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Sugar and Spice and Everything Vice: the Empire’s Sin City of London

Cynthia Chung

The over 1000 point plunge of the stock market on Feb 27th and broader ruptures of the financial system last week have been yet another wake up call for those who have been contented so far to “live in the moment” of fast money.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, which is considered the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, many have not been able to go back to sleep after such a lucid nightmare. Some have chosen the path of stocking up on cans of beans, distilling their urine into water and binge-watching survivalists such as Bear Grylls hoping to absorb his skills through television osmosis.

The 2008 crisis put in the spotlight the psychopathic level of greed, vice, apathy and short-sightedness from those who wanted to play into the City of London and Wall Street casino houses. Get rich quick and don’t care who you screw in the process, after all, at the end of the day you’re either a winner or a loser.

Since the general public tends to consist of decent people, there is a widespread difficulty in comprehending how entire economies of countries have been hijacked by these piranhas. That we have hit such a level of crime that even people’s hard-earned pensions, education, health-care, housing etc. are all being gambled away… LEGALLY.

Looking upon investment bankers today, one is reminded of those sad addicts in the casino who are ruined and lose everything, except the difference is, they are given the option to sell their neighbour’s family into slavery to pay off their debt.

It is no secret that much of the “finance” that goes through the City of London and Wall Street is dirty and yet despite this recognition, there appears to be an inability to address it and that at this point we are told that if we tried to address it by breaking up and regulating the “Too Big to Fail” banks, then the whole economy would come tumbling down.

That is, the world is so evidently run by criminal activity that at this point we have become dependent on its dirty money to keep afloat the world economy.

Faced with the onrushing collapse of the financial system, the greatest Ivy League trained minds of the world have run into a dead end: the bailouts into the banking system that began this past September have prevented a chain reaction meltdown for a few months, but as the liquidity runs out so too will the ideas on where the money justifying bank bailouts will come from.

With these dead ends, we have seen the lightbulb go off in the minds of a large strata of economists who have been making the case in recent years that valuable revenue can yet be generated from one more untapped stream: the decriminalisation and legalisation of vice.

Hell, the major banks have already been doing this covertly as a matter of practice for generations… so why not just come out of the closet and make it official? This is where the money is at. This is where the job market is at. So let us not “bite the hand that feeds us”!

But is this truly the case? Is there really no qualitative difference how the money is generated and how it is spent as long as there is an adequate money flow?

Well it is never a good sign when beside the richest you can also find the poorest just a stone’s throw away. And right beside the largest financial center in the world, the City of London, there lies the poorest borough in all of London: Tower Hamlets with a 39% poverty rate and an average family income amounting to less than £ 13, 000/year.

A City within a City

“Hell is a city much like London”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Although Wall Street has contributed greatly to this sad situation, this banking hub of America is best understood as the spawn of the City of London.

The City of London is over 800 years old, it is arguably older than England herself, and for over 400 years it has been the financial center of the world.

During the medieval period the City of London, otherwise known as the Square Mile or simply the City, was divided into 25 ancient wards headed each by an alderman. This continues today. In addition, there existed the ominously titled City of London Corporation, or simply the Corporation, which is the municipal governing body of the City. This also still continues today.

Though the Corporation’s origins cannot be specifically dated, since there was never a “surviving” charter found establishing its “legal” basis, it has kept its functions to this day based on the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta is a charter of rights agreed to by King John in 1215, which states that “the City of London shall have/enjoy its ancient liberties”.

In other words, the legal function of the Corporation has never been questioned, reviewed, re-evaluated EVER but rather it has been left to legally function as in accordance with their “ancient liberties”, which is a very grey description of function if you ask me. In other words, they are free to do as they deem fit.

And it gets worst. The Corporation is not actually under the jurisdiction of the British government. That is, the British government presently does not have the authority to undermine how the Corporation of the City chooses to govern the largest financial center in the world.

The City has a separate voting system that allows for, well, corporations to vote in how their separate “government” should run. It also has its own private police force and system of private courts.

The Corporation is not just limited to functioning within the City. The City Remembrancer, which sounds more like a warped version of the ghost of Christmas past, has the role of acting as a channel of communication between the Corporation and the Sovereign (the Queen), the Royal Household and Parliament. The Remembrancer thus acts as a “reminder”, some would even say “enforcer”, of the will of the Corporation. This position has been held by Paul Double since 2003, it is not clear who bestows this non-elected position.

Mr. Double has the right to act as an official lobbyist in the House of Commons, and sits to the right of the Speaker’s chair, with the purpose of scrutinising and influencing any legislation he deems affects the interests of the Corporation. He also appears to have the right to review any piece of legislation as it is being drafted and can even comment on it affecting its final outcome. He is the only non-elected person allowed into the House of Commons.

According to the official City of London website, the reason why the City has a separate voting system is because:

“The City is the only area in the country in which the number of workers significantly outnumbers the residents and therefore, to be truly representative of its population, offers a vote to City organisations so they can have their say on the way the City is run.”

However, the workers have absolutely no say. The City’s organisations they work for have a certain size vote based on the number of workers they employ, but they do not consult these workers, and many of them are not even aware that such elections take place.

If you feel like you have just walked through Alice’s Looking Glass, you’re not alone, but what appears to be an absurd level of madness is what has been running the largest financial center in the world since the 1600s, under the machinations of the British Empire.

Therefore the question is, if the City of London has kept its “ancient liberties” and has upheld its global financial power, is the British Empire truly gone?

Offshore Banking: Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand?

Contrary to popular naïve belief, the empire on which the sun never sets (some say “because God wouldn’t trust them in the dark”) never went away.

After WWII, colonisation was meant to be done away with, and many thought, so too with the British Empire. Countries were reclaiming their sovereignty, governments were being set up by the people, the system of looting and pillaging had come to an end.

It is a nice story, but could not be further from the truth.

