Triffin, Interrupted: Financialized Chauvinism and Its Arch-Nemesis, Productive American Labor

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The tendency to quantitatively expropriate fellow Glaswegian Adam Smith as an economist when he was, by formal assignation, a moral philosopher is a miscarriage of history. Why? Because we all find site for dwellings in our labors. We are what we do. Smith was no exception. Smith was no quant. 

With today’s politics little more than glorified economics in disguise, everything rounds to numbers. Has it always been that way? Not entirely. In this age of financier-inspired hubris, honor has to fight harder for air and ink. 

For over a decade, a few colleagues and I had been on the lookout for evidence of a coherent, countervailing force within the government, some subterranean clique of white hats. The dissident energy was certainly there. Consider the whistle-blowers populating Washington’s BlogInfowars also seemed to nurture and embolden disgruntled enlisted personnel and junior officers. For all his caveman bluster and occasional gratuitous misfires, Alex Jones has been prescient on many things.

The Petraeus dust-up was one such episode where the CIA-Pentagon turf battle burst to the surface. Another was the Obama administration’s systematic purging of ‘too-patriotic’ Generals.

Yet another festering schism, highlighted recently by longtime Westerner-abroad-in-Russia John Helmer reminds us of the historic rivalry between the CIA and NSA (the former an arch-nemesis and the latter a protector of the current President; Trump is the personified battleground for so much of what ails us). Here’s Helmer citing Wikileaks:

“Since 2001,” Wikileaks announced, “the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency’s hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.”

(Helmer, at this very moment, is doing indispensable journalism chasing down the Warner-Deripaska-Waldman-Assange nexus of intrigue. ‘Russian collusion’, in its current publicized form is little more than the Democrat’s pumped-up projection of their own seedy influence-peddling. His work poses an intriguing possibility: Did Assange bargain away CIA whistle-blower Joshua Schulte in a bid to get Uncle Sam off his back? Clandestine minds want to know.)

For us earnest watchers, moments of climactic exposure were few and far between. Nonetheless we took heart from the occasional internecine squabble. The Deep State monolith was at least exhibiting stress fractures.

Then the Trump insurgency happened and stress fractures became the default topology.

Almost overnight, the term Deep State firmly established itself in the public imagination. Much credit goes to Peter Dale Scott’s work for giving the term a renewed, early currency. Also see Walter Bagehot as well as Michael Glennon’s Double Government.

My own early expectations for Trump have been borne out for the most part, and in many ways handily surpassed.

Almost certainly aligned with QAnon, and a key Trump ally, is the NSA (including perhaps General Flynn’s DEA; suffice to say, that vague nexus of the military intelligence frame), the former until recently under the direction of Admiral Mike Rogers. The NSA’s signals intelligence and global reach is without parallel.

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For those who haven’t yet, I urge them to watch my video, Admiral Mike Rogers: Hero of the Republic, below, where the absolute criticality of the NSA in averting the coup (and subverting the unholy trinity of Comey-Brennan-Clapper) against President Trump is documented. When QAnon says, we have everything, as he so often does, he is speaking almost certainly from a military intelligence perspective.

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Yet, how odd that we find ourselves applauding the Orwellian coordinates of the advancing surveillance state. The frying pan may have saved us, for the moment, from the fire. The military is Trump’s friend. That makes them We The People’s friend too.

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I liked Trump from the start for his disruptive potential. (I see I’ve been joined –both in sentiment and word choice– only yesterday by Twin Peaks creator, David Lynch, who bravely suggested, “He [Trump] could go down as one of the greatest presidents in history because he has disrupted the thing so much. No one is able to counter this guy in an intelligent way.”)

My rationale was that, one, Trump was financially non-beholden and two, he was exogenous to the seamy, political pecking order. Flaunting his independence vis a vis the usual bought-and-paid-for pols, Trump announced to the Republican Jewish Coalition in December 2015 “You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money. If I wanted your money, I think I’d have a damned good chance.”

Afterwards, he was roundly criticized for tapping into enduring antisemitic canards. Correcting this early oversight, Trump ‘beholdened’ himself in the final days of the campaign with a $25 million contribution from staunchly pro-Israel businessman Sheldon Adelson. Whether or not this late-grafted agenda finds itself at odds with his nationalist boosters’ aims, Trump has tacked to a strong Zionist agenda ever since. A Christian, I happen to believe Trump is enacting a biblical mission in addition to his terrestrial duties. Time will tell.

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Coin of the Realms?

 

But back to money (Do we ever really leave it?) or more specifically, currency. How the world both alters and perceives its interactions with the US Dollar going forward is today’s million dollar question. Who better than wealth-fixated Trump to reroute that yellow-brick road?

For one thing, money is the omerta of our politically hermetic system. It takes a billion dollars to run for the Presidency, a mere pittance to those who seek to control the occupant. Yet a significant barrier to entry for all but the latter’s Anointed Ones and once-in-a-generation eccentric billionaires. Trump is the Perot of his generation. 

