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Syria – a small thought.

The Guardian, on its breaking news ticker, is now running a report from PA news wire under the headline “Hague: Syrian Leader should quit..”

The article says,

Some 137 countries backed a non-binding resolution at the UN General Assembly in New York supporting an Arab League plan that calls for Assad to step down and prepare the way for a new government in the Middle Eastern state….Mr Hague said the vote sent an “unambiguous” message to Damascus that the violence against protesters who have challenged the Assad regime must stop immediately.

Actually the message is far from unambiguous and raises several questions.

Assad has a brother and it is his brother who holds the power in at least parts of the Security services, critical elements with in the armed services and in the upper reaches of the police.  It is the President’s brother who in many of the most critical ways holds power. It is he who commands most of the mechanisms of repression and violence.

  Maher is the head of 4th Armoured Division and also head of an elite military division known, predictably, as    The Republican Guard. In addition, it is to him, that the commanders of rather powerful Shabiha militia  group report. That militia is made up exclusively of Alawites who are the minority group to which the Assad family belong.

  It has been sometimes suggested that President Assad uses his brother as the bad cop to his good, getting his       dirty work done without having to get his hands directly bloody. The alternative is that President Assad is what    he  seems, a quiet, possibly weak  man who was not supposed to inherit power and only did so after the death  of  his older brother, but who presents an acceptable face of the regime to the world. While just out of the  spotlight  is the brother who holds the real power and makes the real decisions.  

The reason I bring this up is because it raises the possibility that we could see the same game being played in Syria that the Western powers have been supporting in Egypt – namely that the visible figure head of repression and the status quo is sacrificed, so that the larger mechanism of business as usual can continue on. Mubarak was thrown to the crowd in order that the military could carry on. A situation that Egyptians have been slow to wake up to but now have. 

I think the Arab League would like to see far less change in Syria that the Syrians themselves. The Arab League, in my opinion, do not want to see Syria ‘destabilized’ which means not significantly changed, because of the central role the country plays in relations with Israel, Turkey and Iran. The leaders of the Arab Nations are, let’s remember, not democrats. They have shown rather clearly over the last year or so that they are  not in favour of democracy in their own nations let alone those around them. The Arab League would, I think, like Bashir Assad to go in the hope this will diffuse unrest as the departure of Mubarak did in Egypt. They would then like Syria to remain largely under the control of those currently in charge – the military and police. I think the Arab League would like the heavy hand of oppression to be seen to be removed so that a quieter ‘lighter’ hand of suppression can be re-established.

Stability is what the Western Powers are interested in not necessarily democracy. So when I listen to Mr Hague I find myself feeling deeply suspicious about what kind of ‘new’ government he really wants in Syria.


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144 Responses to Syria – a small thought.

  1. keekster February 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Some interesting points David. I find it fascinating the way the BBC and RT differ in their coverage of Syria. The BBC make no attempt to highlight some of the blood shed that has been committed by the ‘rebels’ in what is basically a civil war. And who are these rebels anyway? Are their objectives honourable. I suspect, its just an attempt to grab power.
    The same inconsistent media coverage exists for Libya, which now has a bunch of separate groups fighting with one another. Is this really an improvement since the revolution? The BBC plays up the success of the revolution, but the country is left a bloody mess.
    I’m still of a view that the Libya situation, and the Iran situation is to do with oil, and the west trying to ensure access for the corporations. Not sure about Syria, but it is an ally of Iran.
    It always seems to be about natural resources and access to them. There is of course the issue of the petrodollar, and the US attempts to preserve its status, but I think they are loosing control of that. If more and more oil is sold using other currencies or gold, the dollar is finished, and with it the USSA.

  2. steviefinn February 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    It’s a pity that the words Democracy, Freedom & Liberty don’t somehow cause politicians throats to close up when they try & utter them. It’s obvious they don’t really give a damn about it, great hard fought for concepts reduced to slimy hypocritical verbal diarrhea. Is there any country in the middle East that has gained anything from this West implanted ” Democracy”?. I can’t think of any, it would be interesting to do a poll on the Iraqi population to gauge whether they consider themselves better off, since they were saved from tyranny, by those Good ol’ boys, wearing the white hats. you know, the good guys.

    Not a lot of Democracy evident in Europe at the moment. It reminds me of Thatcher & Reagan when they were both trying their utmost to destroy trades unions & at the same time spewing out crap about how wonderful Lech Valensa & Solidarity were. Same old shite. Rant No.17,467.

    More double standards in reference to Bahrain :


  3. Hawkeye February 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    “The Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM) has decided to downgrade the IMF’s rating due to this institution’s heavy share of responsibility for the deterioration of people’s living standards in countries subjected to austerity policies it has openly imposed or dictated from behind the scenes.”


    • shtove March 7, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

      “The CADTM insists on the immediate abolition of the IMF and its replacement by a radically different and democratic institution focused on the satisfaction of fundamental human needs.”

      To each according to his need. Fine, but I’m not going to work to pay for that. So it’s up to you and your infinite wealth.

  4. PapushiSun February 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    And let’s not forget the Syrian opposition who want a war, only they want the war to be fought by the West/NATO. Why else would they be calling for a No Fly Zone when Assad has yet to use planes against the opposition?

    • shtove March 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

      Surely they want the opportunity to defend themselves and lead prosperous lives.

      Cynicism has a limit – you hate our lying government so much that you want their murdering government to show defiance on your behalf.

  5. bill40 February 18, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Britains foreign policy has not changed in centuries. It is a simple equation phrased as a question.

    Are things better for us when they are worse fot them? This equals no chnge required. I see no sign of any ethical policy anywhere.

  6. Roger G Lewis February 18, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Following on from the link posted to Catherine Austin Fitts in last weeks blog I downloaded another film she appears in called Thrive which covers a lot of bases
    regarding the interconnectedness of two of the huge constructs behind the post Vietnam War hedgemony those being Oil and Fiat Money. The Mythology of the no alternative to the oil addiction and the mythology of Free market capitalism are sponsored by some pretty determined people we are approaching a level of fear and hysteria that tolerates an amazingly thin veneer justifying hugely irrational and really just plain wicked bullying in the name of Democracy which ironically we do not even enjoy ourselves in any intellectually defensible sense.
    I read this blog this morning which goes to the propaganda aspects of how politicians like Haque are moth peices for what ammounts to little more than disingenuous drivel.


    I took a’way the term Amygdala politics from that article.

    I will not forget in a hurry the revelation in Ellen Browns web of debt article Libya all about oil or money


    Asophisticated rebel force indeed that already has formed a central bank commited to a different system whiolst busily overthrowing a despotic regime?

    The role of Israel in the background with these events particularly in Iran should not be underplayed the Zionist maniacs still infecting the heart of US politics elevate the idiocy of US foreign policy in yet another ridiculous direction.

    Puling all the strands together it really is about supporting monopolies that are actually wholly unnecessary and actually against the interests of the many the Puppet politicians vocalising the agendas in the acceptable narrative forms really do not give two hoots about civiliand being massacred on either time, what censure has Israel suffered for its atrocities in Gazza, not a Jot, who gives a hoot about the Turks and their massacre of the Kurds, no one they want in on the EU scam so they must be on the side of right and good.

    Watching a few films seeing a few you tube videos reading a few academic papers and trying to spread the word I believe can do some good the best thing we can all do though is just refuse to play the game the peaceful withdrawal of cooperation in large numbers, I have only watched Thrive once through usual Caveats and there is an interview with David Ike which usually makes it difficult to recommend to anyone that has yet to face up to the tissue of lies that bind us to the Land of the free and the home of the brave.

    Anyhow Ghandi and Martin Luther King Junior point us in the right direction, I’m sure there are plenty of others.

    Chaos descending on our domestic bliss Two year olds and six year olds arguing over toys? must fly.

  7. steviefinn February 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    All hail the forces of freedom !!, words describing these actions will not be heard sliding over Hague’s forked tongue.


    • Charles Wheeler February 18, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

      But Libya is so … like … yesterday.

      The caravan has moved on.

      • Jim M. February 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

        The caravan may have moved on, but the dogs won’t stop barking!

        • Synopticist February 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm #


          There were stories around a few months ago about hundreds of anti-aircraft missiles looted from gaddaffi’s armourary. Some of these can take down passenger jets. I haven’t heard anything since, but we know there are scores of different militia groups, and some senior members of the new “government” have former links with Al Qeada.

          The blowback potential is fricking scary.

          • Hawkeye February 20, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

            Go “long” on manufacturers of false flags.

  8. Mike Hall February 19, 2012 at 2:10 am #

    Sorry for off topic, but has anyone seen this at the Slog?


    Looks credible to me. I’m thinking the elites judge it easier to blame Greece now for the failure rather than wait until the next bail out fails when it would be much harder to pretend it hasn’t been the imposed austerity that’s destroyed their economy.

    • Charles Wheeler February 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

      Anyone with even half a brain knows Greece can NEVER repay the debts – even with a ‘voluntary’ non-default-style default that mustn’t be called a default. They’ve been turned out on the street, the EU bailiffs have taken the TV and the three-piece, their income has been decimated and their creditors are marching them to the pawn shop to sell off their last trinkets.

      But what happens to all those Credit Default Swap ‘insurance’ policies taken on by counter-parties that had no legal obligation to cover the bets? Who holds them?

  9. no6ody February 19, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    These ‘protesters’ seem to have some very nice weapons, and seem to get very good press in the M5M. Reminds me of the Lybian ‘protesters’ who set up a central bank before the ‘no-fly’ zone was even declared. In my opinion, Syria is infested with mercenaries working for Empyre–like the Lybian oil-grabbers. Only those who sell weapons will benefit. Assad may not be a jewel of a human being, but he is no threat to anyone outside Syria and has the support of most of those who live there.

    http://pennyforyourthoughts2.blogspot.com/ is a good site for news and anti-spin on what is happening in Syria.

    • Jim M. February 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      Tell me, no6oby.

      Do you shill for Hamas and Hezbollah too, or just for the Assad regime?

    • John Souter February 19, 2012 at 7:03 pm #


      let’s suppose your argument has some integrity – if Assad is such a decent compassionate person why doesn’t he stop the shooting and adopt the ballot box?

    • mikems February 22, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      Assad, like his father is an absolute brute.

      He is a murderer and should face justice.

      But you are right about the rest of it.

      The west too is brutish, murderous and should face justice.

      I have no doubt that our money is being used to send arms to the rebels – illegal in international and British law – via the intelligence services.

      It is obviously in western and Israeli interests to destabilise Syria. It would open the door for more provocations against Lebanon.

      That’s why the media is so biased, reporting only one side.

      I want to side with the Syrian people against their dictator and I want them to overthrow him, but like with LIbya, now western powers are interfering, I just can’t see it happening.

  10. bill40 February 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm #


    That post sounded like me when I’m attempting (feebly) to be satirical. I’m afraid you won’t garner much sympathy on here.

  11. Joe Taylor February 19, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Just seen a tweet that Iran has cut off Oil exports to the UK? Anyone know a bit more?

  12. Phil February 20, 2012 at 1:25 am #

    With speakers like David Milliband, Ed Balls and Jeff Sachs – I’d say this weekend of seminars was crying out for David, Charles Wheeler, Hawkeye, Mike, Bill and the rest of our happy band to skew a few myths.


