All Is Not Lost, Contrary to Endless Political Horror Stories

Gary North – February 01, 2019

Reality Check

I was recruited into the conservative movement at the age of 14. That was in 1956. I was lured in by Dr. Frederick Schwarz of Australia, who told us that the expansion of Soviet Communism was relentless.

He offered no plan of defense. He offered no hope. Most important, he was wrong. The Soviet Union committed suicide in full public view on December 25, 1991. It will not be back.

Schwarz was honest. In his autobiography, which was published after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he admitted that he was astounded that the Soviet Union had collapsed so easily.

Nobody saw it coming. Well, almost nobody. Andrei Amalrik saw it coming. But nobody paid much attention to him. Nobody picked up the ball and continued to make the prediction.

Here is reality. There are always a lot of bad things going on. There are a lot of bad people trying to get power. Sometimes they do get power. What do they do with this power? Usually, more of the same.

Nevertheless, these days, things are beginning to change. They are not beginning to change at the top. They are beginning to change at the bottom. That is where productive change always comes from.

The political rulers of Great Britain and the United Kingdom got a big surprise two years ago when the public voted to leave the European Union. The leaders were all caught completely flat-footed. They have not recovered. They are today’s classic examples of the chicken with its head cut off. Brexit is about to split the European Union. This is great news. The politicians can do nothing about it at this point. The British Parliament is paralyzed. The EU says it will tolerate no more revisions. The clock is ticking. The deadline is March 29. The whole system is coming apart right in front of our eyes.

This is not a time for despair. This is a time for rejoicing. This is a time for waving the plastic hand.

Unless the President or Putin pushes a button to start World War III, or unless some invisible non-state revolutionary terrorist group uses biological weapons to paralyze major Western cities, what the people in power do will not amount to much.

Why not? Because the economy is now out of control in two directions. First, the national budgets are out of control. The deficits are getting larger. The number of recipients of old age pensions and free medical care are growing like wildfire all over the west. These people are absorbing at least half of the budgets, and they’re going to absorb more than half as their numbers grow. They get first dibs on the money. Everybody else must wait in line. This means that the neocons must wait in line. The left must wait in line. And the line is getting longer and longer. These groups don’t move up in the line. They are kicked to the end of the line. Granny gets first dibs on the money.

Second, digital technologies are decentralizing the private sector. It is getting more and more difficult for governments to control what is going on in the private sector. Moore’s Law is still doing its work. Something like it will continue to do its work. The computers keep getting more powerful. Communications keep getting cheaper. Soon, we are going to get real-time translations of the major languages. At that point, decentralization is going to move ahead at astonishing speed. Once this barrier to entry is broken, the flood of competing digital products is going to sweep through the West. The flood will come from India primarily, but it is also going to come from China. There is nothing that the central governments can do about this. They can’t put tariffs on digital goods.

So, when you hear about the growth of the central government and the growth of world government, shrug it off. Either ignore it or find amusement in it. The government budgets are out of control, and from the governments’ point of view, digital technologies are out of control. This familiar scene shows what is going on inside central governments around the West.


This article says that Trump has surrendered to the neocon empire-builders. The article is sheer bloviation. I interact with it only to prove a point: conservatives are exposed to supposedly authoritative analyses that are built on unconnected facts and a lot of speculation. This article is sound and fury, signifying pretty close to nothing, to paraphrase Shakespeare.

This article is unimportant. It is long. I am offering it only as an example of third-rate journalism. You may choose to skip this. It was posted on a French website.

I have tried to understand this writer for years. He makes no sense to me. I am not exaggerating. I really cannot decipher his articles. He writes about really arcane military issues. I cannot remember any article by him that seemed important. But I could be wrong, because I don’t think I’ve ever understood one of his articles. Maybe they are very significant. Maybe I am a dolt. But when I read him, I keep thinking to myself: “Get to the point!” He never does.

You should learn how to analyze stories like this one. There are tip-offs all through it that there is no substance to it. When you see these tip-offs, you will not be easily sucked in by the next bloviator who yells “Fire!”

Has President Donald Trump abandoned the idea of transforming US politics? Has he bowed to the ex-ruling class of his country?

A journalist who begins with a series of questions is about to waste your time. He is about to spin theories based on nothing substantial. He will present cause-and-effect when there may be no cause or effect. He doesn’t know, so the reader won’t know, either. If he knew, he wouldn’t put question marks at the beginning of his article.

Over the last two months, his administration seems to have restructured AfriCom, CentCom and SouthCom.

Who follows the day-by-day operations of these three military organizations? Only military specialists. But military specialists who really know what they are talking about keep their mouths shut about politics.

The first military command of the Pentagon has apparently been authorised to join battle against Chinese projects on the African continent; the second has been engaged to divide the Greater Middle East between Arabs and Persians; and the third to destroy the State structures of the Caribbean Basin. These new missions are accompanied by a return of the neo-conservatives.

This is the military equivalent of blah, blah, blah. There’s nothing the military can do about it short of war. There is nothing the military wants to do about it. All the military wants to do is to make sure its budget doesn’t get cut. So there is lots more blah, blah, blah.