In the 1950s, to “adapt” to the changing global financial climate, the City of London set up what are called “secrecy jurisdictions”. These were to operate within the last remnants of Britain’s small territories/colonies. Of Britain’s 14 oversea territories, 7 are bona fide tax havens or “secrecy jurisdictions”. A separate international financial market was also created to facilitate the flow of this offshore money, the Eurodollar market. Since this market has its banks outside of the UK and U.S., they are not under the jurisdiction of either country.

By 1997, nearly 90% of all international loans were made through this market.

What is often misunderstood is that the City of London’s offshore finances are not contained in a system of banking secrecy but rather of trusts. The difference being that a trust ultimately plays with the concept of ownership. The idea is that you hand over your assets to a trustee and at that point, legally those assets are no longer yours anymore and you are not responsible for accounting for them. Your connection to said assets is completely hidden.

In addition, within Britain’s offshore jurisdictions, there is no qualification required for who can become a trustee: anyone can set up a trust and anyone can become a trustee. There is also no registry of trusts in these territories. Thus, the only ones who know about this arrangement are the trustee and the settler.

John Christensen, an investigative economist, estimates that this capital that legally belongs to nobody could amount to as high as $50 trillion within these British territories. Not only is this not being taxed, but a significant portion of it has been stolen from sectors of the real economy.

So how does this affect “formerly” colonised countries?

There lies the rub for most developing nations. According to John Christensen, the combined external debts of Sub-Saharan African countries was $177 billion in 2008. However, the wealth that these countries’ elites moved offshore, between 1970-2008, is estimated at $944 billion, 5X their foreign debt. This is not only dirty money, this is also STOLEN money from the resources and productivity of these economies. Thus, as Christensen states, “Far from being a net debtor to the world, Sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor” to offshore finance.

Put in this context, the so-called “backwardness” of Africa is not due to its incapability to produce, but rather that it has been experiencing uninterrupted looting since these regions were first colonised.

These African countries then need to borrow money, which is happily given to them at high interest rates, and accrues a level of debt that could never be repaid. These countries are thus looted twice over, leaving no money left to invest in their future, let alone to put food on the table.

Offshore havens are what make this sort of activity “legal” and rampant.

And it doesn’t stop there. Worldwide, it is estimated that developing countries lose $1 trillion every year in capital flight and tax evasion. Most of this wealth goes back into the UK and U.S. through these offshore havens, and allows their currencies to stay strong whilst developing nations’ currencies are kept weak.

However, developing nations are not the only ones to have suffered from this system of looting. The very economies of the UK and U.S. have also been gutted. In the 1960s and onward, the UK and U.S., to compensate for the increase in money flow out of their countries decided that it was a good idea to open their domestic markets to the trillions of dollars passing through its offshore havens.

However, such banks are not interested in putting their money into industry and manufacturing, they put their money into real estate speculation, financial speculation and foreign currency trade. And thus the financialization of British and American economies resulted, and the real jobs coming from the real economy decreased or disappeared.

Although many economists try to claim differently, the desperation has boiled over and movements like the yellow vests are reflections of the true consequences of these economic policies.

We have reached a point now where every western first world country is struggling with a much higher unemployment rate and a lower standard of living than 40 years ago. Along with increased poverty has followed increased drug use, increased suicide and increased crime.

A Stable Economy based on Freedom or Slavery?

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) report in 2017, the UK has by far the highest rate of drug overdose in all of Europe at 31% followed by Germany at 15%. That is, the UK consists of 1/3 drug overdoses that occur in all of Europe.

The average family income in the UK is presently £28, 400. The poverty rate within the UK is ~20%.

The average family income of what was once the epicentre of world industrialisation, Detroit, has an average family income of $26, 249. The poverty rate of Detroit is ~34.5%.

What is the solution?

Reverse Margaret Thatcher’s 1986 Big Bang deregulation of the banking system that destroyed the separation of commercial banking, investment banking, trusts and insurance for starters. A similar restoration of Glass-Steagall in the USA should follow suit, not only to break up the “Too Big to Fail” banking system but to restore the authority of nation states over private finance once more. IF these emergency measures were done before the markets collapse (and they will collapse), then the industrial-infrastructure revival throughout trans-Atlantic nations can still occur.

Let us end here by hearkening to the words of Clement Attlee, UK Prime Minister from 1945-1951:

“Over and over again we have seen that there is another power than that which has its seat at Westminster. The City of London, a convenient term for a collection of financial interests, is able to assert itself against the government of the country. Those who control money can pursue a policy at home and abroad contrary to that which is being decided by the people.”

Originally published at Strategic Culture

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Charlotte Russe
Charlotte Russe
Mar 15, 2020 9:40 PM

The best way to rob a bank is to own one…….

norman wisdom
norman wisdom
Mar 15, 2020 7:47 PM

who owns the bank of engurland engerland england?
does it make a profit or a loss
is it a private or public company
a corporation
who are the share holders

qui
qui bono

Brian Harry
Brian Harry
Mar 16, 2020 8:52 AM
Reply to  norman wisdom

I asked the same question about the “Reserve Bank of Australia” and was advised that the “Bank was owned by the Australian Government”………But, then I wondered, The Australian Government owns The Bricks and Mortar……..BUT, who owns “The System” that is carried out, inside the Bricks and Mortar????……It’s quite probable that the Bank of England is owned by “England”, but Who owns the system, conducted within its walls???

Martin Usher
Martin Usher
Mar 15, 2020 6:13 PM

I think you might be missing something important. The City of London is effectively a state within a state — it exists inside and yet outside the UK as a whole with its own government, laws and police. Its more like a Channel Island that happens to be parked in the middle of Greater London, one you don’t have to fly or get a ferry to but nethertheless is as separate as if it were in the middle of the Channel. The City’s unique status arises from its age, it predates the UK as a single entity and has been the center of commerce in the British Isles pretty much for ever.

This might explain why Brexit was so important — the EU were implementing banking regulations that would limit the ability of the City to operate as an offshore banking hub and tax haven. If the UK had stayed in this year and beyond they would have had to implement these regulations, hence the haste to “get ‘er done”.