The Trump insurgency, no impulsive dalliance, was long in the making. Think the Rockefeller/Mercer school of old American money, perhaps nursing residual and stubbornly sentimental affinities for America, while chafing against the Rothschild’s longstanding (and far more transnationally committed) grooming of China (Opium Wars, anyone?) complete with the latter’s intention to discard the US whole-cloth like a hollowed-out, post-empire husk. Absent Trump, America looked destined to become a bereft, post-capitalist (and culturally Marxist) Argentina of the north.

Russian thinker Andrei Fursov (Андрей Фурсов) describes below the competing Rockefeller-Rothschild clusters, with the late Zbigniew Brzezinski an actor for the former (and most certainly no believer in PNAC/Neocon unipolarity, as Paul Craig Roberts stressed in a remembrance of his old Cold Warrior colleague).

As Fursov stresses these two groups are not openly antagonistic and share many interlocking interests. However on the ‘America question’ in a USD post-reserve currency world, both groups differ markedly in emphasis and approach. 

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petrodollar recycling

For better chart resolution, go here.

If I had to crystallize Trump’s central mission it is to unwind the Triffin Dilemma. What is the Triffin Dilemma (or Paradox), some may ask? Robert Triffin was an economist who recognized in 1962 the inherent schizophrenia of the USD serving two masters, as national currency and international reserve currency, the latter role being established at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference.

The core paradox has to do with the competing outlooks that spring from star-crossed and inhrently conflicted (national vs global) agendas (from the Wiki disc): “a balance of payments current account deficit had to be sustained in order to provide liquidity for the conversion of gold into U.S. dollars. With more U.S. dollars in the system than were backed with gold under the Bretton Woods agreement, the U.S. dollar was overvalued. This meant that the United States had less gold as foreign governments started converting U.S. dollars to gold and taking it offshore.”

The Nixon Shock of 1971 served to prolong the paradoxical role of the dollar by severing its convertibility to gold. (In a sense, compounding paradox with alienation as fiat sought to impersonate first-order value.) Running a current account trade deficit continued to be at the least a strangely agnostic development for America as the world’s insatiable demand for dollars buffered the American economy from dollar overproduction (via inflation exportation). With the USD ’emancipated’ from gold, the sky became the limit. 

In the parlance of macroeconomics, USD reserve currency status allows America to enjoy an unassailable comparative advantage in currency production. Because dollars comes into existence via ex nihilo keystrokes, the production and labor costs are nil. And yet, the entire world seeks them for their unique (though increasingly challenged) ability to purchase another non-substitutable requirement, oil. What a beautiful system.

Over the ensuing decades this eerie detachment from intrinsic value served to rationalize ever more provisional value derivations with the result that, today, the Western financial edifice teeters on the precipice of irreconcilable leverage. In its most extreme forms, leverage is Molochian in spirit. The children and their labors have been sacrificed on the altar of their parents’ insatiable appetites. Goya’s Saturn devours his children, in the modern instance before they arrive. Present value spends its future cash-flows. 

This jealous moment regales itself with a delusional sense of singularity.

Who would have guessed that, a full two decades after the breezy hubris of Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard laid the game bare, the inestimable resource wealth of Eurasia would continue to elude the bankers’ balance sheets?

Securing this commodity basket was almost certainly baked into the leverage equation as a neat follow-on to petro-dollar partnering. Indeed today’s near-manic anti-Putin rhetoric derives precisely from this fundamental anxiety. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the NY Fed, a tipping point is closely being monitored. Has it been passed? That the Russian Collusion fairy tale still dominates the headlines is a barometer of the distress.

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The Triffin Dilemma would resolve if the USD relinquished its global monetary role. Indications are that may be in the cards.

 

We appear to be in phase one of a two-phase project. The subsidiary steps within Trump’s overarching directive include reindustrializing America, normalizing us back from reserve currency empire to a nation-among-nations, ideally (to better assuage the American self-image) a most-favored nation in the spirit of MAGA. Phase two accedes to the USD shedding reserve currency status.

Again, while I believe in MAGA –a rallying cry meant to galvanize and enthuse the American patriot and nationalist elements critical to Trump’s support during this rebalancing process– I am skeptical that its efficacy extends beyond the mid-course correction phase. Globalism remains on the cards and will be well-nigh impossible to avert. Monism is biblically embedded. 

The Trump-conducted denouement of American Empire makes sense in the context of a globalist equilibrating process wherein the former prepares to take its place as an administrative canton within a larger Bank of International Settlements (BIS) mosaic. Orwell’s Oceania may not be too far off the mark. 

One of my favorite blogs at the moment, The Conservative Treehouse has done a great job of amplifying the win-win populist side of Trump’s trade offensive as well as revealing the nefarious hand of the US Chamber of Commerce hard at work keeping multinational corporations’ productive capacities off-shore consistent with the desires of our traitorous bought-and-paid-for (by China) political shills, Red and Blue. Echoing Carroll Quigley, the CTH refers to our seditious overlords as the Uniparty. As with so many other issues, Trump on trade is a David facing a battalion of Goliaths.

