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

Cuba’s Big Currency Mistake

So, there are some protests in Cuba. I don’t know how much they amount to; I’m no Cuba expert.

But I do know that Cuba made a huge mistake when they ended their dual currency system at the beginning of the year.

Dual currency systems designate one currency for purchasing internal goods and services, and another for external goods. Their purpose is to make sure that a country doesn’t spend more money on external goods than it is earning from exports of goods and services.

When there’s way more demand for foreign goods than there are export earnings, if you allow people to just buy whatever they want in a single currency system, your single currency collapses, leading to inflation or hyper-inflation.

There’s a reason Cuba ran a dual currency system before, and while getting rid of it allowed Cubans to buy more foreign goods to start, it has also contributed (along with Covid and US sanctions) to hyperinflation:

The result of dollarization, scarcity, and devaluation: Prices have skyrocketed and inflation will likely come in at a minimum of 500 percent, and as much as 900 percent this year, according to Pavel Vidal, a former Cuban central bank economist who teaches at Colombia’s Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali.

Hyper-inflation destroys regimes.

Cuba is caught in a trap; they don’t have enough of anything, including food. Their primary ally, Venezuela, can no longer help (also being caught in hyper-inflation). Letting Cubans buy directly in dollars and getting rid of caps on imports must have seemed like a way out.

But shortages are shortages: Moderate inflation helps ease them, hyper-inflation simply imposes them on a different group of people -— those who can’t get foreign currency, a.k.a., US dollars.

Were I advising Cuba, I would suggest going back to the dual currency regime. Long lines and evenly-distributed shortages are tolerated much better than hyper-inflation-induced shortages because they are far more fair and predictable.

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Open Thread


  1. Plague Species

    Jesus, who’s advising Diaz-Canel? Larry Summers?

    The Batista Cubans in South Florida are licking their chops. They will have those halcyon days again where peasants were peasants and comprised 99% of the population and the aristocracy was the aristocracy and the mafia was the mafia and life was good if you weren’t a peasant and Batista Cubans were not peasants.

  2. Plague Species

    A nation of laws, right? The quality of the law is not its only point of potential weakness and legitimacy but also the manner in which it is enforced. Is it an equitable law? Is it equitably enforced? The answer in this case is obvious. It’s not an equitable law and it isn’t and will not be equitably enforced.

    Gov. DeSantis should have just laid it on the line when a reporter asked about the scores of Cuban-American demonstrators and their supporters who shut down a portion of the Palmetto Expressway in Miami-Dade County.

    Instead, he deflected, talking about protesters in Cuba.

    Implicit in the question, however, was whether the governor’s vaunted anti-riot law — created in the wake of George Floyd demonstrations — would apply in the case of the demonstrators blocking streets and an expressway in Miami-Dade.

    Their cause is righteous, of course — bringing down Cuba’s oppressive and regressive regime.

    Florida’s misbegotten anti-riot law leaves even peaceful demonstrators subject to being arrested if a protest is arbitrarily deemed a “riot.” The law explicitly makes blocking a highway a felony offense. Worse, it gives civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters who are blocking a road — basically, encouraging haters to do just that.

    So it’s clear as clear can be. DeSantis and the Batista Cubans believe they own Florida and they are most definitely racists considering the anti-protest laws only apply to blacks and white sympathizers of blacks.

    I went to college with these pricks so in case you can’t tell, I hate their guts.

  3. Ché Pasa

    While there are plenty of reasons to protest conditions in Cuba, there doesn’t appear to be anything organic about the recent unrest, any more than there is about the Guaido led protests in Caracas.

    These are exercises in post-Color Revolution practices by a small segment of the population who get lionized in the West for wanting to “liberate” their nations from “tyranny.”

    Well of course they do. In order to impose their own tyranny. You think the Florida Cubans don’t want to restore the way things were pre-Castro? Of course they do. Life was good — for them. Fuck everyone else.

    And so it goes. These post-Color Revolution agitations, however, don’t seem to be getting anywhere these days. Apart from personally hoping to benefit from the End of the Regime, their actors seem to have no policies or programs or even thought of the well-being of the nation’s masses.

    Ian’s suggestion to go back to a dual currency model is one of a number of ways to ease at least some of the suffering the Cuban people are enduring. Lifting US sanctions/embargo would be even better. Same with Venezuela.

