The “Austerity” Fraud

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
-T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men

As I was exchanging some banter about just this issue with LittleBigMan in the comments section of “Empathy and Architecture” this morning, I noticed this news article from Reuters “Citi, US $7 Billion Settlement…” After “negotiations”, Citigroup has “agreed” to pay out $7 billion dollars in penalties for its role in the 2007-08 market scam and collapse.

You can bet that this settlement and the meaning of it will pass quietly….

The US government was actually seeking to recover $12 billion dollars from Citigroup, but settled for the lesser amount, so that just shows the scale of the rapine and pillaging that went on, and just by this one financial corporation alone. Moreover, it was done in collusion with the lawmakers who facilitated it.

That’s why it will pass by quietly.

But I want to bang the drum about it and what it means in relation to my earlier remarks on the demoralisation of democracy and the “austerity” hoax of “fiscal conservatism” as a deliberate and organised economic and political attack on the middle class and, in consequence, on liberal democracy itself. And this has not been rectified by this “settlement”. For I will point out the great discrepancy in “justice” between how this criminal sedition by Citigroup and others has been “settled” compared to the handling of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, or Bradley Manning, who have been criminalised for defending principles of liberal democracy presently under attack by techno-corporate interests.

To repeat, the present concern with growing “inequality” reflects the extinguishment of the economic and political role of the middle class, and this is being executed even with the unconscious connivance of the middle class itself, for this group has been seduced into this collective suicide by an insidious and ubiquitous propaganda of “austerity” “deregulation”, “privatisation”, “private-public partnerships”, and the culture of narcissism. The fate of liberal democracy is tied to the fate of the middle class. As the one goes, so goes the other.

(For the record, too: I do not consider “new” conservatism to be a coherent political philosophy. I consider it a mental illness and a political psychosis, along with the entirety of what is being called “the new normal”.)

The “settlement” reached with Citigroup and its overall deficiency must be seen in the context of the notorious Citigroup “Plutonomy Memos” which the corporation and its lawyers have largely succeeded in suppressing. If you haven’t heard of the “Plutonomy Memos”, that is why. The Plutonomy Memos make it pretty clear that the economic and political destruction of the middle class, as the heart of liberal democracy, was an express aim, and its replacement by a “plutonomy”. This is being accomplished under the disguise of “privatisation”, “free market economics” and “austerity”, and this reflects, in some ways, Nietzsche’s anticipation that the final triumph of liberal institutions would be simultaneously their self-destruction.

The contradiction that exists between a public policy of austerity and the fact of growing inequality of wealth and power in society should be evidence enough that “austerity” really means a massive wealth transfer from the public (the commonwealth) to the private, a pillaging of the commonwealth that is perhaps unprecedented in history. Big business has accomplished this seemingly by two strategies: successfully externalising their costs and liabilities onto the public (deregulation) while simultaneously expropriating public assets (privatisation of the commonwealth, “the captive state”). This two-pronged approach is reflected equally in the “right-to-farm” initiative of the agro-chemical and bio-engineering interests as I discussed in my last post.  Externalise the costs and liabilities with impunity, while expropriating the public assets and the common heritage and inheritance. This generates a condition of indebtedness, both private and public, even as that public wealth is transferred upwards to “the 1%”.

Behind all the apparent “complexities” of finance and growing political and economic inequality is a very simple formula — externalise the liabilities, expropriate the assets, and the consequence is the increasing debt burden, both private and public, that is being born by the middle class resulting in what is being called “the democratic deficit” and, conversely, what George Orwell once described as “oligarchic collectivism” (Citigroup’s “plutonomy”).

Generally, people overlook the fact that what wealth and prosperity they now enjoy individually also includes their share in the commonwealth — in the common inheritance and heritage of mankind that has been built up over generations and generations. This is what is called “the commonwealth” or “public domain”. It is that steadily accruing common inheritance or common wealth that allows a “middle class” to exist at all. Privatisation of this common inheritance is the real “piracy” of our time.

Everything is topsy-turvey at our “end of history”. All truths become inverted. Everything lies.

This is why I insist: at the extremity, the “rational pursuit of self-interest” becomes indistinguishable from the irrational pursuit of self-destruction. Enantiodromia. The middle class, seduced by false dogmas and self-contradictions, is following the Pied Piper of neo-liberalism and the Siren Song of “free enterprise” to its own destruction, and it is taking liberal democracy down with it.

