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

Questions, Questions, Questions (For You)

I’m not going to give my answers to these questions, they are for you to answer. I will, gently, suggest that you try and imagine yourself in the appropriate person’s shoes while answering them.

If the world’s sole superpower is hostile to your country and sanctioning it, causing great harm, is it your duty to interfere in the superpower’s elections if you judge that might get it to kill less of your citizens?

Alternatively, fearing the superpower’s great might, seeing the terrible things it has done to various countries, should you cower in fear and do nothing, hoping that your clear fear convinces them to not hurt you too much?

Ethically speaking (not pragmatically), would it be OK for a country whose weddings and funerals regularly get droned by America to attack an American wedding or funeral which senior White House or military officials are attending? It not, would it it be more or less unethical than US dronings?

If you were a country the US was setting up to attack and destroy next and you had the ability to set off some suitcase nukes and thought that might stop the attack, would it be right to do so, or should you let the US destroy your country without hurting American civilians?

In a strange world where the US would not retaliate by destroying Iraq, would it be justified for Iraq to “rendition” George W. Bush and Cheney to their country, give them a trial, then execute them for mass murder and aggressive warmaking (like the US did Nazis and Japanese?)

If you were Yemeni, and you had an opportunity to kill the majority of the Saudi Royal family, though some unrelated civilians would also die, would it be right, or at least justified to do so? Why or why not?

If you were Palestinian and you discovered some super secret magic or tech that would make you able to force Israelis into a small amount of land, and seize their homes and lands for Palestine, would it be your duty to do so? What about natives in the Americas?

And when do those who were conquered/settled, morally, have to say “well, it’s been so long now that I guess it’s no big deal.” If I were a native in the Americans, I don’t know if I’d say the time has passed. The Irish didn’t with the English, and the Scots are getting uppity.

Is running an autocracy domestically worse than supporting coups to take away other countries democracy? If so, why?

If Indian Dalits could overthrow the Indian state and abolish the caste system by force, at the cost of all the deaths a war and revolution would entail, would they be justified in doing so?

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 21, 2021


The Coming Boom


  1. Plague Species

    This is about factional disputes among the global oligarchy, not about the interests of various nation-states and their respective citizenry. The interests of various nation-states is the cover, obviously. The unwashed should have NO SIDE in this whatsoever and should be opposed to the entire global oligarchy rather than defending one faction of it. The global oligarchy is the enemy — ALL factions of it.

  2. iwouldntpissonneoliberalsiftheywereonfire

    Americans are the biggest whiners in history. It’ll be quite funny watching Americans get crushed by a German-Russian-Chinese alliance. P.S. The Koreans are majorly pissed that you Yanks abandoned them after they agreed to install THAAD missile systems and China cut their nuts off. America is a failed state.

  3. Ché Pasa

    Our rulers always make sure that most of what we do is highly constrained by rules, laws, customs, and force. What they do, eh, not so much.

    The morality imposed on the Rabble is often fierce and not infrequently deadly. The ruling class has no moral conviction or control; not only do they do what they want, they prevent the rest of us from doing what we want, though rarely do the desires of the Rabble come close to the excesses of the ruling class.

    On those rare occasions when some member of the ruling class is “caught” and forced to face consequences for their actions, it is generally because the member has crossed some powerful faction of the ruling class, not because of the specific accusation.

    I’ll just take this one part of Ian’s formulation:

    And when do those who were conquered/settled, morally, have to say “well, it’s been so long now that I guess it’s no big deal.” If I were a native in the Americans, I don’t know if I’d say the time has passed. The Irish didn’t with the English, and the Scots are getting uppity.

    Since I live in Indian Country among Natives, and what happens to them affects me directly, what I can say is that no, the time since conquest, suppression and genocide has not passed sufficiently to just let it go, not even close. But the issue is not so much the past, it’s the present and the future. None of us can go back and redo the past the way it should have been (and what, pray, was that?) For Natives and so many of the rest of us, the question is how to make a better future. When your numbers are few — in part due to the conquest, suppression, and genocide of the past — that better future may come only by persuading the ruling class to allow and enable it. My Irish and Scottish ancestors faced many of the same problems and unfortunately used their experience of powerlessness under Britain to impose powerlessness and oppression on others in the Americas and elsewhere.

