FT216: “Liberals are about as open-minded and tolerant as Nazis and communists were.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 4th, 2014

Fundamental Truth

The CEO of Mozilla resigned for Thinking ‘Incorrectly’

In 2008, Brendan Eich donated $1,000 to support California Proposition 8.  A proposal to keep marriage in California between only a man and a woman.  Proposition 8 passed as most Californians agreed with Brendan Eich.  They did not want to change law, tradition and custom.  The left has determined that the people of California are hate-filled people.  And liberal judges have since overruled the will of the people of California.

So who is Brendan Eich?  Until recently he was the CEO of Mozilla.  The company that puts out the internet browser Firefox.  He rose to CEO this year.  He cofounded Mozilla Foundation in 1998.  So he’s been there for awhile.  And did good work.  To rise to CEO you have to be pretty darn good.  And you can’t be a monster.  For if you are a monster the odds are slim of becoming CEO.  For it tends to garner bad press.

Well, as it turns out, exercising your free speech can make you a monster.   A hate-filled individual.  Which the left said he was.  Because of this $1,000 donation.  Just because he thought like the majority of all Californians.  That marriage should be between a man and a woman.  And because he did the left demanded his resignation for daring not to think ‘correctly’ like them.  So he did.  He resigned for thinking ‘incorrectly’.

Conservatives were not Welcomed at a Feminist Conference on Inclusivity

This is not the only ‘thought crime’ the left has leveled at someone.  For anyone that dares to think differently from them they call a thought criminal.  And do everything in their power to silence them.  For the ‘tolerant’ left is very intolerant of anyone that thinks differently from them.  Because the left hates dissenting views.  Especially those of conservatives.  As there are about two conservatives for every liberal they face a lot of dissenting views.  So they have a lot of ‘thought crime’ to police.

Universities are mostly liberal these days.  And whenever a conservative is invited to speak the thought police come out.  They protest.  They heckle.  They throw pies.  Just ask Ann Coulter.  Even when conservatives are invited back to their alma maters to give a commencement speech the thought police turn out to keep them from speaking.  Just ask Dr. Ben Carson.  Or Condoleezza Rice.

Feminists on university campuses are particularly intolerant to other points of view.  Even at a feminist conference about inclusivity.  Everyone was welcomed.  Except conservative women.  In fact, the feminists at this conference identified a woman as being a conservative.  Telling the students gathering there that they shouldn’t talk to her.  Because conservatives were not welcomed at this conference on inclusivity.  Just ask Katherine Timpf.

It’s hard to Pass your Agenda when you’re Outnumbered Two to One

Liberals have long wanted to revive the fairness doctrine.  For the one area they can’t control is talk radio.  And they don’t like what they’re saying on talk radio.  So they want to shut them up.  To balance the content broadcasted over the public airwaves.  As determined by the Federal Communications Commission.  Which could, of course, find that 3 hours of Rush Limbaugh a day is not balanced.  And require that he give up an hour or two of his time for an opposing viewpoint.  Hence the moniker the ‘Hush Rush Bill‘.

The left has been warning us about the calamity of global warming for the last three decades or so.  Telling us if we don’t act now the world will end within the decade.  But the people aren’t quaking with fear.  Some are even debunking their ‘science’.  With real science.  Something the left does not like.  And they want to do something about.  They want to shut them up.  Some even want to jail them.

Conservatives don’t do this.  They don’t call for boycotts or resignations when people exercise their right to free speech.  They don’t throw pies at people.  They don’t pressure universities to shut down debate by preventing someone from speaking that disagrees with them.  They don’t warn young women that someone ‘thinks wrong’.  That they shouldn’t talk to ‘wrong thinkers’.  They don’t try to balance the content in the liberal-dominated media.  And they don’t put politics over science.  Liberals do.  But conservatives don’t.

There have been some in history that put politics above everything else.  Just like liberals do.  People who punished those who said the wrong things.  And punished those for thinking wrong.  They had state censorship.  Propaganda.  And jail for those who weren’t like them.  Or worse.  Things the left would love to do to stifle all debate.  Because it’s hard to pass your agenda when you’re outnumbered two to one.  So who are these people from history?  Nazis.  And communists.  Yes, liberals are about as open-minded and tolerant as Nazis and communists were.

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Cult of Personality

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 20th, 2014

Politics 101

Hitler received the Iron Cross for Bravery which carried a lot of Currency in a Militaristic Germany

Adolf Hitler could give a speech that fired up the masses.  People loved him.  The Nazis rose to power by winning elections.  People elected them because they liked what the Nazis were saying.  Things were not that good in Germany.  The victorious Allies blamed World War I on them even though all nations jumped in enthusiastically.  And then to add insult to injury the Allies made Germany pay reparations.  Burdening Germany with the cost of World War I.

This was especially galling as Germany didn’t lose the war.  The war ended in an armistice.  Which is a mutual cessation of warfare.  Not unconditional surrender.  And yet here was Germany.  Being treated as if they surrendered unconditionally.  It made a lot of people feel angry.  And betrayed.  Enter Adolf Hitler.  Who could tap into that anger and feelings of betrayal.

Hitler was a war veteran.  He served as a dispatch runner in World War I.  Wounded by artillery.  And blinded temporarily by mustard gas.  He even received the Iron Cross for bravery.  Although it may have had more to do with spending so much time with senior officers at headquarters that issued those dispatches.  But for a militaristic Germany an Iron Cross carried a lot of currency.

When the Reichstag burned down Hitler blamed the Marxists and turned Germany into a Police State

So Hitler was a brave war hero.  Even though he didn’t actually use a weapon.  Which was a good foundation to build on.  For war heroes don’t stab people in the back after fighting bravely for them in war.  Which is how many Germans felt about the politicians.  Betrayed.  Victims of the evil, conniving politicians.  So the people felt victimized.  And they were looking for someone to stand up for them.  To right these wrongs.

Hitler wanted to be an artist.  But when that didn’t work he turned to politics.  And learned what a good speaker he was.  He even studied how to become a better speaker.  How to look.  How to use his hands.  How to inflect his voice.  His speeches became very moving.  Very dramatic.  He made the defeated Germans feel better.  For he told them that it wasn’t their fault.  It was the politicians, and the Marxists, that stabbed Germany in the back.  And he was the one man that could do something about it.

When the Reichstag burned down he blamed the Marxists.  Who the Nazis shared power with in the Reichstag.  But didn’t want to.  It’s still debated who started the fire (the communists, the Nazis, others) but what it did was allow the newly appointed chancellor, Adolf Hitler, to urge President Hindenburg to suspend all civil liberties so they could hunt these communists down like the dogs they were.  President Hindenburg did.  And the government rounded up the communists.  With them out of the government the Nazis no longer had to share power.  And turned Germany into a police state.  To keep that power.

