Aug 012015
 August 1, 2015  Posted by at 9:54 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Harris&Ewing “Slaves reunion DC. Ages: 100, 104, 103; Rev. Simon P. Drew, born free.” 1921

Time to tackle a topic that’s very hard to get right, and that will get me quite a few pairs of rolling eyes. I want to argue that societies need a social fabric, a social contract, and that without those they must and will fail, descend into chaos. Five months ago, I wrote the following about Europe:

Europe, The Morally Bankrupt Union

The European Union is busy accomplishing something truly extraordinary: it is fast becoming such a spectacular failure that people don’t even recognize it as one.[..] the Grand European Failure is bound to lead to real life consequences soon, and they’ll be devastating. The union that was supposed to put an end to all fighting across the continent, is about to be the fuse that sets off a range of battles. [..]

The carefully re-crafted relationship with Russia, which took 25 years to build, was destroyed again in hardly over a year, something for which Angela Merkel deserves so much blame it may well end up being her main political legacy.

To its south, the EU faces perhaps its most shameful -or should that be ‘shameless’? – problem, because it doesn’t do anything about it: the thousands of migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean to get to Europe but far too often perish in the process. [..]

But the biggest failure is not even in politics outside of its own territory. The union rots from within. Which starts with its moral bankruptcy, obviously. If you allow yourself to be an active accomplice in the death of over 6000 East Ukrainians, and you simply look away as thousands of migrants die in the seas off your shores, it should not be surprising that you just as easily allow for a humanitarian crisis, like the one in Greece, to develop within your own borders. It comes with the territory, so to speak.

And make no mistake: this absence of moral values is something Europe in its present form will never be able to claim back. Never. The EU has shown itself to be a gross moral failure, and that’s it: the experiment is over. They can’t come back in 10 or 20 years and say: now we want it back, we’re different now. You’d need to have a whole new union, new rules and principles, and new leadership. [..]

What will undo Europe from within is its economic policies. Which are strongly linked to the same moral values issue: inside a union, you cannot let thousands of people go without food and health care while others, a few hundred miles away, drive new Mercs and Beamers over a brand new Autobahn. That’s not a union. That’s a feudal society.

Though it may look out of far left field for those of us -and there are many- who think in economic and political terms only, we cannot do without a conscious definition of a social contract. We need to address the role of compassion, morals, even love, in our societies. If Jesus meant anything, it was that.

There have been times through history when this subject would have been much easier to breach, but we today almost seem to think they are irrelevant, that we can do without them. We can’t. But in the US, people get killed at traffic stops every day, and in Europe, they die of sheer negligence. Developments like these will lead to ‘centers that cannot hold’.

In that part of the media whirlwind that we at the Automatic Earth expose ourselves to, virtually all discussions about our modern world, and what goes wrong with it, which is obviously a whole lot, are conducted in rational terms, in financial and political terminology.

But that’s exactly what we should not be doing. Because it’s never going to get us anywhere. In the end, let alone in the beginning too, we are not rational creatures. And if and when we resort to only rational terms to define ourselves, as well as our world and the societies we create in that world, we can only fail.

For a society to succeed, before and beyond any economic and political features are defined, it must be based solidly on moral values, a moral compass, compassion, humanity and simple decency among its members. And those should never be defined by economists or lawyers or politicians, but by the people themselves. A social contract needs to be set up by everyone involved, and with everyone’s consent. Or it won’t last.

How and why that most basic principle got lost should tell us a lot about where we are today, and about how we got here. Morals seem to have become optional. The 40-hour death struggle of Cecil the lion exemplifies that pretty well. And no, his is not some rare case. The lack of morals involved in killing Cecil is our new normal.

In the US, these values seem to have long since disappeared from very substantial segments of society. A closer look would seem to teach us that this is largely because of the top down approach that comes with an oversized government apparatus that seeks to rule over what are today some 320 million people.

