The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Category: Britain Page 1 of 9

Consequences of the British Election

Labor won with a massive majority. In seats:

 

Of course Britain has a first past the post system, so these aren’t nearly the same as the percentage results.

  • Labour Party: 35 percent vote share, 412 seats
  • Conservative Party: 24 percent vote share, 121 seats
  • Liberal Democrats: 12 percent vote share, 71 seats
  • Reform UK: 14 percent vote share, 4 seats
  • Green Party: 7 percent vote share, 4 seats
  • Scottish National Party (SNP): 2 percent vote share, 9 seats
  • Sinn Fein: 0.7 percent vote share, 7 seats
  • Plaid Cymru: 0.7 percent vote share, 4 seats

Labour has a huge MP majority, but received less of the vote than they did in 2017 under Corbyn.

The Reform surge, which at one point looked like it might overtake and pass the conservatives died out, alas. But note that Reform received more votes than the Liberal Democrats but received four seats to their seventy-one and Sinn Fein received 7 seats for .7% of the vote. In first past the post, you want your votes clumped, not spread out. In vote total terms, Reform is now the third party.

It’s also worth noting that almost no one is voting Labour because they like Labour or Keir Starmer:

As with LaPen’s National Rally, Reform may well improve with each election and Labour is vulnerable to a real challenge from the left.

But let’s move to more immediate consequences.

The Conservative austerity policies severely gutted Britain:

  • The grant to local governments dropped 60% from 2010 to 2020. They’re the ones who run most of the government: libraries, fire departments, council housing, roads, public transit and so on.
  • 20% of libraries closed
  • Spending on old people down 35% with one estimate saying this killed 45K people.
  • Inflation adjusted wages are lower than in 2007, and the inflation numbers are certainly lower than reality.
  • Rent and housing costs are way up.
  • Twenty percent less people get cancer treatment on time.
  • The UK now has the highest homelessness rates in the Western world.
  • Gutted universities, one of the few world class industries left in Britain (and one which brings in a lot of foreign currency.)

And so on. Tory rule has been a catastrophe.

But there’s little reason to expect Labour rule to be much better. They voted for many of the bills that caused this catastrophe, and didn’t oppose most of the rest. They still believe in austerity and neoliberalism. It’s likely they’ll increase some taxes, but they’re not likely to use the money to spend much more and fix problems: Britain is serious fiscal condition, and the level of tax raises necessary to deal with that and to allow spending is off the table, especially as to really get money they’d have to tax the city and massively raise taxes on the rich.

They will continue to clamp down on public dissent, and likely use the banking system against protestors, along with locking them up. I’m unsure how they’ll handle strikes, but odds are that Starmer will be unsympathetic to mass strikes and use legislation and the police against them (which is why the big unions should leave Labour and support a new left party.)

In other words, Britain’s decline is not going to halt under Labour and neither is the decline in standards of living for most Britons.

This means that there will be room for Reform and a new left party to surge. While I’m not a fan of right wing social policies, Brits tend to be more left wing economically than Labour but socially conservative, which means Galloway’s “Worker’s Party” is positioned to take advantage, being economically left and socially right on some key issues, such as trans rights.

However Galloway’s party’s social conservatism is a barrier to some left wingers, like Corbyn (who won his seat as an independent) joining.

Whatever the specifics, there is a constituency for an economically left wing party, and Labour’s likely terrible economic performance now that it’s in power leaves an opening.

Generally speaking, as neoliberalism dies, there will be changeovers in dominant parties: either the parties themselves will change, or they will be replaced: this is true in almost every country. If we want a good world, and government which genuinely tries to help ordinary people, we have to work for and hope for the real left to take power.

One good piece of news in this regards is the continued weakening of the Zionist movement, since accusations of anti-semitism have been one of the main weapons used against the left, as they were against Corbyn and as they have been used against the left in France. Making charges of anti-semitism for supporting Palestine identically to excusing genocide (which they are) is necessary, and underway, especially among younger voters.

To summarize, however: nothing much will change immediately or in the next four years because Labour won. They’re still austerity loving neoliberal scum who can’t imagine, let alone institute any of the policies required to turn around Britain’s decline. The medium term trends, however, and the consequences of their failure to govern effectively offer some promise for the future, though by the time someone with sense gets in power it’s going to be nearly impossible to turn Britain around, assuming it’s even the United Kingdom any more. (Scotland should leave, and so should Northern Ireland, and both stand a good chance of doing so.)

