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

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


At a Societal Level “Can’t Afford” Is Bullshit


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 30, 2023


  1. bruce wilder

    We don’t know.

    We simply don’t know.

    I noticed this state of affairs — if that is what it should be called — when I struggled to form an opinion on the course the military conflict in Ukraine was taking: “who is winning?” basically. I simply don’t know.

    I could take sides and cheer as if for a college football team and then, of course, like many others, I could have plenty of opinions on the contest, to match the jersey I would be wearing. None of which would have much sure foundation in objective fact.

    A new development this week: a government official testified to Congress, implying that the government had considerable evidence of alien visitation, including biochemical residue. (Did I say that right?)

    Related? The information vacuum at the core of the furious exchange of contrasting narratives that is the journalism of the Ukraine War. And, the disclosure — if that is what it was — that UFOs are “real”?

    Yes, I think so. I think disinformation is having its day.

    Do 20% of those who received mRNA COVID vaccines have myocarditis? Someone on TikTok just told me that.

    Is Biden senile and corrupt? I would have thought that obvious, but I have it on “good authority” that Trump must be opposed and Biden supported because of all the Democrats have been doing to avert climate change and global warming. Say what?

    I have been watching the candidacy of RFK, Jr. I am not comfortable with his libertarian enthusiasm for “free market capitalism” but I notice 1.) the misreporting of his statements and positions and 2.) the positive response when he is presented in conversation by Joe Rogan or Russell Brand.

    I am noticing that there is not much “information” I can trust as reflective of objective fact coming my way. There is a lot of narrative though. Marketed with branding.

    Is there a conspiracy to make conspiracy the theory of everything? Could be. An information vacuum amidst a flood of narrative-infused communication seems bound to make people a bit nuts. Nothing is more divisive than feeling you are living in a different reality from those “other” people.

    And, who is winning in Ukraine? And remind me who the good guys are again, please.

  2. mago

    Who’s winning in Ukraine?
    The war profiteers?
    Who’s losing?
    The environment and everyone killed, human and animal alike and everyone related to them.
    Most everybody and everything, I guess.
    “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”
    Complexity reduced to sound bites and song lyrics.
    I don’t know either.

  3. Willy

    I was going to repeat Friedman’s profit mantra as an example of the famous two-part quote where only half the population can be led to consider the whole thing, preferring to forget the half which they disagree with, usually the part involving regulations or which their Dear Leaders have told them they must disagree with.

    But upon trying to look it up I found a long list of Milton quotes and thought to myself: I’ll be damned if damned near every single one of these quotes hasn’t been proven wrong and to be absolute libertarian neoliberal ideological nonsense, based on actual results.

    All I know about the situation in Ukraine is that it’s been going on 500 days past the point where they said the war was lost. It looks more like another Vietnam to me. Or Afghanistan. Except without all the jungles and caves, and young drafted Americans. So maybe our leadership is learning.

  4. The Covid vaccines where declared safe based on a rushed 2 month corporate study that did not even test for negative effects. They were declared effective based on a cherry picked 2 month corporate study that did not even test 70% of people with infectious-like symptoms for Covid.
    The 2 month and 6 month corporatize clinical studies showed the vaccine group had a statistically significant 40-50% worse overall health outcome compared to the placebo group. The vaccine group also had nominally more deaths and hospitalizations. That is despite pro-vaccine flaws such as using a passive negative effect reporting system, miscoding, unblinding, cherry picking, and so on. Mortality, and a wide range of negative health events have increased since the Covid vaccines.
    The corporation prematurely ended their clinical study at 6 months and gave everyone the vaccine. They did however report data to the FDA at 9 months. This data revealed that the Covid vaccine group had higher rates of Covid infections per person years. The Cleveland Hospital study as well as the Indiana hospital study, the Walgreens test data, the UK NHS and multiple Canadian province data showed those who got the vaccines had higher rates of Covid infections.

    Regardless of whether you think all that science is wrong, the fact that it isn’t even discussed, gets heavily censored should be shocking. The fact the media won’t even engage in a discussion, and instead just insult anyone pointing out the science resembles something which is not a functional society.