There are multiple reasons why such a government can’t work to make a society successful. First, there are far too many people to rule over; the human brain can’t conceive, other than in completely abstract terms, of meaningful human contact, in whatever shape or form, let alone of compassion, between such numbers of people.

The Catholic church, for all its failures, did succeed in binding a society together, and repeating that across many societies, but it never endeavored to gain control of every single political and economic system. Washington does.

Making morals optional necessarily means they will vanish. All strong societies through history had strong and binding social contracts. Less successful ones did not. We, however, have only financial and legal contracts left, no social ones other than those that are almost entirely optional. We ourselves cannot kill people at will, but our governments can. We -apparently- can still kill lions, though.

The second most important reason why the US, and now the EU with it, are destined to fail, is that their structures, which with the numbers of people involved must of necessity become less democratic with time, inevitably slide into selecting for the exact wrong kind of people, as I’ve often argued before.

Societies this size inevitably select for power hungry sociopaths; there is no other option. It’s a process we even see also in smaller scale societies today. With the advent of serious attempts to utilize Freud’s theories for penetrating people’s unconscious minds, picked up by Goebbels and since perfected by secret services, spin doctors and ad agencies, the world has become a whole other place. Even if most haven’t noticed.

The curious thing is that many separate EU nations for many years did have such compassion and humanity. Which these days are often mistaken for socialism. Which in turn, if we may believe the majority of pundits, is about the worst principle a country can pick to build its society on.

In reality, though, most of it has always simply been a matter of precisely that by which we can, should, judge a society’s success and viability: the extent to which it cares for its weakest and most vulnerable.

That in some cases this has perhaps been taken too far, doesn’t change the fact: we still can’t call a society successful that leaves its weakest to starve by the curb. And it doesn’t matter how much distorted Darwinism and Ayn Randism and neo- or ordo-liberalism one may wish to throw at it. A successful society must take care of all of its members to the extent that it can. Simply because man is a social animal.

Still, the principle of compassion seems to have all but vanished with the development of the European Union. And if there’s one main reason why that Union is doomed to fail, it’s that. It’s not the failed economic policies, it’s not even the increasing power politics that doom it: it’s the relentless drive towards a group of individuals seeking the power to manipulate millions of people they never met, with impunity.

The divergence between individual European nations and the Union seated in Brussels is also the source of much of the division between both. Greece doesn’t want to let its people slide into further misery. Brussels couldn’t care less: Athens has to stick to rules and regulations no matter how many of its children go hungry or how many of its elderly pass away from entirely preventable afflictions.

It’s right there, in that division, that the EU is blowing up itself. You can’t have a viable political or economic union if you don’t take care of the weakest. Thing is, once you got the sociopaths in charge, the inevitability of the process of losing and eroding a social contract gets ignored. Unless and until the people in the streets pick it up again.

No, the biggest issue in Europe is not whether the Union moves toward even closer ties. The biggest issue is that the Union is morally deficient in its core.

Ironically, it’s the Greek people who understand much better than the Dutch and Germans that “without love, it ain’t much”. And they are labeled a less developed society for it. While the less fortunate in Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam continue to receive relatively generous welfare and other benefits, certainly compared to their Greek peers. A two-tier union is not some future concept, it’s here.

And it’s not just Greece. The embarrassing situation with the refugees at Calais is due to the exact same moral quicksand. David Cameron is going to send “dogs and fences”. He’s going to send in dogs to ‘fight’ against people! We’ve seen that kind of thing before. And the military can’t be far behind.

It’s the only answer a certain class of people manage to come up with. After they’ve ignored and tried to wish away an issue they should long have tackled. It’s only when British tourists and truck drivers start complaining that Cameron ‘acts’. The refugees have been at Calais for a long time, during which no. 10 did nothing at all.

Just as disgraceful is the influx of African and Asian refugees on Greek islands that Brussels refuses to do anything about. The Greek population try to do what they can, as do the Italians. But their budgets are all in EU hands now, and Brussels doesn’t care. The EU’s only response is force, not compassion or moral values.

