Unknown (sort of) Head of State
BUENOS AIRES – Type Swiss President “Doris Leuthard” into Google. You will get about 450,000 results. Do the same with Donald Trump, and the number is closer to 396 million. That’s 87,900% more references. The world’s press is as fascinated by President Trump as it is indifferent to President Leuthard.
Doris Leuthard, President and energy minister of Switzerland. She has won her second presidential term this year. It basically doesn’t matter… she is primus inter pares, as the Swiss Federation is actually administered by a body of seven people (the Federal Council), modeled after the ancient Athenian polis system. The president does not enjoy greater political power than her colleagues – there is no single “boss”. We have written about the unique Swiss political system in greater detail here.
Photo credit: Jacques Demarthon / AFP
What will Ms. Leuthard do next? What outrageous new tweet will she send out? Whom will she attack? No one seems to care…
And yet, though we have never met either one of them, we have a suspicion. Ms. Leuthard is probably decent, earnest, and wholesome. She has never killed anyone, and it would take her a while to even get used to insulting people.
Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is in another category. Impervious to ridicule as to the fires of hell, he is especially well suited for the role he has been given. Mr. Trump accused “conservatives” of blocking his health care reform.
The conservatives say they want real change, not fake reform. That was the day before yesterday. Yesterday, he told them to “obey or else,” according to The Washington Post. And who knows – he may join with Democrats to override the Freedom Caucus veto.
In Switzerland, the president barely ever sells a newspaper and rarely chases the child molesters and fallen sports heroes from the headlines. When Ms. Leuthard appears on the TV, people go out for a drink. They don’t know and don’t care who she is. Because it doesn’t matter.
Switzerland has no troops stationed in foreign countries. It does not seek to slay dragons on the sands of Syria or Iraq. The Swiss president doesn’t presume to restrict travel, threaten to cut off funds to cities, or propose more money for crony industries.
Political power in Switzerland is local. It is constrained by local assemblies, local voters, and local customs. Much like the U.S. before the War Between the States, Switzerland’s states, called cantons, still have power of their own.
Swiss cantons – Switzerland is a small country, but even so, it is extremely decentralized. The cantons have their own tax policies and a great many political decisions are made locally. The cantons are in regulatory and tax competition with each other, which is the optimal state of affairs for the citizenry, promising the greatest possible extent of individual liberty. Political questions deemed to be of great nationwide importance are routinely decided by referendum. Incidentally, what is wrong with the insufferable “centralizers and harmonizers” of the EU is precisely that their plans and reality represent almost the polar opposite of this system – click map to enlarge.
It’s one of the most decentralized systems in the world. There is no “Swiss” national debt; each canton issues its own debt. And each suffers the consequences if it’s not repaid.
You will remember the general principle of “truth” in public affairs: It diminishes by the square of the distance from its source. The farther you get from the real events in time and space… and the grander the chutzpah of the events in question… the less likely they are to have any real meaning.
That is why local politics – as idiotic as they are – are still less gaudy and baroque than national politics. Bavaria didn’t invade Poland; Germany did. Anne Arundel County, Maryland, didn’t come up with Obamacare; Congress (aided and abetted by thousands of industry insiders) did.
A local voter is too close to the facts to put up with much nonsense. He sees the humbuggery like a plumber sees a sewer: He knows how it works and knows what’s in it.
And he knows he will have to pay for it. He is also close enough to his leaders to see their flaws. He has never met one who wasn’t either an empty suit or an immodest jackass. The “truth” is right in front of his eyes.
But today, the U.S. is no longer a confederation of states like Switzerland nor a modest republic like Finland or Argentina. Like crystal meth, the thrill of empire got into it a long time ago. Now it can’t say no to the drug, even though it can’t stop scratching and its teeth are falling out.
An empire needs an emperor. Only a tiny percentage of the population will ever get to know him personally. But everyone is expected to care about what he does – this has implications all up and down the line.