  5. Chuck Mire

    Why you can’t win debating trolls on Twitter (or in life):

  6. different clue

    Since different teams of narrative design engineers are flooding the zone with their respective engineered streams of shit ( to paraphrase Steve Bannon . . . ” flood the zone with shit” . . . ) sometimes we have to experiment with falling back on our instinct and our intuition, if we think we have any. And if there is a subject we know we know something about, see what different sources are saying about that particular subject, and if their output is in line with what we know we know about that subject, we can take a chance on provisional “what-if” thinking about other things they put stuff out about. ” What-if” what they are saying about something is true? What would that mean? What might happen with things connected to that subject?

    So falling back on those approaches to feeling my way in the fog, I will venture the tentative prediction that the RussiaGov is playing the UkraNATO forces like a fish, letting it run out some, reeling it back in some, encouraging it to keep fighting fighting fighting. The RussiaGov is not interested in the sort of “Decisive Victory” so beloved by those who think they are reliving a World War II morality tale in real life. The RussiaGov is interested in keeping UkraNATO fighting and supplying till it attrits itself into semi-alive non-responsive state. And the RussiaGov will commit just enough War Crime atrocities like the recreational missile attack on Lviv-ov-iv-ov to keep the Ukrainians just enraged enough to keep fighting and never surrender until the very last not-dead-yet Ukrainian is too weak to pick up a stick or a rock. And until the very last shelf is bare in NATO’s mother-hubbard cupboard. The RussiaGov will keep Ukraine fighting until it is so destroyed that no victory even need be declared and there is no Ukraine left to “render a surrender”.

    The Ukraine will pass over its own ” Hubbert’s Peak” of warfighting capability and keep sliding down the far side until it comes to its final rest at the very bottom of its own “Hubbert’s Pit”.

    To whatever extent the whole thing plays out that way in the end, to just that much extent I can be said to have some accurate instincts and intuitions about what is happening in Urussiakraine.

    About Trump v. Biden, my instinct and intuition tells me that I should be concerned with my own survival stake in the outcome of their election. Re-electing Biden gives us a chance of 4 years of decay just slow enough that people who have already determined to build up their own separate survival capacity will have 4 years in which to do so. Whereas a Trump victory will usher in Intrumpahamwe Militia attacks wherever the Christianazi SatanoMAGA-fascist forces are organized enough to carry them out. Plus, a reinvigorated President Trump 2.0 will work with the National Police Conspiracy and whatever other forces he and they have to conduct all the Argentine Dirty Wars they can in every Democratic Majority City they can reach, invade and occupy.

    Plus, the Global will keep right on Warming under the continuing impact of manmade heater-gas skydumping. Global Warming skeptics are invited to move to Florida and Texas.

  7. VietnamVet

    There is a distinct divide between the propaganda and reality. Basically the ruling money-cult believes that capital and markets together define all of the human political economy. They quietly seized the world and there is no alternative. With the imperial blob control of the western information operations, the corporate media is now within its own AI created world. They believe their own propaganda; except, culture, society and sovereign nations exist and are real; although, denied by bots, operators, and moguls.

    So in the alternative blog world you have to come up with your own scheme to try to explain the world. There are three main operations in play. They are all aimed at creating more private jet-set billionaires. One is drugs from fentanyl to mRNA gene therapies. This is simply money extraction. Feel good and avoid illness except it is more likely to kill or harm the injected. The second is war for profiteers. But, the BRICS nations are seriously trying to untangle themselves from the western hegemon at the risk of a nuclear war. Finally there is climate change. This is the conflict that keeps increasing the extraction of fossil fuel despite rising costs due to resource depletion and the increasingly obvious pollution that is turning American Cities’ air into “Blade Runner Orange”.

