Abu Hajaar

The United States military’s endless war against everything, everywhere, all the time … is spreading:

The experts agree; the war in in Syria and Iraq is a big one, it has many adversaries, etc. They neglect to mention the war showing up in Raleigh, North Carolina; Tulsa or a suburb of Minneapolis … or in your town. The wars are supposed to remain at a safe distance felt only as pangs of gratification before and during sporting events. Now the dogs are running wild, who will they bite next?

Maybe a better question is how much does it all cost and who’s paying?

Abu Hajaar and the Islamic State Myth

Islamic State had an amazing run, if only for its outrageous, mind-torquing audacity. Like a bad LSD trip amped with Jack Daniel’s and crystal meth, ISIS was so idiosyncratically, disgustingly, CRAZY … so embedded at the very center of Warholian pop- slash media culture … it made for Great TV. But, like all other fashions it had its fifteen milliseconds of fame … Poof! There it went!

As for hard evidence of Islamic State’s incapacity; this is all you will ever need:

There is other evidence: Turkey’s entry into northern Syria a few weeks ago was the equivalent to a surrender document: if Islamic State was able to defend its supply lines, it would have done so. Instead, the patron (Turkey) had to scramble to fill the vacuum left by its fleeing agent; an action that speaks for itself.

If you can’t see the connection between Syria, Middle East, Dallas and Baton Rouge you aren’t looking hard enough. War has become ‘business by other means’, one that kills off its clientele. A ‘thug’ in one place is the same as a ‘militant’ in another; what pays is the process of identifying threats then bumping them off. If the ‘threats’ are not inherently dangerous — hapless Negroes in the wrong place at the wrong time or bumbling agents of a Nato ally — so much the better!

What keeps ISIS alive and menacing in the Western mind is the marketing. When intelligence officers, generals, talking heads on your favorite news outlet report ‘the danger of Islamic State’ or an ‘Islamic State Offensive’, Abu Hajaar is who they are talking about, (March, 2016).

Keep in mind, it is in the interest of the Ponzi Pentagon and its partners to inflate the capabilities of ISIS to serve its own interests. Terrorists and threat of attacks are the sole justification for US military intervention in Syria and Iraq. Without Islamic State there is no bombing Islamic State; there is no need for Operation Inherent Resolve, no need for thousands of ‘operators’ (mercenaries) on the ground, no need for bases and their supply requirements and their fleets of contractors; no need to spend billions per day combating a group that for all practical purposes does not pose a threat. If the Islamic State was audacious, so is the fraud that has been erected around it!

Perhaps by way of his lonely and painful death Abu Hajaar offers us all something of value. The US government’s absurdities are revealed. Sadly, citizens are too entangled in the non-stop media crossfire to recognize the fraud for what it is, they can’t grasp it or they don’t want to; the marketing is too comforting.

The Islamic State is still dangerous … but only within the capacities of the individuals associated with the group. The ‘Monkey-Piano’ hypothesis suggests given enough time a roomful of monkeys with pianos will produce the complete works of Shostakovitch. Give the same monkeys much less time and a roomful of Kalashnikovs, they will kill everything downrange including themselves, yet the United States military is not going to go to war against monkeys!

Turkey’s Number One Plan


By the end of 2011, the Pentagon had been ‘invited out’ of Iraq, it was hunting for opportunities to expand its presence in the region. The great wave of social change set into motion by the US invasions eight years prior was breaking across the Arab world, taking the form of a generalized uprising against the status quo. The wave had already broken over Syria; demonstrations against the Bashar Assad government had morphed into vicious street fighting and a divide in the country. The government was able to control- or contest the heavily populated western half of the country from Latakia on the Turkish border to Jordan in the south, the lightly populated east was left to fend for itself.

Arrayed against Assad and his army was a grab-bag of revolutionary militias operating as the Free Syrian Army. Some groups were comprised of disaffected civilians able to arm themselves and organize. Others were recent defectors from the Syrian army. Assad had emptied his prisons of criminals so as to refill them with political enemies. Many of those released had military experience or were Islamic extremists, they signed up with the FSA. Assad would later point to these individuals as the terrorists he was fighting against … begging for aid while holding himself up as a defender of Western civilized values at the same time.

The distress in Syria offered possibilities for the US partnership that included Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Arabs were intent on using the disturbances elsewhere to deflect or short-circuit their own malcontents. Ankara’s dilemma revolved around the country’s lack of domestic petroleum resources. Turkish motorists were burning through two hundred fifty million barrels of imported oil per year, paid for with borrowed euros and dollars. The result was increasing pressure on the economy and the lira. Turkey could look toward Greece to see what happens when those funds had to be repaid; to Argentina to see what happens when they were not. Turkey had the region’s most powerful military, it could invade its neighbors easily, winning afterward was hard. Dictator-in-waiting Tayyip Recep Erdogan and his generals could look to the US mis-adventure in Iraq and see the difficulty in making off with another country’s resources.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors were looking for advantage vs. Iran over market access for their petroleum. This contest had evolved over time into a proxy war that occasionally boiled over. The US didn’t mind, instability is one of its top exports. Resources lurking underground might indeed be hard to steal but grabbing consumption was child’s play. Consumption was a complex, above-ground undertaking with many dependencies including the need for (expert) management, complex infrastructure and hard currency loans. A wrench in the right spot would strip the gears, a pin would pop the balloon. Whatever could not be consumed in a ‘Brand X’ country would be available to Americans; even if a producer like Libya or Iraq could not use its own oil it would still export. As Sherlock Holmes would say, “The game’s afoot”.