Plus ca change, etc…

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The UK’s Housing And Immigration Crisis In Charts

Here’s the TLDR: the UK has a housing crisis because it is bringing in way more immigrants than usual and not building way more housing.

(Most of the charts from Simulcrax.)

For a long time Britain was building more housing than it had population increase. This was good, because as anyone who visited England in the 50s or 60s will tell you, it didn’t start with an excess.But starting around 2000AD it increased immigration and didn’t increase how much housing it was building, and after a while that caught up.

The chart only goes till 2019, though. Let’s see what happened afterwards.

 

Wow. That’s pretty ugly, and hey, it happened under the anti-immigrant Conservative party, and after Brexit, which was supposed to reduce immigration. Anyone wonder why Reform is challenging the Conservatives for second party status?

Now let’s be clear: immigration can be good, bad or mixed. If your economy is doing really well, you have low inequality and high wages and not enough workers and an economy which makes most of what you need domestically, then immigration is going to be good: the immigrants will get good jobs, increase demand and the economy will expand. But if you’ve gotten rid of your industry, have high inequality and an economy which is sucking wind then immigration is going to take jobs from natives and keep wages lower. And if you aren’t building enough housing and don’t do something about that, it’s going to raise housing prices, especially at the bottom and middle, which is going to hurt people.

The people it will hurt most, of course, are:

The chart pretty much speaks for itself. Let’s look at one more chart:
Ouch. I mean, it’s not like the situation is good in the US, is it?

Let’s be clear about what’s happening: it’s not that the UK can’t reduce immigration, it can, especially post-Brexit. Like Canada, however, it wants to increase GDP and keep wages low, so it’s bringing in as many people as it can, as deliberate government policy and doing so, without a booming economy, is hurting people who already live in Britain.

You don’t have to be racist or xenophobic to believe, accurately, that too much immigration is bad if there isn’t enough housing and jobs to absorb the immigrants. Problem is, given how people are, they will blame the immigrants and become racist and xenophobic, when the correct response is to hate the government and ruling class.

Britain, having deliberately de-industrialized, especially since Thatcher, can’t absorb this many people without causing extreme harm to people already living in Britain, especially if the government doesn’t move, massively, to social housing. People who want less immigration are correct, the only way to absorb this sort of influx without harm would be an entirely different set of government policies, even then, the immigration surge wouldn’t make sense until the policies take effect.

Unfortunately the only chance of pursuing anything like those policies was to elect Corbyn, and that chance has passed.

The sun always sets, and now it sets on Britain.

Addendum: Stumbled on this after writing the article.

He continues: “According to the Government’s own methodology, we needed to expand the housing stock by around 3.4 million homes over the last decade: 2.2 million to meet existing housing pressures, and 1.2 million to cope with net migration. We increased the number of homes by only 2.1 million.”

So, without immigration, they’d only be down 100,000 over the last twent years, rather than 1.3 million.

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UK’S Reform Party Is Poised To Destroy the Consersvatives, and Deserves To

The latest polls show Reform, led by Nigel Farage neck and neck, or slightly ahead of the Tories.

I took some time to read their manifesto and it’s pretty bloody awful.

BUT, and it’s a big but, there’s some stuff Reform is promising that no one else is offering. For example:

  • lower rents through reduced migration
  • free tuition for STEM degrees
  • lifting income tax allowance to £20,000

Farage talks about the housing crisis all the time, and these specific policies are laser-targeted at younger people.

Farage wants to stop all non-essential immigration. Britain is like Canada, there’s vastly more immigration than there is housing being created and rents and house prices have sky-rocketed. (A detailed post on that soon.) Tuition averages about $6,000 pounds a year and young adults tend to be poor and have little income.

He also wants to reduce estate taxes, go all-in on anti-trans policies, get rid of clean energy and so on. He’s still a conservative loon.

But he’s offering what neither Labour nor the Conservatives are, or can.

He has the best chance of breaking the Labour/Conservative duopoly that Britain has seen in generations for the same reason LaPen is surging, Brexit happened & Trump is viable: the status quo sucks for most people and they want radical change. Since radical change to the left was stopped with Corbyn’s defeat and the Starmer’s purge of the left from Labout, it’s now the right’s turn.