There are mass migrations going on in many parts of the world. They are the inevitable result of the means of mass transportation and mass communication we developed. We have two options: either we facilitate for the inclusion of the refugees in our societies, or we actively help develop their homelands. If we don’t, they will still keep coming, and things will get ugly.

Whichever choice we make, we need to do it in a spirit of humanity. We can’t turn our back on these people, not the Greeks, not the refugees, that can only come back to haunt us. And besides, we don’t have the -moral- right. In the meantime, don’t let’s forget that the number of refugees in Calais pales in comparison to the numbers that land in Greece on a daily basis.

The governments that represent us put us to shame as human beings. But in the end it’s us, ourselves, who allow them to do it.

It may be strange to see a finance site argue that letting finance set society’s values is a dead end, but at the same time we all know what’s involved, we just choose to be blind to it. Man cannot live by money alone, just as he cannot live by bread alone. We are not Christian, but we do remember this:

Matthew 4-4: “But he answered and said, “It is written: ‘A man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ “

Again, this is not optional. We can either get this right, or we’ll descend into chaos. Something many of our ‘leaders’ would not only welcome, but are actively instigating. It’s up to us, and that means you too, to keep them from doing it.

Take a look at the black kids getting killed in the US, look at the Greek children and grandmas who don’t have medicine or food, look at the refugees that are part of today’s mass migration, and who get dogs send in against them, look at all the areas in the world where our -western- interference has caused mass misery for profit, and if you still don’t get it, take a look at Cecil, and what his death symbolizes about our societies and values.

Societies which we are all part of, and values we should share in order to maintain our societies as going concerns. We may well have just one last chance to get it right. But that chance is fading as fast as our penchant for compassion. The lunatics have truly taken over.

Home Forums Power and Compassion

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    Harris&Ewing “Slaves reunion DC. Ages: 100, 104, 103; Rev. Simon P. Drew, born free.” 1921 Time to tackle a topic that’s very hard to get right, and t
    [See the full post at: Power and Compassion]


    As Doug Noland in his Credit Bubble Bulletin noted yesterday, “In a tiny subsection of the analytical world, analysis is becoming more pointed and poignant.”

    It bears noting that while the devolution and decay of our highly centralized and energy dependent world progresses, along the lines that Nicole and others understand they must, the ways that this will play out on social, cultural/political level can’t be predicted exactly. It should go without saying however that the events in Europe are not surprising to us but simply revealing. Revealing how as the pie gets smaller the losers will be selected or assigned their roles. How things are playing out on the social cultural/political level.

    Hat’s off to Raul for his tiny efforts in Greece but they amount to a finger in the dyke or maybe a teaspoon in the ocean of what is to come. We all must become Don Quixote’s in our own way and understand that we are simply that. Individuals doing little things against forces too large to change or alter. (Admittedly I do little or nothing at all now)

    In addition to Noland’s “pointed and poignant” I think tragic should be added.


    Thank you, Ilargi, for your kind words.



    Another one hit out of the ballpark. Funny how Cecil’s demise has gotten people riled up.

    V. Arnold

    Time to tackle a topic that’s very hard to get right, and that will get me quite a few pairs of rolling eyes. I want to argue that societies need a social fabric, a social contract, and that without those they must and will fail, descend into chaos. Ilargi

    That picture says it all, no?
    Cheers and kudos for going after this truth.
    The U.S. is a failed experiment from which no meaningful lessons will be/have been learned.
    That it failed is not as important as the lessons not learned and thusly not applied; alas, it is now too late and the detritus following is toxic and deadly…

    Charles Alban

    This is the Kali Yuga…the age of discontent and quarrel. It’s all part of a grand cosmic plan that will take the next 400,000 years to play out. It’s all predicted in the Vedas. The Vedas describe a means to perfectly order society known as “varn-ashram.” If we had any sense we would study these ancient texts. Maybe when things get really desparate somebody will realize we had the answers all along. We just have too much pride and hubris to think we can learn from 5000-year-old wisdom.


