Liberal Fascism

This is just a ‘marker posting’ to note that I’ve got a series coming.

Why? Well, that snide remark that pointed me at Johah Goldberg’s works… I’m now the proud possessor of “Liberal Fascism” written by same. Subtitle “The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Change”.

I’ve only read a couple of chapters. (The introduction and the first two, plus one from the middle and one of the appendix entries). I love it.

General Comments & Examples

The author has a very readable style, but, things can get a bit disjoint and / or dense. Partly this is due to my having not spent a lot of time reading the detailed history of Marx and / or Hitler and / or… So the author will make a one line comment on something and you are left wondering “Who is nurse Ratched?” (He doesn’t actually make that reference, but you get the point… if you have not read the book or seen the movie in which she figures, you are left a bit lost… It’s just assumed everyone has seen “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”)

So on page 13 is a reference to “the Blue Shirts of Kuomintang China, demanded the immediate seizure of the means of production”… and I’m trying to pronounce Kuomintang and realizing that I’ve got at least 10 minutes of Google time to put into it if I really want to know what that bit of Chinese history is about.

On page 11 we have:

Even more telling, FDR’s defenders openly admitted their admiration of fascism. Rexford Guy Tugwell, an influential member of FDR’s Brain Trust, said of Italian Fascism, “It’s the cleanest, neatest most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I’ve ever seen. It makes me envious.” “We are trying out the economics of Fascism without having suffered all its social or political ravages.” Proclaimed the New Republic’s editor George Soule, an enthusiastic supporter of the FDR administration.”

All well and good… but I sort of remember the Brain Trust from some long ago history books and have no memory at all of Rexford Guy Tugwell. But I suppose that is how it goes when you are reading a history book written by a historian who HAS read the references… Similarly a reference to Geribaldi reminds me that that page in my memory book has not been turned in a few decades as does a reference to Hegel and Engles. It’s been about 30 years since I read any of their stuff (that Sociology class…)

On page 36 we get this insight into Mussolini:

He also launched a theoretical journal, Utopia, named in tribute to Thomas More, whom Mussolini considered the first socialist. Utopia clearly reflected the influence of Georges Sorel’s syndicalism on Mussolini’s thinking.

“Syndicalism”… “Sorel”… Um, I think I heard that once before. Long long ago…

He goes on to describe the impact of “syndicalism” sufficiently to pick up a working meaning, but clearly I’m going to need to take time to check his meaning against references to make sure my supposition is correct. (One theme is that it doesn’t matter so much if your myth is right, as that folks believe it is right. The foundation of ‘moral relativism’ in a way, and the basis for much of the ‘fluidity’ of truth on the far reaches of the left side of politics…)

OK, this is one of those books that makes you think and where it’s handy to have a reference library or Google at hand… It’s going to take me some time to work through it and fill in the understandings that it brings to the table. But it DOES bring good things to the table…

The Bundle

Fascism is ill defined today. (He spends several pages exploring this point, and how that lets the Loony Side of Left toss Fascism bombs at anyone they don’t like). I prefer to have things more, well, clarified.

The author does give the tools to do that clarification, but they are somewhat spread out. If I’ve one complaint so far it is just that. You jump back and forth with name drops and -ism drops and have not got a foundation on which to place them. So I’m going to be building my own foundation. That will be showing up as some postings over time. But first, a hint…

“Fascism” takes its name from an Italian word meaning ‘bundle’. That word was often used to talk about trade unions. The Bundle is stronger than the individual sticks. So one clue is that the basis of the movement is in the name of Trade Unions in Italy. Mussolini had a rabidly socialist father. He learned socialism at his father’s knee and then went on to study it more formally. He was a strong advocate for socialist causes and founded several socialist support groups and media, long before becoming “Il Duce” (The Leader… just as Fuhrer mean “Leader” … be wary of folks who want to be “Leaders of men”…)

The author conveniently provides this history, with references. But, it would have been more clear, IMHO, had he started off with “Mussolini began life as a socialist. Raised in a socialist family. He spent years working in support of the cause and translating the works of key Marxists / Socialist writers.”

Now you have the context in a convenient package. Now all the nice stories and references fit together better.

This, though, leads to my only serious complaint so far. He talks about the “Liberal Fascism” and how modern socialist / progressive / left wing movements have a fascist root… but this simply glosses over (or perhaps truncates the historical enquiry?) at the point of Fascism. It ignores that Fascism is simply an outgrowth of early socialism, built by a socialist dictator schooled in socialism from birth and an ardent supporter of it.

I can see how “Liberal Fascism” is a catchier title and will sell more books than “Liberal Socialism” or even “Socialist Fascism”, but to not make that connection clear and up front, but rather have it be for the reader to work out, is a bit of omission.

At any rate, the number of things learned or remembered per page is quite high. The references are worth a lot, and the slightly disjoint / wandering presentation makes for a more entertaining, if less analytical, read. I’m going to enjoy this book.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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66 Responses to Liberal Fascism

  1. George says:

    I have not ever known of a sustainable socialist country that had free and open elections and an alternative party. The only countries I have seen where socialism thrives for more than a decade or two are ones where alternatives are made illegal and single party authoritarian rule is the order of the day.

    Even Sweden has over the past few years begun to dismantle their welfare state and the voters have kicked the socialists out of office. Socialism is by its very nature an exercise is maximum inefficiency in an economy. It would, for example, take the maximum resources away from the most successful producer and divert them to the least successful. That is simply not sustainable.

    Such governments, in a free society, come briefly into power during two periods: 1. When times are very good and there is a lot of wealth to spread around. 2. When times are very bad, the people are desperate, and are swayed by the unicorn and rainbows promises. In both cases, the socialists are eventually kicked out of office when they have finished destroying the economy.

    The only way such governments survive that destruction of the economy (as we are witnessing now in Venezuela) is by eliminating any potential challenge by other ideas. They consolidate rule from the top by decree and then attempt a micro management of the economy from the central authority, which eventually fails.

    The worst examples are places such as Cuba where the people are forced into a life of poverty for generations. That is where Venezuela is headed if they aren’t careful.
    Even China realized that having a micro-managed central economy doesn’t work but they still have “control issues” when it comes to policy.

  2. RuhRoh says:

    Thanks for the reminder.

    During my first read of that book, the info density was so high that I had to switch to ‘forced skimming’, an unusual mode for me.

    A lot of writers who attempt to dismantle a popular worldview, use a rather focused approach, with a more limited number of dramatic examples. The recent ‘anti-colonialist’ “Rage” book by DiSouza is a recent member of the less-complex genre, with only a few evidentiary examples per pair of pages. Easier to understand, but also easier to end up wondering if the anecdotes are cherry-picked.

    But with LF, even I was overwhelmed by all of the distracting footnotes and embedded proofs, and I’m usually very comfortable with a complex tapestry. (A good reminder of what it must be like for normal people to try to follow my lectures…)

    So, anyway, I need to give that book another pass. I’m looking for books that put me to sleep.

  3. j ferguson says:

    Is it possible that this isn’t the best book to get you where you want to go?

    I’ve been fumbling with environmentalism as state religion – maybe an extension of Crichton’s view. I thought it would be good to know more about how religions come to be state religions or maybe how states contrive religions.

    Having read, and remembered, Gibbon, i was referred to “The Closing of the Western Mind” by Charles Freeman. Knowing the names of the players is helpful, but to me the book is so concentrated that i can only do five or ten pages a night and then have to think about them. It is well written and there are few “terms of art” not explained as they occur.

    The period in about 380 when the acceptors of the Nicene Creed were declared orthodox and everyone else heretics is very interesting. The heretics rather not getting grants and funding from the state, lost their buildings and tax exemptions.

    My idea may turn out to be the pursuit of a wild goose, but I don’t know yet.

    On a long ago recommendation, I downloaded Carlyle’s “History of the French Revolution” to read after I finished Macaulay. Carlyle was so full of inside jokes and the sorts of things that would require an intimate knowledge of the period all the names, what they did, all the places and all the other commentators, etc. So it wasn’t the best way to get into the French revolution and I went on to other things.

    You seem to be a lot sharper than I am, but still, if the going is really lumpy, maybe some other book would be better.

    good luck with it. john

  4. xyzlatin says:

    Another reason for not using Liberal in the title and to be careful of its use, is that in many parts of the world, Liberal actually means er.. liberal. ie. its original meaning of the word of free, extensive etc, a belief in freedom and the individual.

    The Liberal Party of Australia is a case in point, although it is divided into the wets (leaning towards socialist ideas socially and more inclined to be lax fiscally), belief in global warming etc) and the dries (more conservative socially but stronger on fiscal discipline).

  5. hpx83 says:

    “Liberal Fascism” is a very fact-packed book, and I believe that most of the things that are in it are in fact quite accurate and intelligent conclusions (I own it myself, and very much appreciated reading it).

    I would however like to make a small warning about Jonah Goldberg. He is not, unfortunately, the most principled and freedom-loving person. His spontaneous comment on WikiLeaks was a post titled “Why is this guy still alive” ? Say what you will about WikiLeaks and that Assange guy, but when the spontaneous reaction of someone going against the state is for immediately killing the person in question, you know something is wrong.

    Jonah Goldberg, I believe, is unfortunately a supporter of the “democracy-spreading”, neo-con elite that has been running the US for quite a few decades. Mostly republican, but sometimes democrat – these are the guys that will carry the largest blame for war-mongering the US into fiscal death. They are also responsible for bringing forth the US police state, something you would assume Goldberg would have problems with, not liking fascism and all. Unfortunately, any comment on the US turning fascist seems to be lacking from the book in question.

    Still worth a read, just don’t dig that Goldberg guy too much, is all I am saying.


  6. Rick Beikoff says:

    Socialists love playing word games. They need to because each successive name they give to their platform gets trashed when they inevitably crash – progressive (100 years old but back again), communism, socialism, fascism, New Labour, liberal. You have to watch “liberal” because they have managed to give it a different meaning in different parts of the world, as someone mentioned above.

    The Liberal Party in Australia stands for the rights of the individual, liberty and tradition (conservative?) – very different to the U.S.

    That’s also why political correctness is so important to them – word control, thought control, control of the media (which they pretty much have here in Oz with the ABC – a publicly owned corporation – and Fairfax which is run by a staff-captured collective (notice how it’s always someone else’s money).

    The bit I liked best was Goldberg’s description of modern socialism as fascism with a happy face – as per the cover. It’s the only way they can sell their putrid ideas in a pluralist democrisy. Lie, in other words. But there’s nothing new in that!

  7. George says:

    His spontaneous comment on WikiLeaks was a post titled “Why is this guy still alive” ?

    I have wondered exactly the same thing, but not because I necessarily want to see the guy killed. I did not read the original comment that you read but you might be projecting an intention into what he wrote that he doesn’t have.

    I have wondered why agents of nations such as Morocco and Jordan haven’t killed him. His revelations on Wikileaks have already resulted in the death of many people in Tunisia and will probably result in the deaths of many more. The man (Assange) has a lot of blood on his hands at this point and I have wondered why nobody has got to him yet.

    If I were him, the US would be the least of my worries at this point.

  8. pyromancer76 says:

    Delighted that you are wrapping your mind around this issue. The caveats of commenters xyzlatin and hpx83 are important IMO, especially about the misuse of the term “liberal”. You already know most of the history: “It ignores that Fascism is simply an outgrowth of early socialism, built by a socialist dictator schooled in socialism from birth and an ardent supporter of it.”

    Placing Mussolini in the title is ironic with regard to his learning socialism at his father’s rabidly socialist knee. Woops. Same with Obama. Read his father’s works, the man he idealizes, and you come up with the most pure, rabid socialism (marxist) with a huge dollop of islam. Then add his socialist upbringing at his mother’s-grandfather’s-black poet’s knee and add islam and black nationalist hatred of everything American and you can pretty much sum up most of what is wrong with the present moment in the U.S. Except one also has to lay some of the blame at the knees of the statist Republicans, too.

    As for me I proudly claim to be a “classical liberal”, but even there reality, history, always intervene. I choose that designation because I see “liberals” today mainly as socialists, often in disguise — except since Obama was elected. These socialists also have stolen the term “progressive” and misused it. In the classical liberal time of progressivism, these reformers (the ones who were not socialists — progressives must be differentiated) knew we needed a balance of power and that government (of the people) had to be more powerful to balance the forces of industrialization (robber barons and their thugs, owning almost every state government and most of the federal) and labor unions (violent “native” Am labor especially) for free and open democracy. Very simplified history. I apologize.

    I have experienced “conservatives” as too doctrinaire and dictatorial. I view libertarians as wanting the world only for themselves and for their pursuits – no heart. They also refuse a realistic view of the international scene. I have seen first-hand the Democrats fraudulently being taken over by the (Chicago-based) socialists, but now I (another apology) see that Hillary Clinton is not much different. I thought she was, blind (and dangerous and apologetic) me.

    Classical liberals prefer a free-market economy, but history shows there are problems. It cannot work “purely” because businessmen/women are not competitors at heart with a sense of “good sportsmanship”. Llike most of us, they want to win and that means besting all competition — and we are on the way to monopoly, or with a few other elites, oligopoly. Or they work to get government assistance for their brilliant idea and never wean themselves from its support. They attempt to “own” politicians.

    Enlightenment gentlemen and fighters — our founders. They had a good take on human nature; most of us can be seduced by power. Therefore, a balance of powers is the only solution. To maintain a balance is an always-task. Classical liberal, conservative, libertarian, “independent”, we all have part of the picture and will have to work together bloody hard to preserve the U.S. as a country of opportunity for all. Representative democracy is never ending struggle.

    E.M., I am looking forward to your best, from your unique perspective. I am always enlightened.

    (Another caveat. Europe is not the U.S.; European socialism is not American and never has been ever since it has been transplanted here by immigrants in the 19th c. We must differentiate between these authoritarian-elitist (and violent) controllers and reasonable “community” solutions to problems born of large populations. Note I did not use Marx’s word “masses”. I believe today’s Teapartiers, of which I am one, will not prevail if we do not address the issues of large urban populations. How to “give” these individuals “opportunity” at which to succeed or fail; how to provide a “humane” safety net that does not induce dependency; how to instill an attitude that if you fail, you must own that failure and try again.)

  9. George says:

    Also, watching the 14 minute video at the bottom of this posting might be interesting to you, too.

