Smart Politicians Stand Naked before Labor’s Master: Ideological Stupidity

By Con George-Kotzabasis June 28, 2016

Since the economically profligate Whitlam era, the only Labor government that was bracketed off from Labor’s inveterate stupidity was the Hawke-Keating government. The present leadership of Shorten-Bowen taking a leftist turn in its politics, like the Rudd-Gillard administrations had done, as adumbrated in its pre-electoral commitments of “big-government,” is repudiating the prudent policies of Hawke-Keating and wilfully adopting, retrogressively, the stupid and disastrous paradigm of European socialism that had sunk Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Cyprus into the abyss of bankruptcy, economic crisis, and political instability. Moreover, it is doing so in the face when even the Scandinavian haven of the social democratic Welfare state is severely clipped of its largesse, as at last has been realised to be no longer economically viable. Anders Borg, the wunderkind as finance minister of Sweden, initiated the incremental dismantling of the Welfare state, lowered taxes in the private sector, which has galvanized the creation of new jobs.

But returning back home. The leftist political editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, Mark Kenny, is forecasting “dire trouble” for Labor on the debt and deficit front. Terry McCrann, of The Daily Telegraph, ominously declares “Shorten would plunge the country into greater debt”. And Henry Ergas, of The Australian, claims that even the latest backflips of Labor will not be sufficient to close the deficit gap and its “mythmakers” will be tempted “to conjure revenue increases out of thin air, just as the Rudd-Gillard governments did pointing to a golden future time when receipts would soar.”

But to believe in myths and tales of future increases in revenue, when The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund slash hopes of economic growth in the near future, is highly precarious, as it would lead the country into complacency and prevent it from taking the necessary measures to countervail a looming long recession. Furthermore, such a possibility is strengthened with the present event of Brexit, which could ominously beget both the dismemberment and the disintegration of the UK and the European Union, whose widespread ramifications upon the geopolitical and economic spheres of the world would devastate any prospects of economic growth for many years. And it is most unlikely that there will be, like in 2008, another China to save Australia from woeful economic distress.

Further, Labor with egregious lack of imagination and foresight is not factoring-in such imponderables as a precipitous fall in world prices of minerals in a context of world recession and the calamitous consequences that would follow, hitting public finances to smithereens and engendering a seriality of deficits with no hope of being reduced, with the outcome of plunging the country into the abyss of bottomless debt and insolvency. Is Bill Shorten going to be the “Maduro” of Australia, who, as the world price of oil dropped to lower depths, as a socialist president of Venezuela, continued the dissolute economic policies of his predecessor, Chavez, that turned the country from contrived prosperity to real poverty, once the government coffers were emptied, and indeed, into a hunting ground for dogs and cats to feed his people?

It goes without saying, of course, that this is an exaggeration and one could hardly imagine Australians shooting dogs and cats to feed themselves. It is merely used as an example to emphasize the dangers overshadowing an economy, when its Stewarts, the government, insouciantly do not take in consideration future possible events that could dramatically affect the economic course of a country and do not take prospective measures that would shield the country from such catastrophic effects.

One asks the question why the smart as they come politicians of Labor, such as Andrew Leigh, the assistant shadow treasurer of Labor, let their guard down and are reluctant to prepare themselves for these uncertainties of the future, believing that Australia somehow is protected by divine mandate from the ills of world recession and that Australia’s “economy is indestructible”, to quote Rex Connor, a minister in Whitlam’s government? For people who have studied the policies of Labor over a number of years the answer is simple and obvious. All their major policies are motivated by their passionate belief in the socialist utopia. And the implementation of these policies requires, according to this ideological schema, big and interventionist government and hence, high taxes; and the redistribution of wealth and not its greater increase are their priority. Despite the glaring evidence showing that augmenting the size of wealth is the only and sure way to enhance the standard of living of the ordinary people. The latter proposition has indisputable historical precedents, as it was the flourishing and ever increasing wealth of capitalism, that for the first time in history, pulled millions of people from the hovels of poverty onto peaks of prosperity. But Labor is blind before this historical fact. Like a drug addict Labor is fixed to its socialist doctrine and lives in a stupefied world of unreality and wishful thinking.