Official seal of the Wardens of the Iron Prison. The Empire never ended (for more details consult the nearest vast active living intelligence system).
Empires follow different rules and different patterns. The average citizen has little knowledge of what goes on in the halls and broom closets of power – and little influence over them. This leaves power in the hands of a special group of insiders – the Deep State.
Collectively, this group might see that the empire is headed for destruction. But individually, the foxes, zombies, and cronies who make up the Deep State have little incentive to change their behavior.
It is like a group of addicts all spending money from the same credit card. They may see that they are going broke, but no one wants to be the one to cut back.
Over time, the insiders tend to sort themselves into competing factions. The conservatives against the liberals, Republicans against Democrats, FBI against CIA, Congress against the White House, the military against Wall Street… and so forth.
Thus deadlocked by internal power struggles, the strongman leader – the emperor – grows taller and more cunning. No, he cannot change the fundamental direction of the society, its government, or its economy.
Imperator Donaldus I; aedificator muri, vastator spaciorum securorum, abnegator climatis, adversarius imperii profundi, flamen Kekis*
Illustration via reddit.com
That would put him at odds with the entire Deep State. But he can tip the balance in favor of one group of insiders over another.
That is why Mr. Donald J. Trump is perhaps the perfect leader for this period in America’s history. Neither “conservative” nor “liberal”, and unbounded by the Constitution, traditional party loyalty, or ideology… he is the man the empire needs.
He can promise carrots or threaten sticks. He can offer inducements and emoluments to one Deep State faction on Monday and mis-tweet them on Tuesday.
He can rouse his supporters in Cleveland one day, and stab them in the back in Washington the next. And day by day, the empire weakens. In a meth addict, the brain is the first to go. The heart, lungs, and liver follow.
* Emperor Donald I, wall-builder, destroyer of safe spaces, climate denier, enemy of the Deep State, high priest of Kek.
Image captions by PT
Translation of hieroglyphs: line 1 – Kek; line 2 – Kekui; line 3 – Kekuit (female form); Kek/ Keku/ Kekui is the frog-headed Egyptian god of darkness/ bringer of light. Sometimes the deity is depicted holding two knives, sometimes it holds two ankhs (as do most Egyptian gods). Kek has manifested itself as Pepe in modern times, recruiting new followers, apparently even at the highest levels of society… and making no less prominent enemies (whose gullibility and inabilitity to make even the most superficial fact-checking efforts apparently know no limit). That is of course precisely how dead gods are resurrected.
Illustration via dailystormer.com
The above article originally appeared at the Diary of a Rogue Economist, written for Bonner & Partners. Bill Bonner founded Agora, Inc in 1978. It has since grown into one of the largest independent newsletter publishing companies in the world. He has also written three New York Times bestselling books, Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets.
You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.
Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke
One Response to “The Empire Needs an Emperor”
Most read in the last 20 days:
- Gold – An Overview of Macroeconomic Price Drivers
Fundamental Analysis of Gold As we often point out in these pages, even though gold is currently not the generally used medium of exchange, its monetary characteristics continue to be the main basis for its valuation. Thus, analysis of the gold market requires a different approach from that employed in the analysis of industrial commodities (or more generally, goods that are primarily bought and sold for their use value). Gold's extremely high stock-to-flow ratio and the main source of...
- India – Is Kashmir Gone?
Everything Gets Worse (Part XII) - Pakistan vs. India After 70 years of so-called independence, one has to be a professional victim not to look within oneself for the reasons for starvation, unnatural deaths, utter backwardness, drudgery, disease, and misery in India. Intellectual capital accumulated in the West over the last 2,500 years — available for free in real-time via the internet — can be downloaded by a passionate learner. In the age of modern technology, another mostly...
- Cracks in Ponzi-Finance Land
Retail Debt Debacles The retail sector has replaced the oil sector in a sense, and not in a good way. It is the sector that is most likely to see a large surge in bankruptcies this year. Junk bonds issued by retailers are performing dismally, and within the group the bonds of companies that were subject to leveraged buyouts by private equity firms seem to be doing the worst (a function of their outsized debt loads). Here is a chart showing the y-t-d performance of a number of these...