Not with a bang, but a whimper.

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16 responses to “The “Austerity” Fraud”

  1. alex jay says :

    “The Plutonomy Memos make it pretty clear that the economic and political destruction of the middle class, as the heart of liberal democracy, was an express aim, and its replacement by a “plutonomy”.”

    Some thirty years earlier,Georgetown University history professor Carroll Quigley wrote a book in 1975 entitled “Tragedy & Hope” in which he discussed how the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) was to one day become “the apex” of the global financial system. I’ve referred to “Tragedy and Hope” on a few occasions on your blog. The reason why this book is so important is that Prof Quigley was a plutocratic insider with unlimited access to all the secret documents of the BIS (Initially founded to launder Nazi wealth) and personally associated with the real “masters of the universe”. Furthermore, he aligned himself with their philosophy, so there’s no “conspiracy theory” [sic] here.

    From “Tragedy and Hope”:

    “The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.”

    The agenda has been implemented and is right on course, abeit somewhat lagging behind due to the unintended consequence of the internet’s role in raising public awareness; thus the ubiquitous current attack from the power elite to control it.

    Feudalism is the goal with a hefty dose of eugenics to boot. Everything is pointing in that direction. A whimper perhaps, though a big bang is not out of the question when you’re dealing with narcissistic psychopaths

    • Scott Preston says :

      For others, the book Alex Jay is referring to by Carroll Quigley is available in PDF format online — all 1,370 pages of it. Quigley calls it a book of “contemporary history”.

      http://www.carrollquigley.net/pdf/Tragedy_and_Hope.pdf

      I began to read it at one time and was intrigued by his approach, but found the length of the book daunting. I do, however, want to continue to read it so thank alex for reminding me of it again. If you find the whole thing daunting, reading some of the chapters might be more appealing.

  2. alex jay says :

    Lo and behold! Has Canadian Bankster of England chief been reading your blog? : )

    “Mark Carney has rejected calls by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) for a swift return to normal interest rates, lambasting the lauded Swiss institution for operating “in a vacuum” and “outside political and economic reality”.” (Daily Telegraph – 16/07/14 or 07/16/14 in your parts)

    Are we witnessing a lover’s tiff … or is it just a good cop-bad cop smokescreen?

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Conservative columnist Andrew Coyne, who is one of the more articulate conservative columnists in Canada, seems to agree with me that conservatives are incoherent.

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/national/Coyne+Tories+Charter+Rights+discontent+shows+incoherent/10036293/story.html

    Now, he might just have to follow that observation up with the final conclusion. The “new” conservatism is a mental illness.

  4. Scott Preston says :

    This article by Don Pittis appeared this morning on the CBC, and I wanted to mention it in relation to this post,

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/current-inflation-is-killing-off-the-canadian-middle-class-don-pittis-1.2711415

  5. Heraclitus says :

    Scott, can you help me distinguish enantiodromia from an idea like “renew thy mind”…. I think I have conflated these ideas. Thinking enantiodromia means that when we go so far in one mode of thinking or pursuit, that energy shifts to its opposite… in other words I have viewed enantiodromia as a good change, like “renew thy mind” is a good change.

    Or rather I have viewed enantiodromia as the spirit of antagonism or mephistopheles leading me toward what looks like a negative but once pursued fully shifts into a positive, good change. For example, philosophical departing from the chains of my conservative, traditionalistic, evangelical heritage and seeking for a Christianity in which I’m not projected on, looks to others and has a rebellion/mephistopheles characteristic, but I see it as a necessary process of disillusionment in which I am seeking for new words to articulate the faith. I see it as an example of enantiodromia, I drank the potion up to a point and then for truth to prevail that energy necessarily shifted into its opposite (my interest in esoteric traditions, Heraclitus, Hegel, and Whitehead).

    This also touches on my confusion of you explaining the ouroboros as a negative symbol, when I always saw it as a good symbol, like a hermetic circle, turning an idea in your mind over and over until new insights are discovered and then turning those insights in your mind over and over, ad infinitum.

  6. Heraclitus says :

    You might have already answered part of my confusion… I was reading another post and found this…

    “Like Blake, Heraclitus does not think dualistically, but in terms of polarities and complementarities. The coincidence of opposites applies here, too. “War is the father of all things” is fully the equivalent of Blake’s “without contraries there is no progression”, and yet the contraries are seen as arising from the one Source and possessing an inner unity, which for Heraclitus is the Logos. This is also the principle of polarity one finds in Gebser’s work — Athena and the Gorgon are the same, even though contraries. For Heraclitus, equivalently, “Hades and Dionysus are the same”, and yet contraries.”

