di Francesco Simoncelli
Alla fine ci siamo arrivati. Inizia a sgretolarsi quel muro di certezze che granitico aveva sorretto le illusioni che i pianificatori monetari centrali avevano elargito alla massa. Eccoci, quindi, a discutere di come una banca potrebbe far cadere il domino di mattoncini che sin dal 2008 erano stati eretti attraverso le politiche monetarie straordinarie, strategia applaudita dalla maggior parte dei commentatori economici. Eppure eccoci qui, otto anni dopo, a parlare di come tutto questo caos economico sarebbe potuto essere evitato. Gli Austriaci avevano detto come e perché. Rivediamo tale come e perché sia stato lanciato come avvertimento e non come "cassandrata", soprattutto attraverso due esempi emblematici. Ovvero, i pazienti zero.
FRODE, FRODE OVUNQUE
Osservate queste due immagini.
La prima rappresenta l'interconnessione dell'attuale sistema bancario europeo. In altre parole, quell'immagine rappresenta i tasselli del domino. Per chi volesse approfondire ho avuto modo di parlare dei cosiddetti GSIB in questo articolo. La seconda immagine, invece, rappresenta il lending facility della BCE, ovvero, la "stanza" utilizzata dalla banca centrale europea per ottenere prestiti in brevissimo termine. È una misura cautelativa, la quale serve semplicemente a puntellare le riserve delle banche commerciali presso la stessa banca centrale. Nel caso di crisi si dimostra che esistono riserve solide da cui attingere, le quali vengono temporaneamente fatte uscire attraverso accordi di repurchase agreement. È quasi lo stesso modo usato dalla FED per mostrare ai mercati mondiali che sta tentando di sgonfiare il suo enorme bilancio da circa $4,500 miliardi; essa invece fa ricorso ai reverse repurchase agreement.
Inutile sottolineare come suddetta interconnessione rappresenti una bomba ad orologeria innescata di cui non si può vedere il timer. Qualsiasi istituto di credito, ormai, potrebbe rappresentare l'innesco della caduta del domino. Dal sistema bancario commerciale italiano, a Commerzbank, fino a Deutsche Bank. MPS è un caso emblematico, poiché se fosse fallita si sarebbe portata dietro tutti quegli istituti di credito di cui era debitrice. L'ultima cosa che vogliono al giorno d'oggi i pianificatori monetari centrali è l'azzeramento o addirittura la semplice riduzione degli attivi di una banca GSIB. Lo stesso discorso vale per assicurazioni, hedge fund, fondi pensione. Ma anche le cosiddette stime ufficiali danno per "eccessiva" l'attuale pseudo-ripresa. I pazzi monetari scatenati stanno pompando liquidità al ritmo di $200 miliardi al mese. E cosa hanno da mostrare come risultato? Redditività aziendale ai minimi, debito a rischio ai massimi, asset gonfiati artificialmente di prezzo. E c'è addirittura chi parla di "tapering". E no, il bilancio della FED non si sta riducendo perché sta vendendo asset alla vecchia maniera.
Le principali banche centrali del mondo sono all'angolo e non sapranno che pesci pigliare quando la prossima recessione spazzerà via l'illusione di stabilità finora spacciata attraverso la ZIRP, il presunto effetto ricchezza a cascata e l'obiettivo d'inflazione al 2%. Per non parlare delle mosse implementate dalla maggior parte delle banche centrali del mondo. Sono tutte impantanate con la ZIRP, di conseguenza quando arriverà la prossima recessione non potranno tagliare ulteriormente i tassi d'interesse senza scatenare una rivolta popolare. E non potranno aumentarli senza scatenare un caos a livello obbligazionario e azionario. Sono in trappola. Ma i fondamentali di mercato sono in continuo deterioramento, perché la politica monetaria allentata e il presunto effetto ricchezza a cascata delle banche centrali non hanno funzionato. Il canale della trasmissione monetaria a Main Street è rotto a causa del suo raggiungimento di una condizione di Picco del Debito, quindi ora esistono due economie parallele. Problema: i pianificatori monetari centrali pensano che resterà per sempre così, invece diventeranno perpendicolari scontrandosi.
Perché? Perché al giorno d'oggi s'è ripresentato di nuovo quello che per i keyensiani è un paradosso: stagflazione. I deficit continueranno ad erodere ricchezza reale, mentre il settore privato non sarà in grado di stare al passo con questo processo aumentando l'incidenza della legge dei rendimenti decrescenti. Questo significa che si arriverà ad un punto di rottura: inflazione di massa o depressione. Dipenderà da come si muoveranno le banche centrali e gli stati (io propendo per il primo esito). Infatti è proprio questo che c'è in cantiere, visto che l'intellighenzia è orientata verso la propaganda di uno stimolo fiscale. Ovvero, lo stato dovrebbe spendere di più, dovrebbe essere più invadente. Paul Krugman e Larry Summers l'hanno ripetuto fino alla nausea.
Questo è l'esito che attende tutte quelle nazioni che hanno gozzovigliato con la stampante monetaria pensando di poter seppellire sotto un cumulo di carta straccia problemi economici latenti. È proprio per questo motivo per cui una nuova crisi sta arrivando: gli errori economici eruttati prorompenti nel 2008 non sono stati corretti. Questo significa che quelle entità che sono state tenute artificialmente in vita attraverso interventi centrali, non hanno fatto altro che risucchiare risorse reali e sprecarle. È il caso infatti di tutte quelle grandi banche commerciali che fino ad ora sono risuonate sulle prime pagine dei giornali. Deutsche Bank è solo l'ultima di una lunga serie. È meglio dire che più si tengono in vita e più si rimanda nel tempo la correzione degli errori economici, più alacre sarà infine la correzione recessiva.
Infatti la banca tedesca è di gran lunga più sistemica rispetto alla Lehman e il suo parco derivati è venti volte più grande del PIL tedesco. Inutile dire che la situazione è peggiorata, poiché come è stato detto sopra, il canale della trasmissione monetaria all'economia più ampia è rotto a causa del raggiungimento della condizione di Picco del Debito, quindi lo stimolo monetario partorito dalle banche centrali è rimasto confinato nel circuito finanziario. Il denaro creato ex-novo è andato a saturare i bilanci delle grandi imprese, le quali, non potendo più contare su segnali economici genuini, non hanno potuto far altro che sostenersi non attraverso una domanda genuina di mercato, bensì attraverso l'ingegneria finanziaria.
Ciò non ha fatto altro che far aumentare debiti e capacità in eccesso in quei settori ritenuti superflui dalle priorità d'acquisto degli attori di mercato. Ma le banche commerciali ormai detengono parecchio di tale debito, per non parlare delle banche centrali. Ed per questo motivo che, ad esempio, la BCE sta prendendo in considerazione la possibilità di estendere il proprio programma di QE al settore azionario. Finora questo atteggiamento interventista non ha fatto altro che scatenare crisi sempre più grandi: crollo immobiliare e azionario giapponesi nel 1989, crisi asiatica del debito nel 1997, crisi russa del debito nel 1998, bolla dot-com nel 2001, bolla immobiliare nel 2008. Queste mosse, comunque, per quanto disperate hanno un progenitore unico, un paziente zero: il Giappone.
DUE CASI DI STUDIO: ARGENTINA E GIAPPONE
Sebbene il Giappone possa essere il paziente zero per eccellenza, ne esiste un altro. In questo segmento analizzerò la storia economica di entrambi per tracciare una linea continua e dimostrare come la presunta onniscienza dei pianificatori monetari centrali, altro non è che uno specchietto per le allodole per trarre in inganno gli sprovveduti e truffarli, generando solamente distruzione economica. L'altro esempio è l'Argentina.
Alla fine del XIX secolo le terre argentine erano carezzate da idee liberali, e uno stato minimo unito a tasse basse, rendevano quei posti appetibili agli immigrati. In quel periodo l'Argentina era praticamente considerata alla stregua degli Stati Uniti: un luogo con una moneta sonante e una burocrazia praticamente assente. I flussi migratori erano in ascesa e il paese prosperava, grazie ad una politica praticamente improntata sul laissez-faire. In meno di una generazione, la nazione divenne la terza più ricca del pianeta. L'intera America Latina guardava con invidia come il commercio scorresse florido nelle pampa e come l'Argentina fosse diventata accogliente dimora delle principali migliorie tecnologiche del secolo.
Ma quando il nido a farsi pieno di uova, ecco arrivare un approfittatore pronto a trarne vantaggio. Nel nostro caso si tratta delle persone che "sanno (apparentemente) di più", coloro in grado di migliorare le vita altrui mettendo a disposizione della collettività il loro ingegno. È proprio questo il problema: una mente che spaccia la propria conoscenza come universale. E allora ecco che iniziano a serpeggiare le idee collettiviste, facendo spazio a rigidi cambiamenti che hanno lo scopo di incasellare quanto più possibile la vita degli individui in modo da renderli prevedibili agli occhi del pianificatore centrale di turno. Le asimmetrie informative lasciano spazio a presunte simmetrie, che in realtà non cancellano le prime bensì tentano di sovrapporvisi. Il decentramento lascia, quindi, spazio ad un persistente accentramento. La prosperità lascia spazio al declino.
Ed è proprio questo quello che accadde all'Argentina a partire dalla prima guerra mondiale. Tal processo accelerò con la Grande Depressione degli anni '30, dove il crollo dei prezzi delle commodity assestò un duro colpo all'economia argentina. In poco tempo la corsa verso la prosperità divenne la corsa per appropriarsi delle ricchezze degli altri, con una classe dirigente sempre più opportunista e dedita ad espropriare i creatori di ricchezza. Il colpo di grazie arrivò nello stesso periodo quando venne istituita la banca centrale ed essa provvedette a fare il suo "lavoro": svalutare la moneta. Durante gli anni '40, e le carneficine di massa in Europa, l'Argentina sperimentò un periodo di tregua, con la sua industria alimentare che lavorava a pieno ritmo per soddisfare una domanda mondiale crescente. Il problema, però, si presentò al momento della fine della guerra, dove la domanda mondiale cambiò in base alle nuove condizioni e le industrie alimentari argentine chiedevano protezione.
L'ascesa di Péron, un uomo militare, fu la goccia che fece traboccare il vaso: le industrie vennero nazionalizzate e divennero inefficienti, le riserve d'oro e dollari evaporarono, le ferrovie vennero nazionalizzate e divennero inefficienti, i mezzi di divulgazione (radio, giornali, ecc.) vennero nazionalizzati e divennero inefficienti, ecc. Il paese non stava facendo altro che mangiare i semi che aveva messo da parte piuttosto che piantarli per far crescere nuove colture. L'unico intervallo in cui sembrò che questo declino dovesse arrestarsi fu i dieci anni di governo di Menem, i quali, sebbene non fossero improntati secondo un'ottica di mercato, diedero al paese un po' di respiro cercando in qualche modo di restringere le spire dello stato. Ma quelle di Menem erano mezze misure, completamente inadeguate per curare i malanni della pianificazione centrale del paese.
Infatti non bastò agganciare il peso al dollaro, visto che i malanni alla base dell'economia argentina erano incarnati in una teoria economica votata all'irresponsabilità. L'espansionismo monetario artificiale coadiuvato dalla riserva frazionaria del sistema bancario commerciale, resero inutile questa mossa di ridare forza al peso. Prima o poi situazioni simili vanno fuori controllo, e ciò fu il caso nel novembre 2001 quando in Argentina vennero emanati controlli sui prezzi e controlli sui capitali: vennero limitati i prelievi di denaro e venne limitata l'esportazione di capitali. Il quadro nefasto venne completato quando, l'anno successivo, il peso venne pesantemente svalutato nei confronti del dollaro e tutti coloro con un con un conto di risparmio o deposito in peso, si videro derubati del 30% dei loro risparmi/depositi. Il problema non era il peg col dollaro, ma la politica economica sbagliata.
E per nascondere le loro colpe, i pianificatori monetari centrali fecero di peggio: prima congelarono tutti i conti di deposito/risparmio sopra i $3,000 e poi tutti i conti in dollari vennero convertiti forzatamente in pesos. Visto che la maggior di tali conti era proprio in dollari, e che all'epoca il peso valeva $0.60, i pianificatori monetari centrali attuarono un vero e proprio furto nei confronti della popolazione argentina per salvaguardare il sistema economico finanziario così com'era.
In sostanza, sembra che l'economia argentina, sin dal secondo dopoguerra, sia stata sottoposta a quello che io definisco "continuo waterboarding economico". Un processo di alti e bassi che segue un trend discendente. Infatti, dopo l'inizio del secolo, nonostante la tirannia economica che hanno dovuto sopportare gli attori di mercato argentini, il paese è tornato brevemente a respirare agganciandosi al treno del ciclo economico stimolato dalle politiche monetarie allentate statunitensi. In particolare, ha tratto nuovamente vantaggio dall'aumento del prezzo delle commodity
Su queste pagine continuavo a ripetere che i dati ufficiali argentini erano falsati. Era praticamente impossibile un incremento dei salari del 25%-30% in un'economia con un'inflazione (presumibilmente) all'8%. Avrebbe comportato un incremento del costo del lavoro assolutamente insostenibile, a meno che non ci fosse stato un incremento di produttività del lavoro a sostegno dei tassi di crescita dell'economia. Davvero era possibile una cosa del genere in un luogo in cui la Kirchener aveva nazionalizzato le due più grandi linee aeree del paese? Davvero era possibile una cosa del genere in un luogo in cui la Kirchener aveva nazionalizzato le più grandi aziende petrolifere? Davvero era possibile una cosa del genere in un luogo in cui la Kirchener aveva nazionalizzato i fondi pensione? Davvero era possibile una cosa del genere in un luogo in cui la Kirchener aveva imposto tasse ingombranti sulle esportazioni?
La cosa più probabile è che l'inflazione non fosse all'8%, ma al 20%-25%. Ciò non esclude altre macchinazioni statistiche, come un deflatore del PIL minore di quello corretto. Ora il Financial Times riporta che l'ufficio di statistica argentina comunicherà le revisioni sui conti del PIL e che uno studio condotto dall'Università di Harvard, in collaborazione con l'Università di Buenos Aires, evidenzia come il PIL argentino andrebbe corretto al ribasso del 40%. Insomma sembra ormai assodato, oltre ogni ragionevole dubbio, che la Kirchener e il suo gruppo di banditi abbiano taroccato i conti.
Dopo le ultime elezioni, il cosiddetto vento del cambiamento ha fatto entrare aria nuova nelle terre argentine. Il neo-eletto Macrì ha promesso di far risorgere il paese dopo che la Kirchener l'ha messo in ginocchio a suon di nazionalizzazioni e stampa monetaria. Ci riuscirà? Probabilmente sarà meno "estremista" rispetto alla sua collega, ciononostante la rinnovata fiducia estera nel paese delle pampa utilizza questo cambiamento come maschera. La verità è che, come ben sappiamo, i mercati sviluppati stanno soffrendo di una fame di rendimenti decenti cronica a causa della politica dei tassi a zero. Questo spinge coloro che hanno il compito di far fruttare gli asset (AUM), a correre rischi in base al presunto presupposto che le banche centrali rimarranno accomodanti ancora a lungo. Quindi non è un caso se di recente l'Argentina sia riuscita a piazzare bond spazzatura per $16.5 miliardi.