Tutisicecream
Tutisicecream
Mar 15, 2020 10:58 AM

Thanks Cynthia Chung for this timely revisiting to one the best kept secret conspiracies which is no theory. The City of London’s hidden dark heart. There will be no enforced quarantine for thread needle street. No threat of a show trial to expose the truth of their treason.

There have been uncounted deaths to keep this secret safe. MI6 the Corporations secret police.. there to keep the peace and those who stray, quiet.

Brian Harry
Brian Harry
Mar 15, 2020 7:36 PM
Reply to  Tutisicecream

“MI6 the Corporations secret police.. there to keep the peace and those who stray, quiet”.

Like the CIA in the USA(and ASIO)in Australia…..Accountable to NO ONE, and with a licence to kill, with impunity.

Gall
Gall
Mar 15, 2020 4:31 AM

I think the so called “War of ‘Independence'” was probably the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the American public and possibly the World in general. The myth is that dear Betsy Ross sat up all night sowing ol’ Glory together in the flickering candlelight.

Actually maybe she was a little tired or just got lazy because the “Stars and Stripes” is really just some stars covering the cross of St. George and the stripes belong to the East India Company a corporation based in the City of London.

Eric Blair
Eric Blair
Mar 15, 2020 3:04 AM

Good article. There is a very good documentary on YouTube, called The Spider’s Web, that gets into some of the themes discussed in the piece.

https://youtu.be/np_ylvc8Zj8

Here is the blurb from the video description.

Michael Oswald’s film The Spider’s Web reveals how at the demise of empire, City of London financial interests created a web of secrecy jurisdictions that captured wealth from across the globe and hid it in a web of offshore islands. Today, up to half of global offshore wealth is hidden in British jurisdictions and Britain and its dependencies are the largest global players in the world of international finance.

Antonym
Antonym
Mar 15, 2020 2:42 AM

England’s heart of darkness…

Greed doesn’t have any specific skin color though: today the Zumas are collaborating with the the Smiths.

Mucho
Mucho
Mar 15, 2020 6:51 PM
Reply to  Antonym

Old Mozza and Marr dusting off the Les Paul

paul
paul
Mar 15, 2020 12:47 AM

This piece asks where the money will come from for the next bail out.
It won’t.
Central banks responded to 2008 by printing tens of trillions of toilet paper money out of thin air, and negative interest rates.
This allowed a temporary bail out of the banksters and our system of crony capitalism.
Or at least it gave the appearance of doing so.
In reality, the system is as dead as John Cleese’s parrot.
It has been kept on life support in a zombified vegetative state for over a decade.

This time there will be no “saving” of the system.
It will simply be allowed to crash, with the CV “crisis”, and maybe to a lesser extent Brexit, providing convenient scapegoats.

At the same time, there will be further lootings of assets.
Trillions in pension assets will be appropriated by Little Greta and her fellow eco warriors Mark Carney and Goldman Sachs to save the planet and save the polar bears.
Bank deposits of ordinary people will be seized, Cyprus style, in “bail ins.” They will get worthless shares in zombie banks in return.
Deutsche Bank has about $70 trillion in bad paper on its books.
No state could bail it out, even if they wanted to.
The central banks fired off all their ammunition last time.
What are they going to do? Drop interest rates to minus 25%?

As Lenin asked, what is to be done? (by ordinary people.)
There is some value in having more than one bank account, if you have any money at all. Ideally several.
In Cyprus, people were limited to small daily withdrawals of their own money from accounts.
Having several accounts with different banks gives you greater access to your money.
Consider holding money in cash outside the banks.
In South American countries, deposits have been frozen for months at a time. People got their money back eventually – when it had lost 90% plus of its value.
Don’t put valuables in safety deposit boxes – they are likely to be frozen and/ or seized in any crisis – like Venezuela’s gold.
You can get fireproof cash boxes and safes. The Japanese and the Italians have been doing this for years.
Some people recommend gold, silver, bitcoin. (Not jewellery.) There is something to be said for these things, but remember that private holdings of gold were confiscated in the 1930s.

Brian Harry
Brian Harry
Mar 15, 2020 7:43 PM
Reply to  paul

“In Cyprus, people were limited to small daily withdrawals of their own money from accounts”.
But the Oligarchs(using inside information), withdrew/Transferred Billions of dollars to safer havens before the Banks went under….

AntiJuice
AntiJuice
Mar 14, 2020 10:41 PM

The hubris of the juden will be their downfall. Too smart and greedy for their own good.

Brian Harry
Brian Harry
Mar 14, 2020 10:36 PM

I gave up watching Bear Grylls when I saw him showing people how to survive, by picking up a huge Elephant Turd, squeezing it to catch the “fluid” there in, and proceed to drink it.
I’d rather die, thanks………

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 15, 2020 7:50 AM
Reply to  Brian Harry

It will come to pass.

JohnB
JohnB
Mar 15, 2020 11:53 PM
Reply to  Brian Harry

I’d give it a go. Are there many elephants in Sussex ?

Brian Harry
Brian Harry
Mar 16, 2020 12:53 AM
Reply to  JohnB

I don’t want to see the video………

Ruth
Ruth
Mar 14, 2020 10:25 PM

Finance doesn’t just come from the former colonies, Russia etc, it may also come from the looting of taxpayers’ money through excise and VAT fraud and so on. There is evidence of these frauds being set up and run by state agencies. If a state can covertly control organised crime including the drug trade, it can make billions.

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 15, 2020 7:51 AM
Reply to  Ruth

Just wait for the banksters’ ‘bail-ins’ coming soon.

JohnB
JohnB
Mar 15, 2020 11:53 PM
Reply to  Ruth

If … ?