The matchsticks foundations of socialism are collapsing all over the world, especially in Europe, yet Bill Shorten’s Labor continues adamantly to believe that from this wreckage one could still build the just and equal society as envisaged by Labor’s quixotic visionaries. It is under this standard of socialist ideology that Shorten undermines and repudiates the prudent and pragmatic policies of the Hawke-Keating government, whose “Accord” between employers and workers engendered a congenial milieu for investments and the creation of new jobs with the consequence of increasing the living standard of Australians. Bill Shorten’s silence about these productive structural reforms and fiscal frugality of the Hawke-Keating era that had put Australia on a track of prosperity is a contemptuous affront to the two architects of these reforms. It was therefore rather surprising and amusing to have seen the two conductors of this inimitable political and economic performance sitting on the front-row of Shorten’s Launch of the Labor campaign, clapping at a leader who had mockingly renounced their wise policies. For Paul Keating, especially, standing next to Bill Shorten who had adopted and announced policies that would lead to a “Banana Republic,” it must have been an exceedingly painful occasion. Perhaps as painful as replacing Placedo Domingo with rock-and-roll.

I rest on my oars: You turn now

Marx and his Reincarnation Continue to be Hotbed of Gross Errata

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The following is a very brief reply to professor of economics Kostas Lapavitsas, and former member of Parliament with the Party of Syriza, to his thesis, that Greece can achieve its national sovereignty only by going back to its own currency, i.e., the drachma, delivered at the Ithacan House, Melbourne, on April 15, 2016. The three first paragraphs were omitted from my response as I assumed regrettably wrongly, that the time allotted to the questioners at the meeting would be too short and hence I did not include them.

 Professor Lapavitsas, allow me to make a short comment before I come to my question, as at the start I want to point out what I believe to be the roots of your erroneous proposition.  

Dialectical materialism even in its modern reincarnation of neo-Marxism, which you espouse, is a hotbed of gross errata, not to say terata (monsters), and hence a fallacious doctrine.

Yet the ghost in the machine of Marxism, despite its irreparable breakdown, continues to churn-out apparitional panaceas for the ills of global capitalism. One such quack panacea is your own proposition.

My question is: Show us one country in the world hit by absolute poverty, which, your implied return to the drachma entails, that by adopting your proposal has achieved national sovereignty and kept it; If you cannot show us such a country, then your proposal is a mirage, a will-o’-the-wisp, an occult fancy.

But what is more worrisome is that you are asking the Greek people, after the botched Tsipras-Varoufakis experiment, to be also the guineapigs to your own theoretical experiment which has hardly better odds of success than the Varoufakian one.

National sovereignty is the result of prosperity not of poverty.

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Terrorists Claim Rights under Loose Garments of Human Rights Lawyers

With the terrorist attack in Boston and the capture of one terrorist human rights lawyers are readying themselves to render to the captured terrorist the Miranda enactment that gives him the right not to talk to the police. It is for this reason that I’m republishing this article written in 2009.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Supreme Court judge Bernard Bongiorno, who is presiding over the biggest terror trial in Australia of the twelve radical Muslims (The “Dirty Dozen” bombers) who were allegedly preparing themselves to be holy martyrs in their jihad against Australia by killing innocent civilians, has been persuaded by SC (Senior Counsel) of the defendants, Jim Kennan and Mark Taft, that the alleged terrorists are being treated inhumanely by the authorities and are in a state of mental collapse.

Before we go into the ruling of the judge I think it would be appropriate to know few things about the two SC of the accused,. Jim Kennan, and MarkTaft. The former was a minister in the Kane and Kirner Labor governments in Victoria who held the portfolios of Attorney General and Transport in the mid-eighties. Melbournians will remember the Tramways Union strike in 1989 when trams had blockaded the metropolitan streets of Melbourne for more than a month preventing commuters coming into the city and threatening many small shops with bankruptcy. The strike lasted that long only as a result of Kennan being a weak minister as well as of the incompetence and languid state of his advisors. One example which I remember vividly, was his press secretary watching the Commonwealth Games with his feet on his desk whilst John Halfpenny ( the then Secretary of The Trades Union Council), who was leading the strike, was besieging with his goons the minister and threatening the livelihood of many small shop keepers. At the end of the strike, Jim Kennan was removed from the Ministry of Transport and was placed back to his Attorney General’s position. And Bernard Bongiorno was appointed to the Bench of the Supreme Court by the Brack’s Labor government in 2000. ( Birds of a feather flock together.)

The other SC Mark Taft was a member of the Communist Party following the footsteps of his father Bernie Taft, who, as the Victorian Secretary of the Party dissolved it in 1991 in the wake of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. But he dissolved the Communist Party not for the purpose of expressing his political mea culpa for the millions of peoples who were slaughtered by the Leninists doctrinaires Stalin and Mao, but for the purpose of conceiving its bastard sibling the Socialist Forum hoping that its members would become an influential part of the left of The Labor Party. In the latter goal the older Taft succeeded completely, while the younger Taft as a member of the executive of the Socialist Forum and as one of its foremost ideologues, second only to his father, was ideologically grooming many members of the left of the Labor party, among whom were the present Minister of Finance, Lindsay Tanner, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, of the Rudd Labor Government. Now that both SC Jim Kennan and Mark Taft have abandoned the heavy burdens of the public sector, which for both of them were a total failure, and have chosen to be lured by the entrepreneurial temptations of the private sector and gratify themselves with its rich tastes, they decided to open their appetite for the latter with the “aperitif” of being the defenders of the “Dirty Dozen”, in Australia’s biggest terrorism trial. But enough of this minuscule biographical diversion of our two attorneys of defense, and let us now deal with the “unprecedented “ruling of the presiding judge of the trial.