The CTH takes an economically deterministic approach and is fond of reminding us that, even in the thick of heated political debate, trillions of dollars are at stake. In fact the very large sums serve to heat the debate. It would be fascinating to see the CTH delve more comprehensively the ambiguities of the trade issue, the Triffin Paradox being a key impediment to a uni-dimensional, trade-populism stance.

There is a great story about Goldman Sachs alumnus (and former Trump Chief Economic Advisor) Gary Cohn grumbling about how he couldn’t bring his boss to understand balance of payments and current accounts deficits. Like Bannon before him, Cohn imagined himself the smarter guy of the two. We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again. Almost certainly, Cohn’s frustration hinged on the Triffin Paradox and the counter-intuitive benefits (at least to Wall Street) of chronic trade deficits.

Let’s not kid ourselves though. The long term goal remains global governance for which Trump serves as an effective transitioning agent. As I expanded upon in ‘Revisiting ‘The Janusian Class’ in Light of the Trump Phenomenon’:

“America… [is] the final empire to be constructed from strictly national auspices. The next and final one will be transnational. Thus, Trump, who may or may not be fully cognizant of his agency (I don’t think he is, entirely), is dismantling the final empire, ironically enough, under an America-First banner so that an interregnum/plateau can be established for the final dash to full-blown trans-nationalism.”

The Rothschild vision of the future would have been ugly indeed for America. However some skepticism is warranted in MAGA beyond a patriot rallying cry and yes it will deliver an intermediate term boom. The long-term globalist plan however is to mount a final assault on one world government when America is restored to one among many. The IMF’S SDR or a currency basket equivalent is the future.

When pushing for the supranational currency the bancor (coterminous with Bretton Woods), Keynes intuited the distortive effects of what would come to be known as the Triffin Dilemma. No one could have possibly guessed –certainly not Triffin himself– just how out-of-whack things could become, not to mention how long the imbalances could persist.

Kissinger’s petrodollar recycling (1973-present) provided a massive second wind to the dollar, again, especially after Nixon’s orphaning of the USD from the gold standard. In effect a universally essential and non-fungible resource (oil) supplanted static, finite gold reserves as the underwriter of the USD. Barring Peak Oil, the petrodollar stood a better chance at immortality than did a dollar lashed to the finitudes of existent gold. 

Verily, to grasp the immense implications of petrodollar recycling is to be conducted on a tour of the Devil’s Lair. Human existence is held in check by momentous keystrokes. Our lives hinge on ledgers of nil. Man’s labor (and all that he sells of it abroad, trade) is, by contrast, sacred and inalienable. Shoot the bankers. Hire the bakers. Banking masquerades as gainful occupation, when really it is a spiritual praxis of the darkest coordinates. 

Using the parlance of trade, America possesses an unassailable comparative advantage in the currency trade. That’s what reserve currency status is. Even better, dollar manufacture enjoys no production costs nor physical exertion (labor) required to render the final product. 

As for the straw that ultimately breaks the Triffin Dilemma’s back, Charles Wallace had it right recently, below:

“It was one thing for the U.S. to tolerate manageable deficits with strategic partners like Germany and Japan after the war. The plain fact is that China has become such a huge export behemoth, the U.S. simply can no longer afford to be the international reserve currency providing the Chinese with a constant outflow of dollars, not to mention the thousands of lost jobs that implies.”–from Trump’s Tough Talk Means a New Role for the Dollar, by Charles Wallace, Forbes

Ultimately Triffin is no match for China if we want to retain some semblance of production in America. 

I first addressed the Triffin Paradox in a 2009 essay behind the paywall of the iTulip site, which appears now to be defunct. At the time, the only other google reference I could find was an essay by Dr. Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People’s Bank of China, 23 March 2009. Since that time, the concept has rightly earned a much wider constituency.

China’s manufacturing base is simply too massive to allow the Triffin Dilemma to persist without the complete ghettoization of America’s own productive capacity. This is what Trump understood on an instinctual level far better than Wall Streeter Cohn ever could.

In Donald Trump And The Dollar: The Triffin Dilemma And America’s Exorbitant Privilege, David Deuchar takes what I would call an amoral, ‘financier approach’ (ala Cohn) when he stresses the ‘benefits’ of prolonging the Triffin Paradox:

“The U.S. can behave as a country as no other can; we export inflation without mercy, run fiscal deficits proportionately far higher than other countries without risk of insolvency, pursue monetary easing measures ad infinitum, and ultimately influence geopolitics on a scale greater than any civilization in the history of mankind. Is it worth giving all that up just so that we can manufacture Oreos in Chicago or steel in Pittsburgh?”

Pray tell, what’s wrong with the gainful pursuit of domestic Oreo and steel production? Simultaneously holding the world hostage to our imprudent financial excesses ‘without mercy’ while denying our own people the dignity to pursue honest trades is not a prescription for the future, and ultimately discombobulates our own moral compass as a nation.