    The trick is to break the cycle.

    Not to ignore or forget the past. just not repeat its horrors.

  4. Astrid

    Morality and ethics can only be afforded from a position of relative strength. When you or your people are faced with annihilation, a more desperate calculation comes into play. If acting morally/ethically means you (personally, politically, ethnically, nationally) are threatened with extinction, then most people seem to create new morals and ethics to justify their positions. History and morality/ethics are written by winners.

    Would I be able to do most these things? No. I do not have strong survival instincts and I am not persuaded that I would succeed in any case. If I was, I would be an ecoterrorist and it would be extremely easy to rationalize my actions as necessary and moral. But I can certainly understand the desperation and perhaps necessity of people who would pursue such a path. I would put the blame far more on those who forced them onto this path than those who chose to follow it.

    Looking forward to substantial reading comprehension fail and dishonesty from our resident humanitarian interventionists.

  5. Plague Species

    When you or your people are faced with annihilation, a more desperate calculation comes into play.

    Yes, it does, it’s called Kill the Rich — whether the rich be Russian or Chinese or Korean or American or you name it. The rich are the rich. The rich transcend countries and nationalities and ethnicities. They are a species unto themselves. A plague species.

  6. In what possible universe would “interfer[ing] in the superpower’s elections” lead to them “kill[ing] fewer of my citizens?” What would be the mechanism that would lead to that result? Seems to me it would lead to them killing more of my citizens, not fewer.

  7. Hugh

    This is akin to saying that a country and its citizens, both highly moral and with no previous history of course, suddenly appears on our planet and is faced with the following unfair/unjust situation…

    The problem is that we do live in history. There are seldom completely good guys or bad guys. Today’s oppressed often are tomorrow’s oppressors. Unfair, unjust things happen, but it is often not just one side doing them. If one side or group disappeared tomorrow, the remaining group or groups would not decide to establish an earthly paradise. They would just start threatening their neighbors or other groups in their society.

    What is surprising is that in all this violence and injustice there are people, often very imperfect people, trying to reduce these and make things better.

  8. Joan

    My grandfather used to say “One gun a massacre, two guns a standoff.”

    The major question such desperate people must ask if whether the retaliation of their enemy will end up with them winning the battle but losing the war. If you take out an important person and then their side invades, you ultimately lose. Also, if the important person can easily be replaced by a clone, then your sacrifice is pointless.

    To get a bit esoteric, I’d ask myself if I were willing to accept the karma of such actions. If I do something ghastly like kill someone as well as innocent bystanders, then I need to be willing to accept that something ghastly could happen to me, now or in a future life. But that karma could also mean I end up just fine, yet with a worse punishment: watching my child get tortured, or something equally terrible. Yet just allowing someone to starve you is not an option either.

    I think this is why lone wolf attacks by unmarried, childless men are more common. If there is no hostage you could take that would make them back down, and they have nothing left to lose, then there it is.

  9. Astrid

    Is running autocracy domestically less bad than supporting coups abroad? I think so. Autocracy is, to a great extent, in the eyes of the beholder. Some functional systems of government are more autocratic than others. The level of autocratic control is dictated by local conditions, cultural norms, and the personality of the regime leadership/opposition. Those closest to the actual conditions are in a better position of determining what’s acceptable and what is intolerable. They may have coping mechanisms and feedback systems that are invisible to outside observers. Outsider interference may actively hurt local efforts to reform bad governance by causing reformers to lose credibility with locals (see Hong Kong, where legitimate grievances are tainted by association with US regime change operations, so that they hurt even reformers who do not seek support from the US) and by picking winners/losers without understanding local dynamics (see Afghanistan and Iraq, where US handpicked officials are comically awful and only last few years are the locals starting to reassert somewhat more sane options suited to local conditions).