Like an animal in a leg-trap who chews its own leg off to escape, people in pain who see their lives getting worse and no hope of improvement will take a chance on something radical. Sometimes, as with Javier in Argentina, that something radical is extremely stupid, but at a certain point people will try anything.

For a lot of people in Britain, as in France and Argentina and America, the risk is worth it.

As with Corbyn, the press is now turning hard against Reform. Any change from the neoliberal status quo will be opposed with their full weight. It worked against Corbyn, but at some point it will stop working.

Reform won’t win the election, but they don’t need to. They need to replace the Tories as the second party, either in this election or the next. Once they are part of the duopoly, power is only a matter of time.

Let us hope the left learns from this and raises its own challenge to Labour, replacing it, because Reform’s policies, overall, are horrid.

Neoliberalism is dying in country after country, who and what replaces it matters.

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Britain’s Bare Produce Shelves

The Daily Mail had an article on this, and it’s worth reading.

A dig down in this reveals two main factors (the Daily Mail was pro-Brexit and discounts that factor).

First, increases in energy prices.

Tony Montalbano, a director of Green Acre Salads in Roydon, Essex, typically produces a million kilograms of baby cucumbers a year, but his glasshouses were empty last month.

He delayed growing his crops to avoid rocketing winter fuel bills of up to £500,000 a month. He expects his production to be cut by up to half this year.

‘It’s sad and frustrating but I can’t afford to grow,’ he said. ‘I must make a profit. If I don’t, there’s no point in me going on. Lots of growers are closing their doors and selling up.’

Jack Ward, chief executive of the British Growers Association, added: ‘Up and down the country, we’ve got empty glasshouses. People who would grow two or three crops of cucumbers a year may cut that to just one, because they want to avoid using more expensive energy.’

Eggs are also being rationed as farmers cannot afford the costs of keeping laying hens warm in energy-guzzling sheds.

Second, crop failures due to poor weather (aka. climate change) in Spain and Morocco have had a big effect, as Britain imports a lot from them.

Now, the thing about energy prices is that they have been raised far more than fuel prices have. The UK system has producers of energy, suppliers (the people who run electricity lines and ship fuel to retail customers) and the retail customers of energy.

Let’s take oil:

Unveiling its latest results, Shell said the price of the barrels of oil it sells rose from $62.53 a year ago to $101.42. Gas prices rose from $4.31 to $13.85 per thousand standard cubic feet over the same period.

So, their costs increased about 62%, and they about tripled the prices they charge.

In electricity, there is a price cap. The companies are not allowed to earn more than thirty-five pounds more than they sell the electricity to households. That cap, however, only applies to households, it doesn’t apply to business. So on the business side, they’ve been massively raising prices.

Thus the empty green (glass) houses, which grow far more than just cucumbers. Likewise vertical farms have been hit hard. If you want produce during the non-harvest season you have to buy from other countries or you have to grow in controlled environments. Add in climate fluctuations from climate change and high energy prices making it impossible to make a profit growing produce and you have shortages.

Price increases from Russia, in other words, are only an excuse to raise prices, not the reason for most of the price increase.

The solutions have been discussed even by the mainstream press: either re-nationalize the energy sector or put in a windfall profit tax so they don’t get to keep excess profits. And it’s worth noting that many energy companies did go under due to increased costs when they were regulated to be unable to pass them on. Some companies made way more than their increased costs, while others went under.

In the post-war liberal era private utilities were highly regulated, but a cornerstone of proper regulation was that they would always make a decent profit: enough for proper maintenance, which had to be done (remember all the fires in California because the privately owned utility won’t maintain power lines and poles), and to expand capacity as necessary. Utility stocks were “widow and orphan stocks” because they would make the same every year. Genuine price increases were passed on, but profits could not either rise or fall.

So, if you want to keep them private the best way isn’t so much a windfall tax, which is a response to a crisis, but proper regulation. Or you can just make them public again.

Energy prices in France have risen far less than in Britain for the simple reason that France owns its own generators and grid.

The other obvious factor is that if you have a cap on households for political reasons (they vote) you need a cap on the costs to farmers and to industry. But if you’re going to put all these caps in place, it’s better to just move to proper regulation, and a flat cap makes little sense, it should always be in percentage terms. When prices went up 60%, someone has to pay that. That either means end-users, or it means the government subsidizes. Those subsidies could be broad, if the increase is expected to not last long, or they could be targeted at specific industries and people with low income.

