Caribbean Stories

Radio Sistema Tropical

Cardinal Points

Dickensian Neoliberalism

Diego Azeta

19 November 2016

© 2016 Diego Azeta – All Rights Reserved – Derechos Reservados
A PDF edition of this file (see below) may be downloaded to a personal device for noncommercial personal reading use.
The PDF edition is the final (edited) version of the story.

WELCOME to the second special presentation of Cardinal Points, where we continue our interview of the programme’s regular host, Teriaki, the renowned cultural systems analyst and commentator of geopolitics and global affairs. I am Shahrazad Boyko, international correspondent at Sistema Tropical World News. Teriaki, hello, and thank you for inviting me over once again.

Teriaki:  Thank you, Shahrazad, for your gracious participation as guest host.

Shahrazad:  I am delighted to be back at Cardinal Points. We had a wonderful inaugural broadcast. And I loved your solo episode last week! Your emphatic depictions and barbed characterizations forged a powerful critique of the Western political establishment, something much needed in these foolhardy times. Great work!

T:  Thank you. I believe it is important to remind wily politicians and their ilk of what many of their fellow citizens think of them. Their arrogance, arrant ignorance, and brazen abuse of power go to their heads. They forget that as public servants, their job is to serve the people, not lord over them. And that being the people’s representatives, they must keep their nose clean.

S:  Always the radical democrat.

T:  I prefer the term egalitarian realist. Anthropological realism, I should make clear, not mythic political sophistry. In early societies, those predating so-called civilization, when a “big man” tried to subjugate his tribe, egalitarian realism promptly arose in one of two forms. One of these I call exodus: the tribe simply moved elsewhere, abandoning the wannabe to his delusions. This form may have contributed to the wide dispersal of our species throughout the planet in the hunter-gatherer stage of our development.

S:  Doubly useful. And what would the other form of egalitarian realism be?

T:  Exile: throw the bum out of the tribe.

S:  A less complicated option. But did these approaches actually work?

T:  They seem to have worked just fine during most of Homo sapiens sapiens’ existence. That’s some two hundred thousand years, and much more if we take the archaic sapiens into account. The coming of sedentary societies caused by the advent of agriculture in the Neolithic put an end to the exodus variant. It soon became clear to the big-man wannabes that elimination of the remaining exile variant required the use of ruthless violence on the tribe. If a honcho wannabe were to get a bunch of thugs to back him up, he might well secure his ascendancy. Here we see the beginnings of the iron-fisted state.

S:  But weren’t the honcho and his thugs defending the tribe from invaders?

T:  The greatest threat to the common tribesman and woman, including their children, came from the tribe’s ineffectual parasitic «leaders». It still does. Attacks by marauding «others» were infrequent. And when they occurred, the honcho and his thugs typically lost. What can you expect from inept parasites facing adepts who know whom to attack? The net gain to the tribe from the parasites was negative. It still is. Only more so.

S:  But parasites provided the cradles for civilization.

T:  Civilization is not the appropriate term. May I suggest criminal predation. Organized criminal predation, to be exact, consisting of meting out a regimen of violence on your people in order to exploit them, although the threat of violence usually suffices. It is not, however, politically prudent to impose a regimen of either violence or threats on the populace; you never know when you’ll desperately need their support. No, civilization emerged in spite of these criminal brutes, not because of them.

S:  No credit whatsoever to the brutes.

T:  Brutes deserve none. Civilization is a gift from agriculture, not criminals.

S:  But modern taxation redistributes society’s surplus to the populace.

T:  Not so. Most of the benefit is siphoned to the upper classes. That is all the more true with fallacious neoliberalism, the old Dickensian capitalism in new robes. Profit is privatized, costs are socialized. Public officials serve only the plutocrats. Miserable bootlickers. And the thugocracy is now more developed. See the newfangled austerity policies, which never affect the fat cats, the filthy rich. The unfortunate are forced to bear the sacrifice so the bandidos can keep their fortunes intact, even though it was those same bandidos who wrecked the global economic system with their avarice and fraudulent neoliberal dogmas.

S:  Neoliberal economics is fraudulent?

