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« Occupy Home Street | Main | The Path - Episode I: From Where We Are »

October 16, 2011


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Sorry if you don't want carry over comments but............

"With respect to the plutocratic move to 'reclaim' what is rightfully theirs, the model Bruce presented might come to pass (I believe there will be a start down that road), but their power would have to come from a police/military capability that had the resources to actually carry it out. The key word is power and political/economic power derives from access to high EROI energy. All of the civilization or power elite downfalls in history come, essentially, to this. No cheap energy, no power to enforce anything. I'm actually counting on this phenomenon (on a global basis) to keep Bruce's and George G.'s scenario from materializing. Or at least nipping it in the bud before it can fully develop. Most of our visions of the power elite commandeering society come from historical precedents "wherein energy was available to power the armies/police. We are looking at a completely unprecedented condition for human social dynamics. I suspect (and hope) those dynamics will end up being far more anarchical than top-down force."

Even you are on the side of the military as repo men?
I am going to keep this short but I still think it will be very difficult to convince/coerce the current troops to foreclose on there own.
Furthermore just what are they going to do with all the foreclosed on property?
They aren't even foreclosing on them now.
The banks/oligarchs don't want empty rotting houses and used cars they want the masses to PAY them money every month.
The repo system is a threat and in the huge scale that you and the others envision it is just not manageable or profitable for the oligarchs to employ.
Then once they have kicked everyone out of their houses and put all the cars in some giant impound like The aircraft graveyard at Davis Monthan what are they going to do?
Station millions and millions of troops in every neighborhood to prevent squatting?
Come on......
The scale is way to big to enforce and keep under control.
Let's use a little common sense OK?
The net energy angle is of course absolute in curtailing the confiscation.

I could see a mass extermination campaign way before the above scenario but again it will be very hard to get the current armed forces to willy nilly kill American citizens.
These kids aren't that dumb.
You were Navy(I am assuming enlisted) would you have done such a thing?
You are all lost in your imaginations...............
Sorry if I am coming across
flippy but we are suppose to be the sapient ones aren't we?


I have an idea for your blog to get more and retain more readership.
If you published your blogs the same times and days each week you would have people on a schedule.
This is what Kunstler does and he gets a lot more readers than you do with almost vacuous content.
Your Blog is fact based and educational his is just a weekly entertaining rant where he can show off his vocabulary and turn of phrase.
Think about this.........

Oh yeah make sure you put something up to that effect to convey the publishing schedule.

I will accept the thanks in advance!


George, approximately every 32-36 years in the short history of so-called United States, coincident with the coming of age of a new peak demographic cohort (the smaller Millennials taking over from the Boomers and "Generation Jonesers" in the US today) and their desire to get a piece of the prosperity pie, we have experienced financial panics, economic depressions (inflationary and deflationary), currency crises, political assassinations, social unrest, and the demise of one of the two dominant competing political parties (factions as the Founders, no fans of democracy or "free trade", referred to them) and a reordering of the regional geopolitical power structure.

The list of parties/factions disappearing is as follows (parties replacing them in parentheses):

Federalists in 1800s (Democratic-Republicans).

Democratic-Republicans in the 1830s (Whigs).

Whigs in the 1860s (Republicans).

Populists in the 1890s (McKinley-TR-Harding-Coolidge Republicans).

Pro-business Coolidge Republicans in the 1930s (FDR's New Dealers).

New Dealers in the 1970s (Reagan pro-business "Conservatives").

??? in the 2000s-2010s . . . (????).