While generally means targeted subsidies are a bad idea, there are specific cases where they make sense, and this is one of them.

Anyway, Britain doesn’t have bare produce shelves “because of Russia” it has bare produce shelves because energy companies gouged the customers they could gouge using Russia as an excuse and because the government refused to step in and ensure prices which allow the “free” market to work properly, because there is no free market and never has been, and it always requires intervention to keep it working.


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The UK Continues Its Decline

From the Guardian:

The number of UK children in food poverty has nearly doubled in the last year to almost 4 million, new data shows, ramping up pressure on ministers to expand the provision of free school meals to struggling families.

According to the Food Foundation thinktank, one in five (22%) of households reported skipping meals, going hungry or not eating for a whole day in January, up from 12% at the equivalent point in 2022.

Regular readers will know I’ve written about this often. The UK appears to be in decline to third world status. While the EU is neoliberal, it was better than what UK neoliberals wanted to do by leaving it. The UK has spent the time since Thatcher deliberately de-industrializing, leaving it with little more than the financial industry and a few hi-tech spars remaining. Leaving the EU makes the “City” less valuable: being inside the EU was useful, and now it’s outside.

On top of this, financialization cannibalizes real industry, since financial profits are higher and the highest profits come from taking public goods and privatizing them. This has been done to everything substantial owned by the UK government in 79, when Thatcher took power, from railroads to water and electricity, leaving on the National Health Service. That’s the last big chunk of profits, and then they’re done.

At that point, what does Britain have to offer to the rest of the world other than a corrupt financial center? Little, and that financial center can’t, won’t and doesn’t want to support most of the population, since even if they could, that would defeat the point: the people who run it don’t want to share, they want to be rich.

The Russia mess has also made this worse. There was a lot of Russian money in the UK, and freezing or taking it means no more will come in and it also makes everyone who’s in a non US ally country wary of using London to store money, whether in banks, securities or properties. After all, they could be next.

Brexit done right could have been the start of rebuilding the UK, but that would have required reigning in the City and engaging in industrial policy to provide industries capable of employing Britons, supply domestic British needs rather than importing, and also able to export.

As it is, Britain is done. The political fallout will probably include, within a decade or so, the loss of Northern Ireland and Scotland. At which point the United Kingdom (Scotland and England unified) will be no more, and England will stand alone again.

The Sun does set, it seems.


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The Life & Death Of Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II in 1959

I was born in 68, and I remember the middle-aged Elizabeth and the era before the Commonwealth became meaningless. There was a post-war world where people traveled freely & often between the ex-Empire nations, and where economic ties between those nations and Britain were still primary. It came to an end when Britain went into a financial crisis so serious it required IMF intervention and then joined the EU to get a real bailout. Once Britain was in the EU, its focus became European, not ex-Imperial.

It was, in a way, a betrayal of the ex-colonies, but Britain didn’t have much choice. I’ve always found it ironic that British elites are such loyal dogs for the Americans, because the US did everything it could to hasten the fall of the Empire and then to put the boots to Britain. The US understood it was taking over the old Empire in a new form (less direct killing, but the boot was still there), and wanted to make sure Britain not only didn’t get back on its feet, but went from on its knees to on its belly.

It succeeded in this. Leading Brits in the late 40s and 50s knew this was what was happening, but could see no way out, given how relatively powerful the US was (and how Europe and Britain were garrisoned by US troops).

I can’t, offhand, think of a “good” Empire; they’re always bad, though in some places, some relative good can be done. (Hong Kong started out with a population under 1,000, and Chinese fled there. Though the Brits were bastards, they were better than the late Manchu, however.)

From Ireland to India and most parts in between, the British Empire did plenty of evil, as one would expect from the largest Empire to ever exist. (The Mongols come in second, though they had the largest land empire. The US? It’s a bit hard to count. Might be that post-USSR collapse they could be seen as eclipsing the UK.)

Elizabeth ceremonially presided over the dismantling of the British Empire. She worked hard to try and keep the Commonwealth together, but post-70s, even that disintegrated step by step. She died, I would say, mercifully, before the United Kingdom itself (the union of England and Scotland) broke up, and before Northern Ireland was lost. For a person in her position, she seems to have done less harm than one would expect.

