Monday, October 18, 2010

This is the first post on a new blog. Well, the first post with writing. The actual first post was blank, so when I looked for it, it wasn't there!! What a surprise. That is the magic of using the keyboard, when you don't know how all the short cuts work.

My original goal when I started posting several years ago, was that I would learn how to type, and in addition perhaps have something useful to contribute to the public discourse. Alas I have not learned how to type. My new understanding of the way the world works may make my contributions to the ether more valuable, but I will not be the judge of that. I have had a chance to learn many things in the past several years, about the world, and about myself. Not all of them have been pleasant. But they have brought me to where I am now. I am coming to believe that the way things happened, were the way that things had to happen. That is not to say that we can not learn from our mistakes, or that we should not have regrets, but that we should understand that we did the best we could at the time, and with the circumstances as they were.

I will delve into this topic more in the future. Right now I just want to finish my intro and get to the meat.

I should state cleary up front that I am of a somewhat dilatory nature. I allow small things to obsruct my path, and I am gradually addressing this nagging issue. So recently, my most difficult problem was in finding a name for my blog. It was preventing me from actually doing any writing! Many names that I would have liked had already been scooped up. Well, I finally found one. It is also somewhat suitable. I have a lot to say about Empire, as it is clear that the civilization in which we live is generally that. We may not see it as such, but when examined closely there is no doubt that that is what it is. Much of my writing will focus on this, but I will no doubt drift to other topics.

Being a closet writer for years means many topics that have had a lot of thought, but few of which that have actually been written about. So here is my most recent plunge into the world of writing. One hopes it will be more productive than the last...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Decline of Empire: A Start...

Time is a tricky substance. Within the next 7o years, I will be dead(I am being quite optimistic here). Perhaps a lot sooner than that. One does not know. But in the history of empire, we have known that essentially all that were created, failed. The Byzantines, the Romans, the Spanish, the British, just to name a few. The most recent empire to bite the dust is the American. It may be that this pronouncement is premature. Regardless, we are currently witnessing its demise. This is not an emotional statement, merely a factual assessment. Empires come, and empires go. I do not cheer this on in any sense. What I foresee for the future might be referred to as 'interesting times', and of course what this means is a lot of change. There will be tremendous dislocations of people in terms of employment, and therefore their ability to live. While this is common in many places on the planet already, in the 'Western World', many people are not used to these kinds of disruptions. I include myself in this group. By comparison to my parents, I have had an easy life, and people who have access to the internet and can read my blog are quite possibly in the same group. When most people of the planet are living with barely day to day subsistence, the ability to have a phone and use the internet are true luxuries.

So The American Empire is collapsing. Perhaps not yet in the death throes, but the inevitable will occur. The question is, will humanity learn anything from this tragedy, and will anything better spring from the ashes? Or will we simply repeat the same mistaks over again?

One might also ask, what is the intrinsic nature of empires that causes them to collapse? Is there a common feature which leads to their inevitable destruction? I am not studied sufficiently in the historical understanding of the collapses of previous empires, so I am not really going to address that question. I am going to confine my comments to the current American Empire, and what I see as the basic flaws which are precipitating its demise.

I am sure many of you have your own ideas about what the underlying issues are. For me, it is inequality. Now you may believe that this is a simplistic idea, and I will have to flesh it out for it to be better understood. I am not going to leave it at that. Let me also state up front that I have no real solution to the problem. It has been around for so long, that perhaps it is actually insolvable; it will take someone with a much bigger brain, and greater understanding than me to solve such a longstanding dichotomy.

How is inequality manifested in our system, and why does this lead to collapse of empire? Well, inequality first and foremost is shown in the way people use each other to perform work, and to make, essentially, 'something for nothing'. This is the basis of profit. When you read any standard text book on economics, the source of profit is never addressed. When one thinks about this with a logician's mind, it is clear to see that profit comes from some one else's labour.

Imagine a beach of sand. Then imagine the bags of sand that you buy at the gas station to prevent your car from skidding in winter time. The beach sand has no value till you put it in a bag, and then sell it at the garage. How did it get in to the bag? Some guy put it in there. Say you own the sand company, and you employ 10 people. You pay each guy 3 dollars a bag for the sand, and then charge your customers 5 dollars a bag. You make a 'profit' of 2 dollars a bag. Your workman could have sold the bag for 5 dollars, but you only paid him 3 dollars. You make a profit by paying him less than the value of his labour. Of course this is the essence of capitalism in a nut shell. People work, and they are paid for their labour. Capitalists pay the worker less than the value of their labour, and this becomes their 'profit'.

In a Capitalist system, therefore, there are more services and goods around than there is money to pay for them, as rich Capitalists can only purchase so much in the way of goods. All that excess money that is sitting in banks, and in stocks etc, is not being used to purchase hard goods and services. We are left with a situation where rich people have all the goods and services they need, with money in the bank, and poor people struggle to survive, are in debt, and have not got enough food on the table. Combined with this, there is an actual excess of goods, such that butter and cheese are thrown away, even though there are people with not enough food, living within only miles of that food! Giving this food to people without them paying for it would upset 'The System' of markets which supposedly controls Capitalism. The bottom line is that we are working for 'The System', 'The System' is not working for us. Is it any wonder that people who are working and yet poor might not be too understanding of this model? It is inhumane, and yet it is the way that we are being forced to live.

This inequity is leading to the current destruction of The American Empire. The very system of Capitalism is unstable, and leads to vast richness for the few, and extreme poverty for the many. It is inevitable that there will be revolution. It is just a question of time.

So how has this system managed to stay in place for so long, and what methods are used to ensure that the poor do not revolt? More in the next post...