Archives for category: 1989 and the Global Financial Crises

‘On the face of it’, it makes perfect sense.

But why bother?

If I’m on the ‘right’ side, why would I make it easier for the other guy?
If on the ‘wrong’ side, why not just switch sides? Why would I bother to straighten the tree? Against the wishes of those who have a lot to lose in the process?

From the other side of the looking glass, things are a lot simpler.

‘Fiat justitia, ruat caelum’ is a warning, not a behest.

‘Make sure that justice is served, unless you want the heavens to fall on your shoulders’ is what any open minded reader of history makes of this ancient adage…

The fact that we concentrate our attention on what justice means for each of us is a measure of our individualism.
Of our nearsightedness…

Our respective individualities, each and everyone of them, have grown into what they are now in a social context.
None of us can exist for long, let alone protect and develop their individuality, in solitude.

We need the others.
We, each and everyone of us, need to belong. To a community.

To a functional community!
To a community where each individual is cherished.
Where each individual can develop its potential.

Where each individual has the opportunity and the tools to develop their potential.
For his own good, in concert with the main interest of entire community.

Survival.
Things remaining as they should be.

Us toiling here, on the surface of the Earth.
The heavens perched safely up there.

Justice must be served if things are to remain as we, each and all of us, need them to be.

Can we do without it?
And if not, how much of it?

– If ‘no government’, then who would pay for the army we need to defend ourselves?

Ooops… you’ve just answered the ‘why does Russia ‘encourage’ the trolls who push ludicrous libertarian ideas’ question. Which trolls attempt to achieve two things at once. Weaken the concept of free government and give libertarian-ism a bad rep. Transforming libertarian-ism into yet another form of extremism.

Let’s get serious and try to find an answer to ‘why, and how much of it, do we need government?’

The boring one would be: ‘Whenever one government falls, another one takes over. The interregnum is always bad so… let’s get used to it’.

‘Getting used to it’ works only for very short expanses of time. Left on its own, all ‘government’ becomes sloppy. So sloppy that it soon becomes such a burden that even the most ‘used to it’ lose their patience.
Government, all of them, need to be kept on a tight leash. Otherwise it will soon cease to perform as intended.

– But if you have to keep it on a tight leash, why bother with any in the first place?
Can’t we do without such a bothersome pet?
What’s the point of the whole thing, anyway?

Instinctively, we’re against ‘government’ for two reasons.
It costs us a lot and it used to represent the interests of the ruler.

Until 10 000 or so years ago, we didn’t need ‘government’.
People were living more or less like the modern day Sun People still do. In the Kalahari desert… small bands roam the place, living of the land. The bands are small – so that they might find sustenance, they don’t have any ‘private’ property to protect, hence they don’t need government. Neither did our ancestors.

As soon as people ‘invented’ agriculture – raising ‘tame’ animals at first and working the land soon after, things had changed dramatically.
The advent of agriculture brought two things. An increased productivity and private property.
Soil has not been born equal. Both pastures and arable land can be good, passable or bad. People wish to have the best. Those who already have it are willing to defend it and those who don’t are willing to steal it.
Increased productivity means that those who produce are able to hire people to protect their ‘means of production’. Their property. As a consequence of fighting for it, some people accumulate more and more of it.
More and more ‘means of productions’ – property, means an ever increasing need for ‘management’ and an ever increasing need for ‘protection’. Soon you have a very ‘wealthy’ owner – the lord of the place, call it what you like or use the name given to him by his subjects, the people who perform the day to day management of the ‘whole-sale property’ and those who protect it from ‘marauders’. Both the ‘managers’ – read ‘government’, and the ‘protectors’ – read ‘army’, used to be under the direct supervision of the local lord.
For a while – for as long as the lord kept everything in balance, everybody was happy. The ‘peasants’ were happy because thy were safe, the ‘managers’ were happy because the wise lord used to appreciate their work and ‘compensated’ them accordingly, the ‘protectors’ were happy because they were well fed and taken care of. According to this article, the great Egyptian had been built by willing people, not by slaves.
https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2003/07/who-built-the-pyramids-html
But soon enough, the lord had become estranged from his people. Government had become an instrument used to extract more and more wealth from the peasants while the army was used to protect the government against the people and, whenever possible, to increase the property of the ruling lord by stealing some from the neighboring ‘lords’. The ’empire’ was born.