  8. Curt Kastens

    Different Clue,
    I have also considered the possibility that Russia is not seriously trying to win a quick victory in the Ukriane. But I find this scenario unlikely.
    The reason that I find this scenario unlikely is because even though Russia is weaking the Ukriane, and destroying the equipment and ammunition that the west is delivery to the Ukraine, Russia is non the less also be weakened by the war. Sure the Russians might be out producing the west in ammunition contest right now. But they could do that if there was no fighting in the Ukraine as well since they now now that real peace with the west is no longer possible. The NATO military personnel are barely engaged in the fighting. Therefore from a personnel standpoint they are not really being weakened.
    If I am wrong and the Russian leadership really is trying to drag out the hostilities then I think they are making a foolish mistake. I do not think that the Russian leadership is (are) fools.
    One example of recent events that leads me to believe that the two side are still stalemanted is that the Russians achieved some tactical success in the north east of the Osprey river. Yet in the past several days I have not heard anything about further advancement in that area that would have allowed them to capitalize on that initial success.
    I would expect that the Ukraine will run out of manpower first. But the longer that it takes for the Ukrainians to run out of manpower the more damage that will be done to the Russian MIC. If the Russians had been able to make faster progress after the small breakthrough that they had made east of the Osprey River then the Russians could have encircled Ukrainian forces removing them from the battle quickly and gain better defensive positions in case NATO or some collection of NATO countries enter the war later.

  9. Curt Kastens

    Brics versus NATO (the west)
    A lot of noise has been made recently about changes in the global geopolitical landschape, for example the Iranian-Saudi peace deal.
    If enough of these types of things happen the war in the Ukraine might be overshadowed by developements elsewhere.
    But could it also be that to much importance might also be made of these developements.
    Who are Russia’s, China’s, and Iran’s allies in the world besides myself.
    Well it looks like maybe Saudi Arabia and Brazil. But the death of just one person could totally change the policies of these countries yet again. Then there is Syria. A country that has been devastated by civil war. There is South Africa, Zimbawe, maybe Eithiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, plus more likely Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, all of which could be seen as being on the verge of being failed states themselves due to either political instability and or climate change. The French seem to have suffered quite a setback in Niger a few days ago. A country whose major asset in the world is that they export 5% of the world’s uranium.
    Then there is India which appears to view China as more of an enemy than the United States. The Indians should take note of what happened to the Iroquois after the French-English War of 1760 something or other. I saw this analyist, I think that it was Larry Johnson, say that the fighting between the Russian, and the Ukranian militaries was a race of cripples. It looks to me that the same could be said about the global economic competion between NATO (the west) and the BRICS, as the west has its own long list of major problems.

  10. Bill H.

    @Chuck Mire
    I particularly like the bit about, “don’t reply to a troll unless you are a troll yourself.”

  11. Trinity

    The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. ― Albert Einstein

    Questions open a space in your mind that allow better answers to breathe.
    ― Richie Norton

    “It’s good to be cynical,” he said. “That is, if you know when to stop. Most of the things that we’re all taught to respect and reverence- they don’t deserve anything but cynicism”. ― Aldous Huxley, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan

    Where certainty ceases, thinking begins; the knower sets off into uncertainty.
    ― Marie Luise Knott, Unlearning with Hannah Arendt

    It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. – Eugene Ionesco

    If you want the answer—ask the question. – Lorii Myers

    The question is the answer. – Thomas Vato

  12. Z

    I alluded to Let Them Eat Shit Mitch last week on this forum and began to wonder what had happened to him. I remember he had hit his head a while back but I thought he’d returned back to work. But we haven’t heard from him since then which is unusual for him since he’s always been someone to run his chins cheerleading for war.

    Well, he finally resurfaced this past week and poked his head out of his shell to hold a press conference in which he appeared to have a mini-stroke in the middle of.

    Unfortunately though, it probably looks worse than it actually is because it was later found that a woman who was part of their party tapped him on the hand while he was speaking about an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) and said something to him, possibly not to talk about it, and that probably caused him to lock up in confusion.


  13. bruce wilder

    I have also considered the possibility that Russia is not seriously trying to win a quick victory in the Ukraine.

    Different Clue and Curt Kastens raise an interesting point about the contest of too many narratives with too few facts. The Russophiles are conspicuously fitting their narrative to the facts that they cannot deny. It doesn’t mean that they are completely wrong, but one does suspect that they are choosing a narrative on the basis of what feels good to them and are not barred from doing so by a consideration of facts too much in the way, because there are a lot of facts hidden from view.