Justice Bongiorno being a practical judge and not an ivory tower one, was not satisfied of being convinced merely by the “theoretical” pleadings of the two SC that the defendants were treated inhumanely by the authorities, especially when they were shackled hand and foot while they were transported from prison to the Court locked in the steel compartments of the prison vans, and wanted to test this allegation in a practical way. So when he visited Barwon prison where the twelve were being held he had himself locked up in “the small steel compartment…in one of the prison vans… to get a better understanding of their treatment”. Convinced now “beyond a reasonable doubt” by his own “travailed” experience during his own “transportation” to Barwon prison that the alleged would-be terrorists were treated by the authorities brutally and inhumanely he issued his ukase to the latter that unless they stopped this “intolerable” treatment of the prisoners his honor would “suspend the hearing indefinitely and consider releasing the men on bail”.

Victoria’s Department of Corrections under this hovering threat expeditiously responded positively to the Jupiterian ruling of Justice Bongiorno and implemented most of his directions. In doing so it negated the possibility that some of the twelve defendants would jump bail and break away from the “forceps” of Australian justice and disappearing in a Muslim country. But it did so paradoxically at the expense of the Judge. As it deprived his Honor of the honorific that Muslims, moderate and radical alike, at least in Australia, would have bestowed on the Justice as an indelible sign of their gratitude for this service, i.e., giving the opportunity to their co-believers to escape from the unjust Australian terrorist laws, by replacing their traditional greeting of Salam with Bongiorno, for ever after.

What was most interesting and amusing moreover, was the forensic evidence of the psychiatrists whose painstaking analysis had found the defendants to be psychologically and mentally disturbed—as if people who were prepared to kill hundreds if not thousands of innocent people for their messianic goals and in chase of the seventy-two virgins were not already incurable cases of mental disturbance–and “believed that their condition would deteriorate as the trial progressed”. Needless to say Justice Bongiorno was deeply influenced by this forensic evidence extracted from the “psychiatrist’s couch” and was a decisive element in his “extraordinary”, to quote him, ruling.

Thus we will be told as an entertaining and jovial story, that the twelve bearded fanatics who were “toying” with ideas how to blow up Australians, now that they are standing before the bar accused of planning this atrocity they have metastasized themselves into mere “naughty boys” playing among the skirts of the “libertine” legal profession and claiming from the loose garments of the latter their human rights.

Bongiorno Australia:Have a nice day

I rest on my oars: Your turn now.

Radical Left Experiments its Policies Using Greeks as Guinea Pigs

The jarring interests of reason and piety [read ideology] Edward Gibbon

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The radical left party of Syriza, led by its green horn, tongue in cheek, know-all adventurist leader Alexis Tsipras, armed with the omniscient Marxist ideology and holding with devotional piety the rosary of communism in both hands, is experimenting its policies using Greeks as guinea pigs. Against all reason and hope, it persists and is determined, if after June 17 it comes to be the new government, one-sidedly to denounce and repudiate the European Memorandum without risking the country’s exit from the Eurozone. Unable to see through the nebulous clouds of their ideology, the materialist Marxists cannot see the reality as embodied in the clear expressions of all European leaders, representing to a high degree the wishes of their constituents respectively, and high technocrats, that such denunciation of the Memorandum would immediately lead to the cessation of all financial help to the stricken country and to the latter’s inevitable return to the drachma and absolute poverty with catastrophic results to the standard of living of the majority of the population. This economic and social break-down of the country would spark a social war of all against all that would crack the foundations of democracy and on whose ruins would be built a fascist state, either of the left or of the right.

Moreover, their hopefulness that the European Union is bluffing and would not dare to turn the financial tap off as such a move would lead to the mutual destruction of Greece and Europe, is a Fata Morgana in view of the fact that all these leaders and technocrats have put their credibility and reputation on the line in regard to the exit, not to mention the other obvious fact that all the Wall Streets, and banks of the world, and evaluative institutions, such as Standard and Poor’s, and Moodies are showing on their financial electronic screens the great possibility of a Greek exit and are making preparations for it. To consider, as Syriza does, that all these political, technocrat, and financial actors are engaging and participating in a grand bluff against Greece, in regard to its exit from Europe, is to be a fugitive from one’s senses; and to ventilate such an idea among the Greek populace, is a gigantic falsehood.