But this development could take place only in certain circumstances. Where those below the ruling lord had nothing more to do than to obey. Where the best subject was the disciplined one. Where autonomous thinking and imagination were frown upon by the ruler. Where one mind was enough.
Whenever the ‘environment’ mandated the individuals to remain relatively autonomous, proto-democratic forms of self government had been experimented. From the nomadic pastoralists of the Central Asia to the sailing communities in Ancient Greece and Medieval Scandinavia. Those driving herds or sailing ships need to be a lot more independent-minded that those who just tile the earth. No offense intended here! Simple observation will notice that where the geography of the place had allowed it, somebody had ‘built’ an empire. The Nile Valley, the Middle East, the Russian plain, China, Mexico…
Where ever the geography of the place was fragmented enough by sail-able sea, proto-democratic forms of self-management had been developed. The sailing Ancient Athens versus the land-locked Sparta, Medieval Scandinavia versus Medieval France…

Fast forward to present day.
When we have two forms of government.
The more or less democratic ones. Those under whose ‘guidance’ discussions like the present one can happen.
And the more or less authoritarian ones. Which actively discourage autonomous thinking.

Mind you, there are no ‘perfect’ governments.
There’s no perfectly democratic arrangement anywhere on Earth. Because we are imperfect human beings.
And there’s no ‘perfect’ authoritarian government. Because no government can survive for long if it attempts to centralize the decision power. The closer a government gets to being perfectly authoritarian, the smaller is the crisis needed to topple it. Unless it is supported from the out-side but that’s another topic.

So. It is fairly simple to understand how authoritarian governments fail. Too much ‘stiffness’ makes it impossible for authoritarian governments to evolve. To find solutions for whatever challenges pop up constantly.

But what can go wrong with the collective forms of self-rule? With the participative forms of social self management? Otherwise known as democracies?
Lack of enough popular involvement. Due to a sense of apparent safety, initially. And to a feeling of apparent impotence, soon after.
Lack of enough fore-sight. Those who should know better become distracted, for whatever reasons.
Too much opportunism. More and more of the ‘insiders’ use ‘the power of the government’ to fulfill their own, private, goals instead of making sure that ‘government’ works properly.

And what does that mean?

A government works properly when the community which self manages itself using that particular (form of democratic) government survives in the long run.
When those momentarily working inside the government make things happen for the community at large.
When people, both inside and outside the government, follow, in spirit, Kennedy’s words.

Am I being naive?
Maybe… But wouldn’t it be a nice thing to have?
A nice thing to chase, anyway?

And what better way to chase ‘it’ than voting for people who at least pretend to be honest? Who at least make the ‘right’ noises? Whom we can hold accountable whenever they break their promises?
Instead of voting for those who promise barrels and barrels of ‘pork‘?
https://grammarist.com/idiom/pork-barrel/

Ideological pork or hands-on pork, I don’t know which is worse…

Să fie oare întâmplător faptul că noi suntem singura țară din lume unde Libertatea, și Adevărul, se vând la tarabă? Pe sume modice?

Să depășim momentul…

Unii sunt ‘îngroziți’ de apariția noii formațiuni politice. Atât de îngroziți încât se gândesc dacă nu cumva ar fi cazul să ceară – în justiție, desființarea partidului.
Alții, din considerente politice – din diverse considerente cât se poate de ‘politice’, doar că genul ăsta de ‘politică’ nu mai are demult de a face cu ‘funcționarea cetății’, se ascund după cireș.

Tocmai ce am citit, pe FB, o analiză mai echilibrată a situației. Aveți linkul aici, chiar merită citită.
https://www.facebook.com/radu.umbres/posts/10161494904682228

“Am intalnit destul de des comparatii intre AUR si Miscarea Legionara, intre George Simion si Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. Deseori aceste legaturi sunt facute pentru a trage un semnal de alarma despre extremismul AUR (antisemitism, sovinism, ultratraditionalism, etc), adica sunt partizane si instrumentale.”

Radu Umbreș, identifică în continuare o serie de asemănări și de deosebiri. Făcând, prin aceasta, o convingătoare invitație către o discuție mai aprofundată. Dincolo de calculele ‘politice’ insăilate de diverși ‘instrumentalizatori’. N-am să mă apuc să reiau idelile lui, sunt la doar un click distanță.

