesson". And that they needed to compensate their "victims" by allowing them to flood into their "illegitimately-prosperous" lands in order to let these unfortunates benefit from the historical "crimes against them".

As if those being invited-in would be magically grateful for this unexplained largesse doled out by a people who openly considered themselves "tainted".

The infiltrators, instead, saw the Europeans and Americans as inconcompresibly-moronic suckers, and these freeloaders cynically played upon the morbid feelings of their hosts in order to gain further advantages, and elevate themselves to a position of "moral superiority" (as "poor, exploited Third World suffering masses") as a way of forcing further concessions from the incontintently-sympathizing and brainlessly-empathizing West.

What heroic figures are honored in our culture anymore?

The Islamic world has Saladin and Bin Laden.

We have been so busy demythologizing our past that it has been left practically disembowelled.

How can those who we expect to "naturally" defend our civilization even be bothered- if they have been toxicially and continuously denatured of any respect for it?

If you teach your children to feel that they are "thieves" and "global terrorists" (even if only metaphorically), it undermines their spiritual and intellectual and even physical resistence to the nakedly power-seeking influx of their less-self-doubting "guest workers/refugees".

Only by debunking the enemy's energizing myths will we gain a fighting chance.

Starting with their pedophile "prophet", the slaveholder (who never freed his slaves) Mohammad.

That terroristic warlord, anti-cultural wrecker, assassin of poets, and rapist of captive women, after slaughtering their husbands in unprovoked warfare.

If we leave our kids too little to believe in of their own civilization, let's at least return the favor to our opponents, to level the battlefield.


(*Who would you rather have in your foxhole- Humphrey Bogart and Kirk Douglas or Sean Penn and Michael Moore?)

Brian H said...

OBL and the Muslim Brotherhood both explicitly include immigration and welfare state parasitism in their tools for achieving the Caliphate.

But Europe's labor shortages and below-replacement birth rate are vacuuming in people on their own, so it's partly economics.

The Qui Bono question is somewhat hollow in its economic theory core, tho'; it cheats, by saying each person determines his own priority of "goods". If you once know his list, he becomes predictable, but then the list is developed by seeing what he chooses, so it's all circular.

Status and access to wives are big in the tribal world, while big houses and cars take pride of place in America. In unproductive rental economies in the ME, having a significant role and purpose for existence is the big hook for many, and the source of holy warriors and suicide fodder. The bottomless box of white raisins (the corrected transcription) is just a symbol for trans-temporal worthiness.

That's a big motivation, but hard for the wealthy to "buy into"; as Christ said, it is easier for a rope (corrected transcription) to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

How you gonna bribe/motivate a disaffected Moslem who sees his whole culture sidelined for centuries? What "good" will turn his crank?

This could take a while.

SouthernFriedBear said...

"When plain old-fashioned self-interest falls short as an explanation, forget Homo economicus, and look for ideology to take up the slack."

"old-fashioned self-interest" == ideology

It is a question of scale. The average Joe will look for advantage in everyday things. The aristocrats or meddling governments (one in the same?) will look for advantage in far reaching areas.

This goes to your point on the soviets.

I agree with your point on high gas prices. The oilmen will not try to extract from Canadian oil sands (or similar areas) until they see profit in it. They would have to see gas prices over $5 for an extended period of time in order to feel safe.

You ever notice how the gas prices will creep up to around that point for a few months only to drop back for several months thereafter? Some of that could be explained by market action, but, why does it never go over the "magic" price for an extended period of time?

This article and several others you've put up recently enforce my view that American and European aristocrats have gained the upper hand. They will put "D"s or "R"s after their name and caper around for the masses. All the while moving toward their end goal of consolidated power.

I've been playing with the idea of moving to a neutral banking nation in order to escape the typical outcome of aristocrats gaining power. But I'm not too sure they would be safe this time around.

Risto A. said...

How things work at high towers of political elite, all one needs to do is to watch a british sit com: 'yes minister'.

It reveals in all the detail how things work.

Unknown said...

There is one thing that connects most of the nations with low native birthrates and high immigration rates: they all fought or resisted bravely in World War 2.

Let me say why it might be relevant. After the war, the Allies began a "de-nazification" programme of censoship and propaganda in Germany and Japan. It was successful and so, I think, parts of it were then used on all combatant populations.

Industrialised warfare had proved so awful that the Allies abandoned it as a state enterprise. As for defensive war, since non-industrialised countries could never win again, the Allies had nothing to fear but the warlike nature of each other's peoples. And so began the softening up of all the men - to be happily-married workers, loving their homes and the God of Love. It's the Kirche, Kitsch und Kinder message of de-nazification all over again. Of course the Warsaw Pact had a different angle but it certainly kept men under control too.

In the fifties the Allies spotted the next Bomb on the horizon - the population bomb. Rather than have a few quick wars to nip it in the bud, they chose to alter the propaganda message - now men should be fun-loving, self-indulgent and unreliable, and definitely not husband material. Women should treat men as the main danger to their children rather than their source, and sleep around until unmarriageable themselves.

