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Posts Tagged ‘consequences’

More Thoughts on the Congressional Baseball Shooting: 17 Jun, 2017

June 17, 2017 19 comments

In a previous post on this topic, I made three observations about the incident in question. They can be summarized follows: (1) The shooting will leave Steve Scalise impotent and incontinent for years, perhaps for the rest of his life; (2) This shooting incident was politically motivated and has no real precedent in living memory, as far as the USA is concerned; (3) The Scalise shooting has elicited far more popular approval than condemnation.

But what does any of this mean for the future, especially in near term (weeks to months)? Is this incident the start of a new trend or an once-off aberration? And how will it shape, if at all, the political course of the country?

Let me begin by reiterating my prediction, from the previous post, that we are likely to see more of such incidents in the near future. Also, it is entirely possible that the next such incident might not even involve the use of a firearm. Furthermore, these future incidents are likely to affect elected democrats in addition to their republican counterparts. Having said that, let me now expand on the likely course of events that will lead down that path.

Throughout human history, a strong possibility of imminent death is the most important factor that will result in people targeting their rulers. As a corollary, highly autocratic regimes can remain in power as long as most people in that country are relatively safe and otherwise well taken care of. Most humans lack the willingness to fight for abstract causes like justice, liberty or honor- if they understand those concepts in the first place. They will however fight tooth and nail if they are, or perceive themselves to be, in mortal danger.

That is why almost every single large-scale uprising, revolution and civil war in history occurred in the aftermath of widespread and prolonged shortage of essential goods or something which imperils life of the average person. In other words, such movements (centralized or decentralized) occur only once it is plainly obvious to a significant percentage of the population that the status quo is beyond unsustainable. In other words, the previous order starts to collapse when people realize that their very survival and any hope for the future is dependent upon the old system (and its elites) dying out.

Major uprisings in recent history from the French Revolution of 1789-1799, European Revolutions of 1848-1850, Taiping Rebellion of 1850-1864, Russian revolution of 1917-1923, the many post-WW1 revolutions in Eastern and Central Europe, the rise of Fascism in post-WW1 Western Europe etc were precipitated by severe and prolonged crisis- from natural and artificial food shortages to expensive prolonged wars that were bad for everyone except, perhaps, the elites. Conditions necessary for rebellion, revolution or just plain chaos require a prodromal period where the old system is exposed as utterly inadequate in facing new challenges while still capable of immiserating most people.

Based on what I have seen over the previous 18 odd years, it is my opinion that USA (in its current form) has entered that prodromal period sometime between 2005 and 2010.

Many of you might also have noticed that the previous decade has seen the widespread loss of any reasonable hope for a better future in USA. Pretty much every aspect of the lives of most people from education, jobs, housing, economic security has kept on going down. At the same time, the system has been unable to tackle emergent challenges from winning wars to protecting people from new threats. In other words, the status quo in USA has been revealed to be simultaneously immiserating and unable to face new challenges.

It is therefore not surprising that unorthodox political figures such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been able to quickly gather very large and fervent followings. The flip side this phenomenon is a rapid loss of any residual public belief in the competence and ability of traditional political figures. Indeed, one can make a case that the public now sees the very existence of traditional political figures as a useless and dangerous obstacle to making things work for them again.

To make a long story short, it is very likely that a very small percentage of the many millions of people in various types of dire situations in USA will start taking out their frustrations on those believed to be responsible for causing their problems. While many classes of people will be at the receiving end of this rage- from managers and administrators to bureaucrats, it is likely the high visibility and name recognition of elected representatives might make them more likely to receive it.

Elected representatives are also very likely to be seen as especially culpable for things such as cutting healthcare benefits, cutting social security and similar benefits and facilitating corporate abuses. It is therefore very reasonable to expect more incidents like that Scalise shooting in the near future. Also, it is quite apparent that most people have now come to enjoy seeing conventional politicians get their just deserts. To put it another way, the times we live are about to get a whole lot more exciting.

Might write more about this topic in a future post- based on reader feedback.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Thoughts on the Congressional Baseball Shooting: 15 Jun, 2017

June 15, 2017 16 comments

As almost all of you must have heard by now, a guy opened fire on some republican members of congress and lobbyists at a practice session for a “charity” baseball match yesterday. The shooter, named James Hodgkinson, was a 66-year man from Belleville in Illinois. While we do not yet know about the combination of circumstances which led him to shoot up republican members yesterday, it is very obvious that Hodgkinson had a long-term dislike for republican policies and ideologies. Idiots from both parties and their media surrogates are trying to paint him as some sort of violent leftist radical, even though there is not much to suggest that he was any more violent than tens of millions of other men in USA.

Some of you might wonder.. were his actions justified? My answer to that question is as follows: What you, or I, think about a particular action does not matter to someone who is determined to carry out that action. Hodgkinson had come there to shoot and kill as many republican lawmakers as possible regardless of whether he would survive such a course of action- which he did not. He was not seeking external justification or validation, so what we think about his actions is irrelevant to his carrying out those actions. It is therefore best to see this event, and other like it, as an example of one person finally going through a series of actions which they they had almost certainly contemplated in private for many years before acting on them.