  4. Astrid

    I would suggest that similar lenses should be used to look at any agitation that’s favorably reported by the US and UK MSM. Even if there are legitimate grievances against the government (and there always are), any protesters stupid or evil enough to welcome US intervention in any capacity, given its appalling track record, is a traitor to their respective populace and deserves to be strung up a lamppost as such.

    If the Batistas gave a damn about Cubans in Cuba, they could donate money to Cuban or international food relief agencies, which would immediately alleviate suffering of Cubans in economic duress. Instead they are breaking the law and blocking traffic in the USA.

  5. Plague Species

    If the Batistas gave a damn about Cubans in Cuba, they could donate money to Cuban or international food relief agencies, which would immediately alleviate suffering of Cubans in economic duress. Instead they are breaking the law and blocking traffic in the USA.

    Yep, and the punk Mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, a Belen Boy, is calling for the bombing of Cuba. His buddy McDonald Trump I’m sure agrees considering McDonald ratcheted things up against Cuba to include increasing economic sanctions thus making shortages and suffering worse. Biden has not reversed McDonald’s ratcheting and has indicated he has no intention to return to the Obama approach. Scumbag.

    CounterPunch has a great article covering the matter.

    But there is an even deeper layer of hypocrisy when it comes to Washington’s criticism of Cuba, especially when it comes to economic hardship and shortages. Acting assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs Julie Chung tweeted: “Peaceful protests are growing in #Cuba as the Cuban people exercise their right to peaceful assembly to express concern about rising COVID cases/deaths & medicine shortages. We commend the numerous efforts of the Cuban people mobilizing donations to help neighbors in need.” The sheer gall of a spokesperson for the US government criticizing the Cuban government for shortages takes audacity to new heights of insolence. Because the biggest cause of such shortages, and of Cuba’s economic woes more broadly, has been the brutal, US-imposed economic blockade that has now lasted for almost 60 years.

    Outside the halls of power in Washington, the pages of corporate-owned media outlets, and the fevered imaginations of hardline Cuban-American exiles, this is hardly a controversial point of view. That the embargo has been a major cause of economic hardship in Cuba has been recognized by major regional institutions such as the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and mainstream human rights organizations such as Amnesty International. Yet the corporate-owned media reports proceed as if the blockade didn’t even exist.

    The Associated Press, for instance, attributed the outbreak of protests directly to “food shortages and high prices amid the coronavirus crisis”. These are exactly the kind of problems that are attributable directly to the blockade. The Center for International Policy, a Washington-based NGO, has pointed out that the blockade has “created a situation of scarcity and uncertainty that has affected all aspects of Cuban society”. According to United Nations (UN) figures, meanwhile, the blockade had caused an estimated $130 billion worth of damage to Cuba’s economy as of 2018. This figure would almost certainly need to be revised up significantly as of July 2021, not least because of tightening of sanctions against Cuba during the Trump presidency.

  6. Hugh

    With covid, tourism and foreign exchange are probably down in Cuba. And you have the post Castro and generational transition of power there. Seems like both Biden and Diaz-Canal could have dialed back the Trump era could war by now. Where is Blinken, and is there even a US policy on Cuba at the moment?

  7. different clue

    If the Cuba Cubans have more guns and ammo than the Miami Cubans have, then the Cuba Cubans can exterminate the Miami Cubans if the Miami Cubans go back to Cuba.

  8. Mark Level

    Yeah, Cuba has been in a bad place for decades due to the US’s malign influence, but let’s not discount that its elderly, sclerotic leadership also didn’t adjust well to the fall of the Soviet Union. I’m sure a lot of what is happening in Cuba now is US or Miami gusano-instigated, but at the same time that doesn’t mean that the Cuban people don’t have legitimate problems with a bad government, like 99.9% of the planet’s inhabitants. I have something in common with PS, when I was in school getting a B.A. in Spanish after my time in Nicaragua after their revolution I had una profesora gusana Cubana. She would regularly interrupt class to rant and rave about how great Cuba was prior to the revolution, (she stated it was a paradise and everyone including the poor was happy; nobody dared ask her why, then, the revolution against Batista happened?) and fantasize that Castro would be painfully exterminated. Here’s an interesting 2006 article about how foaming at the mouth the Miami crowd are and the glory days when Governor Jeb Bush installed Batista’s grandson as the state’s Attorney General, and they had Miami official holidays (declared by the mayor) to celebrate the likes of Air Cubana terrorist bombers Luis Posada Carriles & Orlando Bosch, who masterminded the killing of 73 (to get the Cuban Olympic fencing team) in a precursor to the 911 WTC attacks. It is amazing the staying power that militant fascism has on some people’s minds . . . Link at