The sun set on the British Empire decades ago. Soon, it will set on the UK. Europe is no longer the center of the world, but a collection of satrapies conquered by its old colony, the US.

In the normal order of things, the next Empire would rise in China — but we no longer exist in the “normal order,” but rather the end of a climate which has existed for thousands of years.

Elizabeth is lucky to miss the end of that order as well.

Note: Yesterday’s article was incorrect. A month after publication, the scientists clarified that the Antarctic sea-shelf collapse would not raise the sea level quickly, and that sea level rise (from this collapse) could take a century. I apologize for the error, and thank commenter David for catching it. The article is still up, with the error noted, but will be deleted after a bit. This note will stay.

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As the Sun Sets on the United Kingdom

In Peter Hall’s Cities in Civilization, there’s a long chapter on the destruction of the Port of London. Hall doesn’t call it that; he is more impressed by the change from a decaying port which was close to a slum, which was losing importance to a new neighbourhood, headlined by the huge Canary Wharf complex, which is 97 acres with 16 million square feet of indoor space.

The port of London had been the greatest port in the world in the 19th century, but had slipped into decline in the 20th century, especially after WWI and II. The problems seemed intractable and the fact was that London was no longer the center of the world by 1980; it was New York. The Empire was gone, and when Britain joined the EU it abandoned its emphasis on economic and trade ties with the Commonwealth, made up of former members of the Empire like India, Australia, South Africa, Canada, and many more.

I remember the Commonwealth world, if barely, and my parents lived the prime of their lives in it. There was a lot of trade and travel and an entire class of people who moved easily between Commonwealth nations. But Britain, post-WWII had been de-industrializing, and Thatcher’s policies, economically, amounted to a “Fuck it, we’re giving up industry and pivoting entirely to finance.”

I recently saw someone mention the debate in England right now between the policies of Thatcher and Reagan (there wasn’t that much difference) but this is insane.

Thatcherism, Reganism, and indeed, neoliberalism, relied on built-up fat of the land. Thatcher’s big bribe to voters was letting them buy their council housing for below what it was worth. Over the neoliberal period, virtually everything owned by the state was sold off to the private sector: water, power, railroads, and as much administrative outsourcing as possible. Regulations were cut as much as possible, held back by the EU, which while neoliberal, prefers to keep some standards.

Industry was sold off to whoever wanted to buy it, often at fire-sale prices, and most of the purchases were moved overseas to places with cheaper labor.

A huge housing bubble, largely in greater London, was created. Housing bubbles always seem like free money at first, but they don’t create productive assets; what they do is make some people rich, let those who own at the beginning or get in early enough gain unearned wealth, and drive up the costs of living, and thus labor costs. This means that housing bubbles actually make a country less productive.

They’re attractive as hell, at first, and the play has been done often. Turkey under Erdogan ran one, and for about 15 years it looked great and a lot of people were made better off. But Turkey had a lot less fat to burn on the fires of housing speculation than the US, Britain, or Canada and when it ran out Turkey went into an economic tailspin. (There’s more to it than that, of course, but you can’t have housing as your engine of growth forever.)

Now, clearly, Britain was not going to regain its position as the greatest industrial nation, but by financializing and running a long housing bubble, and deliberately selling off all the areas of the state which need to be performed with competence, uniformly and at a low, fixed cost, Britain destroyed most of what it had left.

The port of London is symbolic of this. While London didn’t need it, and certainly wasn’t going to need the kind of mega-port it had been earlier, just giving it up meant the wholesale destruction of a myriad of small shipping, logistics, insurance, chandlery, repair, and shipbuilding companies.

It’s easy to destroy a network like that, but it’s hard to rebuild it. The smart play would have been to plan for a smaller port, but do what they could to keep as much of the network as possible. Mercantile policies similar to what Germany followed (or Northern Italy, until the Euro smashed them) were what was required for Britain to have a prosperous future.

What they did, instead, was throw everything productive on a huge fire, and live off what Brits had created for centuries. It worked for about 30 years, for at least a plurality of Brits, and it made a lot of people rich, but it also impoverished the industrial north and created massive distrust for the establishment, which was later parlayed to sell Brexit, as British decline was correlated so strongly with the period of its membership in the EU. (The EU was not responsible, and its policies made doing the right thing possible — if anyone had wanted to. No one did, but even so, EU laws actually slowed down the burn.)

