October 29th, 2012

Self Sufficiency: A Local Solution To A Global Problem


OffGridFarm

This article was written by Tony Cartalucci and originally published at Land Destroyer Report

When thinking about “solutions” many are quick to cite organizing a protest and taking to the streets. Let’s for a moment consider the mechanics of a protest, what it might accomplish, and what it may leave to be desired.

Take Glenn Beck’s disingenuous 2010 “Restoring Honor” event in Washington D.C. It drew thousands of honest, well-intentioned people from all over the United States.

Indeed, thousands of people filled up their Fortune 500 made cars with gas from Fortune 500 oil companies, drove countless miles, stopping along the way at Fortune 500 fast food restaurants, stayed at Fortune 500 run hotels, and stocked up on supplies purchased at Fortune 500 Walmart. They slaked their thirst under the hot August sun with cans of Fortune 500 Pepsi and Coke, and at the end of the day, they drove home, paid their Fortune 500 cable subscriptions to watch their Fortune 500 media reports, most likely on News Corporation’s Fox News, a Council on Foreign Relations corporate member.

At best, all a protest will lead to, while we are so hopelessly dependent on this system, is a round of musical chairs inside the political arena, with perhaps superficial concessions made to the people. The vector sum, however, will still be decidedly in favor of the global corporate-financier oligarchy.

If we understand that the fundamental problem facing not only America, but the entire world, is a global corporate-financier oligarchy that has criminally consolidated their wealth by “liberalizing” their own activities while strangling ours through regulations, taxes, and laws, we should then understand why events like Beck’s “Restoring Honor” are not only fruitless, but in fact, counterproductive. We should also realize that any activity we commit ourselves to must be directed at this corporate-financier oligarchy rather than the governments they have co-opted and positioned as buffers between themselves and the masses.

While people understand something is wrong and recognize the necessity to do “something,” figuring out what that “something” is becomes incredibly difficult when so few understand how power really works and how to strip it from the oligarchs that have criminally consolidated it.

Understanding Globalization

As of late, the expansion of this global oligarchical empire has taken a more extreme, perhaps desperate form involving staged revolutions as seen in Egypt and Tunisia, and in Libya’s case, armed rebellion and foreign military intervention. However, worldwide coups d’etat have occurred before – for example, in the late 1990s under the guise of a “financial collapse” and IMF “restructuring.”

Many nations fell beholden to the IMF and its regiment of “reforms” which amounted to neo-colonialism packaged under the euphemism of “economic liberalization.” To illustrate how this works, it may help to understand what real colonialism looked like.

Image: Thailand’s geopolitical surroundings 1800-1900. Thailand was the only Southeast Asian country to avoid European colonization.

Thailand in the 1800s, then the Kingdom of Siam, was surrounded on all sides by colonized nations and in turn was made to concede to the British 1855 Bowring Treaty. See how many of these “gunboat policy” imposed concessions sound like today’s “economic liberalization:”

1. Siam granted extraterritoriality to British subjects.
2. British could trade freely in all seaports and reside permanently in Bangkok.
3. British could buy and rent property in Bangkok.
4. British subjects could travel freely in the interior with passes provided by the consul.
5. Import and export duties were capped at 3%, except the duty-free opium and bullion.
6. British merchants were to be allowed to buy and sell directly with individual Siamese.

A more contemporary example for comparison would be the outright military conquest of Iraq and Paul Bremer’s (CFR) economic reformation. The Economist gleefully enumerates the neo-colonial “economic liberalization” of Iraq in a piece titled “Let’s all go to the yard sale: If it all works out, Iraq will be a capitalist’s dream:”

1. 100% ownership of Iraqi assets.
2. Full repatriation of profits.
3. Equal legal standing with local firms.
4. Foreign banks allowed to operate or buy into local banks.
5. Income and corporate taxes capped at 15%.
6. Universal tariffs slashed to 5%.

And few could argue that the IMF’s rehabilitation regiments being forced upon nations all over the world after the late ’90s financial crash are any different than economic colonialism both past and present. In fact, the IMF itself publishes reports at great length concerning the “necessity” of economic liberalization.

To be sure, the governments that come to power in the wake of the current Middle East destabilizations will be more servile and will undoubtedly be committed to similar economic liberalization. Brookings Institution’s Kenneth Pollack already made it quite clear that:

The struggle in the new Middle East must be defined as one between nations that are moving in the right direction and nations that are not; between those that are embracing economic liberalization, educational reform, democracy, the rule of law and civil liberties, and those that are not.

Siam eventually rolled back the terms of the 1855 Bowring Treaty as the British Empire waned, but as of 1997, Thailand was once again faced with similar terms, dictated this time by the bankers of the IMF.

Thailand’s Answer to Globalization

Thailand’s answer to the IMF, and globalization in general was profound in both implications as well as in its understanding of globalization’s end game. Fiercely independent and nationalistic, and being the only nation in Southeast Asia to avoid colonization, Thailand’s sovereignty has been protected for over 800 years by its revered monarchy. The current dynasty, the House of Chakri, has reigned nearly as long as America has existed as a nation and the current king is regarded as the equivalent of a living “Founding Father.” And just as it has for 800 years, the Thai Monarchy today provides the most provocative and meaningful answer to the threats facing the Kingdom.

The answer of course is self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency as a nation, as a province, as a community and as a household. This concept is enshrined in the Thai King’s “New Theory” or “self-sufficiency economy” and mirrors similar efforts found throughout the world to break the back of the oppression and exploitation that results from dependence on an interdependent globalized system.

Image: A vision of self-sufficiency in Thailand. Agrarian values and the self-reliance they engender are the hallmarks of real freedom.

The foundation of the self-sufficiency economy is simply growing your own garden and providing yourself with your own food. This is portrayed on the back right-hand side of every 1,000 baht Thai banknote as a picture of a woman tending her garden. The next step is producing surplus that can be traded for income, which in turn can be used to purchase technology to further enhance your ability to sustain yourself and improve your lifestyle.

Image: The Thai 1000 baht banknote. Left is one of the many dams controlling floods and producing electricity throughout the Kingdom. Center is the current King of Thailand. Right is a depiction of a local garden providing food in a self-sufficient manner.