The game plan for Syria was simple, the Assad government was vulnerable, poke at it until it deflated, death by a thousand pins. ‘Why’ did not matter: Assad’s demise would be rationalized afterward. The Turks would provide a base from which anti-Assad rebels would operate. They would be armed, organized and given necessary training … Arms would come from the US by way of the Saudis or from Libyan arsenals captured after the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi, Hillary Clinton’s war. Materiel would be shipped directly from Saudi stockpiles, Libyan supplies would reach the rebels by way of CIA ‘ratlines’ from Benghazi. Turkey would become the conduit for Islamic militants heeding the call for jihad that were flooding into Syria from around the world. The model was the brushfire intifada waged against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s by CIA- supported Islamic mujaheddin, Charlie Wilson’s war.

The US’ role was to provide funds and would coordinate between partners, it would offer training to militants where appropriate. The Special Operations trainers were the camel’s nose inside the tent, the rest of the camel would come later: aircraft and bases, advisors, the ground troops all at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. Besides being a conduit for arms, Saudis would provide funding and ‘volunteers’; the Qataris would offer ‘public relations’ (propaganda services). The Turks would hold the bag; if anything went wrong they would get the blame.

Turkey’s aim was to create a de facto Turkish protectorate; a New Ottoman Empire that would reach into Iraq with its billions of barrels of proven oil reserves. Enough success and the Shia Muslim/ Iranian protectorate at the south of Iraq would be undone. Unlike the Americans, Turkey would not have to conquer anyone or steal anything, Ankara would heed the call to rescue the victims of its own subordinates’ aggression. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies would gain influence in a territory from which they had long since been excluded. All these advantages would be at the expense of Iran.

The strategy was simple to implement and began well but defects soon emerged. Assad was no fool, his father Hafez was an old-school Soviet-style tyrant who, when confronted, hammered his adversaries without mercy. Timid son Bashar clearly paid attention in class. He short-circuited the Syria succession regime leaving his Alawite- and moderate Shia constituents without palatable alternatives. It was to be Assad or nothing, there would be no Lady Macbeths or Colonel Gaddafis waiting in the wings for the leader to fail. Assad sanctioned genocide, giving his officers freedom to commit whatever atrocities and excesses they would. This bound the officers to Assad, each becoming complicit in the others’ crimes. If Assad failed or the army, both would fall. Atrocities provided Assad with leverage over civilians whose loyalty might waver: he could massacre his foes (stick) or he could call off his own dogs (carrot). He also bellied up to his Iranian allies who had a large investment in the Syrian project and much to lose from an Assad defeat. The Iranians offered supplies and funds.

The anti-Assad rebels also had a distressing tendency to fight among themselves rather than attack Assad. This made sense; even with training and logistical support the rebels were no match for the Syrian army. When the rebels attacked with rockets and machine guns, the army responded with artillery, aircraft and tanks. The inexperienced civilian-rebels were soon wiped out and their units disbanded. The ex-army defectors either died, fled the country or flipped to more competent organizations. Successful units tended to congeal around Islamic militants who had experience in urban combat; soon enough the jihadis became dominant among the rebels. Yet, jihadi success tended to work against the rebels’ aims. Instead of encouraging the Syrians to distance themselves from Assad, the jihadis drove the two together out of desperation. The more effective the militants were on the battlefield, the stronger Assad became. The jihadis could win battles but they scared the horses.

Encounters tended to be grinding affairs with both sides suffering heavy casualties; operational expenses were an increasing burden as manpower losses could not be easily made up. Assad would take a town or a neighborhood with armor but could not hold it because he lacked the ground forces. As the casualties mounted morale was slipping.

The Syrians on the rebel side would fight until they felt compelled return to their families. If the families left the country — and millions ultimately would, the fighters left too. This left rebel forces made up increasingly of foreigners, which had the effect of driving more support to the government. At the same time, Assad’s losses forced him to request reinforcements from Iran and Hezbollah. This resulted in loss of support for his side and more defections. There were splits within Assad’s army whose soldiers resented control by Iran. The nature of the fighting presented a problem with the foreign fighters on both sides; engagements were intense but confined to towns and neighborhoods. The foreigners did not know the ground, before they could learn they were killed. On the rebel side, success fell toward the groups with a mix of locals who knew the territory and veteran jihadis who were the best fighters. This offered a problem of its own: larger attacks by the rebel side were out of the question because the different groups and fighters couldn’t or wouldn’t work together. The Assad side felt the same problem in reverse: the targets the rebels presented to were too dispersed for his army to assault all at once, this left him to bomb residential areas with the hope of killing one or two fighters. This induced more Syrians to leave the country shrinking the manpower pool.