Gezzah Potts
Gezzah Potts
Mar 14, 2020 8:55 PM

Appreciate your blunt, tell it like it is article Cynthia.
The 2008 GFC may’ve indeed shone a spotlight onto the psychopathic greed driving this socialism for the rich Ponzi Scheme, known as Neoliberalism.
But sadly, and frustratingly, most people have looked the other way, distracted by their digitalised Soma, their shopping sprees, their hedonistic pursuits, their regular overseas holidays; where they can toss a few coins at beggars in Paris or Athens, and pat themselves on the back – whilst staying in 5 star Hotels.
Or those who have embraced ‘ethical consumerism’ while believing they are ‘saving the planet’ without doing Anything to challenge the economic system that creates such inequality and misery for so many, and at the same time, having contempt for the working poor and those struggling in poverty.
I’ve seen that callousness for others, that arrogance and contempt every single day since I began selling the mag in 2009.
Well….its all about to come crashing down in a flaming heap of shit. The house of cards is about to fall.
Some here and elsewhere have said this economic meltdown will be a lot worse than 2008. I believe it will also.
Things are going to be very grim, and very bleak for many hundreds of millions of people.
Tho life has already been very grim and bleak for people in countries like Mali or Guatemala or Bangladesh.

CentralScrutinizer
CentralScrutinizer
Mar 14, 2020 8:35 PM

Infinite growth with finite resources. How did we think this story was going to end?

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 15, 2020 7:52 AM

The ‘Magic of the Market’, old bean. You gotta believe!

Gezzah Potts
Gezzah Potts
Mar 16, 2020 4:30 AM

Screw the fecken market and all the zombified ‘believers’… Of which there’s more than a few ‘believers’ in the land of the alleged fair go Austraya…
Not long now R. Its all coming to a head, aye.
Its picking up steam like an avalanche at the top of a mountain. Hasn’t even started down to the bottom yet.
And by the time it reaches the bottom, it’ll be absolute carnage and mayhem, with lockdowns, curfews, and the Army on the streets.
The toilet paper and pasta binge panic buying is a foretaste of the near future.
What was your comment about ‘reap what you sow’? As I’ve said – a lot of people in this country are in for a huge shock. Especially those… ‘Quiet Australians’. They won’t know whether they’re Arthur or Martha.

CentralScrutinizer
CentralScrutinizer
Mar 14, 2020 8:33 PM

“The main spring of every race lies in its spirituality and the death of that race begins the day that spirituality wanes and materialism gains ground”

Vivekananda

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 15, 2020 7:52 AM

In that case the USA was still-born.

BigB
BigB
Mar 14, 2020 8:21 PM

There is an elephant in the room, again. Or the rotting carcass of an elephant on the Savannah …where no one has to account for it.

The economy is a sub-system of the ecology of the Earth System. We can critique ”The City” from the perspective of civilisation and the World System: but cannot seem to make the further connection to the Earth System. Poor countries develop rich countries: by the design of the City. This is the principal of unequal exchange I mention below. But that can be taken further – and embedded in global ecology – as Odum’s principle of Ecological Unequal Exchange. Which is a theory of ecological imperialism.

http://www.gci.org.uk/Documents/Foster_2014_The_Theory_of_Unequal_Ecological_Exchange.pdf

Synopsis: the poor countries develop the rich countries; suffer the asset stripping known as the resource curse; suffer from the finance terrorism that is known as euphemistically known as developmental aid ($128bn in return for a $2.66tn subsidy of our wealth – who is aiding who?); have our pollution and environmental degradation exported to them – so we can be a tertiary service economy, when they pick up the bill; and generally pay with their lives to support our wealth …as they get poorer and the Divide gets bigger.

Which costs us all the Earth.

It’s worth repeating: it will take 207 years to raise the average earnings of those in the South to $5 a day. By which time: we will be earning $1.3mn per annum …each. And the economy will have expanded by 175 times to accommodate such a wanton amoral distribution of wealth [Hickel]. Only it can’t. Call it 7.5 doublings. For each doubling: you have to find more than all the resources that have ever been found before. Where: in space? Who, apart from Cynthia, believes that is possible?

And who believes that even if it is possible: that it is ethical?

So, it is not just a case of exposing ‘The City’. If we follow Cynthia’s ‘Solutions’: “then the industrial-infrastructure revival throughout trans-Atlantic nations can still occur.” No, it can’t. Her “Rising Tide Foundation” is a lie with a hidden agenda. And even if we could return to exponential growth: it is unethical.

The world has limits: and we reached ours (long before Coronavirus).

Even without ”The City”: we still consume too much …around 3.4 planets worth of biocapacity in the UK. That amounts to 27,000 tonnes of material *each* per year [Hickel]. The poor are poor to develop our lacking self-esteem …that we cannot communally seem to find without material props and Fetishes of consumption. The article is not problem solving: but feeding disinformation and problem shifting to “The City”. We in the developed world are “The City” and form its consumption bourgeoisie.

Free of “The City”: then we can carry on consuming in everlasting exponential scales …subsidised by the stars?

http://canadianpatriot.org/the-universe-creativity-and-you-seminar-held-in-montreal-canada/

When we can link our consumption, our extraction, our pollution, our principle of Ecological Unequal Exchange, that extracts their wealth …so that the Global South develops our privilege. And then link that to the wanton destruction of the standing material stocks of the planet: then we can talk real solutions. And stop making science fiction excursions to avoid facing the truth.

#NoDealForNature – so long as there is no link between personal consumption, ecological unequal exchange, global poverty, limits to growth, and ongoing metabolic rift …then there only limited hangouts, problem shifting, hidden agendas (checkout Cynthia’s).

These are the dead elephants in the room. Soon, there will be the last one.

