Sunday, October 05, 2014

The Empire of Progressive Poverty

Controlling a large number of people isn't easy. The United States alone consists of 312 million people spread out across nearly 4 million square miles. Add on nearly 500 million for the population of the European Union and another 1 million square miles of territory. Then pile on Canada with 34 million people and another 4 million square miles, Australia with 22 million and 3 million square miles and a few other stragglers here and there, and the postmodern rulers of the progressive empire have to cope with nearly a billion people spread out across 15 million square miles.

Large territories and large numbers of people are very difficult to govern. Structures tend to break down and people further away from the centers of power don't listen to the boys at the top. The only way to make a going proposition of it is to consolidate as much power as possible at the center and the very act of centralizing power leads to tyranny.

The most direct chokehold possible is physical. China's rulers, faced with vast territory and population, turned to the water empire. The modern West is quickly rediscovering a more sophisticated form of hydraulic despotism, cloaked in talk of saving the planet and providing for everyone's needs.

Western resources are not innately centralized, which makes seizing control of them and routing them through a central point more difficult. This has to be done legislatively and has to be justified by a universal benefit or a crisis. One example of this is FDR's Agricultural Adjustment Act which allowed the government to control wheat grown on a farm for private consumption. Another is nationalizing health care by routing the commercial activity of medicine through government organs. Both services and commodities can be controlled in this manner.

But the larger challenge is that the West is rich and a water empire depends on scarcity. Central control is much less potent if there is plenty of the commodity or service available. It's only when shortages are created in bread or health care that the system really wields power by rationing a scarce commodity or service.

If a resource is scarce, then the water empire has to distribute it efficiently. But if a resource is widely available, then the water empire has to find ways of making it scarce, until the demand vastly outstrips the supply.

The modern water empire is dependent for its power on manufactured shortages. The rise of the progressive state was closely tied to its exploitation of shortages. Its challenge has been to win the race with industrial productivity by manufacturing shortages and destroying wealth faster than it could be created. While the machine of industry created wealth, the machine of government destroyed it. Today the machine of government is very close to winning the race, creating a state of permanent shortages.

Manufactured shortages are the great project of modern governments. This manufacture is done by prohibitively increasing the cost of creating and distributing products and services, by controlling the means of production in the name of wealth redistribution and by prohibiting the production on the grounds that it is immoral or dangerous. Over the 20th century the transition was made from the first to the second and finally to the third.

The third means of manufacturing shortages is the final trump card in the race between human ingenuity and government power. It began with pollution regulation and has reached the stage where all human activity, from a bike ride to the corner to a puff of exhaled air, is a form of pollution. The carbon footprint is to the human being what the Agricultural Adjustment Act was to wheat, a mandate for total central regulation of all human activity.

While the second means of manufacturing shortages only justified redistributing wealth, the third prevents its creation. It is the final lock of the water empire. When it slides into places, shortages become permanent and the Empire of Poverty rules over all.

The Empire of Poverty is the modern incarnation of the water empire, its feigned concern for social equality disguising its hunger for total power. With the third stage, the empire of poverty is mostly putting aside its pretense of controlling production in order to maximize human benefits from the products or services and is shifting over to controlling production in order to deny use of the products and services to those who need them.

Global Warming rhetoric is still couched in the usual social justice rhetoric, aimed at the poorer kleptocracies who are eager to join the line for a handout, but its logic is poverty driven. It is not out to create wealth, but to eliminate it, on the grounds that cheaply available food or electricity is an immoral activity that damages the planet.

The Empire of Poverty is chiefly concerned with the impoverishing of the West, to maintain the manufactured scarcities of its water empire it has gone beyond taxation to entirely shutting down or crippling entire branches of human activity. This could not be justified by appeals to class or race alone. Social justice could not shut down power plants or decrease food production. Its impact was not sufficient to maintain a state of permanent poverty.

For the water empire to succeed, it is necessary to destroy any form of social mobility not dependent on the centralized system. The only way to do this is to make it nearly impossible for the working class to transition to the middle class and the middle class to the upper class through commercial activity. The only possible form of social mobility is to be through government service.

Stability is the fundamental mandate of the water empire. Free enterprise with its disruptive activity and its constantly shifting social order is a tsunami that overwhelms the water empire, flooding its canals and swamping its bureaucracies. The water empire only works when everyone knows his place and knows that this place is fundamentally unchangeable. While this attitude seems alien to most Americans, it has been cultivated assiduously in racial politics. The urban blight is a symptom.

The ideological goal of the Empire of Poverty is to convince the subjects under its rule that social mobility is either impossible or undesirable. That they need to accept their place and their dole, and bend their shoulder to the task of making a better world under its enlightened guidance. The more that this mindset is cultivated among its subjects, the less they are able to envision another world where they might be free to do what they please.