Will there be two marginally distinct parties hereafter? Or will we see collapse of the party system and the further institutional consolidation of "The Party" (the corporate-state party), i.e., an Orwellian "Inner Party" of the 1%, an "Outer Party" of the next 9%, and the remaining 90% "proles"?

porge, I invite you not to think in terms of the grunts today with i-thingies and full of corn syrup, PBRs, McDonald's burgers, and cheese doodles but testosterone-induced young men with no other economic prospects except their "voluntary" 16-yr. (or longer) stints in the imperial legionnaires and auxiliaries under conditions of unrest, privation, and resentment and distrust of authority by the domestic and imperial frontier populi. Given the prospect of being hungry and on the barrel end of an automatic weapon or something larger and eating and the option of having their finger on the trigger, I strongly suspect a large majority will choose the latter.

And the US military currently has sonic/ultrasonic weaponry, 3-D holographic, cloaking, and drone technologies to simulate "shock and awe" attacks on enemy and domestic populations, including simulating everything from metro-area War of the Worlds-like alien invasions and imminent asteroid impacts to the Second Coming, should the corporate-statist leaders deem it necessary to implement at some point during a period of irretrievable descent into social disorder and collapse.

Moreover, the military and various intelligence services possess (public record, not classified) fast-acting, broad-spectrum viral agents that can wipe us out in weeks to months were they charged with the task (and perhaps to accompany an "alien invasion" from the Rings of Uranus).

If given the choice of surviving and being sworn to secrecy or being the victim of such an operation, how many military officers and personnel would choose death with the masses? Would it not be easy to convince a sufficient self-selected plurality to choose to participate and live versus die with the masses?


I am aware of the capabilities of the Military.

In response to civil unrest I think you are right but not as a domestic invasion force to dispossess the people.

The masses will have to be out of control for your scenario to occur.
You don't have to tell me about young and full of test. I have more than my fair share of testosterone and I remember well what I was like as a young man but that didn't stop my brain from functioning.

Also you are jumping from the current state of affairs to some wacky sci-fi movie plot.
There are going to be a lot of phases in between... any of which could change the course of things.
Kind of like chaos theory where each phase has multiple different directions that can be taken that are all valid and unique which leads to another phase with multiple possibilities etc, etc.
You can't just make the jump from the present state of affairs to what you think is the end game.

OK this dead horse has been beaten enough.

George Mobus


Thanks for the suggestion. I have, in the past, attempted something of a regular posting, but have found my work schedule, which is anything but regular these days, dictates my spare time.

Actually, what interests me more than an increased readership is the quality of readers and their comments. So far I have been fortunate to have not had a lot of inane comments clogging things up and requiring some moderation. So word of mouth advertising is good. Thanks for that (from the Home Street thread).

I haven't done anything like trying to optimize for google searches or posted places like HuffingtonPost(talk about thousands of inane comments!) to increase volumes. I prefer not to attract the ideologically-driven crowd if possible. The subjects I address would sure to raise hackles on both sides! I have only "advertised" in places like The Oil Drum where I know there are mostly intelligent readers. And then only if what I have said in my blog is relevant to the subject at hand.

But in case I ever do want to implement your idea, thanks in advance!


Very interesting history. Thanks. I have been pretty apolitical except when I thought the Democrats might be able to unseat GW Bush. That is the only time I took part and it was because I had come to dislike Bush so much from his crimes in his first term. But we know how that turned out.

In truth I have given up entirely on politics in this country (and probably everywhere). We humans are simply not constituted mentally to make good judgments about those we want to govern us (or babysit us, more like it). That is why I think a TAP is sheer fantasy but fun to consider what it might be like, if only...

PS All. I go back to work at my day job tomorrow so take your time in making any more comments. I'm not likely to get to them for days at a time.

alex todorov


how about spending some of your time to actually organize this "third party"?

how about finding these people and connecting to them, huh?

do you think those people come to you after reading your blog?

do you want them to learn your "language of sapience"?

how do you know your language is "best"?

it is me who has found you and tried to coordinate - not the other way around

for as long as we refuse an open hand of the other and think that we have found "ultimate truth" we cannot call ourselves "sapient"

we have very little time

and blogs of "concerned individuals" are popping up like mushrooms after the rain: some of them will be "sapinet" and "homo cogitans" and will act upon their knowledge

Robin Luethe

I have observed a number of 3rd parties in the last 30 or so years. Most have been led or financed by (semi)egomaniacs - and failed. What might have worked better is to endorse house and senate members of existing parties who would sign onto certain planks, like those you have enumerated above. And perhaps a means could be devised to endorse the best of those in either party, and with enough funds so that they could flout party loyalties if need be. Rob

Robin Datta

It would seem like an attempt to clarify the muddy socio-political waters by waving the wand of rationality.