Gezzah Potts
Gezzah Potts
Mar 15, 2020 8:33 AM
Reply to  BigB

Jesus Poirot… er, BigB. I’ll try and keep this brief. At your suggestion, just checked out Rising Tide Foundation and their Board Of Directors and their backgrounds.
“At Rising Tide Foundation, we believe the market economy, in concert with limited Govt and rule of law holds the greatest promise of freedom and democracy for all”…
Our Core Beliefs:
1) Develop private sector solutions to societal problems
“We also fund projects that directly apply Libertarian principles, which may include advancement of entrepreneurship, innovation, or projects Aligned With Our Libertarian Core Values”….
I also checked out a bit of history on both Richard and Shawn Stephenson; who is currently Chairman of Rising Tide.
I also noted Matthew Ehret is listed there as is our author Cynthia Chung.
Jesus B…. Libertarians! Look, I still regard the article as really good in its actual critique of the City, and the ‘system’ and I stand by what I said in my comment, tho yeah, like you, I was quite flummoxed by the ‘conclusion’.
Also, much appreciate the John Bellamy Foster & Hannah Holleman download from that journal I’ve never heard of before.
I go on Monthly Review quite often – which is much more my cup of Tea, and have a lot of respect for JBF. Cheers B, enjoy the vista’s…

BigB
BigB
Mar 15, 2020 1:45 PM
Reply to  Gezzah Potts

Based loosely on the space-age market fundamentalism of Lyndon LaRouche and Hayek. If they want to live on the stars …

Unfortunately, for us who want to live on Earth: we have to respect that it is a quantitatively limited resource which is more valuable as the primary source of life ..the integral functioning of which is literally in the air we breathe. We all rely on it for our lofty aesthetic aspirations.

Which makes the distribution of wealth zero sum. The ”Trans-atlantic nations” – indeed all developed High Income Countries (HICs) – are developed by poorer peripheralised countries. If we want to match Cynthia’s lofty aspirations: it can only be by transferring wealth North to South.

As JBF makes clear: the poorer countries would be better off – in ”emergy” terms – keeping their resources to themselves. And developing themselves: developing their own capital; putting up tariffs and trade protections (practicing isolationism); developing their own manufacturing (via import substitution); and generally following the path that the HICs used historically in their own developmental phase …before we developed surplus capital.

Then, we would be living in mud huts: drinking rainwater from a bucket a passing goat just pissed in!

Indeed: in the Post-colonial and World Systems view – the South did develop for a short period – along the lines stated. What happened? Coup after coup after coup: then World Bank loans with SAPs (John Perkin’s gives a good personal account of this). The old Colonial order was restored (Jason Hickel gives a good recent overview in ”The Divide”).

I’d love to believe in the ”Rising Tide” and development: but aren’t they the same legitimising myths that got us here?

Unfortunately – and I know you already know – to achieve the lofty goals of global justice: we are going to have to make good with a lot less; distributed a lot more ethically and equitably than an aestheticised ‘free’ market allows for. By respecting the Earth System as the life-ground – not an instrumental standing resource. And facing the facts of the World System: not dreaming of the stars.

Gezzah Potts
Gezzah Potts
Mar 15, 2020 8:26 PM
Reply to  BigB

The more I dug, the more gobsmacked I got. There’s a 2014 Mother Jones that I skim read last night.
The Tea Party and Koch Brothers are mentioned quite a bit particularly to do with Richard Stephenson.
Yes – they are the same ‘legitimising myths’ that got us here…
I’ll read that JBF article download tonight – rushing for a bus to go sell mag…. Sigh.
A lot of people here in Australia have soaked up the Neoliberal myths and propaganda. Dog eat dog. Winners and losers, etc etc… Cheers

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 15, 2020 9:50 PM
Reply to  BigB

More like a passing bat, pissing in our buckets, I fear, Blanche. You’re spot on, as ever. Capitalism is cancer, highly undifferentiated and metastatic.

George Mc
George Mc
Mar 15, 2020 11:34 AM
Reply to  BigB

I read this and thought about you BB. Apologies if you’ve already read it:

https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/03/13/four-reasons-civilization-wont-decline-it-will-collapse/

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 15, 2020 10:02 PM
Reply to  George Mc

Ugo Bardi calls it ‘Seneca’s Cliff’, because the Roman noted, 2000 years ago, that ‘progress’ was slow and hard won, but collapse was swift and accelerating. It’s here, right now.

Seamus Padraig
Seamus Padraig
Mar 14, 2020 7:51 PM

Interesting article. Although I have relatives in London and have visited several times, I never knew all that stuff about the Corporation.

Since the general public tends to consist of decent people, there is a widespread difficulty in comprehending how entire economies of countries have been hijacked by these piranhas.

The fact that the common people of the US and Britain are so decent and naïve is precisely what made it so easy for predatory élites to deceive them. But who are these élites in reality and why do they feel no shame in doing what they do? Unz recently had a couple of good articles pondering those questions:

https://www.unz.com/article/vulture-capitalism-is-jewish-capitalism/
https://www.unz.com/article/jews-and-vulture-capitalism-a-reprise/

Contrary to popular naïve belief, the empire on which the sun never sets (some say “because God wouldn’t trust them in the dark”) never went away.

The Empire on which the sun never set just moved to the city that doesn’t sleep: New York!

Mike Ellwood
Mike Ellwood
Mar 14, 2020 9:09 PM
Reply to  Seamus Padraig

The history of London is quite interesting. I’ve forgotten a lot of what I knew and no doubt there was much I didn’t know), but, for example, “The City of Westminster” (where Parliament is) is quite separate from (and historically a rival to) “The City of London” .

Supposedly, the monarch has to ask permission to enter” The City of London”. (I imagine there are occasional symbolic occasions when she does so).

And Dick Whittington, nowadays a character in children’s pantomimes was a historical figures who was “thrice Lord Mayor of London” (meaning The City of London”). The Lord Mayor of London holds an ancient office, in contrast to “The Mayor of London” whose office was invented comparatively recently (first held by Ken Livingston) and which is responsible for the huge local government area known as Greater London.

Next time you are in London, try to visit the Museum of London, in London Wall, right in the heart of The City.

MASTER OF UNIVE
MASTER OF UNIVE
Mar 14, 2020 7:33 PM

One cannot re-inflate a Ponzi scheme once they implode. Bernie Madoff was an American icon of Wall Street & NYSE until the sand shifted and he wasn’t diddly squat anymore.