Corporate monopolies are not the enemies of the Empire of Poverty, though its functionaries and propagandists spend a great deal of time insisting that this is the case. But that is because the Empire needs enemies and scapegoats. Yet the Empire has drawn the bulk of its support from the ranks of the very organizations that it condemns. The growth of unsustainable corporations and governments have come side by side, both engaging in unworkable practices, as its officers move back and forth from boardrooms to cabinet meetings.

The Empire's goal is not to control corporations, it is to control everything. The corporation is a more efficient tool for controlling customers and employees. It is an embryo government and often an ally. The Empire does not fear dinosaurs like that, it fears change and innovation. It is not worried about GE, it is far more worried about small businesses. It is afraid of the man in the garage who might invent something that will make its latest batch of environment regulations suddenly seem foolish.

Innovation undermines the Empire's ability to tighten its grip over the distribution and manufacture of all products and services. The "crisis" of Global Warming has given it an open ended mandate, but its population is clever and able to innovate faster than it can regulate. Its educational systems controlled from the top down are aimed at indoctrinating conformity and suppressing independent thought, but like most empires it is still too slow. It controls most media channels, but innovation and individualism still keeps outpacing it.

The Empire of Poverty is already partially in control of food supplies, medicine, electricity and all commercial activity in general. It can determine in many cases and with variations across different countries, how much of a thing can be produced, at what price it can be sold and under what authority. Its task at the present is the growing consolidation and centralization of these powers in the hands of increasingly more powerful bodies until the Empire is fully formed.

The consolidation of numerous national, local, regional and international bodies into the Empire is a slow chaotic and inefficient process as nations shed the pretense of democratic elections and horse trading continues between various parts of the Empire. But the Empire of Poverty is very nearly here.

Global Warming has given the Empire a global crisis and an unlimited mandate to resolve the crisis. What the threat of war was to a united Europe and the threat of poverty was to a federalized United States, the threat of a melting planet is to the Empire of Poverty. It is an open question whether the economic collapse of any of the smaller entities will inhibit the rise of the Empire or prevent it from coming to being. Every resource crisis gives the Empire another reason to consolidate control of resources in the name of the public good, and then eliminate access to those resources in the name of the planetary good.

The Empire of Poverty is rising on the skeleton of the West, it is eating out its abundance and preparing to lock down power, food, transportation, medical services and countless other elements of the commercial life of the formerly free world. Its water empire will impose its own vision of power by controlling resources and doling them out as a means of power. By controlling access to the things we take for granted, it intends to rule over us all.


Anonymous said...

Orwell saw this/ predicted this in "1984" of course stated in exaggerated form.

Ivan Toney said...

Good column.

Ivan Toney said...

Wittfogels thesis of a hydraulic empire, fits perfectly to our civilization. They seek to use the environment to implement permanent bureaucracy and scarcity in a kind of communism (book: "the bureaucratization of the world.") despite evidence that we are entering a period of global cooling. I protest by burning my trash and trying to increase my carbon footprint.

garret seinen said...

Great analysis.

Robert What? said...

Regrettably, most of my friends and acquaintances are completely on board with Global Warming (or "Climate Change" whatever that means). Present them with facts and figures and they ignore or deride you. Ask them what they personally will do or sacrifice for the cause and they go mum. Apparently feeling the right way is sufficient. I'm not optimistic that enough people will wake up in time to make a difference.

meema said...

Stunning and spot on–as usual.

Ivan Toney said...

That's a good word. Stunning. His essays are stunning. They get u thinking like nobody on the planet gets u thinking.

Anonymous said...

Fracking has thrown sand into the gears of the new world order of consolidated power for now. Unfortunately, Texas has so much new oil reserve (the Permian Basin is a shale play so huge that it contains decades if not centuries of reserve) that energy independence is possible. What new ideas do you think they will come up with to end fracking and can they be successful? If the EPA overplays its hand Texas will rebel. Its time for revolution anyway.

Andy Texan

Anonymous said...

During the cold war, we were constantly told about the scarcity of bread in Russia, and people lining up all night to get the few loaves that might be available. The bakers always said they couldn't get any flour..
In a country with millions of suitable acres and a cooperative climate, it seems the Russians could not grow enough wheat, to at least supply the major cities...
The methodology seems to work here too. If you've purchased bread lately, you're experiencing it in action..Sure plenty of bread products are available at double what they cost in the recent past. A loaf of bread now costs more than a gallon of gas, and sometimes it's tough to choose between the two, but far too many people have to face that decision daily..