    (24th/ 25th March)

  13. Penny February 20, 2012 at 1:49 am #

    Jim M: sleight of hands don’t cut it
    John Souter: once there is an election do politicians keep their promises?
    Do they carry out the will of the people?
    If only it was so…..
    Bill 40, whatever?
    Not one of you are even remotely looking at the reality of the situation in Syria, it should be easy, cause it is the replay of Libya. Whoops over your head, right.
    Let me take you back boys…
    Yes, that is March 2011. And I said a western backed social media revolution was at hand

    But you see these revolutions are myths created for saps to lap up
    There created by western intelligence outlets,who supply the necessities to create the illusion

    Two Americans arrested in Syria

    I have covered the progression of the destruction of Syria since March 2011 to today, the signs were all there for anyone to see
    Do you understand the concept of destabilization, infiltration etc
    This should help

    Do you think your so free in the british spy tyranny
    cameras in your garbage cans and on every corner and you all talk about Assad?
    Come on!
    If your gonna talk, know what it is you speak of

  14. Penny February 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Oh and Joe Taylor, since no one else can possibly answer your question.
    I have heard that also, iran cutting of europe
    Any oil they have will be bought up by India and China
    Europe is has made itself inconsequential and by undertaking the actions they have, they ensure that the people of Europe will suffer.
    India has a unique trade deal with Iran. They do not trade in the petrodollar.
    Away from the Americans, the Brits and their respective ill repute banking houses

    You can find that information in link in this post
    It leads to the Indian media reporting
    Take a little time and do some digging. The US and Israel do not like this arrangement.

  15. bill40 February 20, 2012 at 8:08 pm #


    No-one is doubting your knowledge or a lot of your information. This site deals primarily with economics and protecting what few freedoms we have left. We don’t believe a word our politicians and financial elites utter.

    Your links provide propaganda although some of the info is very impressive. I have no idea what the wider agenda of America is towards Syria or Iran. It is widely recognised that the US has waged a currency war on Iran and with good effect.

    Iran can indeed sell its’ oil to China and India but those countries will extract an ounce of flesh for the deal, possibly several.

    I certainly am glad to see you posting here and I do not wish to offend you by seeming sceptical. I do that to everybody. Are you interested in democracy in the Middle East? Would you accept a tyrant in charge as long as he or she was anti America and Israel?

    To be blunt, governments the world over are just as crao as the other.

  16. nigel February 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    With regard to to foreign intervention in Syria it was was interesting to see the reaction to the report of the GCC observers which was buried because it did not accord with its sponsors.Saudi and Quatari interests appear to be dominant in the GCC which could also without stretching be er American interests. Apparently the report was not translated although I’ve seen a leaked translation on ZH which makes it completely clear why the report would be suppressed because it claimed the evidence was of foreign instigated “terrorism” .Unfortunately I can’t unearth a link .Never the less I haven’t seen this report published and watching al Jazeer on the relevant days produced not a whisper.I’m inclined to treat Al Jazeers output these days with about the same amount of salt as the BBC.
    On another tangent the emerging importance of mediterraenen gas/oilfields is hugely complicating the appreciation of the underlying motives of the core European powers and the debt shakedown.I’ve read a report that claims that Greek gas reserves in territorial waters are large enough to provide a 200billion net profit .A great prize indeed if one could assume control in Greece.
    @John Souter
    that is not up to your usual standard. Are you going to pretend that you have a democracy, by which I mean the choice between (in your country) labour and conservative.From my vantage point there is not a huge amount of difference practically between Syria and the UK in the outcome of an election.
    Is it not also true that now the implications of a disadvantaged purchase on the supply of oil/energy and its deleterious affect on any countries economy cannot be emphasised enough and is this not the reason for all of the “manouvering”.Actually thats allways been the case remember the british removal of a democratically elected Iranian moussadeq in 53 because he wouldn’t sell to or allow british oil interests in Iran.I guess democracy is as democracy does.
    Apologies for the the linkless post

    • bill40 February 20, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

      Here is the link you require. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/guest-post-consequences-expect-if-us-invades-iran Some strangely western names on here seem very expert on matters of Syria.

      I prefer to argue economics myself.

      Note. I only speak for myself on here, not for anyone else. I get my share of brickbats.

    • John Souter February 20, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

      Nigel – my reply was a direct riposte to no6ody’s post. And I did assume his post had some integrity!

      But in reply to your’s – I’m fully aware of the deficit in democracy served up by the Westminster model. Yet the practical difference to date is we haven’t yet had tanks in the streets though our children may well suffer long term mutilation by being starved of opportunity and aspiration through the insidious application by mandarins.

      As to disadvantaged purchase – if I understand your point correctly, no country should be exploited either by being paid short for its resources or high for those it lacks. Exploitation is the fundamental reason why so called free markets are a myth.

      it’s part of the reason the world is full of middlemen parasites whose sole purpose is to create confusion and complication in order to create the chips for Casino Finance.

      Penny – why so angry? I’ll second bill40s comment with one added point. Whether Assad is fighting a foreign inspired insurrection or not, he is still going the wrong way about it and he ain’t no avuncular leader.

      • VagabondDreamer February 21, 2012 at 8:57 am #

        John – The alleged revos running around Syria the place are nothing more than hired, armed thugs. What president doesn’t have a right to deal forcefully with armed thugs? what’s all the urgency with Syria? Mexico has been ruled by a the institutionalized revolutionary party for decades and no one complained. The Bath party can be defeated at the ballot box. there’s no need to attack people the way the thugs have. America doesn’t tolerate a few placard wavers. w be good to see americans attempt to pellet their congress with stones like the iceland folks did.

        • John Souter February 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

          Vagabond Dreamer – as I’ve said to Fanu I’m always open to education by the truth.

          Hopefully you will excuse my ignorance, but who actually holds the power in Syria, Assad or the elected chamber you refer too?

          And irrespective of the bias of our media, are all the people we see protesting armed thugs or are they in large part discontented people crying out for a better chance in life?

      • Penny February 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

        “Penny – why so angry? I’ll second bill40s comment with one added point. Whether Assad is fighting a foreign inspired insurrection or not, he is still going the wrong way about it and he ain’t no avuncular leader.’

        Hey John, again.
        Not angry but a bit sarcastic. When someone leaves a suggestion to check out something rather then attack the individual, an open mind should be kept.
        Instead of comments about “shilling for whomever”
        That type of “guilt by association” is typically used by people who can’t bear having their perceptions challenged out of sheer fear.

        As for Assad “going about it the wrong way” Odd? How would you expect a leader to deal with an armed rebellion? That is holding cities hostage and killing it’s citizens, blowing up pipelines, derailing trains. What do you think is the “right way’
        While I abhor violence, unless attacked…..
        OH wait Syria is under attack!

        No need to reply to me John. I am sure you are quite a nice person.
        But, I won’t be back. A bit to staid and rigid for my liking

        • John Souter February 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

          Penny – Staid and Rigid! Ah well, back to sticks and stones and propaganda not influencing me.

          Your busy intolerance gives the game away.

  17. Penny February 20, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    My links provide “propaganda”? What exactly do you mean by that?
    So you looked through my more then 100 posts on Syria? To judge “propaganda” from fact?

    I could take it as an insult to my years of work…but, I won’t, because I understand that people perceive all things differently.
    But, you need to clarify what it is your saying there

    Bill “Are you interested in democracy in the Middle East? Would you accept a tyrant in charge as long as he or she was anti America and Israel? ”

    I am going to comment on the simplistic black and white/either /or of your questioning?
    Define democracy?
    Define tyranny?
    Isn’t democracy rule by the mob?
    Isn’t tyranny rule by the mob?
    Democracy, which “elects” or not a ruling class, which results in rule by mob
    Tyranny may or may not “elect” a ruling class, which still results in rule by mob.
    In both cases the masses are ruled by a small ruling “elite” or the mob
    So why does it matter to you how it gets there?
    Your language says more about your thinking
    You say To be blunt, governments the world over are just as crao as the other.“
    I am assuming that word is `crap`?
    But then you set up the false paradigm of democracy vs tyranny?
    Which indicates to me as a reader you do not believe governments the world over are crap, you believe some governments are less crap then others

  18. Penny February 20, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    If you want to protect freedoms, which, I am all for
    You have to realize that freedom does not come from the “government”

    • bill40 February 20, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

      Freedom does not come from government? Perhaps not but it doesn’t come without it either.

    • John Souter February 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

      Penny – All right how about sovereignty being held by the people?

      Wouldn’t a nation where the people are sovereign still need a government structure controlled by democratic principles?

      • Penny February 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

        John, I appreciate your question, but, honestly don’t have the time to spend here.

        Sovereignty belongs to the people.
        And should not be forfeited to government

      • Hawkeye February 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm #


        I’d be inclined to emphasise that the UK (and most modern democracies) are Representative Democracies.

        How “representative” they are in practice is one key aspect, as is the very low involvement / vigilance by the people; casting a vote between 2 or 3 flavours of the same shit-sandwich every 4-5 years isn’t exactly the pinnacle of democratic achievement.

  19. bill40 February 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm #


    No I didn’t look at all your links or posts. The ones I read were one sided hence I call them propaganda. This is a take by zerohedge, I don’t agree with all of it but its’ good.

    Next, the governments I tend to look at enviously are usually nordic. Oh allright they all are. We all tend to over simplify things to keep posts tolerably short. I am not about to open a debate on semantics.

    So to the governments in Syria and Iran. Is there any critisem you would like to offer. What, if any, improvements could be made? Do you think they serve the people at all times?

    I think we are all fans of critical thinking on here. Perhaps you could link me to a post where you do.

    • Penny February 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      Bill40, when I see comments such as yours about the critical thinking???
      After I have read just a bit of the nonsense you have posted?
      Your either or thinking reeks of simplistic thought. Are there no other options for you but black and white.

      And your comment freedom doesn’t come from government, but, it doesn’t come without it?

      Utter nonsense. Isn’t government the biggest tyrannical institution their is?
      It takes your money? It restricts your movements? It tracks your whereabouts?
      You can’t fish without a government issued license, drive without a government issued license. It manipulates the masses into war. It uses money it has extracted from you to kill other people, in your name. It passes laws that you may not agree with and throws you in jail if you dare to “break” their laws. Government has it’s hands in every aspect of your life
      Shall I go on?
      And you call that freedom?

      “There are none so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free”

      Apparently you like your chains and believe they are freedom

      • John Souter February 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

        Penny -if you will excuse me butting in – the answer to all of the above is yes. Governments are the largest perpetrators of all the above.

        The question to be answered is why that is?

        Are they truly the perpetrators or merely the instigators?

      • bill40 February 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm #


        I’d have to write a book to answer you fully. I have no-one to vote for because nobody will represent my views. I make what peaceful protest I can and come to blogs like this to chat with fellow sceptics of our system.

        Sure I keep my thinking as simple as possible I think that you think to much.

  20. Troy Prideaux February 20, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    I watched our 4 Corners program last night which was on the Syrian conflict. Basically, showing Johnathan Miller’s (ch 4 in the UK’s) report, following up with an interview with an expert in that region. Terribly ugly images and awfully sad stories. No mention of social media though.


  21. steviefinn February 21, 2012 at 2:01 am #

    Off topic, but this sounds interesting & possibly with TPTB starting to crack down on stuff they don’t like online, a good thing to get set up now. It’s called the Global Square an effort to start an alternative peer to peer social network that would be immune to government attack. Sounds like a good idea to me, but so unfortunately have a lot of things that have since fallen by the wayside.


  22. Wirplit February 21, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    I get the feeling from many of the comments here that there is not a lot of attempt to get into what it is actually like living in a regime that controls almost every aspect of your lives over many decades. A regime that has tentacles everywhere and a well backed system of informers, fellow travelers and paid busy bodies. A good start would be to read Hans Fallada’s novel of life in wartime Berlin. A different society from say Libya’s but one equally riven with fear and a security apparatus that has the casual ability to destroy lives that could never not in their very worst aspects be compared to life in Western democracies however abusive they can be.