The Equation Brutal Dictators use to stay in Power is Victimization + Demonization + Emotion = Power

Hitler was charismatic.  He could give a powerful speech.  And after the Reichstag fire he controlled the people.  Using censorship and propaganda he made himself god-like.  The war hero.  The savior of the German people.  To undo all the injustice of the Versailles Treaty.  Standing up to the Allies.  Punishing those who stabbed Germany in the back (first the Marxists and then the Jews).  And restoring German pride.  Because he got even with those who wronged the German people.  The people loved him.  He could do no wrong in their eyes. No matter how much wrong he did.  Which he could hide from the people.  Thanks to his censoring of the free press.  And his state propaganda machine.  Which is why people packed stadiums and the sides of roads.  Showering him with their adoration.

Adolf Hitler was Germany.  Germany was Adolf Hitler.  His national socialism provided for the people.  In return the people were subservient to the state.  Germany was more important than the individual.  And Adolf Hitler was more important than Germany.  So anything he did was okay.  For he could do no wrong.  As there was nothing more important than Adolf Hitler.  For Hitler was a cult of personality.  Above the law.  And god-like.  Where people believed he was the only one that could save the nation.  And would do anything for him.  With the most devout joining the SS.  Fighting with unbounded fanaticism in combat.  And carrying out the Holocaust with ruthless efficiency.  They pledged their loyalty to Adolf Hitler.  Not Germany.  And would do anything for him.  Anything at all.  Even torture and kill their fellow Germans.  If that was what their Führer wanted.

This is how dictators were able to do some of the things they did. Because they were a cult of personality.  Mao Zedong.  Saddam Hussein.  Benito Mussolini.  Muammar Gaddafi.  Kim Il-sung.  Kim Jong-il.  Kim Jong-un.  These brutal dictators were/are all worshipped by their people.  At least the people they weren’t/aren’t torturing or killing.  For they had an equation they used to remain in power.  Victimization + Demonization + Emotion = Power.  Similar to the equation the Democrats use to win elections.  Victimization + Demonization + Emotion = Democrat Votes.  Where they victimize the people.  Find someone to demonize for this victimization.  Such as Marxists and Jews in Nazi Germany.  Or Republicans in the United States.  Then use state propaganda to disseminate their lies.  Like Joseph Goebbels did in Nazi Germany.  And like the mainstream media in the United States disseminates Democrat talking points.  And then use fiery rhetoric to incite the people’s emotions.  Like Hitler, Hussein, Mussolini, Gaddafi, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un and every other cult of personality did.  Like these ‘god-like’ people still do today.

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China raises the Price of Cotton and Chases the Textile Industry out of China

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 9th, 2013

Week in Review

Communists think they are smarter than capitalists.  They think they can manage an economy better than market forces.  Despite the failure of the Soviet Union, China (under Mao), North Korea, Cuba, etc., there are many Western nations with activist governments.  Believing like the Chinese that smart bureaucrats can make the economy operate better than those market forces can.  But the problem is they can’t control all market forces.  So when they intervene there are always unintended consequences that usually make things worse after their intervention.  As this example in China shows (see China’s cotton procurement policy hurting textile industry by Staff Reporter posted 6/9/2013 on Want China Times).

China has jacked up the domestic price of cotton to 20,400 yuan (US$3,325) per tonne as of May 13, 4,500 yuan (US$730) higher than the international price, reports Shanghai’s First Financial Daily.

Industry insiders said that the current procurement policy does nothing to benefit cotton farmers and will have a serious effect on the domestic mid-stream textile industry, forcing many firms to move their operations overseas, the paper said…

The government has justified its cotton procurement at prices higher than international levels, by arguing that the policy can protect the interest of farmers and stabilize domestic cotton farm acreage and output, which assures the domestic supply…

The high cost has forced textile firms to abandon orders, with a growing number of firms relocating to Vietnam, Bangladesh, and India. Downstream firms, in dyeing and printing, have also been affected.

China expanded their cotton production when international cotton prices rose.  Then international prices fell.  Leaving them with a surplus of cotton selling at a price that did not recover the costs of that expanded production.  So these wise bureaucrats decided to raise the price of cotton.  And restrict imports.  Problem solved.  They forced the domestic textile industry to buy the higher priced domestic cotton.  Which, of course, raised the price of the textiles they sold.  Above the prevailing international price.  Pricing them out of the international markets.  So this economic reality forced them to relocate to a country that did not force them to purchase cotton above market prices.  Allowing them to produce textiles and sell them at prices the international markets would pay.

This is the same reason why the U.S. doesn’t have a domestic textile industry anymore.  Only it wasn’t government forcing textile manufacturers to buy cotton at above market prices.  It was the unions forcing them to pay labor at above market prices that increased the price of their textiles.  And priced them out of the international markets.  Because there are always unintended consequences whenever we interfere with market forces.  Always.  And the end result is always worse after the intervention.  Always.

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The Chinese Economy suffers from High Corruption that is a Part of Communism

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 7th, 2012

Week in Review

The American Left likes to look at China as the way we should do business here in America.  Just like they looked at the Japanese in the Eighties and thought the same thing.  For the Left just hates laissez faire free market capitalism.  They want the government inserted into the economy in a big way.  For they believe that only then can we reach our true economic potential.  Despite what happened in Japan (their deflationary spiral and Lost Decade).  And what’s happening in China (see Chinese Corruption Comes in Staggering Sums by Angela Wang posted 7/2/2012 on The Epoch Times).

Corruption is a massive problem for the Chinese Communist Party, and it cuts both ways, as reflected in the Chinese phrase: “Oppose corruption and destroy the Party, don’t oppose corruption and destroy the nation.”

Lacking the legitimacy to rule conferred by elections and institutions like the rule of law, the Chinese communists must rely on an extralegal system of perks and benefits—also known as corruption—to keep their cadres in the system incentivized and at least minimally obedient. The unchecked power is increasingly getting out of control, however, and with the rise of the Internet and social media, the public is increasingly learning more—much to their anger.

So much for the dictatorship of the proletariat.  Guess Karl Marx got that wrong.  For here are communists accumulating private property through corruption.  So it would appear that communism has been nothing but a scam all along to allow the people at the top to accrue power.  And live very comfortably.

Communism is based on corruption.  It cannot work without corruption.  Because in communism it’s all about who you know.  That’s how you get ahead.  And that’s what liberalism is all about.  Who you know.  For the government loves to pick winners and losers in the economy.  Instead of letting the market do that.  As it does in laissez faire free market capitalism.  Under liberalism, as it is under communism, those who please the ruling elite do well.  While those who don’t do not do quite as well.  And the vast majority just get by.