    My forefathers were … “Individuals doing little things” …
    Therefore, I’m not a refuge
    Therefore, I’m not a big game hunter
    Therefore, I’m here
    It wasn’t luck
    It was subconscious loooong term survival planning
    I’m trying to find survival options for the end of fossil fuel in 100 years.
    Best option, don’t have descendants

    Chris M


    It is interesting that you bring up a passage in Scripture. In the Dark Ages, bibles were only kept by popes, bishops, and priests, and they tended not to even read them. With the Reformation, bibles were distributed to the common people, such that they could, for themselves, read what God had to say. After that came the Renaissance. I have thought many times that we are into another Dark Age, and falling deeper into it. The ironic thing is that we have more bibles in the hands of the common people than ever before. The problem is that few actually read them, or they attempt not to discern what the passages actually say. Matthew 4:4 is a relevant passage. Here are a couple more:

    Matthew 6:24. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

    Luke 20:46-47. (Here Jesus admonishes the religious leaders of that day.) “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

    Jesus didn’t mince words.


    One of the links Ilargi posted says that the majority of the “refugees” are from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea. One of the commenters said: “They are not refugees. They are young, overwhelmingly male, economic migrants.” Take a look at the picture of Calais at the link on the article by Patrick Kingsley of the Guardian (where are the families, the children?):

    I was reading about Eritrea:

    “The real GDP (2009 est.): $4.4 billion, and the annual growth rate (2011 est.):14%. However, worker remittances from abroad are estimated to account for 32 percent of gross domestic product. Eritrea has an extensive amount of resources such as copper, gold, granite, marble, and potash. The Eritrean economy has undergone extreme changes due to the War of Independence. In 2011, Eritrea’s GDP grew by 8.7 percent making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Eritrea’s population increased from 3.2 million to 6.4 million between 1990 and 2014.”

    32% of Eritrea’s GDP is from worker remittances from abroad. In twenty-four years, the population has doubled! Approximately 50% of the population is Muslim/50% Christian.

    “All Eritreans between the ages of 18–40 must complete a mandatory national service, which includes military service. This national service was implemented after Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia, as a precautionary means to be protected against any threats on Eritrea’s sovereignty, to instill national pride, and to create a disciplined populace. Eritrea’s national service requires lengthy, indefinite conscription periods, which some Eritreans leave the country in order to avoid.” The country was at war with Ethiopia from 1998 to 2001 over a border dispute, but that has since ended. In fact, the following article (“What’s Behind the Surge in Refugees Crossing the Mediterranean Sea”) says: “Eritreans overwhelmingly cite military conscription as their reason for leaving home.” In fact, during the first four months of 2015, 26,000 Africans (mainly young men) made the journey to Europe, and that is just the beginning.

    There is no civil war in Eritrea. They are slightly larger than Iceland (population of 329,000) as far as square miles, and yet have a population of 6.4 million people. These are “economic” immigrants. The Syrians are predominantly staying in Turkey (2 million of them) and few are making the journey to Europe, perhaps because they lack the fees to pay the smugglers. These are the true refugees.

    So Patrick Kingsley (at the top link) says that Europe, with a population of 740 million, should easily be able to handle a million people. Patrick, why would it ever just stop at a million? What are you going to do when the numbers increase to 10 million, 20, 30?

    The West is trying to overthrow Syria’s government (and arming terrible people in order to carry out their wishes), and because of that innocent citizens are killed or forced from their homes. Pressure should be put squarely on the shoulders of the U.S. government (and their NATO puppets) to stop their senseless wars. We should be on the phone to our government representatives, but instead we just put our hands in our pockets and say, “Gee, what’ll we do with the refugees?” Meanwhile, their country is destroyed, and for what?



    As a great teacher recently noted: at first meditate on compassion. Then meditate on compassion. In conclusion, meditate on compassion. Then ACT WITH COMPASSION.

    It really IS that simple

    Thank you, Raul!

    L T King

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