Sebbene le basi di questa domanda siano marce, la borsa argentina guadagna trazione. Ora, dato che sappiamo che le attenzioni nei confronti dell'Argentina sono fondamentalmente legate ad un mercato drogato di denaro fiat, avvicinarsi al mercato a rendimento fisso non credo sia saggio. Chi vuole puntare sull'Argentina dovrebbe farlo semplicemente per speculare nel breve periodo. Di conseguenza in questa ottica diventa attraente il mercato azionario argentino, in modo da avere una finestra sempre aperta in cui si voglia scappare. Insomma affinché si possa avere una diversificazione quanto più agile possibile. E, a meno di un rimbalzo del petrolio e delle commodity in generale, meglio lasciar stare il comparto energetico e puntare sul comparto delle utilities e del settore bancario.
È quindi iniziato un nuovo giro di "waterboarding economico", con il prigioniero che potrebbe restarci secco da un momento all'altro.
PRIMA TOKYO, POI BUENOS AIRES
Nonostante i fallimenti plateali registrati nelle politiche monetarie e sociali in Argentina, si potrebbe liquidare la cosa come l'ennesimo esperimento socialista del Sud-America. Sotto i nostri occhi ci sono i rimasugli dell'ennesimo laboratorio socialista sud-americano, il Venezuela, dove controlli dei prezzi ed espansionismo monetario sfrenato hanno condannato all'estrema povertà i venezuelani. Fortunatamente ci si sta accorgendo che tirare troppo la corda potrebbe essere deleterio. Ciononostante c'è anche un altro esempio nel mondo moderno che ci permette di affermare come i pianificatori monetari centrali non sanno quello che fanno e lungo il loro cammino lasciano solamente morte e distruzione economica. Un esempio lontano anni luce dai "pregiudizi" riguardanti il Sud-America. Sto parlando del Giappone.
Alla fine del secondo conflitto mondiale, l'economia giapponese era un cumulo di macerie. La guerra aveva riscosso un pedaggio alto soprattutto sulle infrastrutture del paese del sol levante, sia per quanto riguardava le industrie sia per quanto riguardava le abitazioni civili sia per quanto riguardava le vie di comunicazione. Malgrado ciò i giapponesi si rimboccarono le maniche, dando vita a ad un boom economico che venne definito "un miracolo". Ovviamente non era nulla di tutto ciò, poiché questo è il normale funzionamento dei mercati quando vengono lasciati liberi di funzionare.
Ma se c'è una cosa che i pianificatori centrali odiano, è persone libere che determinano i mercati in base alle loro esigenze e necessità. Di conseguenza non passò molto prima che intervennero. Sul lato estero, il protezionismo rampante e i dazi sulle importazioni hanno incancrenito il cosiddetto "miracolo"; sul lato interno, a causa di tasse alte e normative opprimenti le start-up sono state uccise sul nascere mentre le grandi aziende sono state schermate dalla concorrenza. La ciliegina sulla torta ce la mise la BOJ, poiché svalutando lo yen rese attraente il settore dell'export, ma così facendo non fece altro che rendere costose le importazioni (e stiamo parlando di un paese che ci campa con le importazioni) e sovvenzionare artificialmente il benessere degli altri paesi. Inutile dire che in questo modo le grandi aziende divennero praticamente a tutti gli effetti branche dello stato, e tutto ciò a discapito della produttività.
La spirale di morte dell'economia giapponese è peggiorata definitivamente all'incirca tre decenni fa, andando ad acuire tutti quegli errori economici che erano stati accumulato in precedenza. La scarsa competitività delle aziende e il cestinamento dello yen hanno portato all'inizio della resa dei conti, accelerando il corso della legge dei rendimenti decrescenti. Il punto cruciale è sempre stato unico: il Lunedì Nero e la scoperta della stampante monetaria nel seminterrato della FED da parte di Greenspan. Quest'ultimo per smorzare la correzione dei mercati avviò le rotative dell'Eccles Building, facendo scendere il dollaro in rapporto alle altre valute del mondo. Questo significa che lo yen, nel nostro caso, raddoppiò di valore, andando ad incidere sul lato delle esportazioni del paese. Perseguendo una politica mercantilista, la BOJ rispose allentando pesantemente la sua posizione monetaria, iniettando nuova liquidità nel sistema economico che trovò dimora soprattutto nel valore dei terreni.
Il settore finanziario divenne estremamente gonfio e il Nikkei quadruplicò i suoi numeri. La crescita smisurata del settore finanziario è un chiaro segno di bolla gonfiata dal settore bancario centrale, ma diversamente da oggi in cui la maggior parte delle economie sviluppate ha raggiunto una condizione di Picco del Debito, all'epoca il canale della trasmissione monetaria con l'economia di Main Street era ancora integro. Infatti questa follia monetaria risultò in famiglie e piccole/medie imprese che contrassero enormi quantità di debiti supportati da risparmi inesistenti. Era inevitabile che questa bolla scoppiasse, dato il restringimento del bacino della ricchezza reale che comportava. Il 1989 fu l'anno fatidico: il Nikkei crollò di oltre l'80% del suo precedente valore, i prezzi delle case colarono a picco, e la crescita del PIL finì ad un anemico 1%.
Il successivo "decennio perduto" non è stato altro che il periodo in cui l'economia giapponese ha cercato di ripulirsi da tutti gli errori al suo interno, ma questo processo è stato costantemente impedito dalla successiva intrusione della pianificazione monetaria centrale.
Ormai sono tre anni che la BOJ sta tentando disperatamente di raggiungere quell'obiettivo d'inflazione del 2% che considera la panacea di tutti i mali economici. Come vediamo dal grafico qui sopra, lo stimolo monetario è servito a poco o niente per far rimettere in carreggiata l'economia giapponese. E quindi cos'ha fatto la BOJ ogni volta che è risultato palese come la formula "più della stessa cosa" non funzionava? Ha raddoppiato la dose. Oltre ad essere diventata il market maker nel mercato obbligazionario giapponese, ha inglobato nel proprio bilancio ETF azionari e J-Reit (fondi immobiliari). Più è intervenuta, più gli effetti transitori del QE sono svaniti più in fretta, lasciando il disastro conseguente: salari reali stagnanti, incapacità di competere da parte delle aziende, redditi fissi esposti all'inflazione seppur "contenuta" (almeno come calcolata dai mulini statistici dello stato). Ma quando il mercato diventa saturo di errori economici inizia a non rispondere più agli stimoli centrali, avviando correzioni ad ogni minimo accenno di panico. Questo significa deflazione dei prezzi per quegli asset gonfiati artificialmente dalla precedente manna monetaria artificiale.
Kuroda, però, ha continuato a scendere lungo la scala del dissesto economico, implementando tassi negativi del -0.10% sulle riserve in eccesso detenute dalle banche commerciali presso la BOJ. Non solo, ecco l'ennesima follia: la BOJ comprerà qualsiasi decennale sovrano affinché il relativo rendimento sia inchiodato allo zero. Quindi la BOJ pensa di stabilizzare il mercato obbligazionario facendo sprofondare la curva dei rendimenti antecedente il decennale nella zona del sotto zero, e, nel frattempo, fornire alle banche commerciali possibilità di un briciolo di rendimento frenando gli acquisti successivi al decennale giapponese. In sostanza le banche commerciali potranno mostrare bilanci positivi a fine anno, grazie all'acquisto di trentennali giapponesi ad esempio. Qual è l'inghippo? Se i tassi a breve termine scenderanno ancor di più nel sottoscala della storia economica, le banche commerciali saranno costrette a traslare i costi derivanti da questo effetto sui depositanti. Questo vuol dire spostamento dei tassi negativi sui conti dei depositanti, oppure aumento degli interessi richiesti per i prestiti.
Esatto. A pagare il conto della follia monetaria giapponese saranno i contribuenti e i depositanti. Siamo passati dal quantitative easing al quantitative and qualitative easing, fino a giungere adesso al quantitative and qualitative easing in check with the yield curve. Il fine ultimo dei pazzi monetari è quello di diluire nel tempo l'onerosità del debito pubblico, ma, come nel caso dell'Argentina, il cosiddetto waterboarding economico sta portando alla morte il paziente: la legge dei rendimenti decrescenti sta accelerando il suo corso. Giappone e Argentina hanno semplicemente tracciato la via lungo la quale anche il resto dell'Occidente ha iniziato a camminare. Se volete un assaggio del futuro, guardate al dissesto economico che hanno provocato in quelle terre i pianificatori monetari centrali
Ci sono parecchie bombe finanziarie ad orologeria innescate nell'attuale panorama economico. Dal mercato azionario, a quello obbligazionario, ai problemi crescenti del comparto bancario commerciale, allo stress politico, al rallentamento economico globale, fino al fatto più importante: la perdita della fiducia. È questa la moneta più commerciata nel mondo finanziario di oggi. Ma è evanescente, non è sonante. L'attuale sistema economico, quindi, è fondato su basi argillose che lo stanno man mano fagocitando. Durante la discesa, l'Occidente seguirà il percorso suicida già intrapreso da Giappone e Argentina. Questi due paesi sono il simbolo per eccellenza di come i pianificatori monetari centrali sono risuciti a distruggere la prosperità economica. La stessa storia si ripeterà in quei paesi che hanno scioccamente deciso di seguire le loro orme. Invece d'imparare dagli errori, stanno perseverando negli errori. Finirà male.
Contrary to popular belief on the impact of US Presidential election results, Marc Faber the author of the The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, is of the view that Hillary Clinton’s victory may not be positive for the global markets. Calling Hillary Clinton a war monger, Faber says that if she is elected, international tensions will increase. “The belief is that if Trump gets elected then it would be negative for the asset markets, US markets. A Hillary victory would be positive. I am not so sure about this belief because Hillary is basically a neocon and a war monger,” Faber told CNBC TV-18. “She has supported the invasion of a variety of countries already. So her election may lead to more international tensions,” Faber said.
Faber believes that Trump as US President would be more aware of America’s declining super power status. “Trump is more aware of the fact that the US super power stand is gradually waning and that other countries are coming up. He knows that US cannot fight the whole world and that it cannot be the policeman to the whole world. US has to gradually start negotiating with other countries on equal terms,” says Faber.
While stating that US media and even the US Federal Reserve are supporting Hillary Clinton, Faber said that irrespective of who becomes the US President, central banks will continue to print money. “There is no other way out. The system is basically bankrupt so money printing will continue,” he said.
Who won or lost last night’s debate doesn’t really matter. What matters is that Trump wasn’t able to score the knock-out blows required to impact his declining polling numbers in a meaningful way. Meanwhile, of all the points made in last night’s debate, the only one that seems to matter to the mainstream media this morning is that Trump is somehow plotting to overthrow our democracy by refusing to accept election results on November 8th.
Of course, facts do seem to support Trump’s claim that the election is rigged and not just as a result of a biased mainstream media that refuses to cover Hillary’s various scandals. In fact, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2012, the capacity for voter fraud in the U.S. is substantial with nearly 2mm dead people found to be registered voters and nearly 3mm people registered in multiple states.
- Approximately 24 million—one of every eight—voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate
- More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters
- Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state
Add to that the recent Project Veritas videos showing democratic operatives paying people to incite violence at republican rallies and actually bragging about “bussing” in out-of-state voters to commit massive voter fraud and Trump’s claims of “election rigging” seem hard to deny.
After watching those videos, does this tweet really seem all that inaccurate?
Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2016
Of course, according to The Hill, republicans this morning are jumping at the opportunity to bash their own party’s nominee with Lindsey Graham saying that “Trump is doing the party and our country a great disservice.”
Many Republicans were tired of Trump’s talk about a rigged election before his remarks on Wednesday night that he would not commit to accepting the legitimacy of the vote count on Election Day.
Trump said there are “millions of people” who are registered to vote illegally, alleged that the media has “poisoned the minds of the voters,” and pledged to keep the nation in “suspense” over whether he’d concede the race to Clinton.
Trump’s critics seized on his remarks after the debate, and Republicans down the ballot will be forced to weigh in over the coming days.
Several jumped at the chance.
“Mr. Trump is doing the party and our country a great disservice by continuing to suggest the outcome of this election is out of his hands and ‘rigged’ against him,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “It will not be because the system is ‘rigged’ but because he failed as a candidate.”
.@realDonaldTrump saying that he might not accept election results is beyond the pale
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) October 20, 2016
Of course, other topics were discussed during the debate with Trump seemingly scoring points during the abortion scuffle, the supreme court discussion and Hillary’s various FBI, email and foundation scandals. That said, we suspect none of it really matters and is already forgotten.
The GOP nominee ably defended the conservative position against abortion and stayed on the attack against Clinton on her biggest vulnerabilities, raising questions about the FBI’s investigation into her private email server, donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation and revelations from the WikiLeaks email dumps.
Regardless, as we said in the beginning of this post, none it really matters as the key takeaway from last night was that “Trump needed a campaign-altering moment, and it didn’t happen.”
He will enter the final three weeks before Election Day trailing badly and with his support teetering on the edge of full collapse, stirring Republican fears that they could lose the House majority.
The days of Trump boasting about his polling numbers and his prospects in blue states are long gone.
Trump’s attacks against Clinton and the message that turned him into a winner in the GOP primaries won’t be enough to get him back to that place.
So, outside of some new bombshell development from WikiLeaks or wherever, we suspect this one is in the bag.
Reprinted with permission from Zero Hedge.
This essay was first published under the title of The Political Thought of Étienne de La Boétie.
Étienne de La Boétie has been best remembered as the great and close friend of the eminent essayist Michel de Montaigne, in one of history’s most notable friendships. But he would be better remembered, as some historians have come to recognize, as one of the seminal political philosophers, not only as a founder of modern political philosophy in France but also for the timeless relevance of many of his theoretical insights.
Étienne de La Boétie was born in Sarlat, in the Périgord region of southwest France, in 1530, to an aristocratic family. His father was a royal official of the Périgord region and his mother was the sister of the president of the Bordeaux Parlement (assembly of lawyers). Orphaned at an early age, he was brought up by his uncle and namesake, the curate of Bouilbonnas, and received his law degree from the University of Orléans in 1553. His great and precocious ability earned La Boétie a royal appointment to the Bordeaux Parlement the following year, despite his being under the minimum age. There he pursued a distinguished career as judge and diplomatic negotiator until his untimely death in 1563, at the age of thirty-two. La Boétie was also a distinguished poet and humanist, translating Xenophon and Plutarch, and being closely connected with the leading young Pleiade group of poets, including Pierre Ronsard, Jean Dorat, and Jean-Antoine de Baif.