    This is exactly what I mean to say. I have always seen the demon and the angel in my life as coming from the same good. Like I’ve seen the value in life leading me down all roads or any road. I have been constantly projected on by my community that I must see the world in black and white and even believe in actual physical demons as much as I believe that Christ is the son of god. But none of that sat right, it always felt false and contrived. It always seemed adults were protecting their fragile systems of beliefs more than being concerned with my soul (as the claim). As if they are operating on the idea that if they can convert the youth to their system of belief they will finally have confirmation that they are believing rightly. My faith in Christ seemed to matter to their mental stability more than for my own sake.

    I always followed the path (in the philosophical and spiritual sense) away from the christian church, their systems of beliefs and the supremacy of the word interrupted literally, and felt like a wanderer in the desert hoping that they realize I’m on my way to some better place and they are stuck in captivity.

    • Scott Preston says :

      “Enantiodromia” — or reversal at the extremity — isn’t really a moral principle. It’s just as much expressed in the saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” as the contrary is the case. Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust, for example, complains that while his intent is ever to do evil, the real result is the good. That’s enantiodromia also. Enantiodromia is simply the karmic law in action.

      Human beings have interpreted the karmic law in terms of “rewards and punishments”, but that’s not the issue. It’s not a moral concept. it’s simply an understanding of the law of action and reaction.

      The ouroboros isn’t really a false symbol. Not at all. It’s a very profound symbol representing the coincidence of opposites — the serpent energy that devours itself in order to regenerate or replenish itself — eat and be eaten, and that is the law of nature. But it’s not really what we would call a “spiritual” symbol. It’s movement on a circle and in a cycle. In fact, it is the eternal recurrence; the myth of the sun-god who dies and is reborn again, and again, and again.

      There is no real progress in a perfect cycle or circle. It’s the eternal return of same. In some ways, it is the perfect expression or representation of the law of the conservation of energy (which is also implicated in enantiodromia).

      BUT… and this is quite important. Consciousness ultimately lies “outside” or “beyond” the power of enantiodromia and the ouroboros! The ouroboric condition is not final, and this transcendence of fate and fatalism is called “Christ Consciousness” or “Buddha Mind”. That is the meaning of the famous illustration by Jacob Boehme which I have reference before,

      It’s worth studying this symbol, because it’s meaning is quite subtle. The ouroboros is represented as well as the transcendence of the ouroboros in the form of the dove. What Boehme is attempting to state here is that men have confused the ouroboros (or time) with eternity (the timeless). The ouroboros is “foreverness”, while eternity is the timeless.

      This is where what I call Khayyam’s Caution is really required, ie, “only a hair separates the false from the true”. — foreverness is confused with eternity, whereas they are really, strictly speaking, opposites.

      This conception becomes important in understanding Jean Gebser’s “Ever-Present Origin”. and his insistence that origin is NOT beginning. Beginnings and endings happen in time, while “origin” lies outside time. Time itself arises from Eternity, from Origin, but our psychic makeup is such that we confuse the secondary (time) with the primary (eternity).

      In “eternity” there is no recurrence or return because time does not exist or, rather, we can say all “times” as such exist at once in a great “Now”. So, there is no “recurrence” or “return”.

  7. LittleBigMan says :

    What bugs me about the settlement with Citi Corp is that it is a “settlement.”

    The Department of Justice has evidence of wrongdoing and violation of law by Citi Corp. This is tantamount to a criminal case against Citi Corp.. Since when the courts “settle” on criminal charges?!?

    This should’ve been handled the same exact way a criminal case against an individual would be handled. Citi Corp.’s license to do “new business” should’ve been suspended indefinitely OR the bank should’ve signed on to reversing any and all damages incurred by its clients due to malicious banking practices by Citi Corp. employees. Not to mention throwing those in-the-know, who intentionally looked away, in jail.

    Thank you for the link to a PDF copy of the book recommended by Alex Jay. Just downloaded it 🙂

    “If laws meant whatever governments felt like on any given day, we might as well have rule by decree.” – Andrew Coyne

    Exactly. But we already have “rule by decree.” Is there anything that the U.S. government truly wants to do but cannot do? I don’t think so. I happen to think that if they really wanted to get Snowden, they would get it done.