T:  It’s tailor-made to squeeze the last drop of utility from the exploited. Its practitioners render workers into bagasse before callously discarding them.

S:  That sounds so inhumane.

T:  Because that is exactly what it is. Brutally inhumane. The archaeological record indicates that this brutality was not present in tribal societies prior to the rise of «civilization». On the contrary, early cultures were remarkably egalitarian.

S:  Neoliberals say it’s all due to the market, which, they claim, knows best.

T:  Sheer bull. The neoliberal market is not a natural marketplace; it is wholly contrived according to the designs of the bandidos. Such a market contains a collection of gullible investors who know nothing of substance, fall for every market bubble, and never learn. The insider ratbags controlling the financial shell games are the only ones making the humongous masses of money, which are obtained by artfully deceiving the herd.

S:  So the market is a rigged system?

T:  It’s Anglo-Amerika, kiddo. The whole schmear is rigged. Always’s been.

S:  The Anglos will surely take exception to that assessment.

T:  They have to maintain appearances. But check them out and you’ll see.

S:  One would think people would wise up to these marketeer dirty tricks.

T:  “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”

S:  Ah, that is by … wait … Robert A. Heinlein! Time Enough for Love.

T:  There you go! Smart cookie.

S:  I read a lot. Shouldn’t parasites and bandidos face the firing squad, then?

T:  We’ve tried that already and it doesn’t work. The scum re-propagate quickly. We need to devise a better control system, one that can overcome the challenges posed by tricky human nature. But I’m not sure such a system can ever be devised to rein in humanity’s baser impulses.

S:  Probably not. Not while deviousness is in control of parasite and bandido brains.

T:  That is the core problem. But we can surely improve on what we’ve got.

S:  An optimistic progressive to the bone.

T:  Always. Conservatism gets you absolutely nowhere. It’s like driving a car using only the brakes. If the paleocons had gotten their way, we would still be out there foraging.

S:  Spot-on image.

T:  Conservatism is for doltheads, people who can’t think imaginatively. There is no innovation in their backward-looking doctrines. And this from the people who extol innovation. Ha! It is questionable that their narrow doctrines are the product of rational thinking. Comprehensive, systems-based thinking.

S:  But neoliberals are keen on calling themselves rational. They have amassed a great deal of erudite writings, garnering a fair amount of Nobels.

T:  There is no Nobel prize in economics. The bandidos invented that mongrel award and the banksters jumped in to fund it. All to make the dismal political discipline seem «scientific». Alfred Nobel must be writhing in his grave.

S:  Turning, I believe is the word often used.

T:  Whatever. I’m from Kiritimati. Alfred left out mathematics, some surmise, because it was not science. Mathematics, no less! So mathematicians came up with the Fields Medal and the Abel Prize. A worthy solution to the problem, showing honesty and integrity. But the bandidos got the Swedish central bank to bankroll a prize they called Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Note the intentionally misleading trailer. Why not just call it the Sveriges Riksbank Prize, period. Be honest. Too much to expect from bankers and bandidos. And who are these ignorants to deceptively claim that political economy is a science? Money-grubbing charlatans!

S:  What about political science?

T:  Please, Shahrazad. This is a serious programme.

S:  Social science?

T:  There is physical anthropology, yes. Some psychology. Some.

S:  Where does that leave cultural anthropology?

T:  It’s a learned field of enquiry, one that doesn’t conduct human experiments. Unlike the psycho crowd.

S:  Ethical. Maths conducts experiments?

T:  Maths makes experimentation possible. No maths, no experiments.

S:  But does maths conduct experiments using scientific method?

T:  Maths is the skeleton of science. No maths, no science.

S:  The pedestal is not the statue.

T:  … But if maths is not science, what can be said of economics? No way can an ideology based on greed compare to the sublime edifice of mathematics. At any rate, as regards your point, touché.

S:  Ooh! Do I win a prize?

T:  Ask the Norwegians. They give away the Nobel Peace Prize. Literally.

S:  I have much better credentials than you-know-who.

T:  Anyone does. What’s worse, they don’t have the guts to annul their terrible blunder. Alfred must be having the mother of all fits.

S:  Sad. Old Europe is in such a pitiful state. Idem for copycat New Europe.