    Before people begin to sound off about the foreign intervention in say Libya and what a chaos it its now they might want to know that it was the East Germans who helped Gaddafi and his followers set up their security apparatus a fact that seemed to chime in well with the depressing rows of badly maintained Eastern European like blocks of flats in Tripoli.
    It was just about the only part of that society that worked with ruthless efficiency. It was everywhere and the prevailing fear it brought was the other side of the peculiar utterly whimsical and utterly unreliable ” generosity” of the State. That thanks to oil money could give or take with near total unpredictability.
    A generosity of a psychopathic state that could be given or withheld on whim and was only there to ensure control. Living standards for most Libyans was very low despite the oil.
    As for daily chaos now after a year long civil war? What had the Libyans lived with over years of oil based wealth? The sudden and extraordinary whims of the leader whose glorious image was everywhere.
    Just one example of many: His sudden destruction of say the entire border post with Tunisia when he decided that there should be one Pan African borderless nation and arrived in person with bull dozers one day to start the process.
    The Tunisian border remained exactly the same as they had not been convinced by Gaddafi’s bold gesture, a basic set of working buildings.

    But from then on the Libyans queued at tables set in the open in the boiling sun while officials worked out of building site portacabins amid the rubble of the old customs buildings.

    Through all this and much worse many parts of the West were only too happy to cosy up to him and his regime almost to the end. It was not just Blair, the last in the infamous list. Many leftists and anti-colonialists were only too happy to be conducted on fraternal visits too and see the glories of the ” Green Revolution”.
    A revolution propped up by the huge number of foreign mercenary workers including British oil workers,Czech and East German doctors and nurses, and a host of other nationals because he seemed strangely reluctant to train his own people in case they gained power.

    What destroyed Gaddafi was the utter brutal absurdity of that power structure not the West. A system without proper law as one in the West would recognize it yet with thousands of rules and endless slogans. A country ruled by whim and ruthless exercise of power.
    I know less of Syria having only visited it but I do know that when one friend had some personal items stolen from his hotel room and complained to the police they casually tortured the boy responsible until he confessed and made my friend regret for ever having complained. A society where torture even in simple criminal cases is utterly routine.

    Who here has any idea of what living under this is like?

    Yes you can have criticisms of democracy here… I find myself yelling at the Today Programme but I dont wake up sweating thinking maybe the neighbours might have heard me! Yes Cameron might stubbornly keep going with “reforms” of the NHS that are ideologically repugnant and that every one who actually works in it sees as unworkable but he will pay for that in the next elections and already is starting to as polls reveal. Thats a huge and crucial difference ….and before people so easily dismiss the struggles that ordinary men and women have suffered to rid themselves of these kinds of regimes and are suffering now and put it all down to secret Western intelligence plots and some nefarious scramble for oil ( laughable in Libya’s case as had been readily available to the West or whoever else would buy it all the while) they might try and imagine life in such places and how they would cope in daily life. And what might drive people to finally revolt knowing that many many of them would die.

    Reading Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin might help give just an inkling.

    • bill40 February 21, 2012 at 10:10 am #


      I second John Souters plaudits. In China I use a virtual internet port and an IP masker. I am very careful what I say in public and steer well clear of politics. I am only ever one step away from offending a party member, and therefore losing my livihood, at any given time.

      I train managers in China in one particular aspect. I teach them deviance so I’m not exactly Mr Popular with some. I don’t think I’d ever be mistreated as such, but I watch my step carefully.

    • Hawkeye February 21, 2012 at 10:26 am #


      A thoughtful piece. Alone in Berlin could act as a way of spotting whether our own society is slowing creeping in that direction (e.g. the US, with SOPA, PIPA, NDAA etc.).

      For the moment though, the great hypocrisy from our leaders is why they decry the oppressive regimes of Iran and Syria yet are silent on Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

      We shouldn’t be comparing our situation with that of these oppressive regimes, but asking why is it that we pick and choose who is boogeyman of the month, amongst a long list of equally eligible candidates.

    • steviefinn February 21, 2012 at 11:35 am #

      I agree, but surely these people deserve more than they are likely to get from the West, Iraq is still a nightmare, the start of which was outlined at the end of Naomi Klein’s ” Shock Doctrine “, one example being that the country now has an estimated 4.5 – 5 million orphans. Living under Saddam must have been horrendous, a kind of poor man’s Stalinism, but is the cure really any better ? considering it’s supposedly from the good guys.


    • gorgeous cleo February 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      Dear Wirplit,
      Thanks very much for your very well written and explanatory piece. It’s why I come on this blog. Will have a go at Alone in Berlin.

    • Jim M. February 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

      @ Wirplit

      I am sorry if my impatience at what seemed to be a piece of blatant trolling from no6ody/penny came across as a lack of sympathy or understanding of a life lived under oppression. That was not my intention. Nor is it my place to “police” this blog.

      It strikes me that the posts from no6ody/penny and fanu are wholly aimed at derailing and distraction and I would echo all the sentiments expressed by John Souter at 2:21, but particularly this:

      “… certainty backed by assumptions, generally makes fools of us all”

      Anyway, as an attempt to re-establish some humanitarian credentials around here I offer the following as tribute to a life lived under constant surveillance:

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0405094/ The Lives of Others

  23. John Souter February 21, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    Wirplit – a good humanitarian post.

    I wouldn’t change a word in it. Well done.

  24. Fanu February 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    How convenient Wirplit’s “humanitarian” worldview…and so dramatically inaccurate:

  25. John Souter February 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    Fanu -this is a broad church and you contribution is welcome but, at what level is Wirplit’s post inaccurate with reference to your link?

    To answer your inferred sarcasm, I’d suggest there are few, if any, subscriber to this blog who do anything other than promote democracy and expose or criticise the hypocrisy of neo -liberalism or their associate neo-cons.

    Educate by all means but certainty backed by assumptions, generally makes fools of us all.

  26. nigel February 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    Wirplit I stand corrected for my simplistic notion. I was annoyed that somehow we were forgetting that the machinations of successive empires has resulted in some considerable part for the death and destruction visited on the Syrians today.Regime change is on the agenda for Syria for the Americans it would appear.The history of American intervention is bloody and appears never to have worked to the benefit of the majority of the people.

  27. Mike Hall February 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    I’ve not had much to say about Syria because I think what is the key driving force at the moment is very unclear. How much influence is opportunistic geopolitics of the ‘West’ having? I’d be sure there’s some, but don’t know how much. I knew some people living near here, a few years ago, who have family by marraiage living in Syria & visited periodically.. Wirplit’s comparison with the likes of the former East Germany seems very close indeed to what I was told by them, in terms of life for ordinary citizens. But I do note also the voices talking about outside intervention whose opinions I generally respect.

    So, I’m going to be off topic again & back to the economics. As most know I’ve been studying MMT for some time now. From a very early stage I was impressed. As my understanding has deepened over time, I am ever more convinced that MMT is something that has the potential to bring about a paradigm change that will in future be seen as historically important as the realisation that Earth rotates around the Sun, not the other way about. (I make no apology for that statement’s apparent hyperbole.)

    As time goes on, the empirical evidence just piles up that MMT advocates speak from an understanding of macro economics & the monetary systems, as they operate in the real world, which is entirely correct. And astonishingly, virtually uniquely so across the entire economics ‘profession’. (With the notable exceptions of other heterodox economists like Steve Keen, whose understanding accords with MMT in any case.)

    So, I’ve just seen this video posted of a conference Q & A session with a panel comprising almost the entire central core of MMT proponents. (I think the only core originator missing is Scott Fulwiler.) It’s 45 mins long, but for those wishing to deepen their understanding of what MMT can do, it’s pure gold.


    (Linked at Mike Norman Economics, for the inflation points around minute 13, but it’s all worth seeing.)

    • Hawkeye February 21, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

      Talking of Steve Keen, he is being interviewed by Paul Mason on the 3rd April for a Radio 4 programme:


      Seems the “Endogenous money” crowd is gaining some media coverage (one little bit at a time):

      “If somebody goes to a bank and wants to borrow money, the bank effectively creates that money out of nothing. It doesn’t have to take cash out of somebody’s savings to get it. And by doing so it injects extra cash and potential demand into the economy without subtracting spending power from anywhere else.”


    • shtove March 7, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

      MMT has an almost undebatable premise, but one practical point is on the money-issuer’s capacity to prevent malinvestment.

      Item – Where the money is going:

      “Whitehall departments have spent £1.4 billion over the last seven years in a bid to save £159 million by sharing “back-office” functions such as personnel and procurement.”

      They must be assuming that human nature will be a result of MMT, not a cause. Does the theory have a release valve for greed?


  28. Charles Wheeler February 21, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    Greece and the CDS iceberg :

    … But you and I don’t get to decide what constitutes a credit default. That honour belongs to the International Swaps Derivatives Association (ISDA). The important thing to keep in mind here is that the ISDA is a trade group made up of banks and financial firms. Those are the firms that have the most to lose if Greek bonds default. It’s in the interest of the members of the ISDA that a non-voluntary credit event in Greece NOT be called a default.
    It gets even murkier here. The ISDA essentially represents the global banking system. In Europe, the banking system is full of government bonds. Those bonds are nominally assets. If Greece defaults, it sets a precedent for how other countries might deal with unsustainable debt levels. This imperils the collateral of Europe’s entire banking system.

    When you realise that the ISDA and the ECB and the EU are in league to save their financial skins, you realise that the Greek rescue plans is about preventing other countries from realising that default is an option. In fact, it’s not even about preventing the realisation. It’s about making it impossible for a country to default on its obligations…even if it means selling the population into servitude for years to come.

    We’ve come a long way, then. Greece isn’t about saving Greece. The only reason something so small and insignificant can matter so much is that it matters in a way no one is willing to say. It’s about the subversion of sovereignty and democratic processes by removing decisions from people and giving them to trans-national financial elites. It’s about preserving a global system that’s based on the accumulation of debt and growing government power because there are two groups of people who benefit tremendously from that system, even if most people don’t.
    The Daily Reckoning http://goo.gl/wiovH

  29. Charles Wheeler February 21, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    On the same theme:

    “Voluntary or involuntary default, large voluntary losses, and/or CACs all increase the risk that credit insurance contracts may be triggered with increased threat of contagion.
    This agreement is unlikely to be the definitive resolution everyone seeks.

    Germany and the Netherlands has suggested that the EU assume control of Greek finances and elections be suspended in favour of a technocratic government, having the confidence of Berlin, Paris and Brussels. In the end, the communique required Greece to pass a humiliating law giving priority to debt repayment over other government obligation. The Trioka will establish a permanent presence in Greece to oversee the process. The loss of Greece’s sovereignty has not been well received, at least in Athens.”
    Satyajit Das, http://goo.gl/ohAf3

  30. Charles Wheeler February 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    Gulp. Hasta la vista baby … http://goo.gl/dlCXe

  31. Phil February 22, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    Just thinking back to David’s last post about bank propaganda and who is to blame for the crisis – anyone pushing that line might want to review Mervyn King’s views on the subject and in particular have a butchers at 3.09 in this video from the Bank of England:


    ”The vast majority of people in this country were in no way responsible for the events of the financial crisis and the downturn in output and yet they are now suffering a squeeze on real living standards…”

    So nuh.

    • shtove March 7, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

      UK banks have just pushed up mortgage rates by about 50% on existing customers. Fixed rate borrowers have no escape, and renters are still stuck in hell.