    The Russophobes have long made jokes about “a gas station with nukes” and “an GDP smaller than Italy’s” when, more objectively, Russia’s economy ranks somewhere in the neighborhood of Germany and Japan though obviously with a a distinctive balance of resources against education, political culture and industrial capability. The low nominal weight of GDP is a reflection of the extent to which Russia has been thoroughly screwed economically by the U.S. and “Collective West” and don’t think Putin and his regime are not acutely aware of this. The joke about “a gas station with nukes” is heard in the Global South as the cruel jibe of a prison camp guard and I don’t think the neocons in Washington have any sense of that.

    I think the objective facts, too little considered, suggest a narrative where Russia has been kept in the “middle-income trap” since roughly the 2008 GFC, its efforts to break out (such as Nordstream 2) aggressively frustrated. There are many interlocking aspects of that trap — outflows of capital to the exile oligarchs and an intense brain drain among them — complemented by a relentless ideological campaign of subversion through the globally shared political culture, highlighted for the Kremlin in the vivid details of color revolutions.

    I have written before that I think Putin took the unfathomable risks of war out of desperation. “Out of desperation” is a narrative trope, of course, but I think it helps to bring in important facts, including that Putin has lost at earlier stages in the game — 2014 Maidan most notably.

    Often overlooked by Russophiles and Russophobes alike is the fact that Russia had substantially de-militarized. For a country with the longest international border in the world, Russia did not have much of a military. Internally, the overwhelming sentiment of the people channeled by a huge scandal involving hazing and poor provisions for soldiers had expressed itself in reforms that retained universal service but reduced the obligation to a single year of training. A million-man army sounds formidable until you realize that 3/5s or more are one-year conscripts in training plus the contract soldiers doing the training. Putin had accepted the constraints on resources and from the political culture and focused strategically on developing “wonder weapons” — a fairly sensible strategy given Russia’s capable scientific establishment, but one with limited potential. For the “Special Military Operation” Putin had to cobble together a ragtag mix of militia and mercenaries, because legally — at the outset — he could not commit any part of the regular army. For the neocon haters, it is inconceivable that the Tyrant Putin could be restrained by law and for the Russophiles, admitting to the parlous state of the Russian military’s logistics and equipment stock is difficult. In the West, I saw many early narratives that could not even admit that the Ukrainian military outnumbered the invaders on the ground at the outset.

    My impression of Putin is that he is a cautious calculator, a gambler who counts cards and quits when he’s ahead rather than play more rounds (again a narrative trope, but one that accounts for facts — to me, so many “frozen conflicts” in the wake of his foreign policy interventions is abundant evidence of that.) I cannot imagine how he expects to maneuver to some kind of “outcome”. It is beyond my capacity to anticipate. I do think it is possible and even probable that Putin anticipates his own retirement as soon as the 2024 elections in Russia — either just before or after securing the continuation of his regime. Whether Putin plans such, Russia is readying itself for fairly radical shifts in the political and economic in the near-future. The political and economic pressure for change in equilibria is tremendous (and has been, imho, chosen as a path forward with open eyes by Putin).

    In the context of the rebellion of the BRICS and Africa as part of the world-historical contest, the actual fighting in Ukraine is stage-managed. I feel myself simply not smart enough to understand the considerations that go into matching the limitations on available military resources and capabilities (including logistics) with the political policy goals to even interpret what I see happening. I could say something trite and pseudo-profound — “in terms of weapons and tactics, we are witnessing the last war of the long 20th century”.

    What I fear, of course, is the psychopathology of the neocons playing out during the collapse of the imperium. They were too stupid and blood-thirsty to take a demilitarized Russia as a win and feed its resources to sustain an industrialized Europe. The string of countries destroyed — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria — not to mention such economic casualties as Venezuela or Cuba or Mexico — should make the U.S. fear the vengeance of a just god.

