Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Nah. You give them way too much credit. Both in terms of the amount of long-term planning they have proven capable of, and the amount of secrecy that would be required. These clowns aren't precisely subtle or careful. Matt Taibbi and other muckrackers regularly interview insiders who have ratted out crooked banksters (to no visible effect, except to bring their careers to a screeching halt). If these attitudes were prevalent on Wall Street, then we'd know about it by now. I think it's much simpler: They're crooks, Ayn Rand fans, psychopaths (but I repeat myself) and, above all, short-term shysters. They only appear smart, subtle and sophisticated because they've bought the cops who were supposed to put them in the slammer when they blow stuff up for fun and profit (and all the newsies who were supposed to film the perp-walk).

The one place where I do think there's some amount of planning going on is in the military-industrial complex. Unlike the banksters, they're not in the business of defrauding widows and orphans. These people are used to planning ahead, they're used to dealing with supply chains, logistics and all the other aspects of actually making real stuff. And they have considerable experience with waging resource wars, so natural resources are on their mental map.

The banksters have none of those qualifications. They're just children on a coke binge.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 28th, 2011 at 05:09:05 PM EST
Completely agree.

I think the closest anyone with money or power gets to a usable narrative for what is happening is seeing the chaos on our doorstep and planning their own lifeboats like geezer is, but on a different scale of resources.

Policy wise, no way - you simply can't walk among the elites without believing status quo narratives.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Feb 28th, 2011 at 06:30:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree with both you and Jake. Not only you "can't walk among the elites without believing status quo narratives", but you can constantly fear irrelevance and a falling by the wayside in your wished-for career path if you step out of the strait and narrow. That is deeply interiorised ie not even conscious, but a powerful determinant of behaviour.

If anything unites different sections of the elites - financial, political, military, technocratic - it is not a shared secret knowledge of reality on which an eschatological strategy is based, but self-serving ignorance, intellectual and moral mediocrity.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 1st, 2011 at 08:57:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are significant exceptions. If someone in finance consistently makes high return investments that few others see, that person can believe pretty much what they will, as long as they employ a modicum of discretion in what they say. Successful hedge fund traders are an example.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 2nd, 2011 at 09:30:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that Geezer is describing. I've known some of what used to be called 'coupon clippers' over the years, plus some of their intellectual servants. Most of them that I've known are self-entitled, but some are quite self-conscious.

Both C. Wright Mills and Bill Domhoff (and others) have documented the development of, and the means employed by, the Power Elite. Neither of them were overly conspiracist. Instead, they saw the mechanisms.

The M-I Complex is one mechanism - centrally important, but still only one out of several.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (paulgspencer@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 28th, 2011 at 06:53:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a great mistake to underestimate the layered nature of social reality.
Imagine a wheel, with spokes, many bisectors, with Obama's perceptual position in the center. Call this the web of political relations between the office of president and the key players.
Now imagine the wheel rotated a bit about the axis of any one bisector. Call this new figure the web of military-industrial relations with the office of the president.
And so on. and on.
It's far more complex than that, because the axes are multiple and overlapping, rotated along other axes, but it's possible to tease out patterns, threads that run through the gordian knot. That's what a good manager does, in a way, and certainly a really skilled national leader. Shame Obama has not the guts to act on what(I suspect) he sees.
Indeed the military guys OUGHT to have the ability to plan, but outside a very narrow slice of reality they are really bad at it- they are blinded by the perceptual limits of a world-view in which there is only the tool of violent force, and the "other"- those who resist, and are therefore the enemy. Eisenhower emerged from that stew somehow, with some with some wits intact, in spite of his stroke.
Nope. I see your point about the kids with an ounce of blow, but I think there are smarter guys in the background.
Soros, for one.
And they talk.


Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Mar 1st, 2011 at 02:38:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are certainly smart people out there, and there are certainly people who are able to see a bit down the road, and they are certainly attempting to influence policy in various ways...

