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Forum Post: The Freedom to Enslave

Posted 2 years ago on April 2, 2019, 11:50 a.m. EST by agkaiser (2514) from Fredericksburg, TX
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Michael Hudson from his forthcoming book "The Collapse of Antiquity"

This excerpt from an interview (Part 1) is about the Roman predecessors of today's Wall St Oligarchs:

"Liberty for them was the liberty to destroy that of the population at large. Instead of cancelling debts and restoring land tenure to the population, the oligarchy created the Senate that protected the right of creditors to enslave labor and seize public as well as private lands (just as had occurred in Athens before Solon). Instead of restoring a status quo ante of free cultivators - free of debt and tax obligations, as Sumerian amargi and Babylonian misharumand andurarum meant - the Roman oligarchy accused anyone of supporting debtor rights and opposing its land grabs of 'seeking kingship.' Such men were murdered, century after century."




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[-] 1 points by agkaiser (2514) from Fredericksburg, TX 2 years ago

"How can the economy grow when households, business, and government have to pay more and more of their revenue to the financial sector, which then turns around and lends its interest and related income out to indebt the economy even more?"


[-] 0 points by grapes (5232) 2 years ago

By going to war (artificially creating urgent demand and destroying the existing social order favoring the wealth-owning and ruling class through hyperinflation and revolutions.) The first rule of defying "have to pay" is "not to pay." The "have to" part is predicated upon an enforcement usually based upon a social order. This is why war rejuvenates growth after the massive destruction of just about everything. What can one do after a war facing mountains of rubble? Rent out the vaginas of the females to the conquerors' pleasurable activities to gain some initial capital. Then rebuild with that. The oldest profession is the newest profession. Human life came in and out of the vagina so rebirth started with that. That's what happened after the end of war in 1945. Condoms were massively issued by the military authorities in charge of the occupations. They weren't always effective.

In the olden days, people have much shorter lifespans than nowadays so there were many not-so-old and dependent orphans. Adoption was a social mechanism evolved to handle the humanitarian problem of taking care of the orphans. The ancient Romans did it. My clan did it, too. The "purity" of a so-called race or a so-called clan ( I doubt that defining my clan by our related genes works particularly well; a common recognition of belonging and mutual aid works better; my clan had its adopted-son "Augustus Caesar," just as the ancient Romans did ) is therefore highly suspect to me. This is why I believe that anyone claiming racial/clannish/familial purity is a bit ignorant of the reality of the admixture of all kinds of people involved in global wars and global trade. Inbreeding was largely reserved for the royal families of ancient Egypt and European courts. I believe that the people of the U.S.A. (undoutedly one of the countries most involved in global wars and trade) should qualify as mongrels unconditionally. We "adopted" or naturalized lots of people from all around the world and largely treated them as our very own. The chance of getting hemophilia inherited by the U.S. American children should be relatively lower here than among the European royalties related to Queen Victoria.

A kid asked me once, "Is the Earth overpopulated?" My answer was, "It is both overpopulated AND underpopulated." Why? There's insufficient specification in the question to nail down a specific answer. Carrying capacity varies with the cultural values, knowledge, technologies, available resources, information, wisdom, climate, weather, locale, personal preferences, trading capacities, etc.

Similarly, "Is the U.S.A. full?" Yes and No! The wild, wild U.S. West frontier where a family is gifted forty acres of land and a mule to work on it for themselves is closed. It may well be different to a certain extent if you have formed a corporation of the correct type -- learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Nowadays, the U.S. is more about knowledge and skills (or wealth if you're so endowed but by and large wealthy people like other havens better than this country where the people make the mistake of asking for a [so very presumptuously middle-class] bathroom when they actually need a toilet {a bathroom sharing plumbing with toilet equipments saves cost while having a bathtub area in a toilet room is a luxury in both space and expenditure relative to much of the World so the two put together makes for a middle-class orientation}) than about mule and land. Every new configuration on a higher level of complexity engenders new problems, regulations, laws, opportunities, etc. The U.S. has the largest technological military industrial machine in the world and it is still very innovative (perhaps due to our mongrel but still fairly harmonious culture fighting eternal wars and being bottom-oriented towards improving mundane things and solving problems, existing, imagined, designed, created, and nonexistent) so new opportunities are created. Just don't ask exactly what they may be. We don't know but we have many Taoist priests cooking all kinds of ¡gunpowder! to make elixir for immortality. All I know is that from time to time, I hear a Boom! Then it's time to go home for lunch.

Preparing for (starting as early as 1933 or even earlier,) fighting, and winning World War II taught the U.S. well the importance of science, mathematics, engineering, and (largely apolitical unlike the failed Soviet project for human lunar landing -- I feel that Orangutan is politicizing and ripping out more of our autopiloting and safety mechanisms so fuddy duddy gets a fuck while believing that he is fucking others) project management. There's a lot of basic scientific research funded by our government with an eye towards solving practical problems sometimes still residing far beyond the horizon. Practicality does drive most if not all of our endeavors. It helps to provide a goal for our basic scientific research efforts. I accept the following on blind faith alone that the nation of the U.S.A. spends the largest scientific and engineering research, study, design, development, and validation budget in the World. There are spinoffs! Many of them define our modern world and were originally started by understanding quantum theory and gaining our exquisite control over ferromagnetic materials, electrons, and photons.