La Boétie’s great contribution to political thought was written while he was a law student at the University of Orléans, where he imbibed the spirit of free inquiry that prevailed there. In this period of questing and religious ferment, the University of Orléans was a noted center of free and untrammeled discussion. La Boétie’s main teacher there was the fiery Anne du Bourg, later to become a Huguenot martyr, and burned at the stake for heresy in 1559. Du Bourg was not yet a Protestant, but was already tending in that direction, and it was no accident that this University was later to become a center of Calvinism, nor that some of La Boétie’s fellow students were to become Huguenot leaders. One of these was La Boétie’s best friend at the University, and Du Bourg’s favorite student, Lambert Daneau. The study of law in those days was an exciting enterprise, a philosophical search for truth and fundamental principles. In the sixteenth century, writes Paul Bonnefon, “The teaching of the law was a preaching rather than an institution, a sort of search for truth, carried on by teacher and student in common, and which they feverishly undertook together, opening up an endless field for philosophic speculation.” It was this kind of atmosphere in the law schools of Orléans and other leading French universities in which Calvin himself, two decades earlier, had begun to develop his ideas of Protestant Reform. And it was in that kind of atmosphere, as well, that lawyers were to form one of the most important centers of Calvinist strength in France.
In the ferment of his law school days at Orléans, Étienne de La Boétie composed his brief but scintillating, profound and deeply radical Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (Discours de la Servitude Volontaire) The
The first striking thing about the monarchomach writers (those sectarian writers who argued for the right of subjects to resist unjust rulers) of the 1570’s and 1580’s, whom La Boétie resembled in his opposition to tyranny. While the Huguenot monarchomachs, best exemplified by François Hotman’s Franco-Gallia
In his abstract, universal reasoning, his development of a true political philosophy, and his frequent references to classical antiquity, La Boétie followed the method of Renaissance writers, notably Niccolò Machiavelli. There was, however, a crucial difference: whereas Machiavelli attempted to instruct the Prince on ways of cementing his rule, La Boétie was dedicated to discussing ways to overthrow him and thus to secure the liberty of the individual. Thus, Emile Brehier makes a point of contrasting the cynical realism of Machiavelli with the “juridical idealism” of Étienne de La Boétie. In fact, however, La Boétie’s concentration on abstract reasoning and on the universal rights of the individual might better be characterized as foreshadowing the political thinking of the eighteenth century. As J. W. Allen writes, the Discoursewas an “essay on the natural liberty, equality and fraternity of man.” The essay “gave a general support to the Huguenot pamphleteers by its insistence that natural law and natural rights justified forcible resistance to tyrannous government.” But the language of universal natural rights itself, Allen correctly adds, “served no Huguenot purpose. It served, in truth, no purpose at all at the time, though, one day, it might come to do so.” Or, as Harold Laski trenchantly put it: “A sense of popular right such as the friend of Montaigne depicts is, indeed, as remote from the spirit of the time as the anarchy of Herbert Spencer in an age committed to government interference.”
The contrast between the proto-eighteenth-century speculative natural rights approach of La Boétie, and the narrowly legalistic and concrete-historical emphasis of the Huguenot writers who reprinted and used the
The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude
This, then, becomes for La Boétie the central problem of political theory:
I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him; who could do them absolutely no injury unless they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him. Surely a striking situation! Yet it is so common that one must grieve the more and wonder the less at the spectacle of a million men serving in wretchedness, their necks under the yoke, not constrained by a greater multitude than they… 
And this mass submission must be out of consent rather than simply out of fear:
Shall we call subjection to such a leader cowardice? … If a hundred, if a thousand endure the caprice of a single man, should we not rather say that they lack not the courage but the desire to rise against him, and that such an attitude indicates indifference rather than cowardice? When not a hundred, not a thousand men, but a hundred provinces, a thousand cities, a million men, refuse to assail a single man from whom the kindest treatment received is the infliction of serfdom and slavery, what shall we call that? Is it cowardice? … When a thousand, a million men, a thousand cities, fail to protect themselves against the domination of one man, this cannot be called cowardly, for cowardice does not sink to such a depth… What monstrous vice, then, is this which does not even deserve to be called cowardice, a vice for which no term can be found vile enough … ? 
It is evident from the above passages that La Boétie is bitterly opposed to tyranny and to the public’s consent to its own subjection. He makes clear also that this opposition is grounded on a theory of natural law and a natural right to liberty. In childhood, presumably because the rational faculties are not yet developed, we obey our parents; but when grown, we should follow our own reason, as free individuals. As La Boétie puts it: “If we led our lives according to the ways intended by nature and the lessons taught by her, we should be intuitively obedient to our parents; later we should adopt reason as our guide and become slaves to nobody.” Reason is our guide to the facts and laws of nature and to humanity’s proper path, and each of us has “in our souls some native seed of reason, which, if nourished by good counsel and training, flowers into virtue, but which, on the other hand, if unable to resist the vices surrounding it, is stifled and blighted.” And reason, La Boétie adds, teaches us the justice of equal liberty for all. For reason shows us that nature has, among other things, granted us the common gift of voice and speech. Therefore, “there can be no further doubt that we are all naturally free,” and hence it cannot be asserted that “nature has placed some of us in slavery.” Even animals, he points out, display a natural instinct to be free. But then, what in the world “has so, denatured man that he, the only creature really born to be free, lacks the memory of his original condition and the desire to return to it?”
La Boétie’s celebrated and creatively original call for civil disobedience, for mass non-violent resistance as a method for the overthrow of tyranny, stems directly from the above two premises: the fact that all rule rests on the consent of the subject masses, and the great value of natural liberty. For if tyranny really rests on mass consent, then the obvious means for its overthrow is simply by mass
Thus, after concluding that all tyranny rests on popular consent, La Boétie eloquently concludes that “obviously there is no need of fighting to overcome this single tyrant, for he is automatically defeated if the country refuses consent to its own enslavement.” Tyrants need not be expropriated by force; they need only be deprived of the public’s continuing supply of funds and resources. The more one yields to tyrants, La Boétie points out, the stronger and mightier they become. But if the tyrants “are simply not obeyed,” they become “undone and as nothing.” La Boétie then exhorts the “poor, wretched, and stupid peoples” to cast off their chains by refusing to supply the tyrant any further with the instruments of their own oppression. The tyrant, indeed, has nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except through you? How would he dare assail you if he had not cooperation from you?
La Boétie concludes his exhortation by assuring the masses that to overthrow the tyrant they need not act, nor shed their blood. They can do so “merely by willing to be free.” In short,
Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.
It was a medieval tradition to justify tyrannicide of unjust rulers who break the divine law, but La Boétie’s doctrine, though non-violent, was in the deepest sense far more radical. For while the assassination of a tyrant is simply an isolated individual act within an existing political system, mass civil disobedience, being a direct act on the part of large masses of people, is far more revolutionary in launching a transformation of the system itself. It is also more elegant and profound in theoretical terms, flowing immediately as it does from La Boétie’s insight about power necessarily resting on popular consent; for then the remedy to power is simply to withdraw that consent.
The call for mass civil disobedience was picked up by one of the more radical of the later Huguenot pamphlets, La France Turquie (1575), which advocated an association of towns and provinces for the purpose of refusing to pay all taxes to the State. But it is not surprising that among the most enthusiastic advocates of mass civil disobedience have been the anarchist thinkers, who simply extend both La Boétie’s analysis and his conclusion from tyrannical rule to all governmental rule whatsoever. Prominent among the anarchist advocates of non-violent resistance have been Thoreau, Tolstoy, and Benjamin R. Tucker, all of the nineteenth century, and all, unsurprisingly, associated with the non-violent, pacifist branch of anarchism. Tolstoy, indeed, in setting forth his doctrine of non-violent anarchism, used a lengthy passage from the Discourse as the focal point for the development of his argument. In addition, Gustav Landauer, the leading German anarchist of the early twentieth century, after becoming converted to a pacifist approach, made a rousing summary of La Boétie’s Discourse of Voluntary Servitude the central core of his anarchist work, Die Revolution (1919). A leading Dutch pacifist-anarchist of the twentieth century, Barthelemy de Ligt, not only devoted several pages of his Conquest of Violence to discussion and praise of La Boétie’s Discourse; he also translated it into Dutch in 1933.
Several historians of anarchism have gone so far as to classify La Boétie’s treatise itself as anarchist, which is incorrect since La Boétie never extended his analysis from tyrannical government to government per se. But while La Boétie cannot be considered an anarchist, his sweeping strictures on tyranny and the universality of his political philosophy lend themselves easily to such an expansion. All this considerably disturbed La Boétie’s biographer, Paul Bonnefon, who wrote of the Discourse:
After having failed to distinguish legitimate from illicit authority, and having imprudently attacked even the principle of authority, La Boétie put forth a naïve illusion. He seems to believe that man could live in a state of nature, without society and without government, and discovered that this situation would be filled with happiness for humanity. This dream is puerile…
To the acute analyst Pierre Mesnard, Bonnefon’s alarm is wide of the mark; Mesnard believes that La Boétie defined tyranny as simply any exercise of personal power. In doing so, La Boétie went beyond the traditional twofold definition of tyranny as either usurpation of power, or government against the “laws” (which were either defined as customary law, divine law, or the natural law for the “common good” of the people). Whereas the traditional theory thus focused only on the means of the ruler’s acquiring power; and the use made of that power, Mesnard points out that La Boétie’s definition of tyranny went straight to thenature of power itself. Tyranny does not depend, as many of the older theorists had supposed, on illicit means of acquiring power, the tyrant need not be a usurper. As La Boétie declares, “There are three kinds of tyrants: some receive their proud position through elections by the people, others by force of arms, others by inheritance.” Usurpers or conquerors always act as if they are ruling a conquered country and those born to kingship “are scarcely any better, because they are nourished on the breast of tyranny, suck in with their milk the instincts of the, tyrant, and consider the people under them as their inherited serfs. As for elected they would seem to be “more bearable,” but they are always intriguing to convert the election into a hereditary despotism, and hence “surpass other tyrants … in cruelty, because they find no other means to impose this new tyranny than by tightening control and removing their subjects so far from any notion of liberty that even if the memory of it is fresh it will soon be eradicated.” In sum, La Boétie can find no choice between these three kinds of tyrants:
For although the means of coming into power differ, still the method of ruling is practically the same; those who are elected act as if they were breaking in bullocks; those who are conquerors make the people their prey; those who are heirs plan to treat them as if they were their natural slaves.
Yet Mesnard’s neat conclusion – that La Boétie meant simply to indict all personal power, all forms of monarchy, as being tyrannical – is inadequate. In the first place, in the passage quoted above La Boétie indicts elected as well as other rulers. Moreover, he states that, “having several masters, according to the number one has, it amounts to being that many times unfortunate.” These are not precisely indictments of the concept of a republic, but they leave the definition of tyranny in La Boétie sufficiently vague so that one can easily press on the anarchist conclusions.
Why do people continue to give their consent to despotism? Why do they permit tyranny to continue? This is especially puzzling if tyranny (defined at least as all personal power) must rest on mass consent, and if the way to overthrow tyranny is therefore for the people to withdraw that consent. The remainder of La Boétie’s treatise is devoted to this crucial problem, and his discussion here is as seminal and profound as it is in the earlier part of the work.
The establishment of tyranny, La Boétie points out, is most difficult at the outset, when it is first imposed. For generally, if given a free choice, people will vote to be free rather than to be slaves: “There can be no doubt that they would much prefer to be guided by reason itself than to be ordered about by the whims of a single man.” A possible exception was the voluntary choice by the Israelites to imitate other nations in choosing a king (Saul). Apart from that, tyranny can only be initially imposed by conquest or by deception. The conquest may be either by foreign armies or by an internal factional coup. The deception occurs in cases where the people, during wartime emergencies, select certain persons as dictators, thus providing the occasion for these individuals to fasten their power permanently upon the public. Once begun, however, the maintenance of tyranny is permitted and bolstered by the insidious throes of habit, which quickly accustom the people to enslavement.
It is true that in the beginning men submit under constraint and by force; but those who come after them obey without regret and perform willingly what their predecessors had done because they had to. This is why men born under the yoke and then nourished and reared in slavery are content, without further effort, to live in their native circumstance, unaware of any other state or right, and considering as quite natural the condition into which they are born … the powerful influence of custom is in no respect more compelling than in this, namely, habituation to subjection.
Thus, humanity’s natural drive for liberty is finally overpowered by the force of custom, for the reason that native endowment, no matter how good, is dissipated unless encouraged, whereas environment always shapes us in its own way, whatever that might be in spite of nature’s gifts. Therefore, those who are born enslaved should be pitied and forgiven, “since they have not seen even the shadow of liberty, and being quite unaware of it, cannot perceive the evil endured through their own slavery….” While, in short, “it is truly the nature of man to be free and to wish to be so,” yet a person’s character “instinctively follows the tendencies that his training gives him…” La Boétie concludes that “custom becomes the first reason for voluntary servitude.” People will
grow accustomed to the idea that they have always been in subjection, that their fathers lived in the same way; they will think they are obliged to suffer this evil, and will persuade themselves by example and imitation of others, finally investing those who order them around with proprietary rights, based on the idea that it has always been that way. 
Consent is also actively encouraged and engineered by the rulers; and this is another major reason for the persistence of civil obedience. Various devices are used by rulers to induce such consent. One method is by providing the masses with circuses, with entertaining diversions:
Plays, farces, spectacles, gladiators, strange beasts, medals, pictures, and other such opiates, these were for ancient peoples the bait toward slavery, the price of their liberty, the instruments of tyranny. By these practices and enticements the ancient dictators so successfully lulled their subjects under the yoke, that the stupefied peoples, fascinated by the pastimes and vain pleasures flashed before their eyes, learned subservience as naïvely, but not so creditably, as little children learn to read by looking at bright picture books.
Another method of inducing consent is purely ideological: duping the masses into believing that the tyrannical ruler is wise, just, and benevolent. Thus, La Boétie points out, the Roman emperors assumed the ancient title of Tribune of the People, because the concept had gained favor among the public as representing a guardian of their liberties. Hence the assumption of despotism under the cloak of the old liberal form. In modern times, La Boétie adds, rulers present a more sophisticated version of such propaganda, for “they never undertake an unjust policy, even one of some importance, without prefacing it with some pretty speech concerning public welfare and common good.” Reinforcing ideological propaganda is deliberate mystification: “The kings of the Assyrians and … the Medes showed themselves in public as seldom as possible in order to set up a doubt in the minds of the rabble as to whether they were not in some way more than man…” Symbols of mystery and magic were woven around the Crown, so that “by doing this they inspired their subjects with reverence and admiration…. It is pitiful to review the list of devices that early despots used to establish their tyranny; to discover how many little tricks they employed, always finding the populace conveniently gullible….  At times, tyrants have gone to the length of imputing themselves to the very status of divinity: “they have insisted on using religion for their own protection and, where possible, have borrowed a stray bit of divinity to bolster up their evil ways.” Thus, “tyrants, in order to strengthen their power, have made every effort to train their people not only in obedience and servility toward themselves, but also in adoration.” 