... but they are not setting policy. Policy is set by the people who actually run things from day to day, and constrained by the narratives they subscribe to. Nebulous conspirators have to either plant or ride narratives with the people who actually have their hands on the levers. When President Cheney and his oil buddies wanted to go to war in Vietraq, they had to spend three or four months gearing up the war propaganda. Economics, widely considered an arcane subject best left to experts, may not need quite so visible propaganda in order to shape policy, but you can't keep the people who actually manage it completely in the dark about your objectives. And I'm simply not seeing those narratives among the Serious People.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Mar 1st, 2011 at 03:51:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The essence of seriousness is narcissistic grandiosity and detachment from proletarian reality.

I'm finding it hard to imagine that a strategic genius like Rumsfeld has enough marbles to deal with reality effectively outside a mil-ind cocoon.

Greenspan? Geithner? Bernanke? The Koch brothers? Are any of these people capable of rational thought, never mind effective rational planning?

There may well be venture capital survivalists with personal fall out shelters on their private islands, but even they're deluding themselves and looking in the wrong direction. It's entirely possible for ecological - never mind military - catastrophe to be so final that no one gets out alive.

The only practical hope of long-term survival is to turn around and try to fix what's broken - to reengage politically, philosophically and ethically.

Running away to try to build a fortress of impregnability somewhere, even if it's a small sustainable one, is part of the problem - one final repeat of "I've got mine, screw everyone else", but with a slightly guiltier face.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 1st, 2011 at 04:15:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jake, I see your points.
First, it's not necessary to postulate a conspiracy, when practically every element in a system bound by the visual limits of predator culture has the same apparent interest in avoiding the whole subject.
They may come to it from a different direction, but the result's the same.

Look what's happening in the media with regards to Wisconsin, and you'll see what could be taken for a grand media conspiracy to suppress the truth about popular anger, and a precarious social situation. Nope. Mostly a perceived commonality of interests, with a bit of kiss-ass subservience.
Actually, I think the MSM is about to render themselves irrelevant.
"--you can't keep the people who actually manage it completely in the dark about your objectives"
Again, you imply action in concert.
No conspiracy- just self preservation and cowardice.
As for the right, their own desire to scoop sand over their ears will do the trick just fine.
Only a brave man or a fool would step out with this truth.
It may be true that the "serious people" aren't talking about this publicly. I dunno- I donn't get their newsletter.
Perhaps that's why we still speak of them as serious people.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Mar 1st, 2011 at 08:22:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that's a lot more like it. I did find your diary implied deliberate, concerted action - down to dominance scenario models and (OK,comical) Powerpoint presentations of The Truth.

I don't think they know, because it's not in their daily interest as money-makers, or policy wonks, or elected representatives, to be aware. Their interest commands that they wear blinkers and forget about the fact.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 1st, 2011 at 09:04:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm somewhat conflicted about that, I admit. Note the question mark in the title.
Glad something finally clicks for you, afew. I guess.
But it's easy to make the other case, with equal plausibility.

Ideas are like editors are like dogs. They have to circle it a few times, then piss on it before they buy it. (Thanks, Heinlein. Rot your hard little heart) Once it's their own idea, then they will defend it.
Given their own likely modeling, and the endless murmurs of support of top researchers growing to a solid consensus drone-
At some point, Wickwit makes the transition from "Them" to "one of ours". Some time long before he ever presents to the prez.

We seem incapable of crediting anyone in our vast throng of the disapproved with the wit to tell a hawk from a handsaw. They all tend to resemble little automata marching to the tune of whatever program we credit to their measly intellectual account. That's a mistake that stymies our ability to project usefully.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Mar 1st, 2011 at 11:41:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither witless nor automata, just keeping within the lines laid down by their own interests - which are sufficient to explain elite behaviour without the need for a future collapse scenario.

As you say, it can be argued either way. But I'll stick with my favourite version of the (h/t Occam) razor: never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by mediocrity.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 1st, 2011 at 12:24:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series