      The only people not suffering are the gamblers who went for base rate trackers – they live in paradise because of the bed-wetters at the Bank of England. Alot of the gamblers are landlords, and they enjoy tax breaks on their mortgage payments.

      Merv is going to froth at the mouth – I can foresee him telling the parliamentarians to stop fucking around. But no matter how forthright, he’s still part of the extortion.

  32. Golem XIV February 22, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    Penny, Fanu, No6ody,

    May I remind you that feeling strongly that you are in possession of either the Truth or are better informed or more natively intelligent or far seeing or any combination of the above does NOT IN ANY WAY give you license to be rude, condescending or insulting.

    There are many places on the net where such behaviour is tollerated or even applauded. This is NOT one of them.

    EIther learn the etiquette of this place or please leave closing the door quietly behind you.

    Boorish arrogance, no matter what the cause it claims to be fighing for is not welcome here.

    As several people here have said, this place is a broad church. We welcome differing views. The object here is not to talk over or shout down or belittle or insist. It is to see if we can build together a community of dissenters of all stripes.

    If our project does not interest you then you need not waste your time and brilliance on us.

  33. Sublime1 February 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Hello all

    I haven’t been keeping up with all the recent comments, so I hope I’m not re-posting, but I think this new initiative is worth sharing. It’s called the Finance Innovation Lab, and it’s exactly the kind of grass roots thinking we need right now. http://thefinancelab.ning.com/

    In case anybody hasn’t come across this very exciting initiative, here’s their Youtube blurb

    This is the kind of effort that can create real change in society.

    We can make it happen!

  34. Mike Hall February 23, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    The BBC’s Paul Mason on DemocracyNow (.org)


    If you drop in here at all, Paul, how about a good long interview with Prof Bill Mitchell on MMT on Newsnight?

    By way of opening the debate on the ‘story that people are looking for as to how capitalism can offer them a future’ which you talk about in this interview.

    (You would also get some clarification on the vastly different implications of sovereign debt of Eurozone countries vs that of the USA.)

    • mebumu February 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      Poor Paul “Whitewash” Mason in particular and the BBC in general got a real doing in a recent Max Keiser report, which covered Ken Livingston’s suggestion of hanging a banker a week until they start behaving ; the link you posted redeems his credibilty somewhat

  35. Pat Flannery February 23, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Mike Hall: that was one disturbing interview with Paul Mason.

    If all this pain and despair coalesces around the world, as seems likely, we have a real mess on our hands.

    Over the last few years the entire capitalist system became an orgy of predatory lending based on a false belief in its ability to hedge any risk. Like the alchemists of old Harvard believed it had discovered the lode stone: a mathematical formula that eliminated risk by creating an infinite chain of credit default swaps. They actually believed that!

    Here in the U.S. it is like living in a mad house. State and local agencies such as cities and school districts are over-staffed and over-benefited as bad or worse than Greece and looking to the exploding Federal debt for bailouts. Nothing is funded from tax revenue any more.

    The only thing that will bring this madness to a halt is when unfunded bond issues run out of market fuel like a forest fire. Right now the marketers have turned on each other like cannibals. Isn’t that what is happeneing in Europe? Soon there will be no more markets because there are no more Greeces. Banks stopped lending to each other two years ago, pretty soon governments will do the same.

    What will replace the market system? Nobody knows.

    • Mike Hall February 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

      Pat, if I read your post right, I would prefer to use the term ‘financialised sector’ rather than ‘market system’ to describe what I think you are referring to. And I mean particularly the sector comprising all the derivative gambling & property/land/commodity bubble pumping.

      Whether by design, opportunistically, or some combination, I think what we’re seeing in Greece is a kind of test. A test to see how far a significant proportion of a ‘developed’ country’s population can be dumped into 3rd world levels of povery & social support before the whole society is destabilised.

      The USA and other countries in Europe are also following this path. They are at varying stages of development, but the direction is crystal clear, & logical conclusion is the same. I see three parts to this.

      The first is the massive growth of the financialised sector. Nothing more than a rigged casino, ultimately extracting more and more wealth from the real economy to no productive purpose whatsoever. And whether the threat of ‘mutually assured destruction’ is real or not, it has convinced many that the debt cancellation option cannot be adopted. Leaked documents from the whole Greek debacle of recent months reveal that this has been the root of the ‘no alternative’ narrative fed to & assimilated by the political classes. Of course, this has been largely a ‘taboo’ topic for any further discussion or analysis in the media. Most definitely not in terms of getting rid of a ‘too big too fail’ system which causes ever larger ‘crashes’.

      Greece is a little over 2% of Eurozone GDP, yet the US financial sector representative in chief – Obama – has been regularly insisting in phone calls to Merkel that no (formal) debt default take place. Personally, I have no doubt that a Greek default & Eurozone exit would +not+ create a global meltdown from all the CDS bets etc. But the last thing the financialised sector wants is to lay bare the true scale of derivative fallout that would ensue from such a small country’s default. It is the threat of this exposure, & public clamour for fundamental & radical reform that is the real reason for extend & pretend in Greece. However, outside of the Orwellian statements of politicians, even mainstream economists & media are unable to avoid the obvious conclusion that the ‘fix’ is entirely temporary. Such is the power & arrogance of the financial elites that they are prepared to keep upping the stakes at every round of the table, rather than face reality. (By upped stakes here, I mean pursuing the same austerity death spiral policies in the other larger euro countries following in Greece’s footsteps, Portugal, Spain etc.)

      Probably the most heartening statement by Paul Mason in that interview was when he said that the ‘left’ group of parties in Greece, all opposed to the ‘bailout’ (that isn’t), are together polling about 43% – far more than any other potential coalition group. Astonishingly (or perhaps not) this fact has been completely ignored by mainstream media. In fact, the reported percentage of any potential ‘Greek Exit/Default’ grouping has been far lower to date. This now puts flesh & context on the insistence of an ‘escrow’ account (monies held in trust by a 3rd party) for Greece’s proposed €130 B new loan. There must be a real fear that the protests in Greece could lead to an (April) election victory for a Euro exit/default policy. (So the amount actually at risk in the next 2 months is probably no more than the €14.5 B in bond roll overs widely reported for March 20th.)

      But this leads to the second aspect of the ongoing GFC. Are there sufficient economists & politicians capable of managing public policy outside the neo liberal paradigm? Most particularly in Greece? Paul Mason shows, unfortunately, that he has either had no exposure to heterodox economics, or has not understood the radical, transformative potential of them. If a new ‘left’ coalition in Greece takes the country out of the Euro, but then goes straight to the IMF to borrow foreign currency, rather than utilise the full potential of a (fiat) New Drachma, then the game will be lost. And Greeks will fall again under the yoke of the international financial elites. The ‘left’ will have failed, paving the way for an even more oppressive ‘right’ takeover, who regardless of their present baying against financial malfeasance, will quickly sell out again to the real global powers.

      These same principles apply everywhere else. Without a successful challenge to neo liberal orthodoxy in economic policy, the juggernaut of radical social injustice & inequality will continue to its logical conclusion.

      Which brings me to the third aspect of all this. Globalisation. Specifically, globalisation of the real economy. Investment in production, in real terms, in the USA & Europe, has been going backwards for some time. Vast pools of sufficiently educated, ultra low cost labour are increasingly available in India, China, other parts of Asia & South America. Low cost in both wages and the kinds of social provision & human rights demanded in developed countries. Increasing numbers of people in the USA and Europe are surplus to requirements as far as their owners of capital are concerned. Greater profits are to be made exploiting the desparate. If we want to see how bad things might get, I suggest look at India. Sophisticated enough to have such things as nuclear power & weapons, but able to control, with a veneer of ‘democracy’, a majority of peasant subsistance farmers and labourers.

      And, I suppose, to get vaguely back to the topic of Syria, it seems likely there is another, parallel ‘shock doctrine’ ratcheting up in the middle east. Whether or not any new large scale conflagration is intended – spreading the ‘fear’ is surely no incidental consequence – the geopolitical tensions are already blowing back in the cost of vital world energy supplies. Which will also threaten the prospects for economic recovery. Except for the top few percent of course, for whom there was little or no crisis anyway.

      • steviefinn February 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

        Great stuff Mike.

        Now the fat one & Papa Goldman are giving away Greece’s gold, poor peoples babies next, I’m joking, I sincerely hope.


      • Charles Wheeler February 23, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

        “Vast pools of sufficiently educated, ultra low cost labour are increasingly available in India, China, other parts of Asia & South America. Low cost in both wages and the kinds of social provision & human rights demanded in developed countries. Increasing numbers of people in the USA and Europe are surplus to requirements as far as their owners of capital are concerned.”

        Though, of course, this road is ultimately a cul-de-sac. Where is the market for all these cheaply produced consumer goods? Using the logic of the supply-siders, ratcheting down wages and working conditions in the West will make us ‘more competitive’ … but will also wipe out the consumer! China will need to push wages lower to supply goods austerity-era westerners can buy. Repeat ad infinitum. It was Henry Ford, not exactly an egalitarian, who recognised that paying his workers enough to be able to afford his cars was good for business. Ultimately, the producer IS the consumer. The pattern for most of the 20th C. was one of rising real wages. Since the 80s this process has been reversed – though largely papered over with debt and the growth of the two-income family. So, while in 1980, a family could own a home, run a car and take a holiday (and not have to worry about tuition fees, social care and healthcare costs) on a single manual wage, it now takes two full-time wages to pay the rent, run a car and have a holiday. It’s this rise in inequality that’s the root cause of the malaise. Current policy prescriptions will exacerbate, rather than alleviate that trend as the 1% use their increasing economic and political power to keep the masses in check.

        It’s apposite that Roman autocrat Coriolanus – along with his contempt for democracy and the devious politicians who manipulate the mob to secure their own self-interest – is hitting the big screen just as Greek democracy implodes.

        As another Roman declared: “… the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.” Juvenal

  36. John Souter February 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Hope this works – but I ask you please to link in to this.


    If true, this seems to be the scam to beat them all -$30 trillion in funny money.

    • steviefinn February 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm #


      I’m going to end up in a room with rubber wallpaper.

      • John Souter February 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

        Stevie it is unbelievable – the way I see it, this is black money created to destabilise Russia during the cold war. then slipped back into circulation by the Bush dynasty, certificated out of the books by the NYFR then shipped around and a owner created in order to launder and legitimise. But it so big it had all to be outside the books and 750,000 tons of gold created to give it legitimacy.

        The Lord must be the worst presenter in the world, but gets full marks for his investigative efforts.

        This needs to go viral – we need John Le Carre on this one.

        • steviefinn February 24, 2012 at 2:44 am #


          I am beginning to wonder if Sheepshagger hasn’t already put LSD in the water. The things that keep coming to light & what is happening in Greece at the moment, you couldn’t have made it up & all this talk about Iran & WMD’s. Compared to the outside world, my rubber wallpapered room, would be an oasis of sanity.


          You are welcome to visit, just bring some decent music, good West coast sounds, nuff said.

        • John Souter February 24, 2012 at 11:52 am #

          Bloody typing – error read the above as 7,500 tons of gold. got carried away with the trillions.

  37. a maggot February 23, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    Broad church? It doesn’t seem like it. I’ve been reading here from the beginning and it sounds like a boys club echo chamber in the comments; the same names over and over slapping each other on the backs. If anyone new comes in to offer anything they are either ignored or as happened recently been called shills for making a very innocuous comment and for offering a very good link to more information. Do you not want to know more about the subject you are supposed to be discussing? Or are you so clever and informed that you know it all already? You don’t sound like you do.