At this point, La Boétie inserts his one and only reference to contemporary France. It is on its face extremely damaging, for he asserts that “our own leaders have employed in France certain similar [quasidivine] devices, such as toads, fleurs-de-lys, sacred vessels, and standards with flames of gold [oriflammes].” He quickly adds that in this case he does not “wish, for my part, to be incredulous,” for French kings “have always been so generous in times of peace and so valiant in time of war, that from birth they seem not to have been created by nature like many others, but even before birth to have been designated by Almighty God for the government and preservation of this kingdom.”  In the light of the context of the work, it is impossible not to believe that the intent of this passage is satirical, and this interpretation is particularly confirmed by the passage immediately following, which asserts that “even if this were not so,” he would not question the truth of these French traditions, because they have provided such a fine field for the flowering of French poetry. “Certainly I should be presumptuous,” he concludes, surely ironically, “if I tried to cast slurs on our records and thus invade the realm of our poets.”
Specious ideology, mystery, circuses; in addition to these purely propagandistic devices, another device is used by rulers to gain the consent of their subjects: purchase by material benefits, bread as well as circuses. The distribution of this largesse to the people is also a method, and a particularly cunning one, of duping them into believing that they benefit from tyrannical rule. They do not realize that they are in fact only receiving a small proportion of the wealth already filched from them by their rulers. Thus:
Roman tyrants … provided the city wards with feasts to cajole the rabble…. Tyrants would distribute largesse, a bushel of wheat, a gallon of wine, and a sesterce: and then everybody would shamelessly cry, “Long live the King!” The fools did not realize that they were merely recovering a portion of their own property, and that their ruler could not have given them what they were receiving without having first taken it from them. A man might one day be presented with a sesterce and gorge himself at the public feast, lauding Tiberius and Nero for handsome liberality, who on the morrow, would be forced to abandon his property to their avarice, his children to their lust, his very blood to the cruelty of these magnificent emperors, without offering any more resistance than a stone or a tree stump. The mob has always behaved in this way – eagerly open to bribes… 
And La Boétie goes on to cite the cases of the monstrous tyrannies of Nero and Julius Caesar, each of whose deaths was deeply mourned by the people because of his supposed liberality.
Here La Boétie proceeds to supplement this analysis of the purchase of consent by the public with another truly original contribution, one which Professor Lewis considers to be the most novel and important feature of his theory. This is the establishment, as it were the permanent and continuing purchase, of a hierarchy of subordinate allies, a loyal band of retainers, praetorians and bureaucrats. La Boétie himself considers this factor “the mainspring and the secret of domination, the support and foundation of tyranny.” Here is a large sector of society which is not merely duped with occasional and negligible handouts from the State; here are individuals who make a handsome and permanent living out of the proceeds of despotism. Hence, their stake in despotism does not depend on illusion or habit or mystery; their stake is all too great and all too real. A hierarchy of patronage from the fruits of plunder is thus created and maintained: five or six individuals are the chief advisors and beneficiaries of the favors of the king. These half-dozen in a similar manner maintain six hundred “who profit under them,” and the six hundred in their turn “maintain under them six thousand, whom they promote in rank, upon whom they confer the government of provinces or the direction of finances, in order that they may serve as instruments of avarice and cruelty, executing orders at the proper time and working such havoc all around that they could not last except under the shadow of the six hundred…” 
In this way does the fatal hierarchy pyramid and permeate down through the ranks of society, until “a hundred thousand, and even millions, cling to the tyrant by this cord to which they are tied.” In short,
when the point is reached, through big favors or little ones, that large profits or small are obtained under a tyrant, there are found almost as many people to whom tyranny seems advantageous as those to whom liberty would seem desirable… Whenever a ruler makes himself a dictator, all the wicked dregs of the nation … all those who are corrupted by burning ambition or extraordinary avarice, these gather around him and support him in order to have a share in the booty and to constitute themselves petty chiefs under the big tyrant.
Thus, the hierarchy of privilege descends from the large gainers from despotism, to the middling and small gainers, and finally down to the mass of the people who falsely think they gain from the receipt of petty favors. In this way the subjects are divided, and a great portion of them induced to cleave to the ruler, “just as, in order to split wood, one has to use a wedge of the wood itself.” Of course, the train of the tyrant’s retinue and soldiers suffer at their leader’s hands, but they “can be led to endure evil if permitted to commit it, not against him who exploits them, but against those who like themselves submit, but are helpless.” In short, in return for its own subjection, this order of subordinates is permitted to oppress the rest of the public.
How is tyranny concretely to be overthrown, if it is cemented upon society by habit, privilege and propaganda? How are the people to be brought to the point where they will decide to withdraw their consent? In the first place, affirms La Boétie, not all the people will be deluded or sunk into habitual submission. There is always a more percipient elite who will understand the reality of the situation; “there are always a few, better endowed than others, who feel the weight of the yoke and cannot restrain themselves from attempting to shake it off.” These are the people who, in contrast to “the brutish mass,” possess clear and far-sighted minds, and “have further trained them by study and learning.” Such people never quite disappear from the world: “Even if liberty had entirely perished from the earth, such men would invent it.”
Because of the danger these educated people represent, tyrants often attempt to suppress education in their realms, and in that way those who “have preserved their love of freedom, still remain ineffective because, however numerous they may be, they are not known to one another; under the tyrant they have lost freedom of action, of speech, and almost of thought; they are alone in their aspiration.” Here La Boétie anticipates such modern analysts of totalitarianism as Hannah Arendt. But there is hope; for still the elite exists, and, culling examples once again from antiquity, La Boétie maintains that heroic leaders can arise who will not fail “to deliver their country from evil hands when they set about their task with a firm, whole-hearted and sincere intention.” The evident task, then, of this valiant and knowledgeable elite is to form the vanguard of the revolutionary resistance movement against the despot. Through a process of educating the public to the truth, they will give back to the people knowledge of the blessings of liberty and of the myths and illusions fostered by the State.
In addition to rousing the people to the truth, the opposition movement has another vital string to its bow: the unnatural lives lived by the despots and their hierarchy of favorites. For their lives are miserable and fearful and not happy. Tyrants live in constant and perpetual fear of the well-deserved hatred they know is borne them by every one of their subjects.  Courtiers and favorites live miserable, crawling, cringing lives every moment of which is bent on servilely fawning upon the ruler on whom they depend. Eventually, as enlightenment spreads among the public, the privileged favorites will begin to realize the true misery of their lot, for all their wealth can be seized from them at any moment should they fall out of step in the race for the favors of the king. When they “look at themselves as they really are … they will realize clearly that the townspeople, the peasants whom they trample under foot and treat worse than convicts or slaves … are nevertheless, in comparison with themselves, better off and fairly free.”
Although he does not explicitly say so, it seems to be La Boétie’s contention that the spread of enlightenment among the public will not only generate refusal of consent among the mass, but will also aid its course immeasurably by splitting off, by driving a wedge inside, a portion of the disaffected privileged bureaucracy.
There is no better way to conclude a discussion of the content of La Boétie’s notable Discourse of Voluntary Servitude than to note Mesnard’s insight that “for La Boétie as for Machiavelli, authority can only be grounded on acceptance by the subjects: except that the one teaches the prince how to compel their acquiescence, while the other reveals to the people the power that would lie in their refusal.”
After graduating from law school, Étienne de La Boétie took up an eminent career as a royal official in Bordeaux. He never published the Discourse, and as he pursued a career in faithful service of the monarch, never a hint did he express along the lines of his earlier treatise. Certainly one of the reasons for Montaigne’s stout insistence on his friend’s conservatism and monarchical loyalty is that La Boétie had changed his political views by the time they met around 1559. Indeed, in late 1562, shortly before he died, La Boétie wrote but did not publish a manuscript forgotten and lost until recent years, in which he, with moderate conservatism, advised the State to punish Protestant leaders as rebels, to enforce Catholicism upon France, but also to reform the abuses of the Church moderately and respectably by the agency of the king and his Parlements. Protestants would then be forced to convert back to Catholicism or leave the country.
Certainly it is far from unusual for a young university student, eagerly caught up in a burst of free inquiry, to be a fiery radical, only to settle into a comfortable and respectable conservatism once well entrenched in a career bound to the emoluments of the status quo. But there seems to be more here than that. For the very abstractness of La Boétie’s argument in the Discourse, the very Renaissance-like remoteness of the discussion from the concrete problems of the France of his day, while universalizing and radicalizing the theory, also permitted La Boétie, even in his early days, to divorce theory from practice. It permitted him to be sincerely radical in the abstract while continuing to be conservative in the concrete. His almost inevitable shift of interest from the abstract to concrete problems in his busy career thereby caused his early radicalism to drop swiftly from sight as if it had never existed.
But if his abstract method permitted La Boétie to abandon his radical conclusions rapidly in the concrete realm, it had an opposite effect on later readers. Its very timelessness made the work ever available to be applied concretely in a radical manner to later problems and institutions. And this was precisely the historical fate of La Boétie’s Discourse. It was first published, albeit anonymously and incompletely, in the radical Huguenot pamphlet, Reveille-Matin des François (1574), probably written by Nicholas Barnaud with the collaboration of Theodore Beza. The full text with the author’s name appeared for the first time two years later, in a collection of radical Huguenot essays compiled by a Calvinist minister at Geneva, Simon Goulard.  Montaigne was furious at the essay’s publication under revolutionary Huguenot auspices. He had intended to publish it himself. Now, however, not only did he refuse to do so, but he tried to refurbish La Boétie’s conservative reputation by successively averring that his friend had been eighteen, and then sixteen, years old at the time of the essay’s writing. For their part, however, even the Huguenots used La Boétie in gingerly fashion. “Attractive as was the spirit of La Boétie’s essay,” writes Harold Laski, “avowed and academic republicanism was meat too strong for the digestion of the time. Not that La Boétie was entirely without influence; but he was used as cautiously as an Anglican bishop might, in the sixties, have an interest in Darwinism.”
Almost completely forgotten in the more peaceful days of the first half of the seventeenth century in France, the Discourse became widely known again during the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, through being printed as a supplement to Montaigne’s essays, but was not particularly influential. Finally, and unsurprisingly, the essay found its metier in the midst of the French Revolution, when it was twice reprinted. Later the radical Abbe de Lammenais reprinted the Discourse with a “violent” preface of his own, and the same was done by another writer in 1852 to strike back at the coup d’état of Napoleon III. And we have seen how the Discourse inspired the non-violent wing of the anarchist movement in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As the centuries went on, the abstract argument of the Discourse continued to exert a fascination for radicals and revolutionaries. The speculative thought of the young law student was taking posthumous revenge upon the respectable and eminent official of the Bordeaux Parlement.
La Boétie’s Discourse has a vital importance for the modern reader – an importance that goes beyond the sheer pleasure of reading a great and seminal work on political philosophy, or, for the libertarian, of reading the first libertarian political philosopher in the Western world. For La Boétie speaks most sharply to the problem which all libertarians – indeed, all opponents of despotism – find particularly difficult: the problem of strategy. Facing the devastating and seemingly overwhelming power of the modem State, how can a free and very different world be brought about? How in the world can we get from here to there, from a world of tyranny to a world of freedom? Precisely because of his abstract and timeless methodology, La Boétie offers vital insights into this eternal problem.
In the first place, La Boétie’s insight that any State, no matter how ruthless and despotic, rests in the long run on the consent of the majority of the public, has not yet been absorbed into the consciousness of intellectuals opposed to State despotism. Notice, for example, how many anti-Communists write about Communist rule as if it were solely terror imposed from above on the angry and discontented masses. Many of the errors of American foreign policy have stemmed from the idea that the majority of the population of a country can never accept and believe in Communist ideas, which must therefore be imposed by either a small clique or by outside agents from existing Communist countries. In modern political thought, only the free-market economist Ludwig von Mises has sufficiently stressed the fact that all governments must rest on majority consent.
Since despotic rule is against the interests of the bulk of the population, how then does this consent come about? Again, La Boétie highlights the point that this consent is engineered, largely by propaganda beamed at the populace by the rulers and their intellectual apologists. The devices – of bread and circuses, of ideological mystification – that rulers today use to gull the masses and gain their consent, remain the same as in La Boétie’s days. The only difference is the enormous increase in the use of specialized intellectuals in the service of the rulers. But in this case, the primary task of opponents of modem tyranny is an educational one: to awaken the public to this process, to demystify and desanctify the State apparatus. Furthermore, La Boétie’s analysis both of the engineering of consent and of the role played by bureaucrats and other economic interests that benefit from the State, highlights another critical problem which many modem opponents of statism have failed to recognize: that the problem of strategy is not simply one of educating the public about the “errors” committed by the government. For much of what the State does is not an error at all from its own point of view, but a means of maximizing its power, influence, and income. We have to realize that we are facing a mighty engine of power and economic exploitation, and therefore that, at the very least, libertarian education of the public must include an exposé of this exploitation, and of the economic interests and intellectual apologists who benefit from State rule. By confining themselves to analysis of alleged intellectual “errors,” opponents of government intervention have rendered themselves ineffective. For one thing, they have been beaming their counter-propaganda at a public which does not have the equipment or the interest to follow the complex analyses of error, and which can therefore easily be rebamboozled by the experts in the employ of the State. Those experts, too, must be desanctified, and again La Boétie strengthens us in the necessity of such desanctification.
The libertarian theorist Lysander Spooner, writing over four hundred years after La Boétie, propounded the similar view that the supporters of government consisted largely of “dupes” and “knaves”:
The ostensible supporters of the Constitution, like the ostensible supporters of most other governments, are made up of three classes, viz.: 1. Knaves, a numerous and active class, who see in the government an instrument which they can use for their own aggrandizement or wealth. 2. Dupes – a large class, no doubt – each of whom, because he is allowed one voice out of millions in deciding what he may do with his own person and his own property, and because he is permitted to have the same voice in robbing, enslaving, and murdering others, that others have in robbing, enslaving, and murdering himself, is stupid enough to imagine that he is a “free man,” a “sovereign”; that this is a “free government”; “a government of equal rights,” “the best government on earth,” and such like absurdities. 3. A class who have some appreciation of the evils of government, but either do not see how to get rid of them, or do not choose to so far sacrifice their private interests as to give themselves seriously and earnestly to the work of making a change.
The prime task of education, then, is not simply abstract insight into governmental “errors” in advancing the general welfare, but debamboozling the public on the entire nature and procedures of the despotic State. In that task, La Boétie also speaks to us in his stress on the importance of a perceptive, vanguard elite of libertarian and anti-statist intellectuals. The role of this “cadre” – to grasp the essence of statism and to desanctify the State in the eyes and minds of the rest of the population – is crucial to the potential success of any movement to bring about a free society. It becomes, therefore, a prime libertarian task to discover, coalesce, nurture, and advance its cadre – a task of which all too many libertarians remain completely ignorant. For no amount of oppression or misery will lead to a successful movement for freedom unless such a cadre exists and is able to educate and rally the intellectuals and the general public.