But there is an even more practical reason for untangling the Triffin conundrum.

While reserve currency status furnishes an enviable ‘unearned prosperity’ to Americans financed by foreigners as a result of their insatiable dollar demand, a point is reached where, as Peter Navarro says, echoing Forbes’ Charles Wallace (see the former’s discussion of the recent steel and aluminum tariffs at 1:08 in the video, below), balance-of-payments considerations become superseded by national security considerations.

America cannot serve only as a USD trade settlement window. Triffin’s sweatless bounty becomes too much of a good thing. No different from other nations, we have butchers, bakers and boiler makers too. Commensurate with this fresh turn towards a reinvigorated export economy, the inequity of tariff structures suddenly matters again. 

How strategically viable is a nation that relinquishes its ability to manufacture world-class products in key industries and serves only as a teller window for dollar transactions? What Wall Street endlessly extols becomes a social and (work) ethical catastrophe for a productively idled nation whose very fabric extols hard work.

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Trump is presently plucking low-hanging trade victories from the maws of offending nations for which he will be heralded as a genius, an assignation he deserves in many ways. 

But not so fast. There are never free lunches nor zero-sums in macroeconomics and certainly not in trade equations. Righting the current account imbalance doesn’t come without forfeiting what Giscard d’Estaing famously called America’s exorbitant privilege, what one might callvirtuous’ trade deficits.

That’s why we are almost certainly in the early stages of a follow-on world reserve currency, a monetary regime that is sure to augur a renewed assault on emergent nationalism. We should remember too that the perceived unfairness of tariffs on American goods mitigates in some measure the exorbitance of our privileged currency. The equilibrating process is already underway.

Globalism, by any other name or means of introduction, remains globalism. Though it pains me to rain on the Trump parade, One World Government still looms ahead in the long-term, bruised perhaps but far from beaten.

 

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Triffin, Interrupted: Financialized Chauvinism and Its Arch-Nemesis, Productive American Labor

The Coming Chinese Economic Collapse (Except, Please Don’t Call It Chinese)

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Perennial China doomster Gordon Chang (author of The Coming Collapse of China) is a lousy tea-leaf reader. He’s been date-setting the ‘imminence’ of China’s economic collapse for the better part of fifteen years.

Prognostic note to Mr. Chang: First, bubbles are almost supernatural in their sustainability. They conform to a proprietary physics. Never try to pick the knockout round.

Two, there’s little point affixing national characteristics to what is, by all rights, an impending global collapse. People take umbrage at national scapegoating. So what if China happens to be the camper that lights the time-zero match in a densely traveled, bone-dry forest? The forest is bone-dry.

Three, a semantic word on the word, collapse. Systems collapse. As for the geographic, architectural and deeply civilizational features that define a national character, not so much. The Great Wall of China, no less the Grand Canyon, will survive the worst systemic ravages that unfold around them, as will the endemic features that cause people to self-report as being Chinese or American

Some would argue both nations are self-conscious and provisional constructs. Indeed China may be so disparate a nation that homogeneity is no less a fiction than is the mythic supposition the Great American Melting Pot yields a lumpless stew. We shouldn’t unduly empower impending upheavals beyond their existential reach. Rest assured, things will be bad enough.

If you can get past the stopped watch, Chang’s right. The global system collapse will happen and Communism –in the most ironic way i.e. dragged to the scene by its largest ostensible client, China– will precipitate much of the mayhem. It’s Marxism’s long strange backseat drive through the traditional excesses of capitalist credit bubbles and ghost cities –as opposed to Marxism itself– that’s going to rattle the globe.

I’m reminded here of George Friedman’s admonition (paraphrasing): geopolitics never unfolds the way its wisest prognosticators are obliged to predict it must. Geopolitics eats hubris for lunch. Webster Tarpley is even more blunt: hubris and geopolitics are synonyms.

Frankly though, how many regular folk really know much about Communism beyond displaying a reflexive Pavlovian contempt for it? I recently got into a discussion with a colleague who was bemoaning the ‘elite’s’ desire to deliver the masses to a $.50 an hour wage. If this happens, we have departed capitalism’s wage structure for neo-feudalism. 

In the spirit of knowing thy enemy, Marx and Engels insisted capitalism could not operate at a below-subsistence wage without precipitating its ‘central crisis’, what the former called overproduction. At anything below a subsistence wage, the worker not only lacks the disposable income necessary to purchase the fruits of his own labor, he succumbs to exposure or starvation. 

Unable to furnish the discretionary income that converts demand into consumption, capitalism collapses in on itself i.e. via overproduction (or if you prefer, under-consumption). Like a runaway threshing machine, it ‘competes itself to death’ in a relentless drive to bargain away even the subsistence of those who toil, to exhaustion or worse, at its factories. 

