The Jubilee

  • A Krainer
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  • March 2014
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Let’s not war, shall we?

Posted by Alex Krainer on March 13, 2014

Global geopolitical situation appears to be deteriorating with crises multiplying from month to month. From the Western perspective, it looks as though one evil tyrant after another unleash violence against their own citizens or assault their human rights or sin against democracy or do something bad and we, the good guys just have to go and set things straight. Next thing you know, half the world is either in or on the verge of armed conflict. If only bad people could be removed from power and good guys installed there; if only we could make the world safe for democracy once and for all… Then all would be well.

Sadly, we’ve been here before. This year we “celebrate” the centennial of the outbreak of WWI which was fought to make the world safe for democracy. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars, and when the grisly episode finally ended, there was great jubilation inaugurating the new era for humanity – an era of democracy, peace and the rule of law. However, not everyone bought this jubilation. One Silvio Gesell (whose name has since been methodically scrubbed out of most economics textbooks) had this to say:

In spite of the holy promises of people to banish war once and for all, in spite of the cry of millions “never again war” in spite of all the hopes for a better future I have this to say: If the present monetary system based on interest and compound interest remains in operation, I dare to predict today that it will take less than twenty-five years until we have a new and even worse war. I can foresee the coming development clearly. The present degree of technological advancement will quickly result in a record performance of industry. The buildup of capital will be fast in spite of the enormous losses during the war, and through the oversupply [of money] the interest rate will be lowered [until the money speculators refuse to lower their rates any further]. Money will then be hoarded [causing predictable deflation], economic activities will diminish, and increasing numbers of unemployed persons will roam the streets … No country will understand the other, and the end can only be war again.Silvio Gesell (1918)

Tragically, Silvio Gesell – at the time a widely quoted economist (Keynes quoted him extensively) – was right. Today we still have the same economic/monetary system, and in one of my previous posts I laid out the reasons why it inexorably leads toward escalating military conflicts. The war dynamic emerges from the West. The “bad” guys are only a pretext, their badness largely in the eyes of the beholders who are seeking out conflicts.

Let’s not do that again. Let’s not buy the demonization and hysteria. Let’s not fall for false flags and red lines or the absurd white hats/black hats scenarios aimed at seducing our sense of decency in order for us to give consent for military escalation. If we continue in the direction of military conflict, chances are that much of our present business concerns won’t matter much in the world we’ll leave behind for our children.

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