Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes

n the comments section of my column "The 'Great Correction,' The 'Great Recession,' The 'Greater Depression' and Coming Soon: 'The Great Disruption'," Anonymous wrote:

"Very concise and informative, thanks. Scary but exactly what I've come to see as inevitable. Will you write an article on exactly how the collapse of the Euro will affect the average American?"

Now there is evidence aplenty (here's more and more and more and etc.) that things are going pretty bad for our cousins across the pond. It could be said that Europe is suffering through another "Great Depression" due to the excesses of the socialistic policies of many of the governments throughout the continent; policies that ran up a lot of debt that is supposed to be paid back with "other people's money."

In my honest opinion, and that of a few others, the European Union, at least the government part of it and its fiat currency the Euro, will not collapse but like a caterpillar to a butterfly will go through a certain metamorphosis. The peoples of Europe will clamor for relief from this government imposed depression and demand that somebody do something and somebody, as if on cue, will. There will be greater concentration of all political power in a central government that will become more totalitarian and oppressive of individual liberty. This will be similar to what Lincoln did to America with his war against the Southern States when they tried to secure their independence.

The peoples of Europe will be led through hell just to arrive at a worse destination. Many Americans are concerned, and rightly so, how their lives will be impacted by the problems the Europeans are suffering over there. Time for another one of those thought experiments I like to drag you all through.

Imagine that you are a baker who owns his own little bakery shop. Since you've been at it awhile you've had time to pay off all your start-up debt so that you own your building, with your home in an apartment on the upper floor, and your tools of the trade out right. You do a pretty steady business with a familiar group of loyal clientele who return time after time for all of their bakery goods. Business has become so routine that you know exactly how much perishables (flour, milk, eggs, etc.) you need to order so as to restock your supplies and keep things running smoothly. You may never become a millionaire but you earn your and your family's daily bread (that was a pathetic pun).

Suddenly your customers, and a lot of their friends and relatives, are showing up and placing orders for large lavish cakes and pastries along with more of their usual amount of baked goods. They tell you that they intend to start throwing a lot of big parties and festive banquets. You going to need a lot of supplies to fill these orders so you get a loan from the banker by putting your shop up as collateral so as to buy twice as much as you normally do.

With the assistance of some employees you have to hire you fill those orders and everybody has a great time. You're even invited to a few of those parties. To keep your employees busy (and get the your money's worth out of them) you have them double up on the loaves, cookies, and doughnuts that you put out for sale everyday.

Then, just as suddenly, your usual bunch of customers stop buying all those extra goods. They even cut back on the normal amount they purchased before the rush. You ask one why he doesn't buy as much as before and he tells you that now he has to make his payments on the loan he got to buy the goodies he needed to throw the party he had. He barely makes enough to cover the payment per month and hardly has any left over to buy bread.

Now your business begins to suffer. With everyone cutting back you no longer need your employees and let them go. With less money yourself you have trouble buying anything else for your family to eat other than the bread you bake and man (and women and child) cannot live on bread or cake or doughnuts alone. You even start to have trouble making your own loan payments.

With everyone spending less and less with each other and sending all their money to the banker to pay off their loans pretty soon commerce comes to a standstill. Then the banker decides to foreclose on your shop and evicts you and your family from it. You find yourself penniless, destitute, and homeless.

This how a depression can spread from one part of the globe to another like a bad head cold. And how governments and central bankers can cause a misallocation of assets by passing out too much easy money, usually taken from other people. As commerce slows in Europe due to a depression over there the economic interaction between them and the U.S. will slow down. As commerce slows down in the U.S. then a temporary setback begins to take on some permanence as things enter a vicious whirlpool of people trying to earn a living at the same time carrying way too much debt. It's only a matter of time before problems over there become a problem over here and then they start circling the planet. Things are going to get pretty rough here in America and there are three factors I have noted that I am pretty sure are going make things downright crazy.

The first factor is the reduced value of human life in this country. In discussions (usually quite passionate on the other side's part) that I have with persons who believe they have the God-given authority to interfere with a woman's right to choose to have an abortion say that they must protest because, "Abortion cheapens life!" I have to explain to them that they are confusing cause and effect.

The value of human life, like that of any other commodity, is affected by the economic law of supply and demand; when supply exceeds, or appears to exceed, demand then the value attributed to that object is reduced. The more life of other humans that a person comes across in one's daily adventures the less value that life has to them. This is one of the reasons that "city folks" can be more callous towards others than their "country cousins." Abortion, or more correctly, society's ready acceptance of it is a symptom of the disease and not the underlying infectious agent.

When people begin to perceive that a certain commodity is detrimental to their continued existence, like all the other humans they must compete with to obtain all the necessities of modern living which some government propaganda might lead them to believe is becoming scarce, then that commodity begins to take on a negative value. When a commodity has a negative value people will expend energy, time, and resources to make it go away.