The economic programme of Syriza as presented by its leader Tsipras on May 31, promises a horn of plenty to Greeks with the government’s coffers empty. It promises higher wages, higher pensions, and an extension of unemployment allowances from one to two years, an expansion in the employment of public servants, and full employment in a dateless future, without however indicating where it will find the funds to implement the above measures. Nor does it compute their costs, according to an admission of a prominent economist of Syriza itself. This is unprecedented in the history of electoral campaigns, as pointed out by Antonis Samaras, the leader of New Democracy, when a political party presents its economic policies to the electorate and admitting at the same time that they have not been costed.

This is a populist bag of gifts that only a Santa Claus could deliver to longing and credulous children. Syriza claims falsely that the expenses of these outlays for the above measures will be covered by taxing enterprises, ship-owners, and people on higher incomes, without however specifying the height of these incomes, and by imposing a levy on seven-hundred-thousand households with a net of 2,000 euros. In the present dire recession that the country is in and where enterprises can hardly show even modicum profits in their balance sheets, and where people with higher incomes have been inflicted by a cut of 50% in their salaries(Professor Yanis Varoufakis who teaches economics at Athens University and whose salary was cut by 50%, fled Greece and went to the United States), the claim of Syriza that it will have the funds from these sources to implement its promises, is a swindle of gargantuan magnitude of the Greek people. Moreover, this impossibility of funding its measures from these sources leads to the suspicion, as again pointed out by Samaras, that Syriza has a hidden agenda to impose taxes on ordinary people’s bank deposits and on private property.

Furthermore, Syriza pledges to reverse all previous commitments to privatization and go back to state ownership of all companies that were going to be privatized, and hence continue the increase of bureaucratization, thus bringing back to life all the deadly worms that in the past gnawed and eroded the economic foundations of the country that brought it to its present calamitous state. Also in its foreign policy it commits itself to exit from NATO and seek a new alliance in South America, with such countries like Venezuela and Nicaragua, which, with mathematical precision would lead to the ‘Cubanization’ of Greece as well as leave the country geopolitically defenceless. But this is not surprising since many of Syriza’s higher echelons are strong votaries of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Hugo Chavez; birds of a feather flock together.

Syriza’s economic and political manifesto is a draft of dangerous irresponsibility and naivety, doctrinal dogmatism and blindness, and swashbuckling political adventurism at its best. With its policies, the fate of Greece’s future generations will be played on the green tables of a casino with Alexis Tsipras playing high stakes poker–which, according to a latest interview he gave on American television, he loves–with other people’s money, and all he has to lose is Greece’s future.

Iron Ladies Never Die they Just Continue to Show the Way

By Con George-Kotzabasis—January 9, 2012

In a hostile world only the strong have the right to indulge in hope. Thucydides

Ah, that memorable, fascinating, admirable, and politically insightful and intrepid subject, Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, that challenges almost all of contemporaneous political leadership that is scrambling on all its fours–with some notable exceptions such as Lee Kuan Yu, of Singapore and Antonis Samaras, of Greece–from Obama to Zapatero to Merkel and Sarkozy, who  instead of standing on the shoulders of political giants, like Thatcher, to command events, they have been overwhelmed and overcome by them.

The characteristic spending profligacy of Labour socialist governments over a number of years, and the excessive borrowing and inflation that resulted by the latter’s policies that brought the UK into economic stagnation gave Margaret Thatcher the opportunity to win the election in 1979 with a sizable majority. Her victory would bring not only the transformation of British politics but would also spawn, with a small astute coterie of others, the seeds of a profound change on the political landscape of the world. Further, by re-introducing forcefully the idea of privatization as a dynamic concept among the economic detritus left by Labour’s deficit-laden nationalization of industries, she would place the country on the trajectory of economic efficiency and generation of wealth for the benefit of all Britons.  To open markets to the world she abolished all exchange controls on foreign currency five months after coming to power. The UK from being the poorest of the four major European economies in 1979 became by the end of ten years under Thatcher’s stewardship the richest among them. In a series of economic policies packaged by Milton Friedman’s and Frederick Hayek’s monetarist theories, Britain’s GDP grew by 23.3% during this period outpacing that of Germany, France, and Italy.