Now, you don’t have to be a Marxist ideologue to understand that, one, overproduction is a legitimate problem and two, it has not been solved but merely kicked down the road. The further the Fed balance sheet, for example, is asked to be the sin-eater for all of capitalism’s woes, the more we must face the fact that we exist in an artificialized form of capitalism with exorbitant unfunded liabilities. The Fed balance sheet is analogous to China’s ghost cities: sprawling and inhospitable to reasonable human metrics 

Technology has a suprahuman agenda. Might capitalism, pitiless machine that it is, have undisclosed designs that are driving it to a terminus beyond humanity itself, perhaps with a kindred machine-constituency more ‘copacetic’ to its 24/7 shifts? With the working class unable to survive capitalism’s ‘efficiencies’, the latter could soon share the world with transhuman entities evolved beyond the primate need for food and shelter. Then too, capitalism would make a lousy neutron bomb.

Or, think gilded neo-medieval enclaves with post-industrial scavengers milling beyond the gates left to dream of yesterday’s steady gruel. In a world moved beyond mass labor needs, what the hell do you do with all the ‘surplus’ people? Benign neglect and slo-mo attrition? Terrans fodder for Hugo di Garis’ Artilect Wars? It’s a problem.

Communism and Cultural Marxism embody the spirit of Antichrist. (Nonbelievers are perfectly fine to say nihilism.) So does corporatism. As Christian eschatologists understand, all great worldly systems are converging on a rendezvous with the capstone of concentrated evil on earth. The diminution of the human soul, collectivism, is a feature common to all prevailing systems of human arrangement.

Communism endeavors to deliver the working person from the dehumanizing maw of capitalism by repealing God and installing man in His place. Alas the ‘cure’ arrives, killing the patient’s soul while only reshuffling the symptomology of the disease.

Particularly chilling is how, just earlier this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping explicitly couched Marxism as a lifelong ‘spiritual pursuit’. At a time when Falun Gong’s members are routinely subjected to organ harvesting in China, the titular head of today’s godless communism-on-earth, in bold imitatio Dei fashion, underscores the spiritual mission inherent in Dialectical Materialism. Let’s revisit the key tenets of this particular religion: Man resides at the summit of the cosmos and matter not soul (and certainly not God) is the fundamental determinant within that cosmos.

[For more on the Devil’s advance and the imitatio Dei phenomenon in its current full-blitz form, go here.]

This puts us one hop, skip and jump away from rationalizing the most grotesque practices man could ever think to inflict on his fellow –and remember, we’re pretty damned imaginative when it comes to grotesque practices. Should one man require another man’s liver (mere material) and the former possesses a higher social credit score, then he should have it. After all, what contravening moral force is there in the cosmos above Xi and the Communist Central Committee to insist otherwise? Xi must know too that, by inculcating his own brand of mass opiate, the CCP becomes ever more difficult to jettison in the event of mere ‘secular’ disaffections. 

capital flightIn our zeal to demonize the other side, we can inadvertently extol the sins of our own.

The US seems in many ways to have departed the rules of capitalism and its unyielding market forces anyway for corporatism and inverted totalitarianism. (In terms of the vanishing demand for human labor, just wait until transhumanism, robotics and 3D printing kick in. The death of labor bargaining power in the venerable labor/capital lever poses an existential threat to all notions of transacted exchange.) Some sort of neo-feudalism with no wage scale lurks in our future, be it Panopticonic lock-down, Orwellian prole-superstates or Mad Max collapsarian hellhole.

My contention is that both capitalism and communism today exist in only the most nominal and contrived forms, each having jettisoned large swathes of their doctrinal heritage. When capitalism craps out, we refill the coffers of the banks with public funds and pretend we’re still in the same game. Meanwhile Communist China enjoys a Wild West stock market and plays host to speculative real estate practices that would make any Manhattan developer blush (relax, we’re getting to him) –all under the furtive helmsmanship of a Deng-derived variant of Uncle Karl.

Some grand dialectic surely looms ahead. There are too many lingering articialties on both sides. 

Trump is driving his half, recovering criminally forfeited trade after decades of treasonous forfeiture by our bought-and-paid for political class. The trade relationships Trump inherited were a study in self-immolation and elite betrayal of the populace.

I’ve stated elsewhere Trump’s overriding mission is to shatter the Triffin Paradox, the latter being one of the first post-war migrations away from the domestic primacy of American policy towards an alienating globalist agenda.

Consider the surreal trading environment the two great systems have evolved between themselves. Chinese economist Henry C. K. Liu captured it aptly in 2008. Little –besides increased trade frictions– has changed.

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Individual wealth accumulation is surreality played out at the microeconomic level. Little more than a tallystick to access final social stratification, wealth (and that silliest of aphrodisiacs, net worth) will wither away.

In the very long run, a mode of collectivization is coming where wealth won’t matter. And no, it won’t be a Workers’ Paradise either, unless you enjoy bad coffee and journeymanm porn more than Winston Smith could ever bring himself to, or did Orwell miss the immersive nirvanas of virtual reality?