  10. Rick Beikoff says:

    I forgot to add another example the Left’s word play:

    For years we’ve heard that global warming is going to see us all fry in a never ending drought. Hot and dry.

    Then we had two severe northern winters. They said “Yeah, well, AGW can also cause severe winters, too.” Hot and Dry and Cold.

    You’ve probably heard that here in Downunder we’ve had a bit of rain lately. Quite a lot really. You know what comes next: AGW can also cause floods, too. Hot and Dry and Cold and Wet.

    Anyone with a passing knowledge of the work of Karl Popper will spot the problem with this argument. It’s not falsifiable. There is nothing the planet can do to disprove the AGW theory – just like the existance of God can be neither proved or disproved. That’s why Popper defined falsifiability as the test which seperates science and religion. A scientific theory must be falsifiable to be considered a scientific matter. If it’s not falsifiable, then it’s a religious matter.

    By their own admission, AGW is a religion.

  11. Jim says:

    I got exactly the same feeling reading Hayek’s “Road To Serfom.” Great book though. Really relevant to today, but was written in the middle of the war with Hitler, so it was a sort of ring side seat sort of thing.

  12. George says:

    If you want to read the interventionists handbook, I would recommend both:

    The Pentagon’s New Map


    Blueprint For Action: A Future Worth Creating

    But don’t read the second until you have read the first. Both are by Thomas Barnett.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, folks have been busy!

    I was ‘on the road’ much of the day (here to north of Sacramento and back) for part of the January Birthday Marathon….

    For reasons one can only speculate about, my family has an exceptional number of birthdays in January with honorable mention for February. So just as everyone else is “done with holidays” we’re just ramping up. Me, my sister, my wife, her twin, my niece, my Mom, in Feb another sister… you get the idea.

    At any rate, I’ve been stuffed with more cake, cookies, icecream and scones than I can remember along with a roast leg of lamb, wine, broasted potatoes, green beans, etc.

    So, I’ve gotten home a touch after midnight, read all the comments, but simply can’t keep my eyes open. Reply will wait for tomorrow…

    For now, I’m going to curl up with the book and probably get about 1 page read before falling asleep ;-)

    (But one small comment: Yes, I’m planning that one of the ‘bits’ that needs to be done is make a lexicon with at least 3 entries for “liberal” to keep them strait and a modifier table for tagging clearly. “Old American Liberal” was rather what a conservative is today in many ways, for example. But that too must wait…)

  14. Chuckles says:

    E.M. ,

    Probably the ‘In spring a young man’s thoughts…’ effect? That said, many of us feel that all the best people are born in January…

  15. George says:

    April is a beautiful time in California.

  16. Pascvaks says:

    We are all very independent socialists, we come by it naturally, as communal beings and as very single minded individuals. It’s a ying/yang thing in each of us. When we have too much of one it’s communism, dioctatorship, or something worse; when we have too much of the other it’s chaos or anarchy. Another very human trait is that we suffer fools gladly and much too long; so when things get really, really bad we get mad and blow each other up and eventually sort’a ‘start all over again’ as some old song says. That’s the “pendelum” of history some talk about. Whenever a ‘system’ fails to maximize people’s social and individual wants it goes boonkers, haywire, and violent, and things eventually change after some or many of the tribe are sent to the happy hunting ground in the sky and/or their bodies are consigned to the deep blue sea, etc., etc.. Oh yes! There are differently wired people. Some prefer one system to another. Some don’t care what they system is. Some don’t like any kind of system. Some like lots of people around them. Some don’t like many people around them at all.

    Conflicts are natural! Nothing lasts forever! Oh, and there’s no such place as Utopia but a lot of us think it just might be found one day and we’re willing to try anything (occassionally) to see.

  17. j ferguson says:

    What’s next. It’s comforting to imagine that the system we struggle to maintain here in the US is the latest and best, but is it?

    All good things, so far, seem eventually to have ome to an end. The “new improved” scheme crops up somewhere else maybe out of, but not in the ashes of the previous system.

    Which would make it unlikely to happen here in US.

    Is the next idea in service out there yet? If so, what’s the idea and how is it working? And where?

    My guess is answer is no. Likely because we haven’t really screwed it up sufficiently —— yet.

  18. Pascvaks says:

    Ref – j fergusonon; 16 January 2011 at 6:19 am

    When things get out of balance things fall. We in the US are passing a very ‘out of balance’ ethical, legal, and social welfare system to our kids and grandchildren. We have two options. Do nothing and let human nature take its course or do something and let human nature take its course. It’s all about balance. I’m not optomistic. Americans today are too lazy to do anything for their kids, and the kids are too stupid to realize their parents and grandparents are sucking the blood out of their veins by the pint.

    I’m not optomistic about many countries on the planet these days. I keep getting a deja vu feeling about the New Cold Dark Ages. Fiji just might be the place to be in 50 years.

  19. oldtimer says:

    An interesting aspect of the subject you are reading is the little matter of definitions of words. Definitions in politics seem, to me, to be quite flexible in the mouths of politicians and, probably, writers and journalists. At the moment, here in the UK, each party leader tries to present himself as “progressive”. I am unclear just what this is supposed to mean – maybe that is its whole point. Be unclear, but if you convey a warm feeling about it then that is alright, job done.

    Fascist is another word that, although its origin is clear, in current usage it can be ambiguous. It can be employed in unexpected ways and places – usually by the left against the right as a smear and term of abuse.

    My Oxford Dictionary of English defines fascism as “an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organisation”. It goes on to say “The term Fascism was first used of the totalitarian right-wing nationalist regime of Mussolini in Italy (1922-43); the regimes of the Nazis in Germany and Franco in Spain were also Fascist. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach”.

    Today, if you read comments in a British political blog such as the Spectator Coffee House blog, many take geat exception to the right wing being labelled as fascist. They see fascism as left wing in origin because of its trade union roots in Italy and Germany. Franco, I suspect, was another matter. Such is the effect of the passage of time and of perceptions.

    On syndicalism my dictionary describes its historical origin as “a movement for transferring the ownership and control of the means of production and disribution to workers unions. Influenced by Proudhon and by the French social philosopher Georges Sorel (1847-1922) syndicalism developed in French trade unions during the 19th century and was at its most vigorous between 1900 and 1914, particularly in france, Italy, Spain and the US”. HTH.

  20. j ferguson says:

    Did they call fascism “right wing” because Communism which coalesced a bit earlier had been deemed “left wing” and the fascists were obviously anti-communist?

    Pascvaks, I’m pretty optimistic, maybe from not thinking about it enough. If we’ve come to a time when we can no longer anticipate unimaginable technical innovation then maybe I should worry too. I keep thinking of all the Indians, Chinese, and Africans liberated to some degree from having to concentrate full time on food and shelter and imagine the wizards among them who will come up with the bacon-savers.

    Sure, it doesn’t seem to be happening now, maybe it will take another generation, but that will be the generation that we’re all worrying about now.

  21. JT says:

    If you are going to read “Liberal Fascism” carefully you might find that reading “Darwinian Politics” by Paul Rubin deepens your view of the evolution of the Left. In my grossly oversimplified thesis: The fundamental moral intuition of the Left is Envy; where Envy is taken to be an evolved, basic human instinct. Rubin’s book examines both the evolution of that instinct and its operation in its social context. Collectivism is implicit in, and with Envy serving as a moral intuition, implied by that instinct. Although I don’t recall Rubin drawing the parallel, it is clear that Jealousy is also an evolved, basic human instinct, one that serves as a fundamental moral intuition of the Right, and one could describe the history of the last 150 years as the War between Jealousy and Envy.

  22. JT says:

    A review of Darwinian Politics can be found here:

    Click to access dlsmith.pdf

  23. Mooloo says:

    E.M. please don’t go down the plug-hole that is equating Fascism with Socialism. I know it is extremely trendy in the US right now, but it is rubbish.

    Yes we know that Mussolini and Hitler were influenced by Socialism. But Luther and Henry VIII grew up Catholic.

    There is a prime difference between the two philosophies, and it relates to the state of human nature. Effectively whether humans start as a tabla rasa or not.

    Socialists believe humans are perfectable. That is, given the correct society, humans will behave well. Given the right economic system they will co-operate in harmony and peace. The extreme Left will therefore send people to “re-education” because they seriously believe people can be re-educated.

    The far right believe humans are implicitly liable to failure. Strict laws are required to keep them in line. They don’t bother with re-education because if a person is bad then they are not correctable.

    Fascists take the flawed nature of humans, and transpose it to races and nations. For Mussolini it was the grandeur of the Roman race, and their right to subjugate any lesser races. Hitler’s views on race are well known.

    Fascists believe in set roles in society: women in the kitchen, men in charge. The left believes all people are equal, so opposes that view.

    It also follows that fascists are nationalists, and communists are internationalists.

    They have their similarities of course: both believe in authoritarian government. But Fascists believe in a leader, blessed with supernatural powers, and communists believe in collective government, at least in principle.

    In general the left believes in a command economy, but that is a holdover from Marx, and not implicit in the Left world view. Generally the right believes in corporatism, but only because it makes control easier.

    Now to start waving around the idea that socialists are fascists based on 1) some links in their childhood, and 2) that they are both authoritarian, is silly.

    The extreme US “Liberals” are solidly in the socialist wing. They are internationalist, feminist and, most importantly, believers that everyone can be a better person. It defies all logic to see that their position can be equated with that of Mussolini. Yes you can cherry-pick the evidence, and show that Mussolini’s dad was socialist, but the basic world-view is utterly wrong.

    Immigration is a good test. Internationalists are for it – which is the liberal left. Nationalists are against it – which is the Republican right. There is no “circle” where they meet: you either believe all people are equal and should mix, or you believe your country is special and needs protecting.

    Feminism and abortion. The left is for it, the right against it. Again no circle. It’s a great test for which opposing world view you fall into.

    The US Liberal left are a crazy bunch, for sure, but Fascist they are not.

    (If there is a socialist-fascist crossover, it was Stalin. He was a racist, isolationist, concentration camp loving piece of work, and entirely merits the description “fascist”. Notably the USSR demolished much of his apparatus and disowned him on his death, because he did pervert their ideals something shocking.)

  24. E.M.Smith says:

    OK, I’m playing ‘catch up’ with the conversation here… so some things may be a bit ‘out of order’…

    @J Ferguson:

    The communists didn’t like the ‘competition’ from the Fascists (the convention used in the book, and described therein as the standard, is that with a Capital F it’s the one in Italy in particular, but ‘fascist’ with a lower case F is the generic…) and so ‘talked dirt’ about them in various ways. That included asserting they were not proper Socialists at all. The use of “right wing’ is highly error prone for many reasons I hope to elaborate later, but mostly in the European Context it means that that you favor ‘the old monarchs, dictators like Napoleon, and similar’. So Mussolini as a ‘strong man’ was cast in the roll of “Dictator” and thus “right wing” rather than “Socialist” (which he definitly was) and thus “left wing”. This is the major problem with using ‘wings’ as markers and why I think the whole ‘right / left’ thing is terribly broken, probably by design.


    Good insight, with which I largely agree. However, hope springs eternal, so I’m hopeful our kids are not as dumb or lazy as folks think or as they seem; and are just presently ‘not needing to do anything’ so just enjoying life. When they ‘need to’ I expect good things to happen.

    And yes, I expect all those newly empowered folks in “the Third World” to do spectacular things with their new found empowerments…

    Exactly what that ‘next best thing’ will be is a long diatribe that I’ll hold for another time (and to let me ‘flesh it out’ a bit too…)

    Per intergenerational blood sucking:

    It’s helpfull to look at the reality rather than the money. There are not enough ‘young ones’ to carry the ‘old ones’. Just not going to happen. Don’t care what you do with Social Security, the money supply, retirement packages, whatever. One old person takes about 1 full time staff if healthy, and over 2 if ill. We’re below that on a demographic ratio going forward. That’s with NOBODY building houses, cars, making dinner, growing food. Etc.

    It will, and must, collapse.

    That is why folks on the Left are rabidly trying to let Mexicans flood in. So they can be the new young wage slaves to support the old in retirement. The alternative is to admit that Social Security and Medicare / Medicaid are ponzi schemes at there end. The answer is ALWAYS more fresh blood into the Ponzi Scheme…. But what they miss is that those folks may just vote to end the scheme instead…

    OK, a kids example: There are 3 “kids” to support my wife, me, and her twin (who is divorced.) At present there are the three of us to support their Mom. So granny is 1 : 3 ratio and we are 1 : 1 ratio. They are all in their 20s and none is married nor has any kids. At present they are 1 : 0 ratio. “Granny” is in a $4000 / month nursing home with a 1 : 1 paid staff ratio (her level of care needs that).

    Put it together and there is nothing left for a productive economy to support what’s coming when we three are in nursing homes.

    That is the “demographic bomb” and it will not go away. It’s already ‘baked into the cake’ as folks have had all the kids they are going to have.

    This can only end one way. Somebody dies.

    Wars. Plagues. Famines. Neglect. Suicide (thus the push for folks to be able to choose the time of their going…). Rationed health care (so if you need a heart valve at 75 you die instead). Etc.

    I’d like to be more pleasant about it, but, … “Reality just is. E.M.Smith”.

    Once we “socialized” old age care, then we depend on the average child to support our retirement, but we have to pay for OUR children. More folks want to party rather than raise a responsible family, so fewer kids. End game?

    We expect the “average kids” to be our old age care, and they will be busy finding a life for themselves rather than be crushed by the burden.

    I’m suggesting other countries to my kids, and pushing them toward states with a less ‘demographic load’ if they don’t want another younger country in which to live…

    The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what you do with the financial system. There are simply not enough ‘care givers’ in any case. It doesn’t matter what you do with the government ‘safety net’, it is made of rotten twine with large holes in it. As the net is ‘made bigger’ the holes just get larger apace and the fabric will fail.

    Have I mentioned lately that Economics is called “The Dismal Science” for a reason?…

    So ‘the kids’ will have a bit of a blood letting via more taxes (i.e. Obamacare) right up until they vote “NO!” or just pack up and leave.

