Michael Hudson – Life and Thought 2018-05-07

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One day after we came back, we had to go to the White House for a meeting on oil and the
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balance of payments.
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And who should be the Undersecretary of the Treasury but my old mentor from Standard Oil
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who had explained to me how offshore banking centers worked.
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He explained to Herman and me that he told the Saudi Arabians, “You can charge whatever
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you want for oil.”
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This was right after America quadrupled the price of grain to finance the Vietnam War
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in 1972-73, and OPEC responded by quadrupling the price of oil.
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The Undersecretary of the Treasury explained to me that they could charge whatever they
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wanted for oil.
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He knew that the higher they charged, the more the American companies would be able
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to charge on domestic oil.
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But the Saudis had to recycle all of their dollars into the United States, into Treasury
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bonds or the stock market.
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“You can’t buy American companies, you can only buy stocks or bonds, and you have to
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price your oil in dollars.
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If you don’t, we’ll consider that an act of war.”
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So here I was right in the middle of understanding how imperialism really worked.
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This was not what is in most textbooks.
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Most don’t talk about the balance of payments, but the key to financial imperialism is the
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balance of payments.
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The United States fights to prevent other countries from going back to the gold standard,
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because at the time America went off gold in August 1971, every American dollar bill
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was backed 25% by gold at $35 an ounce.
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Well, finally there was no more surplus gold, and that’s what forced America off gold.
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Its price immediately went way up.
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As an American citizen, I wasn’t allowed to buy gold.
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So I knew it was coming but I couldn’t make any money off it.
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Instead I bought Tibetan and Indian art, Asian art primarily.
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To make a long story short, I became a financial advisor to the Canadian government as a result
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of the stock brokerage work in Montreal.
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They said, “We need somebody who knows the American stock and bond market”.
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I was at that time the highest paid economist per diem in the United States for financial
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analysis.
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So I got a call saying, “They’re going to want to hire you but there’s only one way
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in which they can tell how intelligent you are.
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Do you know about wine?”
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When I grew up at the University of Chicago, the university paid its professors so badly
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that to make more money, their ideal was to be a wine steward at the Pump Room, which
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was the fancy restaurant in Chicago.
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It was featured in the Blues Brothers comedy with John Belushi.
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Anyway, I took a sommelier course, got a license, and brought two bottles, one Richebourg and
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one La Tâche that I bought in the remainder carton at an uptown store.
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I gave them to my host in Ottawa and the government guys said, “That’s the guy we want.”
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So I wrote a study that Canada didn’t have to borrow money abroad for the provinces to
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invest domestically.
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They could create their own money.
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Basically, what I wrote was the first example of what’s now called Modern Monetary Theory,
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that governments can create their own money, their own credit.
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They don’t need a foreign-currency backing for it, and so all basically the same circular
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flow analysis that I’d developed from my history of thought.
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a Physiocratic analysis.
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One of the top investment analysts for the Royal Bank decided to become the head of personnel.
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He said he thought that it’s a personality problem that economists can’t understand how
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the world works, that there’s a particular kind of dumb person that becomes an economist.
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It’s a kind of autism, of thinking abstractly without a sense of economic reality.
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So he got me an appointment with the Secretary of State of Canada.
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In Canada the Secretary of State is in charge of education, films and culture.
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So I became Canada’s cultural adviser, which is what I thought was fine all along, and
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I wrote a report.
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Around that time I also was an economic adviser to the
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United Nations Institute for Training and Research, UNITAR, writing their reports on
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North/South debt, the foreign debt of third world countries, denominated in dollars, and
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how this was deranging their economies.
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They had a meeting in Mexico financed by the Mexican president and I was invited down there.
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I gave a report saying that there was no way that the third-world debts can be paid.
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My first job I worked on at Chase Manhattan was to estimate how much export revenue Argentina,
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Brazil and Chile could make.
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The idea was that all of their export earnings could enable them to pay interest on money
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borrowed from US banks.
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The idea was that the entire trade surplus should be pledged as debt service to the American
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banks.
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My job was to think how much that was, and what should Chase’s share be.