There is also the hint in La Boétie of the importance of finding and encouraging disaffected portions of the ruling apparatus, and of stimulating them to break away and support the opposition to despotism. While this can hardly play a central role in a libertarian movement, all successful movements against State tyranny in the past have made use of such disaffection and inner conflicts, especially in their later stages of development.
La Boétie was also the first theorist to move from the emphasis on the importance of consent, to the strategic importance of toppling tyranny by leading the public to withdraw that consent. Hence, La Boétie was the first theorist of the strategy of mass, non-violent civil disobedience of State edicts and exactions. How practical such a tactic might be is difficult to say, especially since it has rarely been used. But the tactic of mass refusal to pay taxes, for example, is increasingly being employed in the United States today, albeit in a sporadic form. In December 1974 the residents of the city of Willimantic, Connecticut, assembled in a town meeting and rejected the entire city budget three times, finally forcing a tax cut of 9 percent. This is but one example of growing public revulsion against crippling taxation throughout the country.
On a different theme, La Boétie provides us with a hopeful note on the future of a free society. He points out that once the public experiences tyranny for a long time, it becomes inured, and heedless of the possibility of an alternative society. But this means that should State despotism ever be removed, it would be extremely difficult to reimpose statism. The bulwark of habit would be gone, and statism would be seen by all for the tyranny that it is. If a free society were ever to be established, then, the chances for its maintaining itself would be excellent.
More and more, if inarticulately, the public is rebelling, not only against onerous taxation but – in the age of Watergate – against the whole, carefully nurtured mystique of government. Twenty years ago, the historian, Cecilia Kenyon, writing of the Anti-Federalist opponents of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, chided them for being “men of little faith” – little faith, that is, in a strong central government. It is hard to think of anyone having such unexamined faith in government today. In such an age as ours, thinkers like Étienne de La Boétie have become far more relevant, far more genuinely modern, than they have been for over a century.
 Properly pronounced not, as might be thought, La Bo-ay-see, but rather La Bwettie (with the hard t) as it was pronounced in the Périgord dialect of the region in which La Boétie lived. The definitive discussion of the proper pronunciation may be found in Paul Bonnefon, Oeuvres Completes d’Estienne de La Boétie (Bordeaux: C. Gounouilhou, and Paris: J. Rouam et Cie., 1892), pp. 385–6.
 Bonnefon, op. cit., p. xlvi.
 Pierre Mesnard, L ‘Essor de la Philosophie Politique Au XVle Siecle (Paris: Boivin et Cie., 1936), p. 391.
 Having remained long in manuscript, the actual date of writing the Discourse of Voluntary Servitude remains a matter of dispute. It seems clear, however, and has been so accepted by recent authorities, that Montaigne’s published story that La Boétie wrote the Discourse at the age of eighteen or even of sixteen was incorrect. Montaigne’s statement, as we shall see further below, was probably part of his later campaign to guard his dead friend’s reputation by dissociating him from the revolutionary Huguenots who were claiming La Boétie’s pamphlet for their own. Extreme youth tended to cast the Discourse in the light of a work so youthful that the radical content was hardly to be taken seriously as the views of the author. Internal evidence as well as the erudition expressed in the work make it likely that the Discourse was written in 1552 or 1553, at the age of twenty-two, while La Boétie was at the University. See Bonnefon, op. cit., pp. xxxvi–xxxvii; Mesnard, op. cit., pp. 390–1; and Donald Frame, Montaigne: A Biography (New York: Harcourt Brace, & World, 1965), p. 71. There is no biography of La Boétie. Closest to it is Bonnefon’s “Introduction” to his Oeuvres Completes, op. cit., pp. xi-lxxxv, later reprinted as part of Paul Bonnefon, Montaigne et ses Amis(Paris: Armand Colin et Cie., 1898), I, pp. 103–224.
 Emile Brehier, Histoire de la Philosophie, Vol. I: Moyen Age et Renaissance, cited in Mesnard, op. cit., p. 404n. Also see Joseph Banere, Estienne de La Boétie contre Nicholas Machiavel (Bordeaux, 1908), cited in ibid.
 J. W. Allen, A History of Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1960), p. 314.
 William Fan Church, Constitutional Thought in Sixteenth-Century France (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1941), p. 13 and 13n.
 David Hume independently discovered this principle two centuries later, and phrased it with his usual succinctness and clarity:
Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we enquire by what means this wonder is effected, we shall find, that, as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.
David Hume, “Of the First Principles of Government,” in Essays, Literary, Moral and Political.
 See p. 46 below.
 p. 48.
 p. 55.
 pp. 55–56.
 p. 56.
 p. 58.
 pp. 50–53.
 The historian Mesnard writes that this theory is “rigorous and profound,” that the critics have never fully grasped its point, and that “it is the humanist solution to the problem of authority.” Mesnard, op. cit., p. 400.
 See Laski, op. cit., p. 29; Allen, op. cit., p. 308.
 Thus, Tolstoy writes:
The situation of the oppressed should not be compared to the constraint used directly by the stronger on the weaker, or by a greater number on a smaller. Here, indeed it is the minority who oppress the majority, thanks to a lie established ages ago by clever people, in virtue of which men despoil each other….
Then, after a long quote from La Boétie, Tolstoy concludes,
It would seem that the workers, not gaining any advantage from the restraint that is exercised on them, should at last realize the lie in which they are living and free themselves in the simplest and easiest way: by abstaining from taking part in the violence that is only possible with their co-operation.
Leo Tolstoy, The Law of Love and the Law of Violence (New York: Rudolph Field, 1948), pp. 42–45.
Furthermore, Tolstoy’s Letter to a Hindu, which played a central role in shaping Ghandi’s thinking toward mass non-violent action, was heavily influenced by La Boétie. See Bartelemy de Ligt, The Conquest of Violence (New York, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1938), pp. 105–6.
 Etienne de La Boétie, Vrijwillige Slavernij (The Hague, 1933, edited by Bart. de Ligt). Cited in Bart. de Ligt, op. cit., p. 289. Also see ibid., pp. 104–6. On Landauer, see ibid., p. 106, and George Woodcock,Anarchism (Cleveland, Ohio: World Pub. Co., 1962), p. 432.
 Among those making this error was Max Nettlau, the outstanding historian of anarchism and himself an anarchist. Max Nettlau, Der Vorfruhling der Anarchie; Ihre Historische Entwicklung den Anfangen bis zum Jahre 1864 (Berlin, 1925). On this see Bert F. Hoselitz, “Publisher’s Preface,” in G.P. Maximoff, ed., The Political Philosophy of Bakunin (Glencoe, Dl.: The Free Press, 1953), pp. 9–10.
The first historian of anarchism, E. V. Zenker, a non-anarchist, made the same mistake. Thus, he wrote of La Boétie’s Discourse, that it contained: “A glowing defence of Freedom, which goes so far that the sense of the necessity of authority disappears entirely. The opinion of La Boétie is that mankind does not need government; it is only necessary that man should really wish it, and he would find himself happy and free again, as if by magic.”
E. V. Zenker, Anarchism (London: Methuen & Co., 1898), pp. 15–16.
 Bonnefon, op. cit., “Introduction,” p. xliii. In short, even Bonnefon, reacting gingerly to the radical nature and implications of La Boétie’s work, classified it as anarchist.
 Mesnard, op. cit., p. 395–6.
 On the classical and medieval concepts of tyranny, see John D. Lewis, “The Development of the Theory of Tyrannicide to 1660″ in Oscar Jaszi and John D. Lewis, Against the Tyrant: The Tradition and Theory of Tyrannicide (Glencoe, Dl.: The Free Press, 1957), pp. 3–96, esp. pp. 3ff., 20ff.
 p. 58.
 pp. 58–59.
 Mesnard writes: “If La Boétie does not distinguish between monarchy and tyranny (as he was charged by Bonnefon), it is precisely because the two are equally illegitimate in his eyes, the first being only a special case of the second.” Mesnard, op. cit., pp. 395–6. La Boétie also levels a general attack on monarchy when he questions whether monarchy has any place among true commonwealths, “since it is hard to believe that there is anything of common wealth in a country where everything belongs to one master.” p. 46.
 p. 46.
 p. 59.
 p. 60.
 p. 61.
 pp. 64–65.
 David Hume was later to write in his essay “Of the Origin of Government”: “Habit soon consolidates what other principles of human nature had imperfectly founded; and men, once accustomed to obedience, never think of departing from that path, in which they and their ancestors have constantly trod. . . .”
 pp. 69–70
 p. 71.
 p. 72.
 p. 73.
 p. 75.
 p. 74.
 pp. 74–75. Bonnefon seizes the occasion to claim his subject as, deep down and in spite of his radical deviations, a good conservative Frenchman at heart: “It was not the intention of the young man to attack the established order. He formally excepts the king of France from his argument, and in terms which are stamped by deference and respect.” Bonnefon, op. cit., p. xli. See also the critique of Bonnefon’s misinterpretation by Mesnard, op. cit., p. 398.
 p. 70.
 Lewis, op. cit. pp. 56–57.
 p. 77.
 p. 78.
 pp. 78–79. John Lewis declares that “La Boétie here put his finger on one important element of tyranny which earlier writers had neglected and which contemporary writers sometimes neglect.” Lewis, op. cit., p. 56.
 pp. 79–80.
 p. 65.
 p. 66.
 pp. 67–68.
 pp. 79–80. Also, pp. 79–86
 See the thoughtful conclusion in Mesnard, op. cit., p. 404. Also see Oscar Jaszi, “The Use and Abuse of Tyrannicide,” in Jaszi and Lewis, op. cit., pp. 254–5.
 Mesnard, op. cit., p. 400.
 This was La Boétie’s Memoir Concerning the Edict of January, 1562. See Frame, op. cit., pp. 72–3, 345.
 Mesnard, op. cit., pp. 405–6.
 See J.H.M. Salmon, The French Religious Wars in English Political Thought (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959), p. 19n.
 The third volume of the Memoires de L ‘estat de France (1576). See Bonnefon, “Introduction,” op. cit., pp. xlix–l.
 Laski, op. cit., p. 24.
 Cecilia Kenyon, “Men of Little Faith: the Anti-Federalists on the Nature of Representative Government,” William and Mary Quarterly (1955), pp. 3–46.
The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude by Étienne de La Boétie, written 1552–53, is translated by Harry Kurz for the edition that carried Rothbard’s introduction, “The Political Thought of Étienne de La Boétie.”
The saga of Julian Assange seems to be drawing to a climax – one that will decide the fate of this historic whistleblower who, for years, has been a giant thorn in the side of governments everywhere.
His role in exposing the machinations of the US government over the years earned him the plaudits of liberals – until the Bush era ended, and he started exposing the crimes of the Obama administration and – most pointedly – the hypocrisy and venality of Hillary Clinton and her journalistic camarilla. Now we see right-wing figures like Sean Hannity and – yes! – Donald Trump praising and defending him, while the ostensible liberals take up the cry of the Clinton campaign that he’s a “pawn of the Kremlin” and a “rapist.” Even Glenn Greenwald, formerly a comrade-in-arms, who together with Assange helped Edward Snowden evade the not-so-loving arms of Uncle Sam, has lately sought to distance himself from the founder of WikiLeaks (over the value of “curation”). Nice timing, Glenn!
Funny how that works.
Now we see that the Ecuadorian government, which has provided sanctuary for Assange ever since the frame-up “rape” charges by the Swedes were brought, is succumbing to pressure from Washington to silence him. As Assange released the now famous Podesta emails, that – among other things – exposed the collusion of the media and the Clinton campaign in delicious detail, John Kerry demanded that the Ecuadorians cut off Assange’s Internet access – and they meekly complied. Of course, since leftist Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has openly endorsed Mrs. Clinton, and openly abhors Trump, this is hardly surprising: this is how the left operates internationally, as well as in this country – if you stray from the party line it doesn’t take long before the knives come out, aimed directly at one’s back.
In any case, Correa’s betrayal seems to have been short-circuited by the ever-resourceful Assange, who is still releasing incriminating emails. This is someone with a Plan!
Coincident with all this is the culmination of the long “legal” process initiated by the Swedish government, which is falsely accusing Assange of “rape.” He was supposed to have met with Swedish prosecutors on Monday, but has put off the meeting until November 14 – after the US elections.
Given Sweden’s bizarre laws on the subject, and the provenance of his accusers, the smear campaign aimed at Assange has zero credibility. No one believes these charges (and remember, he has never been formally charged) aren’t motivated by Washington’s stated desire to get him extradited to the US on “espionage” charges – and there isn’t anyone who thinks that the British government (which has spent millions making sure he stays holed up in Ecuador’s embassy) wouldn’t do so given half a chance.
Is it a coincidence that the way the Establishment tries to destroy those who oppose it is by hurling sex charges at them? They did the same thing to Dan Ellsberg: it’s the oldest trick in the book.
Equally ridiculous are the accusations that Assange is a “Russian agent.” To begin with, despite the US government’s propaganda, there isn’t a lick of real evidence that the Russians hacked the DNC emails, or any of the other emails published by WikiLeaks It could just as easily have been an insider. The fact of the matter is that, although they try to project the illusion of their own omniscience , they just don’t know.
It took 3 million soldiers, 3,000 tanks, 7,000 artillery pieces, and 2,500 aircraft…
“Operation Barbarossa” was the codename for Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
It was the largest military operation in human history.
The Nazis had already conquered most of Europe. Hitler had grown overconfident from his recent military victories. Now he was hunting for big game… Stalin’s USSR.
Throughout history, many European invaders, including Napoleon, suffered monumental defeats when they took on Russia. Despite this, Hitler thought he could succeed where they had failed.
The idea was to inflict a total defeat on the Soviets in a matter of months before the notoriously brutal Russian winter began.
At first, it looked like the Germans might succeed. The Soviets were taken by surprise and were disorganized.
But those initial victories wouldn’t be enough. Thanks to stubborn resistance and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of Soviet troops, Operation Barbarossa stalled.
The Germans didn’t make it to Moscow before winter. The ruthless cold weather would prove to be a far more effective weapon than anything in the Soviet arsenal. Hitler’s hopes of quickly taking out the USSR perished in the brutal cold. It ultimately turned the tide of the war against Germany.
But the Soviet victory cost millions of lives. By the end of the war, the Soviets had lost over 20 million people. Some estimate they lost many millions more. By comparison, the U.S. lost around 400,000 people.
So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Russians get a little prickly when a foreign military starts marching toward their borders.
And recently… for the first time since Operation Barbarossa, German tanks are once again advancing on Russia’s border.
You probably haven’t heard this extraordinary piece of news. That’s because the mass media has basically ignored and obscured it. They’ve been busy covering far more important things… like transgender issues and Kim Kardashian’s latest stunt.
That’s why I want to tell you about Operation Anaconda 2016.
It’s the largest war game in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. It’s essentially a rehearsal to secure a quick NATO victory in the event of war with Russia.
It was launched from Warsaw, Poland, recently and involves 31,000 NATO troops.
Operation Anaconda 2016 is one of the most important stories you’re not hearing about. It shows how perilously close the world is to another global war.