Then came the Oil Crises. In 1974 in Bucharest, 131 countries signed an agreement to control their own fertility, and to accept unlimited immigration from countries where controls had failed. When oil made Arabs super-rich, muslim fertility was allowed to run free and the West was the destination of choice for the overspill. And so we were instructed to love them. And here we are today.

I think these three propaganda campaigns have created a bureaucratic tier of unbelievably vain sociologists and media men throughout the West. They really do think that their preaching alone has Saved The World from electing another Hitler, or dying of famine, or insulting muslims until they stopped sending us investment money. They really do see the rest of us as pointless, retarded trailer trash, not least for believing their propaganda and TV commercials. Wouldn't you?

Sociologists' vanity is causing great inertia in social policy and, I put it to you, its destruction should be our target. Cui bono? - the perpetrators.

Unknown said...

In the case of EU it is easy to understand.
EU burocrats want to destroy european nationalities to build an amorph supranational european state they can rule without bother with democracy. For that they imported a new population whose loyalty they are buying with wellfare.
Take a look Here.

lgude said...

I noticed in studying the Chinese Cultural revolution that there were deep similarities to the American cultural revolution of the sixties. Or between the savings and loan crisis in the US and the simultaneous occurrence of Australian state governments disastrously trying to play active business partner roles in business enterprise and going as broke as the American savings and loans. I think of this as a globalized form of collective madness. This phenomena may explain some of the crazy immigration policy. Australia did have blow back in the form of a fish and chip shop owner named Pauline Hanson who successfully started an third party and joined the immigration debate. She didn't succeed but she didn't fail either. Unlike the French who have surrendered their suburbs to Da es Islam the Aussie police retained the monopoly on violence during the Cronulla beach riots. Also as an American who grew up in the country and as nice a person as I am I am still a Jacksonian and like all Jacksonians know how to shoot and who to shoot.

Anonymous said...

the educators in the post-Viet Nam era, and the media, and the churches, and political opportunists, have all forgotten to teach rational self-defense to their children

The thing is: they didn't do that by accident, they did it on purpose
There is a scheme to install - a 'New World Order' - and for that you have to train your underlings.
Cultural marxism is nòt accidental, or by oversight - it is a plan, incredible and farfetched as it may seem.
Read all about it..

Towards a new World-order

Anonymous said...

Watch Zeitgeist
- and learn all about the privatization of the american banking system and the New World Order; it'll only take a little time and you'll no longer wonder Cui Bono..

Brian H said...

Check out de Mesquita's podcasts here; he presents and applies the lessons from research which shows the decisions of politicians and rulers, throughout history and currently, are explained by the size of the Selectorate and the "ruling coalition", which may be a few generals, a nomenclatura, an aristocracy, property-owning males, or a large chunk of the voting public. Idealism and statesmanship are rewarded only when there is a large pool benefiting from Public Goods whose support is necessary. Fake elections without freedom of information and association don't count as democratic rule.

The World Bank and foreign aid ministries in general have been drawn into a system in which loans, grants, and aid funneled through corrupt governments actively suppresses growth and freedom.

In this system of analysis, corruption is the essential method of distributing spoils to the "ruling coalition"; it ceases to pay off when the coalition gets large enough that general societal improvement results in prolonged power for the "rulers" -- it's the only win-win formula. But even democratic rulers have the welfare of their closest associates and coalition at heart; lame-duck presidents are famously profligate in passing out goodies to friends and relatives.

In the case of dictators, once they get past the first 18 mo. or so and get the payola rolling, they stay in power for life -- or until they are diagnosed with a fatal condition, like cancer. Then the wolves gather, deposition follows, and a new regime arises. (The Shah, e.g., fell only when he was diagnosed with incurable cancer.) The gravy-train coalition suddenly sees the end of the guaranteed payoffs, and everything goes up for grabs.

The system, whether in autocracy or democracy, efficiently filters out genuinely ethical and altruistic leaders: they simply would not be able to assemble a sufficient inner coalition support coalition to compete with those who hand out keys to the vault. In unusual emergencies, a power structure desperate for legitimacy might pluck someone like Vaclav Havel from outside the power pipeline to lead, but this is rare.

As an aside, I note that we ALL want power, in the fundamental sense of capacity to make stuff happen. It happens that political power depends on agreement and cooperation and compliance from others, so the tools used fit the context.

R. Hartman said...

This video may provide some clues as to why it is happening in both Europe and the US. The US is affected thanks to WorldWar II, when the Frankfurt School fled to the US and started targeting the U.S., after having targeted Germany first. After WWII, the group returned to Germany, but left a US affiliate behind, that infiltrated the universities and created the PC campuses of today. Since WWI, cultural Marxism has been working to destroy both ends of the free world.