The New Theory aims at preserving traditional agrarian values in the hands of the people. It also aims at preventing a migration from the countryside into the cities. Preventing such migrations would prevent big agricultural cartels from moving in, swallowing up farming land, corrupting and even jeopardizing entire national food supplies (see Monsanto). Those familiar with the UN’s Agenda 21, and the more recent UN “Climate Change Program,” may understand the deeper implications and dangers of such a migration and why it needs to be stopped.

By moving to the city, people give up private property, cease pursuing productive occupations, and end up being folded into a consumerist paradigm. Within such a paradigm, problems like overpopulation, pollution, crime, and economic crises can only be handled by a centralized government and generally yield political solutions such as quotas, taxes, micromanagement, and regulations rather than meaningful technical solutions.

Also, such problems inevitably lead to a centralized government increasing its own power, always at the expense of the people and their freedom. The effects of economic catastrophe are also greater in a centralized, interdependent society, where everyone is subject to the overall health of the economy for even simple necessities like food, water, and electricity.

Image: A slide presenting the “New Theory” depicting a manifestation of greed leading the people from their rural private property and into a “city of extravagance.” If Agenda 21 had an illustrated cover, this could be it.
Image: The goal of the “New Theory” is to have people return to the countryside from the cities and develop their communities in a self-reliant manner. It is, in other words, Agenda 21 in reverse.

Under the “New Theory,” demonstration stations all across Thailand have been created promoting education in matters of agriculture and self-sufficient living. The program is competing against the contemporary globalization system, which as of now, is mired in many parts of the world with economic meltdown. The relatively self-sufficient nature of Thais in general has weathered this economic chaos fairly well. In 10 years, a plate of food still costs the same amount of money, as do many everyday commodities. This only further vindicates the value of being self-sufficient and now more than ever, in both Thailand, and abroad, it is a good time to get involved and get self-sufficient.

The West Strikes Back

Of course the head-of-state of a nation almost 70 million strong promoting a lifestyle that cuts the legs out from under the Western corporate-financier agenda does not sit well with the oligarchical establishment. Their response to this, as it has been with all of Thailand’s habitual displays of defiance is something to behold.

Perhaps the most vocal Western corporate-financier critic of Thailand is the Economist. It openly criticizes the King’s self-sufficiency economy in an article titled “Rebranding Thaksinomics.” It states that the economic plan is “a partial retreat from Thailand’s hitherto liberal economic stance.” The Economist muddles the debate by side-stepping the self-sufficient aspects of the”self-sufficiency economy.” It claims that socialist handouts under deposed Prime Minister and documented Western proxy Thaksin Shinawatra somehow accomplished the exact same goals. The Economist also claims the concept of self-sufficiency is merely a “rebranding” of such socialist handouts.

The Economist article then breaks down into a pro-Thaksin rant, decrying his ousting from power and continued claims that somehow encouraging people to grow their own food is a theft of Thaksin’s socialist/populist policies.

It should be noted that permanent socialism is not self-sufficiency. It is complete dependency on the state and on people who pay their ever increasing taxes. Socialism is not about growing your own garden, using technology to enhance your independence or solving your problems with your own resources. It is about taking from the collective storehouses of the state, and when you are again hungry, taking again. Socialism could only be very useful as a stop-gap measure between current problems and the active pursuit of permanent technical solutions. However, the goal of globalization is to create interdependency between states, and total dependency on global institutions, therefore, perpetuating problems, not solving them becomes the equation.

Another Western pro-corporate-financier point-of-view comes from Australia’s National University’s “New Mandala” blog written by academic wonk Andrew Walker. The blog itself is a clearinghouse for corporate subsidized talking points regarding Southeast Asia and is tied to the corporate-financier funded Lowy Institute. Some “contributing writers” even include Thaksin Shinawatra’s hired lobbyist, Robert Amsterdam.

Walker’s entire perception of Thailand seems to be derived from his time spent in a single village in Northern Thailand.

From his myopic point-of-view in the minute village of “Baan Tian,” he condemns entirely Thailand’s self-sufficiency economy in his article “Royal misrepresentation of rural livelihoods.” He suggests that “the sufficiency economy prescriptions for rural development are inappropriate and disempowering.”

As with the Economist, the article breaks down into a pro-Thaksin rant claiming the entire plan is meant to keep the rural population of Thailand in their place, out of the cities, and thus out of the debate of national issues.

Of course, becoming self-sufficient is one step on the road to real empowerment. Academic wonks like Andrew Walker presume the height of empowerment is feeding a paper voting stub into a box, on your way home from a service sector job, and then relaxing behind the glow of a new plasma screen TV bought on credit. A more likely argument would be that sustaining your own existence, wrought from the land beneath your feet, and the ability to shape the world around you with an understanding of science and the mastery of multiple trades is the height of empowerment and the truest form of human freedom.

The hand wringing within the writings of the Economist and ANU’s Andrew Walker is not the full extent of the West’s reaction to Thailand and its wandering from foreign dominion. A full fledged “red” color revolution has been brewing within the Kingdom since at least 2009. Reading the “Red Siam Manifesto” penned by “red shirt” intelligentsia Giles Ungpakorn makes it quite clear how they view “self-sufficiency” and the need to “reform” Thailand as a “socialist welfare state.”

Ungpakorn’s childish and ranting manifesto can be found on “Socialist Worker Online” here. A complete selection of the “red shirt” propaganda used within Thailand can be found here.

It should be noted that the leader of the “red shirt” protest is deposed ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra. Long before Thaksin Shinwatra would become prime minister in Thailand, he was already working his way up the Wall Street-London ladder of opportunity, while simultaneously working his way up in Thai politics. He was appointed by the Carlyle Group as an adviser, while holding public office, and attempted to use his connections to boost his political image. Thanong Khanthong of Thailand’s English newspaper “the Nation,” wrote in 2001:

In April 1998, while Thailand was still mired in a deep economic morass, Thaksin tried to use his American connections to boost his political image just as he was forming his Thai Rak Thai Party. He invited Bush senior to visit Bangkok and his home, saying his own mission was to act as a ‘national matchmaker’ between the US equity fund and Thai businesses. In March, he also played host to James Baker III, the US secretary of state in the senior Bush administration, on his sojourn in Thailand.