I found out about Operation Anaconda 2016 while in Warsaw with Doug Casey earlier this year.
(Incidentally, Poland is one of the cheapest, enjoyable countries I’ve ever been to. A 30-minute taxi ride from the middle of Warsaw to the airport is only $5. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an entrée in one of the nicest restaurants for over $15.
Poland does not use the European currency, the euro. It has its own currency, the zloty. And the zloty’s weakness is a big reason Poland is so inexpensive today. By the way, “zloty” means “gold” in Polish. But the currency has no tie to gold. It’s just a paper currency, like the dollar and euro are.)
Operation Anaconda 2016 is controversial even within NATO. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently said:
Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken. We are well advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation.
Although Steinmeier said Operation Anaconda 2016 is symbolic, he failed to mention exactly what it symbolizes.
First, an anaconda is a giant snake. It kills its prey by squeezing it. From the Russian perspective, they’re the ones who feel squeezed. This is precisely what the U.S. has been doing by fomenting so-called colored revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia (both on Russia’s periphery) and trying to absorb them into NATO.
Second, this unprecedented “tank parade” on Russia’s borders symbolizes nothing less than World War 3.
(Doug Casey: It’s provocative, and actually quite insane. The Western media paints the Russians as the aggressors, which—let me shock you by saying this—is the opposite of the truth. Russia is an economic minnow, producing nothing but oil and gas, and mostly unprofitably, at current prices. Its population is in permanent decline, and it’s actually a disintegrating empire with a dozen secession movements. Its only serious industrial sector is manufacturing weapons, but even the most advanced Sukhois and MiGs (like the F-22 and F-35) are artifacts of a bygone era. The Russians aren’t in a position to threaten anyone—entirely apart from the fact that conquering neighboring countries no longer makes sense. In today’s world, you’re no longer acquiring an asset to be looted, but taking on a liability.
As for NATO, it’s outlived its usefulness by over 25 years. The huge military bureaucracy is just a hammer in search of a nail. It should be abolished before it gets everyone in a lot of trouble.)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has reacted to Operation Anaconda 2016 with alarm. At a recent press conference, he warned Western mainstream media journalists that the world is sleepwalking into World War 3, saying:
We know year by year what’s going to happen, and they know that we know. It’s only you that they tell tall tales to, and you buy it, and spread it to the citizens of your countries. Your people in turn do not feel a sense of the impending danger—this is what worries me.
How do you not understand that the world is being pulled in an irreversible direction? While they pretend that nothing is going on. I don’t know how to get through to you anymore.
U.S. politicians like to use Putin as a piñata to show how tough they are. Hillary Clinton has declared Putin to be the new Hitler. This is the kind of thinking that fueled Operation Anaconda 2016.
Now, we’re not referees charged with deciding which political players are good guys and which are bad guys.
However, the portrait of Putin as a Hitler or a crazy man leading his country toward disaster—the picture you get from the mainstream media and from many politicians—is suitable only for propaganda posters.
I don’t give two you-know-whats about what happens in Eastern Europe, except to the extent it might spark World War 3 and cause us to get vaporized in a nuclear exchange.
Albert Einstein once said, “I know not with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Reprinted with permission from Doug Casey’s International Man.
Considering that Vladimir Putin is responsible for the rise and recovery of Russia, the US and Israëli neo-conservatives have been attempting since 2011 to arrest him, try him and condemn him before an international court. As a faithful servant of their strategies, French President François Hollande has publicly suggested that Putin be held responsible for the crimes of the jihadists in Syria.
During the Second World War, the French head of state, Philippe Petain, who had abolished the Republic, had his ex-heir apparent, Charles De Gaulle, head of the French Forces of the Interior, judged and condemned to death.
On this model, the current President of the French Republic, François Hollande, has evoked the possibility of opening an international legal procedure for the war crimes committed in Syria – and to judge not only the President of the Syrian Arab Republic, Bachar el-Assad, but also the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin  – a subject that was hinted at by UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-moon.
These declarations appear while Canada, the United States, France, Holland and the United Kingdom are supporting the jihadists of East Aleppo against Hezbollah, Iran, Russia and Syria .
The desire to condemn Mr. Putin is not new (successively for the Second Chechen war, Ukraine and now for Syria), but is a recurrent idea of the US and Israëli neo-conservatives. During the Russian presidential electoral campaign of 2012, the United States even proposed to help President Medvedev to run against Vladimir Putin, to finance his electoral campaign and give him full access to the inner circles of the leaders of the planet if he would promise to deliver Vladimir Putin to them. Which he obviously did not do.
On 29 July 2015, the neo-conservatives presented to the Security Council a text by Victoria Nuland (wife of Republican leader Robert Kagan – she became the spokesperson for Democrat Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and is today assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia) . The text proposed to create a Special International Tribunal to judge the authors of the catastrophe of flight MH17, which was shot down in Ukraine, causing 298 fatalities. The text referred to an international Enquiry Commission, of which Russia was officially a member, but had been excluded by the other members. It was, therefore, possible to claim that Russia was responsible, and thus to judge and condemn Vladimir Putin.
Russia not only pointed out the absurdity of creating an international Tribunal for a minor news item, but also the spacious character of the procedure, and opposed its veto. The Western Press minimized the event.
Washington is right to consider Vladimir Putin as the architect of the reconstruction of Russia after the dissolution of the USSR and the pillage of Boris Eltsine (whose cabinet had been formed by the National Endowment for Democracy). It imagines, wrongly this time, that if Putin is eliminated, it may be possible to force Russia back down to the place it occupied 20 years ago.
President Hollande informed his Russian counterpart that he would not accompany him during the inauguration of the new Orthodox cathedral in Paris, which was planned for the 19 October, but would settle for receiving him at the Elysée. The interview could therefore only concern the situation in Syria.
President Putin postponed his visit to France to an unspecified date. His spokesperson declared that he would be ready to go to Paris as soon as his French counterpart felt comfortable. A reaction reminiscent of the way one might treat a capricious child.
The current dispute between Mr. Hollande and the Russian Federation concerns both the question of Ukraine (refusal of the Nazi coup d’état in Kiev, the incorporation of Crimea, and support for the Republic of Donbass) and also the Syrian question (refusal of the attempted jihadist coup d’état, and support for the Syrian Arab Republic). It is unlikely that a solution will be found before the end of Mr. Hollande’s mandate, or with his successor if this should be Mr. Juppé, as the polls suggest. These two men have in fact sealed their personal future with Washington in the blood of the Syrian people.
Officially in favor of the French strategy, the British Minister for Foreign Affairs, Boris Johnson, has called on his compatriots to demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London – a form of support which seems to anticipate a withdrawal by the United Kingdom.
Originally published by AmmoLand.com.
Washington, DC – No matter the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Senate and House races, Hillary Clinton, if victorious, intends to attack your gun rights.
Recently leaked emails of Clinton campaign staffers published by WikiLeaks show that the candidate plans to bypass Congress to enact gun control by executive order.
Moreover, undercover video of U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold, released this week by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, further exposed Clinton’s intent to impose new gun restrictions by executive fiat.
On November 19, 2015, Clinton was presented with an award and spoke at a Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gala in Manhattan. The event was also attended by N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo. In the run-up to the event, Clinton campaign research director Tony Carrk and policy advisor Corey Ciorciari discussed the extent to which Clinton should endorse the SAFE Act. Ciorciari emailed Carrk, “Don’t see a need to fully embrace the SAFE Act. There are some controversial items in there.” Carrk concurred, responding, “I agree. SAFE is not a safe bet.”
Throughout her career Clinton has supported gun controls that exceed the SAFE Act’s onerous restrictions. Illustrating Clinton’s dual nature, while at the Brady event Clinton was careful to navigate around the controversial SAFE Act, but less than two months earlier Clinton contended that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right to bear arms when she told the attendees of a private Manhattan fundraiser, “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment…” In District of Columbia v. Heller the court ruled that the federal government could not restrict an individual from keeping an operable handgun in their home for self-defense.
The recent email and undercover video revelations serve as just the latest entries in a voluminous and wide-ranging dossier of evidence showing that Clinton intends to demolish our fundamental rights.
However they are important, as Clinton and her camp’s repeated acknowledgments that they intend to usurp Congress’ sole authority to legislate in order to attack our rights reveals the full character of the danger gun owners face.
Reprinted with permission from AmmoLand.com.
Ready Nutrition Readers, as you are probably well aware, the Obama administration would like nothing more than to place the United States under Martial Law.
Once that is accomplished, the country and people would be locked down and kept under control on the pretext of continuing with the government and/or maintaining the national security of the U.S.
Let’s take a look at 5 events the administration would be most likely to utilize to reach this end state.
5 Triggering Events Could Put the U.S. Under Martial Law
Note: All of these can occur simultaneously, successively, or individually in any combination at any time: there is no limit to their use or potential to recur!
1. Economic Meltdown
Over the course of this past year, we have seen a tremendous amount of volatility in trade (international) and the U.S.’s domestic manufacturing base. As our fragile economy is based on 75% of consumer spending, any significant downturn that keeps the shoppers home can lead to disastrous reports. Lower consumer spending means people do not buy goods and services beyond the absolute essentials, and worse: (in the government’s eyes) they hoard money and withdraw their funds from bank accounts.
The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) can be seen as a key indicator of raw goods and materials transported to manufacturers and consumers via shipping contracts. As mentioned in previous articles, Hanjinn Container Company, the7th largest container corporation in the world just filed for bankruptcy over the summer. You can see the BDI fluctuations day by day when you visit http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/BDIY:IND. It has been fluctuating wildly over the past year.
Deutsche Bank is on the verge of bankruptcy and large banks such as Bank of America and J.P. Morgan have been plagued by losses and lawsuits alike. The unemployment rate is truly about 25% and the “Soviet” style statistics quacked from the radio on “record gains” and “economic improvements” are false and intentionally misleading. A “Bank Holiday”has already happened in places such as Indianapolis, and when the politicians, bankers, and oligarchs decide, they will pull the plug on a Federal Reserve system of fiat currency that is already an ineffective laughingstock of a smirking world that is steadily returning to the gold standard. When that Bank Holiday is declared, you can be sure the financial systems will collapse and Martial Law will be waiting in the wings.
This one is definitely one of the administration’s favorites. We’ve been seeing signs of this with the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and DNI (Director of National Intelligence) letters and statements that the Russian government is hacking into the American electoral and election process. The “targeting” of the DNC (Democratic National Convention) e-mails was assigned to the Russians and officially the Russian government has been accused by the administration of such, and trying to influence the presidential race on Friday, 10/14/16.
We also saw on 9/7/16, two days before the 5th North Korean nuclear test, the corporation based in California that monitors North Korean missile launches and nuclear testing was hacked into. A DoS (Denial of Service) was placed into their computer systems, preventing them from uploading satellite feeds and photos that would have enabled them to monitor the North Korean launch. That corporation is the Project on Crowdsourced Satellite Imagery. You can read more about this in the article “DoS Attack Crashes Website Monitoring North Korea’s Nuclear Test Site,” by Eric Niiler of Wired.com.
If other governments can crash our internet and servers, do you think it is possible that the U.S. government as directed by the Obama administration can do it on its own?
When that occurs, cell phones will go down, the computers will go down, the financial markets will be in a turmoil and cease trading, and ATM’s and bank cards will be rendered useless. Transportation, inventories, shipping, and deliveries will all be thrown into a turmoil and come to a halt. For an excellent description of this, read Mac Slavo’s article fromSHTFplan.com entitled “When the Trucking Stops,” that shows how vulnerable our nation’s supply lines are. Bottom line: if all of this goes down as a result of a cyber attack, Martial Law will immediately follow.
In the final debate of the 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump was the clear winner.
Trump was (mostly) composed, factual, and restrained himself from slinging the usual amount of mud at the ever-mud-worthy target of Hillary Clinton. Clinton was visibly rattled numerous times throughout the debate. Zero Hedge has a very thorough post-mortem of the debate.
Less biased moderation by Chris Wallace
This debate was moderated with far less bias than the previous two. Chris Wallace did a bang-up job. He put the pressure on Clinton and Trump both, asking them uncomfortable questions and redirecting them back to the topic at hand when the candidates tried to pivot the conversation for their own benefits. He even scored a few points that Trump should have pushed during earlier points in the conversation. The point I’m referring to in particular was Clinton’s horrible idea of a no-fly zone over Syria that will almost definitely propel us right into war with Russia. My friends and I were yelling at the television like rabid fans at a football game each time Trump missed the opportunity to bring that up.
Clinton tried to be warm and failed miserably.
The generally robotic Clinton worked hard to pull at the heartstrings, saying that her gun-control laws would save the “dozens of toddlers” who are killed by guns, mourning hungry child immigrants, and practically weeping on the stage about the “boy from Aleppo.” Of course, what she didn’t mention was that her foreign policies have been responsible for many such boys, but you know, we only had 90 minutes. Watching Clinton try to emote was a lot like watching a crouching mountain lion try to maintain a friendly expression.
Oh, also, she brought up our military goals for Mosul and explained the US nuclear response time to the entire world – two things Trump pounced on as examples of HRC’s propensity for playing fast and loose with national secrets.
Debate winners are in the eye of the beholder.
Of course, winners of debates of this nature are matters of opinion and generally colored by our pre-conceived notions of whose policies we most align ourselves with. And maybe, just maybe, “winners” are skewed by the mainstream media, who has a clear bias for Clinton.
The friends that I watched the debate with and I are not fans of either Trump or Clinton, but we agreed unanimously that Trump performed far better, was more factual, and got less rattled by difficult questions.
The news networks all disagreed with us, though. And by disagreed, I mean that I wonder if we were even watching the same debate.
When I was on Twitter, the liberals were waxing poetic about the wonders of Hillary Clinton, and I really couldn’t believe my eyes.
— nealcarter (@nealcarter) October 20, 2016
— #ImWithHer (@nautilus1304) October 20, 2016
Reprinted with permission from DaisyLuther.com.
The post Were the News Networks Watching the Same Debate I Was? appeared first on LewRockwell.
Brimming with hubris and self-importance, the ruling Elite and mainstream media cannot believe they have lost the consent of the governed.
Every ruling Elite needs the consent of the governed: even autocracies, dictatorships, and corporatocracies ultimately rule with the consent, however grudging, of the governed.
The American ruling Elite has lost the consent of the governed. This reality is being masked by the mainstream media, mouthpiece of the ruling class, which is ceaselessly promoting two false narratives:
1. The “great divide” in American politics is between left and right, Democrat/Republican
2. The ruling Elite has delivered “prosperity” not just to the privileged few but to the unprivileged many they govern.
Both of these assertions are false. The Great Divide in America is between the ruling Elite and the governed that the Elite has strip-mined. The ruling Elite is privileged and protected, the governed are unprivileged and unprotected. That’s the divide that counts and the divide that is finally becoming visible to the marginalized, unprivileged class of debt-serfs.