    Also – while even very oppressive autocrats have some incentive to keep their regime stable and functional enough, supporters of coups in other countries are quite happy to bring on the chaos without an exit strategy. Indeed, that may be their intent all along. The US don’t go into countries because the local conditions are oppressive, they go in because they wish to crush the local government. And as oppressive as autocratic regime, the oppression of warlordism and continued instability is almost certainly worse for the general populace.

    Outside of extreme exterminationism, such as Pol Pot’s Cambodia and Rwandan genocide (both creations of the Western imperialism and BTW, the US didn’t do much to end either), I believe it’s better to let countries make their own mistakes rather than impose outsider values to them. Only when those actions start to impact their neighbors, should there be a proportionate reaction. And in those instances, those more impacted (near neighbors) should have more latitude to act than those less impacted (USA, if Mexico descends into warlordism, not if Honduras decides to pick a socialist government).

  10. Willy

    Everybody projects whatever it is that works for them, out onto the world at large.

    I was a conservative evangelical once. I was because my family was. And so were most of my childhood and workplace peers. Maybe that explains all the Hindus in India, but I digress.

    While immersed inside that environment, unconsciously knowing that my best-survival was dependent on going along to get along, I rationalized my weaker doubts and kept my stronger doubts to myself.

    In the early days of the internet I found a website owned by an intelligent Palestinian who typed in excellent English. They were very good at very carefully explaining their position. Those ideas became one of those doubts I kept to myself.

    After being screwed over by my fellow conservative evangelicals through no fault of my own, I went through a painful self-reflection process which took a couple years. When I emerged from that experience, my thinking had changed. Events were far more likely to be processed through cause-effect critical-thinking filters.

    While worrying about the Palestinians is among the least of my worries, I’ll go back to that. That Palestinian website had planted seeds. I remember trying to explain my views on another website run by conservative evangelicals. They were presenting Gazans as being backwards just because they were Muslims. I explained to them that the Gaza was a cross between an American Indian reservation and an inner city ghetto. I explained to them that Palestinians living inside Israel itself were doing far better than were the Gazans, as were other Palestinians who’d moved out of that environment to places like Jordan or Chile. I explained to them that if they believed in property rights, this was a good example about why such things should be maintained. And that in short, personal responsibility grows best in fertile ground.

    Most kept calling me “libtard” and all the usual whatnot, easily ignored. But a few of them fell silent, including the blog author.

  11. gnokgnoh

    Plague, what makes someone rich? What is the dividing line, or is it like other things, you know it when you see it? Are wealth and viciousness inevitably linked?

    These scenarios aim to draw some distinctions between self-defense and aggression. See Article 39 of the United Nations charter against aggressive war, considered the root of all other humanitarian and war crimes. Even rebellions fall within this charter, because they would be framed in the context of war.

    Needless to say, Article 39 is highly aspirational, and the powerful countries violate it all the time. Limited self-defense would be justifiable, but to accomplish that without a lot of death (e.g. Indian rebellion against the caste system) would be nearly impossible, and the result at the other end would be…that rebellion is against a social system, not the government, although the government benefits.

  12. Ian Welsh

    We should break the cycle, now that we are on top, eh?

  13. Jeff Wegerson

    Can Russia/China/Iran catalyze a credible stability in Lebanon?

    Pseudo protests there are being used to block roads in a de facto economic war against U.S. opponents. Combined, of course, with the, possibly intentional – possibly not, crashing of the dollar trade there.

    Local currencies have arisen within the vacuum left by the dollar trade crash. To the extent that those local currencies are taxed by the local creators, actual value will accrue. Value is measured by what can be bought and sold in a currency.

    If the creator of a local currency has access to a sophisticated communications infrastructure, like say fiber-optics, will they be invited to participate in the emerging non-SWIFT exchange settling regime?

    Sorry for thé off-topicness hère. I count on your indulgence.

  14. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    “It’ll be quite funny watching Americans get crushed by a German-Russian-Chinese alliance.”