  9. Plague Species

    Cuba didn’t, and still doesn’t, have many options if any. Prior to converting to one currency, they were caught between a CUC and a CUP (versus Scylla and Charybdis). Highly skilled engineers and other such skilled workers were quitting their government jobs where they were paid in CUP for unskilled private sector jobs where they were paid in CUC like taxi drivers for tourists.

  10. Purple Library Guy

    Well, maybe they’ll get a bit of foreign exchange in the next couple of years from underselling the Pfizer, Moderna etc. crowd. Nothing like an affordable vaccine to a deadly disease to get people doing their level best to get around the blockade.

  11. different clue

    Jeff Wells at Rigorous Intuition 2.0 wrote a blogpost about Posada. ( He may have written more than one but I only have the patience to find this one, titled Posada Again.)

  12. Plague Species

    Hey Mark, I feel that, believe me. They have CDS. What is CDS? Turning the tables on McDonald Trump supporters, and the Batista Cubans are Trump supporters, CDS is Castro Derangement Syndrome.

    Many if not all of these Batista Cubans were and are schooled by the Jesuits. Belen is a Jesuit school. My college was aJesuit college and some kind of intelligence pitstop. Oswald came to speak at my college before that fateful day in November 1963 and Patricia Krenwinkel was a student there.

    The irony is, Castro himself was schooled by the Jesuits. They created their very own Golem that turned on them. I guess I’m a Golem of sorts too, to them at least. The poor kid charity case that refused to serve their wealthy sons and daughters. That was the purpose of their charity. To make me a glorified servant to their superior privilege. The priests had a particular penchant for the charity cases. We were fair game. Vulnerable. Beholden. They figured a certain percentage were easy targets of their predation for this reason.

  13. Astrid

    If Cubans or the Chinese end up with the only really effective vaccine, I am sure the West will figure out some way to do a “Bush v. Gore” style one time only in the history of the universe patent breaking.

  14. bruce wilder

    I travelled in Cuba during the Obama thaw and I understood the two-currency scheme as a key component of their strategy for using tourism as a principal source of foreign exchange, but it was ritually scorned by many Cubans I spoke to. And, as PS says, the scheme as a whole had turned the social hierarchy of the economy up side down, as a rickshaw diver (yes they have those) could easily earn more than a doctor.

    Spreading out the opportunities to earn tourist dollars was pacifying the country though, giving many people opportunities to exercise their ambition and escape to some extent the poverty. Cuba did not seem to me a happy country.

    Cuban exiles in Miami talk up the line that the Government in Cuba is corrupt and oppressive. Cubans in Cuba at the time I was there seemed to trust that the Government at the top was not corrupt and intended to do good and find solutions, but they also regarded the government as prone to stupid strategies and were wary of the maze of authoritarian restrictions that could envelop an individual locally. I can well imagine that no one was much surprised when going to one currency failed as a policy.

    Cuba has struggled terribly. The overthrow of Batista triggered a baby boom, and those boomers are now in charge, but aging rapidly and there are proportionally a lot of them and not so many young people, as the famine post-Soviet-collapse depressed birth rates that never recovered and many among the young seek to emigrate.

    The centralization of resource allocation and decision-making mean that lots of problems are neglected while a few are addressed effectively and some badly. Sanctions are blamed but I think communism (informed by legacies of Spanish colonialism in the political imagination) might have something to do with it, for good and ill. Individual initiative is frustrated in many areas, but surprisingly successful in others. One example when I was there was the distribution of “the package” of pirated American and Spanish television programming via USB drives available from local electronics repair guys. On the other hand, in a country of musicians, buying guitar strings was hard and a ballpoint pen difficult.

  15. Plague Species

    For women, a big problem in Cuba is getting feminine hygiene products. My wife has a Cuban friend and when she travels back to Cuba she brings loads of feminine hygiene products and her female family and friends there flock to her.

  16. Hugh

    Cuba is just another country trapped between its neighbors (us) and it’s own history.