From reptilians onwards, behaviour in individuals is controlled by the reptilian brain, non-verbal, non-rational, where emotion, pleasure & pain are mediated - the limbic system in humans. The most recent, primate part of the brain, where speech and rationality are mediated, has some influence on the older brain, but the root causes of actions and even the way one shapes / colors one's cognition is dependent or the old brain.

An appeal to rationality ain't gonna do it for most people.


In order to solve a problem the first step is to understand the root cause of that problem.
Politics is not the root cause.
This is:

We are all slaves to the debt money system.


Money as debt (part 1 of 5):

And note (no pun intended) that today the implied compounding interest to avg. term of total US credit market debt owed is now 100% of nominal GDP.

Debt-money value is attributable to the amount of discounted compounding interest received by those who lend the debt-money at effectively infinite term. Without growth of debt-money and the interest received by those who create it and lend it, debt-money cannot continue to grow, and neither can so-called (un)economic "growth".

We currently have $52 trillion in credit market debt owed to $15 trillion in GDP and $5.5 trillion in private wages. The implied total interest owed to avg. term is nearly 3 times the level of private wages, from whence most of the interest to service debt comes.

Total gov't spending is now 100% of private wages.

We reached the Jubilee threshold for debt/income and debt/GDP in '07-'08, and growth of debt is no longer possible. That the US economy cannot grow without a net growth of debt-money, it follows that the US economy cannot grow.

But it's worse than that because the total debt service so exceeds wages, and wages are contracting in real terms per capita, wages, employment, and consumption in real terms per capita will contract faster than credit market debt owed, causing debt-money velocity and multiplier to continue to fall indefinitely, even as banks shore up their balance sheets and households try to deleverage.

Some say we can inflate our way out of the debt over time; but this is not the case when wages do not grow to service existing or new debt at higher nominal interest rates at higher trend inflation.

There is no way out of the debt-deflationary spiral for asset prices, wages, and debt-money deflation except by asset/debt liquidation or consumption of accumulated financial wealth.


porge, von Clausewitz said that "war is the continuation of politics by other means". That economics is not a science but politics "by other means", it follows that war, politics, and economics are synonymous or mutually reinforcing.

It is also said that the business of empire is war, and war is good business.

Therefore, US economic theories and policies are but political rationalizations for perpetual imperial wars of expansion, resource expropriation, and rentier plunder.


You must be getting are getting Spammed now!

"I don't know if this is a good action but to tell you honestly your article is good.

Posted by: How to start a painting business | October 19, 2011 at 01:30 AM"

I am not sure of the purpose of directing your second comment toward me but I do agree.
You and I seem to agree on all major themes and disagree only on the details.

What other blogs do you read regularly?


" That economics is not a science but politics "by other means", it follows that war, politics, and economics are synonymous or mutually reinforcing."

In support of your train of thought it is interesting to note that the term "economics" actually replaced the term "political economy" which was the common label for the "dismal science" from Adam Smith through David Ricardo and even Karl Marx.
So the two were considered intertwined from the beginning and war is of course the ultimate last resort when all else fails.
I think it was Mao that said (paraphrased)
"Political authority ultimately issues from the barrel of a gun."


"Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed."
Mao Tse-Tung

Here is another "Maoism"

Not that I agree with his methods but he sure was a guy that could get things done!

Dave Kimble

I was getting upset before you wrote "Naturally the likelihood of anything remotely like this happening is nil."