Ironically, the drain upon Assad’s ‘human resources’ dramatically increased with Russian assistance in September, 2015. The Russians brought airplanes and missiles but few ground troops. Russian air support began to dictate the tempo of offensives by the Syrian army and its allies … increasing Syrian army losses. The Syrian government and its supporters found themselves trapped by Assad’s expedients; his need to fight and to not-fight at the same time. In order to win he had to use up his army, he needed to hold back in order to save it. Assad’s dilemma was the same as the rebels’ earlier: the more effective the Russians were on the battlefield, the weaker Assad became because of the human toll.

Meanwhile, blowback was increasing in the West, the US was increasingly collaborating with unsavory actors, including militants affiliated with al-Qaeda. Questions were being raised in Washington. The US president was handed an opportunity to intervene directly in the Fall of 2013 after several hundred Syrian civilians were killed in a poison gas attack. The war-hawks in the administration were calling for a no-fly zone like the one that had undone Gaddafi. The US public reaction was strongly negative; after ten years of fruitless war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ongoing debacle in Libya, the citizens were opposed to more military adventures; there were no vital US interests at stake in Syria. The only benefits of a US action would fall to groups the US had pledged to destroy.

There was another factor, something that became clear when Islamic State emerged into public consciousness in the Summer of 2014: A large, general war across the Middle East was unlikely because none of the nations including the US could afford to fight one. Marginal oil production would be cut and the resulting finance crisis would cripple everyone. This established an upper bound on the level of ‘investment’ the dictators and plutocrats could make in twerking their rivals. Within limits the wars could go on, they could morph and congeal, burn out in one place or flare up in others, but exceed those bounds … Poof! Everyone would be living in caves!

Allahu Akbar Motherf**ker!

Anyone with access to a TV knows what happened in June of 2014: the group that had been booted out of al-Qaeda for being too violent erupted like a chest-bursting alien from the scrublands of eastern Syria to overran Mosul and a dozen other cities and towns across northern Iraq. Over the course of a few days the entire Iraqi defense/security establishment, a $35 billion dollar Pentagon (mal)investment … bases, generals, tanks, helicopters, prisons, Humvees, golf courses and officers’ clubs; 300,000 so-called ‘soldiers’ … Poof! You know the rest!

Immediately there was a jarring disconnect: the gap between the mission and those who were tasked with carrying it out. The last time an Arab army mounted a successful large-scale offensive without outside leadership was during the Middle Ages. The needed talent and command infrastructure simply didn’t exist. Abysmal leadership on both sides has been- and still is a number-one reason for the stalemate in Syria. One had only to look to the wasteful sieges across the region to see how governments and militias planned- and carried out operations. Thousands of lives were wasted every month to wrestle control over a few blocks or neighborhoods, with entire cities such as Homs reduced to deserts of concrete rubble.

It isn’t just Islamic State ineptitude:

The Hezbollah commander sent his soldiers out to die. There was no objective they might reasonably capture, or even a way to return fire. By the end of the operation the Hezbollah unit lost its fighters, its vehicles and its base of operations, no doubt purchased with many more lives: Abu Hajaar all over again!

Every day dozens of similar pointless operations take place all across Syria, with the same depressing outcomes. The leaders don’t care and don’t know any better, repeating the same failed processes over and over hoping to wear down the other side(s) by attrition.

In single party states such as Syria and Iraq (Iran and Saudi Arabia), effective military commanders are seen as internal threats, they are rarely given opportunities to succeed. Officer ranks are filled with dull, self-serving careerists chasing comfortable sinecures. The ex-Saddam loyalists identified as Islamic State commanders leading the blitz across northern Iraq were pliant yes-men with highly developed survival instincts which was why they had their jobs in the first place. These individuals were never military geniuses, they were experts at running away. That was why they lasted long enough to become involved with ISIS. When given the opportunity, these commanders shoveled their best fighters into the furnace of Kobani, another futile siege. When the Kurds finally gained control over the city, ISIS was left with a disorganized mob of Abu Hajaars and some snuff video producers. The rest had been sacrificed.

Inept leadership is why Islamic State has been death’s door ever since (February, 2015). The fighters in every group including ISIS flip over from other groups; they don’t arrive from outer space. At the beginning, ISIS offered the possibility of a quick victory and large gains; fighters from across Syria and northern Iraq were eager to join. After the Kobani debacle, the group offered the certainty of being thrown away for nothing or a date with the hangman. Like the rest, the group cannot make up its losses.

The US has similar faults, its command is riddled with uninspiring ‘company men’; experts whose corrupt relationships with the defense industry leaves what (little) remains of the institution’s integrity compromised. None possess a longer term vision or sense of mission. The United States military hasn’t won a war since 1945 and it is certain nobody alive today remembers how …

The conclusions that can be drawn are much different from those of the experts: The war is a product of the United States and its unscrupulous, self-interested and largely incompetent partners. It is a regional contest between petro-states Iran and Saudi Arabia, which the US has encouraged. There was- and is nothing resembling real plan, instead, the US relies on dangerously unstable proxies who are more of an enemy than Assad. A grievous error was underestimating the Syrian dictator and his capabilities. The assumption was he would be killed by his own like Gaddafi or would flee Damascus leaving the country to the Turks or pro-Western puppets. He instead chose to slug it out, something the 1,271 government intelligence offices, agencies, bureaus including the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as well as the 1,931 private intelligence contractors … never detected.

