Casey on 'Occupy Wall Street'
by Louis James, Editor, International
by Doug Casey:
Government Is a Monopoly of Force
I'm sitting in Doug Casey's living room, in Cafayate, Argentina,
far, far from Wall Street, which is being "occupied" by
protesters with a very clear message. Doug, as a prime cut of meat
on the "eat
the rich" menu, would you like to respond?
I assume you're being sarcastic about the clear message, but one
can never tell in today's world. Otherwise, I would have thought
Paul Krugman was joking when he said that a pretend
alien invasion would be good for the economy. We increasingly
live in an Alice
in Wonderland world.
is often stranger than fiction. We'd have been laughed at if we'd
predicted that people in Spain would shine
lights on solar cells at night, because the subsidies make it
profitable to do so.
Indeed. But back to Wall Street. I have very mixed feelings about
the occupation movement, because these people are 100% correct to
be angry about these banks from Goldman Sachs on down
that received scores of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money
after doing the opposite of what banks are supposed to do (losing
money instead of keeping it safe), and then paying themselves bonuses
for doing such a good job.
actually the largest bank heist in history.
You could say that. Was it Al Capone who said that one accountant
with a pen can steal more than 100 thugs with guns? A central banker
like Bernanke can facilitate the looting of an entire country, though.
You might also say it's the Chinese whose money they stole, because
the Chinese will never be able to redeem their long-term Treasuries
for anything like the value they put into them. You could also say
it's the next generation's money, because they're going to have
to pay for it all. No wonder so many young people are outraged
they have a right to be.
But on the other hand, a lot of these Occupy Wall Street (OWS) people
seem to be of the same sort who would have been loosely wrapped
hippies back in the '60s. I was also sympathetic with the hippies
in many regards, by the way, because I agreed with their anti-war
and anti-drug-law stances. It's hard, however, to see these people
as allies when one of their most popular slogans equates me to a
beef cow. They seem to have a strong collectivist/socialist animus.
They seem to hate the
1% just because they have money. They don't have the sense to
make distinctions as to how different people might have gotten that
I am, clearly,
one of the 1%. So are you. In fact, almost everyone who has worked
hard, saved money, and not invested it unwisely is at least in the
top 10%. What the OWS people are angry about or should be
angry about are the people who made their money through government
contacts, or connections. They didn't produce anything; they're
really just sophisticated thieves. I have only contempt for those
who feed at the public trough.
But here we
are in one of the nicest places in the world, where I'm living high
off the hog, smoking an expensive Cuban cigar that's probably
a waterboarding offense in the US these days so I guess that
puts me on the menu.
haven't yet been to one of these protests to speak with any of these
people, so maybe I shouldn't presume too much about what they think.
It's likely their level of discourse would be no more cogent than
what you read in the New York Times, perhaps even less cogent
than USA Today. But I don't like to be around angry people
although, to be honest, I'm angry myself because I hate to
see what's left of America, and Western civilization itself, on
haven't talked to any of the OWS people either, but, not wanting
to rely solely on hearsay, I sent someone to the epicenter in Manhattan.
We asked people there: "What does Occupy Wall Street mean to
you?" I published the results in the current edition of the
Speculator. Here are some of the more comprehensible quotations:
99% are getting more distribution. Corruption in government. Peaceful
are people who have a lot of money and then people with nothing.
I'm a student, and I don't want my future to be the way it is
now. Make the country equal again."
something is not right, do something about it! Inspire unity.
Everyone knows something is wrong."
at bailouts. Very little difference between political parties.
[Everyone] knows Democrat = Republican! Lockheed Martin makes
money from taxpayer-funded wars. Gold standard! Bitcoins! Disenfranchise
the 1% plutocracy. Root out corruption."
have my clear answer for this."
One of the
interesting things about this is that there's a clear streak of
very strong anti-government sentiment from people who usually can't
get enough government. Granted, they don't necessary call for less
government, but they do seem to want to throw the bums out. All
of them. Except maybe Ron Paul.
That is interesting, and I think it's also interesting to compare
the movement to the Tea
Party. Both groups feel powerless, disenfranchised, and betrayed.
Both groups are under severe economic pressure which, I promise,
is going to get much worse.
hadn't thought of that, but in spite of the ideological differences,
I can see a similarity in that both are angry with the status quo
but not clear on what they propose to improve on it.
Exactly. It's a very inchoate kind of anger. Most of the people
involved, in both groups, seem to have zero understanding of real
economics and don't understand the way the world works. They just
correctly perceive that they're getting screwed. But I see little
or no cultural or sociological overlap between the groups.
I haven't been to a Tea Party event, nor have I sent an investigator
to one, so I'm not in a position to compare them, but it is interesting
to me how diverse the OWS people are. There were people there in
favor of Ron Paul, as well as for typical New-England Democrats.
One fellow even mentioned the gold standard. On the other hand,
one photo I didn't publish because the guy's face is clearly
identifiable is of a young man sitting on a cinder block,
so the neo-hippie component does seem to
be part of the mix.
In the photos I've seen, a good number of these protesters have
taken to wearing Guy Fawkes masks, which I find encouraging. And
here we are on the fifth of November: "Remember, remember,
the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot. I know of
no reason it should ever be forgot." My avatar on Facebook,
Skype, and other such venues is always a Guy Fawkes mask. I'd love
to see everyone use one. That's how things ended in the movie V
that's just the thing: To you and me, a Guy Fawkes mask is a symbol
for anarchy as a better organizing system for society than government
any government. But for many, the mask is just a symbol for
resistance to tyranny. To some, it may not represent much at all,
besides appropriate attire to wear during a riot.