I foresee a big collapse until what you are talking about seems "up" rather than "down". Nobody ever voted for austerity.

I spent 19 years helping build The Australian Greens, even ran for Parliament. But then it became obvious that they were wedded to the idea of renewable energy so that we could continue with BAU and so I quit.

Now we have OWS, but I get the feeling that they still believe in the Great American Dream, not realising that if it doesn't include the rest of the world, it will never be fair and stable.


George, you say:
"Ideology: None... "

But also:
"Plank 2: Science will always trump opinions in all matters..."

This sounds like a very strong ideology to me! I can foresee so many dangers in such an idea that I scarcely know where to begin!

George Mobus

Robin L.

Personally I have given up on politics as practiced in the US (and pretty much everywhere else) because of the money game. Politicians are now products to be bought and sold.

Robin D.,

Too true. I still hold out that at least a few humans have larger tracts of inhibitory innervation to the limbic centers from the prefrontal cortices than the average. And a few more von Economo cells relaying the limbic inclinations up to the prefrontal to get the latter to start imposing a little rationality from time to time.

Evolution works by accretion! New functions overlay older ones and often have to down modulate of modify the responses of the older parts. The average human brain is just caught in a middle zone, evolutionarily, where that newer part, the PFC, is still kind of weak when it comes to undoing what the older part wants to do.


You're sounding biblical! Money is definitely a problem for humans (and debt-created money is as much a symptom here) because our brains are still able to get caught in addiction due to the switch on of the reward system. And money seems to activate that system unduly. But IMHO, the root is still the lack of an adequate level of sapience relative to the level of cleverness (see my comment above to Robin D. re: the inadequacy of PFC override of the limbic system). We were clever enough to invent a very useful way to mark value for fractional transactions but then fell victims to its illusion as a storehouse of value (it so obviously isn't unless we think it is!)

I'm holding out that the root cause of all of mankind's woes is that we simply haven't evolved sufficient sapience given our intelligence and creativity. I don't think of this as a fluke, but rather it seems a pretty natural progression of the evolution of a hierarchical control architecture. The real question is whether our genus will get a shot at evolving a more sapient species before our cleverness (and weaknesses) kill us.

On the spam: I've been getting these kinds of messages for some time. Usually they show up on much older postings so most people don't see them. I keep marking them as spam but the spam filter that typepad uses isn't very good. Thanks for noticing though.


Excellent analysis as usual.

For anyone who missed some of my earlier writing on the relationship between energy and wealth production, and the fact that only a growing supply of energy can support a growing economy and the use of debt to finance consumption, see: Economic Dynamics and the Real Danger.

Dave K.,

Glad you caught the last part. As Robin D. said, this would be waving too much rational thought in front of a bunch of lizard brains.


I am using the term "ideology" in its more specific sense of belief in ideas about how the world "should" work regardless of evidence about how it "does" work.

It is true that scientific theories (and that word used in the scientific meaning), explanations, and hypotheses are technically "ideas", but the have the obvious advantage of being built on a history of development from evidence. One does not have to "believe" in science just because it sounds good. It has a solid track record of producing increasingly veridical ideas.

Nor should this be confused with scientism, which is a philosophical position (generally held in the late 19th and early 20th centuries) that science is the only path to knowledge. It was eagerly held when science was beginning to make incredible progress and enthusiasts were easily seduced into believing it would eventually answer all questions. Modern scientists (well most of them, I think) are a little less naive today.

Holding that policies should be developed from a scientific understanding of the physical realities of social problems is more a matter of pragmatism than anything else. If a problem presents itself for which there is little current understanding, that is a clue as to where to spend your research dollars.

The current dominant ideologies (conservatism/regressivism and liberalism/progressivism) are not founded on anything scientifically known about human nature or the physical reality of a finite world. They are pure beliefs held about humans and nature that are proving to be counter to what we are learning about reality. Ergo, my disdain for what usually passes as ideology.