Assad was unlikable but not an adversary of the US or the West. For all of Assad’s faults, his regime is the legitimate government of Syria: it has never attacked the United States. The last Syrian war against a Western ally was vs. Israel in 1973. There is no justification for the West’s brutal mugging of the Syrian citizens.

Part One: It Only Gets Worse

Part Two: Abu Hajaar

Part Three: Sharia For Sale

Part Four: Ghosts of Vietnam

36 thoughts on “Abu Hajaar

  1. ellenanderson

    Frederick Soddy, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry – 1921, was considered a crackpot in his economic writings which were informed by the laws of thermodynamics. He explains the modern wars that break out as follows:
    “Then the belligerent nations rather than individuals shoulder the debt. The glut of wealth, that in time of peace cannot be profitably exchanged, is not owed for it is produced by the nations as such. Along with the flower of the country’s manhood, it is destroyed as rapidly as the most powerful modern engines of destruction allow. The dead do not return, but the wealth destroyed discards its corruptible body to take on an incorruptible. It is national debt, better than wealth to individuals, a permanent source of wealth, defying the passage of time and the ravages of rats and worms. It needs no very profound analysis to reach the conclusion that the most significant economic consequence of modern war, the increase in the national debt, explains its cause. Affluence has but turned men into misers who will lend but will not spend, and the must humiliating spectacle of the age is that its best minds are devoted not to the building up of a nobler civilization, but to a chimera, how to convert the wealth that perishes into debts that endure and bear interest.”
    MAN VERSUS MONEY 1933 Page 28
    Try to find this book online. If you do find it for less than $100 let me know, for I would like a few more copies for my friends.

  2. ellenanderson

    Thanks, Steve from Virginia. It is pretty depressing though. Soddy had everything – scientific credentials, clear and compelling prose style, an understanding of economics – yet his work is never read. What was ‘the new economics’ he was referring to?
    In addition, there are the most annoying, supercilious, ignorant comments penciled into the margins of my copy which, by the way, was surplussed out of the Georgetown University library in 1972.

  3. steve from virginia Post author

    Soddy was actually more or less orthodox, he followed the path laid out by Alfred Marshall. Later, Keynes offered his own version of Marshall, whose “Principles of Economics” had been around for decades by the time Soddy started publishing. Fisher produced his debt-deflation paper in 1933. “New Economics,” = get rid of the gold standard. Non- orthodox would be Fisher, Hayek, Gesell; later, Minsky.

    “Sour grapes,” whined Fisher’s critics. Negative interest rates are the monetarist take on Gesell’s demurrage money. Go figure …


    The forgoing by Social Democracy leaves a lot out, not really surprising. Economists like other modern institutions are offering something for sale, in this case the incredible free lunch.

  4. ellenanderson

    His solutions may have been more orthodox than his analysis of the situation which is absolutely the best and funniest I have ever read. His criticism of the labor unions and the anti-war and anti-poverty crowd is wonderful. If you haven’t actually read this book you are missing a good time. Very quirky book. The guy who loaned his copy to me bought it because Herman Daly recommended it.
    Everybody back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, including Marx, thought that scarcity was artificial because of our new scientific knowledge. If that is your assumption you will have difficulty with solutions. But look, we are all having difficulty with solutions aren’t we? Strict conservation, recycle everything, ban usury, everyone get involved in small scale manufacturing and perennial ag using hand tools and no-till? I guess that is what I think we will have to do to survive. Even all of those things together may not provide a solution for humanity at this point. Was anyone saying that in 1931?
    But you have to wonder – is all of the knowledge that our fossil fueled leisure has allowed us to assemble really useless? And wouldn’t it be better for more people to understand that these endless wars represent the death throes of the hideous financial parasite that has attached itself to our human communities rather than “Oh well that is just the way the human race behaves?”
    Anyway, thanks for continuing to write.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      Hmmn … maybe I ought to ‘hog it’: I need a laugh as much as anyone. Charlie Hall used to speak highly of Soddy. What’s interesting right now is the technologists and numbers-guys have taken the stage while theorists are given little consideration. The implication is everything has been figured out we just need more/better data. The accountants get the data and don’t like it so they make adjustments (cheat) or ask for even more data.

      I have a feeling people in the early 1930s were having the same doubts as folks do, today. I agree about parasitic finance: blowing people up is how resources are ‘allocated’. Truthfully, I think most of what we learned is useful but nobody (including me) has a real clear idea how to put it all into context.

      1. Eeyores enigma

        Context is over rated Har!! Seriously though I believe the intertubes have made context obsolete. Everyone thinks that they have the right to decide what they believe and that context is simply their (exceptional) existence. As if reality can be “believed” out of existence.

        I see that trajectory is all that matters. Trajectory trumps (I now hate that word but couldn’t find another one to use) context, right, wrong, everything.

        We need to learn to love what is happening and ride right straight into the ground.

