Soundtrack to the Creeping Dystopia

Shhhh—–can you hear it?

It’s the grinding mechanization of perpetual warfare. It’s the cacophony of societal collapse. It’s the wail of air raid sirens in the dark. It’s the crawling consolidation of shadow government. It’s the fleshy crunch of a boot stamping on a human face–forever.

Perhaps I am being a tad dramatic, but there currently seems to be a national sense of unease–as if the entire country can sense that we are on the precipice of a societal paradigm shift. Perhaps it emanates from an openly laughable presidential election, or the weariness that Americans feel after eight years of an economic “recovery” that has seen more people deeper in debt and without savings.

It may still be unconscious, but Americans can feel the country teetering on the edge of economic abyss–a Lovecraftian Vale of Pnath where fiat currencies go to eternally lie.

What better way to celebrate our imminent descent into authoritarianism than by listening to Immolation’s 2013 effort Kingdom of Conspiracy?

Whether or not you are a fan of death metal, this album perfectly captures the Orwellian tone of the country. In fact, if you are not a fan of this style of music, you may find the album particularly more abrasive and frightening than you otherwise would.

From the album’s uncanny, lurching rhythm patterns, to its lyrical subject matter, Immolation breathes unholy life into the shadow government. To me, vocalist Ross Dolan’s muddy growl specifically personifies our conspiratorial overlords–like a real-life embodiment of the monster from Jekyll Island.

As a whole, Kingdom of Conspiracy is a concept album inspired by George Orwell’s influential novel, 1984.  The lyrical content, while at times a little clunky, tackles the hallmarks of totalitarianism: thought control, perpetual war, suppression of speech, and government indoctrination. All things that are becoming more and more prevalent in our daily experience.

For instance, check out the lyric video for my favorite track, Indoctrinate:

As we sit an watch the world collapse, we might as well have some killer theme tunes. You could do much worse than listening to Immolation’s 2013 masterpiece (that’s right) Kingdom of Conspiracy.

Check out a full track list with lyrics here.

Once again, thanks for reading and if you like what you hear, be sure to get their CD through my Amazon affiliate link:

Immolation: Kingdom of Conspiracy [2013]

 

Money: The Basics– Part III: “Currency Debasement”

In the first installment of this series, we discussed what money is. In Part II, we analyzed why historically, gold and silver make the most stable forms of money. In this installment, we will begin to discuss how governments ruin money.

Currency Debasement

Throughout the history of civilization, governments have sought control over their civilization’s money supply. In practically every case that they have achieved this monopoly, catastrophe has followed.

In the days before fiat currency and central banking, governments primarily used a process called currency debasement in order to raise money for their state projects–usually warfare. In this process, the king/emperor/czar (pick your poison) called for a re-coinage of all the kingdom’s money supply.

Throughout the process of reissuing the currency, the state reduced the precious metal content of the coins and added it to the treasury. They then gave the same amount of debased coins back to the populace with a new stamp on them. Theoretically, everyone received the same amount of coins as they initially had given. The king then used the gold he stole to mint extra coins for his own use. Through spending this coin, he essentially increased the overall supply of money.

Because the king was the entity that first introduced the new coins into the money supply, he was able to enjoy low pre-inflation prices. Once he spent his stolen loot however, the effects of this increase in the supply of money then drove prices up for everyone to the tune of whatever percentage that he stole from the populace during the debasement process. As you may imagine, this process affected the middle class and the poor most of all because they were the last to get their hands on the new money.

As the money inflated, the lower classes continued to become destitute. The value of their money (or savings, if they had any) depreciated because the number value of their holdings did not increase in accordance with the increase in the money supply. Rinse and repeat this process ad nauseam  and people began to lose faith in the value of the kingdoms money. Pretty soon no one would accept the money and the kingdom would collapse from internal or external means.

Thankfully, the process of currency debasement was a relatively inefficient way to steal from the public. The process was long and tedious and therefore only performed once or twice in a generation. Unfortunately, governments have wised up since then.

In this installment of our series, we discussed the process of currency debasement. In our next issue, we will begin to tackle the horrific evils of central banking.

As always, thanks again for reading and check out the source material through my Amazon affiliate link:

The Mystery of Banking; Murray Rothbard                                          Chapters I-IV

“Starship Troopers” and Conditioned Killing

Like many others of my generation, I grew up with the movie Starship Troopers. In fact, it was one of my favorite films as a child. At the time, I was not old enough to understand the film’s obvious socio-political commentary. Growing up, the original 1959 book has always been on my extensive reading list, yet I never came across it in-store or made a point to order it on Amazon.