    How does IWPetc. propose getting rid of everyone’s nukes first, so that his hypothetical scenario could maybe happen, ignoring that the leaders of China and Germany have entirely too much good sense to do that?


    If the world’s sole superpower is hostile to your country and sanctioning it, causing great harm, is it your duty to interfere in the superpower’s elections if you judge that might get it to kill less of your citizens?

    The “People’s Republic” of China has actual elections to be interfered with? Or does the host still consider the USA to be a superpower, despite decades of reactionary sabotage of its government?

  15. Ché Pasa

    The cycle can be broken at any point, top, bottom, or anywhere in between. It’s easy and impossible at the same time. Just stop perpetuating the horror. What was done unto you — or unto your ancestors — need not be done unto others or those who come after you. What you fear need not rule you. It’s an internal struggle and contradiction more than an external one.

    Despite the continuing awfulness of our rulers, it seems that more and more of the People are resolving those internal struggles toward betterment as opposed to revenge.

    Ultimately, what choice do we have?

  16. Hugh

    IBW, well, after Trump lost, it’s the Republican party/the Trump right, that’s doing the vast majority of the interfering in US elections by making it much harder for black and brown citizens to vote. As for foreign interference, the biggest player in that for years has been Israel. And last I checked a lot more Americans have gotten killed defending Israel’s interests than the other way around.

    This post seems to be riffing off Chomsky’s idea that all the evils in the world come from the US and if only there were no US, the rest of the world would be a bunch of peaceful Jeffersonian democracies.

  17. S Brennan

    Maybe if we just stopped the beatings…moral would improve?

    One of Biden*[?]’s first actions, only a few hours into his administration was to signal the restart the Syrian war by moving a battalion of heavy armor back into Syria.

    That’s why rump-R’s and neoD’s fought Trump so hard on withdrawal, they knew that a semblance of order could be restored without a US presence in Syria, making the immediate re-engagement of war difficult/impossible when Trump was deposed. Sadly, everybody here hated Trump so much they supported the rump-R’s and neoD’s fight against Trump, they would claim otherwise but their claims are false, they supported the restart the Syrian war. Biden’s record on Syria and Libya is clear, additionally, Biden’s entire staff is the worst of Hillary and Obama, so spare me. Deposing Trump took precedence over innocent civilian lives in Syria.

    And I add, Biden’s victory [and his preordained resignation after the mid-terms] will mean those neocolonialists/Gilded-age-economist-[sans mercantilism] that dominate the neoD party will be able to have Kamala run without a primary. Too many have been blinded by their hate and by their own hand, they will have no options for 12 years.

    *In all honesty, probably not Biden, but rather, one of his cabal of elder abusing minders who are actually running the show.

    March 22, 2021
    Syria – The War Is Resuming On Several Fronts

    So that brings up a question for the comment section; does internalizing extreme hatred of a personality justify the cold blooded murder of thousands of innocents?

  18. different clue

    If Tulsi Gabbard were to run in the Republican primaries, that would offer the hope of an option, or at least a means of attempted-escape.

  19. S Brennan

    I would love to see that DC but, I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

    First, the “blue no matter who” crowd doesn’t give a shit about policy, so long as a “blue” is in office. A neoD neocolonial/Gilded-age-economic-[sans mercantilism] candidate will get the “blue” vote over any anti-war/Pro-New-Deal Eisenhower, not that the rumpRs are ever going to allow another populist*, they’ll copy the neoDs and rig the primary.

    That’s not to say Tulsi couldn’t run as an independent [and by that, I don’t mean Green]. That would be a real show. If it was Kamala, Tulsi, Trump…Gabbard could become kingmaker and extract concessions from Trump & Kamala and Trump being a deal-maker might know-how/want to close the deal more than Kamala. But Tulsi was beaten down pretty hard by the neoD’s apparatchiks and they will show up here 2.5 years from now with the Tulsi=Hitler routine.

    *Trump could easily still win the R primary but not a new “populist”.