    Assad like Gaddafi are or were obviously not perfect but they have not interfered with, destabilised and destroyed countries around the globe like our wonderful NATO have. Are you so proud of NATO’s actions and do you even know about the dirty tricks they were up to in these countries? You don’t sound like you want to find out, so carry on in your bubble of ignorance where NATO liberates the helpless foreign folk and all is good.

    David, unless some of no6odys further comments have been deleted I have only seen one. In what way is that comment “rude, condescending or insulting” I don’t see any signs of “Boorish arrogance” in merely pointing out what is obvious, or should be, for anyone not brainwashed by BBC news propaganda. In fact I find the commenters, especially John Souter, very condescending in their treatment of Penny. That you couldn’t have a reasonable discussion with her is very much your loss. Enjoy your boys club. (sound of a door closing)

    • Phil February 23, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

      It’s about how you pitch your opinions. I don’t share many of the precepts of Libertarianism but when Piano Racer came on here and eloquently expressed him/ herself I was open to listening and bearing those ideas in mind. Indeed I suspect a lot of the stuff that I read on other financial blogs is written by people heavily influenced by Libertarianism. Again, I don’t share most of their views on what medicine we must proscribe to this disease in our democracies but then I accept that democracies by their very nature are broad churches. This is something David spoke about today at a very well attended conference. We’ve had enough of there being one ideology in town – let others speak.

      At the end of the day this blog has been going a long time and there is a very pleasant atmosphere on the comments roll – in stark contrast to many, many other websites. That atmosphere took a turn into anger-filled troll-land this week and people objected. The author objected. And that was that.

      I am under no illusions as to what the West wants to achieve in the Middle East. But having worked with Arab Muslims for over a year now I am also under no illusions about life under various autocratic/ authoritarian regimes there. Syrian bloggers have been targeted over there and murdered – it would be sickeningly hypocritical of us sitting pretty in the West to not express some desire that that horrific situation ceased as soon as possible.

      Your enemy’s enemy is not always your friend.

  38. Pat Flannery February 23, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    Mike: Yes, I did mean the financial sector. But it is the core of the capitalist system. And I agree that Greece is a test, intentional or not. It’s kind of a social stress test. But it is turning out to be much more than that: a potential exit for the CDS monster.

    I agree it is the specter of exposing the “risk-cancelling” CDS myth-monster that has Obama having (financial) phone sex with Merkel. I also agree that it is this conversation that is driving the wider “the debt cancellation option cannot be adopted” consensus.

    However I do not think that the financial sector and the politicians can keep the derivatives monster locked up in Wall Street’s cellars much longer. You can’t create such a dreadful Frankenstein monster without the means to contain it and I see no containment. Hence the frantic transatlantic phone sex.

    As for a “left” takeover in stricken countries like Greece, that seems unlikely as the left lacks a credible economic theory as Marx/Lenin provided 100 years ago. There is no such leadership or ideology for the left to coalesce around.

    The left has been effectively obliterated by the global market economy. In Britain Tony Blair emerged triumphant over Tony Benn. In the U.S. Bill Clinton made Robert Rubin his Treasury Secretary and thus handed over the U.S. economy to Wall Street. Obama is continuing that policy.

    How then could the left create a working economy in Greece? Without selling its soul to the capitalist financiers as you point out? All the left can offer right now is bloodshed.

    Somehow we have to either defuse the CDS time bomb or have an alternative system ready when it goes off. Right now all I see is a drift towards war, the old reliable, when all bets are off.

    Keep a place for me in that “room with rubber wallpaper” Stevie.

  39. Pat Flannery February 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    You folks might find this U.S. lawsuit interesting http://bit.ly/zNEcVS.

    It goes to the heart of the matter we are talking about here: how to stop our respective governments from bailing out fraudulent banks with our money.

    These friends of mine came up with the simple idea of proving that AIG and the other big recipients of bailout money defrauded the U.S. Government by presenting false claims.

    At the very least the court brief is a very good summary of what happened and makes the point.

    My thinking is that now that the danger of a financial meltdown is no longer credible, we should all use our respective legal systems in each of our countries to get our money back thus bankrupting the perpetrators so that we can all start again and build a half-way honest financial system. In other words we must start by first burying this one.

    • Phil February 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

      Sounds good to me, Pat. Where do I sign up?

      • Pat Flannery February 23, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

        How about in Stevies “room with rubber wallpaper”? We could all meet there.

        I don’t know Phil. I wish there was a place to sign up. I’d be first in line.

        Perhaps we could just replicate these guys’ lawsuit http://bit.ly/zNEcVS. Go viral with it. Has that ever been done before? A lawsuit that went viral?

        We’ve got to do something before we all get tired of venting on this site.

        • Phil February 23, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

          A viral lawsuit? Well we could try!

          I’m sure you’ve had your fill of CDS articles but I like how this guy puts it. And he was saying it over three years ago!


          Don’t worry just yet about getting tired of venting. David spoke to a large crowd today and we’ll be looking at spreading the message further.

          Stay strong mon ami!!

          • Phil February 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

            I DO like the idea of a lawsuit though…. hmmmm… a few of us tried a while back to get some kind of momentum behind a call for a bank audit – let the public see what all those lovely liabilities we’ve taken on are. It didn’t get much traction on the campaigning websites we use here – too many other people fighting valuable causes in a time of austerity.

            But a lawsuit… direct and to the point!

            Or what about Freedom of Information requests?

            Anyone else want to take this up?

          • Charles Wheeler February 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

            In a nutshell: “The problem is not that [CDS] values are “unknowable,” but that we know what their value is—worthless. Our problem is that we’re not willing to contemplate socially or personally the ramifications of what we know. This is why big lies work– the bald truth is harder for most to bear.”

  40. Pat Flannery February 24, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    I’ve added it to my PDF collection. Thanks. He uses some very nice turns-of-phrase.

    His concept of CDSs as counterfeit documents fits nicely with my friend’s lawsuit. The fact is becoming clearer to everybody that our governments were ripped off. I think we can push that concept, because it has the advantage of being true.

    We can first file for restraining orders. That’s being reasonable. In doing so we are collectively saying to them “unless you stop and reverse the bailouts we will accuse you of criminal conspiracy”. That might get their attention. We may even get some judges on our side.

    If this were a shooting war the leading bank officials and senior politicians would properly be accused of war crimes and subject to being hanged.

    I think we should think seriously of flooding the courts in every jurisdiction with lawsuits accusing these bank officials and politicians of fraud. What else can we do? We can’t use violence. Look at what is happening in Homs.

    • Phil February 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

      I think there is A LOT in this, I really do – even if it just takes the form of generating publicity. Popular resistance must take many paths and this idea opens up another one. Unfortunately I know nothing about the law but perhaps we can begin to find people who. The most heartening thing for me about this crisis is that it cuts across the political spectrum – so there is a lot of knowledge to call on.

      I discussed a few ways forward with David yesterday, I’m going to add this to them. If I wasn’t swamped with work and studying I’d follow this up straight away. Anyway if this particular discussion goes quiet for a while we won’t the idea drop.

      Thanks Pat.

  41. sheepshagger February 24, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    Has anyone thought about reverse engineering a workable utopia?
    Africa is a mess because it suits certain people.
    The newly globalised economy only seems to put the working classes
    of different regions in to a race to the bottom.
    If things are taken to their logical end one person will “own” the planet.
    The rest of us will hope to be security guards.
    Shift the fucking paradigm.
    LSD in the water.

    • 24K February 24, 2012 at 2:06 am #

      DMT Shagger.

      If we’re gonna do it, lets do it right.

      Occasionally G lets the cat out of the bag. “It is to see if we can build together a community of dissenters of all stripes.”

      For this to happen though we all have to meet in the middle………and all agree to go along with Mikes Monetary Theory.

    • Mike Hall February 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      Having read ‘Spirit Molecule’, I’d be leaning toward’s Shagger’s option, unless DMT’s action could be slowed down a little (lol), but sure, keep it in the ‘T’ family imo 😉 (For those interested in such subjects, the film & book of the same name are quite different animals. If the film intrigues, do read the book, which is the story of some years work with volunteers by a qualified research psychiatrist – author of the book.)

      Tim Leary outlined his LSD work with inmates in a penitentiary in ‘Flashbacks’. Reversed a recidivism rate of 80/20 to 20/80 – an amazing success by any standards, then & now. By the time Leary was banged up for possession of a ‘herb’ years later, he was already a legend & treated as prison royalty, in part because of this work. The sessions were guided 1 to 1. The results I find entirely credible (& add my personal experience to the evidence). Seemingly, so do others. On the quiet, I believe a new clinical research program – different substance, but same idea – has been recently approved. Elsewhere, ibogaine has apparently had success in small studies getting people off highly addictive/destructive habits like heroin.

      Anyhow, definitely in my paradigm changing list, albeit more in the Leary methodolgy camp than Keysey’s. 🙂

      • 24K February 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

        Ebay just hooked me up with those beauties, beats all this doom n’ gloom and ‘patting on the back’.

        Imagine a decent amount of LSD in the water on monday morning. I wouldn’t get to work along with most other people. There would be Alice style exceptions….

        “I’m late! I’m late!”

        Doubt they’d make it either…

        But everybody having a much shorter spiritual experience and still not getting to work for me seems like the better option.
        I do live in magic mushroom country mind 😉

        For me the or a pardigm shift is the great conversation to be had by all at pretty much the same time. Until then our public servants are taking care of us the only way they know how because we for some reason won’t take control and if the ‘failiure of imagination’ is to be believed nobody really is in control, there is no New World Order only a Greed World Order, the matrix of timeless corporate calculators. The conversation is there to be had, I see the glimmer of it in so many people.

        I’ll wait until I’ve read the two books to decide what to give my Nan, from my own good experiences I’m still not sure if an 8 hour LSD trip is the one (my Nan’s pretty cool though she’d have a great time).
        Who knows what Blankfiend and his god’s work mentality would conjour up on a pyschedelic? Maybe he’d realise it’s somebody elses work he’s doing?

        Ibogaine sounds interesting. That whole area sounds interesting, much more than the predatory consumer fakeness that is rammed down our throats for profit.

        Have you seen google earth pro? For $399 you can have google earth with “Data Layers to explore untapped markets, locate your target demographic, and expand your business.”

        Wonder how much CIA data layers cost?

  42. patma2003 February 24, 2012 at 3:53 am #

    I think the lawsuit angle is pretty much the first step in undoing the knot. The script would pretty much write itself from there right up until the alternative/s are found. To have corrupt scenario after corrupt scenario play out to audiences across the globe would be more than therapeutic for the likes of us…would educate some of the masses that are not actively looking for the gospel, but need the word to find them.

    Without prosecution, nowhere or no one can really move on – as no wrong doing was ever committed.

    Don’t they say there’s a change in world monetary systems every 30 to 40 years…? So, the way I see it, we are one year overdue.

    Whether the next system is a patched up piece of wreckage from the system we are coming out of… or something dynamic, all encompassing and as flexible as humankind itself, is very much down to fraud being called out as fraud. Loud and clear.

  43. Pat Flannery February 24, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    patma2003: I agree that the “The script would pretty much write itself from there” as you put it.

    The great thing about using the courts to put our message down on paper is that journalistic ethics gives great credibility to a written filed brief. What is spoken in a court room carries infinitely more weight than what is shouted at a street corner.

    We should all start by recruiting lawyers and paralegals in our districts that would be willing to do even a small amount of pro bono legal work. Each jurisdiction has its own procedural personality that only its local practitioners know how to navigate.

    They can each draw off one universal legal template e.g. that our respective governments were defrauded by named bank officials who extracted bailouts under false submissions.

