Wednesday, August 10, 2016

No Empire


I guess Kristol disagrees with all of you current "empire!" people too:




My pov is also no empire... that is as long as Caesar thinks he is "out of money!".





37 comments:

John said...

It's usually the case that the truth is the exact opposite of what Kristol says. And so...

Ignacio said...

Is an empire if a foreign power controls and dictates local policy and commands local subjects lives, which don't have stake holding on their own governance. It has nothing to do with money, is all about power. Power is independent of money, it can be exercise in any kind of relationship, even with just two humans being involved.

Most empires were under the gold standard, and there is no use in denying the were empires, as they ruled the lives of their de-facto colonies and subject.

Now, how do you exercise that lever is a different question. In that sense, yes, the USA would be a very mild empire, as it uses soft-power (has to maintain the 'democratic' charade after all) way more than hard-power. But is also true that hard stance empires don't hold onto their power very long, as the peasants revolve against foreign relations.

Empire building n is a complicated business! As no one is ever-powerful (except God, if it exists).

Matt Franko said...

Ignacio you are changing the definition if you add the gold standard conditions...

iow if there once was an 'empire' operating under a numismatic system and then the numismatic system fails then the conditions change... so hence no more "empire"... it should be termed something else... youre not being specific enough...

Matt Franko said...

" As no one is ever-powerful (except God, "

Yes but power (authority) can be delegated... this is what people today (as far as "money!" is concerned at least...) are not understanding... iow they are 'stupid' at least in this regard if not generally...

If I am reading Kristol correctly, he is having this problem with 'delegation' of authority/power...

Ignacio said...

I'm pretty specific with what I mean, you are just being a sophist. I don't care how you call it, almost everybody will understand it the way I described it.

It's the common accepted understanding of the word. Meaning of words are defined by social consensus (that's why 'money' is a freaking mess to talk about, there is no consensus).

You seem to think that words have ontological entity on their own or something like that. You are wrong, they are made up by humans, and their meaning is defined by social consensus.

Matt Franko said...

ok then maybe this way...

The big 'empire' we think of is probably the old 'British Empire' that you always hear people talking about ... so that ran under the metals... so then, we look back at 'Rome' via that context and think "that must have been how Rome operated too!" so we call it the "Roman Empire"... meanwhile Rome didnt operate under the metals so it was a completely different thing they were doing back then...

this is like how Tom keeps bringing up Marx who also made all of his observations in the context of a metallic system we were operating under... is not the same thing (since 1971...) but Tom just wont let go of it (hoarding)....

Different contexts... like you say 'social consensus' so this consensus can change but that doesnt change the real history of what was previously actually going on... no matter what we term it...

This is a textbook philosophical problem...

John said...

Although I side completely with Ignacio on this, I think he's wrong about the use of soft power over hard power. The Roman Empire was happy to use "soft power" if it didn't have to revert to "hard power". The Nazi empire was no different. All empires are the same: they are hardwired that way and nobody wants to resort to hard power unless they absolutely have to. And so the US is the same. It "inherited" the possibly greatest empire in history: other than the Soviet landmass, the US controlled the planet.

On hard power though, the US has sent to the stone age Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Iraq, North Korea (during the Korean war), Then there are the numerous proxy wars like Afghanistan (the Saudi-US jihad during the eighties), Syria, etc that have also sent them back to the stone age. That's hard power, and its use is a function of how unruly the planet has become. Have the niggers become uppity? If so, send them back to the stone age. Carthaginian solutions every so often keep the niggers elsewhere from revolting.

Matt Franko said...

Look ... you CANT say looking at all of these morons in leadership today going all around saying "we're out of money!" that "we're just like the Roman Empire!" today this is completely illogical...

that is what you are doing if you say we have "empire!" today... its the SAME F-ING WORD for crying out loud.. this ADDS to the current confusion...

Matt Franko said...

You guys are letting words actually control your thought processes....

Bob said...

They're never out of money when it comes time to fight wars, so the comparison is apt.

Ignacio said...

This is a textbook philosophical problem...

Yeah, I agree on this. Is a problem of the meaning of words.

But as I said, the meaning of words comes from social consensus. Yes, if the social consensus changes, the meanign of the word changes!

What matters is not the reified example you refer to, which can change over time (your Rome example vs. 'British Empire'), but the actual meaning under the current context. Words change and evolve over time, that's why languages change and evolve.

This creates confusion at times, because you will always have people who have one understanding over a concept, and other cohort who has a different understanding durign a given period of time.

