Tag Archives: USA
Jun 6, 2020Posted by on
This week on Facebook: There are many pdfs available on H. L. Mencken and Friedrich Nietzsche, with both occupying a unique, if ironic place, in the history of American reception. I have chosen the urls that I could find on them, including my only reference¹. Through the first full-length account of Nietzsche in English, Mencken did more to popularize the German philosopher in America than any other writer. Published in 1908, The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche was widely and (on the whole) favorably reviewed, and for a book of its kind, sold remarkably well. Within a year a “second edition” (actually a second printing) was issued, and a “third edition,” revised and expanded, appeared in 1913. A decade later the book was still selling and its author (now a famous journalist) was honored by Vanity Fair for “contributing more to the popular understanding of Nietzsche than any other American.” Even a few scholars deigned to acknowledge Mencken’s “racily written book” and to praise it as “one of the most valuable Nietzschean commentaries in English.” As late as 1941, a noted intellectual historian called Mencken’s study “still one of the best and liveliest accounts of Nietzsche’s ideas” available.
“The task,” he told Schaff, “is one for a man of ample leisure and thorough scholarship. I have little of the former and make no pretence to the latter.” Mencken’s assessment was accurate on both counts: he was busy journalist not a scholar, and his German was rudimentary at best. Schaff, however, persisted, and Mencken, though “not enthusiastic,” agreed. As a full-time editor at the Baltimore Sun, Mencken had to research and write the book in his spare hours. Its success not only popularized Nietzsche but catapulted the twenty-seven-year-old Mencken into the national spotlight, where he would—with varying degrees of magnitude—shine for the next four decades as America’s most well-known and inveterate contrarian.
Jan 11, 2020Posted by on
This week onFacebook: Heralds a new era in the balance of power, it now being a global issue rather than a European one. With the end of WWII the United States and Russia wielded their economic hegemony in the West. This western world largely ignored the territorial advances of China. The Russian failure at European economic hegemony has now been replaced in the last forty-years by a resurgent China and the economic growth of oriental states. The balance of power that the USA and China¹·² now share is likely to lead to a conflict for economic and military dominance on an unprecedented global scale. Read more of this post
Oct 12, 2019Posted by on
This week on Facebook: Following last week’s post on Hinkley C, prompted me to ask if nuclear energy was a solution or a problem? What is nuclear energy? Is the energy sources of a State separated from its political system? The supply of nuclear energy has led to contentions between the State and its energy suppliers, particularly those involving the cost of nuclear energy. The State relies on electricity for much of its commercial energy and even more so for its supply of domestic energy. Electricity is now a source of global energy for any developed and developing State, both domestically and commercially. Nuclear energy supply¹ and the storage of nuclear waste², already electoral issues in the western world, are increasingly global political issues. Read more of this post
Aug 31, 2019Posted by on
This week on Facebook: I have to think very hard about whether I am a monetarist or not, the answer seems to depend on how strongly I believe that the State guides its political economy by changes to the monetary supply and other forms of fiat money creation. It was an article or remark of Mervyn King in which he displayed misconceptions about money velocity, particularly with regard to quantitative easing, that first brought the Irving Fisher equation of exchange (MV=PT) to my attention. Economist vacillate over measuring Instruments in economics¹ and while I would hardly call myself an economist — I share in their vacillations. Read more of this post
Aug 4, 2019Posted by on
This Sunday on Facebook: It’s impossible to separate money from inflation in a fiat money world, then it is also impossible to separate money from the gold standard if the rate of exchange is determined by the State.
Money, it’s a crime
Share it fairly, but don’t take a slice of my pie
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today
But if you ask for a rise, it’s no surprise
That they’re giving none away
Pink Floyd’s lyrics, “Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie“, hold as true today as nearly 50 years ago when the song was written. A ‘slice of my pie’ is always the issue. In my post of 2011, I wrote that the war reparations of WWI that were imposed on Germany 100 years ago caused the resignation of John Maynard Keynes from the British delegation. In Keynes’ book The Economic Consequences of the Peace Keynes pointed out that the principle of accumulated wealth based on inequality was a vital part of the pre-First World War order of Society and ‘progress’ as it was understood then. Echoing a principle common in todays world that it is unnatural for a population minority to accumulate such huge wealth when so few enjoyed the comforts of life.
The hyperinflation brought about by The Weimar Republic, compounded by the Treaty of Versailles a 100 years ago, being tempered by the thought that it couldn’t happen to money in the UK. Of course I didn’t count on the Bretton Woods Agreement introducing fiat money to the world in 1971. In my naivety (I was very young at the time), I assumed that politicians acted as the representative of their electorate. Instead the State’s public debt is a common function of all working economies. There has been an increase in the debt to GDP ratios throughout the world in past decades and yet The U.S. Dollar Still Dominates Global Reserves.
Perhaps it is time that the eccentric heroine of Christopher Isherwood’s novella Sally Bowles is resurrected — thought I doubt very much that any new terms will be invented for the inflation created by the State in a fiat money world.
Part of the fascination of Weimar Berlin lies in the mirror it holds up to our own time. In Cabaret, fictional Nazis beat up the gay hero and kill cabaret owners who dare to criticise, or simply to make people laugh at, pomp and stupidity. If the musical is at last being staged in a Berlin that never made much of Isherwood, then it may be because the producers want to emphasise alarming parallels. A newly vibrant German and European capital, Berlin today has record unemployment and recession is a returning threat. Some of the young have embraced the violent right, with its hatred of foreigners and permissiveness, and parade menacingly through the streets. Wicked joys (2004)
Jul 13, 2019Posted by on
This week on Facebook: I would venture that there never has been a time in history of mankind when there was not a wealthy Aristocracy. The Encyclopaedia Britannica opens with the definition that aristocracy means, ‘government by a relatively small privileged class or by a minority consisting of those felt to be best qualified to rule’.
Of course the vast majority of people supporting this ‘privileged class’ have no desire to rule, they are only interested in their own welfare. However, the even smaller privileged class¹ that they currently support most certainly do. Furthermore, be they capitalists or socialists, or even the demos (whoever they may be), the ruling elites always claim that they represent the views of ‘we the people’.
It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: That we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude. (Aldous Huxley – Berkeley 1962)
Written nearly 500 years ago and preceding Aldous Huxley’s remarks, the prescience of Étienne de La Boétie ought to be remembered for his essay The Politics of Obedience — The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude. Both are now largely forgotten by a demos that loves its voluntary servitude under a controlling oligarchy. However, searching for a political system on which there would be a consensus in the nature of a more perfect union is a fruitless task, as is any reliance on ‘we the people’ seeking political solutions to their subjugation. Read more of this post
Jun 15, 2019Posted by on
This week on Facebook: I think that action on climate change (which I have been writing about) is a euphemism that enables people to write about the effects of Mathusianism, particularly when comparing economic growth and climate change. Not only is Malthusianism influencing world populations, it is increasingingly being used as a political weapon. A Malthusian catastrophe (in this case) precipitated by an Anthropocene Epoch which not even Thomas Malthus foresaw — a Malthusian world tied together more by individual concerns over economic growth of their State, rather than the ideology of climate change. Read more of this post
Mar 30, 2019Posted by on
This week on Facebook: Last weeks post prompted me to research secession¹, whereupon I was surprised by the increase in the desire of various factions within States to secede (although living with the vestiges of the British Empire, I shouldn’t have been). There are as many and varied reasons for secession as there are methods of seceding, equally there are many are arguments for and against secession. Secessionist sentiments are in all of the major and minor political ideologies, with some having successfully seceded in the past 250 years or so and some failing to do so.
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