    Let’s test whether our particular jurisdiction is a government of men or a government of laws as we all like to believe. Right now we appear to be governed by a small group of faceless MEN.

    • Phil February 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

      ”The great thing about using the courts to put our message down on paper is that journalistic ethics gives great credibility to a written filed brief. What is spoken in a court room carries infinitely more weight than what is shouted at a street corner.”


      • steviefinn February 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

        Perhaps these guys might be interested in doing something, they are big big into the law. I might mail them when I get a minute, you never know.


        • Pat Flannery February 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

          I’m listening to the podcast right now. I am hoping he will have a specific legal strategy.

          • Pat Flannery February 25, 2012 at 12:13 am #

            I listened to the complete podcast. The guy is smart but has a wider agenda than we need here right now.

            However he points out several vulnerabilities in British mortgage law that we could exploit.

            Listening to him reinforced my belief in the power of numbers. We all know that the courts easily dismiss lone cases however illegal that dismissal may be. Confronting them with thousands of contemporaneous lawsuits would be a bigger challenge to them.

            My strategy would be to sue ON BEHALF of the government rather than sue the government itself, as he seems to be doing. The government can hardly call us obstructionists, or other nasty names, if we help them do their job. Their real job that is.

            As in nature itself, there is power in numbers. Our species got to where we are in the food chain by acting in packs.

          • StevieFinn February 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

            Sorry for not replying, have a dose of flu or something.

  44. John Souter February 24, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    Fellas – a class action! I think you’re on a long shot with that one.

    Check the link I posted above. If the issue raised has any authenticity it indicates any financial system can be corrupted.

    And at the scale this one reputedly has only one country in the recent past or present has the clout to instigate it, namely the USA.

    Yesterday in an effort to find whether the link had any feet I went on to the World Bank site,It came up with a chart for World GDP for 2010.

    World GDP for 2010 = $63.5T(trillion)

    It then splits the world into geographic regions and by ticking the boxes it gives GDP per region. Do that and you will see two results. The first is that the North American region shows the most growth, Europe has modest growth in comparison but still significant, while the others have practically flat lined. How does that, especially in the case of the North American figures balance out with a recession?

    The second is even more puzzling, add up the individual GDPs for all of them, and the most I could get was a total of around $34 -35 T.

    So where does the $63.5T come from?

    Truth is at the moment we don’t even know the size of the pot they’re pissing in.

  45. John Souter February 24, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    Ref the above – “Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. (Josiah Stamp, former Director of the Bank of England)”

  46. Joe Taylor February 24, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Just as an aside, Dave gave and great talk and ran a really interesting workshop yesterday in Preston. Here’s a blog that sums it up
    If you guys get your heads together and come up with some sort of legal action, maybe NatCAN can lead/help/join the charge. We can certainly bring it to the wider attention.

  47. Pat Flannery February 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm #


    These INDIVIDUAL lawsuits would be complaints on behalf of our governments, not claims by individual citizens. They would be a prayer for judicial review, declaratory judgment or in my friend’s case a claim on behalf of the U.S. Government under the False Claims Act, depending on local law and practice.

    Any effort by the courts to declare them a class action should be resisted.

    Our legal strategy would be on multiplicity rather than collectivity. We would seek to clutter up the courts with individual complaints. Even if we lose we win by focusing public attention on the fact that our governments rolled over for fraudulent claims at the expense of services and higher taxes.

    Recourse to the courts is the highest form of civic protest. Make them obey their own laws.

    • John Souter February 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

      Pat F -Subtle point but intrigueing. Try law campuses for the Pro Bono.

      In the Uk we cannot fight for our government unless its in the killing fields.

      Regina V The Banks is not on the cards

      What could be done here is for al the clients of banks to instigate an action in the small claims court against the banks for unfair interest charges etc.

      The big five banks are having to pay out around £7-8bn this year on unfair PPI contracts they foisted in borrowers, that was initiated through the same process.

      I’ve suggested this before, but no takers. Best of luck over there.

  48. Synopticist February 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Oh dear.

    Just watched the Russian foreign minister making far more sense than William Hague on Syria. “How can you recognise the opposition when you don’t know who they are ?”

    We really are blundering into a catastrophe here.

  49. Charles Wheeler February 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    Excellent round up of EU debacle from David McWilliams (via Richard Murphy):


  50. Pat Flannery February 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    OK David, we’ve run out of tittle-tattle, we need a new blog from the Master.

  51. Eric February 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    This is a very interesting piece by a former Fraud Squad officer.


    ”Re-tooling up the Police

    In April 1981, the Metropolitan Police Special Patrol Group were ordered into Brixton with instructions to carry out a dynamic ‘stop and search’ campaign among the youth of the community. A large number of arrests were made for various street offences by well-drilled officers, and the immediate effect among the Brixton residents was to cause enormous resentment. Police in surrounding districts watched in mounting disbelief as the SPG roared through Brixton like a hot knife through butter, and discussed among themselves who could possibly have ordered this campaign, which was guaranteed to cause social unrest of unrecognisable proportions.

    Following the urban riots which inevitably resulted, Margaret Thatcher visited The Metropolitan Police Commissioner at the Yard, and discussed the additional training and the list of new riot equipment they needed, including a ‘…greater variety of riot shields, more vehicles, longer truncheons …’ (Margaret Thatcher ‘The Downing Street Years, p.145.), equipment, they would very quickly receive. The riots, and the immense public fear they engendered, provided the political impetus for the Conservative Government to spend a significant sum of money changing the face of Police public order containment tactics. They knew they would not be opposed in providing the Police with the new, aggressive riot equipment, which up to that point had consisted of a rather cumbersome plastic shield, an acutely uncomfortable hardened helmet, and a cricket box!

    It is of some interest to recall that in 1974, while the Tory Party were in Opposition, in the aftermath of the Heath government being brought down by the 1974 coal strike, the Ridley Plan (also known as the Ridley Report), reported on the state of the nationalised industries in the UK. The report was produced and drawn up by the right-wing Conservative MP Nicholas Ridley. In the report he proposed how the next Conservative government could fight, and defeat, a major strike in a nationalised industry. Among his many recommendations were the need to train and equip a large, mobile squad of police, ready to employ aggressive riot tactics in order to uphold the law against violent picketing.

    These tactics, including the provision of more dynamic riot equipment (subsequently described as the ‘tooling up of the police’ by Sir John Alderson, Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall police), would later be successfully employed during the miners strike of 1984-1985, when the National Union of Mineworkers was defeated by the Conservative Government of Margaret Thatcher.

    After the Miners’ strike had been crushed, William Whitelaw was quoted as saying; ‘…Without Brixton, I doubt if we could have defeated Arthur Scargill…’

    The riots of Brixton, and later Toxteth on Merseyside, fortuitously provided the requisite degree of public anxiety which would enable the government of the day to engage in a wholesale re-arming of the police, without attracting too much criticism from the Liberal Left who would see it as an anti-libertarian gesture. Police agencies which aspire to ‘police by consent’ are very sensitive to suggestions that their tactics could be making too great an inroad into possible areas of civil liberties, and how we arm our police in this country has always been a very contentious topic. If we are going to see our police being equipped with new and more aggressive weapons of constraint and coercion, we need to be provided with very good reasons for that change, and rioting, burning and looting can prove to be very persuasive.

    In August this year, a black ‘gangsta’, Mark Duggan, was shot dead by police in Tottenham. He was found to have a converted pistol which the Independent Police Complaints Commission subsequently confirmed was a BBM ‘Bruni’ pistol containing live rounds and it was being carried by Duggan hidden in a spare sock, not one he was wearing.

    He was shot dead by a police marksman in Tottenham, North London. He had been stopped by undercover officers as he travelled in a minicab and confronted because they believed he was on his way to ‘use the weapon’ he was carrying. Rumours that he had been ‘executed’ fuelled the riots in the North London community, which spawned copycat violence and looting across the country.

    So, it was with no great surprise to hear immediate calls for the police to be issued with rubber bullets and water cannons, for use on the British mainland. The immediate calls for these items to be deployed followed hard on the heels of the inner city riots, when gangs of marauding youths ran amok in commercial centres, smashing windows and looting and burning shops. In the post-disturbances discussion, innumerable commentators have sought to find reasons for the riots and how they could have been better controlled, and among the many calls for action was to issue rubber bullets to the Police.

    Ironically, the issuance of rubber bullets to confront the inner city rioters would have been a largely pointless exercise. Baton rounds are designed to disperse dangerous crowds, in static situations, where it is perceived that the threat of potential violence and danger to law enforcement is reaching an unacceptable limit. Then baton rounds are effectively used to break up large numbers of protesters gathered together to confront police. They are not prescribed for use against mobile, small running groups of people such as were seen during the looting sprees. Rubber bullets are a crowd dispersal agent, not a missile to be fired at running groups of youths, because they are ineffective against the mobile rioters, and dangerous to potentially innocent persons who might be inadvertently caught up in the fleeing melee.

    So why were there so many dark predictions of the use of rubber bullets during the student fees demonstration on 9th November in London? Why were we subjected to the lugubrious face of Commander Pountain as he pontificated on the theoretical use of rubber bullets to protect his heavily armed and armoured officers. I say theoretical because nobody in the wildest extremes of their imaginations really believes that police are going to fire rubber bullets against students. It isn’t going to happen.

    This what the police spokesman really said about potential violence at the demonstration.

    ‘… ‘However, it would be negligent if we did not plan a response to the small minority who may be intent on disruption and may not intend to be peaceful…’

    Regarding the potential use of baton rounds, a police spokesman said: ‘…There are a range of tactics available if there is criminality and violence associated with the event. One of these is the authority to deploy baton rounds in extreme circumstances. These are carried by a small number of trained officers and are not held and used by those officers policing the route on Wednesday…’

    So, there you are, no-one policing the demo would carry rubber bullets. So why raise the issue at all?

    Now, in the aftermath of the Tottenham and Manchester riots, the time is ripe for a new paradigm in public order management. It is simply all part of a campaign to ‘soften up’ the British people to get them used to the potential likelihood of the use of these weapons in the near future, so when they are used, no-one can say they were not warned! And when will that be…?

    Well, it won’t be very long. The impact of the economic austerity measures has not yet really begun to bite, and will not be truly felt until the first part of 2012. Then, when people begin to feel the true impact of the cuts to their living standards; when they see the inevitable upward spiral of fuel costs; the increases in the cost of food; the erosion of their savings, caused in a big part by the outright criminality of the banks and the savings’ institutions as they reduce hard-earned savings by hidden costs and charges; the refusal of the big banks to cut their obscene payments to themselves while engaging in wholesale mis-selling practices, and the host of other issues they will have to face, including the increase in the costs of their children’s educations, then we will see the emergence of the anger of the hitherto silent class, the group which up to now has sat silent and carried the financial burden through their taxes, while the government has laid billions of pounds of tax-payer’s money on the banks, only to see it disappear again in more balance-sheet reconfiguring and bonus awards.

    Then the ordinary people of this country will start to find ways of expressing their anger at the failure of the politicians to manage things equitably and fairly, and when they finally realise the growing disparity between those who are reaping millions in banking bonuses or other dividend windfalls and their increasingly straightened circumstances, then even they will move onto the streets. Oh it will all start peaceably enough, with orderly demonstrations, along the lines of the ‘Not In My Name’ marches prior to Tony Blair’s taking us to war in Iraq, but it will not be long before these marches are hi-jacked by the agit-prop groups, the anarchists, the SWP and all the other groups of the political extremes, who long for physical confrontation with the agencies of control. They will gladly catch a free ride on the coat-tails of the respectable Middle Class, until it comes time to take over.