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China may Collapse in 2012 and Suffer Japanese Deflation, Perhaps Even the Collapse of the Communist Party

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 1st, 2012

Week in Review

The Chinese aren’t invincible.  Just like the Japanese weren’t invincible.  Even though many in our government like to point to the heady days of their economic dominance and say that’s what we need to do.  Partner government with business.  Because Big Government people love central planning.  Because they love being in charge.  But central planning doesn’t work.  And government interference into the economy rarely ends well.  It put the Japanese into a deflationary spiral for a decade and change.  And there are some who think the Chinese are heading down that same road.  They believe that China will collapse.  Even give three reasons why (see The Coming Collapse of China: 2012 Edition by GORDON G. CHANG posted 12/29/2011 on Foreign Policy).

First, the Communist Party has turned its back on Deng’s progressive policies. Hu Jintao, the current leader, is presiding over an era marked by, on balance, the reversal of reform. There has been, especially since 2008, a partial renationalization of the economy and a marked narrowing of opportunities for foreign business…

Second, the global boom of the last two decades ended in 2008 when markets around the world crashed. The tumultuous events of that year brought to a close an unusually benign period during which countries attempted to integrate China into the international system and therefore tolerated its mercantilist policies. Now, however, every nation wants to export more and, in an era of protectionism or of managed trade, China will not be able to export its way to prosperity like it did during the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s…

Third, China, which during its reform era had one of the best demographic profiles of any nation, will soon have one of the worst. The Chinese workforce will level off in about 2013, perhaps 2014, according to both Chinese and foreign demographers, but the effect is already being felt as wages rise, a trend that will eventually make the country’s factories uncompetitive. China, strangely enough, is running out of people to move to cities, work in factories, and power its economy.

China’s economic ascendance happened when the ruling communists backed off and let in some capitalism.  In their eastern cities.  Which erupted in economic activity.  People poured in from the country.  Where there was still the occasional famine.  And abject poverty.  These workers became wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.  They got a taste of the good life.  And they liked it.  Especially all of those Western toys.   And the Internet.  Next thing you know they started talking to each other.  Enjoying this new life.  And these new freedoms.  A little too much for the ruling communists.

As a result, we will witness either a crash or, more probably, a Japanese-style multi-decade decline. Either way, economic troubles are occurring just as Chinese society is becoming extremely restless. It is not only that protests have spiked upwards — there were 280,000 “mass incidents” last year according to one count — but that they are also increasingly violent as the recent wave of uprisings, insurrections, rampages and bombings suggest. The Communist Party, unable to mediate social discontent, has chosen to step-up repression to levels not seen in two decades. The authorities have, for instance, blanketed the country’s cities and villages with police and armed troops and stepped up monitoring of virtually all forms of communication and the media. It’s no wonder that, in online surveys, “control” and “restrict” were voted the country’s most popular words for 2011.

So the Chinese are reversing their policies that led to the great economic ascendancy.  Which can only reverse that economic progress.  And after years of explosive economic growth what can follow but deflation?  Just like the Japanese experienced during their lost decade.  It is inevitable.  Because Big Government central planning just doesn’t work.  It never has.  And it never will.  Even in China.

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LESSONS LEARNED #86: “Smug, all-knowing condescension camouflages a vacuous philosophical basis.” –Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 6th, 2011

Ronald Reagan had a B.A. in Economics, Served in the Army, was President of SAG and Served Two Terms as California Governor

The Left hated Ronald Reagan.  They belittled him.  Made snarky comments like ‘he’s just an actor’.  That he wasn’t smart enough to be president.  And not qualified.  For all he could do was give a good speech.  Because he was just an actor.

Yes, he was an actor.  But he did go to college.  Had a B.A. in economics and sociology.   Enlisted in the Army and served in the cavalry.  Earned a commission in the Reserve Officer Corps just before World War II.  Served stateside during World War II making training films for the army.  Severely nearsighted, the Army classified him for limited service only.  Which meant he couldn’t serve overseas.  He served 8 years as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).  During the height of the Red Scare.  Which cemented his anti-communist credentials.  (Yes, there were communists in Hollywood.  As well as in the FDR administration.)  Hosted General Electric Theater for 8 years.  He visited General Electric R&D facilities.  About 135.  Saw job creation up close during his tenure with GE.  Helping to hone his economic views.  He served two terms as California governor.  During the peak of the Vietnam anti-war protests.  When he gave his concession speak at the 1976 Republican Convention, delegates mumbled that they had nominated the wrong man (Gerald Ford).  At the age of 69, Reagan became president.  Despite snarky comments like ‘he’s too old to be president’.

So Reagan had the education.  And a long list of experience on his resume.  Experience that took him through some of the most defining moments of American history.  And spent 8 years as governor of the most populous state.  Eight years of solid executive experience.  So he was every bit qualified for office.  The people who attacked him just didn’t like his ideology.  And the fact that he was very good in elected office.  So they used smug, all-knowing condescension to belittle him.  And it worked well.  For they did not like Reagan on American college campuses.  Where kids parroted what they heard in the media.  And on their favorite shows.  But didn’t have an original thought in their heads.

Incidentally, Barack Obama got a B.S. in political science from Columbia.  And a law degree from Harvard.  He served 3 terms as Illinois state senator.  And 2/3 of a term as U.S. senator.  He had no military experience.  No executive experience.  And his only other experience was confined to academe.  Or law.  Yet those who said Ronald Reagan was not qualified to be president had no problem with Barack Obama.  Go figure.

George W. Bush had an M.B.A. from Harvard, served in the Texas ANG, ran businesses and served two terms as Texas Governor

But compared to George W. Bush, they held Ronald Reagan in great esteem.  For the Left just flat out called Bush an idiot.  And simply too stupid to be president.

For being stupid Bush was pretty well educated.  He had an B.A. in history from Yale.  A good thing for presidents to know.  History.  And he earned an M.B.A. from Harvard.  The only president to have one.  He served stateside in the Texas Air National Guard during Vietnam.  He then worked in the oil industry.  Started up some oil exploration companies.  Bush Exploration, for one.   This merged with Spectrum 7.  Where he served as chairman.  The oil glut of the Eighties hit that company hard.  It later merged with Harken Energy.   Where he served on the board.  He helped Dad run for president.  Bought a piece of the Texas Rangers after that.  Spent five years there as the managing general partner.  Built the value of the team so well that when he sold his chunk he got uber rich.  Then he served about one and a half terms as Texas governor.

This is the man the Left said was too stupid to be president.  This man who had an M.B.A. from Harvard.  One of the most pretentious Ivy League schools.  A man who worked in the energy industry.  And understood it.  Who knew how to run a business.  And did.  Even ran a Major League baseball team.  And had some 6 years of solid executive experience as the governor of the second most populous state.  So he, too, was every bit qualified for office.  The people who attacked him just didn’t like his ideology.  And the fact that he was very good in elected office.  And in the business world.  So they used smug, all-knowing condescension to belittle him.  And it worked well.  For they did not like Bush on American college campuses either.  Where kids parroted what they heard in the media.  And on their favorite shows.  But they didn’t have an original thought in their heads.  Some things just never change.

