It is only with the Korean conflict that war-making has made the transition from a profit center to a cost center column. All prior armed adventures had as their am an enhancement of the national balance sheet — whatever the pretext may have been offered by the war-mongers — whether in terms of specie or commercial advantage. Instead, this was a new breed of war, born perhaps solely out of richest-nation hubris, and aimed strictly at preserving a status quo on behalf of a client state and with no advantage contemplated for itself.
It is telling that whenever proponents of a political ideology discuss their particular project as the inevitable outcome of the natural process of history, they generally default to the messianic language of the Romantic-era Christian proselytes. Our current preoccupation with a mildly capitalistic democracy as the best and most-natural system of governance is the unquestioned policy of both the official and the chattering establishments, quite despite its recent paramount failures in Egypt, Libya and Afghanistan. Not even in the heat of the current presidential campaign are its premises being evenly remotely questioned.
There is much mischaracterization of the meaning of the word “Socialism” thrown about in the heat of political mud-slinging. In reality, Socialism comes in many forms, all sharing the characteristic of state control of economic activity.
In absolute, or totalitarian, Socialism, on the Soviet and, especially, the Maoist model where all private property was essentially banned, the state owns and controls all means of legitimate production. It should be added, parenthetically, that even in this model, enterprise pokes out its avaricious head by way of the underground economy without which state socialism could not even begin to function. In the mixed, or Western, model — such as for instance practiced in the UK of the 1960s-70s — the state owns some of the means of production and seeks to control the rest through empowering pseudo-statist organization such as trade unions. Both of these forms of Socialism have by now bankrupted themselves into almost complete disappearance, leaving behind only a few starving North Koreans.
With all the talk about the “middle class” in America, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the phrase has largely lost its meaning. When politicians use the term they usually mean, loosely, Americans of middle income, regardless of their cultural affinities; however, class has considerably more to do with culture than with wealth -– consider for an illustration how similar a successfully hip-hop musician’s values are to his former urban ghetto neighbors and professionals of comparable means. Continue reading
Any theory of social groups and their elites to be successful must take into account the need of members of our species to belong to distinct in-groups, of these in-groups to cluster into larger groupings, the innate hostility of in-group members to outsiders, and finally the inherently hierarchical nature of all group structures. The mythology of primitive communism and other literature of tribal egalitarianism must founder on the rocks of actual structures of all human societies as actually observed.
In considering how the culture of Western Europe, so backward at the terminus of Late Antiquity relative to China, India, the Middle East and even the Americas — unlikely as it would have appeared to contemporaries — came to dominate the world with its arms and ideas we must consider not geography, shared as it always was with Asia, and not genetics, shared also with Asia, but rather the development path that Europe undertook in the intervening centuries. Continue reading