Tag Archives: History

Capitalism Is Eating Itself

I never really got the Commies – they seemed to want to drag everyone down to the lowest common denominator with, what were once, very good intentions. The milder form, Socialism, seems to be mostly about spite. Capitalism seems to be the obvious way that humans work together and it pretty much delivers what most people seem to want.

When the Berlin Wall came down twenty years ago, the cry went up, “Capitalism has won!” And indeed, it seemed as if it had. Only militant Islam has risen against it since. Capitalism has run amok, given free rein ever since, and we are now facing the consequences.

But I think that this recession is just a warning sign. Capitalism works on the basis of the free-flow of capital. Capital is what pays our pensions. Once, the banks were there to facilitate Capitalism, to help cash move more freely, and to lend and invest in projects that will make a profit, provide work and put food onto the workers tables. Capitalism relies on a free market to work smoothly.

But the basic flaw of capitalism is human nature. There have never been free markets and there never will be. The person in charge of the market is always going to skew it in favour of his pals for the sake of a quick bung.

Since Big Bang, when the markets went electronic, the profit has been in playing the casino, not in owning it. The casino players, (traders) have the technology to know the numbers before the market (the casino owner) can read the cards. You set your computer up to do battle with another computer to see who can trade the fastest. Today, milli-microseconds give the advantage. Trades are done so quickly that as you, a mere mortal, place an order, computers analyse your order, buy stock low and sell it to you high before you have even received acknowledgment of your order. You never get the chance to buy at a fair market price. Penny by penny, they leach your profits away.

When you see bankers getting fantasy bonuses, way beyond any real measure of compensation, you have to ask yourself, “where is all that money coming from?” The answer is simple, from your pension fund! Bank bonuses are slowly leaching out the money from pension funds that are supposed to pay the pensions in the future.

Whereever there is a pot of gold (and that is how a trader sees a pension fund) someone will be planning to steal it. Once, those funds were put into solid company shares. The companies were expected to grow and provide profits. Shares are now meaningless. They are divorced from what they represent – they are traded within the blink of an eye, with no care about what that company or it’s workers mean. Now, a public company has one duty, to make as high a quarterly return as possible. No thought for the future. No thought for sustainability, employment or solid, long-term growth.

Capitalism is eating itself from the inside. When it reaches the outside it will reveal itself as the hollow shell it has become. What can take its place? Don’t ask me – I’m just predicting the cataclysm to come, but be prepared for the new dark ages – your Porsche wont help you then!

Afghanistan – How Soon We Forget The Lessons of History

The British Army has a long an honourable history. We are very lucky to have them. They do what they are told without question, undertaking tasks the rest of us would rather not know about.

The Army has a long memory. How they must have groaned when they were asked to go to Afghanistan. The mighty Russian Army were humiliated there at the end of the 20th century as were the British Army before them, scurrying away with their tails between their legs in the horrific, bloody retreat of 1842. The damage to national pride in those days was palpable. Was this going to be a similar campaign? The Army knew full well what it was up against, but it still followed orders dutifully. The Army has always had a great regard for Afghan fighters. They knew what they were up against.

The problem with Afghanistan is that we have no idea what we are doing there, other than backing up our pals, the Americans. Our reasons for being there change with the seasons. In the summer, the Army were said to be helping create democracy, making free elections possible. The result? Electoral fraud and an unelected President for Afghanistan! All those lives wasted.

We will never win in Afghanistan. The only question is how long we are prepared to continue sending our sons to their deaths.

Foreign armies, politicians and non executive organisations have so distorted the administration in Afghanistan, a stable executive will never be created until all the foreign groups have pulled out. All the executive jobs are done by foreigners. Educated locals have no chance of learning the skills required to run their own country, they are too busy driving taxis to stay alive. By being there we make the place more unstable.

The latest mission statement claims that our soldiers are apparently over there to protect us here – this is self evident nonsense. If we have a problem here, we need to solve it here, not by taking it out on another country, but by having honest dialogue at home – by creating a new identity that we all can belong to – by listening to grievances and making the appropriate accommodations

My father was a British Army Officer. I remember watching him, packing a colt 45 on his hip, as he went off on manoeuvres in Germany during the Cold War. He tried to allay my fears. “Soldiers are there to keep the peace,” he told me. “When they shoot, the politicians have failed.”

This is the same Government that brought peace to Northern Ireland through talk, understanding and the movement of entrenched positions. When any conflict ends accommodations are made through the changing of opinions and the acceptance of other ways of life. Afghanistan will only ever be sorted out by talk, and that is one thing the Afghanis are brilliant at. They have their own system of democracy already – it is called the Jirga – Tribal talking shops. It doesn’t look like our system, but it works if we go away and let them get on with it.

We will never impose a system on them. The Afghanis won’t be told – it is their nature. But by letting them run their own country and continuing to talk to them, we may come to some arrangement of peace for all, and our boys can stop dying needlessly.

If we were true friends of America, we would tell them that this is a stupid war. As their true friend, we should be the voice of their conscience, not their brown-nosing lieutenants, validating bad decisions.

This is our second Afghanistan and America’s second Vietnam. The only way America can win in Afghanistan is to blow the place off the map and every Afghani along with it – unless they follow the example of Vietnam. America is now good friends with Vietnam – not because of their military exploits, but because Veterans, ashamed of their involvement there, have gone back and talked – made new links and offered friendship and help.

Armies are there to show that you are serious and mean to back up your word. War is a bloody waste of time, effort and wealth. It is the employment of words that win the peace.