Incidentally, it is incumbent upon you to try to make a beginning in elucidating these dangers you foresee. Merely stating that they exist is not very helpful. But let me save you some effort, if what you foresee is the political misuse of science as was the case in history (e.g. the Nazi's misuse of a perfectly valid scientific concept of eugenics, the later now having be stigmatized by that political association). That kind of danger we all understand. That is why plank 2 is phrased the way it is. Science (not politics) will always trump opinion.


alex todorov

to david,

although i am not sure if george would sign up the below, it is relevant to "science will always trump opinion"

the excerpt is from
The Matter of Forensic Integrity at

If 'integrity of substance and learning' is not addressed during formative years, it tends to become reinforced and resident as 'mere opinion' without such integrity as one grows up. It is a matter, simply, of the material of routine education centering on the tools of society and civilization and not on that 'material and its integrity'. Because of this, people enter society with religious, ethnic and 'political' opinions modified largely by personal circumstance -opinions of tenuous and essentially unimportant substance in quotidian life. Should one go on to higher education in the soft sciences of such material however -law, politics, economics et cetera, that tenuous integrity becomes part of the institutionalized opinion that has so far served to determine the nature and course of society and civilization -ergo 'the human condition'.



Perhaps I don't really understand when and where science would trump opinion. I think I need some examples, perhaps. Yes, of course I thought of the Nazis, and I am quite sure that you would put in place safeguards to prevent the obvious misuse of science (i.e. the misinterpretation of 'Plank 2'). But of course, such safeguards can be removed over time. An example I would cite is the Glass Steagall Act in banking which, as I understand it, was put in place because 'we had learned our lesson' and legislated quite unequivocally to prevent future generations from falling into the same error. But, of course, the Act was removed as soon as people were convinced that 'this time it's different' and it was hampering their 'wealth creation'.

Where does science fit into questions such as criminal sentencing, education, social 'safety nets', gender legislation? I can think of many areas where 'ideology' dictates policy but where the naive use of statistics might suggest a different policy would be better. What if some 'scientist' demonstrated that tearing up the (gender) equal opportunities legislation would boost the economy and reduce juvenile delinquency through encouraging mothers to stay at home? As far as I can make out, it is only ideology that says that men and women should be given equal opportunities in the workplace, thereby overriding the apparent demands of the 'market'. Would the Third Party consider allowing 'science' to trump such ideology? If not, what does Plank 2 actually mean?

George Mobus


I think you miss the point. The last section indicates that because this isn't an ideal world, namely that humans are, on average, not nearly as sapient as they would need to be, the whole idea of a political party such as this is nothing more than a pipe dream.

You are working under the assumption that this idea is proposed for humans as we are. It isn't, and largely for all the kinds of reasons you give. Our species is still to self-centered and selfish, too given to form opinions on subjects based on emotions rather than reason and still think those opinions are right. We could never form a party for which this platform could be stood on.

Now try to imagine a different species of humans, one in which sapience is much stronger. In such as species the motives for developing ideas come from observations of the real world and not from imagination coupled with selfish emotions. It may be hard to imagine such a species (I have written extensively about the basis for this conceptualization: ). Hence you would have difficulty imagining how science would trump opinion. But for the wise person, science is the basis of opinion (justified true belief in philosophical circles), hence it is never a question of conflict between the beliefs one holds and the reality of the world.

All of your questions about where does science fit into various social considerations are predicated on how the current species of humans think and behave.

Try re-conceptualizing the situation. Try imagining people who are much more empathetic and altruistic as well as less subject to command by the limbic system. There actually are people in our midst like this. Unfortunately they constitute a very small minority and their effectiveness is swamped by the greed, selfishness, emotion-laden beliefs, and failure to use reasoning that is prevalent in the vast majority.

Think of this exercise as aspirational, if only we humans were better people!


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