However, to accomplish the latter goal, she would have to confront the power of unions decisively, which, in a ceaseless campaign of strikes and imprudent and irrational demands were ruining the British economy. In 1979, at the apex of union power, Britain had lost 29.5 million working days to strikes, whereas at its nadir, under the robust stand of Thatcher and her strong blows against it that led to the defeat of unions, in 1986, the figure of lost working days was 1.9 million. The Moscow trained communist Arthur Scargill, secretary of the Mining Unions, had unleashed in 1984-85 a myriad of strikes with the aim to obstruct the Thatcherite pro-market reforms that would put Britain on the roller skates of economic prosperity. By the end of that year that shook the foundations of British industry and broke the morale of some of her Cabinet members–that prompted Thatcher in a memorable quip to say to them, “You turn if you want to. The lady is not for turning.”—the red flag became a trophy alongside the Argentinian flag in her collection of victories, as Arthur Scargill conceded his defeat.

In international affairs she questioned Kissinger’s policy of détente toward the Soviet Union as she believed strongly that Communism should not be accommodated but overcome. For this implacable stand the Soviet Army’s newspaper Red Star christened her the “Iron Lady.” Together with President Reagan, she planted the diplomatic dynamite under the foundations of the Soviet empire that would eventually bring the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Lenin’s benign Marxist dream that had turned back to its true nature as a nightmare of Gulags and Killing Fields.

Thatcher in the 1980’s fiercely opposed the European economic and monetary integration. To her the European construction was “infused with the spirit of yesterday’s future.” In the kernel of this construction laid the central “intellectual mistake” of assuming that “the model for future government was that of a centralized bureaucracy.” And she was prophetic to the current events and crisis of Europe when she argued that German taxpayers would provide “ever greater subsidies for failed regions of foreign countries,” while condemning south European countries to debilitating dependency on handouts from German taxpayers.” She concluded, “The day of the artificially constructed mega-state is gone.”

However, no statesmanship is without its warts. In 1986 prohibition of proprietary trading went out; the separation between commercial and investment banks was abrogated; and ‘casino banking’ took off, which without these changes would not have happened. Her critics accused her of promoting greed which she personally abhorred. Also, the introduction of the poll tax on adult residents was most unpopular among Britons and sparked the Poll Tax Riots on March 31, 1990, that instigated an internal coup against her that ousted her from her premiership.

Margaret Thatcher entered number 10 Downing Street with her strong character and astute political perceptiveness with panache that destined her, like all great statesmen, to “walk beneath heaven as if she was placed above it,” to quote the seventeenth-century French political philosopher, Gabriel Naude. She will enter the ‘gate of heaven’ not as the frail distracted old woman, as she was depicted in the film made by Phillida Lloyd, but as the iron lady who will never die and continue to show the way.

I rest on my oars: your turn now…              

 

All the President’s Disablers

I’m republishing the following piece for the readers of this new blog.

A response by Con George-Kotzabasis to:

All the President’s Enablers by Paul Krugman
The New York Times July 20, 2007

The fundamental principle of power and of any political activity is that these should never be any appearance of weakness. Niccolo Machiavelli

The eminent professor of economics Paul Krugman who ditched his solid professorial chair for the ephemeral glitter and celebrity status that accrues from being a peer pundit of The New York Times, ridicules George Bush, in his latest article, of a misplaced confidence that verges to a “lost touch with reality”. Confident to bring in Osama dead or alive, confident toward the insurgents “to bring it on”, confident that the war will be won, when the latest report of the National Intelligence Estimate is so gloomy about the prospects in Iraq and the war against al Qaeda that would make even the most optimistic of Presidents to have second thoughts about his policy, but not George Bush. Krugman states, “thanks to Mr. Bush’s poor leadership America is losing the struggle with al Qaeda. Yet Mr. Bush remains confident”. Such a stand “doesn’t demonstrate Mr. Bush’s strength of character” but his stubbornness to prove himself right despite the grim reality.

But Krugman saves his main grapeshot to fire it against the Republican doyen Senator Richard Luger and General Petraeus both of whom he considers to be the “smart sensible” enablers of the President. He argues that while Senator Luger knows, and indeed, acknowledges, that Bush’s policy in Iraq is wrong, he nonetheless is not prepared to take a strong stand against it. And he cleverly in anticipation of the September report of General Petraeus that might be favourable to the situation on the ground as an outcome of the surge, he launches a pre-emptive strike on the credibility of the general by quoting extensively from an article the latter wrote in the Washington Post on Sept. 26, 2004, whose assessment about Iraq at the time was overly optimistic if not completely wrong. In the article the general wrote, “that Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously” and “are displaying courage and resilience” and “momentum has gathered in recent months”. It’s by such implied non sequiturs that our former professor attempts to discredit General Petraeus. Just because he might have been “wrong” in the past it does not follow that he would be wrong also in the future. And Krugman caps his argument by saying that because of these “enablers” of the President, “Mr. Bush keeps doing damage because many people who understand how his folly is endangering the nation’s security still refuse, out of political caution and careerism, to do anything about it”.

