Quotable (#224)


When Bannon listed the administration’s central purposes, the first two were unsurprising: “national security and sovereignty” and “economic nationalism.” But then came the third: the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Bannon explained that officials who seem to hate what their agencies do — one thinks especially of Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who has sued it repeatedly to the benefit of oil and gas companies — were “selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.” […] Thus did Bannon invoke the trendy lefty term “deconstruct” as a synonym for “destroy.” […] This is a huge deal. It reflects a long-standing critique on the right not just of the Obama and Clinton years but of the entire thrust of U.S. government since the Progressive Era and the New Deal. …

It’s getting extremely hard for libertarian-types to simply dislike this regime.

ADDED: On regime media-strategy technology guru Robert Mercer — “… his basic politics, I think, was that he’s a rightwing libertarian, he wants the government out of things.”

Macro Mind-Control

At Bawerk.net:

As the Keynesian revolution was merged with the models of Robert Lucas, it eventually morphed into something called neoclassical economic thought. The general gist was that economic agents can be tricked into changing their behaviour through surprises in monetary policy, which yes, has somewhat miraculously become the mainstay of central bank economists.

As Jeffery Snider of Alhambra Investment Partners succinctly puts it, the academic transition led to the “economics of money shifting to economics of psychology”. In old Keynesian thinking, recession came as a result of “animal spirits” changing, which roughly translated into modern day parlance, equates to ‘irrational exuberance’, albeit with an ‘apathetic’ twist.

Confused? Don’t be. If collective exuberance and apathy is the sole cause of the business cycle, then it logically follows that human emotions need to be manipulated accordingly. Only by doing so can policymakers smooth out the ups and downs in economic activity. And what better way to do that then to change the money supplied to the general public. If we, as society, have more money then we will surely feel better and apathy can be turned into exuberance. If psychology was not a “soft” science self-conscious economists would view them self [sic] as therapists for the collective.

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Quotable (#74)

Tocqueville the prophet:

Part of what made Tocqueville so unhopeful about the democratic future was the specter of the modern state, in which he beheld a new type of despotism. Paradoxically, it would seem, this new form of despotism would be more absolute than all erstwhile despotisms while being less despotic. It would be, as Tocqueville designated it, a soft or mild despotism. The state Tocqueville envisioned will not seek to brutalize its people: there will be no labor camps, secret police, show trials, or summary executions. “Chains and executioners are the coarse instruments that tyranny formerly employed.” Rather, through an inordinate number of detailed and complex rules, it will take great pains to regulate the lives of its citizens and will do so, professedly, in their interests. It will provide and care for the people; from harm it will keep them; and it will go to great lengths to render them happy. Indeed, as Tocqueville put it, one could liken it to paternal power, save for this one crucial difference: whereas a father prepares his children for adulthood, the state will seek to keep its citizens irrevocably fixed in childhood. The state wants the people’s unquestioning obedience and the best way to ensure this is not by forcing their allegiance, but by fostering their dependence.


An LAT story (from February 10) on the topic begins:

A Republican on the Federal Communications Commission blasted the net-neutrality proposal from the agency’s chairman as a “secret plan to regulate the Internet” that “opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes” on broadband services.

How ‘secret’ is it really? (If you think the government has some pretty damn good ideas about running the economy in general, while milking it as a source of public revenues, why not the Internet too?)

Quotable (#54)

A fascinating window onto increasingly fractious Bitcoin politics provided by Cody Wilson (in a heated manifesto):

I say attack the [Bitcoin] Foundation because it is the think tank of the bitcoin counter-revolution. Its record (hey guys, this time we focus on core dev, for reals) is and will continue to be the (re)production of the state-form in bitcoin thought. Yes, the State-form. That reef on which the revolutions of the past two centuries ship-wrecked. Unseen by the hapless steersmen who with their organization set sail in the name of technological libertarianism. […] We’re at the heart of the matter now. This Bitcoin Foundation works to provide the moral foundation for state action against bitcoin. Its apologists’ proliferating canards aren’t just the justification of the state-form in thought, but the State’s literal and active manifestation. For the State is not just institutional, it is immanent in thought — it guides, even determines thought’s possibilities.

Polemics aside, there’s massive depth to this controversy. (Much more about it to come.)

CoinDesk provides some helpful background (and links).

(Via Sergey Ershov in the comments here.)