    Basically, we are ‘rationing’ the care via a ‘first in the door gets some then it all ends abruptly” system…

  25. E.M.Smith says:


    Yes, Socialism is, at it’s heart, a Totalitarian method. That’s one of the reasons why “right wing” fails as a descriptor. It lets the Loony Left call a Mussolini or a Hitler a “Right Winger” as they were a Totalitarian Dictator even though their policies and driving motivations where straight from the Socialist Playbook. (More on that later, but it’s pretty simple to look at the roots of each, what they advocated, and see the socialist taproot…)

    So, yes, be it the Fascists, or the Communists, or the Socialist Workers Paradise Of Cuba, it’s a Totalitarian Socialist Empire as the end game (if you don’t toss it out in time).

    Nice to hear that about the Swedes. They are generally smart folks so good to see they have caught on…

    @Ruhroh, hpx83 & J Ferguson:

    So I’m the last one to discover this book, eh? Oh well… better late than never ;-)

    I don’t know if it’s “the best” as I’ve not had time for an optimising search, but it’s ‘good enough’. (FWIW, the Nobel in “A Beautiful Mind” was given for the work that showed what is now called “Satisificing” behaviour was the main driver of economic decisions, not optimization. Believe it or not, up until fairly recently all economic modeling and thought was based on decisions being optimal… that always bothered me… as folks clearly ‘settle’ a lot sooner than optimum pretty much all the time.)

    Other suggested reading list welcome. But this on is in hand so it’s first in the queue…


    I’m cooking up my own naming scheme so I can keep the players straight as things get mutated through history to hide the rotten cheese… So yes, “Liberal” is a word that must be devided into “Classical Liberal” vs “Post FDR Liberal” when the Socialists stole the word in an attempt to hide behind an acceptable label. “Rebranding” periodically is a sure sign of a bad product.

    I’m figuring on a “begats” chart with the taproot showing branches, hybridizings, and re-brandings. Then I’ll work up unambiguous and non-mutating names. (All this, just so I can keep a tidy mind…) Then I can proceed to analysis of causes, effects, and such.

    God I wish other folks would just be honest and keep a tidy mind too…. Frankly, a lot of the GOALS of Socialism are things I agree with (like taking care of the old folks) and it’s a lot of the lying, hiding, rebranding, and just plain intellectual crap that drives me away from The Socialism Shiney Thing….


    We all have bad days sometimes, so thanks for the “Heads Up” on the author, but I’ll give him one or two indiscretions (while watching for a pattern).

    Heck, the other day in trying to say “Not directed at you, Jerry” I managed to fumble it and it didn’t come out right, so now I’ve likely POd Jerry… (Hope he reads my apology … it was all my poor wording.)

    AT any rate, back on the book: I don’t just swallow things whole. (Well, really, I do suck them in hole, but then they get validation, sanity, and similar checks done over time…) so I’m OK with the author pushing a point of view. I usually figure it out pretty quickly.

    Per the “neo-cons”… They have their own “dogooder” and Socialist leanings. In particular, they just LOVE to socialize the policing of the world…. Frankly, I don’t care if Iraq wants to invade Iran or if Saudi has to rent an army to keep their neighbors out. Let them rent the French Army or the Germans… Another example of why ‘right’ is a broken term. “Left” tends to be fairly constant, though.

    @Rick Beikoff

    Yup. Constant rebranding is a major key to detecting crap.

    Thus my need to make a chart to ‘keep the actors straight’. “Program, get your program… can’t tell the players without a prograaaamm!” And the constant costume changes mid-scene too…

    The thing I havn’t figured out is the degree to which this is driven by organized structures behind the scenes and the degree to which it really is just a bunch of individuals all attracted to the ideas of The Socialism Shiny Thing…


    This one is going to take a while, though. Technical stuff is easy in comparison. This one also has a LOT of fuzzy history and background in it, so the “maps” are large with fuzzy edges. All that makes understanding a slower process as everything comes with a broad error term….

    Your point about Capitalists often being good Socialists in that they do not want to compete is a very good one. Adam Smith back in The Wealth of Nations pointed that out long ago. Capitalists are overy found of collusion to increase personal gain. That is why Facism works so well, it appeals to the Sociliasts Capitalists…. That’s also why you find folks like Buffett and Soros making billions, but espousing Socialist support. That’s why you find GE 100W lightbulbs still on the shelf in California after the 100w lightbulb ban… (The “Reveal” is, as near as I can tell, a “colored” light bulb, thus exempt. Nothing like a nice little State Sponsored Socialist Monopoly to curb unwanted competition and increase profits… and then blame it on ‘The Right Wingers”…)


    Thanks for the reading list… now I think I’m going to be booked up until next April… ;-)

  26. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, I’ve never been much for ‘trendy’. Frankly, I had no idea there was anyone else noticing the Socialist in National Socialist Party and certainly didn’t know it was ‘trendy’.

    But that’s ok, everyone can be ‘trendy’ some times, even me, and even without knowing it.

    Per putting a Chineese Wall between Socialism and Fascism:

    Can’t do that. They are joined at the hip.

    That does not EQUATE the two, it just says that they are siblings or first cousins. Yes, Fascism has a strong Nationalist and racist thread. That, to me, make it a very interesting and very distinctive thing, but as a subset of Socialism, not as antithetical to it.

    So my envisioned (and not yet made) graph will have a Socialism taproot, and a Nationalism taproot. Then there will be a place where Socialism splits and Nationalism splits. Some Socialism continues on to a Communist line, some to American Progressives, and one branch merges with a branch of Nationalism to make Facisism. You can NOT separate Fasicsm from it’s Socialist root any more than you can separate it from it’s Nationalist root… But yes, it is quite correct to say it is different from American Progressivism on particular points.

    It’s that work of detanging all these splits and hybrids that will take a fair amount of my time. But it is decidedly NOT “rubbish” to say that Fascism is a kind of Socialism; only to say that “all Socialism equates to fascism” is rubbish. Is ‘Socialism with a Smiley Face’ facism? Probably not. Are they cousins? Yes. Are all cousins alike? Nope, not at all… some are bitter enemies.

    But that is what makes this interesting to me. It’s looking at the geneology of the “isms” and finding the kinships and the outcrossings…

  27. Jason Calley says:

    Warning to the weak hearted. Rant follows. In all honesty, I would not say this in a neighborhood pool party, so E.M., if you think it inappropriate please delete it.

    Perhaps the most difficult thing encountered when attempting to think rationally about political parties is the need to separate what the parties claim to support versus what they actually do when given power.

    I repeat — compare what political parties do, compared to what they say. Also remember that no political system is designed to use high intellect, high moral principles, or high virtue as limiting attributes in assigning high posts or great power.

    If you spoke with a police investigator, he would probably be able to tell you several different (but common) scams. Ponzi schemes, pigeon drops, fake drug deals, etc. The reason why these various schemes are popular among scammers, is that they all are based on exploiting relatively common human psychological traits. Each scam has found an aspect of human behavior and thought which allows the scammers to trick victims into giving up property, money or information. Often, even after being victimized, people will tell police, “But he was such a nice man! I think he must have just made a few bad investments and then gotten in over his head!” This is exactly the same as people who believe in some particular psychic or guru, and even after the guru is caught red-handed in fraud, will say, “Maybe that time was a trick, but the other times, I JUST KNOW he was real!”

    The major political parties and philosophies are scams. They are belief systems designed to systematically ensnare large numbers of people for the benefit of a small number of people. Seriously, does anyone think that Stalin was a really a Communist? No! He was a Stalinist! Stalin believed in Stalin, only Stalin. He belonged to and ran the party, but he had no interest in Communism other than as a system to encourage people to do what he wanted. Is Castro a Socialist? Was Musolini a Fascist? I would say that no, they did not believe in the political systems they espoused any more than Bernie Madoff believed he was a prudent investor.

    Socialism is a political approach which draws in the poor, the oppressed and the workers into what quickly becomes a totalitarian system where the few benefit and the many suffer. Fascism appeals to those who desire an orderly, predictable society, but quickly turns into a totalitarian system where the few benefit and the many suffer. In today’s America, the Democrats appeal to minorities and to those who desire government protection — but where does it lead? The Republican Party appeals to those who desire smaller government, smaller budgets and more personal liberties — but where does it lead? When you study political systems you are doing the same thing the police investigator does when he studies various forms of scams or various criminal organizations. I know this is not what we were taught in grade school civics class — but again, look at what actually happens in the world, not what you have been told.

    Again, look at what actually happens, not what the party platforms say, not what the politicians claim in their speeches.

    Most people remember the speeches. Most people forget the statistics and numbers. The national debt almost doubled under Reagan, but I have an acquaintance who firmly believes that Reagan ran a surplus and paid down the debt. Clinton’s Secretary of State, when asked whether the deaths of half a million Iraqi children due to the sanctions “was worth it” responded that it was. We have the video, but Democrats still somehow see Clinton as a peace maker, especially compared to George W! This would be madness, were it not for one simple fact; modern politics is NOT a battle of ideologies, it is not a war of philosophies. Modern politics is a fight between the very best, most professional liars in the world to see who can steal the most money and power. The various ideologies are nothing more than various forms of bait which the liars dangle out into the world to catch adherents.

    Well, don’t say that I don’t have some experience in ranting… but this is important! As long as we study politics and political ideas as some sort of abstract ideas, ideas that will be implemented Real Soon Now once we get the right people in power, we will find that the world does NOT get more prosperous, does NOT get more peaceful and does NOT get more free. The only ideas which (as near as I can tell — but make your own judgement!) seem to work are the ones which were put into play by the US Revolution. Those ideas were not so much a political philosophy as an anti-political philosophy. Don’t let the government do this, don’t let the government do that, limit the government from interfering in so-and-so. Most importantly don’t let the government have a monopoly on the use of force. Let people run their own lives, their own businesses, their own families, their own churches.

    The political question is not liberal-conservative, or socialist-fascist. It is not even Democrat-Republican. The problem is freedom vs subjugation. Arguing about the origin of fascism or socialism is like arguing about whether Bernie Madoff visited the New York Library or the Boston Library to do research on Charles Ponzi.

    I guess this rant is finished. My thanks to anyone who does not believe me to be certifiably insane! My thanks to our host!

  28. pyromancer76 says:

    Happy birthday and happy detangling. I very much like Jason Calley’s rant. “The only ideas which (as near as I can tell — but make your own judgement!) seem to work are the ones which were put into play by the US Revolution. Those ideas were not so much a political philosophy as an anti-political philosophy. Don’t let the government do this, don’t let the government do that, limit the government from interfering in so-and-so.”

    I was raised on Richard Hofstadter’s “paranoid politics” as the American Political
    Tradition, and the above is what I believed he was talking about, even though at the end or the 20th C we needed a stronger government because of a dramatically transformed America — huge corporations (the first was the railroad) and huge number of “laborers” along with unions. All “new”, all “scary” forces right along with amazing economic progress and technological development. The problem: the robber barons owned most government.

    My only disagreement is with Jason’s degree of pessimism. I am plenty pessimistic, but I am basically an optimist. Since representative democracy is the least worst government possible… so far, Americans have been able to see themselves through many tough places and emerge with the place to want to be in the world. I believe this will continue, but it might be touch and go for the next two years.

    Have a great time — will it take until the next birthday? — sorting this one out.

  29. Rick Beikoff says:

    I think Hitler presents the clearest case. Goldberg describes him as a “race fascist”. His political leanings were clearly socialistic but he prefered to co-op industry (by any means) and leave it privately owned (unless it was Jewish owned, in which it was stolen and given to “friendlies”) and favour certain captains of industry provided they did as they were told. So he was authoritarian and a corporatist. He was also a vegetarian, radical environmentalist, animal lover and a misanthopist. If Hitler were around today, he’d be a member of a Greens party, Greenpeace or wwf.

    But most clearly, he was of the Left. And with 6 million dead around his neck, that was a big problem for the Left. So they’ve had this 65 year plan to re-badge him as a Right-winger. They did this by changing the meaning of the word “fascism”. So the Left now disparage conservatives as fascists. Of course we oldies remember the truth but youngsters, I reckon, would say a fascist is of the Right. The Left certainly have simple ways to solve big problems – “The word means what I say it means” (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). How elegant!

    I think we need to stand firm and declare, loud and often, that the Left comprises: socialists, communists, fascists, progressives, liberals…(add more here)

  30. George says:

    The only difference I can see is that “fascism” is nationalistic while communism is some sort of global fascism.

  31. kuhnkat says:

    Jason Calley,

    The first step to detangle the Political mess is to be honest and see clearly what is happening in the world.

    “The national debt almost doubled under Reagan, but I have an acquaintance who firmly believes that Reagan ran a surplus and paid down the debt.”

    No argument, of course the left always claims all that debt was only for Star Wars and other hardware while ignoring the continued increase in handouts of all types!!

    “Clinton’s Secretary of State, when asked whether the deaths of half a million Iraqi children due to the sanctions “was worth it” responded that it was.
    We have the video, but Democrats still somehow see Clinton as a peace maker, especially compared to George W!”

    Typical BS. The sanctions were designed to insure food an medicines made it to Iraq. The usual UN and International groups corruption in connivance with Sodam Insane made sure the supplies were barely half useful and the major portion of the money was spent on military hardware, palaces, etc. In other words the insane Fascist killed his own people with the help of the Utopians like Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot…

    You completely passed by Clinton and McCain’s attack on the Serb civilian population and infrastructure with high altitude bombing for a lie about genocide, assisting Jihadis in taking Kosovo and other Balkan territories. Then there were the cruise missile attacks on Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan in such large numbers they had to convert nuke tipped missiles to conventional to keep them flying!!

    So, yes, Clinto was not a peace maker, but again, for the wrong reasons.

  32. kuhnkat says:


    as Rick and others point out another important piece of Fascism is that they appear to allow some autonomy in industry especially if the industrialist is successful and is willing to cooperate with the government.

    Communism simply takes over everything and makes it a part of the monolith with whatever incompetent party member that manages to gain support for it becoming the manager/tsar/whatever.

    Fascists appeared to be more successful economically. China has tried this version and appears to also be successful whereas while they were sticking to the original vision were failing badly. Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Venezuela and others in addition to the USSR are examples of the typical Communist failures.

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    I would like to point out that you are very wrong and completely out of touch with our political processes and systems.