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So, at the Mexican UNITAR conference, I said that these debts cannot be paid, therefore
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they should not be paid, they should be canceled.
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There was quite a stir over that.
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Well at the end of the conference they had the rapporteurs summarizing the papers.
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The US rapporteur said that Dr. Hudson has given a report saying that third-world countries
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should export more in order to pay their debts.
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I stood up slowly and said, “I must insist that the President of Mexico offer a public
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explanation, apology to me and the conference.
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This rapporteur has inverted and reversed everything I said.
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I believe he has a covert purpose.
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I’m pulling out the American delegation and I’m pulling out the Canadian delegation too.
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We cannot be a part of this travesty.”
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Then I walked out, wondering what’s gonna happen!
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The Russian delegate came out laughing and said, “Ah!
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You’ve dominated the whole conference.
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You’ve made chaos out of it.
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You’ve embarrassed the CIA.
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This is fantastic.
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Here’s my card in New York.”
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Later that evening I was told, “You know, they’re looking for you to beat you up.”
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Well as it happened an old girlfriend of mine was in a group who were in Mexico for an
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art exhibition.
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They were surrealist artists from Amherst, and they were also doing a surrealist ballet.
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So I went to the ballet with them and they said, “Look!
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The thugs are there.”
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So I hid out with them on the stage in their ballet.
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The goons were looking in the audience and I was on the stage and we were all just surrealistic.
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Nobody knew how to dance or anything, it was all just surrealistic.
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And they, you know, the goons all went home.
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I learned that if they can’t find you, they usually give up and leave you alone.
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I went back to New York, but I realized that the debt issue was so controversial –
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the idea that debt couldn’t be paid.
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I spent about a year and I’d got through medieval period, Europe, World War One, and then even
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Greece and Rome.
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But then I found — it was about 1980, 1981, at that time I sold my house on the Lower
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Side and moved into a loft near Wall Street which was very low price there at that time,
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(I bought it for $20,000.
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Later I sold it for $580,000 but that’s another story), it shows you the real estate in New
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York, but at that time nobody wanted to live in lofts, and I wanted a big loft because
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I had a big library at that time and a lot of art that I wanted to keep.
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So basically I stopped working.
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I realized that in the Bible there was the Jubilee Year and there were references to
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Sumer and Babylonia and that there was a background of the biblical debt cancellations, almost
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the same word for deror in Hebrew is andurarum in Babylonian.
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I found that there was all this material and that had never been written in anywhere outside
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of the field of assyriology.
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There was no economic history of the ancient Near East, no economic history of Sumer and
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Babylonia.
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It was all about religion and some culture, Gilgamesh and all that, but not what I was
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most interested in, which was the debt cancellations.
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So I wrote a draft of what I could find by 1984.
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And one of my friends was the Ice Age archaeologist Alex Marshak.
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Although he lived in New York, he was connected to Harvard’s Peabody Museum.
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He showed it to the head of the Peabody, Karl Lamberg-Karlovsky, who told me, “This is great!
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Nobody else is working on it.”
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He appointed me a fellow of the Peabody Museum in Babylonian economic archeology.
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I thought, “This is wonderful, this is really what I want to do.”
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So I spent the next maybe three years writing the first draft of what became the book that’s
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being published in a few months, “… and forgive them their debts”: Credit and Redemption
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from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year.
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I submitted it to the University of California Press.
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They sent it to scholars to referee, who said that it was impossible that debts could be
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cancelled.
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Their argument was that if debts were cancelled, who would lend money?
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That’s what Rabbi Hillel argued in the Judaic tradition.
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I said, “Most debts were not the result of loans.
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Most debts were when the crops would fail and the cultivators could not pay the palace
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for the fees they’d run up, the rental fees for the land, the fees for the water, for
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the draught animals, or the beer lady for the beer that they’d drunk.
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So every ruler, when they would take the throne in Sumer and Babylonia, for a thousand years,
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would start their rule by cancelling the debts with a clean slate, an amnesty.
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It’s the same amnesty of the kind that Egypt’s Rosetta Stone commemorates.
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Everybody knows that the Rosetta Stone has trilingual inscriptions of Greek, Egyptian
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and Coptic.
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But few know that it’s a fiscal debt cancellation.