Incidentally, Barack Obama got a B.S. in political science from Columbia.  And a law degree from Harvard.  He served 3 terms as Illinois state senator.  And 2/3 of a term as U.S. senator.  He had no military experience.  No executive experience.  And his only other experience was confined to academe.  Or law.  Yet those who said George W. Bush was not qualified to be president had no problem with Barack Obama.  Go figure.

They make their Snarky Little Comments about the Greed of Corporations while Greedily Demanding more Government Benefits

And speaking of these college geniuses, you can hear a lot of them doing what they do best.  Whining.  They’re protesting up on Wall Street.  Cause they hate capitalism.  Because their tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt hasn’t given them a high paying job.  And because they hate capitalism you know they don’t have a business degree.  Or anything that can be used in the business world.  Further, if they don’t want to be a toady to corporate America, they probably don’t have a degree that would help them gain employment with a corporation.  Like a chemistry degree.  An engineering degree.  Or a physics degree.  No.  These would have been too corporate.  And possibly too harmful to the environment.  Not to mention hard.

These protestors are living the protest life of the Sixties.  Complete with free love.  And drugs.  Which, incidentally, is why they went to college.  Not to sit in some boring-ass lectures and take exams with math on them.  And that’s why they’re so angry.  Because during difficult economic times corporations don’t have the money to waste on wasteful degrees like women’s studies.  Art.  Poetry.  French.  Anthropology.  Or some other liberal art or social science.  No.  The only high paying job opportunities for these are in academe.  Or in government.  When they are flush with taxpayer cash.  Thanks to corporations providing real jobs for taxpayers.  But when there are no real jobs, there are no tax dollars to pay for these phony baloney jobs.

So they make their snarky little comments about the greed of corporations.  About the greed of the bankers.  About the greed of Republicans.  All the while they are greedily demanding more government benefits.  Paid for by the very people they are protesting against.  While enjoying the very things these greedy corporations have given them.  They are using wireless technology to live-tweet their latest list of whines.  All technology created by the very corporations they hate.  Produced under the system they want to purge from America.  Capitalism.

If it wasn’t for Capitalism they’d be Working in a Field Somewhere for Subsistence Right Now

Look at Apple.  And Steve Jobs.  Look at what he created.  And ask yourself this.  Why Steve Jobs and not someone in Cuba?  Someone in North Korea?  Someone in the former Soviet Union?  These are three hardcore socialist regimes these protestors admire.  Who have egalitarian systems of government.  Where there is fair-shared misery.  No one lives better than anyone else.  Except those within the party apparatchik.  Which these protestors naturally assume they would be part of.  Once America became fair.  And they stripped the rich of all their wealth.  For the benefit of mankind.  And by mankind I mean these protestors.

Cuba even has a national health care system that is so impressive that Michael Moore made a movie about it.  While condemning the inferior American system.  Cuba is great.  They care about their people there.  So much so that they don’t let them leave.  For fear of the substandard love they’ll get in another nation.  Still some of these fools try to escape their utopia.  By crossing shark-infested water in some of the most unseaworthy boats.  To get to Florida.  In the USA.  To the country that the Wall Street protestors say is worse than Cuba.  If only they had iPhones in Cuba they could get their live-tweet feed from Wall Street so they would know that things are better there.  So they can stay there.  In their utopia.

Of course, it’s not better there.  And Steve Jobs wasn’t a Cuban.  He wasn’t a North Korean.  He wasn’t a Soviet.  He was an American.  An entrepreneur.  And a capitalist.  Who made Apple a rich corporation by giving us things we can’t live without.  Things we never asked for.  Things we didn’t even know about.  Until after he created them.  And he told us how cool they were.

They can make snarky, all-knowing, condescending remarks all day long about corporate greed and the evil of capitalism.  But if it wasn’t for capitalism they’d be working in a field somewhere for subsistence right now.  And the fact that they don’t know this shows how empty headed and brainwashed they are.  And what a piss-poor job our public schools and colleges are doing.

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LESSONS LEARNED #32: “America is great but it can’t make bad ideology good.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 23rd, 2010

Hamilton vs. Jefferson

So what was the deal with these two Founding Fathers?  Why did they hate each other so?  They were exceptionally bright, among the best read of the founders.  They each had impeccable revolutionary credentials.  And, prior to 1787, they had similar visions for their new country.  So what happened?

Despite their similarities, they were two very different men.  Hamilton was a bastard child whose father left him at a young age.  His life was hard.  He had a job while still a child.  Anything he had he had to earn.  Jefferson, on the other hand, was born into the planter elite of Virginia.  His life was not quite so hard. 

A bit shy, Jefferson buried himself in books.  He loved to read.  And to think.  To ponder the great questions of life.  While Hamilton worked in and learned the import/export business in the Caribbean.  As Jefferson pondered about what might be, Hamilton mastered commerce.  Understood capitalism.  Pondered what was.  And could be.  If he ever got off of that godforsaken island.

Eventually, he did.  He came to the colonies and went to college.  And gave Jefferson a run for his money in the smarts department.  And in one area, he simply left Jefferson in the dust.  Hamilton could understand things if you put dollar signs in front of them.  Jefferson could not.  For all his genius, Jefferson couldn’t make a buck.  He was forever in debt.  Because he struggled in these areas, he distrusted banking and commerce.  And the big cities that they corrupt.  Hamilton, though, understood banking and commerce.  He understood capitalism.  And what it could do.

Thus the divide between these two men.  Hamilton, a champion of capitalism.  And Jefferson, a champion of the yeoman farmer (a farmer who owns and works his own land.).  Of course, Jefferson was anything but a yeoman farmer.  He had others (i.e., slaves) work his land.  Here he was like the contemporary liberal.  Do as I say.  Not as I do.  For wealth and luxury obtained from the labors of others is okay for me and my fellow planter elite.  But not for you.  Especially when the ‘black arts’ of commerce and banking are concerned.

London, Paris/ Versailles and Madrid

The old world capitals had many things in common.  They were the homes of powerful monarchies.  They were the financial capitals of their countries.  And they caused a lot of mischief in the world.  Jefferson saw the connection between money and power.  More money, more power.  More power, more mischief.  Another good reason to hate commerce and banking in Jefferson’s book.

Of course, Hamilton saw it differently.  He saw one empire in ascent.  And two in descent.  And it was no coincidence that the better practitioner of capitalism was also the empire in ascent.  Great Britain.  He may have fought against her in the Revolutionary War, but he still admired her.  Where Jefferson feared the combination of money and power, Hamilton saw the Royal Navy.  Great wooden walls (as John Adams called them) that had protected the empire since she became an empire.  Grew her empire.  Increased her wealth.  And her power.  In fact, losing her British colonies was the only real defeat this empire had suffered.