    I’d like to, but I can’t. Such is the way of things… FWIW, as I’m an Economist by training, I tend to look at the theory of things divorced from the practical implementation (business majors deal with the practical parts ;-) so please forgive me my sporadic self indulgence in exploration of the theoretical despite the lack of aplicability to any functioning politician…

    FWIW, your “rant” has at it’s core a bit of Economic Theory put forth by von Hayek. The notion that the best we can do is to limit the government… and for substantially similar reasons. The notion is that just about every political system has an ‘end game’ of a Totalitarian outcome (Kings, Emperors, Socialism degenerates into Fascism and / or Naziism and / or Communist Dictators) with the only real exception being Classical Liberalism (that is more like what we call Jeffersonian Libertarianism than what Americans think of as “liberal”… we apply that to American Progressives when the reality is that they stole the word from a valid and good usage… but I digress. However, in the following quote, remember that “liberal” is not a USA Progressive, but rather a Traditional Free Liberty Advocate with ideas of liberty widely applied…)


    The Road To Serfdom by F.A.Hayek edited by Bruce Caldwell

    (which came to me as a birthday present ;-)

    In the introduction by Bruce Caldwell, pg. 24

    Hayek evidently took these criticisms to heart, for in the coming years he would make two further important contributions to political philosophy that would refine and extend the arguments made in The Road to Serfdom. In The Constitution of Liberty he laid out the philosophical foundations of liberal constitutionalism, wherein a private sphere of individual activity is defined, the state is granted a monopoly on coercion, and then is constitutionally limited by the rule of law in its use of those coercive powers. In the last third of the book, Hayek outlined the specific sorts of government policies that were consistent with such a political setup. In Law, Legislation, and Liberty, Hayek lamented how western democracies were increasingly circumventing the spirit of liberal constitutionalism by passing coercive legislation, typically under the guise of achieving social justice, but in reality serving well-organized coalitions of special interests. The book included a unique proposal for legislative reform aimed at reestablishing the ideal of a constitutionally constrained liberal democratic commonwealth.

    So you can guess what two volumes have been added to my ‘need to find’ list….

    Sadly, my exposure to Hayek in school was largely limited to the graph in Samuelson where he shows one graph and the assertion that the path is inevitable per Hayek (and thus clearly wrong) when Hayek in fact said no such thing, simply saying that the path existed and that liberty was traded for central planning in a proportionate ratio, but we could choose where on that path we slid… more warning than assertion of inevitable effect.

    Oh, and I note in passing that “social justice” has been used as “cover” for government coercion for quite a long time now… so I guess it’s OK that the term makes my skin crawl… It says I’ve had my eyes open long enough to spot that particular lie on “the road to serfdom”…

    At any rate, it’s very comforting to be looking at a ‘chunk of work’ and then find that some of the path has already been cleared by others… (Sometimes I’m amazed at how long it can take as a “Recovering Keynesian” to get past all the subtile shackles put on by Samuelson as a foundational text… )

    So I think you might find those works of interest. I note that you say to NOT let the government have a monopoly on the use of force. I suspect that there is a long discussion to work through defining where ‘force” is different from “coercion” at the end of which we find that there isn’t much disagreement with Hayek… In a Libertarian mindset, we get to use force (such as self defence) as individuals, but the use of coercion is prohibited… Similarly, the ability of a government to coerce (such as in warfare) must exist to some extent… but it’s the limiting of that extent to a very very small one that’s the key bit…


    Thank you! I’ve now got a couple of books to read and I’m enjoying a re-visit to Economics that I’ve not done in ages. I’m neglecting my duty to make money, but the markets are not very interesting right now. Just resource infation driven trades really. “Own stuff”. Gee, who knew? ;-)

    How long? (Schedule issue…) I’d guess about 2 months. Maybe less. Depends on how much “stuff” my family keeps expecting me to do for them (that they could do for themselves…) FWIW, I’ve already started a “Table of Isms” and reached the interesting conclusion that you can sort a lot of them based on “follow the money”. So put “ME” in a box on one side with “FROM” above it. On the other side put the heading “TO”. Depending on who is under the TO, you get a different “-ism”. Makes things a lot clearer ‘right quick’.

    FROM  TO
    Me    Me    Liberty / Libertarian / laissez faire
    Me    Owner  Slavery
    Me    Me, Capital Owner, & Government   Capitalism
    Me    Government  Communism
    Me    Me & Government (who owns production)  Socialism

    There is a third column with a “On TO” heading so Communism supposedly sends my money on to “citizens according to their needs” while in the case of Serfdom you have Me to Goverment onto Counts, Lords & Kings.

    The conclusion I’m reaching is that anything other than ME to ME is just variations on how the Serfdom / Subjugation / Slavery / Capitalist Exploitation / Communist oppression / Socialist Social Justice / Extortion gets sorted into a different name 8-{ and that “Libertarian” is the one that describes ME to ME and every other -ism is largely just a question of degree of theft of my life… but it’s not a done deal yet, so I may yet get some variation that makes it less “oppressive” to look at “Democratic Capitalist Republic” and ask if it’s really any different from “Democratic Socialist Republic” in how it impacts ME….

    At any rate, I’ve got a couple of such ‘tools in the works’ that are letting things progress fairly quickly. Sometimes it’s just little things. Like deciding I need to use s-Liberal for the current “Socialist Liberal” we have in America while using either i-Liberal (for Individual Liberties Liberal) or perhaps l-Liberal (Libertarian Liberal) or even c-Liberal (Classical Liberal) to distinguish the older meaning of someone in favor of liberties… Just to be able to properly sort things in “keeping a tidy mind”. (For every lie and redefinitional game, make a token to undo it and keep things straight…)

    At any rate, it’s likely just a few months, one way or the other, with postings along the way.

    @Rick Beikoff:

    Exactly. Frankly, I’m tired of “The Left” playing word games. Folks have just let them get away with it and it’s flat out wrong. It is simply put A Big Fat Lie. So I’ve decided to simply shine a bright white light on it whenever it comes up.

    For example, if someone says they are a “Liberal” I’m going to ask “Is that the orginal meaning of a Libertarian interested in personal freedoms and liberties or is that the meaning after the American Left stole the term and hid behind it as ‘progressive’ had become clearly marking them as Socialists?” For every doublespeak, a ‘clarifying question’. For every lie, a spotlight on the truth. (“Oh, so your ‘free’ medical care will cost a few $Trilliion of Taxes and is not free at all. Why do you call it ‘free’ then, isn’t that a lie?”)

    Yes, this will cost me my lifelong habit of being painfully polite… but I’ve learned that most other folks, and most decidedly those on “The Left” have no care for politeness… so it fits inside my philosophy of “Be A Mirror. -E.M.Smith”. If someone is polite to me, I am polite to them. If someone hits me, I hit them. If someone is aggressive to me, I am agressive to them. And, if someone is willing to be a lying manipulative aggressive bastard who distorts words to me, well, the least I can do is point out to them what they are doing and what that makes them. Then we will see what they would like to have in the mirror next…


    One of the insights from the Liberal Facism book is that Italy was very tolerant of Jews right up until Germany invaded them. Both Fascism and Naziism are based on Socialism, and both include a Nationalistic parent, but Naziism included a very specific pro-German and anti-Jew (and many other non-German) racism that was not in Italy.

    So as I see it, you can take a Socialist root (that I *think* started with The French Revolution, but I’m still hunting up that thread) and plot as it’s children crossed in with Nationalism to give Facism but then one added a large dose of Racism and you end up with Naziism. One ‘child’ went off to Marx and begat the Bolsheviks (that started as yet another “labor party”… ” faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party”…) that then got raped by Lenin and turned into Soviet Socialism… while a more pure Marxism went off to Mao and begat another type of Tyranical Rule. Yet another cousin swam the channel to England and from there caught a boat to America as “Progressivism” (thus the Wilson and FDR horrors to Liberty) but when ‘caught out’ decided to call itself “Liberal” and hide in plain site… until folks started to treat “liberal” as a dirty word here. Now it’s tried to resurect “progressive”. (It’s at this point I think we can ‘turn the lights on everywhere at once’ and give it no place left to hide… rodents are fast, though… so watch out for some unexpected new name…)

    But yes, communism is just the same basic dogma with a Global Domination Wrapper instead of Nationalism and Racism.


    That touches on my complaints about The Republicans. They don’t spend like Drunken Sailors with too much Rum, they spend like Drunken Sailors with too much beer. Not much difference. They don’t steal my liberty in the market place like Dimocrats, they steal my liberty in the bedroom, in my privacy, in airports, etc. I’m not seeing either of these two sides promoting MY liberty, MY freedom, MY privacy, MY keeping MY money. Etc.

    Don’t even get me started about the complete lack of any moral compass in who our government has killed… and with my money. Those whom they can not bribe, intimidate, or blackmail, they kill. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for a ‘limited’ and ‘liberty loving’ government…

    And thus was The Tea Party born… I think I’ll go make another cup of Earl Grey…

    BTW, a little Greek Store is nearby with the most wonderful old Greek man running it. They have a Bergamot Jam that is heaven on earth… $5 for a small jar, but oh, so worth it. “Athina” brand. It comes in a 1 pound jar, yet has Greek on the label. I’d have expected metric, but who knows… The place has Greek TV on (don’t know where the get it from..) and it’s clearly an ‘expat refuge’. I love such places. One block over is a Christian Iranian running a store with a mix of Iranian and Russian foods. Next to a Japanese restaurant … sometimes I just love this place…

  34. E.M.Smith says:


    Fascism works. It’s prone to failure over time though. So at first Mussolini was praised for the efficiency of things. It’s only later that things go terribly badly… Oh, and that loss of liberty and oppression business isn’t too good either… but the trains run on time and folks make money.

    And I probably ought to note for anyone wondering about the segway from tea to Greek jam and unfamilar with Earl Grey tea: Earl Grey is made by adding oil of Bergamot to tea… thus the connection to Bergamot marmalade… (he said, spoon of marmalade in tummy and Earl Grey rising to the lips…)

    Oh, and one other sidebar: I’d already read “The New Road to Serfdom” by Daniel Hannan and had intended a review of it, but got sidetracked. Now I’m thinking I ought to finish “The Road to Serfdom” first, then return to it… at any rate, it’s a great little book too…

  35. lawrie says:

    The word “fascism” derives from an Italian word for a bundle of sticks. This reminded me of the use of “fascines” so that tanks in WW1 could cross ditches and trenches. Fascines fascilitated the tanks cross country performance. Fascines were just very large bundles of sticks carried on the front of tanks and released into the ditch by cutting a rope. Irrelevant I know but sometimes we need to unlax just a little. What with Bob Brown blaming the QLD floods on the coal mines I get frustrated by the seriously loony given so much air time.

  36. Rick Beikoff says:

    Do any of you guys in the ‘States know anything about the House Science and Technology Committee, now controlled by the Republicans, and soon to launch hearings into Climategate? Like, when will it be? Will it cover Michael Mann and his hockey stick? Or Benjamin Santer’s fraud in changing the conclusions in Chapter 8 of the IPCC’s “Climate Change 1995? I think it offers a good chance to put this debate to rest. Maybe you should write to your Congressmen and demand the right questions be asked. But I wouldn’t want to try to tell you how to suck eggs.

  37. E.M.Smith says:


    I love such trivia… no idea why, but I do…

    @Rick Beikoff:

    My Congress Critters are in the Pelosi / Babs Boxer form… Writing to them is worse than a waste of time. The only folks they care about are the Very Rabidly Loony Left that inhabit enough of San Francisco to assure that the rest of us are just not important… Why every distict needs to be a square and why proportionat vote and / or ‘at large’ representation is needed…

    Realize, too, that my state just re-elected Governor Moonbeam (Jerry Brown) by a statewide majority… Yes, California, the land of Fruits & Nuts… We’re tens of $Billions in debt, sinking fast, so we elected a guy who was mayor of a city so bankrupt it could not reliably pay the police force and whose solution was to begin licencing pot growing facilities…

    I think I need a drink…

    (Yes, we have a government run by folks who really do think: “How can I be broke, I still have a credit card?” )

  38. Jason Calley says:

    @ Pyromancer “My only disagreement is with Jason’s degree of pessimism. I am plenty pessimistic, but I am basically an optimist.”

    Actually, I am an optimist as well – at least on the large scale and on the longer timeline. I think that coming to grips with the nature of current political systems, while a difficult paradigm shift (for me, at least) to make, gives the average person a much greater hope in the long run. What I see in the world today is very much analogous to what happened at the start of the Renaissance, and again at the start of the Industrial Revolution. New technology has made possible the rapid and inexpensive dissemination of information in a way that was not possible before. The old systems, the old allegiances are unraveling and new ones WILL form to replace them. As near as I can tell what we are witnessing is the de-centralization of information and the ending of the traditional gate-keepers to knowledge. Just as we saw a wave of revolutions and uproar when the growth of the printing press allowed the spread and cross fertilization of Western technology and world view, the digital revolution is creating a shift in governments and finance by destabilizing old networks. This is a good thing; the tight control of money, of commodities, or legislation and license is loosening. Decentralized power equals more freedom. The question is, can we hang on to the decentralized power and still keep the freedom without giving up the standard of living? I think we can, and that makes me optimistic – at least large scale. Here in the USA, I suspect we will see some hard times for at least a few decades.

    @ kunkat “Typical BS. The sanctions were designed to insure food an medicines made it to Iraq.”

    Please! Not “typical” at all… it is a very good grade of BS!  Seriously, I agree that Sadam carries massive and primary guilt for much of the Iraqi problems. On the other hand, let us not sweep under the rug the fact that he was placed into power (and often supported there) with USA help. As for the dead children, most of those who died from sanctions, could certainly have been helped more if Sadam had not gamed the system to his own gain. I was thinking more specifically of the US role in bombing the Iraqi sewage treatment, water treatment and electrical grid. Those bombings (aimed as they were at civilian, not military infrastructure) were illegal under US and international law, and promoted a massive increase in disease. I would not speak for everyone, but as for myself, I cannot justify them. I agree with what you say about Clinton and Serbia, etc. In my opinion, he is an evil man. If I had an eight year old daughter lost in the woods for three days, I would rather she be by herself than with Bill Clinton.

    @ E.M. “FWIW, your “rant” has at it’s core a bit of Economic Theory put forth by von Hayek. The notion that the best we can do is to limit the government… and for substantially similar reasons.”