T:  Reduced to a humiliating petty vassalage. O how the mighty have fallen!

S:  Sorry, not a legitimate Biblical quotation.

T:  Correct again, Shahrazad! You are very good. The Europeans should hire you to run their countries and lousy Union. Assuming the EU survives.

S:  Why would I want to do that?

T:  To get a faux Peace Nobel, just like the EU and Barackito.

S:  No, thanks. I’ve got principles.

T:  Attagirl! The Norwegian committee will have to award the prize to itself, then. But that’s better than giving it to pathetically hypocritical war criminals.

S:  They should also get the Sveriges Riksbank to pay for it. There is one thing I don’t quite understand, though. Neoliberalism took the world by storm with the rise of Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the USA. How could it have displaced Keynesian economics so quickly, Keynesianism having been so highly regarded and resoundingly successful for so long?

T:  Excellent question. To answer that, we’ll have to go back to the beginning.

S:  A great place from which to start.

T:  Indeed. In the beginning the Roman Empire collapsed. O how the mighty have fallen!

S:  Yea. And he who doth not hearken unto history is doomed to repeat it.

T:  Hear, hear. Who says no one ever learnt anything from history?

S:  Hegel.

T:  That was a rhetorical question, Shahrazad.

S:  Mine was a rhetorical answer, Teriaki.

T:  Okay, okay. Willikers!

S:  An Anglicisation of the fading Americanism, I suppose.

T:  Yeah, let’s go along with that. With the fall of Rome, the barbarians found themselves in dire straits: how to administer the remains of a powerful empire when the victors were a bunch of uncivilized dolts. The brutes only knew how to smite the living daylights out of everyone. Well, just like the Romans. But you can’t run your realm by smiting away like a blasted idiot. What they came up with after centuries of brooding on the problem —they weren’t too bright, you know— was feudalism, and only because they had inherited the old Roman coloni system. In feudalism, the top one percent owned everything, including the bottom ninety-nine percent, more or less. It was a fine system if you belonged to the TOP; for everybody else, it was the pits. Here we have the barbarians’ contribution to European civilization: bondage for the subjugated. Along with the perennial European tradition of perpetual warfare.

S:  Europe’s atrocious exemplars to the world.

T:  Well put. The bondage was not slavery but serfdom, which was worse, for slaves at least commanded a price. In principle, slaves could, and some did, buy their freedom. Serfs did not have that option. They were tied to the land and to their landlords for life. No wonder the afterlife was so popular.

S:  Amazing, how people can be so brutish, hardened and inhumane.

T:  Europeans, Shahrazad. La crème de la crème, according to them, but in reality just a bunch of savages. Collectively speaking. The elements of the medieval value system are still present in their cultures. These things don’t just disappear. Except that now their attitudes have shifted to non-Europeans, in addition to the usual scapegoats: the Romani, Slavs, Muslims and any «others» perceived as outsiders. Jews are an exception; they are now seen as kosher.

S:  Progress. A mea culpa for having aided and abetted in the Holocaust?

T:  Well, a beefy nuclear arsenal helps. A couple hundred nuclear warheads are enormously persuasive. Prejudices miraculously evanesce.

S:  “Never again.”

T:  At least not in Europe. For now. One hopes. Touch wood.

S:  You don’t sound terribly convinced.

T:  One idiot at the helm can wreck everything for everyone, even generations down the road. Cultures have good, long-term memories. They never forget. A wise leader must never forget that. Idiots do.

S:  One would think that a people that has been persecuted throughout history by just about everyone would have learned something by now about getting along with pesky neighbours.

T:  Nah!

S:  A people deemed so intelligent.

T:  Individually. On a case by case basis. Speaking of pesky neighbours—

S:  Can’t be too judgemental, Teriaki, lest they chastise you as anti-Semitic.

T:  I’m six and a quarter percent Jewish.

S:  I believe that percentage is considered too low.

T:  Where do these people get their numbers, the Nuremberg Laws?

S:  So! … Europeans are just a bunch of savages, you say.

T:  Including their provincial progeny. Colonialism metastasized the problem. That is clearly shown by the barbarically bellicose Americanos, but there are plenty of second-tier Euro-baboons throughout the world to prove the point.