When the Founding Fathers looked west they saw great potential.  Jefferson saw farms.  Hamilton saw empire.  One greater than Great Britain.  For after all, the Americans did what no other European nation could.  They defeated her in war and took huge chunks of her empire.  (Of course, our Revolutionary War was but one theater in a world war Great Britain was fighting at that time.)  Hamilton saw great potential for his new nation.  If only business and government partnered to harness that great potential.

Money + Power = Corruption

When business partners with government we don’t get capitalism.  We get mercantilism.  Or crony capitalism.  But you have to understand things were different in Hamilton’s day.  A good politician then went to great lengths NOT to profit from his time in public service.  It was expected.  Selfless disinterest.  In fact, it was unseemly to even campaign for public office.  That was just something a gentleman of the Enlightenment wouldn’t do.  And if anything was important in those days, it was showing how much a gentleman of the Enlightenment you were.

That said, business partnering with government would NOT lead to corruption.  At least, in Hamilton’s eyes.  With the right men in power, only good would result.  Though Jefferson, too, was a gentleman of the Enlightenment, he had no such faith in government.  To him, it was simple arithmetic (as long as there were no dollar signs involved):

                Money + Power = Corruption

So the new American capital wouldn’t be in a big American city.  Not in New York City.  Not in Philadelphia.  It would be in a swamp.  On the Potomac.  In Virginia’s backyard.  So Jefferson and his planter elite brethren could make sure the new American government would speak with a southern accent.  So much for that enlightened disinterest. 

Both Right.  Both Wrong.

No man is perfect.  Not even me.  No, really.  It’s true.  I’m not.  And neither were Hamilton nor Jefferson.  Hamilton may have wanted to conquer the world.  And Jefferson may have been such a good liar that he even fooled himself.  But the Hamilton treasury department gave this nation international respectability and allowed her to service her debt.  Which allowed her to borrow.  Which allowed her to survive.  And Jefferson fully understood what Lord Acton would say a century later:  Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

However benign a government may be, however it may look out after the people’s interests, government is still a body of men.  Jefferson understood this.  The Founding Generation was special.  They knew it.  They knew they were making history.  But were they unique?  Would this moment of selfless disinterest in time prove to be fleeting?  (As it turned out, yes.)  And, if so, what would happen to later generations?  When men of lesser character assume offices of sweeping powers?  What then?  Well, they would abuse their power.  So what to do?

Simple.  You prevent such a scenario from happening.  By not giving government sweeping powers.  And by not letting them accumulate great wealth.  Because bad things happen when you do.

The French Revolution

France was the cradle of the Enlightenment.  In the 18th century, anyone who mattered spoke French.  France was the dominate European power.  And some in France lived very well.  Most did not.  The majority were still feudal peasants.  Or poor laborers, artisans and craftsmen.  And they were hungry.  Poor.  And without breeches (those fancy knee-length pants the rich people wore).

While the sans-culottes (those without breeches) went without, the king, nobles and clergy were living large.  All the wealth of the largest European country was concentrated in their few hands.  As was the power.  And, of course, you add money and power and what do you get?  That’s right.  Corruption.  Add to that some crop failures and you get a very unhappy population.  Who overthrow the monarchy.  Execute their king.  And his queen.  And quite a few others before they stopped the bloodletting. 

Note that France’s troubles were the result of the money combining with the power.  The French monarchy incurred a huge debt fighting their perpetual war (it seemed) with Great Britain.  At the end of the world war that included the American Revolution, both saw those great debts grow larger.  Great Britain, an advanced capitalist nation, was able to service her debt and get on with the business of empire.  France, still fundamentally feudal, could not.  This great nation that had sparked the modern age could not even feed her own people.  She had taken all her people could give.  And her people could give no more.

Beware the Do-Gooder

The downfall of most nations results from this combination of money and state power.  This is an ideology that history has proven a failure.  The more money the state accumulates, the more it can do.  And the less you can do.  You go with less.  And the state causes greater hardships for everyone.  It can go to war.  Which it can lose.  Or prolong.  Hitler started out strong but the German people paid a steep price in the long run.  The allied bombers destroyed their homes.  And killed their families and neighbors.  While the allied armies killed their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons.  And those Germans who unfortunately fell within Soviet controlled territory after the war faced possible retribution for the crimes their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons committed against the soviet people.  In that hell on earth know as the Eastern Front.

But war is not the only mischief a state can do.  They can build opulent palaces (like at Versailles).  Or they can create a welfare state.  Where they get as many people as possible dependent on the state.  And the more they do, the more wealth the state transfers from the private sector to the public sector.  The state does well.  Especially the inner-party members.  The few who control the wealth.  And what happens in the long run?  The state gets richer and the people get poorer.  Just like they did in pre-revolutionary France.  In pre-revolutionary Tsarist Russia.  And, ironically, the state that replaced Tsarist Russia; the Soviet Union.  Communist China.  Cuba.  North Korea.  Peron’s Argentina.  Idi Amin’s Uganda.  Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.  Etc.

Whenever the government has large amounts of money and power, they rarely do good things.  What typically happens is that the ruling elite live well while the masses suffer.  And they use fear, intimidation, torture and execution to maintain their power.  What a nation chooses depends on how much they care what the free world thinks of them.  The Communists cared little so they used more brutal force.  Social democracies do care.  So theirs is a much softer tyranny.  These people don’t use force.  They seduce with promises of free stuff and a better life.  Which they never deliver.  Well, not to the people.  They do deliver it to those who hold power.

You Get What You Pay For

It’s bad when we don’t learn from world history.  It’s especially sad when we don’t learn from our own history.  We know what works.  And what hasn’t.  Wilson’s progressivism didn’t work.  FDR’s New Deal didn’t work.  LBJ’s Great Society didn’t work.  These administrations just transferred more money from the private sector to the public sector.  Money plus power equals corruption.  And these administrations were rife with corruption.  When we suffered the stagflation of the 1970s, those in power were still living large. But we never learn, do we?

The Obama administration is transferring more money from the private sector to the public sector than any other previous administration.  Our national debt will exceed our gross national product (GDP).  For all intents and purposes, it will be permanent.  All subsequent generations will work more and more just to service this massive debt.  And pay for all that ‘free stuff’ we were promised.  Sure, we’ll have free health care.  It just won’t be any good.  Nothing free is.  The free toy in a box of cereal is never as good as the toy you pay for.  Because you get what you pay for.  And if the government is going to give everyone free health care, it will have to be ‘free toy inside a cereal box’ quality health care.  For the same reason they don’t put expensive toys in cereal boxes.  If you give something to everyone, you have to give everyone less.  It’s the only way you can afford to give something to everyone.  You have to give everyone crap.