I can almost hear some of you say.. but, aren’t you dodging the question of whether what he did was morally “right” or “wrong”? To which I say- morality is highly subjective. Consider the fact that one of the severely injured, a republican lawmaker named Steve Scalise, was involved in the recent vote to repeal “Obamacare” in the lower chamber of congress. As you know, repealing even something as shitty as “Obamacare” will result in the loss of medical insurance coverage for over 20 million people in USA- resulting in tens of thousands of excess deaths per year due to lack of timely and adequate medical care. He also voted against a bill to apologize for slavery in 1996 in addition to having a following among some of most regressive parts of the Louisiana electorate.

In other words, Hodgkinson is not a hero and Scalise is no MLK Jr. Incidentally, Scalise has in the past voted against making MLK Jr Day a national holiday, which is now ironic since both the cops who intervened to save him yesterday from a white guy shooting him were black. But enough of talk about an event which has already occurred. Let us now consider the likely future effects of the congressional baseball shooting on 2017.

1] As far as Steve Scalise is concerned, he is likely to be in a world of hurt for a long time to come. Though he was hit by only one bullet (most likely a 5.56×45mm), it went through his pelvis- from left to right. Given the wounding characteristics of that cartridge, it is safe to say that organs and tissues in that part of his anatomy have likely suffered severe damage- even if the projectile was a FMJ. To put it in simpler language, he likely has suffered considerable damage to his urinary bladder, rectum, prostate and a host of blood vessels and nerves in that area.

It is therefore a matter of speculation if he will ever experience normal functioning of organs in that region of his anatomy, or those connected to them. While medical technology, including the treatment of projectile injuries, has seen considerable advances over the last few decades- there are limits to what can be done- especially for injuries in certain regions of the body.

2] While Scalise is not the first congress person to be shot or even killed (in living memory), every single one of the prior attacks were perpetrated by people who were either in religious cults or not mentally stable. Congress critters at federal level in USA have, until now, not been shot or killed for their professed ideologies, voting record or policy positions. Such accidental immunity from facing the consequences of their actions, combined with an unnaturally high rates of incumbency, have allowed them to believe that they can get away with anything. The Scalise shooting is the first in what I suspect is a trend of “elected” officials in USA having the face the consequences of their beliefs and actions.

I am sure that some of you have seen YouTube clips depicting extreme levels of hostility towards politicians at recent townhall meetings across the country as well as the conditions which allowed Trump to defeat all of his numerous and far better funded professional politician opponents in the republican presidential primary. My point is that the era of apparent immunity of elected politicians in USA to popular outrage for their actions is now drawing to a close. In the future, it is likely that we will see more republican and democratic politicians at the wrong end of a gun wielded by a pissed off voter. Of course, congress critters will try to increase security levels for them, but that might prove less than effective and result in a further backlash against them.

3] Many of you might also have noticed that most of the MSM, alternative media and a lot of people on multiple social networks have not expressed any real concern about that event. In fact the prevailing sentiment seems to be almost one of surprise that it took so long to occur. Moreover, unlike previous incidents including the one in 2011 there are far fewer people expressing any real sympathy for the congress critter who got shot up. You can interpret this apparently odd public reaction in many ways. My personal favorite interpretation is that this apparently anomalous public reaction is based in the simple reality that USA has ceased to be a united and functional society.

While there are many reasons and much blame to go around for this current state of affairs, it is nonetheless clear that it mostly comes down to the system being unable to provide a decent life and environment for most people in USA. People simply don’t care about beliefs or systems which do not, or are unlikely, to improve the lives of those who care about them. Overt patriotism and the somewhat civilized politics in USA was predicated on the system delivering a decent life (or a realistic promise thereof) for most of its citizens. This also means that the outcome I alluded to in the previous point (2) is more likely than most people realize or are willing to accept.

To summarize, the shooting of Steve Scalise is a far more consequential event than most people realize right now. It is also an indicator of a pretty major shift in how many people in USA relate to the system of governance they live under. I also think that this event is likely to first of a new class rather than an unfortunate anomaly. While nobody really knows where all this will ultimately lead to, it is equally clear that the post-WW2 system/ consensus/ order in USA is on its way out- one way or the other.

What do you think? Comments?

Attempts to Implement a Beef Ban in India Will Backfire Badly

May 30, 2017 5 comments

A few of you might have heard about recent attempts by the right-wing-ish ruling party in India to implement a ban of people eating beef through a number of laws and rules. While I seldom write posts about events in India, especially nowadays, this attempt to implement a beef ban in India is very likely to generate a particularly nasty and systemic backlash against that party.