  17. Astrid

    Hugh is so vehement in his condemnation of Russia, China, and Trump, yet so passive voiced with what the Biden administration’s continued sanctions are doing to other countries right now.

  18. Hugh

    Astrid, you need to ease up on your medications.

  19. Astrid

    Nice gaslighting Hugh. Call me and others every name in the book for having the termerity to using their knowledge and experience to suggest that maybe the US is lying about China and Russia just like it did with Iraq and Syria. Repeat the same unsupported and discredited NED talking points at any tangential provocation so many times that you appear to have Tourettes. Never engage when others respond in good faith with sounds arguments and keep repeating the same lies over and over again.

    But when I point out how you sneakily used language to minimize the harm that the US has done around the world (because the US just happened to Cuba and had nothing to do with the sanctions and illegal confiscations and coups that US government imposed on Cuba and Venezuela), I’m the one with a problem.

    Yeah, I have a problem with “humanitarian interventionists” scum like you. I have a big problem with how you (collectively) enable suffering of people you don’t know the first thing about. I have a big problem with you (personally) supporting the War party under Democratic party branding. I absolutely hate that you want the US to escalate against nuclear states to keep up your self righteous boner.

  20. Astrid

    Jeremy Corbyn show when one ignore liars lying. They don’t go away, they keep lying until they won and you lose. Eventually people believe the liars and you’re discredited. The Gray Zone and Jimmy Dore were absolutely right to defend themselves against slander as hard as possible.

  21. Hugh

    I would note that the absence of a US policy on Cuba is all the more remarkable when you consider the size of our government and its resources.

    The State Department employs about 70,000 people of whom about 11,000 are Civil Service employees who represent the institutional brains of the place. There are in addition innumerable contract employers, intelligence agencies, think tanks, policy centers, and universities, the State Department has access to.

    So why not just here, not just with Blinken and Biden, it always seems we are getting blindsided or have no policy? I know all the feature, not a bug arguments, but it is like we are being led by not very bright 6-year olds. As in so many other areas, regardless of the party in power, we should demand better.

  22. bruce wilder

    Hugh: I would note that the absence of a US policy on Cuba is all the more remarkable . . .

    What can that statement even signify?

    The U.S. has a policy toward Cuba, the principles of which have been enacted by Congress in response to pressure from various right-wing elements in business (and organized crime), the anti-commie ideologues and the Cuban exiles.

    There is not much of a Left in U.S. politics in regard to any issue, but certainly none willing to articulate any more sophisticated policy than a token anti-war stance or an anti-apartheid view. The Right has learned to cynically use narratives liberal interventionism — that is the ghost of left views on foreign affairs that died when Franco survived the end of the Second World War and when Castro turned out to be a frequently foolish ego maniac.

    Having acknowledged that much, what should we make of someone who claims there is no policy? That PMC expertise among the civil service mysteriously fails to fill this alleged vacuum?

  23. Plague Species

    Hey bruce, Biden would agree with you that Cuba’s woes aren’t due to America putting the squeeze on it all these live long years, but instead it’s communism. He even said it yesterday in his press conference with Merkel — that communism is a failed system. I could feel Merkel seething inside. Surely Biden knows Merkel was, maybe still is, a communist through and through and Biden’s comment was a gloating cheap shot.

    If it was communism, China wouldn’t be the preeminent economy on this planet. That’s communism and look at it. Communism sans America’s squeeze and I would argue Astrid’s concern that America intends to squeeze China is not realistic, America cannot squeeze China but China can surely squeeze America.

    I will concede that China at this point is something other than communism. Some say it’s state capitalism or a communism/capitalism hybrid. If so, same applies to Cuba then, and yet Cuba is foundering by contemporary establishment standards. Contemporary establishment standards are subjective, though, and not absolute.

    But what is success? A growing economy with an established oligarchy that allows for billionaires and a substantial percentage of homeless and impoverished? America’s system, in otherwords? Where the wealthy elite can fly around in space while others live in cardboard boxes on the streets waiting to die any day now?

    This is what Biden and his buddies want for Cuba. It’s what McDonald Trump and his supporters want for Cuba. They want Cuba to exploit the planet to its fullest. To ravage it. To rape it. Or better yet, to allow them to ravage and rape it as common Cubans are pushed aside or worse, enslaved in furthering the ravaging.