S:  You certainly have strong opinions about Europeans and their lineage.

T:  They’ve had every opportunity to project a better impression, ever since the Cro-Magnons. Still, no change of attitude. Their latest craze is regime change; they overthrow any foreign government they dislike and devastate the country and its people, utterly. So far this century: Iraq; Libya; Syria, now in progress.

S:  That’s two for Obama and two for both Bushes. Plus a few proxy sidelines.

T:  Aggression violates international law. That is the reason the United Nations was organized, to prevent such wars of aggression. But the Euro-baboons don’t give a tinker’s damn. The law does not apply to them, they presume, but only to countries that they dominate. That, Shahrazad, is brazen, lowbrow savagery.

S:  «Might makes right.» Can’t get any more primitive than that. Point sustained. Europeans are the world’s most egregious aggressors. No one else compares.

T:  Duly certified by history. And no Nine-Eleven can excuse the neosavagery.

S:  Absolutely. You’ve pinpointed the rabid Mother of All Baboons.

T:  The Brits still manipulate the Yank’s baboon brains, though. Culturally.

S:  ♪ Rule, Britannia!

T:  Yet remain quashed under the American jackboot in everything else.

S:  Willkommen in Europa. And they think the occupation after World War II had ended. Silly Europeans.

T:  Milksops. They’ve been conditioned to accept such indignity for millennia.

S:  Then it’s about time to show some guts. We need a small course correction here, Teriaki. What happened after feudalism?

T:  European feudalism was falling apart. It worked as long as everyone in the manor was a tenant farmer. But in order to smite the infidels in Jerusalem, the knights vainglorious needed shiny, top quality armour. To impress the enemy.

S:  Surely. I thought the infidels were the Christians.

T:  It’s all relative. One man’s believer is another man’s infidel.

S:  Typical of Abrahamic religions. Their adherents claim to abide by the word but hardly make an effort to hear the message.

T:  Imagine the turmoil if they had been polytheistic. Wait, I take that back. It could well have been the case they would then have practised tolerance. Like the Hindu. Sort of.

S:  And like the atheistic faiths. The problem seems to be the monotheism.

T:  The problem is human idiocy. People do not understand what their masters repeatedly taught. Frankly, it’s enough to make anyone wonder why the great masters ever bothered to teach.

S:  A labour of love?

T:  A mission, actually. And every mission must be fulfilled. But masters teach willing disciples. The teachings are intended for the individual who seeks.

S:  Who seeks mastery over the self, not over others.

T:  You are wise, Shahrazad.

S:  Maybe people do understand but choose not to follow their masters.

T:  It takes a great soul to pipe down and follow in the steps of one’s master.

S:  It’s the way to Nirvana or Heaven. Either one. Perhaps both. The Tao.

T:  Amen. The TOP needed artisans not only for armour but for all manner of manufactures. Skilled craftsmen and women fractured bondage. They secured a measure of economic freedom from the parasites. The TOP were forced to relent. You don’t want shoddy merchandise, you relent. Regrettably, one other personage also reared its ugly head. These were not hard-driven artisans intent on accomplishing the apotheosis of artistic expression through their work but a sullen breed of opportunists who cared only for money: the merchants. Neither quality of work nor professional pride mattered in the least to these people. In numerous cultures, they were counted among the debasers of humanity.

S:  A practical vocation. You didn’t have to go to law school to be counted.

T:  The Japanese have a word for craftsman, with a twist: shokunin. According to Toshio Odate, the master woodworker, a shokunin is a craftsman who takes up as a personal social obligation the principle to work his best for the general welfare of the people, an obligation both material and spiritual.

S:  Beautiful and profound. Made me intuit Zen and the Art of Craftsmanship.

T:  A natural association. Shokunin, like Zen, is a most estimable creed.

S:  But not all merchants were unscrupulous money-grubbers.

T:  True. Some were indeed admirable in enabling beneficial trade under very trying circumstances. Sailing the Mediterranean from Phoenicia, trekking afar on the Silk Road, and caravanning across the Sahara from Timbuktu were no trivial feats by any means. But not every merchant was up to snuff. Some, like Godric of Finchale, became paragons of piety and spirituality. And as a group, they did propagate new ideas all over the world. On the other hand, many were no better than scavenging vultures. Others were much worse, beasts of prey. It seems this last lot has become increasingly prevalent. And insolent.