- Pulling Levers to Steer the Machine
Ticks on a Dog A brief comment on Fed chief Janet Yellen’s revealing speech at the University of Michigan. Bloomberg: “Before, we had to press down on the gas pedal trying to give the economy all of the oomph that we possibly could,” Yellen said Monday in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Fed is now trying to “give it some gas, but not so much that we’re pushing down hard on the accelerator.” […] “The appropriate stance of policy now is closer to, let me call it...
- French Election – Bad Dream Intrusion
The “Nightmare Option” The French presidential election was temporarily relegated to the back-pages following the US strike on Syria, but a few days ago, the Economist Magazine returned to the topic, noting that a potential “nightmare option” has suddenly come into view. In recent months certainty had increased that once the election moved into its second round, it would be plain sailing for whichever establishment candidate Ms. Le Pen was going to face. That certainty has been...
- The Cost of a Trump Presidency
Opportunity Cost Rears its Head Last Thursday’s wanton attack on a Syrian air field by the US and its bellicose actions toward North Korea have brought the real cost of candidate Trump’s landslide victory last November to the forefront. It didn't take long for Donald Trump to drop his non-interventionist mask. The decision was likely driven by Machiavellian considerations with respect to domestic conditions, but that doesn't make it any better. Unlike...
- Central Banks Have a $13 Trillion Problem
Paycheck to Paycheck GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – The Dow was down 118 points on Wednesday. It should have been down a lot more. Of course, markets know more than we do. And maybe this market knows something that makes sense of these high prices. What we see are reasons to sell, not reasons to buy. DJIA daily (incl. Thursday)... it was just taking a rest - click to enlarge. Nearly half of all American families live “paycheck to paycheck,” say researchers. Without...
- Heavily Armed Swamp Critters
Worst Mistake GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – By our calculation, it took just 76 days for President Trump to get on board with the Clinton-Bush-Obama agenda. Now there can be no doubt where he’s headed. He’s gone Full Empire. Not that it was unexpected. But the speed with which the president abandoned his supporters and went over to the Deep State is breathtaking. Once there was only a Trump fragrance called Empire... now he has gone full empire himself Among the noise...
- Hell To Pay
Behind the Curve Economic nonsense comes a dime a dozen. For example, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen “think(s) we have a healthy economy now.” She even told the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy so earlier this week. Does she know what she’s talking about? Somehow, this cartoon never gets old... If you go by a partial subset of the ‘official’ government statistics, perhaps, it appears she does. The unemployment...
- French Selection Ritual, Round Two
Slightly Premature Victory Laps The nightmare of nightmares of the globalist elites and France's political establishment has been avoided: as the polls had indicated, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are moving on to the run-off election; Jean-Luc Mélenchon's late surge in popularity did not suffice to make him a contender – it did however push the established Socialist Party deeper into the dustbin of history. That was very Trotskyist of him (we can already picture a future Weekly...
- Trump Is An Insider Now
Conspiracy of the Few GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – “U.S. stocks fall on Trump talk…” began a headline at Bloomberg. Or it may be Trump action. We had already counted six major campaign promises – including no O’care repeal and no “America First” foreign policy – already buried (some for the better). A bunch of campaign promises get the MOAB treatment... A great many theories have been proposed to explain Trump's recent series of u-turns: 1. he is in thrall to...
- Simple Math of Bank Horse-Puckey
The Raw Deal We stepped out on our front stoop Wednesday morning and paused to take it all in. The sky was at its darkest hour just before dawn. The air was crisp. There was a soft coastal fog. The faint light of several stars that likely burned out millennia ago danced just above the glow of the street lights. And this is what they saw watching the sky from Mt. Wilson that night... After a brief moment, we locked the door behind us and got into our...