Upon becoming prime minister in 2001, Thaksin would begin paying back the support he received from his Western sponsors. In 2003, he would commit Thai troops to the US invasion of Iraq, despite widespread protests from both the Thai military and the public. Thaksin would also allow the CIA to use Thailand for its abhorrent rendition program.

In 2004, Thaksin attempted to ramrod through a US-Thailand Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) without parliamentary approval, backed by the US-ASEAN Business Council who just before last year’s 2011elections that saw Thaksin’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra brought into power, hosted the leaders of Thaksin’s “red shirt” personality cult.

Image (click to enlarge): The US-ASEAN Business Council, a who’s-who of corporate fascism in the US, had been approached by leaders of Thaksin Shinawatra’s “red shirt” street mobs. (click image to enlarge)

The council in 2004 included 3M, war profiteering Bechtel, Boeing, Cargill, Citigroup, General Electric, IBM, the notorious Monsanto, and currently also includes banking houses Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Chevron, Exxon, BP, Glaxo Smith Kline, Merck, Northrop Grumman, Monsanto’s GMO doppelganger Syngenta, as well as Phillip Morris.

Photo: Deposed autocrat, Thaksin Shinawatra before the CFR on the even of the 2006 military coup that would oust him from power. Since 2006 he has had the full, unflinching support of Washington, Wall Street and their immense propaganda machine in his bid to seize back power.

Thaksin would remain in office from 2001 until September of 2006. On the eve of the military coup that ousted him from power, Thaksin was literally standing before the Fortune 500-funded Council on Foreign Relations giving a progress report in New York City.

Since the 2006 coup that toppled his regime, Thaksin has been represented by US corporate-financier elites via their lobbying firms including, Kenneth Adelman of the Edelman PR firm (Freedom House, International Crisis Group, PNAC), James Baker of Baker Botts (CFR), Robert Blackwill of Barbour Griffith & Rogers (CFR), Kobre & Kim, and currently Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Peroff (Chatham House).

To say that Thaksin Shinawatra and his “red shirts” have foreign backing would be a profound understatement.

Thaksin’s proxy political party maintains the “red shirt” mobs which in turn are supported by several NGOs including the National Endowment for Democracy funded “Prachatai,” an “independent media organization” that coordinates the “red shirt” propaganda efforts. Prachatai was recently nominated for the Deutsche Welle Blog Awards by the “Neo-Con” infested Freedom House, upon which former Thaksin lobbyist Kenneth Adelman sits as a member on the board of directors.

Image: US Neo-Conservative, corporate-financier run Freedom House “tweets” their March 11, 2011 nomination of NEDfunded “red shirt” propaganda clearinghouse, Prachatai.com.

Western corporate-financier interests know what’s going on already and they are moving against it while the majority of humanity still sleeps in ignorance and apathy. Thailand is but one nation of many, in China’s “String of Pearls” that is targeted for destabilization and US State Department sponsored “liberation.”

The key to stopping these foreign interests dead in their tracks is seizing back from them the mechanisms of civilization – and we have done that already in terms of the alternative media. Such success is necessary in all aspects of our life, and as the King in Thailand suggests, it can start with something as simple as growing your own garden.

Today and Into the Future

Of course in Thailand, agricultural self-sufficiency is coupled with technology to enhance efficiency and improve the quality of life. Even in the city, small independent businesses are adopting the latest technology to improve their production, increase their profits, and even out-compete larger corporations. Computer controlled machining equipment can be found in small workshops crammed into old shop-houses, automatic embroidering machines allow a single woman to fulfill orders for name tags on new school uniforms – rather than both businesses sending off orders to factories owned by a handful of wealthy investors. A multitude of examples can be seen walking around any city block in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok.

Image: MIT’s Dr. Neil Gershenfeld inside his “Fab Lab,” arguably the birthplace of the personal fabrication revolution.

Bringing this sort of technology to rural people, even enabling people to create their own technology rather than just employ it, is not just science fiction but is a reality of today. MIT Professor Dr. Neil Gershenfeld has developed the “fabrication laboratory” or “Fab Lab.” The Fab Lab is a microfactory that can “make almost anything.” His Fab Lab has since been replicated all over the world in what he calls the personal fabrication revolution. It aims at turning a world of dependent consumers into independent designers and producers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5n-APFrlXDs

Video: Dr. Neil Gershenfeld presents his Fab Lab at TED.

Dr. Gershenfeld in his own words articulates the problem of finding support amongst institutions and governments, stating that individuals are very enthusiastic about this revolution “but it breaks their organizational boundaries. In fact it is illegal for them, in many cases, to equip ordinary people to create rather than consume technology.”

This indeed not only encapsulates Dr. Gershenfeld’s dilemma, but describes to a “t” the mentality of oligarchs and the fears they harbor about empowering the people, a fear reflected in the “organizational boundaries” of their corporations and governmental institutions. This is a feature of oligarchy described as early as 300 B.C. in ancient Greece in “The Athenian Constitution.” In it, a character referred to as “the Old Oligarch” describes his contempt for the social mobility the technology of the Athenian navy affords the lower echelons of Athenian society.

Dr. Gershenfeld goes on to encapsulate the true potential of his Fab Labs by stating, “the other 5 billion people on the planet aren’t just technical “sinks,” they are “sources.” The real opportunity is to harness the inventive power of the world to locally design and produce solutions to local problems.” Dr. Gershenfeld concludes by conceding he thought such a possibility was 20 years off, but “it’s where we are today,” noting the success his Fab Labs are already having around the world.

Image: The interior of a “Fab Lab” in Amsterdam, featuring a array of personal manufacturing technology.