Look at how parents have hard time communicating with children because they sometimes understand the same things differently. Words do not have metaphysical ontological properties, they are 'live objects' that change (when consensus changes).

Consensus is a measure of agreement. Is up to each one if he wants to stick to his own ways and not being understood by the majority or not. My take is that amongst young cohorts 'our' concept is more popular, as well as amongst 'leftists'. Maybe that's why communication is breaking down here, and you won't change it because the understanding of words come from different views of the world.

What is important is that the underlying definition and focus of the word: a foreign state exercising decision making and power over local population without these having stake holding on their own governance. It's completely irrelevant if there is a GS or under fiat money. Yes, you can agree about 'degrees' of coercion that foreign force exercises, so maybe the concept of 'empire' is more an attribute than a substantive actually (an other philosophical question); but the underlying consensus I think is cristal clear.

You can always try to manufacture consensus, like the mass media does ;)

Ignacio said...

"You guys are letting words actually control your thought processes...."

Why do you think this is on "us" alone? You are no different ;) Is intrinsic to the process.

Actually you should say "you are letting world views control you throught processes". Well that's what a thought process is about lol.

Ignacio said...

So how much is US an empire? It's 'somewhat an empire' if it directs, say for example, EU and UK foreign policy?

The problem is that you understand the concept of empire dicotomically (something is either an empire or not an empire). Something either has total control or no control. This is fallacious, as there is nothing, except God, who has 'total control'. So something can be an empire without having total control. You may think that the Roman 'Empire' had total control, but it hadn't.

Anyway, this is all semantics, if you have a better suggestion to describe the process, go ahead. i don't give a f*** if you call it empire or something else.

jrbarch said...

Sometimes I wonder how people can say ‘pass the salt please’ and get handed the right condiment. It’s almost as amazing as telepathy!

Words are symbols that mask meaning. Meaning can be held by one mind or a group. Unless you have the same meaning in mind the words are just gobbledegook. Meaning in turns masks significance. Everyone wants to explain their meaning, but they have an agenda (purpose).

When you are out with ducks, you quack like a duck. For me an empire is a dream that will one day be replaced.

:-)

Ignacio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignacio said...

John you are completely right, a deformation for focusing more on 'recent', history pre-collapse of the USSR (although you could argue about Iraq, Afghanistan and other misadventures being equally or more harmful and hard-power stance, but don't want to derail the thread).

jrbarch great post, agreed completely on what you said.

Bob said...

Pass the pepper, please...

Marian Ruccius said...

A reduced empire is still an empire. The strength of an empire is calculated, in part, by its influence over those beyond its limits (and I use that term very flexibly). Countries like Canada and the UK are rather like those Germanic and Dacian/Avar/Lombard peoples who lived just beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire, but who depended deeply on and adopted the customs of the hegemon. They which did much of the Empire's dirty work, in exchange for access to Roman markets and goods. On the other hand, the Empire broke down when efforts to appease them, and upstart peoples who supplanted them, failed. A failure of diplomacy, on the one hand, but of internal policy with rising inequality, on the other. It is said that many slaves and members of the humiliores went to join Alaric's Visigoth forces, acting as guides in their fight against the forces led by the honestiores (“more honorable people,” including senators, equestrians, municipal officials, and soldiers).

Auburn Parks said...

"The sinews of war are infinite money" Cicero - Rome

It is my understanding that the Romans used kind of a hybrid system at times, where the coin values were nominal but they used the metals as the print material (no papyrus money yet).

And whats wrong with Empire? Most of world progress has come from Empires, since large states are the only ones with a surplus of talent large enough to do big, time consuming construction jobs. Also with scientific advancement, in order to have people whose full time job is to do nothing but think and invent, you have to have a large and productive enough society to afford to feed, house, and clothe the intellectuals. Almost no scientific progress was made by random, small, tribal peoples. Its almost always the large urban states that could afford the real resources and idle time that is the hallmark of supporting a community of intellectuals.

Empire's also led to a lot of consolidation even for people not living in the Empire, as disparate tribes that did nothing but kill and raid each other for millennia had no choice but to form into ever larger tribal groups in order to avoid being conquered.

John said...

"And whats wrong with Empire?"

Ask the six million Jews in the Nazi empire, the tens of millions starved to death in India by the British, the million Irish starved to death by the British, the million Algerians murdered in the fifties by the French, the four million Vietnamese, the total genocide of aboriginals in Tasmania, the European empires in the Americas wiping out almost all the indigenous population, etc.