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That’s what we call cognitive dissonance, people can’t imagine that the debts were cancelled.
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I realized that this was very controversial, and so my Harvard colleague, Karl Lamberg-Karlovsky,
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suggested that we hold a series of meetings, and asked me to organize them.
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He said that we would hold a colloquium for each controversial chapter of my book.
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We decided to have a meeting every two years, and invite every major specialist from early
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Sumer, the Neo-Sumerian period, Babylonia, other Near Eastern realms, and Egypt.
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Their role was to collect everything they had on whatever the meetings’ topic would
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be.
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Since I was in New York, I worked with the leading Hebraic linguist Baruch Levine at
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NYU.
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I needed someone who was respected in the linguistic field to invite people, because
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most Sumerologists, readers of cuneiform, stayed away from economics, because the mainstream
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economic idea of how society developed is as if Margaret Thatcher would have created
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civilization.
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How would she have done it, or Milton Friedman, or what we call vulgar Marxists who think
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that it was the idea that seemed plausible to Engels when he wrote The Origin of the
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Family, Private Property and the State.
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That’s not how early history actually occurred.
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So the Sumerologists wouldn’t talk to economists.
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But because I was now an archaeologist with Harvard in the anthropology department, they
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agreed to come to the conference.
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The first meeting, in 1994, was on privatization in the ancient Near East and classical antiquity.
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Harvard published that.
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Two years later, we moved on to the second volume, which was on land use and real estate
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ownership: How did property ownership come into being.
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Then, we had planned from the very beginning for the third colloquium volume.
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That was on debt and economic renewal in the ancient Near East.
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I asked for everything that people could find about debt cancellations.
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We found that these occurred all the way through the first millennium.
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Herodotus talked about debt cancellations in Babylonia.
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It was a tradition remaining in the Near East for new rulers taking the throne to cancel
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agrarian debts, to start their reign with the economy in balance.
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Already in Hammurabi’s time 1750 BC, scribes would calculate the growth of compound interest,
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and at that time it was 20% interest.
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This growth diagram is the same exponential chart that I’d drawn up in the savings banks
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in the 1960s to trace the growth of American debt.
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So they were quite aware of the fact that debts couldn’t be paid and that, if you
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insisted on them be paid, you would have debtors falling into bondage.
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So they freed the bond servants, or for debtors had sold their means of self-support, the
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land, they returned the land that had been sold under economic distress.
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The word “distress” means the collateral that you’ve pledged to a creditor.
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It’s an Irish term basically.
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So we published that volume.
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By that time I’d got the people Baruch and Karl and I had invited – the leaders of
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their fields – agreeing with my interpretation.
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We then followed it up with another meeting at the British Museum on the origins of money
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and accounting, and the idea that money was created not for barter, not for trade in goods
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and services, but to denominate debts.
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If a cultivator owed a debt, how did he get money?
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So we did the history of money.
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Then, the one thing we hadn’t done finally was the origins of labor and what it was paid.
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That took ten years to complete, and we found that the origins of labor was organized basically
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in the palace economy, the palaces and temples.
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The main use of such organized labor from the Neolithic and Bronze Age to classical
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antiquity was to fight in the army and to work as corvée labor to build public infrastructure.
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So how do you get a supply of labor?
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You assign it land tenure.
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Land rights were created to assign families enough to support themselves so that they
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could perform corvée labor and fight in the army.
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So taxes came first, then came land tenure, based on what labor you had to supply.
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Attempts to substitute someone to work on the corvée became the basis for paying labor.
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So all of the payments came from what today would be called the public sector.
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That’s not really a very good term.
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It was really the palatial sector, the palace and the temples, as opposed to the community-based
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family on the land.
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So we had a new analysis of the origins of property, not just individuals grabbing,
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as Engels had thought.
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Property was created by the public sector, by the palaces, as assignment of land as needed.
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How much land area is needed in order to supply the labor for the public infrastructure, corvée
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work and service in the army?
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This was the reverse of what’s taught in economic textbooks today, which is, as I said, how