America put Madoff in jail first because he fit the infrastructure. Jailing all of Wall Street would require bigger jails.

MOU

lundiel
lundiel
Mar 14, 2020 5:30 PM

There is no solution as long as we have an army. The whole economy will be reset at zero for most of us when the whole lot comes crashing down and those of us who survive will do exactly the same thing all over again.

lundiel
lundiel
Mar 14, 2020 7:18 PM
Reply to  lundiel

The caring lie was quantified by putting about 25% of the population on the dole forever while not removing the social safety net. This was a very clever move that resulted in popular mythology that ‘welfare’ encouraged parasitism.
This view is still true today and for those lucky enough to be on the housing ladder, all that matters is the rising value of their property asset, keeping their income stream at any cost and paying as little tax as possible. Unless they can enter the buy to let market, the rising value of their property is their only pension worth having and everything is dependant on them not becoming I’ll. They are fully aware of this but see no alternative that offers them anyway near the same standard of living. They will defend it to the end and their children and grandchildren are also ensnared.

Francis Lee
Francis Lee
Mar 14, 2020 5:12 PM

An interesting issue raised by the author was the existence of these shadow entities called ‘Trusts’ or ‘Foundations’. You know, like the Clinton Foundation and the Gates Foundation. Trusts originally came into being way back when English Knights and Nobles went to fight the infidels in the Holy land. These ‘Grantors’ then gave their assets for a second group the Trustees for safekeeping; finally there were the Beneficiaries who ultimately would be in receipt of the Trust’s assets: Ceteris Paribus. It was a three way relationship. The Trustees were usually family friends or today would be trusted and smart lawyers carrying out this task for upfront fees. The grantor made the trustees take an oath of allegiance to safeguard the treasure when the Knights returned – if he returned. The Church then became involved.

With the subsequent evolution of this arcane institution the whole question of ownership became completely blurred. And for very good reasons. If the bone fide owner of the Trust could argue, or more likely let his legal representatives argue, that the assets were not really his then he or she would not be liable for taxation. Neat eh? In fact there are layers after layers of legal nitpicking was designed to undermine the whole meaning of ownership. It goes like this:

”The alchemy begins when the Grantor (theoretically) gives his assets away, and the very concept of ownership begins to separate out into different components: technical legal ownership versus the right to consume, enjoy or control … Usually the Trustee becomes the legal owner … but the trustee cannot simply run off with the assets himself … The beneficiaries have other rights over the assets.” (The Finance Curse – Nicholas Shaxson – p.173).

Thus Trusts can be exempt for taxation if the legal architecture of avoidance is armour plated enough. Better still, by moving the whole kit and caboodle offshore those assets become completely out of reach.

” … If the Trusts or Trustees are based offshore’ – the Cook Islands were mentioned – ‘ where the taxman does not have jurisdiction then it becomes in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customers department’s own wards, ‘very complicated’ (Op.cit) Meaning impossible of course.

When billionaire grantor gives away his assets (which in fact he doesn’t, or maybe he does, but this does not solve the mystery) he not only creates a legal barrier between himself and his assets, but also potentially creates a secrecy barrier. So the whole tax avoidance racket rolls on. In Shaxson’s words.

Offshore, crime, money and politics are not an aberration of the system: they are the system. (Op.cit p.187.)

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 14, 2020 8:13 PM
Reply to  Francis Lee

Just as the ‘Deep State’ ie the money power, IS the State.

Capricornia Man
Capricornia Man
Mar 15, 2020 5:17 AM
Reply to  Francis Lee

As former Blair associate John McTernan has sagely reminded us, tax avoidance is an expression of basic British freedom.

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 15, 2020 7:54 AM

He was the turd who advised our worst female PM, ever, Julia Gillard.

Capricornia Man
Capricornia Man
Mar 16, 2020 7:04 AM

He also gives regular interviews on ABC radio wherein he makes outrageous allegations against Corbyn and the UK Labour Party. No responses broadcast.
NB: Gillard was our only female PM.

Mike Ellwood
Mike Ellwood
Mar 14, 2020 5:06 PM

Good old Clem. His manifesto and policies were much more socialist than Jeremy’s, and he won a landslide. He even nationalised the Bank of England. Can you imagine Jeremy getting away with that, if it wasn’t already nationalised? Keir Starmer certainly wouldn’t. Admittedly it has carried on working on behalf of the banking sector rather than the public, but that isn’t really Clem’s fault.

(Richard Werner claims that it was never properly nationalised, but I haven’t looked into that properly).

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
Mar 14, 2020 6:26 PM
Reply to  Mike Ellwood

Attlee lived in a different era. UK still had a major manufacturing base, enormous mining industry and he came to power after the second world war in a generation. Contemporaneous writers spoke of the hordes of ex-servicemen coming home saying quite clearly that they would not put up with exploitation any more after risking life and limb for six years. Churchill made a huge error playing the ‘Russia card’, when what people wanted doing was building houses, rebuilding infrastructure and just enjoying some life with friends and family.

They wanted to detox from war, not start another one……..

Pyewacket
Pyewacket
Mar 15, 2020 11:28 AM
Reply to  Rhys Jaggar

Rhys, Atlee’s greatest error imo was his initiative, taken secretly, to develop our own nuclear bomb. Perhaps he really believed we needed our own deterrent, but when I lok where that has taken us, it was perhaps not the wisest of moves.

jay
jay
Mar 14, 2020 3:54 PM

Thatcher’s “caring capitalism” is venture capitalists buying up nursing homes then throwing out the confused old ladies and selling the building from under them…
Caring Capitalism is some joker who owns a business, spending the pension investments of workers, He then offloads the business, with all it’s pension liabilities to a flunky for a quid. No doubt, money is exchanged under the table.
Caring Capitalism, is when a tv comedian avoids paying his due taxes through a legal scheme. Another comedian, who happens to be prime minister at the time is highly critical. The only thing is: the PMs Father runs one of the biggest such schemes and He probably funded sending his children to Eton through this morally questionable although perfectly legal occupation.