  14. bruce wilder

    economically, I suppose, what Russia seeks is a profound shift in the terms-of-trade, which have previously favored the supposedly “high-value-added” service and industrial nets of the globalized multinational corporations built up under the long dollar hegemony.

    what people in common know about how money works is a mix of mistaken metaphors (“printing money”) and past patterns.

    easy answers (yuan dominance) are wrong answers mostly. the hazards of intense universal surveillance will have to be endured a long time before “transparency” is discredited, if it ever is.

    most people have never managed to retain a horror of deflation against the flood-tide of reactionary propaganda against debtor-liberating inflation, so count me as not optimistic that resource depletion will be “priced” appropriately. people are taking their sweet time recognizing that fossil fuels are not giving way to “renewables” let alone that renewables are not that renewable.

    being trapped in the “narrative matrix” as Caitlin Johnstone puts it, means that people generally are not adequately engaged in the collective thinking through that has to take place for humans to adapt to global change — in political governance, in money, finance and trade, in the energy basis for the global economy, let alone the on-going collapse of ecologies.

    enlightenment or extinction? is that a choice? the choice? or no choice? 😒

  15. Curt Kastens

    If the 5 defensive lines that the Russians have built to prevent the Ukrianians from reaching the Crimea or the Black Sea coast are all that they are cracked up to be, why have the Russians put so much effort in to maintaining the control of the area that is refered to as the security zone?

    In Germany some Russians are saying that the AFD is becoming even more extreme and this extremism is creating difficulties for those law enforcement agents that are aledgedly supposed to protect the constiution. But who are really the extremists in Germany? The party that wants to end a NATO war of aggression or those parties that have encouraged and want to continue this war of aggression. Furthermore, from what i remember of history those parties in the past that wanted to stop fighting were labeled as left wing parties not right wing parties.
    We already have anti Russian neo Nazis leading German society. Yes neo Nazi is the correct term. To narrowly define a Nazi as one who kills Jews is propoganda. The essence of a Nazi is one who takes that which does not belong to him. Those who accuse the Russians of being the Nazis in Ukraine came in during the middle of the movie making them unqualified to pass judgement.
    Well, no one will be able to accuse me of being a leftist because I do not favor peace. I favor a decisive victory, before the collapse of industrial civilization, and the encroaching NTHE. No one will be able to accuse me of being a righist either because I favor progressive income taxation, and limiting private gun ownership to guns that can only fire 2 rounds before reloading.
    Add these things up, along with my supports for term limits for elected or unelected officials and the only adjative that can be attributed to my politcal views is reasonable.
    I am so reasonable that I could call on the German Military to make me the new Geman Emporer. But the if German Colonels can not figure that out for themselves I do not want to be the German Emporer

  16. Z

    Great to see Niger go the coup route and oust their Biden-or-Trump Western style “democracy” and that other African countries are stating that they will support the coup government of Niger if France and the West try to re-instill the corrupt clowns they had politically arranged to do their bidding.

    Their only path to freedom is force, unfortunately, because of the political contrivances that the West have foisted upon them.

    I stated a while back that the Ukraine War would ultimately lead to a substantial unified, international anti-West (in particular, anti-U.S.) movement. This is the danger of forcing the world to suffer in unison because the U.S. has their sights on destabilizing Russia.

    I expect the West … and particularly Israel’s rabid attack dog, the U.S. … to be expelled from many African countries. The Africans know that allowing Western corporations and the NGOs to operate in their countries is a ticking time bomb to their sovereignty and against the best interests of their people.

    Expect a lot of humanitarian talk from the West about Africa in order to justify bombing anti-West countries, but Russia has helped to thwart the force of that by promising to supply free grain to Africa.


  17. different clue

    @Curt Kastens,

    Thank you for the reply. We now have two theories for understanding RussiaGov behavior and goals in its Ukraine War. My feeling is just a feeling. I won’t know what is/was happening until it has all-the-way happened.

    @Bruce Wilder,

    I was more thinking of a huge abundance of facts, actual factual facts, a fact for almost every taste in facts, enough facts that a large number of facts could be found to support any one of several narratives. It can be rather hard for any one individual to keep track of that many facts.

    Naked Capitalism and Turcopolier have neatly opposing narratives of the war. And they have different sets of facts supporting or informing the opposing narratives. It will be interesting to see which set of facts is/was more relevant to the unfolding deeper reality after it has all the way unfolded.

    Whereas the global warming realists have a bunch of facts whereas the global warming denialists have a bunch of Kelly Ann Conway-style “alternative facts”. I think where global warming is concerned we already know what is happening and where it is going and which facts are factual and which “facts” are “alternative”.

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