But how serious are these strictures of Krugman against the President and his so called enablers? Let us first deal with the optimism of Bush and his confident statements about the war in Iraq and the struggle against al Qaeda. Krugman is lamentably forgetful that when the President committed the U.S. to take the fight to the terrorists he stated clearly and unambiguously that this would be a generational struggle. And in this long war against al Qaeda and its affiliates and those states that support them, he was confident that America would prevail. Hence all the confident statements of Bush were made in the context of a long span and not of a short one as Krugman with unusual cerebral myopia made them to be. His argument therefore against the President’s optimism and confidence, which he ridicules with the pleasure of one “twisting the knife”, is premised on a misperception. Moreover, did Krugman expect that the Commander-In-Chief of the sole superpower not to have expressed his hopefulness and confidence to the American people, when they were attacked so brutally on 9/11, that the U.S. in this long war would prevail? And is it possible that our pundit to be so unread in history and not to have realized that in all critical moments of a nation’s existence it’s of the utmost importance that its leaders rally their people against a mortal threat with statements of hope and confidence, as Winston Churchill did in the Second World War, that the nation would be victorious against its enemies? Would Krugman have the President of the United States adopt the gloom and doom of the so called realists as a strategy against al Qaeda, its numerous franchises, and the rogue states that support them by sinister and covert means?

Indeed, the liberal’s and The New York Times’  “Bush derangement syndrome…has spread” not only “to former loyal Bushies”, to quote Krugman , but to more than two thirds of the American people thanks to this ignominious coterie of  all the President’s disablers of the liberal establishment, and its pundits, like Paul Krugman. The paramount duty and responsibility of the media, being the Fourth Estate in the political structure of a democratic society, at a time when a nation faces and confronts a great danger from a remorseless and determined enemy, is to morally mobilize and rally its people behind their government and their armed forces that are engaged in war. In the present defensive pre-emptive war–the latter as a result of the nature of the enemy and his potential to acquire nuclear weapons–that has issued from the aftermath of 9/11 and the cogent convincing concerns of the Bush administration of a possible nexus in the near future between al Qaeda and its sundry affiliates with rogue states armed with weapons of mass destruction and nuclear ones, and the portentous and abysmal danger this would pose not only to the U.S. but to the world at large, the media has a “sacred” obligation to unite the American people behind its government of whatever political hue. No errors of judgment or mishandling the planning of the war by the Bush administration can excuse the media from abdicating from this historical responsibility.

There is no fogless war and no one can see and perceive and measure correctly all its dimensions. And the frailty of human nature further exacerbates this inability. But no Churchillian confidence in one’s actions and strategic acumen throws the towel because of mistakes. One corrects one’s errors and keeps intact his resolution to defeat the enemy with a new strategy. (And one has to be reminded that the greatest scientific discoveries have been built on a pile of mistakes.)  It would be an indelible obloquy to one’s amour propre to even consider that these uncivilized obtuse fanatics, and seventy-two virgin pursuers, could come close to conceiving a strategy that would defeat the know-how and scientific mastery of Western civilization and its epitome the United States of America. Only a lack of resolve of its politicians and its opinion-makers, as a result of their fatal embrace with supine populism, appeasement, and pacifism, could lead to such shameful and historic defeat.

America at this critical juncture of its historical and Herculean task to defeat Islamofascism in a long, far from free of heavy casualties, painstaking arduous war  needs a wise, imaginative, and resolute political and military leadership that will overcome all the difficulties and imponderables of war and will strike a decisive lethal blow to this determined suicidal enemy. The new “Surge” strategy of the resolute Bush administration implemented by that “superb commander”, according to his troops, General Petraeus, seems to be accomplishing its objectives. Two prominent and vehement critics of Bush Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack of  The Brookings Institution who had accused the President of mishandling the war, after an eight-day visit in Iraq talking to high officials now believe that we are fighting in “a war we just might win”. And Petraeus, like a stronger Atlas, is pushing the rise of the sun of victory in the up till now dark sky of Iraq. Hence, the courageous actions and sacrifices of U.S soldiers in Iraq are not wasted and will be written with adamantine letters in the military annals. At this momentous noteworthy victory all the President’s and the nation’s disablers will be cast into the pit of ignominy by history. 

I rest on my oars: your turn now…   

                   

Mount Globalization or Be its Prey

The following paper was written and published on September 2001. It’s republished here for the readers of this new blog.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

A tiger is stalking the world the tiger of globalization. Nations and peoples who, gazelle-like, are frightened and take flight before the huge ferocious “life-threatening” leaps and bounds of this tiger, are to be mauled and be eaten, as no swift flight can make them escape from the lightning speed with which globalization pursues its quarry.