I found a 2009 essay of mine that talks about overproduction and the China issue, also Ford’s $5 a day program which created the middle class. Bill Gates can only wear one pair of pants. If a society-sustaining 300 million pairs of pants are to be sold, the peeps need some run-around cash and a pocket to put it in.

https://fullspectrumdominoes.wordpress.com/…/the-mill…/

There are other systems, all leading unfortunately to the same collectivist cul de sac. 

President-for-Life Xi Jinping recommitted himself to Marxism (with the requisite ‘Chinese characteristics’) as recently as Marx’ 200th birth anniversary this past May, with the fervor of his declaration surprising many. Xi’s agenda (and goodness knows he has the time) is for the CCP to steward China into late-stage capitalism where it most certainly is not today, given an agrarian peasant class of 380 million –the population of the entire US. 

This massive peasant class lags developmentally behind its crucial proletarian stage, until which time it cannot be authentically rescued. Marxism is greatly beholden to capitalism in the sense that capitalism must happen first. The dialectic will not be short-shrifted. Authentic synthesis cannot precede the historical crisis of antithetical engagement. History cannot be glossed. It must organically transpire.

Any 3D chessplayers out there? Xi is tasked with nothing less than straddling three discrete time-series of historical development –agrarian, capitalism and late-stage capitalism– and forging from them a singular national path. Could the final mile of the Long March be any more challenging than this? 

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For one thing, Xi is attempting another way around the ‘agrarian question’ that bedeviled the Soviet Union and forced the massively traumatic and dislocative collectivization drives of the Stalin era –an effort by the way which is being positively revisited in present-day Russia. Stalin is enjoying a resurgence of popularity. 

In effect Xi is using Marxism to bring about the climactic moment that will necessitate Marxism. He is presiding over a prior stage of capitalism that he hopes to conduct to its late-stage denouement at which point Marxism, at its appropriate historical moment, will stage an ideological intervention, simultaneously reaping the fruits late-capitalism has brought forth.  

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For the full article above, go here.

In 1978, Deng Xiaoping visited Japan to see the latter’s export model first-hand. This was an historic event with huge implications for the world. He opted to set China on a similar development path to the Japanese model –as opposed to growing domestic consumption which would have created in-country prosperity and threatened the one-party rule of the CCP. Rather than repatriating their export profits, China parked them in US T-bills and credit markets (exacerbating our credit bubble). In short, Chinese leadership did everything it could to preclude the Chinese people from enjoying the fruits of their labors. This strategy was employed for one reason only: to secure the uncontested political power of the CCP.

[At this point, I have to acknowledge The Conservative Treehouse blog which is practically alone on the Internet in championing the Trump trade approach. Many of my themes borrow from –or have been augmented by– their line of thinking.]

Where does a 500-pound canary sit? In but a few select places as so few places are equipped to accommodate its massive size.

The panda cannot roost forever on the pheasant’s perch. China today must navigate away from the legacy of Deng’s Japan emulation, but with great care. Far and away, its vulnerability is its size. Again, China’s size is its chief weakness, not its chief strength. Size obliges a scale of activity that few partners can furnish.

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Burdened by the limits of massive scale, China needs the markets of fellow canary America more than we need it. Why? Because having a comparatively answerable political system that has historically been obliged to respond to the citizenry’s demands for prosperity (justifiable complaints of a Quigleyan uniparty notwithstanding), the US has evolved an advanced economy, permitting it to consume 80% of its own production. China by contrast staved off domestic economic development in the interests of political ‘stability’. Power-sharing is anathema to the CCP. Xi wants to keep it that way. 

Trump and his people understand China’s developmental predicament. So does China. This is why the rhetoric on the other side is abating dramatically. The following Bloomberg article captures the current nervousness of the Chinese leadership. 

Yu Zhi, an economic professor from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics is particularly blunt in his rhetorical questioning of Xi’s more frontal approach (quite bravely I might add, my bold type below):

“Has China completed the task of ‘getting rich’? Has China completed the primary stage of socialism as Deng Xiaoping described? Can you begin to compete directly with the United States and other Western countries?” Yu wrote. “China should rethink its general strategic direction.”

Marxism with Chinese characteristics might well be thought of as a deeply self-conscious and recursive form of Marxism, really Marxism-in-waiting. Cynics will say Xi’s formulation reeks of defensiveness. Credit bubbles and ghost cities have a way of stalking a man such that Heavenly Mandates can evaporate overnight. But what a strange paradox. Xi must preside over capitalism until the time is right for Marxism (i.e. as Zhi says above when China has harvested sufficient ‘riches’ from capitalism). Even more perilously, he must survive the capitalist era like an inscrutable, withheld interloper until the apogee of his moment truly dawns.