Britain came out of WWII with a very bad hand. The US wanted to replace them, and they put the boots to Britain, doing what they could to ensure the UK would experience no industrial recovery, and that Britain would remain an American satrapy.

But as bad as that hand was, Thatcherism was a self-inflicted wound. There were alternative policies which wouldn’t have sold the patrimony to have a 30-year party.

Britain is in a position now where there is almost nothing left to throw on the fire. The NHS is next, but that’s about all there is.

Corbyn was the last chance to make a turn, but the British elite united against him, smearing him with lies and Labour party operatives actively worked against his election — to the extent of lying to him about what ads were running and making sure his phone would see ads ordinary people didn’t.

So now, the Brits have a situation where “Great Britain” will likely come to an end: Remember that the United Kingdom is Scotland + England + Northern Ireland, and that Scotland is soon likely to go. I expect Northern Ireland as well, and even Wales is possible in a couple decades.

Those who rule England will still be rich, but they will rule over an impoverished nation. They’ll be able to afford servants and estates again, though, and I suspect they want a return to that “kind of life” more than anything else.

If the British, or the English (or the Scottish, etc.), want a future, they need to do something they’ve so far been unwilling to do: Replace their leadership class wholesale, getting rid of their class of public school-educated politicians and businessmen. Without this, it is not possible for the right things to be done — and even if they got rid of those people, they’ll have to rebuild from very close to nothing.

It seems likely that the sun will set on Britain, as it has on every other great empire.

Hail Britannia, and goodbye.

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The Possible Dire Consequences of NATO & Ukrainian Escalation

So, UK foreign secretary Trus has said that the war in Ukraine must continue until Russia is forced out of Ukraine entirely, including Crimea.

Meanwhile, the UK is shipping weapons to Ukraine that are capable of striking Russian cities.

As a moral matter, of course, the Ukraine has the right to strike Russia, same as so many countries have the right to assassinate American leaders and bomb American weddings in which “high value targets” might be involved.

But let’s consider the state of the war. Putin calls it a special military operation. Reserves have not been called up, and a great deal of care is being taken in the use of force. Unlike in Iraq, Russia has not taken out power, sewage, water systems, most roads, or rail. It has not unleashed level bombers for massive bombing of Ukrainian cities.

Russia has also not called up its reserves. Putin appears to think that would be unpopular. Russia has millions of men in its reserves. It could call up two million men and not exhaust them. They’re not the best troops, but they would swamp Ukraine.

Now, if Ukraine hits Russian cities, however fair that is, what will happen to Russian public and elite opinion? Imagine Iraq somehow managed to hit New York and cause real damage in the 2000s (if you want a scenario: perhaps they could have smuggled bombs into the harbor on cargo ships).

How would Americans have reacted?

That’s how Russians will react. Add in some atrocity propaganda (and there are plenty of videos of Ukrainian soldiers doing horrible things, they aren’t saints) and Putin will easily have all the backing he needs to go to total non-nuclear war. In fact, even if he doesn’t want to escalate, it would be difficult to avoid.

This would mean, as a start, bombing every road and rail crossing leaving the Ukraine that Russia or Belarus doesn’t control, so more weapons can’t get into Ukraine. It would likely mean removing all power and water from western Ukrainian cities and forcing most of the remaining population in those areas to flee: 20+ million people. And it would mean taking major cities, which Russia will have the manpower to do.

Further, the idea that any Russian government would ever give up Crimea is insanity (that Russia would fight a war to keep Sevastopol is why I was able, in 2008, to predict the next war would be over Crimea).

This idea that NATO has that it can safely fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, without any chance of war-spillover is insane. Likewise, China CANNOT afford to let Russia be broken up. If it is, then China can almost trivially be blockaded and forced into subjugation. They need Russian oil, gas, coal, minerals, and food and without them they cannot survive a confrontation with the West. It is literally impossible.

What China sees is that the US wants to fight wars where they aren’t at risk. If there’s a war in Asia against China, without using nukes, China has little ability to hit the US mainland, while the US can hit China. Yes, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan (if they’re stupid enough to join in) get devastated, but the US laughs as the damage is done overseas.

I strongly suspect the Chinese now see this as the US plan for them. The US has stated it wants to place hypersonic missiles in the first island chain off China, which includes Taiwan, the same sort of movement of weapons which contributed to Russia’s demands before the Ukraine war (the US is a year or two from hypersonic, but the placement of other missiles and ABM close to Russia has been protested by Russia for years), and recently there has even been talk of putting US troops in Taiwan as a trip wire similar to the one in South Korea.