    Remember the Poll Tax riots, which in effect proved to be the Rubicon which Margaret Thatcher could not cross, well these manifestations will be a great deal worse and they will involve very extreme violence. The rioters a few weeks ago learned a lot of lessons about successfully confronting the police, and those lessons learned will be re-enacted, as mobile squads of rioters group and re-group, not staying long enough to be ‘kettled’, moving from flash-point to flash-point, directed by messages promoted on social media messaging systems (are the police really going to shut down the whole mobile phone network, with all the commensurate costs involved to legitimate users?)

    The riots will be coordinated and will involve the escalation of extreme violence on both sides, and as the violence increases, so will the calls for the use of the baton rounds, and the police will be hard-pressed to keep them in check. The Right-wing Press, eager to see these weapons used on the mainland for the first time will shout for their use, and they will be brought into the action. Their inexperienced use will lead to serious injuries, indeed, even possible fatalities, as in Northern Ireland, and this will, in turn, aggravate the whole situation. It will be inevitable as the less experienced and the legitimate protestors begin to witness the kind of violence which has marred so many police actions hitherto, they themselves will start to protest at the kind of behaviour being manifested by uniformed officers, as well as the new groups of plain-clothes snatch squads being increasingly used to take down individuals. In protesting at this kind of conduct, they are more likely to find themselves being ‘kettled’, manhandled, screamed at, violently pushed backwards, hit on the body and legs with long truncheons and even arrested and subjected to the use of ‘reasonable police force’, which will tend to have a radicalising effect on even the most moderate protestor!

    It is only when the middle classes find themselves on the receiving end of police action that they begin to understand what others have experienced in the past, and usually, they don’t like it, and they make their feelings felt at the ballot box. That is why the use of this ‘Situationist’ style methodology can be so effective and could so easily lead to the radicalising of a whole new group of hitherto unaligned groups of people, which will result in turn, in a fracturing of civil society unimagined in our time.

    When politicians resort to tooling up the police, they do so for a very good purpose, and they intend the weapons to be used. We are fast approaching that time.”

  52. Roger February 26, 2012 at 8:10 am #


    Humour and healing. This is very good stuff uplifting for a Sunday Morning.

  53. John Souter February 26, 2012 at 9:43 pm #


    “In a nutshell: “The problem is not that [CDS] values are “unknowable,” but that we know what their value is—worthless. Our problem is that we’re not willing to contemplate socially or personally the ramifications of what we know. This is why big lies work– the bald truth is harder for most to bear.”

    One of the most pertinent comments I’ve read on any site in relation to the whole money idiocy.

    • Charles Wheeler February 26, 2012 at 10:40 pm #


      It’s a quote I grabbed from this article posted by Phil earlier in the thread, written in 2008:

      It underlines the fact that for all the efforts of the mainstream to shift the focus from the real cause of the crisis (growing polarizations of wealth and the ever more arcane methods of distributing and ‘neutralising’ the risks of the subsequent build up of privately created debt) onto the effect: a sovereign debt crisis which is apparently caused by lazy Greek taxi drivers, the real problems, which are being elided by the ‘experts’ remain – nobody knows who the buck will stop with.

      N.B. Was amused by this report from the BBC – which can’t come to terms with the idea that Greeks might not fit the stereotype they’ve helped construct:

      “Are Greeks lazy? On this second point, the statistics tell a surprising story.”

      However: “But when all is said and done, Mr Marianna is keen to stress that all these numbers come with a health warning. They are collected by individual national statistics authorities who each have their own methods of collecting and collating information.”

      That is, when facts become inconvenient to your ideological mind-set, assume they’re wrong.


      • Phil February 27, 2012 at 12:05 am #

        There is already scorn at the DWP’s latest figures about benefit fraud. They are very very low. Therefore they can’t be true.

      • Troy Prideaux February 27, 2012 at 12:51 am #

        The truth is somewhere in the middle, Greece does or did have serious systemic, structural and cultural issues which include:
        High levels of culturally entrenched cronyism and corruption
        Did have a large public service sector with early retirement age with extremely high pension rates
        Low levels of employment
        Low productivity of those that were employed
        Could be considered by some to be over regulated
        High levels of tax avoidance by the rich
        High levels of tax on production and employment (eg payroll tax)

        This report highlights some of there employment and productivity issues:

        • Troy Prideaux February 27, 2012 at 1:09 am #

          “their” not “there” – sorry.

          • John Souter February 27, 2012 at 9:37 am #

            Troy – the issues you highlight are all relevant.

            But they’re for the Greeks to sort out in whatever fashion suits the Greeks and the environment they chance to live in, and within the circumstances nature dictates. Often dictated, at the very basic level, by latitude.

          • Troy Prideaux February 28, 2012 at 3:25 am #

            I agree with you in the sense that Greeks should be able to run Greece as they see fit, however, they did sign up to the Euro and they did borrow heavily from outside of Greece in a reckless and unsustainable way. I can understand their creditors being less than thrilled with a 50% haircut and Germans less than thrilled in bailing them out. What the Greeks need to realize is that even with the direct facility of printing drachmas to pay for debt, there are still economic consequences for reckless borrowing and we can’t just dump *all* the responsibility onto lenders.

          • John Souter February 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

            Troy – I know it’s a chicken and egg situation.

            But it is created by a cartel of political and financial shamans and books cooked until all facts and truths are charred out of them by Goldman Sachs et a in reference to the adoption of the Euro.

            As to the haircut – who are these private investors and how much of a cut will they actually suffer once CDS comes into play and ‘losses’ are set off against tax liabilities?

            In essence it is a chicken and egg closed off in a can of worms and sealed by obfuscation to prevent the Greeks finding a way out.

            Me! I damn those who caused or through negligence failed to prevent it while my sympathies lie with the victims.

            In that respect i have to say I do not regard the ‘private’ investors as victims, more predatory vultures.

          • Troy Prideaux February 29, 2012 at 1:42 am #

            “As to the haircut – who are these private investors and how much of a cut will they actually suffer once CDS comes into play and ‘losses’ are set off against tax liabilities?”

            Doesn’t look like they’ll get much from the CDSs:


            Depends what tax laws you reside under that determine the amount that can be claimed. You can generally claim the full losses against capital gains made in the same period (as should be), but if the gains aren’t >= losses, then it’s often a percentage (sub 50%) of the losses?

            “In essence it is a chicken and egg closed off in a can of worms and sealed by obfuscation to prevent the Greeks finding a way out.”

            Yeah, alas. Obviously the austerity measures taken so far have been an unmitigated disaster and hopefully someone learns something from it.

  54. Phil February 27, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    A very interesting looking conference on ‘building a banking sector that serves society’:


    Some good speakers lined up including Steve Keen.

    I reckon a few people on here might like to contribute to the seminars.

    • Hawkeye February 27, 2012 at 10:55 am #


      Good find with that conference!

      That has to be almost all the high profile “endogenous money” thinkers in one location !

      Great to see Steve Keen linking up with NEF and Richard Werner. I’d be intrigued to know where Adam Posen (from the BoE) is coming from. Andy Haldane of the BoE and Adair Turner of the FSA, have been fairly critical “insiders” of late, both acknowledging the Hyman Minsky model of money creation. Is Posen now joining this camp?


      • Phil February 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

        It came to me via Ian Fraser, Hawkeye.


        Nice man, always replies to questions and comments on Facebook.

        Think that conference might be crying out for an appearance from you and David.

        • Hawkeye February 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

          Hi Phil

          Thanks for the suggestion. I don’t think that there is much that I can add though. It is people like Steve Keen, Ben Dyson, Tony Greenham and Richard Werner that taught me – not the other way round !!

          I just hope the conference gets a good attendance and helps to spread the message and make it more mainstream.

          At the moment the mainstream media & economics “profession” can render monetary reformers / critics as cranks and crackpots. Having a session with the likes of Adam Posen present should help to legitimise the movement.

  55. John Souter February 27, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    With apologies to David -below is an essay due to be published on Wednesday as my humble effort to expose further the banking scam.

    Banking, Money Creation and, The Privatization of Democracy.

    “Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. (Josiah Stamp, former Director of the Bank of England)”

    Confucius is reputed to have said “Every journey begins with a single step.”

    As a statement of logic it’s hard to dispute in physical terms but in the terms of thought and process surely the image of purpose and profit must precede that first step ever being made. And if and when it is made, we move our horizons further which, in turn, can change our perspectives and either encourage us to continue or decide to stop the adventure. At the base level this is how our life-term on this planet pans out.

    Sure there are the quixotic variables – the chances of birth, filing cabinet drug den, mansion or penurious shanty – whether we inherit and find love, health and a degree of contentment or struggle to find reason beyond breath as to why we are here at all. In essence, I suspect for most of us, we experience most of these situations in individually varying degrees throughout life. It’s difficult, given the natural necessity – in fact gift – of our individuality to imagine or even strive for it to be any different.

    Generally my thinking runs along the lines of the earth gives us our nature while the world is what we make of it and in doing so creates our nurture. You may or may not have noticed in the previous paragraph the ‘wealth’ factor wasn’t included. I have two reasons for the exclusion. The first is that wealth has an infinite number of values. Gifts of talent, vocational commitment, creative or analytical thinking, the discipline of compassion, to name only a few are all commodities in the basket of wealth; time and circumstance may attach chance and costs to them but, initially at any rate, they all come free.

    My second reason is more mundane, as is the commodity that represents it; it’s money wealth. And considering the impact and influence this has on all our lives it may come as a surprise to most to learn, for a lucky few this comes free as well. For emphasis can I say that again, the lucky few get their money for nothing and build their fortunes and power towers on nothing more than their strength of conviction that they have a right to it. The ‘They’ call it confidence and any failing or threat to that confidence they call contagion.

    In case you’re wondering, I’m not going into a long analysis of esoteric banking, brokerage or finance, primarily because it’s all waffle designed to confuse and conflate a commodity that has no legitimate purpose other than a means of exchange for services or products rendered, than to inflate itself into something that can sustain the world when in fact under the present model of exploitation it threatens to destroy it.

    Where other commodities supplied by the earth are restrained by their quantity and availability money has none. It’s portrayed as a magic elixir that has no known boundary, demands only ‘interest’ as a tithe; and growth from all the other commodities, including the ‘people’ commodity. Until such time as its acolytes doubt the wisdom of their faith and their confidence wavers and they retrench to protect their ‘investments’ and minimise the impact on their interest.

    For any normal productive or service business that may be reasonable behaviour given the vagaries of trade but is it reasonable for a business who claimed it had an infinite resource and acted accordingly?

    At the risk of being boring here are some figures for you the chew on –

    According to The World Bank the gross product of the world for 2010 was $63.5 trillion. Around $36 trillion of that was in financial (speculative) products.

    In 1990 the related figure for world GDP was $20 trillion.

    For 2010 the Bank of International Settlements (this is a ‘bank’ that handles all the speculative stuff like derivatives) record a turnover for the year at over $700 trillion.

    What are derivatives? Well mostly they are a bet against a commodity, including a financial commodity, the punters don’t own but they bet against the price of the commodity going up, down but mostly round and round. So it’s a bit like betting on a horse with the added incentive of the race is continuous, with winners declared on the first past the post on every circuit until the last horse dies.

    The financial worlds warning on this goes –“Derivatives massively leverage debt in a economy.” Which doesn’t mean much when the most of the money supply is based on debt and 60% of that is used to fund gambling. Now you know why Greece is in the trouble it’s in and why the EU is turning the screws on the E 130 bn bailout in order to ensure the money is only used to pay off some of the debt it’s already in.