These things have never worked.  Nor will they.  Ever.  Even if the United States does them.  Because bad ideology is just bad ideology.  No matter how great the nation is that tries it. 

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #25: “War is costly. Peace, too.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 3rd, 2010

ONE OF THE lasting consequences of war is the feminization of men.  War makes widows.  And fatherless sons.  Their mothers raise them the best that they can.  But women tend to be kinder and gentler than men.  More nurturing.  Fathers are, after all, the disciplinarians.  “Just wait until your father gets home.”  Sons with fathers knew what that meant.  And it wasn’t kind, gentle nurturing.

The American Civil War killed some 600,000 men.  A generation of fathers was lost.  When their sons came of age, they were more sensitive to the suffering of others.  And they felt a mothering urge to do something about it.  In politics they became Progressives.  They grew government.  Because government knows best.  Well, mother knows best.  And a government that mothers would solve all our social ills.  And these men would mother.  Compassionately.  And they thought all that rugged individualism was overrated.

World War I killed some 9 million men in uniform and about another 7 million in civilians.  These fatherless sons would rise in power and help create the cradle-to-the-grave welfare state known as European Socialism. 

World War II killed some 400,000 American men.  And their sons would follow the European’s lead.  They would attend the universities where the progressives taught.  They came out with heads filled with caring and compassion for victims everywhere.  LBJ’s Great Society would grow out of this movement.  As well as a hatred for American rugged individualism.  And anti-war fervor.

AND THEN YOU had the filthy, maggot-infested hippies.  South Park is a crude comedy.  And Cartman has few redeeming qualities.  But he’s right about hippies.  They ruined this country.  Born in the baby boom following World War II, most had the benefit of a father.  However, by the 1960s, the universities they attended were a lost cause.  Their professors would attack whatever their parents taught them.  They would learn to hate.  In a kind, gentle, nurturing way.

They hated America.  How it became.  What it did.  What its values were.  Are.  Instead, they would embrace America’s enemies.  Have kind, gentle, nurturing compassion for them.  They were proud Marxists.  And Communists.  They relished their First Amendment right to attack the American Republic that gave them that right.  While they supported oppressive regimes where you had no such right.  And spoke ill of the government at your own peril.  Oh, they damned America and its allies for all of their ‘crimes against humanity’.  But they said nothing about the reigning co-champions of human rights abuses.  The Soviet Union.  And Communist China.  No, they wanted to extend the proletarian revolution to America.  So more could suffer the worst of human rights abuses.  Why would anyone adopt such a conflicting course of political action?  Because they’re idiots.

Power to the People.  Give Peace a Chance.  All You Need is Love.  They knew all the answers.  John Lennon et al.  War was business.  Nothing more.  Or the folly of kings.  As the Monkees sang about in this anti-war song:

They met on the battlefield banner in hand.
They looked out across the vacant land.
And they counted the missing, one upon one,
None upon none.
The war it was over before it begun.

Two little kings playing a game.
They gave a war and nobody came.

(from Zor and Zam by Bill Chadwick and John Chadwick
Album: The Birds, the Bees and the Monkees)

This is what the anti-war people believe.  Either war is business.  Or the folly of kings.  That there is no ‘bad guy’ in war.  Just pawns.  And units of production.  Because human nature is peaceful.

WHO DID THE high school bullies pick on?  Who did they pansts?  Steal their lunch money from?  Give a wedgie to?  A swirlie?   Beat up.  Belittle with name calling?  Not tough guys.  Weak guys.  This is human nature.  The strong feed on the weak.

WHEN GUN OWNERS discovered a ‘loophole’ in Floridian law about carrying concealed weapons, they started carrying concealed weapons.  What happened?  Crime on Floridians dropped.  Crimes on tourists rose.  Why?  Because the bad guys knew that tourists didn’t carry concealed weapons.  This is human nature.  The strong feed on the weak.

BACK WHEN DETROIT was the murder capital of the U.S., a friend traveled there and bought a t-shirt.  It read, “Detroit:  Where the Weak are Killed and Eaten.”  Now I don’t recall reports of cannibalism in the Motor City, but the message was clear. Figuratively, of course.  Human nature was becoming animal nature.  The strong feed on the weak.

MANY ANIMAL SPECIES have large litters.  Or numerous litters.  Like bunnies.  Cute little, fluffy, harmless bunnies.  But bunnies are tasty.  They’re low on the food chain.  They are food to almost every carnivore in the wild.  Including man.   Few bunnies live long before becoming a meal.  This is animal nature.  The strong feed on the weak.

“IN EVERY GENERATION there is a chosen one.  She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness.  She is the slayer.”  (From the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)  In the world of vampires, demons and the forces of darkness, it’s kill or be eaten.  It’s even the nature of the supernatural.  The strong feed on the weak.

BIG GOVERNMENT AND UNIONS grew big and powerful in the 20th century to protect the little guy.  They said that Big Business and the free market favored the rich and powerful.  At the expense of the poor and weak.  They said it was human nature.  For the strong to feed on the weak.

DURING THE TIME of America’s involvement in Vietnam, the Communist Party of Kampuchea went on a killing spree.  While the hippies protested Vietnam, they praised the social compassion of anti-capitalistic communism.  Power to the People.  Baby.  Meanwhile, the Khmer Rouge killed their own people wholesale (by a percentage of population killed, the greatest in history).  Included in the genocide lists were students or people with glasses.   They killed any ‘educated’ person.  And those who even looked educated.  So, yes, the hippies supported a movement that would have killed their own worthless selves if given the chance.   Human nature at its worse.  The strong feed on the weak.  And the stupidity of hippies.

THERE ARE BAD guys in the world.  And there’s no denying it.  Human nature is not peaceful.  It is anything but.  Darwinian Theory never played out so fiercely.  The strong feed on the weak.  They seek them out.  Like a predator in the wild, they seek out the weak and maimed and move in for the kill.  You can’t reason with them.  Just like you can’t reason with a bully.  Those who think that we can need to man-up and face facts.  And if you can’t, don’t worry.  We have others that are more than willing to man-up and fight our battles for us.  To keep America strong.  If we let them.

Predators don’t respect weakness.  They respect power.  And power is the only thing that will deter them.  The bad guys have attacked American soil few times.  Because America is powerful.  You mess with the big dog and it’s going to bite you.  And maul you.  So the bad guys don’t mess with the big dog often.  Because they pay dearly when they do.