    I am just now coming around to the same ideas. My background has been more in the hard sciences and the small exposure I had to any theories of Economics always left me confused and baffled. On the political front, I have had a Jeffersonian take on things since childhood. Jefferson made sense! His approach maximized human freedom and happiness and had a good ethical ground as well as a practical understanding of human nature. I was never tempted – even as a teen-aged, long haired hippie sort – by the political baggage and neo-socialism that snared so many. Anyone who cannot see the flaws in the Marxist labor theory of value must be sleeping. Economics though… as I say, that baffled me. One of the more pleasant things that has happened to me in the last decade or so is that I ran across the Austrian School of Economics. I know that a lot of very well credentialed people say it is bunk, but it was the first approach to economics that made sense to me. Hazlett’s “Economics in One Lesson” was clear and understandable. Various articles by Congressman Paul, by Lew Rockwell, and Murray Rothbard were equally lucid. I am currently reading “Human Action” by Von Mises. It is only in the last couple of years that I am really starting to get a handle on the relationship – though it is almost more of an “identity” than a simple “relationship” – between the study of economics and politics. As Mises would say (paraphrased), the study of human action encompasses all the various interactions between people, those involving ballots just as much as those involving money. Economics and politics are merely two points of emphasis along a line, not two separate lines.

    Veering very slightly, speaking of the use of words, and the subtle way that small re-definitions can influence our thinking and judgment — as you point out, it is impossible to do an honest study without staying constantly on the lookout for such changes. “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their true name.” I remember that Liberal does not equal “I’ll take your stuff and give it to my supporters.” Conservative does not equal “Let’s bomb brown people and get their oil.”. Global Warming does not equal “Climate Disruption.” While semantic distortion is not the only way of controlling and deluding masses, it is certainly one of the most common. I think that if I ever decide to become an evil World Dictator, the first thing I will do is burn the dictionaries and imprison the grammarians.

    Thanks, E.M. I would be hard pressed to know exactly which ideas I have taken up in the last year and a half or so were taken from your blog here. Certainly some I got from you, some from other people posting. Either way, what an interesting crowd to have hanging around here!

  39. Jason Calley says:

    As often hapens, I jusr ran across an article that says much of what I just posted — except that the article says it better. This from Butler Shaffer:

    “The vertically-structured systems through which the institutional order has long operated are in a state of collapse. In large part because of technologies [e.g., the Internet] that are diffusing the control of information into the hands of the millions rather than just the few, our social systems – and thinking – are rapidly becoming decentralized. The political establishment has mobilized its violent powers in a desperate effort to shore up its weakened foundations and reinvigorate the status quo. But such efforts will no more halt the ongoing transformations than did the Luddite machine-breaking riots curb the Industrial Revolution. ”


    “As a result of institutionalized conditioning, we have grown up with certain expectations of the political system. Among these are lies such as that government exists to protect our lives and other property interests; that the state is necessary for the creation and maintenance of social order; and that we – the ordinary people – control it. In recent years, men and women have gotten fleeting glimpses of the man behind the curtain, and are beginning to see through the fraud and deception that has long been practiced upon them. There is a growing awareness that the system does not serve its avowed purposes, thus producing a frustration of expectations which, in turn, produces more aggression. ”

  40. kuhnkat says:

    Jason Calley,

    I have heard the stories about how much the US helped to place Sodam Insane into power and keep him there selling him munitions and other interesting items.

    On the other hand, I have also read how the US didn’t sell him much more than helicopter parts and a few other trinkets compared to the rest of Europe and Russia…

    Then there is the tiny issue that Sodam was a blackshirt of the Ba’athist bent who murdered his way to power with the support of some of his party.

    So, I have to ask you, can you give me links to reasonably reliable information showing the US involved up to their earballs so to speak??

    PS: I used to peruse Rockwell and a number of similar sites. Gave up on them because of poor sourcing. Kinda like Jesse Ventura’s Conspiracy Theories, lotsa noise, very few facts.

  41. E.M.Smith says:


    I don’t have alot of links to hand, but Daddy Bush ( I can’t keep the ’41 / whatever numbers straight, so I just call them Daddy Bush and Baby Bush… it’s always clear then.) was the CIA manager for a while.

    IMHO, a lot of what was done in Iraq and Afganistan can be viewed as a simple “clean up” operation after the USSR imploded and The Shaw was ousted. We funded The Taliban and we gave Saddam arms to use against Iran (after the Shaw was booted – that whole “Iran / Contra” operation). So later we went back and took down Sadam and we’re still going after the Taliban.

    Just a matter of the Bush’s cleaning up their left over messes.

    So if you start with Iran / Contra and Daddy Bush moving arms to Iran, then the Iatola wins, so we move on to sort of backing Iraq against them…–Contra_affair

    This one has a nice picture of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam:

    Since it’s dirt on the Republicans, the Wiki has some coverage:–Iraq_war

    and, of course, the Iranians have a pretty good axe to grind, though I note they cite western references in the bottom:

    Just google “US arms sales to Saddam” for a whole lot more…

    This one is interesting too:

    So while I’m no fan of their actions (part of what I Do NOT Like about the Republicans… all this military adventure… and destablizing other governments. Just let them kill each other and trade with the victor. It’s not our fight and not our place to be stiring pots around the world…) I do have to give the Bush Family credit for cleaning up after themselves… though I think they are learning it’s a whole lot easier to pee in the other guys pot than to clean the pee out later…

    So while we didn’t PLACE him into power (he got there the old fashioned way, he killed off the opposition) once he was there, we were willing to help keep him there as long as he was a PITA to Iran…

    Though these folks claim the CIA had a hand in bringing his PARTY to power:

    but I have no idea if there is any truth in that. While it seems a bit dodgy to me, we’ve done such things before.

    So we were OK with him and kind of friendly when he was killing Iranians. At least up until he became a PITA to Kuwait and Saudi at least. Can’t have him doing things on his own, and certainly not after Saudi has paid for our services…

    How much of that “mud” is valid and how much is planted by the “other guys” counter intel ops? Who knows and who aint tellin’… Part of why I didn’t go into the Spook business. You just get really tired of trying to play each hand out a dozen ‘reversals’ deep and try to filter all the lies from half lies from stupid things someone really did do.

    I’d probaly never survive in politics as my policy would be “No bribes. No ‘aid’. No cash. No nothing. We will trade if you want to do it in an open and transparent market.” And with zero attempts to assasinate, destabilize, overthrow, finace or influence in any way what so ever the internal politics of another country. Let them kill each other and then it’s God’s problem what to do with them. We will trade with the survivors.

    (Yes, during the Cold War it was likely needed for us to do such things. Countervailing power and all. But at this point? Let the EU, Russia, China, Islam, and all the others waste their treasure fighting each other for control of Angola or Iran. Looks like it’s not my problem any more.)

    @Jason Calley:

    Econ is not really very hard. (Most of it anyway). The problem is that most folks start with the hard bits…

    So “Political Economy” is the subset most distorted and most difficult. It’s also most interesting so a lot of folks jump right to it.

    Micro Economics is about linear programming models and optimization of buisness productivity functions. Very technical for a “soft” science. And stuff like why you buy pizza and beer in desired ratios… or how to choose guns vs butter.

    Macro Economics is about things like “If China has a $Trillilon US Dollars and wants to dump them, what happens to the US Dollar and what can The Fed do to stop that?” All ‘whole economy” and “intergovermental” stuff. Again, largely mechanical stuff. Until you reach the “Political Economy” parts…

    Then you end up in “Comparative Economics” of things like Communism vs Captialism vs Socialism vs … and all hell breaks loose as eash ‘advocate’ tries to paint his favorite as The One True Fluffy Bunny Utopia…

    Mostly that breaks down into a few large chunks based on a couple of questions. Number one is “who owns the means of production” (usually called the capital stock).

    Who “owns the stuff”:

    King / Queen and Lords: Feudalism
    Private Rich Bastards: Capitalism
    “Government” via Manipulative Dear Leaders: Communism
    “Everyone” for some of it via Manip. Leaders: Socialism
    For non-critical things like hot dog stands and restaurants “individuals” otherwise “everyone”: Lange Type Socialism
    Dictators Friends and Government: Fascism
    Dictator: If small, Dictatorship. If large, Imperialism.

    Then you get into “who pays the workers” and how is “stuff” distributed. Sometimes you get into how much freedom folks have. None? Slavery. Some folks own slaves and have some freedoms, while one guy gets it all? Monarchy with Landed Fiefs. Etc.

    It’s all just “Who, makes what, for whom”, but with a million and one detailed variations to make it hard to follow, then with “details’ on the when, where, how much (always how much), etc. to flesh out “Micro”. As near as I can tell, Economics does not address “why” and “how”. Who, what, where, when, how much. All in. Why? Nope… It’s just assumed to be ‘because they want to make money or something” There are simple assumptions about ‘why’ involving things like “greed” and “personal gain” and “utility”, but that’s the most vauge part of the field. The theory of “satisificing” got a nobel prize and not too long ago. For what? The idea that maybe we do not optimize every single decision. Maybe sometimes we just go for ‘good enough’… (there is more wrapped around it, but that’s the core.) And “how” is left to the engineers.

    Hope that helps more than hurts.

    So once you start putting things in the context of “Who makes what for whom” and “who owns the stuff and makes decisions on what to do with it” it starts to come together.

    Then you see that any form of “Central Planning” means I don’t get to decide what to do with “my stuff” so it’s not really “my stuff” anymore and I’m not “free” anymore. I’ve moved into some form of Socialism or another if “everyone else” is telling me what I can do with “my stuff”… and into communism if “Commisar” is telling me.

    After that, its just arranging it all on a grid and matching the funny names to all the minor variations of subsets.

    Shaffer looks interesting… I’d also suggest some Chomsky. Like “Manufacturing Consent”

    Thinking about how The internet breaks that process is, er, entertaining in a scary kind of way…

  42. Jason Calley says:

    @ kuhnkat

    E.M. has already posted what looks like some interesting info about Saddam, but here is a little bit more:

    Re Saddam’s early rise to power and association with the CIA:
    “While many have thought that Saddam first became involved with U.S. intelligence agencies at the start of the September 1980 Iran-Iraq war, his first contacts with U.S. officials date back to 1959, when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim.”
    Posted at the Federation of American Scientists, excerpted from the Congressional Record:
    “It is hard to believe that, during most of the 1980s, America knowingly permitted the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission to import bacterial cultures that might be used to build biological weapons. But it happened. ”

    Really though (and this actually — in an odd way –supports your scepticism about this more than my certainty) this third link is one I hope you look at:

    The link above is an opinion piece by a former Army War College professor. In it he recounts that the US Army War College produced a report showing that Saddam did not “gas his own people” but that the civilians killed had been killed by the Iranian’s use of gas. I know personally that such a report was produced because it used to be posted on the War College’s web site, but disappeared (or was moved to where I can no longer find it) sometime after 2003. The basic thrust of the report was that the Kurds, who had indeed been gassed, showed symptoms indicative of the nerve gas used by Iran during the battle, (there was an Iranian/Iraqi battle going on for the village at the time) not the chlorine gas used by Iraq.

    Ok, why does it matter? We agree that Saddam was a murderous piece of s&%t. Does it make that much difference whether he was guilty of that particular bit of genocide? To me, it matters because of this; we all remember the unending demonization of Sadddam, including the “he gassed his own people!” mantra. It was one of the battle cries used to shape public opinion. So who do we trust? Can we trust in the jugment and honesty of the US Army? Or the politicians? Honesty in politicians is so rare that people make jokes about it, and yet, we follow their lead time after time.

    I guess that the point that I am doing such a jerky dance around is that neither of us — not you, not me — can be certain about even something as recent as the unpleasantness in Iraq. I look at the totality of what I have seen and read and I conclude that Saddam was strongly connected with certain groups and policies associated with the US. As I said before, I think that “he was placed into power (and often supported there) with USA help.” You probably disagree — which might be a good thing, because I could very well be wrong! Returning your willingness to look at evidence that the US supported Saddam, I am certainly just as willing to look at your side of it if you have any links that you think I should check out. One thing I have learned here is that pretty much everyone who posts has reasons for their opinions.

    Thanks, Kuhnkat for your feedback.

  43. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. I have not finished watching all the clips for Chomsky, but I am reminded by what I have seen so far of a book titled “Propaganda” by Edward Bernays from 1930 or so. Also reminded of some of the thoughts of Carroll Quigley in Tragedy and Hope. Oh, yes, some of the more unpleasant (to me!) historical anecdotes from John Taylor Gatto’s “Underground History of American Education.”

    There really is a strata of people who honestly believe that they can do a better job of running the world than can the individual inhabitants do for themselves. I do not think that this is a mysterious Satanic organization; it is just the natural outcome of people who have — for the most part — grown up and lived in circles where other people deferred to their command. They honestly think they know what is best for YOU. At least some of them do… but there are the others who are tempted by the enormous prize of controling the world’s steering wheel.

    Just a quick heads up.

    I was just notified of a family emergency — death in the family. Not the wife or kids, but an Uncle I have been close with. I may be somewhat absent ffrom online for the near future.

  44. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    I’d be skeptical about a claim that because it was ‘nerve gas’ and not chlorine it was Iran. Possible, yes. But most ‘nerve agents’ are very easy to synthesize and a whole family of them are first cousins of “bug spray” (the organophosphates). So anyone who can make or buy bug spray can likely make nerve agents.

    Others, like blister agents (Mustard Gas) are incredibly easy to make too.

    Frankly, I’m a third rate chemist at best and I could set up a nerve gas factory in my back yard with about 2 days notice. (And access to the materials, that are pretty simple things.)

    Basically, I’d need some evidence of gas shells coming in from Iran or of Iranian overflights by bombers.

    But yes, you always must watch out for “false flag” when it comes to “casus belli”…

    And “Lord save me from people who think that can run my life better than I, as they ‘help’ me..”

    Good luck with your family needs…

  45. George says:

    Found this, thought I might throw it in here:

    For nearly ten years, I have been arguing that China may well be the first example of a mature fascism in power. The highest praise imaginable has been bestowed on this theory, by the People’s Republic itself. When I published an updated version of my theory (first published in the Wall Street Journal in 2002 and reprised in different form in NRO thereafter) in the Far East Economic Review in May, 2008, the entire issue was banned in China.

    On the occasion of Mr. Hu’s visit to Washington, it seems appropriate to revisit this theme, which seems to me to have been abundantly confirmed by events.