I found it at Half-Price books on Saturday and have started reading it (I’m on page 65).

For those unfamiliar with the story, it is a classic sci-fi novel about a militaristic (somewhat fascist) empire called the Terran Federation of Earth that creates intrusive conflicts (sound familiar?) throughout the galaxy. The main character, Johnnie, is an officer in the mobile infantry, a branch of the federal service that normal plebeians must first “volunteer” for before they may earn the status and rights of a Federal Citizen. As of this post, I have not finished the book, so I will not yet speculate on the major themes. However, I have already happened across a section that piqued my interest.

While in basic training, Johnnie comments that in the past, the majority of shooting was done to suppress the enemy instead of killing them. Now, in the his futuristic world, soldiers are stripped of all humanity and taught to kill as machines.

This topic inspired me to go out and get a copy of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s 1996 book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. 

To militarists, it is no secret that humans are generally adverse to killing each other. In fact, on page four, Grossman states that, through his research, he has discovered that most humans would not kill even to save their own lives or that of their friends. In fact, most soldiers must endure extensive conditioning in order to kill.

To us, it may not be surprising that humans are adverse to conflict, but the stats are alarming. During WWII, U.S. Army Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall performed a comprehensive study of U.S. infantrymen. He concluded that, in any given engagement, only 15 to 20 percent of American soldiers “would take any part with their weapons,” a rate that remained the same even when those surveyed were faced with multiple banzai charges.

A general theme throughout On Killing highlights the U.S. Military’s ongoing efforts to further condition soldiers to overcome their natural aversion to killing. My speculation would be that these efforts have become more and more prevalent in response to the increasing futility of the U.S. Military’s global interventionism.

Although, from what I’ve read, it appears that Grossman continues to justify the necessity of this conflict, On Killing is a fascinating (yet sorrowful) insight to Humankind’s natural–and steadfast–inclination toward peace. It is a read I would thoroughly recommend re-tooling for your intellectual anti-war arsenal.

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to check out these works through my Amazon affiliate links:

                    

Starship Troopers; [1997 Film] 

Starship Troopers; [1959 Book] Robert Heinlein

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

Money: The Basics– Part II: “What Makes Good Money?”

In the first installment of this series, we tackled the question: “What is money?” To reiterate, money is a medium of indirect exchange and satisfies the double coincidence of wants. Next, we will tackle the question: “What makes good money?”

Sound Money

Throughout history, many commodities have been used as money: Ancient Sumerians monetized clay tokens, Native Americans  used strings of quahog shells (wampum), and at times, southern colonial Americans used tobacco. However, some of the most common–and most successful–monetized commodities are precious metals . . . specifically gold and silver.

Which commodities make the best money, and why does the market choose silver and gold?

In order to be successfully used as money, a commodity must: 1) be in high demand, 2) be highly divisible, 3) retain its value when divided, 4) be portable, with a high value per unit weight, and 5) be highly durable. (These factors taken directly from pgs. 6-7 of The Mystery of Banking)

Because of their ability to satisfy these qualities, markets have historically selected gold and silver as the best commodities for use as money. Because of their scarcity, silver and gold are almost always in high demand. Their chemical properties cause them to be highly malleable, and allow them to retain their value throughout division. Gold and silver coins have a high value per unit weight, enough so that they may be conveniently carried on one’s person. Unlike wampum or tobacco, gold and silver coins retain their value indefinitely and are easy to test for legitimacy.

Recently, the world has popularized the use of bank notes instead of gold and silver. Bank notes are not commodity money, because they have no intrinsic value. Bank notes (when redeemable) merely represent a promise to pay a debt with money. In essence, they are fancy IOUs.

In 1971, the United States completely severed the dollar’s connection with gold, switching it from a representative currency (currency that is redeemable) to a fiat currency. This simply means that the dollar is not redeemable in gold and therefore has no intrinsic value. It is simply state-issued “Monopoly” money.

The Keynesian justification for this removal of intrinsic value is that it gives money “flexibility.” Simply speaking, it allows for easier “money creation.” For those of us that know better, it allows central bankers, (for us–the Federal Reserve) to create money out of thin air.