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Margaret Thatcher and right-wingers and Donald Trump would have designed an economy if they
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went back in a time machine.
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So after organizing and editing these five volumes, I’m now writing my own popular version,
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starting with a history of debt.
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Then will come Temples of Enterprise, a series of books on classical antiquity.
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I’m now following up with Greece and Rome.
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Throughout early Greece and Rome, the main fight was between creditors and debtors.
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Creditors ended up grabbing the land.
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The same fight occurred all the way down through the Byzantine Empire.
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The most divisive tension throughout history, from 3rd-millennium Sumer to 2nd-millennium
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Babylonia to the 9th and 10th century in the Byzantine Empire is between the palace wanting
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to collect taxes and have labor for the army, and creditors wanting this land and labor
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for themselves.
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This way of getting the economic surplus is not the way that Marx described it as being
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obtained under capitalism, by employing labor to produce goods to sell at a profit.
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It was by debt and taking interest in ultimately foreclosing in land, which was the real objective.
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In the 9th century there was a big
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fight against strong royal power.
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It was sort of like Donald Trump and the Tea Party Republicans are fighting against the
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state, like the privatization in the Soviet Union fighting against the state.
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The Byzantine emperor invited general Bardas to a big meal.
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The general said, “There’s only one thing that you should do if you want to end the
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warfare.
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You have to tax the wealthy families so that they don’t have any surplus at all.
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You have to give them so much burden that they can’t fight against you.
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You have to prevent the polarization of wealth, because if you let the private sector make
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an enormous amount of wealth, they’re going to try to fight against you and keep all the
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wealth for themselves that you and the palace are now getting.”
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This idea was expressed all the way back in the 7th century 6th century BC with Thrasybulus
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and Periander of Corinth.
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When Thrasybulus took Periander’s herald to a field of grain and said, “Here’s what you
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should do.”
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The land was a field of grain and he took a scythe and he cut off the tops, to make
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all the grain of equal height.
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So Periander went back and exiled the wealthy families, seized their property.
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There was probably a bit of fighting there, and that is basically the fight throughout
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history.
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So that’s what I’ve been working on for the last 20 years.
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Question: How did you take up the interest in Chinese economy?
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Hudson: As Samir Amin said at the meeting yesterday, China is the economy that is trying
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to be the exception to the Western economic model.
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That model is forcing a choice between civilization and barbarism.
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The West is moving rapidly into economic barbarism and militarism.
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As you can see, the austerity program of the Euro is destroying the economy there.
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The United States is cutting taxes on the rich, while indebting the working class very
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highly.
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The one country that is independent and not taking the advice of the World Bank and the
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International Monetary Fund is China.
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So we’re hoping to do what we can to make the Chinese economy successfully resistant.
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What that means is how is China going to handle its real estate, how is it going to handle
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its debt, how is it going to handle its tax system.
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What I’m trying to do is what David Harvey was trying to do in the speech he gave yesterday:
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getting Chinese Marxists to read volume 2 and especially volume 3 of Capital, where
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Marx discusses the dynamics of finance.
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Marxism is much more than volume 1 of Capital.
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You have to read volumes 2 and 3, and especially the elaboration that Marx wrote in the drafts
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that he left for volumes 2 and 3, his Theories of Surplus Value where he discusses the history
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of economic thought leading up to him.
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You realize how Marx was the last great economist in the classical tradition.
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He showed that capitalism itself is revolutionary, capitalism itself is driving forward, and
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of course he expected it to lead toward socialism, as indeed it seemed to be doing in the nineteenth
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century.
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But it’s not working out that way.
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Everything changed in World War One.
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Afterward you had an anti-classical economics, which really was an anti-Marxist economics.
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The fight for marginalist theory, for Austrian theory, the fight for junk economics that
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we have today, is basically a fight against Marxism, because Marx showed the logical conclusion
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to which the Physiocrats, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Ricardo and Malthus, the conclusion
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it was all leading was the synthesis that he made.
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It was later developed by people like Thorstein Veblen and Simon Patten in the United States.
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So I’m hoping that I can contribute what I can to help China’s economy to avoid the financialization
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process and dynamic that is destroying the West.