The “prosperity” of the 21st century has flowed solely to the ruling Elite and its army of technocrat toadies, factotums, flunkies, apparatchiks, and apologists.The Elite’s army of technocrats and its media apologists have engineered and promoted an endless spew of ginned-up phony statistics (the super-low unemployment rate, etc.) to create the illusion of “growth” and “prosperity” that benefit everyone rather than just the top 5%.
The media is 100% committed to promoting these two false narratives because the jig is up once the bottom 95% wake up to the reality that the ruling Elite has been strip-mining them for decades. As I have tirelessly explained, the U.S. economy is not just neoliberal (the code word for maximizing private gain by any means available, including theft, fraud, embezzlement, political fixing, price-fixing, and so on)–it is neo feudal, meaning that it is structurally an updated version of Medieval feudalism in which a top layer of financial-political nobility owns the engines of wealth and governs the marginalized debt-serfs who toil to pay student loans, auto loans, credit cards, mortgages, and taxes–all of which benefit the financiers and political grifters.
The media is in a self-referential frenzy to convince us the decision of the century is between unrivaled political grifter Hillary Clinton and financier-cowboy Donald Trump. Both belong to the privileged ruling Elite: both have access to cheap credit, insider information (information asymmetry) and political influence.
The cold truth is the ruling Elite has shredded the social contract by skimming the income/wealth of the unprivileged. The fake-“progressive” pandering apologists of the ruling Elite–Robert Reich, Paul Krugman and the rest of the Keynesian Cargo Cultists–turn a blind eye to the suppression of dissent and the looting the bottom 95% because they have cushy, protected positions as tenured faculty (or equivalent).
They cheerlead for more state-funded bread and circuses for the marginalized rather than demand an end to exploitive privileges of the sort they themselves enjoy.
Consider just three of the unsustainably costly broken systems that enrich the privileged Elite by strip mining the unprivileged: healthcare (a.k.a. sickcare because sickness is profitable, prevention is unprofitable), higher education and Imperial over-reach (the National Security State and its partner the privately owned Military-Industrial Complex).
Now that the debates are over, pleasant thoughts may again populate the minds of all Americans.
We will no longer have to listen to the plasticized puppet of Hungarian George Soros shout “No, you’re the puppet!” at Donald Trump, and can go back to safely fearing clowns.
We now know the One Thing that Horrifies Hillary Clinton – and it is not murder-death-kill. Not a cheating husband, not even losing her justly deserved eight years as Queen of the U.S. to an unqualified first term-Senator, who according to Sidney Blumenthal in 2008 primary, was born in Kenya. No, the one thing that horrifies Clinton is a Trump presidency, mainly because he will allow the DoJ to investigate her, and she will likely serve time behind bars, much as General Cartwright is going to do for the similar, albeit microscopic, crimes against the state.
The very fact that Hillary and company committed crimes against the state—she broke the states’ rules on classified material—is sweet irony. So many violations of ethics, morality, so many illegal wars promulgated and contracts illegally influenced, so much fraud against donors and taxpayers. None of that matters. But disrespect the regulations of the state! Note to your bad self, Hillary! Kharma is real!
We no longer have to worry that Hillary has escaped from public view for a drug holiday in advance of a debate with Donald. From now on, when we don’t see her on the news, we can simply say “thank you.”
We can now stop compulsively noting her strange eye movements and cautious approach to steps and stairs. Anticipating Hillary’s locomotion in the physical world has become extremely nerve-wracking when we really should just be enjoying a nice sitcom.
We should not have to squirm when Hillary describes late-term abortions as “terribly unfortunate.” Actually, she was talking about Donald’s rhetoric about late-term abortions. Never mind.
Like George H.W. Bush in a grocery store, at a wobbly 69 years old, Hillary is out of touch with reality. Her statements on Roe-v-Wade (where the 1973 law was designed to be updated as technology and science advanced), her naïve perspective on the impact of “voting” for something in Congress (as in border security), and her antiquated awareness of present day gun laws in this country (there is no gun show loophole) – show that she is not only a socialist but a socialist Luddite. Her lack of knowledge about what kind of trouble she could get into by bypassing the secure email systems of the State Department hammers home to the average American that she doesn’t get out much.
Now that the debates are over, we don’t have to think about what socialist Luddism is or might be, and how that conflates with her intense interest in droning people who anger her.
To be fair, now that debates are over, we no longer have to listen to Donald Trump tell us what everyone already knows. There was and is no economic recovery, the debt is out of control, the Federal Reserve is a political tool, US wars conducted over the last 15 years have been costly, counterproductive, and illegal, and too many adults are no longer in the workforce (1979 saw a similar percentage, incidentally another era where we saw an “outsider” swept by popular demand into the White House). A country trying to heal as a nation probably needs borders, at least for a little while. No American likes to be reminded that illegal aliens, as well as many other immigrants, are checked immediately into Medicaid when the rest of us are roped into a frightening trap of paying state-mandated penalties we can’t afford because we can’t afford state-mandated health insurance monopolies.
I am looking forward to the handing over of the White House to the Trumps. Donald and his family are public creatures, media masters, extremely well informed on the good, bad and ugly that is American government.
As a leader in an industry (real estate, travel, and leisure) that despises the destruction of property and thrives only when people from all classes, faiths and educational levels have a good time with a few extra bucks in their pocket, I think Trump will do a great job as White House caretaker, and it will be entertaining to watch the arguments, the vetoes, and the blushing Republicans for as long as it lasts.
Now that the debates are over, we can spend the next several weeks wondering if we will get a lovely First Lady who speaks five languages, or a decrepit and angry looking First Gentleman who will be going through intensive sex addiction treatment at tax-payer expense.
Come to think of it, I really should be rooting for Bill and Hill. Lots of material to work with, and not all of it blue.
di Bill Bonner
Siamo a Vienna, la casa di alcuni dei più grandi economisti del mondo.
Ci torneremo tra un minuto.
In primo luogo, fu proprio qui che Jan Sobieski, re eletto di Polonia, respinse un attacco islamico sull'Europa.
Nell'estate del 1683 un esercito si avvicinò a Vienna. Erano i turchi ottomani. Sobieski si precipitò a difendere la città con circa 25,000 uomini.
Dopo aver guidato una carica enorme di ussari polacchi, ottenne quella che viene descritta come una "vittoria brillante", salvando così l'Europa dall'Islam.
L'Europa è minacciata di nuovo?
Ma aspettate... Dov'è l'esercito attaccante? Dov'è la sua artiglieria? Dove sono i piani degli invasori? Le loro navi?
Dove sono le migliaia di soldati che stuprano e fanno razzia?
In termini storici, gli attacchi finora sono stati banali. Non vi è nessun esercito serio in avvicinamento. E anche i pochi terroristi che sono finiti sui titoli dei giornali, sembrano solamente dei dilettanti.
Se ci fosse davvero un esercito di terroristi addestrati, ci sarebbe un'esplosione ogni giorno. L'Europa è un ambiente ricco di obiettivi – con metropolitane, ristoranti, teatri, aeroporti, autobus e treni. Non è possibile proteggere tutti questi obiettivi da attacchi determinati.
Eppure, la maggior parte della carneficina è stata perpetrata da persone impazzite a causa della perdita di posti di lavoro, matrimoni falliti, omosessualità repressa, e così via.
In gran parte isolati e autonomi, i fanatici musulmani possono uccidere centinaia... forse migliaia di persone... in Occidente. Ma non vi è alcun potere islamico unificato in grado di sfidare i governi eletti dell'Occidente o la loro "Parassitocrazia."
Questa non è una lotta per salvare la civiltà occidentale. Invece gli pseudo-terroristi e i combattenti del terrore (politici e l'industria della "sicurezza") si sono uniti contro la società civile; entrambi ottengono potere e ricchezza, mentre il resto di noi la perde.
Qui a Vienna siamo passati davanti alla casa dell'economista Ludwig von Mises, mentre parlavamo con un paio di economisti locali.
Abbiamo notato molte donne col velo, o tutto il corpo coperto.
"Ci sono un sacco di musulmani a Vienna," abbiamo commentato.
"Sì, abbiamo molti rifugiati... e molte persone vivono solo qui perché è tranquillo e sicuro."
"Ci sono stati attacchi terroristici?"
"No, perché dovrebbero essercene? Siamo neutrali, come la Svizzera. Non ci immischiamo in Medio Oriente. Non abbiamo nulla da fare lì. È molto tranquillo qui. Non c'è quasi nessun reato, ad eccezione del borseggio dei turisti."
"È molto sicuro. Ma gli americani hanno un'impressione completamente diversa dell'Austria. Hanno visto il film, The Sound of Music. Pensano che il paese sia un paradiso alpino pieno di uomini affascinanti e belle donne che amano la libertà e la musica."
"Ma guardatevi intorno. Vedete qualche montagna? Le montagne sono nella parte occidentale del paese in cui quasi nessuno vive. E la faccenda degli abitanti in fuga dai nazisti? Non molti austriaci sono fuggiti. "
Hitler – un austriaco – voleva unificare tutti i germanofoni in un grande impero.
Le sue truppe entrarono in Austria nel 1938 e non incontrarono alcuna resistenza. Invece c'era la folla in fila per le strade a fare il tifo.
Dietro le truppe c'era il Führer in persona. In seguito rifletté sull'esperienza:
Alcuni giornali stranieri hanno detto che siamo entrati in Austria con metodi brutali. Posso solo dire: anche nella morte non riescono a smettere di mentire. Nel corso della mia lotta politica ho visto tanto amore dalla mia gente, ma quando ho attraversato la frontiera [in Austria] sono stato soverchiato da un flusso tale di amore come non ne avevo mai visto. Non siamo venuti come tiranni, ma come liberatori.
"È stato un periodo infelice della storia austriaca," ha concluso il nostro ospite.
"In un primo momento, sembrava come una grande avventura – in unione con milioni di altri 'tedeschi' per creare un mondo migliore. Ma è finita male. E abbiamo imparato qualcosa. Abbiamo imparato a farci gli affari nostri."
[*] traduzione di Francesco Simoncelli: http://francescosimoncelli.blogspot.it/
In the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 – an invasion which many Iraqis believe left their country in the worst condition it has been since the Mongol invasion of 1258 — there was much discussion in the media about the Bush Administration’s goal for “nation-building” in that country. Of course, if there ever were such a goal, it was quickly abandoned, and one hardly ever hears the term “nation-building” discussed as a U.S. foreign policy objective anymore.
The stark truth is that the U.S. really has no intentions of helping to build strong states in the Middle East or elsewhere. Rather, as we see time and again – e.g., in Yugoslavia, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Ukraine – the goal of U.S. foreign policy, whether stated or not, is increasingly and more aggressively the destruction and balkanization of independent states. However, it is important to recognize that this goal is not new.
Indeed, South Korean human rights scholar Dong Choon Kim, writing of the U.S. war in Korea (1950 – 1953) – a war which he opines was at least arguably genocidal – explains that even back then, the nation-building of Third World peoples was viewed as an act of subversion which had to be snuffed out. As he explained, “[t]he American government interpreted the aspiration for building an independent nation as an exclusive ‘communist conspiracy,’ and thus took responsibility for killing innocent people, as in the case of [the] My Lai incident in Vietnam.” 
Thanks to the U.S. war on Korea, Korea to this day remains a country divided in half, with no prospects for unification anytime soon. Kim explains that the Korean War
“was a bridge to connect the old type of massacres under colonialism and the new types of state terrorism and political massacre during the Cold War. . . . And the mass killings committed by US soldiers in the Korean War marked the inception of military interventions by the US in the Third World at the cost of enormous civilian deaths.”
Pyongyang totally destroyed
Similarly, the U.S. objective in Vietnam was the destruction of any prospect of an intact, independent state from being created. As Jean-Paul Sartre wrote as part of the International War Crimes Tribunal that he and Bertrand Russell chaired after the war, the U.S. gave the Vietnamese a stark choice: either accept capitulation in which the country would be severed in half, with one half run by a U.S. client, or be subjected to near total annihilation.  Sartre wrote that, even in the former case, in which there would be a “cutting in two of a sovereign state . . . [t]he national unit of ‘Vietnam’ would not be physically eliminated, but it would no longer exist economically, politically or culturally.”
Of course, in the latter case, Vietnam would suffer physical elimination; bombed “’back to the Stone Age’” as the U.S. threatened. As we know, the Vietnamese did not capitulate, and therefore suffered near-total destruction of their country at the hands of the United States. Meanwhile, for good measure, the U.S. simultaneously bombed both Cambodia and Laos back to the Stone Age as well.
To understand the purpose behind such violent and destructive actions, we need look no farther than the U.S.’s own post-WWII policy statements, as well articulated by George Kennan image right) serving as the State Department’s Director of Policy Planning in 1948:
We must be very careful when we speak of exercising “leadership” in Asia. We are deceiving ourselves and others when we pretend to have answers to the problems, which agitate many of these Asiatic peoples. Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.
We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction…In the face of this situation we would be better off to dispense now with a number of the concepts which have underlined our thinking with regard to the Far East. We should dispense with the aspiration to ‘be liked’ or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers’ keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague — and for the Far East — unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
While it would have been impossible for the U.S. to continue to monopolize a full half of the world’s wealth after Europe, Japan, China and the USSR inevitably got up upon their feet after WWII, the U.S. has nonetheless done an amazing job of controlling an unjustifiable and disproportionate amount of the world’s resources.
Thus, currently, the U.S. has about 5% of the world’s population, and consumes about 25% of its resources. An article in Scientific American, citing the Sierra Club’s Dave Tilford, explains that,
“‘[w]ith less than 5 percent of world population, the U.S. uses one-third of the world’s paper, a quarter of the world’s oil, 23 percent of the coal, 27 percent of the aluminum, and 19 percent of the copper . . . . Our per capita use of energy, metals, minerals, forest products, fish, grains, meat, and even fresh water dwarfs that of people living in the developing world.’” 
The only way the U.S. has been able to achieve this impressive, though morally reprehensible, feat has been to undermine, many times fatally, the ability of independent states to exist, defend themselves and to protect their own resources from foreign plunder. This is why the U.S. has teamed up with the world’s most deplorable forces in destroying independent states around the globe.
Just to name a few examples, since 1996, the U.S. has supported Rwandan and Ugandan forces in invading the Democratic Republic of Congo, making that country ungovernable and plundering its incredible natural resources. The fact that around 6 million innocents have been murdered in the process is of no matter, and certainly not to the main stream press which rarely mentions the DRC. In Colombia, the U.S. has backed a repressive military and right-wing paramilitaries for decades in destabilizing whole swaths of the Colombian countryside, and in assisting multinational corporations, and especially extractive industries, in displacing around 7 million people from their homes and land, all in order to exploit Colombia’s vast oil, coal and gold reserves. Again, this receives barely a word in the mainstream press.
Of course, in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Afghanistan, the U.S. has been teaming up with Saudi Arabia and radical Islamist forces – forces the U.S. itself has dubbed “terrorist” – in undermining and destroying secular states.