  20. Willy

    Theoretically (but far too ideally for current reality), R would be the party of at most, surgical military operations. Don’t start nothin wont be nothin, otherwise we’ll cut the head off your snake. Let free trade enterprise be the preferred methods of aggression by any aggressive personalities and states. Soft talk but a sharp little stick into the eye of the worst of aggressors if need be.

    D would then theoretically, be the party of big old fat statism. Invest lots of taxpayer dollar into lots of military tech and lots of weapons and lots of drafted soldiers which gets used whenever somebody starts something. Soft talk but a big old fat stick just in case. If nobody starts anything, then all that investment winds up being the fallback position of statist social welfare, with new technology and training and schooling and Corps of Engineers getting civilian stuff done.

    And R and D would always debate along those ideological lines to hammer out best-fit solutions whenever somebody starts something.

    But we don’t live in that world now, do we? We live in the bizzarro world where neoliberalism and neoconartistry have merged forces on behalf of a handful of plutocratic overlords, to control all “debate”.

  21. different clue


    Well, they don’t control debate here or on other odd little corners of the internet. So maybe intelligent thinky people will retreat to these odd corners, and also 3-D odd little corners in Analog MeatSpace Reality-World . . . . and keep thought alive through the New Dark Ages we are entering.

  22. S Brennan

    Well if the Clinton/Bush-2nd/Obama admins are taken into account and the facts given weight, rumpR’s are pro-big-war, see the Iraq invasion. The neoD’s are “sneaky-war” guys, using the 3-letter agencies to get things started with unsavory mercenaries funded/trained/armed by highly trained special forces slowly bringing the war to a boil…and then demanding the use of air power if the enterprise goes south, see Georgia, Libya, Syria an Ukraine.

    The Clinton/Bush-2nd/Obama admins, Obama in particular, are some of the most bloodthirsty in US history. The “Orange Hitler” refused to start a war…but he is, according to most here, the most evil president in US history…go figure? I am sure the same type of deceit lies in wait for Tulsi Gabbard.

  23. Hugh

    Yes, people over-react to and are too critical of Trump for getting 544,000 (and counting) Americans killed because of his murderous approach to covid. He wasted more Americans than we lost in WWII, and people got sooo judgmental. B-b-b-but at least he didn’t start any new wars. Of course, with death counts like those he didn’t need to.

  24. S Brennan

    Hugh, the other night on utube I saw two DNC consultants practically ejaculating on themselves, because, by getting media outlets to repeat the meme that Trump was singularly responsible for every SARS II death they managed a win that looked impossible in Feb of 2020. “Without that” one said “we’d never have been able to beat Trump”.

    Tell me Hugh, when you post ridiculous lies does it give you a sexual tingle? Or are you like the working girls…all business when giving a room full of DNCers public blowjobs? Really Hugh, inquiring minds want to know?

  25. Hugh

    SB, you Trump fascists can’t own anything. The US has 4% of the world’s population and 20% of its deaths from covid. Trump and you own everyone of those deaths. You are just too cowardly to.

  26. Partial Observer

    It’s easy for people who live in the country perpetrating coups, illegal wars, stifling sanctions, covert ops etc against weaker nations to take the high road and wax philosophically about the difference between the rulers and the ruled and to counsel caution and come up with other sensible sounding justifications for answering “no.”

    It’s also very interesting to note that Americans are often quick to passionately absolve themselves of any responsibility for the organized murder and geopolitical gangsterism committed in their name. “Hey don’t blame me, blame the government!” Wait, so you don’t believe in American democracy anymore?

    How would Americans react if the shoe were on the other foot? Would they be like “Hey I get it, it’s your government killing and starving us and destroying our land not you personally. So no hard feelings, buddy, we’re just going to sit here and let your “government” kill our kids and families because the little people are all in this together.”

    It doesn’t work that way.

  27. S Brennan

    1] Number of passengers on airlines worldwide in 2019, remembering that China shutdown it’s internal traffic in Dec 2019. This graph explains why some countries faired better than others.