Noam Chomsky on Jordan Peterson, Post-Modernism, Foucault and Ali G

the Vietnamese were appalled but some of the tactics that were being used I remember meetings with Vietnamese would plead with American activists not to do things like what the withum men are doing I’m the Weathermen a lot of young people who many of them I knew that were perfectly sincere they thought that the way to end the war is to smash up the windows on Main Street

The Trump O’Clock Follies

The President’s mendacious nightly press briefings on the coronavirus will go down in history for their monumental flimflammery.

During the Vietnam War, the United States had the Five O’Clock Follies, nightly briefings at which American military leaders claimed, citing a variety of bogus statistics, half-truths, and misleading reports from the front, to be winning a war that they were, in fact, losing. Richard Pyle, the Associated Press’s Saigon bureau chief, called the press conferences “the longest-playing tragicomedy in Southeast Asia’s theater of the absurd,” which, minus the “Southeast Asia” part, is not a bad description of the scene currently playing out each evening in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, in the White House. We now have the Trump Follies, the nightly briefings at which President Trump has lied and bragged, lamented and equivocated, about the global pandemic that poses an existential threat to his Presidency. Just as the Vietnam briefings became a standard by which the erosion of government credibility could be measured then, historians of the future will consult the record of Trump’s mendacious, misleading press conferences as an example of a tragic failure of leadership at such a critical moment. There will be much material for them; the transcripts from just the first three days of this week runs to more than forty thousand words.

Since Trump began making the press conferences a daily ritual a couple of weeks ago—an eternity in the pandemic era—his more memorable lines are already featuring in political attacks against him. “I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump insisted, two weeks ago. When asked to assess his own performance, he said, “I’d rate it a ten.” This Wednesday, with members of his coronavirus task force joining him onstage, he added, “We’ve done one hell of a job. Nobody has done the job that we’ve done. And it’s lucky that you have this group here right now for this problem or you wouldn’t even have a country left.”

The disconnect between Trumpian reality and actual reality has never been on starker display than in the past few days, as the true face of the horror we are facing in the United States has shown itself, in New York City, with overwhelmed morgues and emergency rooms, a governor pleading for ventilators and face masks from the federal government, and heartbreaking first-person accounts reminiscent of the open letters sent from Italy a few weeks back, which warned Americans: this is what is coming for you—don’t make our mistakes. On Tuesday, the World Health Organization said that the United States was emerging as the “epicenter” of the global pandemic, which makes the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room the emerging epicenter of the failure to respond to it.

A couple of weeks ago, it seemed as if maybe that would not be the case. Although the Trump Administration had faltered and delayed and denied through the initial stages of the virus, when it raged outside our borders, it looked like it might finally get its act together and take this public-health menace seriously, now that it was hitting in force inside the U.S. Trump declared a “national emergency,” stepped up testing, and, on March 16th, agreed to his crisis committee’s plan for a fifteen-day countrywide slowdown, in order to “flatten the curve” of the disease’s trajectory. Barely a week into the fifteen days, however, Trump began signalling an abrupt change of course—at just the moment when the disease was accelerating its deadly progress through a wealthy nation that turned out to be surprisingly ill-prepared for it.

Throughout this long, strange March, Trump has often framed the fight against the pandemic in martial terms: a “battle” to be won, a victory to be achieved, a shared sacrifice against “this invisible enemy” which would go on “until we have defeated the virus.” But the Commander-in-Chief did something extraordinary this week: he rebelled against his own clichés, essentially declaring that he no longer wanted to be at war with the virus after all.

On Sunday, he prefigured this pivot, apparently after watching the Fox News host Steve Hilton complain about the treatment—a shut-down country and a cratered economy—being worse than the disease. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Trump tweeted, shortly before midnight. By the Monday-night edition of the Follies, which are usually scheduled for 5 p.m. but often not started until later, Trump was repeating this line over and over again. “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” he said. “We’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem.” Later, he added, “We can’t have the cure be worse than the problem,” and also, “We can’t let that happen. . . . We can’t let this continue to go on.” America, he said, would be “open for business” soon.

On Tuesday, which marked a month since a now-infamous tweet in which the President claimed that “the Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” Trump was even more specific. He announced that afternoon, on a Fox News special from the White House lawn, that he wanted to get the country reopened and the church pews “packed” by Easter, on April 12th, at just the time when New York and other states were predicted to face the maximum pressure on their overstretched medical facilities. A few hours later, at the nightly press briefing, he was asked about this seemingly arbitrary timetable by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.