This means China needs a conventional deterrent; they need missiles that can hit the continental US, and they need to increase their navy to the point where it can fight the US navy in international waters and win. Remember that China’s ship-building capacity is VASTLY larger than that of the US.

The US and UK, both of whom think that Russia and China can’t hurt them, are pushing this war in ways that are very dangerous. This is a bet, in fact, that Russia and Putin are entirely “rational”, despite the rhetoric and won’t risk escalation. But Putin is reputed to have spent hours watching the video of Gaddafi being sodomized by a bayonet before being killed, and the CCP knows that “regime change” is what the US wants for China.

Regime change in China will leave a lot of CCP members, and especially leaders, dead.

This is an existential issue for China and Russia. If they lose to America, their leaders are overthrown. Russia will be dismembered (this is what multiple NATO leaders have said they want), and China will be relegated to permanent 2nd tier status at best. Many of the leaders will die, and many of those will die ugly.

This is understandable for the US. They have a wasting asset: China, given enough time, will inevitably have a larger military, since it has the larger economy, and they are catching up in technology. The US Navy has been shrinking for decades and the US has lost the ability to build ships: they have had to cancel recent designs because on testing, they suck. The US’s ability to build planes is also in doubt: the F-35 was a massive mess and is far too expensive.

Since the US also judges that any escalation short of nuclear won’t hit them, except economically, and will hurt their enemies and their satrapies worse (making Europe weaker economically and stronger militarily is a win for the US), they have a great deal of incentive to escalate as much as possible, and just make sure it doesn’t go nuclear.

This isn’t in anyone else’s interest, but Europe is consumed with fear of Russia, and Western European leaders have accepted the narrative of Eastern Europe and the USA about Russia as a completely rogue power which must be destroyed, because it can never be trusted.

Meanwhile, the US’s ability to control foreign countries outside of Europe is dropping fast. Three of the four Gulf States (creations of the UK and kept in existence by the US) refused to side with NATO in the UN. Saudi Arabia has basically told the US to fuck itself. The Solomon Islands signed a military pact with China which spawned threats from Australia and the US of military action if a base is built because apparently the right to make military alliances and do what you want in your own territory is available only to would be American allies.

India has not gone along with sanctions and Malaysia is wavering.

US hegemony is breaking. Western hegemony is breaking. As alarmed and scared as Chinese and Russian elites are, American and Western elites are furious: absolutely livid that anyone dare challenge them, or that the days of their hegemony may soon be over. Right now, calculating that the costs of wars to stay in charge will not primarily be born by them, they are willing to escalate recklessly.

Since passions are up, I note that this is not a moral analysis about who is good or bad. There was certainly moral justification for going to war against the USSR at various points, but we didn’t and we avoided escalating beyond certain levels because we knew that war with them was unthinkable.

War with Russia is still unthinkable. War with China is abominable.

Our time is done. We sold our patrimony to the Chinese from the 90s thru the 10s, so that our elites could break our working class and get richer than if they had to pay 1st world wages and costs. That’s the truth. Our elites thought they were international elites, not national elites, and they were wrong. The Chinese knew they were a national elite, and, in effect, bribed our elites to give away the most important sources of their real power: having the largest industry, and having a huge tech lead.

Our elites gave it all away, for a few trillion dollars, and China paid happily. Our elites now see that their only chance to retain power is to use the waning asset of military supremacy. First they need to take out Russia, then they can choke China out.

This is an incredibly dangerous thing to do. Even if it doesn’t blow into nuclear war, it can easily blow into hot war. American allies in Asia, I would suggest, would be well advised to decouple militarily. This especially goes for Japan: build your own nukes and conventional deterrent and sit this one out. China can’t reach the US mainland yet, but it can reach you.

On top of all of this extraordinarily dangerous nonsense is the opportunity cost: we should be spending trillions on preparing for climate change and ecological collapse, not playing war games. NATO and Russia, over the last 10 years should have been disarming near mutual borders, not rushing troops, missiles and planes to the borders.

We are acting insane, chimpanzees trying to maintain dominance, locally or globally. And we are going to pay for it, even if we avoid nuclear war, with hundreds of millions, probably billions, of unnecessary deaths.

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