      2. steve from virginia Post author

        That’s a pretty interesting talk. I wonder if he knows Steve Keen? I don’t think anyone can over-state the influence of industrial finance- and the progress narratives in our way of doing business/running our lives. Of course, we are are now in the ‘Age of Less’ so degrowth (shrinkth) is going to happen whether anyone likes it or not.

        One of the Age of Less conundrums is that adaptive goals become moving- or contradictory targets. For instance, we can change agriculture techniques to make them less dependent on chemical inputs but climate changes to cut rainfall in half … or doubles it with the increase taking the form of devastating floods. Adapting to changes made during the ‘high input’ periods means dealing with soil degradation that is hard to remediate. Age of Less = problems proliferate and generate sub-problems that require adaptations that work against other efforts: http://modernfarmer.com/2016/07/farmer-suicide-2/

        Meanwhile, the smart guys in the room are busy offering magic bullets such as new pesticides, GMO foods, and solutions searching for problems like self-driving cars.

  5. ellenanderson

    Soddy talks a lot about John Ruskin. Quotes “There is no wealth but life.” (from Unto This Last 1862)
    Do you read Ruskin? I never have but maybe should have.
    You used to talk about what people really need (hint, not carz.) in order to live. Ruskin says that “wise consumption is a far more difficult art than wise production.”
    Soddy says that a debt based system is unreal – fictional and necessarily leads to overproduction. It runs into limits in the real world and ultimately requires the destruction of wealth which requires destroying life because “There is no wealth but life.” He thinks that resources are abundant but he recognizes that consumption produces waste and runs into physical limits.
    I guess we will never know whether we could have had art and science without borrowing from the future and requiring unwise consumption. Could it have been otherwise and could we learn to live well without private money lending? Or any lending at interest?
    This must have happened before. Usury used to be a mortal sin. Needs to be so again.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      I was looking back — always a risk b/c you see who’s chasing you — and I did find that I wrote something about Soddy a long time ago:

      Doing the Soddy …

      The estimable Nate Hagens over at The Oil Drum recently quoted a bit of economic reasoning of chemist Frederick Soddy. You might recall Soddy from high school; he and Ernest Rutherford discovered that the atomic disintegration of certain elements resulted in the formation of new elements. The ‘radioactive decay’ of radium, for instance, resulted in the formation of helium, among other things.

      Leaving Canada, Soddy then worked with Sir William Ramsay at University College, London where he continued the study of radium emanation. Here, Soddy and Ramsay were able to demonstrate, by spectroscopic means, that the element helium was produced in the radioactive decay of a sample of radium bromide and that helium was evolved in the decay of emanation.

      From 1904 to 1914 Soddy was lecturer in physical chemistry and radioactivity in the University of Glasgow. Here he did much practical chemical work on radioactive materials. During this period he evolved the so-called “Displacement Law”, namely that emission of an alpha-particle from an element causes that element to move back two places in the Periodic Table. His peak was reached in 1913 with his formulation of the concept of isotopes, which stated that certain elements exist in two or more forms which have different atomic weights but which are indistinguishable chemically.

      After his period at Glasgow he did no further work in radioactivity and allowed the later developments to pass him by. His interest was diverted to economic, social and political theories which gained no general acceptance, and to unusual mathematical and mechanical problems.

      The is from the Nobel foundation website; Soddy received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1921.

      His work in economics has been given little attention outside of what would be considered ecological economics. Conventional credit analysis avoids Soddy’s ideas like poison … no doubt because they do not offer an expansionary lunch.

      Here’s an example:

      A farmer who raises pigs faces biophysical limits on how many pigs he can take to market. But if that pig farmer took on debt – a promise to repay at a future date – he would in effect be issuing a claim or lien on his future production of pigs. If he borrowed the equivalent value of 100 pigs, he could represent the loan on his balance sheet as “-100 pigs.”

      While debt as the farmer’s accounting entry is negative, negative pigs do not really exist. If the farmer should suffer a series of lean years and be unable to pay the interest, he might soon owe more pigs than could be raised on his farm. After a year, with interest looming, he’d show “-110 pigs”; in 5 years, “-161”; in 40 (assuming a patient bank), “-4526.” When the bank finally came to call on the pig farmer to collect repayment of its loan, it could well find that most of the virtual wealth that had grown so appealingly on its books had to be written off as a loss.

      Soddy understood that money flows in marketplaces were less important than the energy flows in production. He contrasted real wealth which was always subject to entropy against virtual or money wealth which was an undying abstraction. To Soddy, the money universe’s illusory opportunities were irrelevant to the demands and constraints of the physical, energy- driven material universe.

      Soddy’s Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt: The Solution of the Economic Paradox was published in 1926. Unlike Irving Fisher, who was a promoter of the inflating stock market bubble accompanying the go- go ‘Roaring Twenties’, Soddy pointed out the increasing disconnect between the virtual world the markets of the time were describing and the real, energy bound one.

      Soddy’s obscure and unpopular economics is far from having its moment in the sun. He puts energy at the apex of economic activity, so he is allowed to drink at the bar. His intellectual pedigree runs through Kenneth Boulding, Robert Costanza, Herman Daly to Joseph Tainter and even unconventional ‘classic’ economists such as James Galbraith. At the same time, Soddy is the child of Thomas Malthus and John Stuart Mill.