Extrapolating into the future based upon our past fertile mistressing of materials and waves/particles, metamaterials and the technologies associated with them will probably become important in the lifetimes of the youngsters today. Someone said in jest perhaps that it's all done with smoke and mirrors. It's not far from the truth at all in my lifetime when lasers came of age and its light was first fingerprinted on a piece of white paper in a puff of smoke with the help of mirrors and then later controlled and used for laser printing as well as surgeries such as preventing the loss of the eyesights of people by welding to re-attach their retinas. "Coherence" of laser light was mysterious to me when I read about it in the early 1960s but the property of coherence/incoherence underlies the phenomena of all waves. Harmonic analysis is important. Yeah, I still wonder about how to control the iridescence of "the slipper of the girl next-door," by programming the properties of the quantum dots in which the electrons and photons interact, maybe similarly as in an octopus which can change its skin colors and patterns to express emotions such as anger or mimic its environment.

[-] 1 points by agkaiser (2514) from Fredericksburg, TX 2 years ago

It has all happened before!

"The wealth of the Greek and Roman oligarchies was the ancient counterpart to today’s Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector, and their extractive and predatory behavior is what destroyed Antiquity."


[-] 1 points by agkaiser (2514) from Fredericksburg, TX 2 years ago

"Socrates and Aristotle found the major example to be creditors charging interest for lending 'barren' money. Interest had to be paid out of the debtor’s own product, income or finally, forfeiture of property; creditors did not provide means of making interest to pay off the loan.

"This is the opposite of Austrian School theories that interest is a bargain to share the gains to be made from the loan “fairly” between creditor and debtor. It also is the opposite of neoclassical price theory. The economics taught in universities today is based on a price theory that does not even touch on this point. The liberty that oligarchs claim is the right to indebt the rest of society and then demand full payment or forfeiture of the debtor’s collateral. This leads to massive expropriations, as did the Junk Mortgage foreclosures after 2008 when President Obama failed to write down debts to realistic market values for real estate financed on loans far beyond the buyer’s ability to pay. The result was 10 million foreclosures."


[-] 1 points by agkaiser (2514) from Fredericksburg, TX 2 years ago

"Once you inherit wealth, you tend to think that it’s naturally yours, not part of society’s patrimony for mutual aid. You see society in terms of yourself, not yourself as part of society. You become selfish and increasingly predatory as the economy shrinks as a result of your indebting it and monopolizing its land and property. You see yourself as exceptional, and justify this by thinking of yourself as what Donald Trump would call 'a winner,' not subject to the rules of 'losers,' that is, the rest of society. That’s a major theme in Greek philosophy from Socrates and Plato and Aristotle through the Stoics. They saw an inherent danger posed by an increasingly wealthy landholding and creditor ruling class atop an indebted population at large. If you let such a class emerge independently of social regulation and checks on personal egotism and hubris, the economic and political system becomes predatory. Yet that has been the history of Western civilization."


[-] 1 points by agkaiser (2514) from Fredericksburg, TX 2 years ago

longer excerpt/conclusion of part 1:

"So you could characterize Western Civilization is being decadent. It's reducing populations to austerity on a road to debt peonage. Today's new oligarchy calls this a 'free market,' but it is the opposite of freedom. You can think of the Greek and Roman decontextualization of Near Eastern economic regulations as if the IMF had been put in charge of Greece and Rome, poisoning its legal and political philosophy at the outset. So Western Civilization may be just a vast detour. That's what my forthcoming book, The Collapse of Antiquity, is all about. That will be the second volume in my trilogy on the history of debt.

"JS: So are we just a vast detour?

"MH: We have to restore a balanced economy where the oligarchy is controlled, so as to prevent the financial sector from impoverishing society, imposing austerity and reducing the population to clientage and debt serfdom.

"JS: How do you do that without a Hammurabi-style 'divine kingship'?

"MH: You need civil law to do what Near Eastern kings once did. You need a body of civil law with a strong democratic government acting to shape markets in society's overall long-term interest, not that of the One Percent obtaining wealth by impoverishing the 99 Percent. You need civil law that protects the population from an oligarchy whose business plan is to accumulate wealth in ways that impoverish the economy at large. This requires a body of civil law that would cancel debts when they grow too large for the population to pay. That probably requires public banking and credit – in other words, deprivatization of banking that has become dysfunctional.

"All this requires a mixed economy, such as the Bronze Age Near Eastern economies were. The palace, temples, private sector and entrepreneurs acted as checks and balances on each other. Western Civilization isn't a mixed economy. Socialism was an attempt to create a mixed economy, but the oligarchs fought back. What they call a 'free market' is an unmixed monolithic, centrally planned financialized economy with freedom for the oligarchy to impoverish the rest of society. That was achieved by landlordism monopolizing the land in feudal Europe, and it is done by finance today."

end of part 1