The second factor is the reduced amount of life-altering guilt in this country. In other discussions, sometimes with the same people as before, I am told that violent video games "cheapen life!" Again I have to point out that though they have picked up on the right process, they have unfortunately come to the wrong conclusion. The only thing that cheapens life is too much of it. What engaging in killing repeatedly over and over again, whether in a virtual world or reality, does is to reduce the guilt that individuals might feel from engaging in that activity.

Criminologists and psychologists who have studied people who have killed another human being have determined that, except for a true sociopath, most of us are very reluctant to take another person's life. The guilt one feels afterward can be overwhelming even if the killing was a justifiable act of self-defense. But if one happens to kill again, then the guilt over that death will be only half as much as the first and the guilt will decrease exponentially with each new killing until there is hardly any worth noticing.

We have youngsters in this country now that kill 50 or more people in a virtual world every evening after completing their homework and another large group that have been doing so in the real world for some time with government approval. Some of these folks might have reached the point that they will kill for a "twinkie" (tm).

The last factor that I have noticed is the growing perception amongst an alarming number of people that life is just inherently unfair in this country, regardless of the reality of that situation for the majority of Americans. Nature has done a fine job on its own in the planting the seeds of discontent and resentment through the disparity of blessings and curses that it has imposed on different peoples throughout the history of human civilization. What is unfortunate is that President Obama, who recently suggested that Jesus would approve of stealing, and other political pundits and civic leaders have been doing an exceedingly extensive job of watering and fertilizing those young plants so that they can grow to become strong and invasive weeds of possibly violent contention between the different races and socioeconomic classes of America.

These three factors alone and individually could be dealt with and handled by any mature individual, working alone or in partnership with others, but coming together during these desperate times will lead many to lose all degrees of composure and begin to suffer from xenophobia. It will quickly become a recipe for disaster. At this point I am reminded of something that one of my police counterparts from the island country of Japan had once told me.

He had noticed that when we American police officers came across a fight (not an assault but a true mutually agreed upon duel of unarmed combat) in progress, we would, as the macho fools we were, rush in and try to break it up. This would result in more injuries for the combatants and officers alike and more charges would have to be filed to justify police intervention in the whole affair.

He explained that where he worked, if he and his fellow officers came across two persons fighting they would cordon off the area to protect any onlookers and let the couple of imbeciles slug it out. After the two combatants were finished and exhausted then officers would step in and make the necessary arrests for a disturbance of the public peace with very little fuss or muss or injuries to the officers.

Sometimes I have to wonder (occasionally even out loud) if Americans are not being steered to slug it out amongst themselves until everyone is exhausted and then someone can step in take over and start to run everything as they see fit. There is the old adage, "United we stand, divided we fall." Certainly there is the possibility that while everyone's attention is diverted elsewhere, somebody with evil intentions might be sneaking up from behind. They could want us to enter into "Bellum omnium contra omnes" so as to "divide and conquer."

The phrase, "Bellum omnium contra omnes," ("the war of all against all") was coined by the English political philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, to describe what he considered to be the natural state of man without civil society, or what others might call Anarchy. Hobbes considered the institution of government to be legitimate in that it should intercede to prevent this war from happening. Anarchists, such as myself, would suggest that Man can form a good social order through voluntary interactions and exchanges through a free and open market without the intervention of government since the overseers of government are themselves mere, fallible humans and not angels shepherding the Lord's flock.

"The war of all against all" will not be a "just war" and it might just be another "war to end all wars." How ironic that such a war should not be averted by government as Hobbes had hoped but instead foisted upon America by government and those who run it. The basics always bear repeating:

"Si vis pacem, parabellum."

"If you want peace, (be) prepare(d) for war."

Buckle your belt and gird your loins. It's going to be one hell of a ride...


  1. Kudos from a fellow (anarchist) traveler.

    You might also appreciate Prechter's work on what he terms, "Socionomics." He's opined since 1995 (prior to the Great Asset Mania) that when social mood (as measured by the barometer of stock and other asset prices) topped and rolled over, the decline in social mood would be of once-in-two-centuries magnitude, and at least a degree-of-trend larger than that which occurred in the 1917 to 1940's period and accompanied the Great Depression, mass-murderous communist revolutions, two world wars and hundreds of millions of people slaughtered by their own political masters.

    We've had an historic Credit Mania, a drunken orgy of public and private profligacy. The hangover is apt to be bloody indeed.

    1. Thanks for the Kudos. I'll look into Prechter if I can get enough time away from building my "ark."

      Peace be with you and yours...

  2. Thanks once again OGG!
    I love reading your site because it gives me yet another way to look at things, sprinkled in with a dash of humor (typically).
    Keep up the great work (not asking, I'm begging!).

    1. "Keep up the great work (not asking, I'm begging!)."

      Oh great, just what I need, more pressure to perform. My GERD is acting up and my hair is going from grey to white. You whiny beggars are going to be the end of me...;)