    But the biggest waste in all this is not the Monopoly/electronic money game, it’s the waste of human assets. Not only of those who suffer under the jack-boot of austerity but of those who have been seduced by the easy/high earnings of this so called industry who could have been far better and more productively employed in the sciences, engineering, medical and all the other productive roles a health society demands.

    But enough of high finance. My intention is to ridicule, not excuse it.

    So, how is money created?

    I’ll show my age here, but I remember a time when if I handed a Scottish bank note to an English shop assistant, it was often queried as to its legality. My riposte would be, not only was it legal but, unlike the English notes, the Scottish bank had to have the funds in its account to honour it. Such are the myths we form our assumptions on, that then go on and become entrenched as fact by the simple truth of them having little relevance to our everyday lives. Believe it or not, this is a key factor in the creation of money and is as relevant today as it has been since ‘money’ was first traded.

    Generally we are not in the money game. We use banks and juggle our domestic or business accounts, but in the main all we want is to balance what we earn with what we need and, in both the domestic and business sense see some progress for our efforts. In this sense banks were the monoliths of prudence the avatars of financial probity, that rapped your fingers if you were lax in your domestic budgetary or over ambitious in your business plans. “Over trading” followed the “Tut” for business plans, “over spending” for domestic, followed by “We’re here to make money for our depositors not lose it.” (Which certainly in the UK sense was half true if you insert a full stop after the word money – the depositor bit, is and was, a lie.)

    It’s a lie on two fronts. The first is when you deposit your funds in a bank the money becomes the banks money. They can use it to invest, gamble or spend on anything they like.

    The second is they use depositors’ money to finance the funding you require!

    They don’t. With the computer age and electronic money all they do is type the amount your short to cover the housekeeping, or the overdraft you need for the business plan into the keyboard and no matter whether its £500 or £5 million that’s new money in the system. The same applies to car loans or house mortgages.

    Of course they charge you interest and possibly service charges for the favour and claim these are needed to meet their running costs and profits. But if you default on the £500 or £5 million you won’t just be sued for the loss of profit on interest and direct costs, you will be sued for the lot, when all they did was type the required digits into a computer. In simple terms the money only becomes ‘real’ in the payments you make, the interest you pay and when you default. It is the magic elixir which underpins the myth of prudent banking.

    There’s a basic physics element to this:
    More money in the economy = more debt.
    Less debt = less money in the economy.

    “But,” you argue, “the central bank, the Bank of England controls how much they can spend (loan) etcetera”?

    Not true, the Bank of England only controls the amount of coin and notes in the economy. Even when it pumps out the odd £300 billion in quantative easing, it’s just copying the private banks practice of typing digits into a keyboard and sending a proportion of each tranche to the banks. There’s a history to this.

    Round about 1840 the banks run riot with the new concept of paper money and its relevance to their, by now established, fractional reserve banking practices and leveraged their deposits in much the same manner as they did from 1980 to 2008.

    In 1844 the government of the day decreed, private banks would no longer be able to print or stamp cash and only the Bank of England would be responsible. This has never been changed or updated.

    While it would be ridiculous to expect the 1844 legislators to predict the computer age, it shouldn’t be beyond the competence or wit of their present counterparts to see this loophole and the threat it posed and take the necessary steps to close and regulate it. After all the private banks did and exploited it to the maximum and beyond.

    Of course by 1980s privatization was the buzzword, then why not privatise money and its supply. So perhaps the lack of competence was more by design than lack of wit?

    Some more figures to chew on.
    Physical cash in the system = £53 bn. Approx 3%
    Electronic money = £2,200 bn.

    If banks had collapsed in 2008, amount of money per £1,000 in deposits =£12.00
    In 2011 = Around £70. So better but still not inspiring on the prudent front, and a lot less than society as a whole has had to ‘invest’ in order to save them.

    Then we have the bleat by the banks that they are major contributors to the economy of the nation and how their golden bonuses are earned by supermen.

    So let’s look at their claim. (These are 2009 figures)

    The banks (all UK banks) paid £18bn in Salary tax. – £ 8bn Corporation tax, and
    £30bn earned by the licence to print money and charge interest on it. But in the same year they got £100 bn in transfer support from the Bank of England. So by my arithmetic, instead of putting £50 bn into the economy as claimed by their PR outfit the British Banking Association, they took £44 bn out of it. With friends like these who needs enemies?

    There’s a rider to this. When the BoE prints notes and distributes them, it charges a small fee to the banks for each note, coin etc. If the BoE were to charge a similar amount for all the money the banks create we could pay off all the interest in the national debt and eventually the debt itself. Eventually it could be used to set up a resource fund for future unforeseen crises, similar to Norway’s oil fund. I wonder why they haven’t thought of that?

    One more gripe. We hear a lot from our political stewards on how we have to emphasise the manufacturing base of the economy especially to encourage the growth and prospects for small and medium sized companies. The businesses that supposedly will create the 2.5 million jobs to eradicate the dole queues, invigorate the great unwashed and release their latent talents and absorb the redundant public servants.

    How do our master of fiduciary juggling fair in their commitment to that aim. After all they do have over £2,000bn of their own electronic money out and running about?

    How much do they invest in the productive economy – engineering, widgets, new builds (yes, even housing come under this bracket) call it anything that demands physical manufacturing or service?

    Around ……..,wait for it, 8%! The rest is in speculative investments and mortgages which do not contribute a tinker’s fart to the real economy.

    They say there’s a reason for this, seemingly business lending is riskier and costs more to administer than mortgage lending.

    Now you know who’s been pumping the nitrogen into the housing market and why if house prices stayed in line with wages or vice versa, the average wage would either be £8 -9 thousand per year more, or house price average would be around £90k less.

    A strange symbiotic relationship has been created between our bankers and our government since 2008. In as much as having been saved by the government, the bankers are now controlling it. You have also the strange situation where a central bank that can print money (BoE) gives it to private banks at zero or next to nothing rates for the private banks to leverage up by X 10 -15 – at one stage 30 times under fractional reserve rules (if they still apply) buy government bonds with it and then charge us interest on the money we gave them? Doesn’t make sense does it?

    This is much as is presently happening in Greece. Only Thatcher has already sold off our family silver, whereas in Greece it is still up for grabs.

    But the real question is why, as a nation, borrow money and pay interest to a bank that hasn’t the money in the first place and merely types the figure into a keyboard. Ultimately the nation is the only value backing its currency. Should the nation not print or decide the amount of electronic digits it needs and release them without charging itself interest?

    The sad conclusion to all this is for all the obfuscation of rank and privilege and fuffle of tradition that plagues this island with its sovereignty of Crown and State, they’ve been asleep at the helm and allowed the money men to buy our democracy.

    No doubt they will be well rewarded for their dereliction. Or, were they part of it and regard our debt peonage earned by our own apathy, insidiously introduced by the dumbing down propaganda transmitted by the mainstream media?

    John Souter

    P.S. I would like to thank all the posts, blogs, commentators, academics, and institutions, I’ve borrowed, copied and plagiarised, some of the figures and their context from. There are too many to remember and individually list or thank.
    Two I will mention are – Positive Money and Golems XIV blog (I’ll leave the www and dot com paraphernalia up to whoever’s interested enough to investigate further. They usually come up with a Google search)

    • Phil February 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

      Well done, John. Excellent piece. Have copied for re-reading later.


  56. Mike Hall February 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    While we’re waiting for more brilliance from David, I thought I’d share a comment I just posted to a Torygraph article here:


    This by Shaeuble is pure Kafka :

    “Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble fired back: “Let me be clear. It does not make any economic sense [to take measures] which would neutralise the interest risk in the eurozone, nor endlessly pumping money into stability funds, nor starting up the ECB
    printing press.”
    Mr Schaeuble insisted the rescue efforts were adequate. “I dare to say that Europe has done its homework,” he said, claiming the reduction of eurozone bond yields in recent weeks “show we’re on the right course”.

    Lol, the only reason bond yields have dropped recently is BECAUSE the ECB has created (from thin air) over €1,000 billion mainly in liquidity for banks (the ‘LTRO’), but also for further secondary bond market purchases !!!

    Of course, the idea of a (fiat) monetary sovereign ‘printing’ money is a taboo subject – has to be wrapped in smoke & mirrors, called QE or something else, with vague mutterings of worthless ‘collateral’ – but the G20 members know full well the ECB has an infinite capacity to provide Euros.

    Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty has identified the real problem:

    ….should not “leave countries hanging out there with austerity programmes and negative economic growth. That’s a dead end. We need to see a more comprehensive eurozone plan for their countries.”

    Applying austerity in a time of high unemployment only makes matters worse & perpetuates the downward contraction spiral. Worse that is except for the top few percent who get increasingly attractive firesale prices as assets are increasingly liquidated by those losing incomes.

    The accounting identity of ‘Sectoral Balances’ means that when the Private Sector will not spend or invest, the only remaining sector – government – +must+ spend, or the downward contraction continues.

    In a fiat currency system, the government, as issuer of currency, has infinite capacity to spend – only constrained by inflation. But in the contractionary half of the business cycle, with so many unemployed & other resources & capacity lying idle, inflation will +not+ occur until these idle resources have been hired.

    The +issuer+ of currency (government) has no need whatever to ‘borrow’ to spend. Why would it, except by choice? Even where this (political, ideological) choice is made, the borrowed principal is rarely, if ever ‘paid back’ (see US, UK historical data!). Bond markets are fully aware of a currency issuer’s infinite capacity – they know absolutely that they have no power whatever over interest rates in these circumstances. (No change whatever following the laughable US gov debt ‘downgrade’!)

    I like Warren Mosler’s ‘Dept. Store’ analogy.

    The goods in the store are the resources, labour & materials available in the real economy. We want to have them all sold to maximise our prosperity. There are only two potential buyers – Private & Public sector. When the business cycle turns down & the Private sector reduces its puchases, the Public sector must then increase its buying to maintain economic output. The cycle then tips the other way. As the Private sector increases its spending, the Public sector backs off.

    As the Public sector – currency +issuer+ – has no need to ‘borrow’, the amount of its notional balance sheet in absolute terms, at any point in the cycle, is irrelevant. In determining whether it should be increasing or decreasing its balance sheet, the only relevant fasctors are what is occurring in the real economy. IE Which way is private sector spending & investment going, and where is inflation (& what type of inflation is it – from ‘internal’ or ‘external’ causation).

    It really is this simple. But, admittedly, it does not create the levels of ‘volatility’ (instability) that the top few percent profit enormously from in playing (gaming) the ‘markets’.

  57. Mike Hall February 27, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    How does Bill Mitchell produce such in depth analyses, with graphs & data, so quickly?

    Another brilliant post on the UK economy in response to Osborne’s cr@p about ‘UK run out of money’.


  58. Phil February 27, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    As an aside, Nick Shaxon estimates there is £10-20 trillion in the tax haven system. What is all that money doing?

  59. Phil February 28, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    And where can I find out who the bond holders are of the UK’s debt?

    • Joe Taylor March 1, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

      Guys, you were talking about a likely invasion of Iran not long back. Have you seen this from Media Lens? http://bit.ly/zIS08Y

      • steviefinn March 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm #


        Thanks for that, great site. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. It’s like the Iranians are being manipulated into developing a weapon, just in case they are not already doing so, by being forced to the point of saying “WTF!! we may as well, seeing as they are intent on attacking us anyway”. There really is no difference between these media bastions & their mongrel brethren the tabloids who they choose to look down on, they all take the truth & render her unrecognisable.

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