For this will be the fate of nations and peoples who chose to be the prey instead of being the “hunter” of globalization. To be the hunter however, does not imply that one has to slay the “beast” of globalization. Instead, it implies that like a consummate broncobuster, one has to mount the tiger and adapt to its fast and sinewy movements while at the same time “taming” it.

This is the only way that countries can save themselves from the threatening onslaught of globalization. More importantly still, to be among its winners. But it’s fundamentally important to be prudent winners, that is, the winner does not take all. No clever country or wise person would desire to be an absolute winner. Only gamblers would crave to be so. But the wins of a casino are ephemeral wins, and soon and inevitably are followed by loses. Hence, if the winners of globalization wish and aspire to keep and to augment their gains, it’s necessary that they look after and take care of the losers of globalization. As the latter can only be politically sustained and continue to succeed and be beneficial to mankind if it’s a “caring globalization”, if its heart is the “make –up” of its robust mien. If not, it will face the freezing winds of a backlash of a ‘winter of discontent’, of all the countries and peoples who are fearful of its storming of the globe. Its losers therefore will be diffident and distrustful of the touted benefits that could accrue to them, and hence reluctant to admit the Lexus into the groves of their olive trees, to paraphrase Thomas Friedman, of the New York Times.

The currently unstoppable revolution in technology, finance, and information, has made all nations vulnerable to the waves of global competition. Only those nations that swim on the crests of these waves will survive and be the winners in this relentless struggle. This implies moreover, that no nation can economically survive in isolation even if it possesses unique and an abundance of natural resources. Nor can it appeal to the bungled remedies of the past, such as the provision of subsidies to defunct industries. Nor can it depend on the invention of new populist nostrums, such as “fair trade” proposed by the dinosaur delegates in a Labor Party Conference in Hobart. On the contrary, only through the process of creative reconstruction in the economic, industrial, commercial, and social structures of a country, is the “waydrome” to success. In this context, to talk about fair trade is to live in dodo fairyland. Indeed, it’s like asking Olympian super athletes, like Cathy Freeman, to be fair to their lesser competitors.

 

How to Deal with the Challenge of Globalzation

Thomas Friedman in his book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, argues, that ‘the revolution in technology, finance, and information did three things. It lowered the barriers of entry into almost any business, and it rapidly increased competition and the speed by which a product moves from being an innovation to being a commodity.’ Technology expands production to global dimensions, ‘knitting the world together.’ Finance with the collapse of regulated exchange rates, penetrates all the profitable niches of the world in its avaricious dynamic drive for profit. No raising of granite protective walls or the setting up of any barriers can prevent the ‘ “Electronic Herd’s” ‘ power to move its capital on world markets. Furthermore, information technology ‘brings home to everyone how ahead or behind they are in contrast to other countries.’ This provides a cue and spurs people to invest in countries where lucrative profits can be made by ‘investing through the internet on a global scale.’ Hence, the world is no longer carried on the back of the slow moving Atlas, but on the back of the swift electron-moving Microchip. In such a world all kind of barriers have the strength of a plastic balloon. But even if it were possible to erect impenetrable barriers, the countries that did so would bring upon themselves “the day after”, the consequences of “nuclear” economic and social devastation. That is, the result for these countries would be to throw themselves into the abyss of poverty and squalor, and hence unwittingly deprive their people the opportunity to become wealthier by being on the trajectory of globalization.

It’s by accepting the challenges of globalization with imagination and boldness that countries and their peoples will not only be strengthening their intellectual and moral fiber that will position them on the launching pad of globalization, but will also be transporting them to the land of cornucopia, to material and spiritual abundance. It’s imperative therefore, that political leaders deliberately and consciously decide to prepare their people to enter into this benign circle of feedback. That is, the intellectual and moral strength and knowledge of their people will maximize the benefits accruing from globalization and minimize its disadvantages. And the successes of actively being engaged with the cutting-edge of the globe will in turn further enhance this intellectual and moral vigor and knowledge of their people. In such a brave new world, one has to tell people to ‘remove their belongings’, to use a phrase of Vladimir Nabokov, of moaning. There is no room for resentment and gripe against countries and peoples who succeed. Success itself will be redistributed and will not remain in the same hands. Everyone will have the opportunity, endowed with grit, chutzpah, and entrepreneurial flair, to succeed.

For the first time in human history, globalization has the potential to bring in its wake the “democratization of success”. No scion of elites will be able to capture its benefits and lock them up ever safely and ever after in their vaults. The microchip is sovereign. Hence the corridors of wealth will be accessible to all who have the knowledge and ambition to use it. And if Shakespearian sovereigns could trade their kingdoms for a horse, business scions, like James Packer, will have to trade their wealth and power for a microchip.