Dr. Gershenfeld’s message resonates with the current culture of Thailand and the ambitions of the “self-sufficiency economy.” In many ways, Thailand’s patchwork of micro-businesses, already successfully by-passing capital intensive centralized production, vindicates the work and optimism of Dr. Gershenfeld. It also, however, resonates strongly with the self-reliant traditions that had made America great. The technical possibility for this to change the world is already a reality, but Dr. Gershenfeld himself concedes that the biggest obstacle is overcoming social engineering – in other words – creating a paradigm shift in the minds of the population to meet the technical paradigm shift that has already taken place.

Self-sufficiency and the harnessing of technology in the hands of the people are the greatest fears of the corporate-financier oligarchy – fears that oligarchs throughout the centuries have harbored. Simply boycotting multinational corporations and replacing them with local solutions is something everyone can afford to do starting today. And by simply looking into Dr. Neil Gershenfeld’s “Fab Lab,” similar ideas such as “hackerspaces,” raising awareness of the personal fabrication revolution, and even in the smallest way participating can help overcome the obstacle of social-engineering and spur a profound paradigm shift. We have begun to seize back the media, now it is time to seize back the other levers of power. Now is the time to recognize true freedom as being self-sufficient as a nation, as a community, and as a household, and start living it everyday.




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16 Responses to “Self Sufficiency: A Local Solution To A Global Problem”

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  1. 1
    Austrian Economics is Color Blind Says:

    Brandon,

    I had you pegged as a Greenbacker, back in January, didn’t I?

    If you’ll remember, I accused you of the following:

    Brandon Smith: Decentralization Is The Only Plausible Economic Solution Left
    http://oathkeepers.org/oath/?p=9165#comment-54806

    -Begin excerpt-

    The seeming prevailing theme of Alt-Market.com … is the promotion of a largely agrarian economy.

    An agrarian economy, or more generally, a “self-sufficient” lifestyle, is necessarily a lifestyle of poverty. I hope to disuade you from this goal.

    This article [an article to which I linked in the original comment] talks a lot about Greenbackers. I bring it up because two primary positions of Greenbackers are the preference for an agrarian economy and the belief in a nationally managed currency. I suspect that you’re a Greenbacker.

    -End excerpt-

    To which you responded with:

    http://oathkeepers.org/oath/?p=9165#comment-55080

    -Begin excerpt-

    You also misinterpret the mission of Alt-Market. We are not a “Agrarian” project out to reverse industrialization. You seem to be assuming that industrial competitiveness demands centralization. If this is what you believe, then I humbly disagree. Decentralization of production into micro-industry is a much more effective model for economic survival, because it allows each minor economy to adapt to its own unique environment and circumstances, instead of conforming to a “one size fits all” model that does not function correctly, like globalization.

    -End excerpt-

    But in this article, you advocate the agrarianism you previously claimed to reject:

    -Begin excerpt-

    The answer of course is self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency as a nation, as a province, as a community and as a household. This concept is enshrined in the Thai King’s “New Theory” or “self-sufficiency economy” and mirrors similar efforts found throughout the world to break the back of the oppression and exploitation that results from dependence on an interdependent globalized system.

    The foundation of the self-sufficiency economy is simply growing your own garden and providing yourself with your own food.

    The New Theory aims at preserving traditional agrarian values in the hands of the people.

    -End excerpt-

    And this agrarian belief of yours IS IN FACT socialist, whether or not you can find corporatists who oppose agrarianism on the grounds that it keeps them from using a nation’s government to establish a state-enforced monopoly.

    The reason I say it’s socialist is not because you advocate the abolition of private property (You don’t.), but because the reasons you offer for local agrarian economies is the same reason offered by the Marxists in favor of the abolition of private property – namely, that concentration of capital reduces people to earning so-called “slave wages”, as was supposedly evidenced in the enclosure movement.

    And this is your view of things; You said:

    -Begin excerpt-

    The New Theory … aims at preventing a migration from the countryside into the cities. Preventing such migrations would prevent big agricultural cartels from moving in, swallowing up farming land, corrupting and even jeopardizing entire national food supplies (see Monsanto).

    By moving to the city, people give up private property, cease pursuing productive occupations, and end up being folded into a consumerist paradigm. Within such a paradigm, problems like overpopulation, pollution, crime, and economic crises can only be handled by a centralized government and generally yield political solutions such as quotas, taxes, micromanagement, and regulations rather than meaningful technical solutions.

    Also, such problems inevitably lead to a centralized government increasing its own power, always at the expense of the people and their freedom.

    -End excerpt-

    I’ll address, in a bit, your belief about some of the specific negative consequences you think result from moving into the city and supposedly giving up private property; But before that I want to say that the belief that moving into the city to take industrial jobs because capital concentration has made such jobs more profitable than agrarianism is based on misinformation about the enclosure movement.

    Tom Woods notes:

    Propaganda, Meet Modern Research
    http://www.tomwoods.com/blog/anti-capitalist-propaganda-meet-modern-research/

    -Begin excerpt-

    Ferrara, as I feared, has embarrassed himself by simply adopting the fact-free distributist interpretation of enclosures: the wicked capitalists brought about the privatization of the commons, and this led to a reduction in the number of people who could be profitably engaged in agriculture. These poor displaced souls, in turn, had no choice but to work in the factories.

    This was a central socialist theme: the people must not be viewed as having chosen to abandon the land for the factory, having made a rational assessment of what was best for them. They must have been tricked or forced into it. So Ferrara is not alone in this portrayal; it is how nearly all social-democratic historians, until the weight of the evidence began to overwhelm them, tried to portray matters. T.S. Ashton, the great historian of the Industrial Revolution, rejected this argument, and with some amusement quoted another historian as saying that the relatively high wages (by contemporary standards) of the factories had “driven” the people from the land, as if this were something sinister.

    Whether the process of enclosure satisfies libertarian standards of justice is not the issue before us here, although much injustice is probably concealed beneath many modern scholars’ assurances that the process (which, although it sought substantial consensus, stopped short of unanimity) made agriculture more efficient. [A common estimate makes English agriculture 50 to 100 percent more productive as a result of enclosures.] The question, rather, is whether the process was responsible for systematic dispossession, the depopulation of the countryside, or rural poverty. It caused none of these outcomes.

    -End excerpt-

    You share the same basic economic view as the Socialists. In fact, your brand of national (or localized) agrarianism is a form of National Socialism (Nazism).