    • LittleBigMan says :

      By the way, the Reuter’s article was really humorous. So, the DOJ has the Citi move $400 million dollars from its commitment to different states to the bank’s commitment to DOJ. And the DOJ’s rational for this is so that the amount would longer be tax deductible!!

      Hahahahahahahahaha……….So, to punish Citi Corp., DOJ rewards itself – not the clients!!

      Watching DOJ in action is just as funny as watching John Oliver 🙂 I hope this Youtube video is accessible in your location:

      • LittleBigMan says :

        Sorry……I meant to say “so that the amount would no longer be tax deductible.”

      • Scott Preston says :

        That was truly funny! That’s the first time I’ve seen or heard John Oliver.

        Anyway, I happened to view a couple of other things by him, and this one on inequality is dead-on,

        • LittleBigMan says :

          LOL 🙂 Yes, John Oliver’s comedy is brave, smart, and absolutely hilarious. For years, my favorite comedian was Conan O’Brian, but now John Oliver comes first in my opinion and Conan second 🙂

          • Scott Preston says :

            What is so interesting about the American scene is, that in the one camp you have the conservative “heavies” — very self-important, very earnest, very serious, much gravitas — like Hannity, O’Reilly, Coulter, Limbaugh. Opposing them and their gravitas is this other spirit — levitas, represented in Oliver, Colbert, and John Stewart, and it is quite potent. I would say, then, that the real political tension in the US is actually not so much ideology as it is between gravitas and levitas.

            • LittleBigMan says :

              It’s certainly a big relief when you have comedians that take a jab at plutocracy like this. Very gratifying, indeed.

              His jab at Comcast and calling them “monsters” particularly resonates with me.

              While still in college, one day I was at my parents’ home watching some TV around noon. Nobody else was home. Suddenly, the TV picture got completely cut off and all I was getting was static.

              I got up and approached the TV to see what’s wrong with it. While approaching the TV in the living room, from the corner of my eyes and through the living room window I noticed an old man moving around the bushes that lined outside of the living room windows.

              Suddenly, I knew what had happened. To get reception for the TV, years earlier my brother had placed a giant antenna, much like this one, under the attic:

              Because he had not wanted to drill holes into the second story ceiling, second story floor, and down through the first floor ceiling, he had run a wire from the antenna to the TV from the outside and through the attic’s window and a small hole through the building wall on the first floor. This old man had cut that wire right where it would come back into the house on the first floor.

              So, I jumped outside and yelled out at the old man, asking him why he caught our cable. The funny thing was that he still had his cutting equipment in his hand, too 🙂

              I wanted to grab a camera my parents had in the house to take a photo of him for the police, but he was near his car and I was worried that he might get away. So, instead, I memorized his license plate number and told the man that if he didn’t fix what he had done, I would call the police and give them his license plate number and tell them what he had done.

              One thing about him was that his car was unmarked. It was an old beat up Chevy sedan, and it had no cable company logo on it.

              The old man began accusing me of getting cable reception illegally. I told him that his claim was non-sense, and I didn’t have one of those illegal “box” equipment that would help people get cable channels without paying. So, I told the man:

              “That’s our own antenna cable coming down from the attic. We don’t get any cable channels here and have no such a box. You can come in and inspect this from the inside the house. But if you do that and don’t fix my antenna back to its original condition, I will call the police, give them your license plate, and tell them that you have vandalized and damaged our property here, and I will press charges against you.”

              The old man got a bit shaken. He then walked back and I let him peek through the main entrance to see that we had no illegal equipment. He was convinced (and perhaps even already knew we had no such a thing) and proceeded to fix the cable.

              That entire neighborhood was under the spell of Comcast for years.

              They had solicited my parents for cable service for years without any success. Now, they had sent their goons to cut the reception at my parents’ home just because my parents refused to subscribe to their service.

              Several months later, I heard from my parents that one day when they were not home, someone had come and cut the antenna cable again.

              Cable companies here in the U.S. are truly MONSTERS. They hire former mob minions who are down and out on their luck to go around in unmarked cars and damage the property of whomever does not have subscription to their service.

              So, it really feels good when John Oliver calls them MONSTERS. 🙂

  8. LittleBigMan says :

    “Gravitas” versus “Levitas” is an enlightening way of looking at this. I have to do some reading on the relationship between the two.

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