Tag Archives: history

How to Make a Bl(UN)der Out of World Peace

The Economist recounts the turmoil the U.N. is now going through trying to elect a new secretary-general. Aside from the usual bickering and reciprocal blocking of candidates among the five nations with veto power, voices from inside the organization have recently revealed other problems, including the “colossal mismanagement” of peacekeeping budgets and a “sclerotic personnel system.” On the one hand, it is clear that these latter issues arise from the bureaucratic nature of the organization, which is bound to prove impossible to manage in an efficient manner. However, the broader problem the U.N. and its secretary-general are confronted with is one of credibility, after having missed almost every opportunity to provide a resolution to conflicts across the world over the last decades, from Rwanda to Sudan and Sri Lanka. While some other international organisations such as the IMF and the World Bank retain some (misguided) popular trust, the United Nations appears to almost all discerning eyes as a grand-scale failed endeavor.

It’s easy to assume that bureaucracy has single-handedly brought the U.N. down, but a more nuanced explanation can be found in Mises’s writings, which provide us with insights into the ideological foundations on which the U.N.—and its interwar predecessor, the League of Nations—were established. Mises (1943a1943b) writes:

The noble-minded founders of the League of Nations… were right in their idea that autocratic governments are warlike, while democratic nations cannot derive any profit from conquest and therefore cling to peace. But what President Wilson and his collaborators did not see was that this is valid only within a system of private ownership of the means of production, free enterprise, and unhampered market economy. Where there is no economic freedom things are entirely different.

Ours is not an age of laissez fare, laissez passer, but an age of economic nationalism. All governments are eager to promote the well-being of their citizens or of some groups of their citizens by inflicting harm upon foreigners. Foreign goods are excluded from the domestic market or only permitted after the payment of an import duty. Foreign labor is barred from competition on the domestic labor market. Foreign capital is liable to confiscation. This economic nationalism must needs result in war, whenever those injured believe that they are strong enough to brush away, by armed violent action, the measures detrimental to their own welfare. […] Economic nationalism is the corollary of the present-day domestic policies of government interference with business and of national planning as free trade was the complement of domestic economic freedom.

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Some people may have missed it on their calendar, but May 5th was Karl Marx’s birthday. It is worth recalling, also, that there was a time when Marx was an anti-communist.

Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818 in the German Rhineland town of Trier, and died on March 14, 1883 in London.

It is said that by its fruit you will know the tree. The last one hundred years is a clear testament to the consequences of Marx’s influence on modern history.

Accepting the “classical” labor theory of value, he concluded the workers were “exploited” by the “capitalists.” Marx claimed that “profit” was a portion of the workers’ output extracted by the property owners as the “price” the workers had to pay to have access to the privately owned physical means of production, without which they could not produce and survive.

The Austrian economist, Eugen von Boehm-Bawerk, demonstrated that Marx had confused “”profit” with “interest.” In a competitive market, profit is a temporary discrepancy between selling price and costs-prices, eventually competed away by businesses bidding up wages for workers (and other resource prices) to work for them, and those same businesses then competing for consumers to buy their output by offering their wares at better selling prices than their rivals.

What Marx had failed to fully understand was that production takes time, and that if workers would not or could not wait until the product was finished and sold to consumers to receive their wages, then someone had to “advance” those wages to them over the production period.

That, Boehm-Bawerk showed, is what the employers did, so that what workers received while working was the discounted value of their marginal product. The “gain” received by employers over their costs of production, even in long-run equilibrium, was the implicit interest for having ‘waited” for the product to be finished and sold, when they might have done other things with the “savings” they had advanced to those workers during the period of production.

If it is recognized that “time” has value, and, therefore, an intertemporal price, the notion that workers were or could be “exploited” in open, competitive markets for resources and finished goods was fundamentally wrong.

On this foundation of sand, Marx constructed his theory of the “injustice” of capitalism that has, in various forms, continued to plague the ideas and policies of countries around the world.

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by May 9, 2016

For the Russians, May 9, 1945 is the day marking the end of the Second World War in Europe, and it is celebrated every year, including this one, with a giant military parade through Red Square in Moscow. For the former Soviet and now the post-communist Russian government, it is hailed as the day that “Soviet power” under the leadership of Joseph Stalin defeated Nazi Germany and saved Europe from the permanent clutches of Adolph Hitler and Nazi tyranny.

What is forgotten is that it was Stalin and the Soviet Union that were Hitler and Nazi Germany’s ally in starting this horrific war that took the lives of well over 50 million people, and set the stage, after the defeat of Hitler, for the nearly half-century enslavement of the eastern half of Europe under communist tyranny.

It is the fairy tale of Russian innocence and victimhood in starting and fighting the Second World War that is still used by the post-Soviet government of Vladimir Putin to justify a nostalgia for the “good old days” of Soviet power, and for the Russian president to say that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the “greatest geo-political tragedy of the twentieth century.”

Among the lies and distortions of Soviet history that Vladimir Putin’s government continues to perpetuate is a downplaying of the human cost of trying to “build socialism” during the nearly 75-year reign of communist rule in the Soviet Union, from 1917 to 1991. It is estimated that as many as 64 million innocent men, women and children were killed in the Soviet Union in the name of building the socialist workers’ paradise.” (See my article: “The Human Cost of Socialism in Power.”)

The Soviet Fairy Tale About the Start of World War II

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The Legendary Hyperborea and the Ancient Greeks: Who Really Discovered America?

Is it possible the ancient Greeks knew of the New World thousands of years ago? Courtesy Christos A. Djonis

In his story of Atlantis, written at around 360 BC, Plato mentioned a grand island or continent across the Atlantic, one larger than Libya and Asia combined. This continent was so enormous, he said, “it encompassed (wrapped around) that veritable ocean”. Is it possible that Plato was talking about the American continent and not that of Atlantis, as many automatically assume when they read that story for the first time?

Let’s not ignore that many scholars and researchers also show that proper translation of Plato’s text places Atlantis in the Mediterranean and not in the Atlantic, or some other exotic location. Aside from those claims though, is it conceivable to accept that the ancient Greeks, around the 4th century BC, knew of the American continent across the Atlantic? Interestingly, several clues suggest that this may not be such an outlandish assumption after all.

Roughly twenty years ago, in 1996, Mark McMenamin, a professor of geology at Mount Holyoke College in the United States, discovered and interpreted a series of enigmatic markings on the reverse side of a Carthaginian gold coin, minted circa 350 BC, as an ancient map of the world. In the center of this world map there is a clear depiction of the Mediterranean basin. An image to the right of it is interpreted to represent Asia, while the image to the left is interpreted to represent the American continent. Professor McMenamin also found that all known specimens of this type of coin formed the same type of “world” map. This was an interesting discovery, no doubt; however, what is most interesting about this find, is that this particular Carthaginian coin was minted within the same decade when Plato unveiled the story of Atlantis and revealed that there was a large continent across from the Pillars of Hercules.

Carthaginian coins from circa 310–290 BC. Representational image only.

Carthaginian coins from circa 310–290 BC. Representational image only. (Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.  http://www.cngcoins.com /  CC BY-SA 2.5 )

The Piri Reis Map

Read more: http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-americas/legendary-hyperborea-and-ancient-greeks-who-really-discovered-america-005258#ixzz3yYM63kGY
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