George Mc
George Mc
Mar 14, 2020 6:04 PM
Reply to  jay

I would say that Thatcher’s “caring capitalism” has morphed into Boris’s corona capitalism.

lundiel
lundiel
Mar 14, 2020 6:51 PM
Reply to  George Mc

Thatcher’s Capitalism was the antithesis of caring. If that word had any relevance, every council house that was given away would have been replaced like for like and the emergant service economy would have been a fraction of what it is now.

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 14, 2020 8:15 PM
Reply to  lundiel

The essence of capitalism and the Rightwing psychology is fear and hatred of others.

George Mc
George Mc
Mar 14, 2020 10:36 PM
Reply to  lundiel

All capitalism is the antithesis of caring.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
Mar 14, 2020 6:31 PM
Reply to  jay

Venture Capitalism per se is an honourable method of risk investing. It gets a bad name when some more mature VC plays, termed ‘private equity’ in effect bleed companies dry rather than driving high growth.

The point of VC investing is this: you back an enterprise which, if successful, will net you 10 – 100 times your investment or more. Because it is highly risky, you expect a lot to go bust, but a well-chosen fund portfolio will have enough winners to make acceptable overall returns for the investors.

Technology development and application is ideally suited to VC investments: there are risks that the technology will not work well enough; that competitors using different approaches win the technological battle; there are risks that politics will regulate away market opportunities etc etc.

Good VC investors seek to grow transformational young businesses for capital gain, creation of cash-generative vehicles or creation of hugely valuable patent estates.

Just because shysters abuse the market space does not stop the concept of VC being an honourable one.

Jen
Jen
Mar 14, 2020 7:57 PM
Reply to  Rhys Jaggar

I can’t see why this comment was down-voted other than that the concept was labelled “Venture Capitalism”. Just about every major energy technology we have, even renewables, has involved some level of risk (the likelihood of failure) for some reason (be it insufficient money, the financial power of jealous competitors who see alternatives to their business as a threat, public scepticism due to media brainwashing). This is where venture funding becomes important. One’s own finances (including credit and a personal loan) and those of family, friends and business partners can only go so far.

In most cases where companies providing renewable energy technologies have succeeded, they have had to rely on some form of joint venture financing (often involving government subsidies) or relied on private investors before eventually going public (that is, issuing shares and being listed on the sharemarket). The problem though is that by going public, the original owner or entrepreneur can lose control of the original business idea or concept and it may end up developing along a very different path contrary to the orginsl vision.

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 15, 2020 7:55 AM
Reply to  Jen

Venture capitalism is speculative parasitism.

jay
jay
Mar 15, 2020 9:16 AM
Reply to  Rhys Jaggar

I was virtually barred from investing in floatation of the Royal Mail.
The reason beng as stated by Sir Vince Cable was ‘that the city would love and nurture the shares’…
Within a nanosecond of purchasing, the city sold all of those share for a vast profit.
The proof of concept of capitalism has failed. The concept that ‘money’ is wise and will not look for short term profit when in the long term it is detrimental is laughable. The quick buck always wins and young, old, sick or poor…you will be dead and or shafted for a buck in a twinkling of an eye.
Sport, The Oliver Stone movies are wonderful exposures of the money system.

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 14, 2020 8:14 PM
Reply to  jay

‘Caring capitalism’ is like ‘friendly cancer’.

wardropper
wardropper
Mar 14, 2020 3:07 PM

It is so very understandable that one would look for something positive in this stinking mess, but I fear that this statement won’t cut it:

IF these emergency measures were done before the markets collapse (and they will collapse), then the industrial-infrastructure revival throughout trans-Atlantic nations can still occur.

My doubt stems from the question, “But aren’t the markets already collapsing?” . . .
This is otherwise a marvellous account of what is wrong, but those who care and are sufficiently intelligent and self-aware to inform themselves on the subject are always going to want to know, “How do we fix it?”

BigB
BigB
Mar 14, 2020 5:31 PM
Reply to  wardropper

WD:

“How do we fix it”? In a nutshell: end industrial capitalism forthwith; degrow the economy by around 300%; deglobalise and relocate all vital infrastructures to the shortest possible supply chains; become food and energy sovereign (neo-self-sufficiency – as much as possible); de-tech and employ antifragile local systems with appropriate tech; transition rapidly to a solar economy (a one time transition *with* renewables – no *to* renewables …it’s a one shot transition, not to a steady*renewable* end state); humanely reverse global overpopulation; real leveling up with reverse primitive accumulation; go someway to repaying our ecological debt by transferring our excess wealth to the Global South. As we degrow: they can have the clean water, education, sanitation, healthcare, etc we deprived them of.

The real situation is far worse than this article allows for. We in the developed world put $128bn in to the Global South: and extract $2.66tn in unequal exchange. To develop the South to an International Poverty Line of $5 a day would take 207 years at current rates. And the global economy would have to increase 175 times to do it. See: Jason Hickel – “The Divide”. Poor countries develop rich countries. “Europe is the creation of the Third World” – Frantz Fanon.

Its all been known for decades, WD. There are libraries of material – all gathering dust. Post-colonial studies, World Systems theory, Sustainability science, etc, etc. But there is zero political or personal will to back it up. I started studying in 1978: the position was the same then. Let’s be honest: no one gives an actual fuck …not when it comes to making the huge personal sacrifice it would really take to somehow level up what 350 years of capitalism has done to us and the planet.

The solutions are simple: but unpalatable to our bourgeois taste for luxury. Everyone cares …until they have to care by committing to degrowth. Then, all of a sudden: it’s someone else’s fault. And someone else’s responsibility to change. ‘Them’ …the ‘Bankers’; ‘American Imperialism’; the ‘Politicians’ …etc. Whenever you read such euphemism: therebehind lies someone in denial.