  46. E.M.Smith says:


    Yup, I agree with everything he said. It also relates to the observations in this thread:

    The “bottom line” that a lot of folks (especially those of a ‘liberal’ or “left wing” bent – current American version) don’t want to hear is that Fascism is a type of Socialism.

    They get all bent out of shape as they think I’m saying their baby is ugly. The reality is more along the lines of being a doctor who says “Your child has cephalomegaly”. A side effect may be that the kid is ugly, but the important part to the doctor is knowing what you’ve got and how to treat it…

    But the simple fact is that the defining features of Fascism are a Socialist BASE, implimented with a “corporatism” method (so folks can ‘own’ the company but the government calls the tune, play along you get rich, don’t and you lose all) with heavy ‘workers unions’ involvement as a delivery vehicle for the social goods. Then it gets seasoned with the requist Nationalism. Voila! Fascist State. And all of those match China today. (Add a heaping helping of Racism with a strong anti-Semitic flavor and Fascism turns to Naziism…)

    That’s “just the facts”.

    The hard bit about China is answering the question that the article raises: Are they on the way to freedom and democracy, or stopping at fascist state looking for global empire? And we just don’t know.

    (We do know that the stock charts say to take the money and run right now… Interesting that… Perhaps related to a China “Ministry Of Stupidity Speaks” moment when they decided to ‘cool off the real estate market’ with changes that reminded everyone “you only get to keep the money as long as the guys in charge like you”… Kiss the Furers / Il Duce / Fearless Leader / Beloved Leader’s ring and place alms in the bucket…. )

    As it moves toward freedom, the stock market rises, as it is seen stopping in fascism, stocks fall. It really is that simple (and that’s mostly why I care at all about getting the classifications clear. I really don’t care if someone else has an ugly child… as long as it’s not mine ;-)

  47. George says:

    They seem to be in some “robber baron” phase to me, sort of like we were with the “Trusts” back in the day. Powerful enterprises seem to have local officials in their pockets as they do such things as evict people from their homes for development projects and such. We went though a phase like that a point in our past.

  48. George says:

    Actually, I am quite concerned about what is going on in Egypt (where people can not read this as the government has ordered all ISPs to stop routing their networks on the general Internet).

  49. P.G. Sharrow says:

    I agree, The Chinese Great Leap Forward has peaked and is over. Their sugar daddy, US, is going to cut them off of the gravy train. The free ride is over.

    When you are doing catch up from the dark ages everything is shiny and new, and the bureaucrats are genius. Now every thing is down hill and the bureaucrats will squeeze it to death to make their numbers.

    The next great leap forward in an underdeveloped area is in North America. Believe it or Not. Must overcome the Obamanation first. A few more years to go.
    The Islamonazi war is starting its final stage, the oligarchs are making their big play and are losing.

    We do live in interisting times! pg

  50. E.M.Smith says:

    Yes, Egypt is “a worry”… Yet Another petty tyrant leading to economic collapse.

    They’ve got 60% aged under 30 and of them over 90% unemployed (per Fox talking points)… that’s 54% unemployment. Brutal. The “official” number was quoted as something else like 18% or so, but on MSNBC their crawler had it at 9%. Dodgy statistics are a good clue things are really bad.

    One of the channels, MSNBC?, was trying to put a load of political spin on it while on others they were making it clear that much of this was “food riots” over doubling food costs and not money… Al Jazeera, naturaly, had the best coverage ( I just wish they were on longer for things like this).

    As near as I can tell, it’s the typical “Government directed econoomic collapse” under a “strong man”. I’m pretty sure that with a free market economy and liberty those folks would find a way to make money (i.e. self employ if nothing else).

    At any rate, I was contemplating a posting on Egypt then decided to just let it sit for a day or two…

    For some time I’ve predicted that The Collapse (and following war) would come on an axis with one end anchored in North Korea and the other in the Middle East near Israel. I’ve hoped it would be 20 or 30 more years out (so not my problem as I’ll likely be gone by then). With the long history of cold periods being tied to famine, social disorder, and empire collapse: This is looking mighty familiar and just a bit scary.

    The potential Bad Things that could come out of this are quite large. THE most annoying bit personally is that my country has been funding these jokers to the tune of about $2 Billion a year. Choosing “stability” over self determination. You’d have thought we learned something after The Shaw…. (and a dozen others…)

    And folks wonder why I advocate a policy of “home first”, no zero zilch nada “foreign aid” bribe money, if someone wants to have a war or rebellion, let them, and trade with the survivors. I advocate it NOT because it is the best potential solution; but because we are incapable of choosing the better solutions and always choose the worse ones…

    So we’ve got Tunisia and Egypt on the rocks, Lebanon a basket case, Yemen and Kuwait stiring, Saudi Arabia maintaining an Iron Grip (and moving money to where… Oh, wait, the Euro is rising… and the Swiss Franc…) and Iran would just love to help destabilize all that side (Sunni vs Shia issue). So while I hope this ends in peacful democracies in the region, I fear it will end in a New Caliphate and a “Let’s attack Israel to distract the masses”…

    North Korea has the missles and Special Nucear Materials. So does Pakistan. Add in an Iran pact, and things could get very dicy very fast.

    It’s at times like this I’m glad I didn’t get a call back from the CIA about that analyst position… Heck, I’d be sitting up at 3 AM on a Friday night trying to figure out how this was most likely to blow up and how bad the worst case scenario could get (and where to push to stop it)… Oh, wait, that’s just like now but with pay and a pension

    I’ve still got some cogitating to do, but at this point I’d put it at:

    Mubarak is out, in about a week.
    New Provisional Government (middle class centrist) falls, replaced with populist government. Islamic Brotherhood (provisioned from Iran via Hesbola) pushes into positions of power. Iran Redux (but with a softer nature… the Egyptians are a more reasonable lot much of the time) with a New Caliphate effort, but blunted by US intervention / blackmail. The whole thing festering for about a year. Then it gets murkey…

    Somewhere in there Yemen makes three as it splinters into “tribal areas”. Then Kuwait starts to be shakey with riots. Still fuzzy on fall or stand… Saudi has a major Clamp Down on unrest. Then everyone starts looking at Israel…

    Best case? Egyptian Military sides with the people, tosses Mubarak, they have a real open election, and new republic with social freedoms and take the police state jack boots of the people. All over and done in about a year.

    I don’t expect that, though. Too many folks with too much power working to prevent it. That strain will result in the New Strong Man (with foreign funding) who founds the newer more radical state…

    Sigh. And they’ve got so much going for them if they were just a free people with very limited government….

  51. David says:


    …”The potential Bad Things that could come out of this are quite large. THE most annoying bit personally is that my country has been funding these jokers to the tune of about $2 Billion a year. Choosing “stability” over self determination. You’d have thought we learned something after The Shaw…. (and a dozen others…)”

    It is complicated as you know and note. “self determination” may, or may not be possible. The current Egyptian tyrant has for years pacified the Muslim Brotherhood (which won 20% of the election in, I think, 2005) with letting them abuse the Coptic Christians. Bad move on his part as their power hungry eyes sooner or later fall on the real seat of power. Yet also a large percentage of the population in Egypt wants nothing to do with the extremist.

    Our bargain with Egypt was based on stability with Israel, and yes, this is like building a super structure on quicksand, so perhaps you are correct, or perhaps we are dammed no matter what, in which case principal over political expediency works best long term every time, as long as you have the power to protect yourself, as if Egypt falls and forces of freedom and democracy lose the power vacuum struggle to radical Islamists, then the Egyptian arms the US supplied now moves into very unstable hands of very violent ideologues. I guess it is not so much we pick the wrong side, as perhaps there are no good sides in a least ugly contest. It is not easy to keep a “tidy mind” in a dirty world.

    Yes, perhaps not supporting petty tyrants at least give one the moral authority to react with real force if and when a worse tyrant takes over and threatens international stability.

  52. David says:

    My last sentance should be changed from,”Yes, perhaps not supporting petty tyrants at least give one the moral authority to react with real force if and when a worse tyrant takes over and threatens international stability.” to Yes, perhaps not supporting petty tyrants at least give one the moral authority to react with real force if and when a worse tyrant takes over and does more then just threaten international stability.

    International stability is threatened all the time. Sometimes it is best to let the bad guys play their card, then at least there can be some unity of resolve to react.

  53. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “And folks wonder why I advocate a policy of “home first”, no zero zilch nada “foreign aid” bribe money, if someone wants to have a war or rebellion, let them, and trade with the survivors. I advocate it NOT because it is the best potential solution; but because we are incapable of choosing the better solutions and always choose the worse ones… ”

    It is sad and strange that so many people today would accuse you of “isolationism” for saying what is a very accurate paraphrase of what the founding Fathers said. Certainly Washington said the same in his Farewell Address.

    As digital information technology becomes more and more commonplace throughout the world, I expect that we will see nations rise and fall because of it. Partisans who can communicate and coordinate through cell phones, internet and exchanged thumb drives will — whether those in power approve or not — find out who have been putting saddles on their backs for years. This is very similar to the religious, intellectual and national revolutions spurred by Gutenberg, only this time it is global.

    Place your tray tables in an upright, locked position. It’s going to be a bumpy flight!

  54. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    Golly… I had no idea I was paraphrasing his speech… Now I’ll have to go look it up and see what else I’ve been thinking ;-)

    The tyrants are simply going to discover that if there is ANY mode of communications open, an electronic feed can be encrypted and sent down it.

    Every Unix or Linux box has built in all the “primatives” on which the internet was originally based, including UUCP or Unix to Unix CoPy. It means that a computer with a modem can swap “mail” or “news” or “web pages” or “ftp files” or anything else with another like computer, as long as they have a phone line… (or even a twisted pair of wire or just a local wireless link to the neighbor…)

    So if someone did a ‘take down’ here, first thing I’d do is turn on my old modem (that sits on the counter fully configured already…) and put in a preselected Out Of The Country dial up number and “viola”, back on the internet.

    IFF that wasn’t available to me, I’d canvas my immediate neighbors and form a neighborhood “cell”. There are about a dozen wireless nodes “on the air” in my home. If we ‘open them up’ to each other, we can ‘blend them’. At the margin, each node sees another node, and so on to the edge of the city. Yes, it would take some reconfiguring to put them all on, for example or similar large network numbering scheme, but the fact is that one could make their own ‘intranet’ out of them.

    Then, all you need is ANY ONE node to have access to the outside world. Be it satellite link, leased line (even a leased line originally provisioned for something else…) or just a chunk of cable tossed over the border fence to another Linux site… Then ALL have access to the outside. Slower access, yes. But access.

    The basic ‘point’ is that between the various new tech types of wireless and the old tech modems and twisted pair you can recreate the data flow mighty darned easy.

    And now that we’ve seen what the powers that be will do, there will be more folks pre-building “methods” just in case… (Maybe I ought to write a book ;-)

    Oh and something we used to quote back when I was running a supercomputer site: “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a stationwagon full of tape. It’s a long time between packets, but boy are those packets large!” Though maybe it needs to be updated to “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of DVDs and thumbdrives … ”


    Yes, the “least worst bad answer” conundrum. But think on this: How much worse off will Israel be if all our $1 Billion a year of military aid purchased hardware ends up in the hands of Radical Islam? Will the USA have to go “clean up it’s mess” in an Egyptian war? Will Israel have to be told how to kill OUR hardware and perhaps given the means to do so? Would it not have been better to NOT have Egypt fitted out with some of the best hardware USA money could buy? Somehow I have to think that Israel could have made a darned nice set of it’s own military goods and that Egypt would have realized it was futile to attack it (especially if they had to fund their military toys with their own economy…)

    The thing about radical zealot ideologies is that they usually don’t focus on productivity, so they expire pretty quickly as the “beans and bullets” run out. So an extremist Egypt would have sputtered out fairly quickly, IMHO. (Unless they sit on a giant pool of oil…) Now they have a much larger stockpile of “bullets” if they rise to power and it will take much longer to run out of them.

    I can only hope that the “Arab Street” in Egypt is much more rational that it has been in other countries. The Egyptians impress me as a more tolerant and laid back sort, compared to some of their more nutty “kin”. That the crowds have been chanting for freedom, sugar, food, jobs; all that is highly encouraging that it’s just a middle class fed up with domination by a sock-puppet-with-attitude and that it will NOT end up in something much worse.

    But we’ve made this mess, now we’ll have to be part of the clean up too…

  55. boballab says:

    Yes it would be nice if you got a real Republic set up in Egypt that would both be friendly to the US and Israel, however that ain’t what we are going to get. So time to put away the fairy dust.

    This hasn’t gotten the play it deserves but the riots were small potatoes until the Muslim Brotherhood smelled the opportunity to take over. The big riots that had people being killed and buildings set on fire were orchestrated by them.

    The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s strongest opposition force, said on its website this morning that it would call out its full numbers onto the streets. That surely added to today’s crowd, since the Brotherhood kept a very low profile in Tuesday’s demonstrations, which it endorsed but refrain from urging its members to attend.

    So here is your choices:

    A. Mubarak in charge.


    B. The Muslim Brotherhood in charge with all their ties to terrorist organizations like Hamas. IF the MB takes over then they lift the Egyptian end of the embargo of arms into Gaza. When that happens Israel moves back into Gaza and let the dominoes start falling.

    Hamas (حماس Ḥamās, an acronym of حركة المقاومة الاسلامية Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamat al-Islāmiyyah, meaning “Islamic Resistance Movement”) is a Palestinian Islamist political party. It also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.[5][6] Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by a number of governments, including those of Israel, the European Union,[7][8] the United States,[9] Canada[10] and Japan.[11][12]

    Based largely upon the principles of Islamic fundamentalism that were gaining momentum throughout the Arab world in the 1980s, Hamas was founded as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 1987, during the First Intifada.[13][14] Sheik Ahmed Yassin declared in 1987 that Hamas was founded for the purpose of Jihad, to liberate Palestine from Israeli oppression and to establish an Islamic state “from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.”[15]

    The Hamas affiliated military wing is responsible for the majority of violence and killings attributed to Hamas and conducted numerous attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. Tactics have included rocket attacks and from April 1993, until they ceased in January 2005, suicide bombings. Hamas violence has been directed at Israel, Egypt, and rivaling Palestinian movements in the West Bank and Gaza.[16]

    So pick your poison people, root for Mubarak to fall and the rise of Egyptian Government that will repudiate the Camp David Accords or root for Mubarak to stay in power. Those are your choices.