    2] “You’re Correct About Inflated US covid-deaths” CDC Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield acknowledged Friday that the number of COVID-19 deaths were inflated when someone who had died from something else was recorded as a COVID death.

    For example a number of gunshot victims who bled out at the scene have had their deaths attributed to Covid…thanks to political hacks like Hugh

  28. Willy

    Partial Observer, you must live in one of those tiny little countries where all the politicians get around with Uber. In the states, we got bombproof limos and remote-controlled drones, and satellites that can see where your cat pees every day. Plus it’s a matter of time before the guys manning the drones will be saluting robots. Do you have any ideas that make sense in our real world?

  29. bruce wilder

    Wait, so you don’t believe in American democracy anymore?

    Don’t believe in the tooth fairy, either, which is sad because my teeth are falling out and dental care is expensive.

  30. Hugh

    Partial Observer, the US should re-isolate so that countries like yours can go back and live in the peace and prosperity they enjoyed for the last 2,000 years.

  31. different clue

    The only American democracy we will have is whatever American democracy we can conquer from our Domestic Enemies.

    As to Partial Observer, if he is from one of the European Countries which first sent settler colonizers over here, all I can say is . . . . thank you so much for sending your best and brightest to get the party started, eh?

  32. different clue

    I thought of an interesting extension to the ” if you were Palestinian” etc. question. And it goes like this:

    If you were Ainu, and you suddenly got a technology which would force all the Japanese settlers off the Ainu islands and into a tiny little corner of ” Japan” so you could take back all the Ainu lands, would it be wrong for you to do so?

  33. Astrid

    As one of the few who actually thought about Ian’s scenarios and provided a response, I would say no. Because doing so would caused great suffering to the Japanese who would be displaced now and who did not substantially cause the displacement of the Ainu. It would not undo the sufferings of past Ainu.

    The past should serve mostly as a guide, but reparations for past wrongs should end within a human life, after that it’s better to address the current wrongs and inequalities. It’s important to understand the past, but also remember that we do not lived in the past.

    If the scenario is whether rewrite history so that most of the population of Japan today is Ainu, then sure why not. But then which population replacement (human or otherwise), do you draw the line?

  34. different clue


    Thank you for a real answer to a real question. It may not be the answer everyone would like to hear, but it is a real answer.

    Which brings up another interesting question, or maybe just an interesting observation.
    “If the scenario is whether rewrite history so that most of the population of Japan today is Ainu, then sure why not. But then which population replacement (human or otherwise), do you draw the line?”

    Indeed, where? The place where any one person or another chooses to draw the line is a Rohrschach Test of which particular group of people ( ethnic or religious or racial or otherwise) of whether any one person likes or dislikes any one group which that any-one-person is drawing the line in favor of or drawing the line against.

  35. Astrid

    The Toba disaster theory states that humans may have been very close to extinct 75,000 years ago. I wonder how much pain and suffering would be spared if the volcano was a little more thorough.

    At any level longer and more expansive than a single human life, there will always be victimizer role behind each victim group, otherwise they would never have made it to be known as victims. Maybe the aboriginals of Australia managed otherwise, but I can’t think of any other group that didn’t displaced others to achieve their existence. Better to focus on understand in the here and now, endeavor to be kind and caring to as many as possible (though I haven’t carved out my bubble of hate for idpol, Monroe doctrine expansionist, the American political class, billionaires, private equity sharks, and management consultants – please God takes them all to Texas and then run 500.hurricanes and 500 firestorms and 500,000,000 zombies over them, then drown and electrocuted them to be extra sure).

    That’s why the rescue game and the victim larping that dominate the current discourse it so destructive. Rather than treating each other as individuals that we should aspire to be kind, these imbeciles want to pre-assign roles to people who become bad because of something they have no control over. It mostly reminds me of class identification of Stalinist and Maoist times, when you can be a starving child of penniless parents, but be tormented because your grandfather once owned just enough land to be a kulak/landlord. It’s utter insanity.

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