      This entry was posted in Uncategorized on October 1, 2009.

      I’m getting old I cannot even remember half of what I learned, but that was a long time ago, I’ve learned other things since.

      1. ellenanderson

        I immediately thought of you when I started reading the book. In fact I did think that you probably had read it and that it had informed your conclusions. But it isn’t on our reading list. Maybe I read your blog – I did start in 2009 – and didn’t really pay attention.
        It is funny how everything we read just lurks in the background and then comes out when it fits in with everything else.
        One interesting project would be to look at writers who are actually proposing bits of solutions. I think of the De-Growth movement: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-09-23/capitalism-and-de-growth. Ellen Brown’s work on private banking is also interesting. Permaculture and local food movements are working away in the substructure as well.
        So long as the blame game goes on idiotic politicians will convince people that if they could only get rid of ISIS or Israel or liberals or uppity women or conservatives or Muslims or whatever, things will be fine. And they will tell you that all this war is just part of human nature. One of the things that Soddy points out is that it is really hard to get people to go to war. The propaganda machine really has to work for it. They sure are working now.
        All of this hatefulness and phony pop-sociology is promoted by our leadership and their tiresome internet trolls in order to provide support for their endless wars.

    2. steve from virginia Post author

      Borrowing from the future is another one of the expert solutions; we’ve been doing it for such a long time and have gotten very good at it. These expert things sometimes work very well … then they don’t any more. An accumulation of surplus future is, like everything else, subject to the First Law. If there is anything we oversubscribed its the future. We want the rosy scenario but … it turns inward against us becoming more of a pathway to the hollowed out past.

  6. dolph

    Will you ever address the Jews, Steve, or is that territory too dangerous?

    I’m asking you…is it too dangerous to mention the group that influences domestic and foreign United States policy out of all proportion to its numbers?

    If so, then you really don’t address anything at all, do you. If you can’t talk about all aspects of this – including the Jews and Israel – then you have literally ignored the elephant in the room, and all of your analysis has nothing more to offer.

    1. Volvo740...

      dolph: You must be talking about the central banking cartel. I dated a Jew for a short while. Studying to become a doctor. Surely she is was lending money. So I would hesitate to include ALL Jews as ‘the problem’ or you will be back to Hitler land before you know it.

    2. steve from virginia Post author

      I can’t say how much (my) analysis has to offer to anyone, I can’t read minds. I don’t spend time worrying, either.

      As far as it goes, there are ‘the Jews’ and there are ‘the Negroes’ and ‘the Chinese’ and ‘The Russians’ and whole lists of others. American foreign and domestic policy is influenced by Big Business particularly the auto industry which defines American modernity; it is the center around all else orbits. Almost all of the other businesses and the governments in the are dependencies of the auto industry. It is the world’s largest single industry and when the sub-components are added; finance, insurance, real estate, infrastructure, fuel supply, material extraction and transformation, media and marketing plus with Big Government and Big Military to keep the resources flowing … there is really not much left: clothing and agriculture; non-automotive transport like over-ocean shipping and aircraft; health care and education.

      If ‘the Jews’ you mention are involved with the auto industry they are indeed a problem. Seeing as how cars are also central to ‘the’ Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Turkish, Iranian, etc. the influence is small.

      As for Israel; at this moment they are in the enviable position of sitting back and watching their enemies self-destruct in front of their eyes. They have a distraction that allows them to push out the rest of the Palestinians and take over the West Bank which they have coveted since 1947. The only enemy that can threaten them directly is Hezbollah but that organization has trapped itself in Syria and is becoming weaker by the day. Are the Israelis behind this turn of events? No doubt there are those who would wish this was so but Hezbollah is a creature of Iran and the miscalculation is Tehran’s not in Tel Aviv.

      As for influence, the Israeli government is a long-time client of US military industries. At the same time this is not a one way street as US government obtains military- and security hardware and software from the Israelis.

      Is there a Jewish cabal in Washington? That would be like asking if there is a Negro cabal in the National Football League? Money … buys influence in the world today, no group has a monopoly over it, or lusts after it more than any of the others. If there is a cabal in Washington it is a dollar cabal with a subgroup that is media cabal.

      1. Volvo740...

        Seems like the auto industry will self destruct when it turns out that the decline rate of fuel is about as fast as the decline rate of the car fleet itself. Meaning that once we hit the down slope the demand for new cars should be essentially 0.

        I’m sure the auto industry is hard at work making the lifespan of a car 7 years, but I’m afraid they are a tad late to the game. Of course you could also regulate this – no cars older than 12 years allowed on the streets, but this might prove challenging politically to say the least.

        AAPL seems to be doing a good job with its phones though! The only thing better than replacing your phone every two years would be replacing your phone every year.

      2. Eeyores enigma

        WoW!!! “As for Israel; at this moment they are in the enviable position of sitting back and watching their enemies self-destruct in front of their eyes.” There is so much wrong with this statement I can barely believe it. Are you really that naive?