America has known peace and prosperity like few other people can possibly imagine.  And the reason for that is that we have the biggest and baddest military in the world.  It kept the Soviets at bay in Europe.  It thumped Iraqi’s vaunted million-man army in less than 100 hours of combat.  It then thumped them again with a smaller force.  (That display of power cowed Libya from sponsoring terrorism for fear of that awesome power thumping them next.  And it got the Saudis to do the politically unthinkable – take on Al Qaeda in their kingdom.)  It ran bin Laden deep underground leaving him more impotent than threatening.  It held the line in Korea.  And it won every battle it fought in Vietnam.  (Of course, everything went to hell in a handbasket when we left.  But that’s another story.)

But that kind of power doesn’t come cheap.  And you gotta have the will to use it.  But when you do, you get peace.  An expensive peace, yes.  But peace is always cheaper than war.  Especially when that peace deters war.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #18: “Man-given rights are only privileges allowed by the privileged elite.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 15th, 2010

JESUS CHRIST!  You’ll hear that in a foxhole.  When hunkered down as bullets and shrapnel fly thick overhead.  By theist and atheist alike.  Of course, one is most probably in prayer while the other in vain.  Considering the circumstances, though, the Lord would probably forgive the latter. As long as you’re fighting on the side of good, that is.

When emotions are running high, people tend to say things.  Sometimes bad things.  Sometimes, even philosophically inconsistent things.  What’s that joke?  At the height of confusion someone shouts out, “Thank God I’m an atheist!”

People tend to get more intimate with God when they are about to personally find out the answer to that age-old question – is there an afterlife?  Can’t blame them.  Your own mortality can be a scary thing.  And no one wants to rush that.  That’s why, in the age of the Enlightenment, people thought of government not as a force of coercion, but as protection from coercion.  People wanted to live as long as they could.  And as free as they could.  So people made governments that would function within the Rule of Law.  To better their lives.

England made great strides in protecting its citizens from the arbitrary use of force.  After some un-English-like treatment in the New World, the British America colonies broke from the mother country.  But they would build on the English ideals.  The Declaration of Independence stated:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….

The key here is that rights are God-given.  That meant kings could be wrong.  As well as Parliament.  Even the Church.  Kings, aristocracies, bishops, etc., are positions created and held by men.  Nature/God did not grant them this power.  They granted it to themselves.  And once some have power, it’s not long before some use it to oppress those who don’t.

So when it comes to determining the origin of rights, the atheists should thank God he or she is an atheist.  For if God gives them that right (to be an atheist), no man can take it away.  But if rights are not God-given, then they must be man-given.  And whatever man giveth, he can taketh away.  Especially if you piss off the powers that be.

DRUNKEN FARMER JONES was oppressing the animals on Manor Farm.  Having had enough, the animals rose up and seized power.  They renamed the farm Animal Farm.  The pigs Snowball and Napoleon were the leaders of the revolution.  They created a new political doctrine called Animalism.  It rested on the following 7 commandments painted on the side of the barn:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

Snowball wanted to do good.  The new farm started out as an anarcho-syndicalist commune.  Sort of.  Then Napoleon seized power.  He and his pigs became the ruling elite for the benefit of animal kind on Animal Farm.  And life was good.  For the pigs.

Napoleon fabricated lies about Snowball.  With the animals turned against him as planned, Napoleon had his dogs chase him off of Animal Farm. 

The animals worked harder.  But there were setbacks.  And at every setback, Boxer, the old workhorse, lamented that he would have to work harder.  And he did.  Until his strength failed him and he collapsed while working.   The pigs then sent him to the vet.  Only the side of the vet’s wagon said ‘Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler’.  Most of the animals couldn’t read.  Benjamin could.  He told them what the van said.  But it was too late. 

Benjamin, Boxer’s friend, was an old donkey.  And wise.  He saw a lot in his long life.  Little good, though.  Life was no different under the pigs than it was under the humans.  But he wasn’t surprised.  For that was life.  “Life will go on as it has always gone on—that is, badly.”

The pigs started to act more humanlike.  They started to walk on two legs so they could carry riding crops.  They began wearing clothes.  Slept in beds.  Drank alcohol.  And sent off Boxer to his death for some whiskey money.  The pigs slowly revised the 7 Commandments to agree with their new behavior.  Until, one day, there was but a single commandment remaining.  “All animals are equal.  But some animals are more equal than others.”  And life was good.  For the pigs.

GEORGE ORWELL WAS a socialist who volunteered to fight for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War.  He got shot in the throat and was declared medically unfit for further duty.  While healing, the political climate was deteriorating.  His socialist group, the Workers’ Party of Marxists Unification (or, in Spanish, Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM)) fell out of favor with the pro-Soviet Communists.  They accused the POUM of being affiliated with Joseph Stalin’s archenemy, Leon Trotsky.  So the Communists outlawed the POUM.  It’s complicated.  Suffice it to say that Orwell made it back to England.  And had no love for Stalin or Soviet Communism.

Then, of course, came World War II.  And the Hitler-Stalin Pact of Nonaggression, further increasing the love between Orwell and Stalin.  And by love I mean hate.  For Orwell hated totalitarianism.  And for all the Utopian talk, Communism had devolved into nothing more than an oppressive totalitarian regime. 

This is the story of Animal Farm.  Napoleon is Joseph Stalin.  Animal Farm becomes the police state of Soviet Communism.  At about a hundred pages, it’s the biggest little book you will ever read.  If you haven’t yet, do so.  And then pick up Orwell’s 1984.  It’s a little longer and a little darker but, wow, what a story.

SO THERE’RE TWO revolutions.  The American and the Russian.  Both ended up on ‘top ten’ lists.  One for liberty.  The other for genocide.  Can you guess which? 

As an ideology, Communism has killed more people than any other in history.  It killed more than the Nazis.  More than the Christian Crusades.  More than the Black Death even.  No other ideology (or plague) comes close. 

So why was one revolution so much bloodier than the other?  Well, the Americans were Christian.  The Russians were Orthodox Christians.  But the Soviets were atheists.  There were no God-given rights in the Soviet Union.  Only privileges allowed by the privileged elite.  And fear.  For people could disappear at someone’s slightest whim. 

That’s the down side of atheism.  And secularism.  It removes the fear of God from a people’s rulers.  And if they aren’t worrying about the afterlife, there’s not a whole lot to dissuade them from doing unspeakable things in the here and now.

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LESSONS LEARNED #15: “Most people would rather hear a pleasant lie than an unpleasant truth.” -Old Pithy.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 27th, 2010

NO ONE LIKES bad news.  That’s why when someone says, “I’ve got good news and bad news, which do you want to hear first?” most people want to hear the bad news first.  Get the sting over.  Then hear the good news to help get over the sting of the bad.

People are so adverse to bad news they’ll even look for ways to ignore it as long as they can.  They’ll believe lies if the lies keep their pleasant little world pleasant.  Almost to any cost.  In 1944, the Germans were beaten.  There was a chance some soldiers would be home before Christmas.  So when some scattered reports came of movements on the German front towards the Eifel Region just east of the Ardennes, SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) discounted them.  Explained them away as nothing.  Because the Germans didn’t launch winter offensives.