“Who suggested Easter?” Collins asked. “Who suggested that day?”   Trump replied, “I just thought it was a beautiful time. It would be a beautiful time, a beautiful timeline. It’s a great day.”   Collins followed up: “So that wasn’t based on any of the data?”   “I just think it would be a beautiful timeline,” Trump responded.

This was painfully revealing: the President, under questioning by an independent reporter, was admitting that he wanted to do something with no basis in science. In fact, within minutes, some of the nation’s leading experts on pandemics panned the suggestion as dangerous and ill conceived. By Wednesday, Trump was still talking about an Easter deadline, but only promising a new “recommendation” at that time. “I’m not going to do anything rash or hastily,” he said, which is as close to a reassuring statement from the President as he will ever offer.

On Thursday, Trump appeared before the cameras just before 5:30 p.m., minutes after the Times reported that the United States now had more than eighty-one thousand recorded cases of the coronavirus, surpassing China as the world’s No. 1 country in terms of confirmed infections. When asked about the statistic, Trump acted as though this, too, was some sort of an achievement of his to be praised, saying that the high number was “a tribute to our testing.” Despite the day’s grim news, with his Administration reporting a record-high week of unemployment claims, Trump continued his upbeat tone. The world “is going to end up better than ever,” he said, before reading out all the names of the members of the G-20 world leaders with whom he had spoken that morning, listing the provisions of the two-trillion-dollar emergency-aid package that Congress is finalizing, and even reciting the number of gloves that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent to individual states. Eventually, he got around to his main point, which is that “we’ve gotta go back to work.” Earlier on Thursday, his Administration had sent a letter to governors, saying it would soon issue new guidelines rating U.S. counties by their varied levels of risk for the disease and suggesting that those with lower risk could resume business more quickly. Trump offered no specifics, but touted it as a needed step. “I think it’s going to happen pretty quickly,” he said. He never mentioned the word “Easter.”

After all that, it was hard not to think of Trump’s whole “beautiful timeline” as yet another monumental act of Presidential flimflammery, a distracting week of misdirection to keep us all occupied while those of us who are still working do so from home. Trump’s open-by-Easter pledge may well be as quickly forgotten as his other lies during the coronavirus crisis thus far, such as when he said that the cases would go down to near zero in a few days, that the disease would simply disappear, and that it would never make it to our shores in significant numbers.

These daily Presidential briefings have understandably become controversial among the national media, which is wary of being played by an attention-seeking President. Neither the Times nor the Washington Post are sending reporters to them, citing the health risk. (A journalist who had attended several of the sessions has reportedly contracted the virus; even still, the President refuses to follow the social-distancing dictates that his government is urging others to practice.) Sources at various television networks have said that the networks were considering no longer airing them, although they have so far continued to do so. The Post columnist Margaret Sullivan has argued that the briefings should not be broadcast live anymore, citing the fact that the President was using them as a platform for “self-aggrandizement,” “media-bashing,” and “exaggeration and outright lies.”

Trump will keep doing them, however, because they work. According to the Times, ratings for Trump’s briefings rival those for “hit reality shows and prime-time football.” Trump, whose star turn on NBC’s “The Apprentice” arguably had as much to do with his election to the Presidency as anything else, is obsessed with ratings. His other metrics are good, too, including a Gallup poll showing him with the highest approval rating of his Presidency (forty-nine per cent, versus a forty-five per cent disapproval rating). Even more striking were the results of a CBS/YouGov poll, released this week, in which respondents were asked what sources of information about the coronavirus they found most credible. Democrats rated medical professionals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention most highly. Trump came in last among this group, at fourteen per cent. But, for Republicans, Trump came in at the top, with ninety per cent saying that they trusted the President’s information about the coronavirus, making him tied for first place with medical professionals. The poll shows that, even when their own lives are literally at stake, a significant subset of the American population no longer believes in almost anything other than the President.

This, in the end, is why Trump’s nightly Follies matter. Even if he cannot reopen the country by Easter, and governors and mayors ignore him, as they surely will. Even if what he says is so contradictory and at times patently false that his own followers could not possibly heed his advice as a practical guide to action.