S:  It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

T:  You quoting someone?

S:  Commenting on the vultures. The carrion-consuming variety.

T:  Oh. The feudalism of medieval manorial estates gradually gave way to the growing commercial practices of the incipient nation-states. A new economic construct stepped into the political limelight: mercantilism. In this persuasion, the objective of the state was to hoard bullion. Gold and silver were where the matter was at. To maximize its hoard of precious metals —which were at the time pretty much useless for anything beyond dental and decorative purposes, monetary usage aside— it was in the interest of the state to favour its domestic merchants, traders and product fabricators by aggressively promoting exports while hindering finished-goods imports so as to rake in the metal.

S:  The positive-balance-of-trade rationale. Blatantly protectionist.

T:  And flagrantly prone to corruption. Backed up by the traditional European penchant for belligerent implementation of their economic policy, worldwide. Commodore Perry’s incursion into Tokyo Bay comes to mind.

S:  «Our way or else.» Those dumbos knew nothing about feedback. Eighty-eight years later, the Japanese repaid Perry’s visit with a brief tour of Pearl Harbour.

T:  Yanks didn’t like that. Infamy and whatnot. They still have no idea of what emergent feedback entails. But the Babs were aping the Brits. Forty-five years before Perry’s incursion, Captain Pellew made an even worse display of civility in Nagasaki Harbour. Britannia ruled the waves as she saw fit. Most unwise.

S:  Japan requited Pellew’s hostility with her stunning conquest of Singapore.

T:  Britain’s worst military defeat since the Normans. Humbled the empire.

S:  Made clear the thing’s days were numbered. Japan did lose the war, though.

T:  History has not ended. The cowering British political elites know that quite well. Britain has an awful lot to answer for. To a heck of a lot of people.

S:  And the Americans keep blithely following in their footsteps.

T:  America is an unwitting appendage of the ghost of the British Empire, the very anathema against which they rebelled. Through the US, the Brits continue to believe they rule the waves. They think it will save them from compensating their legion former colonies. America is blind to this ploy. They’ve abandoned their founding ideals and succumbed to neo-imperial temptation. Can America ever liberate itself from the ideological grip of their former overlords?

S:  I see little chance of that happening any time soon. There is no leadership.

T:  I agree. America has already crossed its plutocratic Rubicon. The rosy days of the republic are over, if they ever were flush. The times of the dark empire are now upon us. And by that I mean upon everyone. Even folks in Kiritimati.

S:  Do you really think it’s that bad?

T:  I hope my theory turns out to be wrong. But that may be wishful thinking. America is bullying the world with threats of World War III. A stupid trick by the Obama regime to try to salvage his disastrous presidency. What they don’t seem to realize is that such a risky stratagem could ignite a thermonuclear war and spell the end of history. America deserves the Nobel Prize for Stupidity.

S:  And a second faux peace prize for Obama. Teriaki, I’m afraid we’ve run out of time. We never got to continuing your interview and now have to leave this new topic unfinished.

T:  Then we must return to do both in future programmes. Plus the stuff that I left unfinished last week. I hope you will join me again next week as a regular co-host of the programme. I see our producer nodding her approval.

S:  It will be my pleasure. To our listeners, thank you for joining Teriaki and me here at Radio Sistema Tropical. Cardinal Points returns next week at its regularly scheduled times. I am Shahrazad Boyko signing off and wishing you a pleasant morning, afternoon, evening, or night, wherever in the world you may happen to be.

This is Radio Sistema Tropical, the Antillean world broadcasting system.

Editorial Antares ※ Azeta-RST-CP-03-DN.pdf

This story is available for download as
a PDF file for personal reading use.

Editorial Antares
Image credits:

• Blue Marble world map (Robinson projection): PAT (Portable Atlas) website & software © 2010, 2013 by Ian Macky. Maps on his site, demonstrating PAT, are all public domain. Thank you, Ian.

Top of Page          Home Page