    I would argue Cuba is actually more successful than any country in the West or the East for that matter. They have learned to survive in very desperate times for the greater part of 60 years now since the revolution. They are more prepared for the implications of climate chaos than any other country on the planet. Their resiliency has been tested again and again and they are still standing, even if just barely, despite all odds. Those odds will be our odds in short order given the implications of the destruction of the living planet and most of us have no idea how to survive what is coming because our mettle has not been tested.

  24. Hugh

    It almost doesn’t matter to point out that a policy has a purpose. The US had a Cold War policy toward Cuba but that war ended even before the USSR did in 1991 thirty years ago. You could say that we had an anti-Castro policy after that, but Fidel left office in 2008, thirteen years ago, and died in 2016, 5 years ago. And Raoul is 90 and off the scene. There was a period of some relaxation under Obama. Under Trump the Cold War stance was reinstituted but importantly this was not a Cuba policy but a largely successful effort to buy Cuban-American votes in Florida. Why Biden continues this is nonsensical. It is not like he is going to buy back those votes. And in any case a ploy to win Cuban-American votes under a previous President is at most a Cuban-American policy, not a Cuba policy. So what we have now is a continuation of Trump’s non-policy. My previous point stands. 6 months into the Biden Administration, with all the resources at its disposal, we should have a real Cuba policy by now.

  25. Jason

    Ian’s intelligent misfits find themselves semantically stuck once again.

    Intelligent discourse to follow once things are worked out. Or they get bored. Or Ian writes yet another piece.

    The constructive hideaway for those who find there’s no constructive discourse left in the “real” world.

    The birds are singing.

  26. Plague Species

    Here’s what Biden calls a success. Here’s what he and his buddies and McDonald Trump and his supporters want for Cuba. And it’s just the tip of the capitalistic iceberg.

    Tens of thousands of times a year, hospitals charge enormously expensive trauma alert fees for injuries so minor the patient is never admitted.

    In Florida alone, where the number of trauma centers has exploded, hospitals charged such fees more than 13,000 times in 2019 even though the patient went home the same day, according to a KHN analysis of state data provided by Etienne Pracht, an economist at the University of South Florida. Those cases accounted for more than a quarter of all the state’s trauma team activations that year and were more than double the number of similar cases in 2014, according to an all-payer database of hospital claims kept by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.

    Florida, you know, where the Batista Cubans reside and hold sway.

    That professor Mark spoke of saying, or effectively saying, “our peasants were happy” is serendipitous humor. It reminds me of an old documentary I saw shot in the Deep South, Mississippi in particular, in the early 70s. They were questioning the privileged white southerners about civil rights and without fail all of those who were interviewed would say again and again that civil rights was a failure and no reforms were necessary because, and I kid you not these were the exact words, “our negores were happy.”

    See any similarities? I do.

    Biden and the Dems will lose the the House in 2022 and the Senate will gain GOP seats. Both chambers will be further radicalized. The Dems will lose the Executive in 2024. I, for one, will refuse my vote this time. Biden and the Dems are already failures and Biden’s smug remark yeesterday about socialism seals the deal.

    My wife’s friend from Cuba, her mother, did not vote prior to Obama. She voted for Obama because of one single issue. America’s revised stance towards Cuba. She appreciated Obama’s policy. So she voted for him and has voted Dem ever since. She will not be voting in the 2022 and 2024 elections. She is withholding her vote. She is representative of a whole lot of people who voted Dem this past election and the election before for various reasons. Biden has obliterated all of that good will and benefit of the doubt bequeathed him.

  27. Plague Species

    Sorry, that was supposed to say “negroes.”

  28. Hugh

    US foreign affairs are so toxic and rancid because they are not governed by any foreign policy consideration. We were in Afghanistan for 20 years for no particular reason with no goal or endgame in sight. We support Israel not because it’s an ally, it’s not, but because of a Jewish lobby and whacked out evangelicals in this country. How we act or do not act toward Cuba is governed by Cuban-American fascists in Florida.

    As progressives, maybe it would be more useful, certainly saner, to discuss what a realistic American foreign policy should look like.

  29. different clue

    I think that DC FedRegime policy on Cuba is mainly set by the Miami Cubans. And the Miami Cubans do have a goal. Their goal is to re-invade the island and re-Batistafy it and re-Plantationise the farmland.