In the long course of the Vietnam War, which lasted a full decade, some fifty-eight thousand Americans died. With the pandemic, many scientific models publicized in recent days have projected that U.S. deaths could reach far beyond that figure by the time the coronavirus has run its course, depending at least in part on what decisions Trump and other leaders take in the coming months. But this week’s Follies have shown an irresolute leader who does not want to fight the war or even, on many days, admit that it exists. He is a cartoon caricature of a wartime President, not a real one.

A Vietnam draft-dodger, who used a phony foot problem to get out of that war, Trump this week has reminded us that he would like to be a coronavirus draft-dodger, too. But the fight is not a hoax, no matter how often he suggests it is, and the President, like it or not, is already in the fight. On Tuesday, he told the country that he would soon be reopening it, “as we near the end of our historic battle with the invisible enemy.” By the time you read this, though, the battle will not be over, or even really begun. As soon as Trump finished speaking on Thursday, CNN interrupted the briefing to broadcast the news that it had been the deadliest day yet in the pandemic for the United States, with at least two hundred and thirty-seven dead, and hours more to go.

Generational Power Transfers During Political Crisis (Grant Williams, Neil Howe, Harald Malmgren)

Grant Williams and Neil Howe travel to the nation’s capital to continue their discussion about how previous “Fourth Turnings” have impacted the United States. They weave their way through the National Mall, paying homage to the WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam Veterans memorials and the generations they represent. They then meet with economist and former presidential advisor Dr. Harald Malmgren to get a look inside generational transfers of power and politics during times of upheaval. Filmed on April 4, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

The truth behind the Vietnam War | George Friedman Interview

00:00
the Vietnam War is back in the news it’s
still a war that to this day there’s a
lot of controversy around why the United
States entered into it what is your
perspective on that the United States
went to war in Vietnam for multiple
reasons but the basic reason was Charles
DeGaulle the American strategy at the
time was to contain the Soviet Union
with a string of alliances swinging from
Norway all the way through ran and
blocked them through expanding charles
de gaulle came along and said you can’t
trust the americans because if they ever
attacked the Americans wouldn’t come and
they were a night to go to fight for you
you’re going to be left alone we have to
form our own NATO independent of the
United States during the Vietnam War
there’s a word that became incredibly
important credibility credibility meant
that how credible were the American
guarantees to this all-important
structure of containment how credible
was it that we would come to Germany’s
aid or Japan
‘s aid with everything we
had if they were a war and a terrible
fear that time was that these people
would lose confidence in us so part of
the reason we went to Vietnam had
nothing to do with Vietnam the fear was
that if we didn’t go to Vietnam our
credibility with our other allies would
be gone
and the entire American strategy
will collapse on that basis there was no
expectation we wind up 50,000 dead on
that basis the expectation was that we
would go into a small police action we
may win it we may lose it but the
Germans would know that our guarantee
means something
and to a very great extent in my opinion
worrying about how the Europeans react
if we didn’t go in it’s important now
the fact was the D Europeans criticized
the United States are going in but if we
hadn’t gone in they would have really
panicked they would have really
potentially said his NATO worth anything
is this Japan’s guarantees worth
anything and so we went in based on
something that was repeated over and
over him credibility it’s really hard to
be a superpower because one thing to
fight for your life in world war two but
to go to war for an abstract political
consideration having to do with strategy
elsewhere and send your your kids to
fight in a war like that is agonizing
particularly when you’re thinking this
war is about winning in Vietnam and it
really isn’t so we look at the war we
wonder why did we fight this war this
way half-heartedly not seriously well
and it got out of hand
but the reason basically was this was a
political war it had as his end not
protecting Vietnam and the Communists
that was important it was a side issue
it had to do with maintaining the entire
American lion structure
and keeping the
Soviets from using this as a basis for
unraveling our position okay so framed
within that context when I ask you a
very interesting question you know that
to this day there’s a lot of controversy
about the Gulf of Tonkin incident what’s
your analysis of what actually happened
there
whatever happened there the United
States had made the decision to conduct
an air war against North Vietnam we knew
that if we went in on the ground we’d be
fighting a land war in Asia which does
Martha had warned us against our
illusion was that we would use air power
to inflict so much pain on the North
Vietnamese that they would give up the
dream of national unification well that
didn’t happen in fact they picked up the
air operations in South Vietnam which
meant we had to send more troops and