    For those that were too young to remember the Iranian Revolution and the Iranian Hostage Crises clearly, here is your chance to see it live, including a deluded leftist President in DC screwing the pooch.

  56. E.M.Smith says:


    I think you’ve drunk of the cup of false dichotomies….

    We could also have:

    Mubarak steps down, leaving new VP in charge, then new elections (probably also rigged) of a new guy we buy off.

    Same thing but we don’t buy him off.

    Mubarak assasinated, military takes over. New elections in a year (probably also rigged) of a new guy we buy off. (Ditto lack of buy off option).

    Military simply takes over and makes it a military dictatorship for a few years (and as they like our $1.5 – $2 Billion a year, leave Isreal alone). Alternate option: We get pissed and cut off funding, they get new sugar daddy (China? Russia?)

    Military takes over and pisses us off, no money and no toys, but have their hands so full with internal rebellion (and no payroll money) to think about Israel. Maintain Iron Fist as everything sputters… the collapes into chaos a couple of years out. UN “Peacekeepers” brought in.

    etc. etc. etc.

    It’s most definitely NOT an “A or B” only and it’s most definitily NOT in our control as to outcome. At best we can have small remote influences and wave money around.

    But Mubarak stay? Sorry, don’t see it. Too many folks, too pissed off.

    Also M.B. have about 30% endorsement. They could gain power and influence, or lose it. All depends on how things ‘play out’ from here going forward. It’s not a shoe-in for them when Mubarak is gone. (And yes, it’s a when. He’s 82. It’s at most a few years, most likely a few months or weeks.)

    So I’d assert that the ‘false choice’ is to think there is a “Mubarak Stays” option as it’s only a matter of time (and not a lot of time even then) until he is gone. And the best way to assure the M.B. gain support is for us to back Mubarak and opression and them to say “We are your only hope against the evil American Imperialists and their sock puppet opressor”…

    So, IMHO, the best we can do is promote a middle class peaceful resolution and support folks making that happen (in place of M.B.)

    No Pixie Dust applied.

    I’d guess that the best way to make that work would be via contacts inside the Egyptian military and having a 6 month military interim government and UN monitored elections, but I’m not that familiar with the Egyptian voting system to know if it can be un-rigged in that time…

    Remember that 60% of the population are under 30 and mostly educated but unemployed. Those folks have spent their whole lives looking at Mubarak and want to start a decent life before they die of old age. They are simply done with waiting. It’s over, in their eyes. So for them to live, he’s got to go. You will not put that back in the bottle now that they have intimidated the police off the streets. They’ve given up on fear as an option. So tell them we are going to impose Mubarak on them for another decade or so? You would be giveing M.B. more recruits than they could handle…. End game is The Shaw being run out (wait, I think that’s what we did last time… and it lead to…)

    So we can stand on the principles of liberty and self determination or we can be the best recruitment tool the M.B. could ever want (or we can just stand back watching in puzzlement – which is what we’re doing now…).

  57. boballab says:


    I’m going to guess you haven’t looked at Egypt’s history in the 20th century in Conjunction with the Muslim Brotherhood. The MB goes back to 1928.

    Lets take a look at what has happened to every Egyptian leader since WWII:
    Prime Minister Sidqi Pasha

    In the same year, prime minister Sidqi Pasha returned from negotiations in London with a draft treaty that the nationalist groups found absolutely unacceptable. Violent student riots broke out. Members of the Brotherhood’s secret apparatus started to carry out attacks on Britons as well as on Egyptian police stations, and continued to do so over the next few years. The government responded to this escalating violence with harsh repressive measures, including a wave of arrests among the Brothers and other nationalist groups. Rioting continued throughout 1946, and in December the government resigned.

    Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi al-Nuqrashi Pasha

    Aside from charges of involvement in violent attacks against police and foreigners, the government accused the Society of encouraging workers and farmers to go on strike to demand higher wages and ownership of farmland. Many members of the Brotherhood were arrested, and Banna was kept under close police surveillance. Weeks later, with the organisation’s hierarchy and communications thoroughly disrupted, a Muslim brother assassinated prime minister Nuqrashi.

    Prime Minister Abd al-Hadi

    In May 1949, after a wave of arrests, a group of Brothers made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate prime minister ‘Abd al-Hadi, leading to still more arrests.

    Prime Minister Nahhas Pasha

    Over the next few months, anti-government riots broke out, expressing the nationalist movement’s frustration with the government’s failure to follow up the abrogation of the treaty with decisive action. On 25 January 1952, British forces attacked an Egyptian police station in the Canal Zone and a pitched battle ensued. The next day, in Cairo, students, police and officers marched together to the parliament to demand a declaration of war against Britain; meanwhile thousands of rioters set fire to the city, leaving much of central Cairo in ruins. The Brotherhood did not participate as an organisation, and Hudaybi issued a statement repudiating the riots, but individual members were involved. Several new governments followed in rapid succession. On 23 July the Free Officers, led by Muhammad Naguib, took power, overthrowing the monarchy; the coup was greeted with enthusiasm throughout Egypt.[33]

    The Brotherhood played a supporting but not crucial role in the revolution. Members of the Free Officers, including Gamal Abdel Nasser (who was to become the leader of the new regime) and Anwar al-Sadat, had had close contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood since the 1940s, and some were members of the Society (Nasser himself may have been one of these). Members of the Brotherhood had fought alongside the officers in Palestine, and had been armed and trained by them for deployment in the Canal Zone in the year preceding the revolution.

    Please Note that this sounds awfully familiar to what is going on now. Matter of fact the MB said they are going to wait until the “revolt” topples Mubarak and then take over via elections just like Hamas in Gaza. Hey why not it worked for Hamas and it worked for them in Egypt in 1951. That’s right the MB took over Egypt in 1951, if it there hadn’t been a power struggle between Nasser and the official head of the MB as well as the Army not giving up their power to the MB (Like what was seen in Iran in 1978/79 when the revolution happened there and the formation of the Revolutionary Guard)

    After the revolution, relations between the Brotherhood and the junta were initially cordial but quickly soured. Among the reasons for this were the army’s unwillingness to share political power, the Brotherhood’s insistence on the promulgation of an Islamic constitution, and Hudaybi’s deep distrust of Nasser. In 1953, the government abolished all political parties and organisations except the Muslim Brotherhood. It then created a new party, the Liberation Rally, intended to win over those Egyptians who remained sceptical about the revolution, and suggested that the Brotherhood should merge with the Liberation Rally. Having alienated all other political groups, the regime could not yet afford to dispense with the Brotherhood’s support, but was unwilling to give it a greater role in government.[36][37]

    We know what this former Brotherhood member did: Start the Six Day war with Israel, but he knew also he had to really put the screws to the MB or they would take him down just like all his predecessors.

    Anwar Sadat:

    Well just about eveyone should be aware by now that former members of MB assassinated him after the Camp David Accords, but what is less well known is that Sadat lessened the restrictions on the MB, however the MB at that point had one main goal:

    Nasser’s successor, Anwar al-Sadat, introduced a policy of economic liberalisation and, to a much lesser extent, political liberalisation. In 1971 the concentration camps were closed, and the regime began to gradually release the imprisoned Brothers, though the organisation itself remained illegal; the last of those still behind bars regained their freedom in the general amnesty of 1975. The Brotherhood did not officially designate a new General Guide after Hudaybi’s death in 1973; Umar Talmasani became its most prominent spokesperson. Although the organisation refused to give its allegiance to Sadat, its critics on the Egyptian left chastised it for not taking a clear stand against the regime and against economic inequality. Its members came to include many successful businessmen who had profited from Sadat’s free-market economic policies (infitah).[14][15]

    The Brotherhood’s main political demand during this period was the application of shari’a law; the government responded by initiating a lengthy review of all Egyptian law to determine how best to harmonise it with shari’a. In 1980, the constitution was amended to state that shari’a “is the main source of all legislation”.[16][17]

    One of those splinter Groups, the Islamic Group, should grab your attention:

    On 6 October 1981, the month after the crackdown, Sadat was assassinated during the annual victory parade held in Cairo to celebrate Egypt’s crossing of the Suez Canal.[28] A fatwā approving the assassination had been obtained from Omar Abdel-Rahman, a cleric later convicted in the US for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

    As to relying on the Egyptian Army to keep the MB out is foolish in the extreme.

    Sadat was an Army officer and a member of the Brotherhood

    Nasser was an Army Officer and led the coup against the Egyptian Government. He formed a group of Army Officers that included MB members:

    He organized the founding committee of the Free Officers which eventually comprised fourteen men from different political backgrounds, with some being members of Young Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Egyptian Communist Party, as well as the aristocracy. Nasser was unanimously elected chairman of the organization.[35]

    So now we know the MB has ALWAYS played a decisive role in Egyptian politics since the end of the Second World War. They thought they caught the Brass Ring in 51 when they helped overthrow the Monarchy and had the backing of the US and the UK. That’s right the US has climbed into bed with the MB before, by removing support from the Egyptian Government at the time:

    In a move to prevent foreign intervention, two days before the revolution, Nasser notified the United States and Britain, both of which agreed not to aid Farouk.[38][39] Nasser and his fellow revolutionaries also gave in to American pressure by allowing the deposed king and his family to “leave Egypt unharmed and ‘with honour’ “.[40]

    Hmm there have been reports in the press that the US has been in contact “with the revolutionaries” and giving them “quite” support (Hey why not they did the same thing in Egypt in ’51).

    Also keep in mind that the people that usually topples a government are not the ones in the end that rules the country afterward for very long. Classic examples of this is the Soviet October Revolution. Most people think that has to do with the overthrow of the Tsar, well it doesn’t, its the overthrown of the Pro Democracy “White” Government that had overthrown the Tsar.

    The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917 (March in the Gregorian calendar; the older Julian calendar was in use in Russia at the time). In the second revolution, during October, the Provisional Government was removed and replaced with a Bolshevik (Communist) government.
    The losers of that second revolution was executed.

    This is also the mistake most people make about the Iranian Revolution. The Shah turned government to a “liberal” opposition leader:

    By late 1978 the Shah was in search of a prime minister and offered the job to a series of liberal oppositionists. While “several months earlier they would have considered the appointment a dream come true,” they now “considered it futile”.[105] Finally, in the last days of 1978, Dr. Shapour Bakhtiar, a long time opposition leader, accepted the post and was promptly expelled from the oppositional movement.”

    It wasn’t Khomeni that forced the Shah to leave Iran it was this “liberal” government:

    By mid-December the shah’s position had deteriorated to the point where he “wanted only to be allowed to stay in Iran.” He was turned down by the opposition. In late December, “he agreed to leave the country temporarily; still he was turned down.” [106] On January 16, 1979 the Shah and the empress left Iran. Scenes of spontaneous joy followed and “within hours of almost every sign of the Pahlavi dynasty” was destroyed.[107]

    Even after Khomeni’s return he didn’t assume power right away he had to overthrow the Government that got rid of the Shah:

    As Khomeini’s movement gained momentum, soldiers began to defect to his side. On February 9 about 10 P.M. a fight broke out between loyal Immortal Guards and the pro-Khomeini rebel Homafaran element of the Iranian Air Force, with Khomeini declaring jihad on loyal soldiers who did not surrender.[117] Revolutionaries and rebel soldiers gained the upper hand and began to take over police stations and military installations, distributing arms to the public. The final collapse of the provisional non-Islamist government came at 2 p.m. February 11 when the Supreme Military Council declared itself “neutral in the current political disputes… in order to prevent further disorder and bloodshed.”[118][119] Revolutionaries took over government buildings, TV and Radio stations, and palaces of Pahlavi dynasty.

    This period, from February 1 to 11, is celebrated every year in Iran as the “Decade of Fajr.”[120][121] February 11 is “Islamic Revolution’s Victory Day”, a national holiday with state sponsored demonstrations in every city.[122][123]

    Now is there a leader in the Egyptian Opposition that the people would probably turn to?

    Well there is Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed Elbaradei. Now does he have any ties to the MB?

    On 24 February 2010, ElBaradei met with several opposition leaders and notable intellectuals at his home in Cairo. The meeting was concluded with an announcement for the formation of a new non-party-political movement called “National Association for Change”. The movement aims for general reforms in the political scene and mainly article 76 of the Egyptian constitution, which places restrictions on true free presidential elections, especially when it comes to independent candidates. The banned political group the Muslim Brotherhood were represented by one of their key figures who attended the meeting, however their stand in accepting a non-member of their group as a candidate is yet unclear.

    Now who makes up the leadership of this “National Association of Change”?


    Mohamed ElBaradei (The President of the Association)

    Hamdy Kandeel (The official spokesman)

    Hassan Nafaa (The General Coordinator of the Association and a professor of political science at Cairo University)

    Abdurrahman Yusuf al-Qaradawi (Egyptian poet and a political activist)[15]

    Shadi Taha (Member of the High Council Al-Ghad Party)

    Hamdeen Sabahi (One the founders of Dignity Party and the editor of the party newspaper)

    Ayman Nour (A liberal Egyptian and a former candidate for the presidential elections in Egypt and the President of Hizb El-Ghad)

    Gamila Ismail (Egyptian journalist)

    George Ishak (A Leader in Kefaya Movement and its coordinator and former spokesman for the movement)

    Yehia El Gamal (A former Egyptian Minister and constitutional expert)

    Osama Al Ghazali Harb (The President of Democratic Front Party)

    Mohamed Saad El-Katatni (President of the parliamentary bloc of the Muslim Brotherhood)

    Khaled Youssef[16]

    Khaled Abu El Naga (Egyptian actor)[16]

    Ali Badrakhan (Egyptian director)[16]

    Basma Ahmed (Egyptian actress)[16]

    Najla Fathi (Egyptian actress)[16]

    Yousry Nasrallah (Egyptian director)[16]

    Alaa Al Aswany (Egyptian writer)

    Naguib Sawiris (Egyptian businessman)[17]

    Said El Kemny (Academic Writer)[18]

    Anyone that doesn’t think the MB will not play a role is snorting that fairy dust. Just keep watch in what is coming out of Israel, they generally have a better grasp of reality of what is going on in the MidEast:

    ‘I’m worried that others aren’t worried’
    01/30/2011 02:56

    A Middle East expert answers some pressing questions about the current upheaval in Egypt.


