January 02, 2009

Editor Richard Spencer has asked me”€”and indeed all the Takimag gang”€”to record our predictions for the coming year, but I have to say that I take this to mean he wants us to get our fingers moving and write something”€“because all punditry is prediction, in an important sense. Every time one advocates a particular policy, or descries another, the author is predicting a certain outcome, good or bad: the question is, which policies will win out in the battle of ideas. As we look at the incoming administration, especially in the context of trends that have been building over time, a certain scenario begins to emerge, with the first act unfolding on the domestic stage:

1) Get ready for the coming hyperinflation, and the collapse of the dollar. The trillions President Obama plans on spending to “€œcure”€ our economic malaise will prove poisonous to the dollar, with hyper-inflation the inevitable result. Whether this reaches Weimar levels remains to be seen, but one can easily imagine all sorts of unpleasant Weimar-like consequences.

2) A barrage of legislation that aims to stop capital flight, including draconian economic controls on the movement of money across borders and the erection of a steep tariff wall in the name of “€œnational economic security.”€ By the end of the year, we will have so many economic “€œczars,”€ each in charge of their own economic sector/fiefdom, that the Obama-ites will have to appoint a Czars-of-all-the-czars.

3) The Israeli offensive in Gaza is but a prelude to a series of IDF military actions, including a possible third Lebanon blitz and action against Syria”€”the weakest link in the chain of pro-Palestinian regional actors. The whole point of this extended exercise is to involve the US, militarily. This will lead logically to the fourth not-so-great expectation:

4) The return of military Keynesianism”€”To hear Paul Krugman and the other left-liberal economic gurus tell it, all we have to do is spend our way out of the doldrums, and that will do the trick. It doesn”€™t matter what we spend it on: it could be pyramid-building, for all they care. Just as long as we “€œjump-start”€ the economy with a “€œstimulus”€ of freshly-printed greenbacks”€”that”€™ll do the trick. And in the meantime, there will be plenty of jobs in Washington for ambitious young “€œplanners”€ and other disciples of Saint Keynes, whose purview will be devising imaginative methods of expanding the ranks of government workers. As Pat Buchanan pointed out, this is the dreaded “€œearmarks”€ raised up to a way of life.

Inevitably, this orgy of spending will include “€“ and perhaps even come to be dominated by”€”increased military appropriations. After all, there are only so many bridges one can build across the same river, and the accompanying rash of corruption sure to ensue is going to put a cap on this kind of spending. One can always cloak cronyism and two-hundred-dollar wrenches under the general rubric of economic collateral damage”€”a regrettable but necessary byproduct of ensuring the national security.

5) Preparations for war usually result in … war, and there are several candidates for 2009. The first is Iran, which will undergo a prolonged diplomatic, political, and economic assault before facing the prospect of American bombs falling on its cities. This, however, may not to out to be the main theater of American aggression in the coming year: Afghanistan, and Pakistan, will see major efforts by the US to complete a mission that has already failed, and which no one is quite clear about any longer. The US-Indian relationship will grow, perhaps formalized by a pact, and, in all likelihood, a visit by Hillary Clinton”€”not Obama”€”tothe region.

What the situation requires, however”€”the economic situation, that is “€“ is the invention of another Major Threat. Whether that turns out to be Russia, as the neocons would like, China, as the labor unions would prefer, or al Qaeda, again, by pulling off some spectacular 9/11-like operation, is an open question. Not to mention the possibility of another non-state actor usurping al-Qaeda’s role as global villain, the possibilities are manifold”€”and frighteningly plausible. As for me, I”€™d place my bets on Russia: as in the Clinton era, expect large-scale US government-sponsored efforts to penetrate Central Asia.

An increasingly antagonistic relationship with China is also in our future, especially after the Chinese government orders state-owned enterprises to call in their American debt and off-load all those T-bills. If and when it comes, that is the conflict that will see the AFL-CIO, the neocons, both major political parties, and a good proportion of the paleoconservatives in the ranks of the War Party. The Taiwan lobby, an old mainstay of the cold war conservative movement, will make a comeback, as the Republican party “€œmainstream”€ makes a completely implausible and unsuccessful effort to win over “€œworking class”€ voters.

By the end of the year, plans for a US withdrawal from Iraq will be put on indefinite hold, as its “€œdiscovered”€ that Iran has infiltrated the Iraqi government at the highest levels, and US soldiers are call in to halt an alleged coup attempt by pro-Iranian officers and militiamen. Iraq will increasingly become a battlefield in an ongoing proxy war between the US and Israel (operating in Kurdistan), and Iran. Allegations of Iranian interference in Pakistan, and even Afghanistan, will be raised, including by the Clinton state department, and we”€™ll be subjected to another long campaign by the War Party to target Tehran for destruction.

All in all, the prospects for liberty, and peace, in 2009, might be charitably described as dim, although bleak seems more precise. My advice to my readers: save your candles—the dark ages are coming. But, hey, I”€™m willing to be pleasantly surprised. As I sit here, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the cities, gazing up at a redwood whose tip is lost in swirling mist, the illusion of my own exemption from the onrushing disaster persists. Perhaps its just a defense mechanism imposed by the structure of the human mind, the same safety valve that blocks out the certainty of death and the ultimate tragedy of human existence. In any case, whatever it is, it feels right”€“and that’s all I can ask for the moment. So, in spite of my rather grim prognosis of the future we face, I can say, with equanimity”€“Happy New Year, fellow Taki-maggers. May the gods protect you from the coming dark age, as they have so far”€“thank Fortuna!”€”spared me.


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