The much-trumpeted ‘Chinese characteristics’ bit is a finagled interregnum that Xi is obligated to accentuate in order to rationalize the pregnant pause before the full-blown onset of Marxism in its Chinese form. Cultural modulations notwithstanding, make no mistake: China’s Marxism, when it finally graces us with its presence, promises to be more Marxist than Chinese.

Jim Rickards who observed some years ago that China is a political system before it is an economic one. It ‘does’ economics only to forestall social unrest. As Rickards said recently:

“Up to half of China’s investment is a complete waste. It does produce jobs and utilize inputs like cement, steel, copper and glass. But the finished product, whether a city, train station or sports arena, is often a white elephant that will remain unused.”

Rickards goes on to say that since unemployment and inflation (as prescriptive remedies to defusing huge mal-investment) are political nonstarters for China, a 25% yuan devaluation is in the cards as the least socially disruptive policy remedy. Despite wishful prognostications, the Eurasian century will not arrive soon enough to supplant the American and European markets. No, Chinese political frictions and internal contradictions will come to a head before new export markets can rescue the CCP.

mao contradiction

As for Trump, he’s presiding over a economic renaissance in America few people can see at the moment. NAFTA is dead as a dodo. Why? China and Europe were using Mexico and Canada as a staging ground for finished good assembly, thereby exploiting a huge NAFTA loophole. Under Trump, this is coming to an end. Trump is positioning the US for a renewed Age of Nationalism. Though it might take a CCP-instigated WW3 to get there. 

Pro-China forces are well-esconced in the American political system. They are also anti-Trump. There’s a lot of talk about the NRA or AIPAC being the most powerful lobbying group in America. Not hardly. It’s the US Chamber of Commerce. Why do we never hear this? Perhaps you didn’t read what I just wrote: The US C of C is the most powerful lobby in America.

CofC

For forty years, in league with our political class (blue and red, please) America was sold out for the greater good of China and Wall Street. In a more honest era we called it treason. Today, it often gets glossed as ‘globalism’.  Therein lies the impetus behind the unrelenting ferocity of the anti-Trump daily drumbeat.

As The Conservative Treehouse likes to emphasize, trillions of dollars are at stake in this mammoth redirecting of world trade. Let us see. 

The Coming Chinese Economic Collapse (Except, Please Don’t Call It Chinese)

The Cancer Thinks It’s the Body Politic

(A version of this essay appeared on Dissident Voice)

james wood tweet

It’s worse than James Woods suggests.

Each echo chamber is a government. Each government boasts its own citizens. We overlap. We intermesh. We share supermarkets and even living rooms. Yes, some of our loved ones manage to inhabit the town of Stepford, even as they sleep beside us. This is a war of cognition where bodies don’t count. 

Twitter is the garden wall where the tomatoes get tossed back and forth. The banter is tedious and predictable. Memes are like weeds. But the structural divide is truly daunting, not to mention formally drawn and institutionalized. 

Who would have thought that the most ensconced and ‘arrived’ cognoscenti by any conventional social yardstick (our so-called ‘elite”, but can we please stop calling them that?) would affix their civic orbit to the most sovereignty-deprived of our parallel governments’? For the moment, the entitled class (Trumanites; we’ll get to that label presently) are up the creek without a Presidential paddle. 

Up is down. Down is up. Delusional celebrities! You have no Constitution! We, the People. You, the Pimple. 

For a time, we tolerated their telegenic nonsense. Until a galvanizing antithesis in the figure of President Donald Trump arrived to guide us back to a Constitutional normalcy long since given up in the post-WW2 era. Now, with pitchforks in-hand, the Madisonian-Deplorables are on a campaign of reclamation.

Trump the fearless giant-killer. That really kills some people. The American Left (such as it is – and it isn’t) would rather ‘protect the reputation’ of the CIA than acknowledge anything remotely positive emanating from Trump. That’s the pathological denialism at the root of derangement.

The real collusion bombshell in Helsinki? That US intelligence agencies assisted in the transfer of $400 million into the Clinton campaign coffers. The diversion? That Trump besmirched the CIA, a theme the mockingbird choir took up unremittingly. The social media muppetry lit up, uncritically as always, as it is conditioned to do. 

We all feel the endless and dispiriting tug-of-war Wood’s tweet alludes to. However we struggle for the most encapsulating terms: Deep State, Shadow Government, Illuminati. 

For my money, this ‘dueling dualism’ is best captured in Michael Glennon’s terms, Trumanite Network and Madisonian Institutions as developed in his 2015 book ‘National Security and Double Government’.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

“The book details the dramatic shift in power that has occurred from the Madisonian institutions to a concealed “Trumanite network” – the several hundred managers of the military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement agencies who are responsible for protecting the nation and who have come to operate largely immune from constitutional and electoral restraints. Reform efforts face daunting obstacles. Remedies within this new system of “double government” require the hollowed-out Madisonian institutions to exercise the very power that they lack.”

Glennon, an academic, avoids a nefarious conspiracy-tinged depiction of the Trumanite side. Perhaps if they weren’t so hidden and submerged, the conspiracy crowd could lighten up a bit too. Hey, don’t blame our dark imaginings for your endless shadow-play. Step into the light or don’t bitch.