As far back as the 1970’s, the U.S. began supporting the mujahidin in attacking the secular, Marxist state of Afghanistan in order to destroy that state and also to fatally weaken the Soviet state by, in the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski, “drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap . . . [and] giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.” Afghanistan may never recover from the devastation wrought by that fateful decision of the U.S. and its subsequent intervention which is now into its 15th year and counting. As we know full well, the USSR never recovered either, and the U.S. is trying mightily to prevent post-Soviet Russia from becoming a strong rival state again.
Meanwhile, in Libya, the U.S. again partnered with jihadists in 2011 in overthrowing and indeed smashing a state which used its oil wealth to guarantee the best living standards of any country in Africa while assisting independence struggles around the world. In this way, Libya, which under Qaddafi also happened to be one of the staunchest enemies of Al-Qaeda in the world, presented a double threat to U.S. foreign policy aims. Post-intervention Libya is now a failed state with little prospects of being able to secure its oil wealth for its own people again, much less for any other peoples in the Third World. And so, mission accomplished!
In addition, as we learned from Seymour Hersh back in 2007, the U.S. began at that time to try to weaken Iran and Syria by supporting Sunni extremist groups to subvert those countries.  As Hersh explained:
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites.
The U.S. continues to intervene in Syria in a way which prevents the Syrian state from achieving a decisive victory against the various militant groups it is fighting – some of which the U.S. itself admits are terrorists – while at the same time targeting some of these same militant groups themselves, thereby preventing either side of the conflict from coming out on top. Indeed, as we have learned, the CIA and the Pentagon have even been backing opposing militant groups that are fighting each other!  The result is a drawn-out war which threatens to leave Syria in chaos and ruins for the foreseeable future.
This would seem to be an insane course of action for the U.S. to take, and indeed it is, but there is method to the madness. The U.S. appears to be intentionally spreading chaos throughout strategic portions of the world; leaving virtually no independent state standing to protect their resources, especially oil, from Western exploitation. And, this goal is being achieved with resounding success, while also achieving the subsidiary goal of enriching the behemoth industrial-military complex.
Jose Marti once said, “there are two kinds of people in the world: those who love and create, and those who hate and destroy.” There is no doubt that the U.S. has proven itself to be of the latter kind; indeed, the very nature of U.S. foreign policy is destruction. Given this, it is at best foolish and naïve for people of any political stripe, but particularly self-defined leftists, to put any stock in the notion that the U.S. is acting in the defense of human rights, democracy or any such lofty goals in intervening militarily abroad.
There is only one proper goal, then, of people of good will – to oppose U.S. military intervention with every fiber of our being.
The original source of this article is CounterPunch.
Reprinted from GlobalResarch.ca.
The United States and the European Union have launched an undeclared war against Syria, Iran, and Russia – it is known by the alias «economic sanctions». This appalling tactic killed more than a million Iraqis during the 1990’s, without arousing any suspicion in Western public opinion. It is used today, patiently, against any state which refuses to be dominated by the unipolar world order.
In the past, conventional war strategy included the siege of a city or a state. It was used to isolate the enemy, to prevent him from using his resources, to submit him to famine, and finally to gain victory. In Europe, the Catholic church firmly condemned this tactic as criminal, in that it killed civilians first, and the military forces only afterward.
Today, conventional wars include «economic sanctions», which are used for the same purpose. From 1990 to 2003, the sanctions levied against Iraq by the UN Security Council killed more than a million civilians. In fact, it was a war led by the bankers in the name of the institution whose purpose was supposed to promote peace.
It is probable that several of the states which voted for these sanctions were not aware of their extent nor their consequences. What is certain is that when some members of the Security Council asked for the sanctions to be lifted, the United States and the United Kingdom opposed the motion, thereby assuming the responsibility for a million dead civilians.
After numerous international civil servants had been fired for their participation in the massacre of a million Iraqi civilians, the United Nations began to think about the manner in which they could make the sanctions more effective in terms of the objectives announced. In other words, to ensure that the sanctions would effect only the political and military sectors, and not civilians. There was talk of «targeted sanctions».However, despite much research on the subject, no-one has ever practised sanctions against a state which affected its leaders and not its population.
The effect of sanctions is linked to the interpretation that the governments make of the texts which define them. For example, most of the texts evoke sanctions on products which may be used both by civilians and the military, which leaves plenty of room for interpretation. A rifle may be forbidden for export to a certain state because it can be used for war as well as hunting. But a bottle of water can be drunk by a mother as well as a soldier. Consequently, the same texts – according to the political circumstances and the evolution of the government’s will – can lead to extremely different results.
The situation is all the more complicated in that the legal sanctions of the Security Council are augmented by the illegal sanctions of the United States and the European Union. Indeed, while some states or intergovernmental institutions can legally refuse commercial relations with other states, they can not establish unilateral sanctions without waging war.
The term «sanction» gives the impression that the state which is submitted to them has committed a crime, and that it has been tried before being found guilty. This is true for sanctions decreed by the Security Council, but not those decided unilaterally by the United States and the European Union. These are purely and simply acts of war.
After the war against the British in 1812, Washington created the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is tasked with waging this white-collar war.
Currently, the main states which are victims of sanctions are not the targets of the United Nations, but exclusively those of the United States and the European Union. They are Syria, Iran, and Russia. That is to say, the three states which are fighting the jihadists supported by the Western powers.
Most of the sanctions that have been decreed are without direct links to the contemporary war against Syria. The sanctions aimed at Damascus are mainly linked to its support for the Lebanese Hezbollah, and to the asylum granted to the Palestinian Hamas (which has since joined the Muslim Brotherhood, and is now fighting against Syria). The sanctions against Iran were allegedly imposed against its military nuclear programme, even though it was closed down by the Ayatollah Khomeini thirty years ago. They continue to be levied despite the signature of the 5+1 agreement, which was supposed to resolve this problem, which does not in fact exist. Those levied against Russia sanction the incorporation of Crimea after it had refused the Nazi coup d’état in Kiev, qualified as a «democratic revolution» by NATO.
The most rigorous sanctions currently levied are those affecting Syria. A report drawn up by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Syria, financed by the Swiss Confederation, and made public four months ago, observes that the US and European interpretation of the texts leads to the deprivation, for the majority of Syrians, of many medical care products and also food resources. A great number of medical products are forbidden, since they are considered to be of double usage, and it is impossible to pay for the importation of food via the international banking system.
Although the situation of the Syrian people is not as catastrophic as that of the Iraqis in the 1990’s, it is nonetheless a war waged by the United States and the European Union, by financial and economic means, exclusively against the population living under the protection of the Syrian Arab Republic – with intent to kill.
The National Enquirer has released their interview with a fixer who claims they worked for the Clintons from 1991 until 2008 to bury stories in the press.
The individual, whose identity is not revealed, details 12 of their fixes in their story, most of which involve Bill’s alleged relationships with women.
He claims he purchased photos of Bill on a Hollywood lot with Night Court actress Markie Post, paid two women named ‘Doreen’ and ‘Julianne’ shortly after Bill was inaugurated and resolved ‘rumors inside the White House’ of an alleged affair between Bill and Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart.
The fixer also claims Hillary had him scrub Vice Foster’s office and remove Whitewater documents, just two hours after the White House employee’s lifeless body was found in a park outside Washington DC.
‘I am coming forward now because of the endless attention the alleged indiscretions of Donald Trump have received,’ said the fixer.
‘Nothing I have heard comes close to the sexual and moral corruption of the Clintons – many of which have yet to be revealed.’
‘I was informed that these stories would involve rumors of Bill Clinton‘s many sexual dalliances and an alleged ongoing affair of Hillary Clinton with a male member of her law firm, Vince Foster, as well as a female mover-and-shaker in Hollywood,’ the fixer said of their first meeting about the possible new job.
‘For a retainer of $4,000 a month – paid by a third party, not the campaign – I was told to keep these stories hush-hush in one of two ways: by trading access to the Clintons for “positive” interviews, or by paying the reporters.’
He then goes on to detail his hardest fix, which involved the president’s brother Roger.
‘Presidential brother Roger Clinton was marrying his eight-months-pregnant bride Molly. There was a bachelor party,’ said the fixer.
‘Recordings were made. Recordings involving Bill Clinton.’
Those recordings were eventually obtained by the National Enquirer according to the fixer, and in exchange for not releasing them the tabloid was given exclusive access to Roger’s wedding.
‘Before the publication and its then-editor could publish a transcript, I swooped in and negotiated for the White House to give this paper exclusive access to the ceremony itself,’ said the fixer.
‘Not even The Washington Post or The New York Times had that.;’
October 16 is World Dictionary Day, marking the birthday of the great American lexicographer Noah Webster. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1758, it was Webster’s two-volume American Dictionary of the English Language that truly earned him his place in linguistic history and a reputation as the foremost lexicographer of American English. To mark the occasion, here are 10 facts about the dictionary without which Dictionary Day would not exist.
1. IT WASN’T WEBSTER’S FIRST BOOK ABOUT LANGUAGE …
Following his studies at Yale in the late 1700s, Webster had initially hoped to become a lawyer, but a lack of funds held him back from pursuing his chosen career and he instead ended up teaching. It was then that he became horrified of the poor quality of school textbooks on offer, and took it upon himself to produce his own. The result, A Grammatical Institute of the English Language—nicknamed the “Blue-Backed Speller,” because of its characteristic cover—was published in 1783 and remained the standard language textbook in American schools for the next century.
2. … OR EVEN HIS FIRST DICTIONARY.
5. NOT ALL OF HIS SPELLING REFORMS HIT THE MARK.
In compiling his dictionaries, Webster famously took the opportunity to make his case for spelling reform. As he wrote in the introduction to his American Dictionary, “It has been my aim in this work … to ascertain the true principles of the language, in its orthography and structure; to purify it from some palpable errors, and reduce the number of its anomalies.”
A great many of Webster’s suggestions—like taking the U out of words like colour and honour, and clipping words like dialogue and catalogue—took hold, and still continue to divide British and American English to this day. Others, however, were less successful. Among his less popular suggestions, Webster advocated removing the B from the thumb, the E from give, and the S from the island, and he proposed that daughter should be spelled “dawter,” porpoise should be spelled “porpess,” and tongue should be spelled “tung.”
Bush et al both lied and blundered when they started the Iraq War in 2003; the same with Afghanistan. Lies and mistakes are not mutually exclusive during complex events with a number of players involved.
The propaganda campaign to sell the war to the American public was filled with intentional lies and exaggerations by many people, including America’s top leaders. They lied to get the war that they wanted to get. They knew that Iraq had no nuclear bombs and posed no threat to America. They exaggerated about other weapons like chemical and biological weapons. They demonized Saddam Hussein. They fixed intelligence reports around the desired policies.
Some of these same liars and others also were blunderers who made the mistake of thinking that they could easily win the war and easily fix up a new social and political system. Before the war began there were serious errors of judgment at the highest levels of government. (Others made serious mistakes of judgment after the war was seemingly won.) The top figures who supported the aggression upon Iraq still do not admit that they blundered: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld. Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz haven’t admitted the blunder. Hillary Clinton has defended her vote for war. Condi Rice reaffirmed her support for the war in 2013.
There were lots of lies about the threats posed by Hussein, but also American leaders failed to foresee the negative ramifications and consequences to the U.S. of attacking Iraq. In Bush’s case, his personal animus and desire for revenge and kicking ass came to the fore. Whatever objections to the war there may have been among wiser and cooler heads around him did not prevail. However, I know of none of his inner circle that did not support him and his decision.
Can America end its participation in wars? It has been engaged in wars almost continuously from its inception. It was born out of war. War is a racket, but it’s also an ingrained American habit. War is embedded in the American economy and politics. It’s embedded in the American psyche and way of life. War is accepted, nay, welcomed in some dark corner of the hearts that deny it and affirm love of peace. If it isn’t one war, it’s another. War is virtually the poisonous breath of American life. If it isn’t a military war, then it’s some other war or crusade. War is regarded as something that will conquer fear.
Something very sick is at work when a country cannot endure a prolonged period of peace. Something is dreadfully wrong when a people cannot abide leaders who promise to promote peace, instead conferring power on the most vicious and psychopathic who promise to be “strong”. Something is very wrong with a people that fears peace movements and applauds governments that vitiate them. Something is wrong with a people that cannot look at its history and its mistakes. Something is wrong when a people defends its government no matter what evils it perpetrates.
That something is fear. There is too much fear in the land, deeply buried in American hearts. There is fear of enemies of all sorts and descriptions: foreign enemies, minorities, various religions, anarchists and anarchy, terrorists, communists, nonconformists, health insecurity, job losses, drugs, gang violence, severe weather, climate change, losses of all kinds, illness, dying and death. No fear is too small not to be the foundation for some crusade or war.
Politicians encourage these fears. They articulate them, and they propose to assuage them. They know better and they lie. Some do not know better; they blunder.
Wars are promised solutions to fears. In this way, lies, blunders, fears and war coalesce.
Many of you have heard the saying, “Your freedom ends where mine begins.” A majority of us prefer to live in a peaceful, non-threatening lifestyle. That said, there might come a time when you will need to defend yourself. Self-defense can range from having a small defense weapon such as a tactical pen in your pocket to concealing a firearm for safety. For those who feel strongly about using non-lethal defense, consider the 5 following non-lethal alternatives.
5 Non-Lethal Ways to Protect Yourself
While it is important to know how to defend yourself, it is equally important to remember not to make yourself a target, always engage in being aware of your surroundings, avoiding dangerous circumstances and be ready to act at a moment’s notice. To said, there may come a time where you will find yourself in a serious situation and self-defense is the only recourse. The following items are ideal to carry in a purse and should be easily accessible at all times. Check with your state laws to make sure you can carry these items freely.
- A quick, convenient method for protection is carrying pepper spray. The small size makes it ideal for walkers and joggers and you can’t really find a more simple method of protecting yourself. Even children and the elderly should have no problem simply pointing and pulling the trigger. Assailants will immediately experience temporary blindness, have difficulty breathing and go into severe distress. Brands like this one have a non-abrasive sleeve that stretches to fit your palm and a formula that delivers a stream with minimal blowback on the person doing the spraying.
- To take pepper spray to an even greater level, you might be interested in apepper spray gun. The concept is the same as the hand-held variety, but a pepper spray gun is shaped like a traditional handgun and it is filled with several rounds of spray to create a chemical cloud. This allows you to be 10 times the safe distance (150+ feet versus 6-10 feet) away from danger while still being incredibly effective. Rounds on a pepper spray gun are powered by a CO2 cylinder, which is activated when a trigger is pulled. In addition, pepper spray guns have a kinetic impact with a round traveling approximately 320 feet per second (the equivalent of getting kit with a 50 mph fastball). Be sure to check the laws in your state, as pepper spray guns are not legal everywhere.
- A stun gun is another non-lethal method of defense you might want to consider. This one is small and attaches to your car keys to protect you when you are in vulnerable situations (such as a parking garage late at night). Stun guns use high electrical voltage to stun attackers, but because the amperage is low, no permanent damage is caused. Most are powered by regular 9-volt batteries and are usually the size of a small flashlight or smaller.