Y. Ben-David said...

Very informative piece I am a little puzzled about the Agricultural Adjustment Act, though As I understand it, American farming was in a crisis situation even before the Depression started in 1929. There was a boom during World War I when war-torn Europe bought a lot of American farm products, but as European agriculture came back on line after the war, there was a major downturn in American farming. There was a constant boom-bust cycle that was very hard on the farmers, and they often had to take on onerous debt in order to plant for the next year, not knowing if they would be able to pay back the debts. My understanding is that the AAA was designed to bring stability to the farm prices and give farmers the confidence that they wouldn't be wiped out by collapsing prices. After all, a stable food supply is a national strategic interest. Could you clarify this?

95BSharpshooter said...

Please explain your term "water empire".

Robin said...

Daniel-you and I are definitely on the same wavelength. Love the water empire analogy, but China has found another way to spread its influence now out side its borders as I explained here

All of my writing about the Mind Arson intended effects of the current K-12 'reforms' like the Common Core, digital learning mandates, and Competency to be ready for the workforce planned by local committees out of our sight, all work just as you described to force control by the oligarchy. An oligarchy tied to coercive political power.

One concern though the binding centralization in many of these areas is being misleadingly touted as the more responsive, less Gridlock-prone Local authority. With its ability to legally bind people and regulate use of places and use the schools and universities to sculpt desired values, dispositions, and the beliefs that will guide future behavior, the plan is centralized but the means is local. Hence all the hype now of a Strong Democracy/ Economic Justice advocate like Benjamin Barber to let the mayors do it.

I read too many of the plans and blueprints not to appreciate that the Local/Global slogan brags about the subsidiarity elements of the governing. Every level gets to regulate, which is why we are routinely referred to now as the Governed. Conditions us to accept that status with too few recognizing that is not how the US was set up.

95BSharpshooter said...

What you refer to is "inflation", the increase in the money supply over production.

A better analogy is how beef has increased several times above inflation as the gub'mint has been running ranchers off their land.

IIUC, until about ten years ago, the US was a net food exporter; we're now a net IMPORTER.

AG said...

Much of this is already in effect, and many of the problems are distractions. The US Government sold us out long ago, by signing on to treaties like NATO and NAFTA. The Executive Branch of the US government has become little more than a symbolic position, much like the Queen of England. We have been under the full control of NATO for at least a decade now, probably closer to 2. Local Governors still have power as they are kept in place as administrators. But on a Federal level, it is all just theater.

rexrs said...

I like the part about the empire not keeping up with individual innovation. That magic power that only comes to those that resist the hive mentality and the empty desire to belong to something.

Individual thought and inspiration has always been a lonely and dangerous game, at least as long as I can remember, which is very long. The comfortable and enduring misery usually trumps the bright idea or change of course.

Greed and envy, with large dollops of lust, vanity and anger are the whips and chains used to direct collective action against the lone wolf.

I believe that God speaks to the individual in a voice that cannot be heard by those enslaved by the buzz of the hive. The Poverty Empire knows this and stakes it's future on the concept I first encountered in the 1960s as "God is dead."

The founding fathers were a small group of individuals that broke the back, twice, of the British Empire, surely as powerful and ruthless then as the American War Empire of today.

When "The Empire" of today lies in ruins, the individual will still be standing and begin each new day forging, cutting and hammering out the future. Always has been, always will be.

Own your work, become one with the task, listen quietly and you will hear the truth.

Anonymous said...

The only thing Orwell got wrong was the date...
- BarbaCat

Anonymous said...

Great article. The worst part of being part of the fading middle class and the fall into poverty is the feeling that I am back in the public school system. Public schooling is the very system of a child being treated as a burden to the state and not an opportunity for the parent. Children are "always the future" the same way the planet needs to "go green". Neither children or the planet benefit but there is the success of our betters and all the failures are our own lack of appreciation for our opportunities. I bet the children in Rotherhan are being told they are spoiled and how bad the third world has it. Even while they get raped and exploited.

RAM said...

This is sort of like "big government as bureaucratic Ebola".

Anonymous said...

Great article, as usual. I have zero doubt that they are capable of breaking everything, and that they desire to control everything. I do think there's a minute chance that they are such a bunch of bumbling boobs that they will screw up 1/2 of their efforts to control; and maybe even just start eating each other in their Roman senate. I don't know what becomes of the headless bureaucrats at that point.

(Pretty much off topic: have you ever wondered about the nature of [smart-]phones used by the gov? I mean, I wonder what kinds of data plans they all get, and what that's costing me? Does my goon get a data plan for both her phone and her tablet? And do her flunkies all get that too?)


Poupon Marks said...

Was the Financial/Housing Crisis the deliberate act to break the back of the Middle Class, the only entity that can successfully oppose the Empire?

Poupon Marks said...

Was the Financial/Housing Crisis the deliberate act to break the back of the Middle Class, the only entity that can successfully oppose the Empire?

Anonymous said...

Price of a 30lb jug of refrigerant R-22 in the USA $400+. Price outside of USA $28.00
Cronyism at it's finest.

Post a Comment