Borrowing much of his conceptual framework from the work of 19th century English writer Walter Bagehot, Glennon foresees a parallel and continued atrophying of our Madisonian institutions into something not unlike the ornamental functions of today’s British monarchy, with a more submerged government increasingly undertaking the complex business of the State. Glennon refers to them further as our ‘dignified’ versus ‘efficient’ institutions. 

Gaining its initial impetus under the National Security Act of 1947, and driven by the overriding security (fear-based) imperatives of the Cold War, the Trumanite network grew aggressively enough that, by 1960, Eisenhower was famously warning of an eclipsing Military Industrial Complex. (Truman’s own contrition was evidenced in admissions to his biographer Merle Miller in the 1974 book, Plain Speaking. This warning is no less potent today.)

Sounding a cautionary, if not outright defeatist tone (the book came out in 2015), Glennon was not anticipating a retrograde figure on the scale of  Trump.

The Mueller Independent Counsel is like a Trumanite burr in the flanks of the resurgent Madisonian government spearheaded by Trump. Without Mueller’s lingering presence, the Democrats (mantle-holders at the moment for the Deep State, along with some furtive Republican establishment support) would have no substantive speaking-role, outside of (are you ready?) Maxine Waters.

mueller mirror.png

The Object of Mueller’s investigation can be summed up thusly: never go away. Mueller is the beachhead that invents incoming German artillery fire. The enemy is over the hill only because Mueller says he is. Culled from the same infernal cauldron as the War on Terror, Mueller emanates from nowhere and everywhere and is as durable as the capacity for human terror (i.e. inexhaustible). The perpetual motion machine from Lawfare Hell. 

As Adam Hill points out, this in perpetuum feature accomplishes two simultaneous objectives. One, it permanently sub-optimizes Trump’s Presidency and two, it permits Rosenstein to forever dish his favored response to Congressional questions: “I’m sorry I can’t answer that question because of the ongoing nature of the investigation.” Here’s Hill:

“…Rosenstein and others embarrassed by DOJ’s actions may derive raison d’être, if not safety, from the never-ending nature of the investigation. And like Leonard Shelby’s investigative file, the Russia investigation has become a puzzle that is designed to never be solved. Because to do so would end the “ongoing investigation” excuse that keeps the cause of DOJ’s embarrassment under wraps.”

Trump’s filling the ‘hollowed out’ core of our Madisonian ornamental facade with larger-than-lifeness, guts, bluster and smarts. No one but him could do it! He’s restoring operative value to the Constitution –and just in time too.

They really should think about moving CNN off-air as it affords the opposition unprecedented access into the Trumanite-cheerleader set at the height of their real-time disarray, railing against the treason our POTUS (how many have denied them as their own?) displayed on foreign soil (while remaining oblivious to the treason they spew daily against our government from NYC).

cnn cooper.png

The sheer incredulity of the CNN panel (here) is an odd delight to behold, especially coming from former CIA employee Anderson Cooper. It serves to remind us they’re not in the game of overt duplicity. These people are genuinely gobsmacked. Their government is under attack. And not by the Russians. By us.

Nor will they convert easily. Their identities, their statuses are wed to a superseded vision. Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

The government that feeds them, promotes them, cocktails with them, advances them in their careers is one side of our Double Government. It is that government to which Trump flashed treasonous moments, to which he even implied poses a greater threat to him than does Putin’s Russia. I couldn’t agree more with POTUS.

We are the Forces of Reclamation. They are The Forces of Departure. They dream of vacating the Walmart stench for better things: supranationalism, globalism. We just want our Union back.

It’s as though the nation has double-vision, with the elite gazing through the Trumanite lens and We, The People holding down the Madisonian fort. Yes, Trump is exhibiting treasonous tendencies towards this Trumanite outgrowth. It’s the impertinent nature of cancer to think that it is the rightful body and we are the intruder. Expect a fight for the Body Politic. 

Madison’s Constitution is on Trump’s side –as are We the People.

The Cancer Thinks It’s the Body Politic

Forty-Five Things

shalamov

Yes to this.

All forty-five things appear in The Paris Review, here. Poor Shalamov. Some will suggest his observation is little more than a permission slip for willful obfuscation. Others (like myself) share a strange aversion to how the crow flies. We understand.

Mediated hyper-accessibility flattens the road. At the insistence of ‘market forces’, art hitches itself to audience share. Even interiority is called forth to seize lapels. As the hand extends, the interior is given up. 

Today’s movies attend the obligatory car chase. In the first five minutes. Or else. Absent burning rubber and twisted chrome, the eyeballs seek another youtube bonfire. 

Media has no business case for the soul’s unlit gestures. Financing the project becomes impossible.

Here are two older essays of mine that cover similar terrain:

Being Difficult

A Polemicist’s Guide to the Written Word

 

 

 

Forty-Five Things