All the achievements of the human intellect did not require empire. One can make an argument that it required a division of labour perhaps, but it's unlikely that it required any particular countries smashing in the skulls of millions, creating an astronomically huge slave trade and intentionally destroying the economies of those they've conquered by force . It's a common refrain, but it's nothing more than a convenient assertion to claim it does in order to whitewash history, which you almost certainly don't realise you're doing! :)

Auburn Parks said...

"Ask the six million Jews in the Nazi empire, the tens of millions starved to death in India by the British, the million Irish starved to death by the British, the million Algerians murdered in the fifties by the French, the four million Vietnamese, the total genocide of aboriginals in Tasmania, the European empires in the Americas wiping out almost all the indigenous population, etc."

John, Empire opposed to what? The butchery of tribal raiding societies was every bit as harsh and brutal as empire. Its just that Tribal societies never developed written records en masse.

"All the achievements of the human intellect did not require empire. One can make an argument that it required a division of labour perhaps, but it's unlikely that it required any particular countries smashing in the skulls of millions, creating an astronomically huge slave trade and intentionally destroying the economies of those they've conquered by force . It's a common refrain, but it's nothing more than a convenient assertion to claim it does in order to whitewash history, which you almost certainly don't realise you're doing! :)"

Sure it could have worked where everyone just lived peacefully and continued to reorganize into ever larger confederations and states without conflict, but thats not our history. Humans dont roll like that. Murder and mayhem was the way for tens of thousands of years, we're just animals like all other fauna. Empire is what got humans to where we are today. Starting with the mesapotamians and egyptians and then getting larger and larger as empire, political and social institutions all evolved and consolidated until we arrive at our modern world of massive empires everywhere. you think the Chinese nation came to be its current size and shape by accident? No it was empire all the way down. Just like the US, Australia (you think the aborignials just gave that land away to the white europeans?), Germans, Japanese, etc etc etc.

Sure some regimes are more burtal than others, what does that have to do with anything? Im talking about the history of the world and how we got here.

Matt Franko said...

"You may think that the Roman 'Empire' had total control, but it hadn't."

Yes they did c'mon... subject to real terms of course (rain, earthquakes, floods, pestilence, etc...) but short of that and limited by the technology of the time they certainly did...

iow they had control of everything they could control... you cant say the same about things today... soooooo NO 'empire'.... at least not 'empire' as defined by the present consensus which tptb today look at as all libertarian and metals based....

(WE are NOT in tptb)

Matt Franko said...

John the Nazis were all ga-ga for gold/silver etc... ie 'not applicable'....

John said...

Matt, this gold/silver stuff isn't really applicable. There were empires before the advent of gold/silver as money or as a standard. There have been empires with gold/silver as money or as a standard. There have been and are empires without gold/silver as money or as a standard. So I'm at a loss to what it is you're proving. Moreover, there were and are non-empires that have used gold/silver or fiat money.

Auburn, I don't disagree that what you have retold is the history of the world. I don't disagree and can't disagree! It's the history of our pale blue dot. But that really isn't the issue. Empires cannot be excused, let alone championed as some great leap forward. Rape, slavery and child torture have always been with us too, but that isn't an excuse for them. As thinking creatures we are in a position to stop those things we have as a society decided are not conducive to humanity as a whole or individual human rights. Humans are hardwired by evolution to do good and to do bad. Psychopaths, for instance, are probably born fucked up. Other than reengineering their brains in some fashion, these people will do horrible things. They are a reflection of something about humans: there is a spectrum of behaviour. We at least are in a position to "engineer" good solutions and a good society.

As for prehistoric tribes being as violent as you seem to claim, the evidence is pretty scanty. On the whole, these small tribes of bipeds stayed away from each other. However, on the occasions violence did break out, it didn't end in extermination of the other tribe, subjugation of the other tribe, etc. Primitive man was in some respects a lot more "civlilzed" than modern man. A good example of this is the European conquest of the Americas. The European method was to kill everything in sight. The Native Americans had wars, some extremely nasty, but there was never a culture of genocide, slavery and subjugation. That came with empire. So it is a consequence of empire.

Ignacio said...

No Matt, they didn't have total control, they had to face rebels and frictions with former tribes all the freaking time. Rome had the same problems of any other empire over history exercising political and military control either directly or indirectly. Exactly the same as any other empire with or without metal.

Matt Franko said...

That's not the control I'm talking about... when they were faced with those types of challenges beyond their control they dealt with them....