    Pray the Cuba Cubans have enough weapons and organization to wipe out any Miami Cuban re-invasion effort, militarily and demographically.

    The only way there will be a serious positive change on the Island is if/when the Cuba Cubans have their Timisoara Moment and so many of them agree about that that they decide to revolutionise, take over their own Island, and give the Communists there the Ceausescu Treatment.

    Unless the Island Government decides to back off and relax its repression-pressure, in which case the Cuba Cubans may be able to evolve their society to whatever stage comes next.

  30. Trinity

    “it is like we are being led by not very bright 6-year olds”

    We are being led by not-so-bright but definitely mentally ill and endlessly greedy overseers. There are few politicians actually running the US and it’s “policy”. The politicians and their appointees are … beholden.

    “We were in Afghanistan for 20 years for no particular reason with no goal or endgame in sight. “

    This isn’t quite true. The goal was to make a lot of money for a few, and that mission was accomplished. Even their exit strategy was very similar to other economic exit strategies: once the money mill winds down, remove anything of real value, then leave behind the detritus and a complete mess that someone else will have to clean up). This is the playbook, for centuries.

    And I’m with PS that Cuba is more successful than many other countries, but the reason behind the “policy/lack of policy” there is the same as it has always been, right out of the same playbook. Our insane overlords cannot stand seeing real estate not being developed for a quick buck, land that hasn’t been despoiled, and a population that isn’t enslaved and constantly tithing to their overlords.

    Back when I was in grad school in Florida (the hope and change years) when academics were vying to get on the list to visit Cuba, there was also much talk about how the Havana waterfront was going to be developed (the usual hotel chains) right down to which and what would be where. Those plans have now been sitting around a long time, and the costs paid for those plans probably rankles. The lucky academics meanwhile, were raving about the intact ecosystems and general well being of the land and the health of the people. It was described at that time as paradise, the land that time forgot, but in reality served as an indictment of neoliberalism and insane economic policy.

    And on “uber” leaders: having just one is the main problem. No one person can (or should) make all decisions, nor any continuous and finite group. All problems should be solved by whoever has the most experience and success solving that particular problem, at scale. There are alternatives, in other words, but the absolute worst choice is a single leader and his “advisors” making all the decisions. It should be obvious what that evolves into over time.

  31. Astrid

    What’s Hugh’s sane foreign policy? Get into a hot war with Russia and China on behalf of Ukrainian Nazis and East Turkistan Jihadists? Repeating lies about other countries to fan the flames of war and justify yet another quagmire?

    Just because US foreign policy is no longer controlled by people approved by Hugh doesn’t mean it’s nonexist. Millions upon millions are hurt and killed by US foreign policy every year. USians all own it, we’re all responsible, we’re all guilty to the extent that we don’t do enough to stop it. Nothing passive about going halfway around the world to kill and maim women and children or arming continuously rebranded head choppers.

  32. Willy

    I can provide two topics for debate from which to choose:

    1. When was that time when Americas foreign policy was the least toxic for other nations and its own workers?

    2. Would Elon Musk be a good foreign policy advisor to the President?

  33. Hugh

    As usual, Astrid has nothing but her army of strawmen. Better Chinese hasbara, please.

    Re Elon Musk, one of my sisters used to say of her bosses, Listen to what they have to say and do the opposite.

  34. Astrid

    FDR’s good neighbor policy was probably the only time US forum policy might be described as something other than “extremely toxic”.

    Hugh, I wasn’t the one who went on and on with US State Department line on Uighur genocide and the Crimean, and never responded to ample evidence that debunked those lies. You’re the Hasbarist and not a skillful one at that.

  35. different clue


    I will treat your “two topics for debate” as “two questions to be answered”.

    1: America’s domestic and foreign policy were both best during the early New Deal. Following the removal of Henry Wallace and then death of Roosevelt, policy started getting bad fast overseas in some respects, and bad slower in the US.

    2: No, Musk would not be a good foreign policy adviser. He would bring a different kind of crazy to the enterprise, but it would still be nasty.

    And it would still feature Forcey Free-Trade as its Prime Directive.

  36. different clue

    It may be an artifact of my computer and/or programming, but it looks like the BlogRoll that Ian Welsh used to have is gone now. If it went the way of the Raven for forced-redesign reasons then . . . oh well.