    Do you see the threat of an Islamist takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood?

    So far, the uprising has not been led by the Brotherhood. But it is the only large organized opposition group. It is hard to see how it would not be the leading force after a while. Its leadership would have to decide that it is facing a revolutionary situation, and that this is the moment for an all-out effort.

    But if it does so and fails, there will be a terrible repression, and the group will be crushed. It appears that the Brotherhood is joining the protests, but has not made its basic decision yet. In the longer term, if the regime is completely overthrown, I do believe the Brotherhood will emerge as the leader and perhaps the ruler of the country.

    Do you see any chance that Egypt will follow the model of Iran in 1979 – democratic protests followed by an Islamist regime?

    Absolutely, yes. On one hand, so far they lack a charismatic leader. On the other hand, alternative non-Islamist leadership is probably weaker than it was in Iran. Remember also that the Iranian revolution went on for almost a year, with the Islamists emerging as leaders only after five or six months.

    Many experts predicted that moderate democrats would emerge as rulers and said an Islamist regime was impossible; but that isn’t what happened. I very much hope I am wrong.

  58. boballab says:

    Oh how Convenient:

    Egypt Muslim Brotherhood says 34 key members escape prison.

    CAIRO Jan 30 (Reuters) – Thirty-four members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, including seven members of the leadership, walked out of prison on Sunday after relatives of prisoners overcame the guards, a Brotherhood official said.

  59. boballab says:

    And thinking that the protesters will settle for just the Army replacing Mubarak with someone else? More Fairy Dust.

    The Atlantic got a hold of the protesters action plan which included their demands. Demand number 5 is instructive:

    “The formation of a new, non-military government with the Interests of the Egyptian people at heart.”

    Now what is it the Egyptian people want?

    In Egypt, 82% want stoning for those who commit adultery; 77% would like to see whippings and hands cut off for robbery; 84% favor the death penalty for a Muslim who changes his religion.

    Asked if they supported “modernizers” or “Islamists,” only 27% said modernizers, while 59% said Islamists.

    Is this meaningless? Last December 20, I wrote that these “horrifying figures in Egypt… one day might be cited to explain an Islamist revolution there… What this analysis also shows is that a future Islamist revolution in Egypt and Jordan is quite possible.

    As to the fallacy of the MB getting 20% of the vote. That was 20% for an outlawed organization, that gets admitted members arrested and tortured and for those that think that the last election in Egypt was not rigged I got a bridge for sale.

    What is not mention in that 20% number is that the MB won 50% of the races it put a candidate up for election calling them “independents”.

    If there were free and fair elections, it is widely expected that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood would win.

    Officially illegal, but largely tolerated, it is the most well-organised opposition movement with a network of thousands of grassroots members.

    It won one-fifth of the seats in parliamentary elections in 2005 – half of those it contested – with its members running as independents.

  60. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. Regarding foreign policy and Washington et al — Well, I thought it likely that you had been reading Washington, but I am doubly impressed if you came to the same conclusion separately! Even to a sceptic, an honest look at many of the ideas from America’s founders will convince anyone that they were a truly bright group of people. Old dead white guys they may be, but smart!

    I did not know that Linux still had those networking capabilities. If you write a book on it, yes, I will buy a copy. I hate to impose on your limited time, but seriously, an article on “emergency or covert networking” would be very much worth reading for all us out here in the virtual wilderness. I have not seen that addressed anywhere else.

    As always, thanks for your thought, E.M.!

  61. David says:

    on 30 January 2011 at 6:33 am boballab

    You present a decent case here if those numbers really reflect the understanding of most in Egypt. Yes the MB is strong and actgive in over 90 countries, this is not the “small band of men” Obama tries to present.

    Which reinforces our hosts point that we were fools to build up their army, and our only efforts should be to communicate what real US values are and support those who understand them, and keep them militarily as weak as possible.

    So what now, assuming your statistics of a radicalized populus are correct? Support a properly hated petty dictator?

    You see if you are correct, and you may be, then this will all come to a head NO MATTER WHAT we do. So our actions should be to communicate this to the world, warn of the consequences, strgenthen our own economy and energy supplies including coal, oil and nuclear, fight hard and long with the international public WWW and diplomatically any and all international China and Russian military support for such regimes, and react to the violence WHEN it occurs with as much international unity as possible. You see, if the people of Egypt really want Sharia fundemental Islam then they will have to have it, to learn how terrible it is.

  62. boballab says:

    We blew it early on. We had a Binary solution set as I laid out but we equivocated, just like in 79.

    1. The Mubarak route: Obama should have shut up and backed Mubarak, basically what he did with Iran. That’s right when the protesters in Iran popped up after that election, Obama didn’t support them, he supported the Mullah backed government. What happened? The Mullahs won and crushed the protests.

    2. The initial protests were small and caught the MB off guard as well. At that point a phone call to Mubarak where you put the screws to him to actually have a real election under US auspices but with the Caveat that the the MB is still barred, including any ties to them, would have ended the protest right there.

    Instead Obama dithered and the MB was able to get their act together. Go look it up the protests didn’t really spread and were not that big until the MB got involved.

    What’s happening is a replay of 79 and even the left leaning media is starting to see it:

    Obama’s “Shah Problem”
    President Obama is doing what Jimmy Carter did with Iran in 1978. Uh-oh.
    By Kai Bird
    Posted Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:50 AM ET

    President Barack Obama has a “Shah problem” in Egypt. Recent events in Egypt recall the street protests of 1978 in Tehran when President Jimmy Carter had to decide whether to remain loyal to the Pahlavi regime, a long-standing American-backed dictatorship—or whether the time had come to abandon the Shah and support a popular uprising demanding human rights and democracy. Carter tried to have it both ways, modulating his support for the Shah, calling for political liberalization, and warning the Shah against the use of state violence against unarmed protesters. Obama seems to be following the same script, and the results may well turn out to be equally fraught with unintended consequences.


    As in Tehran in 1978, a consensus has emerged from the Egyptian street that this pharaoh must go. A broad coalition of liberal human rights activists, genuine social democrats, old Nasserites, and Muslim Brotherhood advocates are supporting the spontaneous but politically inchoate street uprisings across the country. It was a similar coalition of secular liberals and religiously inspired political activists that brought down the Shah in February 1979—and only months later did Ayatollah Khomeini and his Shi’ite clerics forge a theocratic dictatorship.


    If elections are held, this outcome is not merely a probability; it is a near certainty. After decades of repressing the secular opposition, the Brotherhood remains the only political movement with an organized membership capable of providing nongovernmental charitable services. This gives it a reliable political base in the slums of Cairo and Alexandria. Despite being banned as a political party, polls indicate that if genuine elections were held the Brotherhood would command at least a large plurality.

    Obama needed to make a stand by last Wednesday to head this off, he didn’t and now we reap what he sowed. Also keep in mind that back in 2005 Bush was pushing Mubarak to make changes but Obama tossed that policy overboard and cozied up to the MB instead:

    Napolitano Meets with Muslim Brotherhood Leaders

    As part of a new “counter-radicalization” program, the Homeland Security secretary quietly met with individuals tied to the outlawed terror group. (This is Part One of a two-part article.)

  63. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m familiar with the M.B. history and modern Egyptian history.

    Or disagreement is simpler than that.

    We’re looking at an odds based outcome and you are doing a “low is effectively zero odds” while I”m doing “Non-zero odds is a possible” and neither one of us is putting numbers on it.


    I fully agree that THE most likely outcome, bar none, and no matter what we do, is that the M.B. wins and ALL the other potential outcomes are minor / low probability.

    I’m just asserting they are non-zero.

    For example, a Military coup with no political solution that holds for 2 years plus? I’d guess that is about a 1-5% odds. Pretty darned close to zero.

    So I suspect we’re seeing the same “issues”, just I’m using floats and you are using integers ;-)

  64. David says:


    So 2. The initial protests were small and caught the MB off guard as well. At that point a phone call to Mubarak where you put the screws to him to actually have a real election under US auspices but with the Caveat that the the MB is still barred, including any ties to them, would have ended the protest right there.”

    Humm?, this may or may not have been possible. Mubarak
    has catered to the MB for a long time. He has jailed moderate “Quaron only” Muslims, (they do exist) I do not know that he could have barred them from any election.
    According to your own post ” Now what is it the Egyptian people want?

    In Egypt, 82% want stoning for those who commit adultery; 77% would like to see whippings and hands cut off for robbery; 84% favor the death penalty for a Muslim who changes his religion.

    Asked if they supported “modernizers” or “Islamists,” only 27% said modernizers, while 59% said Islamists.

    So I am not certain your solution was feasible. However my question to you was and still is unanswered, “So what NOW, assuming your statistics of a radicalized populus are correct? Support a properly hated petty dictator?

    Such support appears to only give fodder to the “hate America” message, which unfortunately the left is only to happy to renforce. In time this solution is no solution.

  65. boballab says:


    I answered it in the first sentence: We blew it early on. There is nothing we can do now. ElBaradie in one article out of Israel is reported to struck a deal with the MB 6months ago in prep for the Sept 2011 elections. Now look who is angling to get himself out in front as the “leader” and who is supporting him?
    As to Mubarak “catering” to the MB, I advise to start researching. In 2005 when the MB got that “20%” vote Mubarak cracked down on them big time and rigged the 2010 elections for Parliament.

    For EM and everyone else that might not have noticed it in the flood of yesterdays news over in Tunisia: An exiled fundamentalist cleric returned to lead his faction.

    If that story seems familiar that is the Iranian revolution route. Pro-democracy forces bring down the Strongman, the fundamentalist then take down the Pro-democracy forces.

    This is how it has always happened in the Mid east with “revolutions”

    Iran 79 we should know by now.

    Gaza: Remember how it was Arafat’s PLO that struck the deal that got Gaza as Palestinian controlled territory. Then what happened in 2005?:

    The 2005 Palestinian municipal elections were not held in Gaza, nor in Khan Yunis or Rafah. Instead, Fatah party officials selected the smaller cities, towns, and villages to hold elections, assuming they would do better in less urban areas. The rival Hamas party, however, won the majority of seats in seven of the ten municipalities selected for the first round with voter turnout being around 80%.[111] 2007 saw violent clashes between the two parties that left over 100 dead, ultimately resulting in Hamas taking over the city.[112]

    Lebanon and the Cedar Revolution of 2005:

    The primary goals of the original activists were the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the replacement of a government heavily influenced by Syrian interests with more independent leadership, the establishment of an international commission to investigate the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri, the resignation of security officials to ensure the success of the plan, and the organization of free parliamentary elections. The demonstrators demanded the end of the Syrian influence in Lebanese politics. At the start of the demonstrations, Syria had been maintaining a force of roughly 14,000 soldiers and intelligence agents in Lebanon.[2] Following the demonstrations, the Syrian troops completely withdrew from Lebanon on April 27, 2005. The Pro-Syrian government was also disbanded, accomplishing the main goal of the revolution.

    Then what happened?

    LEBANON: Hezbollah leader speaks for first time following government collapse

    Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah gave an address on TV on Sunday night to lay out Hezbollah’s rationale for orchestrating the collapse of the government last week.

    Now Algeria is another classic example, but for thcrack down option:
    In October 1988 (“Black October”), massive demonstrations against President Chadli Bendjedid took place throughout Algerian cities, with an Islamist element prominent among the demonstrators. The army fired on the demonstrators, leaving some dead and shocking many. According to Souaidia, a former special forces officer with the Algerian army, official estimates had 176 killed whereas unofficial estimates put the death toll at above 500, most of whom were students.

    The president’s response was to make moves towards reform. In 1989, he brought in a new constitution which disestablished the ruling party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), and made no mention of socialism, while promising “freedom of expression, association, and assembly”. By the end of the year, a variety of political parties were being established and recognized by the government—among them, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS).

    The FIS incorporated a broad spectrum of Islamist opinion, exemplified by its two leaders. Its president, Abbassi Madani, a professor and ex-independence fighter, represented a relatively moderate religious conservatism and symbolically connected the party to the Algerian War of Independence, the traditionally emphasized source of the ruling FLN’s legitimacy; he expressed tepid support for the concept of democracy and rejected the idea that it could override the sharia.[9]

    In the above you see the same pattern forming: The strongman (in the form of a socialist form) starts to weaken to massed protests from every part of the political spectrum, with Islamists part of it.

    The rise of the party continued. It eventually agreed to participate in the next elections, after expelling dissenters, such as Said Mekhloufi, who advocated direct action against the government. In late November, armed Islamists connected to the extremist Takfir wal Hijra attacked a border post at Guemmar, foreshadowing the conflict to come; otherwise, an uneasy calm prevailed. On December 26, the FIS handily won the first round of parliamentary elections; with 48% of the overall popular vote, they won 188 of the 232 seats decided and an FIS government seemed inevitable.

    Now you see afterward the Islamists win that first election, but here instead of continuing the normal pattern the Algrian Army stepped in:

    The army saw this outcome as unacceptable. The FIS had made open threats against the ruling pouvoir, condemning them as unpatriotic and pro-French, as well as financially corrupt. Additionally, FIS leadership was at best divided on the desirability of democracy, and some expressed fears that a FIS government would be, as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Edward Djerejian put it, “one man, one vote, one time.”

    On January 11, 1992 the army cancelled the electoral process, forcing President Chadli Bendjedid to resign and bringing in the exiled independence fighter Mohammed Boudiaf to serve as a new president. So many FIS members were arrested—5,000 by the army’s account, 30,000 according to FIS, and including Abdelkader Hachani—that the jails had insufficient space to hold them in; camps were set up for them in the Sahara desert, and bearded men feared to leave their houses lest they be arrested as FIS sympathizers.

    From there it was civil war. So the question is: “Will the Egyptian Army fire into the protesters? So far the answer is no which leads to what Edward Djerejian said “one man, one vote, one time.

    Also I keep hearing/watching CNN commentators snort a big helping of fairy dust. They keep trotting out how Egypt
    is too secular to vote for the MB. Talk about ignoring history, the two most secular countries ever in the Mideast were Lebanon and Iran under the Shah. Who is in control in those countries now and how did they get there? Oh that’s right Fundamentalists that were voted in.

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