Yes, and regrettably, in real life Guy Fawkes was something of a
Catholic fanatic who apparently just wanted to replace a Protestant-dominated
government with a Catholic-dominated government. That's hardly a
solution. It overlooks the real problem, which is government itself,
sticking its nose into every aspect of human existence.
here we have a movement, composed of very different people from
different walks of life, that has gone viral, spreading all across
the US, even to smaller towns. It has spread overseas as well and
has turned violent in some cases, with mass arrests in Oakland being
a recent example. This could get pretty ugly. This is how revolutions
start we've seen this sort of pattern in the Arab Spring,
as well as in the fall of Eastern European dictators, and more.
But starting a revolution with no clearer goal than "eat the
a dangerous thing to do.
It may sound rather extreme
that that has ever stopped you
[Chuckles] but I don't think it's out of the question that
there could be a second American revolution ahead.
third the war between the states being a failed attempt at
a second one.
Right. Formal or informal, there could easily be a secession movement
as things come further and further unraveled. And yes, it could
turn into a shooting war. These things happen. A lot of Americans
are getting to the point where they feel they have little to lose.
And things are just starting to get bad; the Greater
Depression is still very young.
You know, the
Obama administration is making noises about a rising threat in Iran.
They might just be tempted to attack them, either as a great distraction
from troubles at home or in the hope it might unite America
which, incidentally, I think would be a bad thing at this point.
It would be like uniting lemmings as they plunge over a cliff together.
Being united amounts to groupthink; it caters to the lowest common
denominator. Uniting around a political leader is a symptom of moral
bankruptcy. What made America great was individuals thinking and
acting as individuals.
the plus side, there was also an anti-war streak in the people we
surveyed occupying Wall Street.
That's true in the Tea Party too, although to a lesser degree. But
on the minus side, we have large numbers of people in uniform in
the US lots of police and soldiers who have been trained
to obey orders without hesitation. Just like everywhere else in
the world, men in uniform are extremely dangerous. They're loyal
above all to their peers in uniform, secondarily to the government
that pays them, and last to the people their supposed to "protect
and serve." If Americans in uniform are ordered to beat and
imprison American citizens petitioning their government for redress
of grievances, they will obey. It could get very, very ugly.
there's an insurrection with no goal other than to overthrow those
in charge now, it seems like an invitation to "the man on the
white horse" to come in and lead everyone boldly into a new
slavery. This bubbling cauldron of anger is like a lit stick of
dynamite. Who knows who's going to pick it up and where they're
going to throw it?
It has to end badly. Every revolution I'm aware of, including the
American revolution, leads to a period of things getting worse before
they get better if they get better. The French revolution
is a classic case, in which it was good they got rid of Louis XVI,
but then they got Robespierre, and then they got Napoleon, who was
even worse. This is the standard pattern; revolutions unleash the
most violent and fanatical people to rise to the top. So, if the
trend continues, I don't expect it to have a happy ending.
do you expect it to continue?
Unfortunately, yes. The economy is going to continue getting worse.
People are going to become much more unhappy, and they are going
to feel like they have much less to lose. Trends in motion tend
to stay in motion until they reach a genuine crisis.
OWS is the beginning of the violent end to this saga, or whether
this calms down and its something else in the future, is there no
way out for the US?
No. Partially because it's really no longer the US. The country
has already changed in character from being a unique beacon of individual
liberty to just another of 200 degraded nation-states. It's hopeless
to wish for an easy out, not just for the US, but for America, the
West, and the current economic order in general. Even though I'm
an unabashed optimist about the long-term future, I just don't see
how things can avoid getting much, much worse over the next decade
or so. This is barely a beginning we're just at the leading
edge of the storm, as we exit the eye of the global crisis hurricane.
Here's a thought.
With very few exceptions like Lyndon Johnson most
incumbent US presidents run for a second term. But as unpopular
as he has become, some recent recovery in the polls notwithstanding,
it may be that the Democrats will ask Obama not to run. I suspect
they might pick some left-wing general instead, because people would
have confidence that a general would know what to do about an increasingly
dangerous world. And with the Republicans seemingly determined to
nominate a hack who's devoid of any philosophical core well,
there are Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, but they're getting a total
media blackout such a Democrat might just win
would be very bad. Then we'd really be in for it a warmongering
socialist who might try to turn the country into an Army boot camp.
At that point I'll be really glad I have a crib outside the US.
Cheerful again, Doug.
You know I call 'em like I see 'em. I don't make the rules, except
in my personal life.
Nothing new. We've been saying for some time to rig for stormy weather;
buy gold, buy silver. They are not at giveaway levels, but they're
going a lot higher. With the Fed creating trillions of new dollars
which they have to do to finance these trillion-dollar and
rising deficits there will be new bubbles. The most obvious
one is going to be the bubble in gold stocks we haven't seen yet
this cycle. Gold stocks are actually quite cheap now, relative to
gold. I'm more enthusiastic about the potential for gold stocks
to go into a huge bubble than I ever have been.
a change in tune.
It is. These stocks didn't look cheap a year ago, when the market
was more driven by greed. Now, in a fear-driven market, there are
actually some good bargains out there you cover many of them
in the International
for the shameless plug. But then, I don't think I've ever seen you
ashamed of anything.
Shame is not an emotion I have a lot of experience with, it's true.
That's because I avoid doing things that would make me feel shame.
I like quality energy plays on the dips and productive agricultural
land a lot. Great new technological innovations, especially those
that save people money, should also do well in the deepening crisis.
Doug. Thanks for another thought-provoking conversation.
My pleasure, as always.
Casey (send him mail)
a best-selling author and chairman of Casey
Research, LLC., publishers of Casey’s
© 2011 Casey
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