    So here is something from a blogger I have mentioned before, who seems to think on parallel tracks with Ian Welsh sometimes. His name is Ran Prieur and he seems to be a leaner tougher meaner hippy for today’s leaner tougher meaner times of today.

    Here is the thing which caught my eye. . . .

    ” July 16. Yesterday I had a highly upvoted reddit comment. Anwering the question, “What is the biggest lie you’ve been told by society?” I said, “That success comes from being smart or hard-working. It comes from some combination of luck, social intelligence, and tolerance for lying.”

    Of course, as one of the replies points out, “success” isn’t even a good thing to aim for. As American culture defines that word, it means wealth and status in an economic domination system. As long as we all need money to live an adequate life, money is a tool of power-over, a way to make other people do things they would not do, if they didn’t need the money.

    One of those things is to validate the world-view of the people above you. As another reply points out, tolerance for lying includes “a willingness to lie for the benefit of people who hold power over you at the expense of yourself.”

    The popular myth of “lying” is, “I, who am evil, shall say something I know to be false, for my own advantage, ha ha.” The reality is more like, “Oh shit, if I don’t tell these people what they want to hear, I’ll be in so much trouble.” And then, “So I don’t have to keep track of two things at once, I’ll just tell myself the same thing I’m telling them.”

    Now, through the miracle of social media, the universe of tell-them-what-they-want-to-hear has expanded to include all of us — as cringing slaves, crafting our profiles to preserve our delicate status, and also as corrupt dictators, who can always find a voice confirming our comfortable beliefs. ”

    I hope that last sentence can be proven not-true, at least on the part of some.
    Here is the Ran Prieur link.

  37. Willy

    Ran Prieur seems a reasonable sort. I hope this continues. Sometimes I worry that reasonable sorts will suddenly turn all anti-leftist squirrely, as if they’ve been bodysnatched by some wealthy plutocrat. But then I remember that it’s usually the telegenic and corruptible idiots who get “Reaganified”.

    I wonder if Elon Musk reads Ran Prieur.

  38. bruce wilder

    The popular myth of “lying” is, “I, who am evil, shall say something I know to be false, for my own advantage, ha ha.” The reality is more like, “Oh shit, if I don’t tell these people what they want to hear, I’ll be in so much trouble.” And then, “So I don’t have to keep track of two things at once, I’ll just tell myself the same thing I’m telling them.”

    Lying is something we all do constantly, with a mix of motivations and to satisfy not just the bosses, but also our peers, friends, family.

    Learning to lie to and thru social media (and most especially to and thru the omni-present surveillance apps) is a survival skill. The great tool of privacy is the mask.

  39. Willy

    bruce, you know the system of lying is broken when people can look right into a camera and proclaim that the election was stolen or that CRT dominates our grade schools, without feeling the slightest need to present any credible proof of any kind.

  40. Hugh

    The important thing is, Willy, they absolutely don’t care that it is a lie. They don’t care if they get called on it. It’s all about scoring points with their base.

    I saw today that Mike Pence said he had had enough of Biden, but nothing about Trump, the guy who raised a mob to off him. If there were no consequences to these clowns being clowns, we would be living in a golden age of comedy.

  41. nihil obstet

    The popular myth of “lying” is, “I, who am evil, shall say something I know to be false, for my own advantage, ha ha.”

    Self-satisfied mediocrities, the kind of people you find opining at the local country club bar after golf or serving in G.W. Bush’s cabinet, think lying is smart. They should win all arguments because they’re right, but since their opponents won’t capitulate, they lie. The opponents are too stupid to counter.

    The recently deceased mediocrity Donald Rumsfeld comes to mind.

  42. Astrid

    Not commenting about the “great and good” who are anything but. But individuals in this society must operate in a framework of low social trust, lies, and distortions. This means lying or at least shielding the truth carefully. In my experience, liberals PMCers are prejudiced and bigoted in a much more complete way than MAGAites, though I admit this may be because MAGAites don’t trust me enough to speak their full opinions in front of me.

    It’s basically Prisoner’s dilemma game where not only do we not have mechanisms to enforce cooperation of the prisoners, they’re constantly told that the other prisoner is THE enemy and must be sold out at all cost. We’re marking ourselves up, trying to make ourselves as attractive as possible, in the hope that we’ll be the house slaves and the ones destined for salt mines or victims in wild beast fights.

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