    Except the Socialists are more consistent.

    The Socialists understand that IF the concentration of capital necessarily impoverishes others to so-called “slave wages”, and IF people are free to trade with one another that it will naturally result in concentration of capital to some degree (as well as global trade), THEN it follows that private property must be abolished to keep people from concetrating capital.

    But to address some of the supposed ills of capital concentration, as such:

    Agriculture becomes LESS productive as capital per capita increases (in a free market), as is evidenced by their willingness to use the state to impose fiat money and price controls on industrial workers:

    The Great Depression, World War II, and American Prosperity – Part 1 [Lecture 5] by Thomas Woods
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vW5yvuyhVyI#t=26m09s

    Consumerism is the result of being wealthy – there’s nothing wrong with that. Subsistence living is WORSE than being wealthy.

    And it’s not a sufficient response to say that you can trade your excess with others in an agrarian economy, because then you have unwittingly proven my point, in that trading with others is NOT self-sufficiency.

    Yes, I understand that you advocate a localized agrarian economy as opposed to absolute self-sufficiency, but then you have just granted the premise on which the global division of labor (without state coercion or privileges) is based.

    Walter Block argues this point, well (Warning: Long excerpt):

    Defending the Undefendable (Chapter 23: The Importer) by Walter Block
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTT_WHyzZ54

    -Begin excerpt-

    [01:49] The premise which justifies protectionism at the national level also justifies it at the state level.

    [02:14] Theoretically, any one state could justify its policy in exactly the same way that a nation can. For example, the state of Montana could bar imnports from other states on the grounds that they represent labor which a Montanan could have been given, but was not. A “Buy Montana” program would then be in order. It would be just as illogical and unsound as the ILGWU’s “Buy American” campaign.

    The argument, however, does not end at the state level. It can, with equal justification, be applied to cities.

    [03:35] But there is no logical reason to halt the process at the city level. The ILGWU thesis can be logically extended to neighborhoods in Billings, or to streets within neighborhoods.

    [03:57] Likewise, the inhabitants of any one block on Elm Street could turn on their neighbors on another block along the street.

    And even there the argument would not stop. We would have to conclude that it applies even to individuals. For, clearly, every time an individual makes a purchase, he is foregoing the manufacture of it, himself.

    Every time he buys shoes, a pair of pants, a baseball glove, or a flag, he is creating employment opportunities for someone else, and thereby foreclosing those of his own.

    [04:34] Thus, the internal logic of the ILGWU’s protectionist argument leads to an insistence upon absolute self-sufficiency, to a total economic interest in foregoing trade with all other people, and self-manufacture of all items necessary for well-being.

    Clearly, such a view is absurd. The entire fabric of civilization rests upon mutual support, cooperation, and trade between people. To advocate the cessation of all trade is nonsense; And yet it follows, inelectably, from the protectionist position.

    If the argument for the prohibition of trade at the national level is accepted, there is no logical stopping place at the level of the state, the city, the neigborhood, the street, or the block. The only stopping place is the individual, because the individual is the smallest possible unit.

    -End excerpt-

    His point is that if one is going to decry the global division of labor because it makes us dependent, then consistency demands that that principle be applied even down to the level of individuals.

    It’s one thing to say that state enforced corporatism violates national sovereignty; But it’s quite another thing to say that the size of the business that is the source of so-called “neo colonialism” (another Socialist term designed to attack the free market).

    This post is getting long, so let me wrap this up by saying that it’s not the bigness of business, or some natural result of the free market, that results in corporatism, imperialism, the boom and bust cycle, economic crashes, the exporting of our inflation onto other countries, big government, etc.

    Socialist policies – ESPECIALLY that of the central planning of the money supply – are the source of all of these things. Please consider the following links:

    War and the Fed | Lew Rockwell
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl9lS5k7H5M

    Anti-Trust and Monopoly (with Ron Paul)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C4gRRk2i-M

    The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, Lecture 8 | Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
    Myths and Facts About Big Business
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGeA1Sbd4XM

    How Cronyism is Hurting the Economy
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSgUENZ9O94

    -Begin excerpt-

    [00:50] The power to “regulate the economy” is the same thing as the power to “distribute favors”.

    -End excerpt-

    Or, as Mussolini said: “Our path would lead inexorably into state capitalism, which is nothing more nor less than state socialism turned on its head. In either event, the result is the bureaucratization of the economic activities of the nation.”

  2. 2
    Austrian Economics is Color Blind Says:

    Let me quickly add that when proponents of Agenda 21 speak of “Sustainable Development”, that’s the same thing as your “Self Sufficiency” model.

    That’s what they’re advocating. It’s the same thing.

    And it actually leads to LESS wealth, as well as [more] totalitarianism.

  3. 3
    Brandon Smith Says:

    @Austrian

    That was quite a long and blathering post, so I’ll try to respond to the primary false assumptions you have presented here:

    1. Firstly, I did not write this article, though I do find much of the author’s points interesting. If you believe the author of this article to be a socialist, then you should respond to HIM, not me. It’s only common sense.

    2. You are attempting to assert your own personal labels to the theories the author presents, as well as my own. Why are you so desperate to pigeonhole our positions? In that endless diatribe I did not really find a point at which you actually state YOUR solution to the economic crisis, and how it supposedly differs from mine. If you are going to disagree, then you should at least have the decency to offer your own counter-position.

    3. You claim that Self Sufficiency is essentially the same as “Sustainable Development”. I’m afraid you don’t seem to have a grasp of what Self Sufficiency is. Individuals, families, and communities working to break from the controlled mainstream system and provide necessities for themselves is NEVER mentioned in the Agenda 21 platform. Agenda 21 is designed to place artificial living restrictions upon communities through crony environmentalism and then force them to survive within that limited paradigm under threat of bureaucratic intervention. The two philosophies are COMPLETELY OPPOSED. Where you are getting this nonsensical comparison is truly bewildering.