Am să vă fac părtași doar la comentariul meu.
De, blogul meu, comentariul meu…

„De acod cu aproape toate asemanarile si cu mare parte dintre deosebiri.
As puncta totusi o asemanare ‘deosebita’.
Asteptarile oamenilor.
Analiza de mai sus este cat se poate de obiectiva. Doar ca noi, oamenii, suntem mai degraba rationalizatori decat rationali. Gandim, si actionam, mai degraba dupa cum credem noi ca este/ar trebui sa fie decat dupa cum este ‘in realitate’.
Adica actionam dupa cum este in realitatea fiecaruia dintre noi, nu dupa cum este in realitatea ‘obiectiva’. In cea calculata ca medie a celor ce se intampla in societate.
Discutia e lunga, si poate chiar ‘tehnica’, doar ca din anumite puncte de vedere situatia e mai groasa acum decat pe vremea mai sus mentionata. Sau nu mai ‘groasa’ cat mai complicata. Pe vrema aia, era un numar relativ mic de oameni care aveau habar de cele ce se intamplau in afara ‘bulei’ lor. Si care aveau asteptari ce nu puteau fi indeplinite in conditiile date. O parte dintre ei au devenit legionari, altii comunisti. Unii, destul de multi, chiar au trecut dintr-o parte in alta.
Acum e alta situatie. Aproape toata lumea are internet. Adica pareri. Dar prea putini mai au sperante. Iar comunismul si-a aratat deja limitele.”

Lectură suplimentară:

https://spotmedia.ro/stiri/opinii-si-analize/adevarul-nesuferit-despre-george-simion-si-aur

For a while, after WWII, many in the Eastern part of Europe were convinced that, soon, ‘the Americans will come’.
And save them from communism.

At the end of the Korean war, most of those hopes were dying away.
Whichever were still alive had been buried at the end of 1956. When the Soviets had occupied Budapest. And nobody lifted a finger…

The erstwhile hopeful had adapted to the new reality. Changed tack …
Instead of hoping that America will eventually deliver them from communism, they saved themselves. One way or another, they left their countries and pursued the American Dream in America proper.

They somehow reached those shores – welcoming shores, in those times, set to work and made it.
You see, in those times the American Dream was not as much about becoming rich as it was about becoming ‘your own man’. Being rich was considered useful, indeed, only it wasn’t seen as a goal in itself.

As to how to do it, things were crystal clear. Luck was optional while hard work was deemed essential. And, often enough for people to become convinced, things went on as expected!

‘Find what you’re good at, work hard and, sooner rather than later, your dream will come true’.

And it did. For many enough so that achieving the American Dream was considered to be the norm rather than an exception.
Maybe not for everybody. But for many enough so that Regular Joe was convinced that hard work and determination will take you places.

Is this assumption still valid today?

When so many of the well paying jobs have been exported?
When it’s far easier to make money by investing already owned capital than it is to work your way up the socio-economic ladder?

A lot of people point their finger at those who prefer to take hand-outs instead of accepting minimum wage jobs.
On the face of it, it doesn’t make much sense, does it?
No matter how generous, hand-outs will never be large enough for a comfortable life. While hard work will, eventually, take you there.
Are you sure about that? About hard work eventually taking you ‘there’? In the present conditions?

Furthermore, the former American Dream was about about giving your best before expecting Fate to reward your efforts.
Today’s mantra, ‘greed is good’, had completely altered the premises.
‘Get as much as you can, give as little as possible’ has become the new modus operandi.

What?!?

Maybe put in this way it will be easier to recognize.

Buy low, sell high.

‘Profit maximization’.

You see, using fancier words, those who prefer hand-outs to hard work do nothing but obey, intuitively, the law of the diminishing returns.

Then hand-outs should be drastically reduced!

That’s, indeed, one way of solving the problem…

Except for another ‘rule’.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar!

But this is about ‘flies’, not ‘people’!

Yeah, right… as if people were less intelligent than flies…

You see, Henry Ford had found a way out. By dramatically increasing the ‘benefits’ extended to his workers he had managed to retain a stable work force. And, an unforeseen consequence, he had set in motion the wheels of the consumer society. The very economic set up which had made possible the fulfillment of the American Dream.

Currently, solvent demand is drying up.
Unnoticeably, for now.
For as long as credit will take up the slack, the evidence will remain under the radar.

But ‘evidence’ has the bad habit of hitting the fan.
Exactly at the worst possible moment…

It’s not necessarily a coincidence that this group of Goldman Sachs analysts chose the current moment in which to speak up, bucking the grin-and-bear-it culture.
There are a mix of factors at play: the ubiquity of social media, where the survey initially appeared; the rise of a generation more conscious of workplace toxicity and mental health; and a general sentiment of activism for equity.
The pandemic may have become a factor, too. Keenan notes that, from his experience, office camaraderie was one of the things that buoyed him through the worst days. In isolation during forced remote work, many of these tough experiences may be made even tougher, exacerbating their effects
.”

Meredith Turits, Is extreme working culture worth the big rewards?
BBC Worklife, 27th April 2021

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