First, a bit of background. See.. many of you think Indians don’t consume Beef and worship Cows etc. However that is not true, especially in certain parts of India. Most Muslims in India, which has the second largest Muslim population in the world, eat Beef. Perhaps more importantly, non-Muslims in certain parts of India such as the North-east, Kerala, Goa and much of the west coast of India, large Metropolitan areas do eat Beef- even if they might not cook it in their homes.

Furthermore, the livelihood of many hundreds of thousands of people in India is linked to butchering and processing cattle for meat, leather etc. More problematically, many of those people belong to certain religions, castes and ethnicities- the reasons for which will become clearer later in the post. Then there is the problem of collateral antagonism from such actions. Anyway, I think it is best to list all the reasons why this Beef ban has an extremely high likelihood of backfiring on the ruling party.

1] Imposing your dietary beliefs, especially if they are based in religion, onto other people is likely to generate an especially harsh backlash. Have you ever wondered why previous national governments in India never seriously tried to ban butchering cattle? Here is a hint- they wanted to rule, and steal from the people, in relative peace. The simple fact is that India is not (and never was) a mono-religious or mono-ethnic country. Functional governance of such a diverse country requires the accommodation of populations with conflicting beliefs aka being pragmatic.

2] Most people who profess Hinduism in India are not especially religious. I would go so far as to say that making money is (and always has been) the real religion of India. Consequently, most Hindus do not see butchering cattle as inherently problematic, as long as they are not the ones doing it. It is no secret that most dairy farmers in India love the money made from selling older cattle to slaughterhouses for meat. Let us be realistic, why would dairy farmers keep on feeding livestock cattle who no longer serve their main function?

3] Butchering and handling dead animals has, for some fucked up religious reasons, been traditionally seen as lower-caste professions in India. Then again, jobs which involve honest and useful work are usually seen as low-caste in Hinduism. The end result of this belief system is that those involved in the whole business of butchering and processing animals are from the so-called “untouchable” castes or Muslims. Did I mention that those belonging to those castes and religions have no interest in being good Hindus? Also they do vote, in very high percentages.

4] The ruling party trying to push the Beef ban, known as the BJP, has historically been seen as the party of reactionary small businessmen from certain castes. In other words, most people in India have a less than favorable opinion of that party. The two main reasons why the BJP came into power in mid-2014 was the collapse of the previous ruling party and the current prime minister being able to project the image of being a competent and fairly secular manager. In other words, the ability of BJP to win any future elections depends on it being able to provide secular, as opposed to religious, goods and services.

5] The current prime minister (Narendra Modi) and his underlings have, so far, been able to provide competent and relatively scandal-free governance. They have been able to approve and speed up many important infrastructure projects, reform government rules and regulations, improve government transparency etc. To put it another way, the first three years of their five-year term have been reasonably good. However over the last three months, they have started dabbling into areas that are not linked to providing secular goods and services.

6] Some of their dabbling into non-secular areas, such as trying to make muslim divorce laws fairer towards women, have been generally well received. However that particular (and still ongoing attempt) at such intervention is largely seen as beneficial in secular terms. In contrast to that, immiserating and impoverishing millions of people via a Beef ban is likely to some up against very determined and prolonged opposition. Also, unlike attempts to reform muslim personal law, such laws will be perceived as religious discrimination.

7] While most muslims in India are fairly moderate and not that religious, it is likely that laws which discriminate against and impoverish them will lead to prolonged civil agitation- to put it mildly. At this stage it is also worth mentioning that many of the so-called “untouchable” castes, who are also involved in the business of processing animals, will likely see this as an attack on their identity and livelihood by a party made up of middle-caste small businessmen Hindus. It is not a good idea to piss off and motivate 20-25% of your population against yourself, especially if the reason for doing so are minor.

8] The popularity of Narendra Modi in India is largely linked to his ability to, so far, efficiently deliver secular goods and services. His administration has also, so far, been able to avoid major civil disturbances and breakdown of governance in most of India. In other words, the popularity of him (and the BJP party) are contingent on providing increasing prosperity AND security. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that any legislation which would create prolonged civil disturbances would not be helpful for improving public perception about internal safety and security.

9] But perhaps most importantly, most Hindus (especially in the more affluent parts of India) have little interest in inconveniencing themselves over something trivial as butchering cattle. Also certain states in India have enough people who consume Beef or depend on cattle butchering as a livelihood for such legislation to make implementation of such legislation very problematic- to put it mildly. Furthermore, the majority of Indians have (for very good reasons) a pretty unfavorable view of government rules and regulations. My point is that trying to push such laws and rules will encounter much more determined resistance than support.

In summary, this attempt by the BJP to target muslims and certain so-called “untouchable” castes is a remarkably stupid idea- especially from the point of maintaining political power. The best case scenario is that they will soon read the writing on the proverbial wall and cut their losses. The worse case scenario is that they end up creating conditions for prolonged civil disturbances in addition to losing power in 2019. Either way, the BJP fucked up with their attempt at banning Beef.

What do you think? Comments?