    4. Your definition of Socialism also seems to be utterly skewed. Socialism is the centralization of political, economic, and social power in the hands of government in order to enforce a particular brand of ideological order upon the collective. We already have Socialism right now in this country, though it is thinly veiled. What I am advocating is a BREAK from centralization, hence, decentralization. What I advocate is that people rely less on the current system, not more. How exactly do you reconcile that with your claim that I am calling for Socialization?

    5. The primary reason why you don’t get it, Austrian, is because you are confusing Community with Collectivism. They are NOT the same thing, and I sense a streak of Libertarian puritanism and intellectualism that is interfering with your ability to see the difference. True community exists through voluntary participation and association. People helping one another because they WANT TO, not because they are forced to by government or by the group. Community fosters and nurtures individual thought and supports independence. Collectivism denies the rights of individuals in the name of the “greater good”. In a community, the individual is seen as the most valuable asset. In a collective, the abstract idea of the group is seen as paramount. Is it really that hard to understand these differences?

  4. 4
    Austrian Economics is Color Blind Says:

    Brandon,

    As far as the authorship of this article, I see now that it was written by Tony Cartalucci.

    The reason I mistakenly attributed the article to you was because, in my feed reader, the author comes up as “Brandon”.

    I apologize for accusing you of writing this.

    Regarding your objections to some of the points I made, I have responses.

    To Objection 1:

    As you say, you do find some of the author’s points interesting; Otherwise, you wouldn’t have recommended the article to us.

    And your response shows you do advocate “self-sufficiency” via “community” and “people helping one another because they want to”; So I maintain my accusation that you hold Socialist beliefs. I will address your response to this when I get to Objection 4.

    Again, though, I apologize for accusing you of writing the article.

    To Objection 2:

    It’s extremely important to “pidgeonhole” our positions, as is evidenced by that to what Roseanne Barr was willing to admit:

    ‘Roseannearchy’ in the No Spin Zone
    http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/transcript/039roseannearchy039-no-spin-zone

    -Begin excerpt-

    O’REILLY: You were raised in a socialist family in Utah.

    BARR: Yes.

    O’REILLY: And you, I guess, were the only one in history, because Utah is not really known…

    BARR: There wasn’t many.

    O’REILLY: So your family, you were socialist, and you would adhere to the socialistic point of view?

    BARR: No, I — I’m just for solutions. I’m like — I’m for rebranding things.

    O’REILLY: Rebranding?

    BARR: Yes, I am for rebranding. Everything is about branding. And you know, like, instead of saying liberal or, you know, anything like that, or socialist, I just say people-ist.

    O’REILLY: People-ist?

    BARR: Yes.

    -End excerpt-

    See, for Socialists, it’s important to change the labels, otherwise people will know they’re talking about Socialism, and then write it off as bad economics.

    I’ll have more to say about the reasons why an economy based on community is bad economics, below.

    As for the accusation that I offered no solutions of my own to the economic crisis, first of all, the economic crisis was not only unavoidable, but it’s also GUARANTEED to get worse because the malinvestments have not yet been allowed to clear.

    But secondly, the same accusation was made against Peter Schiff when he was invited back for a second time to speak to a Congressional Subcommittee to talk about how to fix the housing crisis, and his assessment of this accusation will basically be my own to you (which I have already offered, using different words), even though your and my argument has a broader scope:

    Mr. Schiff Returns to Washington
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvMGHzB37lo#t=03m21s

    -Begin excerpt-

    But, you know, even the Republicans had a hard time understanding my message.

    There was one Congressman – Hurt, a Republican from Virginia – who was somewhat sympathetic with what I had to say, but he asked me- he said,

    “Peter, you know, we hear you talking, but you don’t have any solutions. When are we going to hear solutions from you?”

    And I think the reason he didn’t hear solutions is because he didn’t know what to listen for. See, he was listening for a new government program. I was trying to tell him that Capitalism was the solution; That getting rid of government programs was going to save us – not creating new ones.

    They still have a hard time seeing the government as the problem, and my desire to simply “remove these government programs” as being the solution.

    -End excerpt-

    If you look at my prior comment, this is the kind of thing I was saying; Government is the cause of imperialism, booms and busts, increased cost of living, higher gas, medical, housing, and education prices, etc.

    I suppose I could have added “So, therefore, the solution is to get government out of the economy”, but was that really necessary? If government is causing all these problems – and NOT, as you suppose, greedy corporatists – then OBVIOUSLY the solution is to get government out.

    Yes, as I said, there must be a crash so that the free market can clear the malinvestment, but if government stays out of the way and doesn’t try to help, then it will be relatively short.

    All of the problems commonly associated with greedy corporations – multinational corporations, unconstitutional wars to secure other countries’ oil, bailouts for Too-Big-To-Fails (so-called), toxic derivative markets, slum housing, sweat shops, etc. – THESE ARE ONLY POSSIBLE because of government interventions.

    It’s never the size of a business, how much market share they have, how greedy or profit-driven they are, the corporate structure of their business, etc., that causes those problems. Further, none of these things I listed in this paragraph are, themselves, wrong or evil, so long as they happen in a free market.

    To Objection 3:

    Just like it doesn’t matter whether the Marxists want brutal dictators or not, since they absolutely must result from their economic beliefs;

    so, too, must your belief in “self-sufficiency” and Agenga 21’s “Sustainable Development” result in reduced capacity for prosperity, as well as greater state intervention.

    And if the Socialist/Fascist/Globalist tendency of our government is any indication, they should be just fine with allowing you to believe anything you want about your “self-sufficiency” model; Americans, today, believe their government is still largely following the Constitution, and that it promotes free market economics!

    And to show you that your model is functionally equivalent to that of Agenda 21’s, let me first establish (only for the record, since I believe you already know) the EPA’s involvement in that program, and then I’ll quote from the EPA their description of “Sustainable Community”.

    First, the EPA’s involvement:

    Larry Greenley: EPA’s Plans for Implementing UN’s Agenda 21
    http://junkscience.com/2012/05/04/larry-greenley-epas-plans-for-implementing-uns-agenda-21/

    Even though the PCSD was clearly established in 1993 in support of the UN’s Agenda 21 and its Sustainable Development proposals from the UN’s ’92 Earth Summit in Rio, the PCSD’s statements and documents never referred to the UN and Agenda 21.