        Israel has been key in fomenting this “destruction” as a means to secure their position. Its no coincidence that most of the countries that have been “bombed back into the stone age” are countries that have either had territory taken by Israel or do not support Israeli occupation of other territories.

        There is absolutily nothing “enviable” about it, it is monstrous.

      3. Eeyores enigma

        “…the auto industry which defines American modernity; it is the center around all else orbits.”

        This is simply not true. Banking/finance is much more powerful an entity with a gravitational pull at least ten times more than the Auto industry. Hell even the auto industry has made more with their financial activities than auto sales at times.

        IMO a large % of auto industry revenues is financial not legitimate mfg. revenue. How much would a car cost if there was no financing available? How much would anything cost? Our entire existence cost at least twice what it would without banking/finance/insurance.

        The problem in the world today is that all of this banking/finance/debt crap would be fine and continue along as usual if we had continued exponential growth to pay for it all but we have hit the wall. No more growth!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. ellenanderson

    It’s too bad that the discussion of money lending and usury immediately leads to trolling and to accusations of anti-semitism. I think that Soddy himself fell into that trap in others of his writings. It is a shame. Blaming other religious/ethnic groups for our communal failures is simply a diversion to keep people from getting together and taking action. Very unpleasant to boot.
    The story of private banking goes way beyond any one religion or any one country. The Muslim faith held out and look where it got them.
    The DeMedici’s and their popes lit the fuse that will lead to the final explosion IMHO. It took a whole world to get into this pickle. I, for one, like to blame the Spanish explorers. I love to blame Roosevelt. I can sit around all day and think of people to blame. Not helpful!

    1. Eeyores enigma

      I find it curious that the whole world can blame, castigate, malign Islam and Muslims but don’t you dare say anything bad about Jews or Israel.

  8. ellenanderson

    I don’t find any of the blaming, castigating, maligning at all curious. That is what angry, confused, TV watching, car driving people do for fun. Everyone is fair game at this point.

  9. ellenanderson

    “This is simply not true. Banking/finance is much more powerful an entity with a gravitational pull at least ten times more than the Auto industry. Hell even the auto industry has made more with their financial activities than auto sales at times.”

    Actually it is true. The automobile has certainly defined all patterns of production and consumption in America. It has moved people out of the cities and spread them throughout the land. It has, in fact, created what Kunstler calls The Geography of Nowhere. The road building, house building, commercial development = the growth that supported the consumer economy which has been the engine of growth for the world.
    The hollowing out of communities homogenization of culture would not be possible without the personal automobile. It has become a symbol of manhood. People without carz are considered even weirder than people without TVz.

  10. ellenanderson

    Thanks – I just subscribed to the Modern Farmer. I read the comments on that piece too. Farmers also see a lot of death in a culture that is unrelentingly opposed to death. It is really depressing to know that your cute little baby chicks are going to die soon and that it will be at your hand. We hide that awful stuff behind factory walls and then pretend that if only we could get rid of CAFOS all adorable animals would live happily forever. Farming used to be a collective activity where people shared their happiness and, more often, their grief.
    Recognizing all of the above, the Grange was founded right after the Civil War. It is still around. I am going to take your Piggy vs. Piggy Bank quote from Soddy to our local Grange meeting where I am the Lecturer.

    1. ellenanderson

      I should add that a big part of what the Grange was intended to do was to get farmers together to sing, create art, put flowers in their houses, have collective dinners and promote community service. Of course we all have to get into our carz and drive. Before WWl Grangers were opposed to wars, central banking, debt and margarine. They got kind of co-opted by the corporate propaganda machine and jingoism after the Great War. But many of them endured and are beginning to look back at their roots.
      I don’t know how to even begin the conversation about how to get all of the people in their suburban houses to dig up their lawns and have block parties. But I’ll bet it will happen if we are lucky enough to avoid Mad Max. What is the appropriate density of human habitation? Well that has got to depend on all sorts of environmental considerations. No one answer. But no one now is even thinking to ask the question.
      There are a lot of people working on soil remediation. And learning to grow a lot of food with hand tools. But without art and music people do tend to blow their brains out, don’t they? TV doesn’t seem to provide a good substitute for DYI in that department.

  11. encouragement

    “Blaming other religious/ethnic groups for our communal failures is simply a diversion to keep people from getting together and taking action. Very unpleasant to boot.
    The story of private banking goes way beyond any one religion or any one country. The Muslim faith held out and look where it got them.
    The DeMedici’s and their popes lit the fuse that will lead to the final explosion IMHO. It took a whole world to get into this pickle.”

    hi ellen. how about i use the word identify instead of blame? does that help? discernment is what enlightened people value. by enlightened i simply mean those that can discern the metaphysical frequencies of life, and choose to act on the light that truth shines on life. it has been well established by michael hudson and others that usury was brought to western civilization by the semitic phoenician and (semitic) assyrian merchant bankers. given what we all know well about the gross power of financial leverage, it payed to be first to the game, and it’s still paying.