If we all fessed up to the mess we are in: we could deploy solutions and start planning a world that brings out the best in us …not the worst. But it will not be a materially rich world. We need socio-spiritual solutions …and an economy “as if people mattered”. To people that have self-worth that does not need validating with totemic possessions. Everyone wants change: just not that much.

We can fix it when we end our denial and face the hard facts:

…For global justice: it will cost us our privilege. For our privilege: it will continue to cost the lives of the already poor. To maintain our privilege: it will cost us all the Earth.

The solutions are simple. When there is a will: then there will be a way …but not until.

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 14, 2020 8:23 PM
Reply to  BigB

Precisely, Blanche. Capitalist growth IS cancer. It does not reach a ‘cancer stage’ as McMurtrie posited, but an End-Stage, the cachectic wasting away that we see all around us. All the living diversity built up over eons reduced to the dead, dull, stuff of money, grasped by ever fewer greedy, insatiably avaricious, hands. The other path out, the elites’ preference, is massive, coerced, and rapid depopulation, coming soon, for sure. No more ‘useless eaters’ who represent nothing anymore but a threat to elite wealth and power.

wardropper
wardropper
Mar 14, 2020 10:40 PM
Reply to  BigB

I think you misunderstand me, BigB. I only expressed what thinking people are always going to want to know – but in realistic terms. Otherwise I am certain that you and I are in agreement as to how appalling the situation really is, as well as its socio-demonic nature.
To take your first “nutshell”, linked with your later mention of “Where there’s a will, there’s a way:

end industrial capitalism forthwith; degrow the economy by around 300%; deglobalise and relocate all vital infrastructures to the shortest possible supply chains

So here’s little me, full of will, standing in the middle of the Square Mile, insisting upon industrial capitalism being ended forthwith; the economy being degrown by around 300%; all vital infrastructures being deglobalized and relocated to the shortest possible supply chains, etc. etc., and speaking to an audience of – . . . well, no one.
There must be a million media outlets urging “us” to take such action, but they don’t talk about the tools we would need to carry it out.
What I am getting at is that our problem is rather like the subject of the poor in the Bible: Not even Jesus talked about eradicating poverty, although of course He emphasized that we should be good and generous to the poor. He even said that the poor are always with us. This seems to me to confirm that the tools necessary to eradicate poverty are beyond the reach of normal men and women, while those rich enough to make a real difference become infected with the greed virus, which ensures that they frankly can’t be bothered.
Despite Gandhi’s statement that “there is enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed”, we are stuck with the problem that the greedy are always with us too…
Spiritual solutions are there for individuals who care to search, but there are also earth-bound truths which seem inescapable. Here is a little story about the remarkable teacher of the spirit, Rudolf Steiner:
On a lovely summer day, he, along with a group of his co-workers, went on a picnic near the centre of their pioneering work, and naturally discussed all kinds of spiritual matters related to their personal and group research. Everything was so calm and beautiful about their surroundings that one of the youngest members of the group couldn’t help exclaiming, “Oh, why can’t everybody just be happy like this?” To which Steiner, an extraordinarily perceptive and compassionate man, replied, “But what if the purpose of life is not to be happy, but to work?”
There are certainly answers in such lofty thoughts, but they are not comfortable ones.

BigB
BigB
Mar 15, 2020 4:09 PM
Reply to  wardropper

I fully sympathise, WD. You, me, and Uncle Tom Cobley can wish it was any other way …but it stays the same. In Hume’s famous sceptical phrase: “You can’t get an is from an ought”.

For me, the thing that remains to do with my very limited agency: is to point out that the system in place was designed – though not cohesively and deliberately (as many seem to think): subject, as much, to ineptitude and accident – and it can be undesigned and restructured for the benefit of all humanity. This is not a lofty idealism, but a realism.

Methodological individualism is a relatively recent cultural invention. One that is economically determined. Only, it is not sustainable. Quite how cultures will re-invent themselves remains to be seen.

If we fully understand the organisational parameters; and are honest about the facts and conditions of existence (which Cynthia is not); there at least remains the open possibility that we could get it right …next time.

That is neither enough nor any form of scant consolation for any of us. Unfortunately, unless we wake up by the millions and decide to do things differently …that’s the way it will be.

However: pretending is no help either. If we got rid of the City: it would be a good first step. But only toward the sort of redistribution of resources and wealth I mentioned. Cynthia is looking to the stars for imaginary solutions. Compassion is the only solution required. Which is something we can find right here.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we organised and designed our systems with heart, not mind? We wouldn’t even need much of an economy then, would we?

wardropper
wardropper
Mar 15, 2020 5:18 PM
Reply to  BigB

Thank you BigB. I suppose I sympathize with the idea of “looking to the stars” for answers, but personally I spend a lot of time wondering about the practical bridges which might be built between “ought to be” and “will be”.
The millions of wakened hearts you mention would seem to be a very distant possibility, but I think I’m too impatient to bear waiting for a future generation to “hopefully” set things right. I want to do my bit now.
Most crucially, though, I don’t think the corrupt system we have slowly allowed to take over our lives has any intention of ever allowing us to “set things right”. It likes things the way they are.
One thing is always present as a possibility, however: We do what we can, and some are already doing that.

Richard Le Sarc
Richard Le Sarc
Mar 14, 2020 8:17 PM
Reply to  wardropper

The ‘fix’ is plain-rapid depopulation.

wardropper
wardropper
Mar 15, 2020 4:15 AM

Okay, but do you mean voluntarily?
I really don’t get it, but there are still millions of people who desperately look forward to being parents… In THIS world too…
I’m amazed that Nature hasn’t already sterilized us, given the future we are offering the next generation, and given the fact that Nature knows how to deal with serious aberrations. But modern man lives so unconnected with Nature that she has probably made an exception in our case, and decided to let us go to hell if that’s what we want.

George Mc
George Mc
Mar 14, 2020 2:19 PM

What’s the bet that the corralorra virus will never disturb THIS lot?

Boblink
Boblink
Mar 14, 2020 1:46 PM

Where is a square-mile sized chunk of Ebola when you need it ?