Globalization also has the potential to usher in the empowerment of all classes and creeds. Ironically, capitalist globalization might realize Marx’s dream- the fulfillment of the individual who performs his practical affairs during the day, fishes in the evening, and writes and “practices” poetry during the night. And to cap it all, the Communist Manifesto’s slogan, “workers of the world unite”, could be accomplished by globalization. The only difference being that the unity of workers will not arise out of enmity against capitalist entrepreneurs, but out of the benign desire to emulate the achievements of the latter, as every worker with the required training and knowledge will have the ability of doing so.

 

How to Raise all Boats and Canoes in this inundation of globalization

We need however to be critically aware of the downside of globalization and treat its blemishes effectively. It’s a truism that not all people will benefit from globalization. There will be losers! In all civilizations there have been winners and losers. The human race cannot jump over the shadow of this accursed fact. Either as a result of individual propensities or lack of resilience and ability to adapt to the new, and strenuous circumstances of globalization, many people will fall behind and will be disadvantaged. But because of globalization’s vast production of wealth, it has the capacity to compensate the losers, and indeed, to pull them out of their disadvantaged position. In this task governments will play a decisive role.

First, they will have to deal with the backlash that arises from people who are struck with the dire effects of globalization. While globalization shortens the distances of the world and makes it accessible to many people and improves economically their well-being, at the same time it lengthens the rusty chain of un-economic and defunct industries in many developed and developing countries. Many workers, therefore, who for years worked in these industries, are thrown out of them and find themselves unemployed and unemployable. The direct beneficiaries of globalization therefore, not only have a moral responsibility, but also a vested interest, to take care of the disenfranchised from the advantages of globalization, if the latter are to be prevented from being converted into modern Luddites, and start smashing the machine of globalization, by means of war, terrorism, and computer hacking.

Secondly, to head off and pacify this backlash, governments will have to prise open new thinking horizons, and to transform this resentment into support for globalization. Since inequality among human beings, as well as of other primates, is nature’s regime, governments must contrive clever policies to redress and reverse this order of inequality and bring some sort of balance in this inequity of nature. In the “clever” country, prosperity does not have to be equated with “equality”. People do not have to be equal in certain natural endowments with those who generate wealth and prosperity, to share the fruits of this prosperity. The process of globalization begets such huge wealth that it would not be difficult for governments to impose the burden upon, and indeed persuade, its producers, that it’s to their own interest to share part of this wealth with the disadvantaged of globalization. Especially, when this divestment of wealth will not diminish the capital investment funds of the former, as we will show below.

Thirdly, governments will redistribute this part of wealth by the following international multilateral policy mechanism, by imposing a levy or surtax on the profits of all “globetrotting” corporations, financial institutions, and foreign currency speculators. Once, these funds of the levy are collected by governments, they will be transmitted to an international body set up by these governments. Let us name this body the International Globalization Fund (IGF). The central task of this entity will be (a) to identify those nations and peoples whose livelihood has been affected negatively by globalization, and (b) to subsidize the buying of shares in multinational corporations and world financial institutions, by these nations and peoples. In the case of some people who might not have any financial savings of their own, the IGF will provide them with special securities or bonds, thus enabling them, despite their lack of savings, to be shareholders in this international economy. Moreover, such a policy will not engender any disincentives to private enterprise. As the funds accruing from the levy will not be spend by governments in fuzzy, boondoggle industrial plans or in subsidizing defunct industries, at the expense of the private sector. The build up of a “hydraulic pipe” between the international economy and the disadvantaged of this economy, will allow the funds that are transmitted to the latter in the form of subsidies and securities by the IGF, to be sluiced back through this pipe to the multinational corporations in the form of equity capital. Hence, the investment funds of these entrepreneurial entities will not be diminished.

Thus, the eyes of all, not only of those who gain directly from their engagement with globalization, will be focused on the screens of the computers. Even people who lack knowledge and adeptness to use the modern technology will enter and be denizens of this brave new world of the internet, as equity holders. Sharing the wealth that is spawned by the Midas microchip touch of globalization. The magic flying carpet of globalization will have everyone aboard.

It depends on the creative thinking, imagination and Thatcherite will and determination of governments whether globalization will be politically and economically sustainable. And whether by riding it, the fruits of its wealth will also be distributed to all those nations and peoples whose livelihoods are going to be lost in this process of ‘creative destruction’. Whether the opening of the floodgates of globalization will raise all boats and canoes in this global inundation of its waters.

 HIC RHODUS HIC SALTA

The article was written on September 17, 2001, and was first published in the English supplement of Neos Kosmos in Melbourne on the same date