    sociologicallly, i think we can all agree that market consumers (people) are the primary conduits in this culture of usury. they generate the surpluses that creates the debt that creates the bondage. as such the culture of usury is a people farm and the farmers are the bankers. this is the simple truth and anyone here should take the responsibility of refuting this if you disagree. for what it’s worth i don’t, as a diversified rancher, believe that it is a coincidence that the blood wisdom of pre-usury semitic subsistence societies was that of the pastoralist mode of production, the skills for which revolve around the control of animals with carrots and sticks.

    culturally, i think we can all agree — if we are honest with ourselves — that contemporary jews are the only ethnicity in the mainstream to whom ethnocentrism remains a politically correct birthright. what galls people most is hypocrisy: societies with separatist values where it suits them and non-separatist values (financial opportunism) when it suits them are selfish societies indeed. human always have and always will respond to chronic selfishness with social shunning or forcible shunning depending on the circumstances – and rightly so to those of us unpersuaded by the false philosophies revolving around the toilet bowl of non-violence.

    the parasite always risks expulsion. that is its lot in life. rich ethno-religious quasi-separatist selfish people are the easiest parasites to identify, which is why elite jews get the finger pointed at them a lot. (their main defense is to throw the common jew under the bus by playing the ANTI-SEMITISM card.)

    it didn’t take a whole world to get into this pickle, it took a hierarchy leveraged by agrarian usury and then further leveraged by industrial usury.

    people didn’t have a say during the enclosures. the enclosure were imposed upon them by the bank-backed titans of industry. then they got domesticated, and the phenomenon of capture bonding took over, as have my livestock bonded to me; as a rewilded man i am not proud of this in the same way that i am not proud of the farm truck or the chainsaw that shame me each time i put them to use. i thank god that forgiveness is found in original discernment and, subsequent to that, the working towards a co-creative relationship with life rather than a selfish one — no matter what the obstacles may be — and in the process, freedom itself. i heartily encourage everyone to do the same.

  12. encouragement

    i can live with that so long as it’s not hemmed-in ground.

    thanks for respecting me and yourself enough to let the post stand.

    and thanks as always for your culture blog.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      A bigger issue in Alaska is the pipeline, that does not have enough oil flowing through it to keep it from getting clogged:


      The Alyeska group which operates the pipe needs new oil ASAP. No doubt there are plenty of prospectors looking for it right now … Cost is no object as the cost of shutting the pipeline includes stranding 2+ billion barrels in Prudhoe play or installing a smaller parallel pipe.

  13. Creedon

    Steve, John Williams of Shadowstats has been saying for years that we are headed for a hyperinflation event. Lately there seem to be signs of inflation picking up steam. Obviously we will never Know that inflation is taking place from the official numbers. My take on the way that you look at the world is that hyperinflation can not take place in the current economy. Hyperinflation would represent the falling of the dollar and according to your model we are still in the time period for the dollar to be gaining strength. If the debt bubble is at max in every possible way and corporate profits are falling, increasing prices is a way for them to deal with this. Maybe we are seeing the beginnings of the great deleveraging and an increasing amount of inflation is part of this. It represents the dollar beginning its fall.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      There are a lot of different causes of hyperinflation. A common cause for instance is a second country counterfeiting the first country’s currency and putting it into circulation like the British did with the ‘continental’ during the American Revolution. Another cause is the desire to repress labor by making wages worth less (labor rates rising at a slower pace than overall costs) as has happened repeatedly in South America.

      What can also happen is an arbitrage between the currency the people in a country hold and the currency they want to hold: this sort of thing is underway around the world in various countries right now. For instance, in Venezuela, people with local currency spend whatever they get their hands on to gain dollars. The outcome is a vicious cycle where the depreciating currency is by itself incentive to get rid of it as it is continuously worth less and less. Add banks to the muddle and every new round of currency issue (loans) puts the banks further underwater. The outcome is a kind of bank run where the banks never run out of money.

      Price increases in general are evidence of inflation but high prices have to be met by buyers with available funds, (hyper)inflation is a way to strip buyers of their funds’ worth, this in turn works against price increases.

      The arbitrage model does not look to gain traction in the US as there is no other currency that trades freely in the US besides the dollar. Neighboring countries’ currencies offer poorer deals than the dollar, with little available to buy that isn’t already available in the US. Put another way, Americans can buy any good made in China with dollars and likely get a better deal (when all life cycle costs are added) than a Chinese person even with yuan. This is the reason why China sells so much here and elsewhere in the West, it competes against itself, its own markets. The US does not sell as much overseas and is paid in dollars rather than overseas’ currencies. It’s hard to find, even euros or Canadian dollars here in the US. Without the two currencies to trade against each other there is little likelihood of hyperinflation.

      Also, governments anxious to develop industrial economies will order their central banks to make unsecured loans; what happens is the central bank’s losses are forced onto the commercial banks who find themselves stuck, because they are unable to push THEIR losses into the rest of the economy. The banks try to ‘make up their losses with volume’ = steadily increasing inflation/hyperinflation.

      It’s hard to see the dollar declining under current conditions as the almighty buck represents the world’s best deal for petroleum, a better deal even in petro-states. The fewer dollars in overseas circulation the more highly they are ‘valued’ and the more in local currency citizens are willing to pay to get their hands on them.

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