Until 1944, that is.  The Schnee Eifel battle, at the beginning of the center prong of a 3-prong attack, was the greatest American defeat in 1944/1945 Europe.  But this was only one of many battles known as the Battle of the Bulge.  This German winter offensive through the Ardennes was the biggest American battle of World War II.  And bloodiest.  In all, the Germans killed about 20,000 American soldiers.  Some after they surrendered.  Kampfgruppe Peiper spearheaded the Sixth SS Panzer Division.  Joachim Peiper would eventually lead this force through the Baugnez crossroads near Malmedy.  And into infamy.  The Malmedy Massacre wasn’t the only war crime, though.  There were others.

In the movie Patton, General Patton predicted this German offensive.  And there was some truth in that.  Third Army DID predict this.  But it was his chief of intelligence, Colonel Oscar Koch, who figured this out.  Patton’s battlefield successes were the result of strong intelligence.  And Colonel Koch gave him some of the best intelligence available on the Western Front.  In November 1944, he gathered the intelligence, analyzed it and predicted a time and place.  Of course, SHAEF discounted his findings.  They were sure the Germans were beaten.  Besides, the Germans didn’t launch winter offensives.

THE BATTLE OF the Bulge was only a small part of World War II, the biggest and meanest war in the history of mankind.  Nations mobilized their military, economic, industrial, and scientific forces to wage total war.  Civilians died, too.  En masse.  Whether by bombing of enemy cities or by organized genocide in occupied lands, civilians felt the horrors of war as they never had before.

So how did such a horrific war come to be?  It’s complicated.  Did it have to be as bad as it was?  No.  At least, France could have stopped Hitler earlier.  Before his military buildup.  But to understand this story, you have to go back in time. 

THE GREAT WAR, World War I, was the culmination of a series of disputes over European power and control of the Balkans.

The Crimean War of 1853–1856, the Austro-Sardinian War of 1859 and the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 stirred the pot up in the Balkans.  The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 established a new unified Germany as the dominant power of Europe as Great Britain and France were in decline (and ceded the Loraine-Alsace region from France to Germany).  And the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 exploited the Balkan tempest.

Weaker nations formed treaties with stronger nations.  Entangling treaties.  Imperial interests in the Balkans of both the great and not so great powers further fermented the Balkan tempest.  Minority rule of the majority led to nationalist rebellion.  To quench this rebellion, the Austro-Hungarian Empire annexed Serbia.

This is a very cursory history but you get the picture.  There was a lot of anger.  And a lot of wrongs to right.  And territory to regain.  Or to simply gain.  And then on Sunday, the 28th of June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria visited Sarajevo.  There a Yugoslav nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated him.  And then all of those entangling treaties kicked in and a world was at war.

IT WAS THE bloodiest and costliest war to date.  No one thought it would be, though.  You see, they learned a lot from the Prussians during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.  Which was swift and conclusive.  Unfortunately, they learned little from the American Civil War (1861-1865).  For 4 bloody years the Americans demonstrated warfare where technology was ahead of military tactics.  And World War I was to look more like the American Civil War than the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.  Long.  And bloody.  A war of attrition where you don’t necessarily win a decisive battle.  The other side just runs out of soldiers to kill.

World War I (1914 to 1918) saw horrific killing fields.  Artillery bombardments that would last for days.  Attacks through barbed wire into raking machine-gun fire.  Poison gas.  The death toll was staggering.  Great Britain and her Imperial forces lost over a million killed, over 2 million maimed and wounded.  France lost slightly more killed and almost twice in maimed and wounded.  Civilians were not untouched by war, either.  Blockade starved civilian populations.

The War devastated and impoverished these two countries.  They won the war, but only barely.  The entry of America was just too much.  More soldiers and material.  The killing could go on indefinitely.  So all sides sued for peace.  With the Americans on the Allied side, though, they were in a position to dictate the terms of the peace.  And boy did they.

THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES was punitive.  In the run up to war, there were really no innocents.  But to the victors go the spoils.  Official blame for the war fell on Germany.  She lost territory (France got back the Loraine-Alsace region) and all her colonies.  And she had to pay reparations.  The Germans were pissed. 

The Allies hoped to mitigate their war losses by German tribute.  But it was too much.  Even a member of the British delegation at Versailles, economist John Maynard Keynes, thought so.  In an effort to restore Great Britain and France as the dominant European powers, the allies probably went too far.  The economic burdens on Germany were too great.  Then hyper-inflation met Great Depression.  Angry socialists, communists and nationalists tore the nation asunder.  Until a uniter came along.  Adolf Hitler.

HITLER ROSE TO power legally.  Then he consolidated his power ruthlessly.  He renounced the Versailles Treaty.  And did a lot of things that showed his ultimate intentions.  Including writing a book years earlier about his ultimate intentions.  Mein Kampf.  Which was pretty detailed.  To anyone who read it. 

One of his first provocative acts was to place a negligible military force into the Rhineland in 1936.  The German High Command was a little skittish about this idea for they did not believe they had sufficient strength to successfully fight off a French response.  The French had superior numbers in military power.  But they were financially weak.  They had poured a fortune into the line of fortresses known as the Maginot Line.  They could not afford all out war with Germany, too, and they thought a military conflict in the Rhineland may lead to that.  And after going through the horrors of the Great War, they had no desire to do it again.  Whether it was a question of could or would is still debated.  But had they, one wonders how such action would have altered the course of history.

Hitler continued in a string of actions, explaining away each as harmless with no higher purpose.  Great Britain and France were growing uneasy but accepted his statements.  They wanted to believe.  They would do just about anything to avoid a return to war.  Even give away another sovereign nation’s land.

THE SUDETENLAND WAS an area along the Czechoslovakia side of their border with Germany with German inhabitants.  Hitler wanted to reincorporate them into the German state.  He promised this would be his last territorial acquisition.  And, at Munich in September of 1938, Great Britain and France took him at his word.  With Czechoslovakia not even present at this conference, they concluded the pact that ceded the Sudetenland to Germany.  All’s well that ends well.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned to London with a copy of the Munich Pact.  He would give a speech declaring they got “peace for our time.”  But they didn’t.  Hitler soon took the rest of Czechoslovakia.  With his two flanks protected, Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 and launched the world into war.  Again.  Only this time, it would be worse.

IT IS HARD to blame France and Great Britain’s reluctance to return to war with Germany after the devastation of World War I.  And those who do usually do so with the advantage of hindsight.  However, we know what the costs added up to in stopping Adolf Hitler in 1945.  And few would say that all out war with Germany in 1936 would have cost more.

Here’s the ugly truth.  The truth can be ugly.  And we hide from it at our own peril.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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