We have evidence that federal officials were taking pains to make the PCSD appear to be completely separate from the UN’s Agenda 21 because J. Gary Lawrence, an advisor to the PCSD, said the following in 1998:

    Participating in a UN advocated planning process would very likely bring out many of the conspiracy-fixated groups and individuals in our society…. This segment of our society who fear ‘one-world government’ and a UN invasion of the United States through which our individual freedom would be stripped away would actively work to defeat any elected official who joined ‘the conspiracy’ by undertaking LA21 [Local Agenda 21]. So, we call our processes something else, such as comprehensive planning, growth management or smart growth.

    Next, the EPA’s description of “Sustainable Community”:

    Sustainable Community |Green Communities | US EPA
    Action Planning and the Sustainable Community

    The action planning process will lead to the development of a community that is ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable. Let’s look at several definitions of a sustainable community.

    A “sustainable community” seeks to maintain and improve the economic, environmental and social characteristics of an area so its members can continue to lead healthy, productive, enjoyable lives.
    Maureen Hart, “Guide to Sustainable Community Indicators”

    The sustainable community should establish goals and a vision by developing more efficient and effective ways in which to live and grow. It also will involve the participation of the entire community in creating a vision of the community’s future that balances economic, environmental and social needs.

    Sustainability at the Local Level

    What can you do at the local level to create a sustainable community? The Citizen Planner’s Project of Ventura County has developed several ideas for application at the local level, which you may wish to use in your community.

    [-] Protect, preserve and restore the natural environment. Acknowledge that undisturbed natural beauty enriches and that the natural environment is basic for a healthy world, a healthy economy and a healthy society.

    [-] Support local agriculture and local business products and services. Use community products and services for the cycling of economic wealth in the community.

    [-] Maximize conservation and develop local renewable resources. Maximize the use of conservation technology and practices, reduce the use of non-renewable resources, and develop local renewable energy, water and material resources.

    So, you see, Agenda 21 wants the same thing you do, which is community-based economies. You can be more easily controlled that way.

    Why? Because community-based economics makes you easier to control, in that it gives you LESS opportunities, and makes you LESS wealthy.

    And why does it do those things? Because it restricts opportunities to use the division of labor to lengthen the structures of production and to acquire capital. It’s just bad economics.

    To Objection 4:

    While I agree that the end goal of Socialism is political, economic, and social power in the hand of the government, they realize that this must happen gradually.

    As Gary North notes:

    Obama’s Brand of Marxism
    http://teapartyeconomist.com/2012/09/04/obamas-brand-of-marxism/

    The [Communist Manifesto] presents the case for proletarian revolution: the working class. It does not describe the future communist paradise that will emerge from the revolution. The revolution will not initially bring the final communist state, the document said. But it will bring the first stage, when the proletarians take charge.

    Plank 9, of Communism, is:

    9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.

    The “sustainable communities” model would be a form of “a more equable distribution of the populace over the country”; And, nationally, this would result in the functional equivalent of the “combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries”.

    Your model is no less Socialist for “decentralizing” from the global division of labor; As I said: your particular brand is National Socialism.

    The “current system” that people need to rely less on isn’t “global trade” or “big business”, but rather state interventions in the economy.

    To Objection 5:

    Given that you believe local, “self-sufficient”, economies are an expression of “people helping one another because they want to”, would you say that my desire to simply find prices that work for me, wherever I can find them – be it within the local economy, or outside of it – makes me part of the “current system” to which you are opposed?

    If so, then this is yet another expression of Socialist beliefs. People simply DON’T want to be restricted to a local economy, because the benefits of the division of labor can be found beyond one’s immediate area.

    If I choose to take an opportunity to make more money outside of my “community”, no one is wronged because of that – especially since no one was ever entitled to my patronage, my labor, or my merchandise, to begin with.

    You claim that “In a community, the individual is seen as the most valuable asset”, but then decry the global division of labor that is an expression of individuality (as long as it’s not due to state-granted privileges).

    Brandon, the author is advocating Socialist policies. I was actually unknowingly accepting Socialist policies when I believed in things like the Minimum Wage, protectionist tariffs to save America from commie imports, and “fair prices”.

    If you are unwittingly buying into what the author is saying, then I urge you to watch some of the links at the end of my second-to-previous post – especially the one called “War and the Fed”.

    But if you are actually a Socialist, then I would actually be willing to discuss with you what’s wrong with your economics, and to show you how it is, in fact, Socialist policies that result in economic crises, not free market policies.

    Again, I apologize for accusing you of authoring the article.

  5. 5
    Austrian Economics is Color Blind Says:

    I neglected to post the link to the EPA source. Here it is.

    Sustainable Community |Green Communities | US EPA
    Action Planning and the Sustainable Community
    http://www.epa.gov/greenkit/sustain.htm

  6. 6
    Freedom76 Says:

    Gary Johnson’s closing pitch: ‘Waste your vote on me’ Posted by Felicia Sonmez on October 23, 2012

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/wp/2012/10/23/gary-johnsons-closing-pitch-waste-your-vote-on-me/

  7. 7
    Austrian Economics is Color Blind Says:

    Freedom76 @ comment #6:

    Gary Johnson is a statist. He believes in Friedmanite monetary policy, which is what Bernanke, Obama, Romney, and Paul Ryan believe in:

    Just How Libertarian is Gary Johnson?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTch7InkZjo

    Here’s an explanation of why the Austrian Economists disfavor Friedman’s monetary policy. It’s a big deal:

    Neoconservative David Frum Hearts the Fed
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d1rcaX-lzU

    There’s no way I’m voting for Gary Johnson.

    Ron Paul Write-In 2012!

  8. 8
    Brandon Smith Says:

    @Austrian

    You are trying really hard to form a debate foundation but your entire post is basically a long train of incoherent thoughts and strawman arguments. It is apparent that you are more interested in applying wild interpretations to what I say than actually listening to what I say. How can I possibly argue with your use of Bill O’ Reilly vs. Rosanne Barr to advocate pigeonholing ideas into easily digestible political labels…oh boy…

    You claim that socialists like to change or misapply labels, and yet that is exactly what you have been doing.