Look at today, we have the Zika virus coming into South Florida as we speak... ok... we cannot just say "begone Zika!" and it just disappears... so we dont have that LEVEL of "control" on the virus but there is PLENTY that epidemiologists and the CDC could be doing but the Congress people are all jerking off or blowing each other or something while chanting "we're out of money!" so the virus can proliferate more than what is in truth necessary...

iow WE know how to be doing more to get control of the Zika situation but the morons dont... iow Rome knew what we know in this regard .... so they could address these situations without any other constraints other than the real ones.... cant say the same for the west today... its a big libertarian moron fest on steroids....

Bob said...

That's called competence.

Ignacio said...

We are talking about the control the imperial overlords have over conquered people and resources, not the control and competence they have while governing.

Yes, we all here know there is a lot of fools on governing positions, but that's not the issue with "empire" or "no-empire". That's an issue of incompetence and poor governance. Poor or good governance is a different issue than that of being or not an empire (or being more or less imperial, in case we define it more as a quality than a substantive). As Auburn above implies there may have been times when an empire was good for the conquered or progress (although is a fallacious argument, as being conquered and ruled is not a necessary condition for progress; neither there is such as a general 'human nature' to justify any of that crap), not after some blood spilling though.

We happen to be in a situation where the current idiots are both imperialist and poor at governing (hence whenever they exercise policy influence outside their original state the outcomes are disastrous, ie. MENA), but that does not make them less of imperialists because they think they are running out of money (in fact, I would say on occasions it makes them even more dangerous to the people they control).

Again, an empire is that on which a foreign power dictates local policy without locals (or local elites really) having any saying.

If you are going to argue that unlimited spending on military could make you a "better" (have more control) empire, well, maybe, that's assuming that your current problems come from a lack of spending, which are not (ie. no matter how much you spend does not mean that you will be able to deploy more imperial legions as your peasants will not agree and may revolve, exactly the same problems the Roman empire had btw).

Matt Franko said...

Well that is just another real constraint ...

Matt Franko said...

For instance even if we didn't have the morons we would still have things like substance abuse, assaults, etc... These are just more real constraints...

Bob said...

Explain to Hillary how Russian nuclear capability is a real constraint to American hegemony.

Greg said...

"We happen to be in a situation where the current idiots are both imperialist and poor at governing (hence whenever they exercise policy influence outside their original state the outcomes are disastrous, ie. MENA), but that does not make them less of imperialists because they think they are running out of money (in fact, I would say on occasions it makes them even more dangerous to the people they control)."

Agreed

The "running out of money" argument is, in fact, a method of control. They are always running out of money for what YOU need not what they need. Money is an invention not a discovery and the inventors, or in modern case the issuers/controllers, get to determine where and how much money gets spent.

Matt Franko said...

"The "running out of money" argument is, in fact, a method of control."

c'mon Greg there is no evidence of that.... this is again a demonstration of the left's flight into "neoliberal conspiracy!" cop out...

We're not being effective (ie getting NOWHERE...) so instead of trying to figure out what we can be doing better we blame it on some fantasy "neo-liberal conspiracy!" theory...

John said...

Greg's, quite right. The elites have an uncanny ability to find money - print it - when it's in their interests. Most of the time they like to perpetuate the myth in order to fashion the type of economic society they want. There's that old video of Samuelson conceding this, and calling our present mythology "old time religion". You can say that the economists of today don't understand what Samuelson understood. But that's clutching at straws. In 2008 few asked where will the money come from. They understood all too well that you just create more of it.

It's only during a crisis that you really learn the truth! In this case, the elites know that you push the hyperdrive button on the printing presses.

Bob said...

And.... empire it is. Case closed.

Greg said...

"c'mon Greg there is no evidence of that.... this is again a demonstration of the left's flight into "neoliberal conspiracy!" cop out..."

Are you really suggesting there is no evidence that the people who in fact make the decisions about where and when money gets spent use the "we dont have any left" or "where are we going to get it from?" or "China wont lend us anymore" arguments whenever the request is either for 1) more public services (like health care) or 2) working class tax relief ..??

I'm not saying they dont in fact believe those things but sincere belief in false things which result in keeping a class of people under your thumb dont mean you aren't exercising control. They simply believe it is their right and duty to keep us under control. We cant be trusted with power, only they can.

Greg said...

One thing I like to differentiate between are leaders and bosses. Many on the right want to be bosses, which to me is an imperialistic desire. The wish to be able to tell someone else what to do with out being questioned.

A leader is someone who takes charge but isn't necessarily just interested in telling others what to do. A leader takes some responsibility and acts as another participant. They dont have imperialist desires.

Trump wants to be a boss. The US has a lot of people in govt who like to boss people around and insulate themselves from the negatives of their policy choices.