In this installment, the second in our “Money: The Basics” series, we tackled the question “What makes good money?” In doing so, we have added to our definition of what (commodity) money is: a medium of indirect exchange which satisfies the double coincidence of wantsand that has intrinsic value in addition to its value as money. 

In our next installment, we will discuss how governments ruin money. Thanks for reading!

Once again, for a more in-depth analysis of money and other associated topics, please refer to the experts through my Amazon affiliate links (you’d be helping out a poor law student in the process):

                 

The Mystery of Banking; Murray Rothbard                                           Chapter I: Money–Its Importance and Origins

Principles of Economics; Carl Menger                                                                     Chapter VIII: The Theory of Money

Money: The Basics– Part I: “What is Money?”

What is money? How did it come to be? Where does new money come from? These may seem like trivial questions, but the fact is that the average person knows very little about their money.

In fact, one of the first steps in becoming economically literate is understanding what money truly is and why it goes bad. In this post we will discuss what money is and how it came to be.

The Origins of Money

No one “invented” money. Money did not come about by the decree of some Egyptian pharaoh or a Sumerian King. Rather, money is the result of billions of singular economic transactions.

Before money, economic exchange took place in a bartering system using surplus goods. But, as you can imagine, this system placed severe limitations on the scope and complexity of economic exchange.

For instance, the barter system does not solve the double coincidence of wants. This basically means that both parties must have an interest in what the other party is offering. For example: If you are selling a goat, I have to offer you something that you want.

Other limitations of the barter system include: 1) the indivisibility of certain goods, 2) the impossibility of performing accurate business calculations, and 3) complications associated with long-term savings.

In the first case, it is true that some goods are unable to be divided for exchange. If I want to sell my house, I cannot cut it into three pieces and use each piece to get what I want. In the second case, it is hard for businesses to calculate whether they are making or losing income if their assets are made of commodities. In the third case, some commodities are impossible, or very difficult to store for a prolonged period of time.

Money came about as a medium of indirect exchange; it presents a third object which satisfies the double coincidence of wants. Money represented a gigantic leap forward in human evolution. Businesses could now divide complex assets for sale, pay their workers with universal value, and create a comparable market of prices. Civilization followed.

In the next installment of our series on money, we will tackle the question of “what makes good money?”

For a more in-depth analysis of money, refer to these titles through my Amazon affiliate links:

                 

The Mystery of Banking; Murray Rothbard                                           Chapter I: Money–Its Importance and Origins

Principles of Economics; Carl Menger                                                                     Chapter VIII: The Theory of Money

Living Free in an Unfree World

If you are anything like me, you get frustrated on a daily basis–whether it is ignorant friends and relatives posting statist nonsense on Facebook, or the three parking tickets that I’ve gotten in the last two months. Let’s face it: it can be very lonely being a libertarian. I suppose that is one of the reasons why I started this blog.

But I mean really–is it so surprising that no one wants to talk about the morality of the non-aggression principle? Anyone care to delve into a three-hour discussion of why Teddy Roosevelt was actually a terrible president? I suppose that after a long day at work, my fiancee should be more than eager to discuss the evils of central banking, right?

The truth is that most people couldn’t care less about this kind of stuff. Learning to let go of that fact is probably one of the hardest, but most rewarding things that people like us can do. People are going to think what they want. They have to change their own minds, all we can do is put the ideas out there.

In terms of poise, Dr. Ron Paul never ceases to inspire me. He is a classy man who always seems to stay above the fray. Last month, Tom Woods interviewed Dr. Paul’s 2012 head of campaign security, John Baeza, for episode 624 of his podcast. Clocking in at 51:48, the episode paints a portrait of a tireless and disciplined advocate of liberty. Dr. Paul certainly is a modern-day Thomas Jefferson.

In that same vein, listening to Murray Rothbard lecture is like watching Wayne Gretzky carve his way through history. In an amazing stroke of providence, someone uploaded a  series of six Rothbard lectures to YouTube. Go listen to them right now. From his little quips and mannerisms you can tell that he is absolutely in his element. It is abundantly clear that he was doing exactly what he was meant to do.

In our every-day battle against the state and its acolytes, we must channel the strength of these and other great men & women. We must find joy in the struggle, because if we give in to the dirge of oppression, then the state has truly won.

Keep fighting the good fight,

Patrick MacFarlane

          

Photo Credits:

www.againstcronycapitalism.com                                                                    Gage Skidmore from Wikimedia Commons