    Show me where I have ever recommended government centralization of economic power. Show me where I have ever condoned collectivism over individualism. Show me the article.

    Show me where I deny people the right to trade wherever and whenever they wish with whomever they wish. If you want to shop at a corporate monstrosity like WalMart everyday, then by all means, do so. What is funny about your argument is that you basically want to deny people the right to not participate in the current system because you feel it will lead to some outlandish brand of small scale communism. And you accuse ME of national socialist leanings?

    You seem desperate to assume that a localized economy must also be a localized dictatorship. As I have already pointed out, this is not what I am promoting. There can be NO dictatorship on any level if every individual is able to provide necessities for himself, or attain those necessities outside the control of the state.

    You also present certain pieces of information out of context, which is highly disingenuous. For instance, you note that one of Agenda 21’s stated goals is to:

    “Support local agriculture and local business products and services. Use community products and services for the cycling of economic wealth in the community…”

    Which certainly sounds good to almost anyone, including myself. Yet, you fail to mention HOW THEY PLAN TO GO ABOUT ACHIEVING THIS GOAL.

    Their method would demand state control of resources to fabricate a brand of FALSE LOCALISM. I am advocating that people within communities assert their own local production capacity as individuals and break from government moderation.

    Again, you don’t seem to understand the difference between individuals participating in localization, and government centralizing control over local production. I’m not sure how it is that you have been able to confuse the two, but listen bud, it makes you sound like a jackass when you act as if they are the same exact thing. Just sayen…

    You are essentially trying to claim that decentralization away from the corrupt system towards individuated and localized free markets is the same as Communism!

    So, all I want to hear from you now is what system you are condoning. In YOUR ideal economic system, how do things operate. I don’t want a rambling diatribe of strawman arguments and incoherent nonsense where you try to put your own words into my mouth. All I want is for you to present YOUR view of the correct economic system. Don’t dance around the subject, just lay it out plainly without going off on random tangents. Try it out. See how it works for you…

  9. 9
    Austrian Economics is Color Blind Says:

    Brandon,

    I would be happy to lay out “my” ideal economic “system”, as I have done a couple times over on this post.

    The ideal economic “system”, so called, is free markets. THAT’S IT! It’s interference with this “system” that is causing all the problems.

    The reason I put quotes around “system” is because it’s not a system, as such.

    See, all the economy is is whatever happens to be the result of trades based on individual preferences. As long as the principle of non-initiatory-agression is followed, there is no problem.

    Yes, in a free market, you would have huge Wal-mart-like businesses, but that would be fine, so long as the state isn’t granting them artificial privileges.

    Yes, people would leave their farms to work in the city, in a free market, because, again, agrigulture becomes less profitable as the amount of capital per person increases.

    Yes, people would trade with individuals in other countries (without violating national sovereignty), in a free market, if they had a comparative advantage over foreigners such that they would be more wealthy without that foreign market. That is not any type of colonialism.

    There’s really no such thing as a “local economy”. You’ve heard the story, “I, Pencil”: You benefit from global trade far more than you know.

    Sure, if you really wanted to produce your own stuff, locally, you should have that right – but you’ll be poorer for refusing to participate in the division of labor which can occur outside of your community.

    The colonialism you decry – or rather, the author decries – is not the result of big business, as such, but of state-enforced monopolies – especially the monopoly of controlling the fiat money supply.

    Now, I have a question for YOU – and this is where I get to show you that you do advocate government centralization of power: How do you propose to maintain a “self-sufficient” or “local economy” if people reject agrarianism because it’s just not as profitable as factory work?

    If you say that people are free to trade with whoever they want, then it’s not really a local economy.

    And if you say that you are entitled to a “self-sufficient” economy, then you are laying claim to someone else’s patronage.

    Also, please just watch this following video, because it explains a lot about why Austrians make such a big deal out of the issue of monetary theory:

    War and the Fed | Lew Rockwell
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl9lS5k7H5M

    Our problems are due to government interventions and bad monetary policy, not greedy corporations or global trade. If we correct our monetary theory, most of the problems will go away (after a necessary crash, of course).

  10. 10
    Brandon Says:

    @Austrian

    Thank you for finally outlining at least partially your position, which you have consistently failed to do until now. Now we finally get to the crux of your confusion. You actually believe that globalization is a natural action of free markets. This is an incredible mistake.

    Globalization is an engineered process dictated not by “governments”, but the men who control governments, namely, private central bankers and international financiers. It is astonishingly foolish to overlook the actions of groups like the CFR and Bilderberg in the creation of the global centralized economy. The fact that you believe globalization and corporatism (national socialism) to be a natural extension of the economy shows that you are ignorant of the entire story.

    To answer your question, localism will eventually prevail over corporatism and centralization exactly because IT WORKS BETTER. Independence and self determination always create more wealth and prosperity than collectivism and mercantalism. I do not need to dictate to people the benefits of decentralization, all I have to do is sit back and watch as the public seeks out ways to provide for themselves what the current system cannot or will not. Over time, the masses will gravitate towards that methodology which LEGITIMATELY works to their greater benefit, and abandon that which doesn’t. Just take a look at the massive barter economies forming in Europe right now to counter the failing centralized model. They are proof that decentraliztion is the natural path of economy.

    You see, globalization is only able to survive because it REMOVES OPTIONS from public view, until all that is left is the options the elites want us to have. As soon as people realize that they can simply create THEIR OWN OPTIONS and walk away from the mainstream system, the game is over. Globalism and centralization die, and individuals take over their own economic futures.

    You cannot have centralization and globalism without the loss of free markets. Sorry, that’s just how it is. If you truly understood Austrian Economics, you would know that.

    Our problems ARE due to government interventions, AT THE BEHEST OF GLOBAL CORPORATIONS. Until you comprehend this fact, you will never be able to grasp the reality of our economic situation.

    I leave you with this important quote from one of those globalists so that you might learn more about the deliberate and controlled nature of our current fiscal calamity:

    “The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.”

    Carroll Quigley, CFR Member and Mentor to Bill Clinton, from ‘Tragedy And Hope’

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