What does he mean, “return of the neoconservatives”? They never left. In any case, they are a small faction. On the question of military expansion and military power, they are no different from Bush II, Obama, Clinton, and Bush I. It is the steady opinion of the Council on Foreign Relations. It is the same old, same old.

Since the mid-term elections on 6 November 2018, President Trump has been under extreme pressure. Federal administrations have been closed since 22 December (the shutdown), because of parliamentary opposition to a budget proposition which included the financing for a Wall at the Mexican frontier. The crisis only came to an end 35 days later, on 25 January 2019, when President Trump provisionally bowed to the demands of the Democratic Party. According to S&P Global Ratings, the shutdown will have cost more than 6 billion dollars, which is more expensive than the Wall it was supposed to economise.

He bowed to the pressure of the Congressional Republicans. They told him this was the wrong strategy. He buckled. Congressional Republicans and Democrats are now meeting to try to keep the government open. Trump bowed to the will of Congress, and this includes Republicans.

During this period, the Trump administration multiplied signs that it was renouncing its foreign and Defense policies, and rallying with US imperialism. Taking into account the real estate promoter’s method of governing, it is quite possible that this total change of direction is only apparent, and destined to be called into question on 12 February, the date of the end of the budget agreement. In any case, for the moment, numerous elements suggest that Donald Trump may have given up making the changes he promised.

Here it is again, hedging his bets: “. . . it is quite possible that this total change of direction is only apparent, and destined to be called into question. . ..” Therefore, it is also quite possible that this change of direction, which is not total, is not real. He doesn’t know. I don’t know. I doubt that Trump knows.

– On 13 December 2018, at the Heritage Foundation, National Security Advisor John Bolton revealed the new US strategy for Africa:

(1) develop commerce,
(2) fight Islamic terrorism,
(3) verify the use of US aid.

Nothing new, then, apart from the fact that commercial objectives were exhaustively presented not as rivalry against the old colonial powers (France and the United Kingdom), but as a violent combat against China and Russia.

– On 20 December, Secretary of Defense General James Mattis addressed a public letter of resignation to President Trump. Contrary to what was reported in the Press, he was in agreement with the withdrawal of troops from Syria, but was worried about the message that this might send to the Allies of the anti-Daesh Coalition, and therefore the possible end of US leadership. Considering that he needed no public lessons, Trump immediately fired Mattis without allowing him the possibility of exercising his responsibilities until a replacement was found.

The key words here are these: “nothing new.” If there is nothing new, don’t write an article. Write an article when you have something to say about something new.

However, yielding to his critics, President Trump reversed his position and admitted that the withdrawal of troops would take longer than planned.

So far, all this tells me is that the administration is in disarray. But that has been true ever since January 20, 2017. Nothing new here.

– On 3 January 2019, at the opening of the 116th session of Congress, Democrat representative Eliot Engels and Republican senator Marco Rubio tabled two propositions for a law (H.R. 31 and S. 1) incorporating an almost identical passage aimed at enacting sanctions blocking the rebuilding of Syria. Thereafter, Engels (the author of the Syria Accountability Act of 2003) was elected president of the Chamber’s Foreign Affairs Committee, while James Rich was elected to the equivalent Senate Committee. Rich immediately rallied to the proposition of the law against Syria.

The two texts argue that it was the Syrian Arab Republic, and not the jihadists, who tortured the victims photographed in the « Caesar report », which would justify the blockage of the rebuilding of the country. The Senate text goes even further by supporting military aid to Israël, at the very moment when the Hebrew state admitted that it was carrying out an intense bombing campaign against Syria.

First, it doesn’t matter what a Senator or what a House member has introduced. Nothing is going to get passed by this Congress. Second, who cares what Rubio wants or says? What has that got to do with Trump?

The author is not an American citizen. You can see this from the way he does his citations. He is a foreign observer. In trying to read him for years, I have gotten the distinct impression that he has no sense of the American political system. He knows about the arcane facts, but he can’t sort these out into anything coherent.

There are three rules of effective writing. First, be accurate. Second, be clear. Third, be persuasive. I have spent 60 years trying to develop these skills. I can recognize an author who does not have these skills. This guy has one of them. He is accurate. But he is not clear. Above all, he is not persuasive. But I digress.

– On 10 January 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed the new strategy for the Greater Middle East during a conference at the American University in Cairo. The strategy includes :

• (1) fighting Islamic terrorism,
• (2) fighting Iran and its allies,
• (3) military withdrawal from the region to the profit of an Israëlo-Arab « NATO ».

However, apart from the fact that dividing the region between Arabs and Persians is even more dangerous than the current situation, the creation of an Israëlo-Arab military alliance seems unlikely – it would have the support of governments which are already collaborating in secret, certainly, but not that of popular opinion. Simultaneously, National Security Advisor John Bolton set up a terrorist internationale against Iran, including elements of the Sunni Arabs of Daesh and Persian Shiites from the People’s Mujahedin.

So far, he has yet to prove anything. He is not telling us what Trump thinks. He is not telling us what Trump has done. He is not telling us how any of this is going to make a difference. He is just showing that he monitors arcane aspects of American foreign policy and military policy.

Then he goes on to discuss some statement Pompeo made about Venezuela.

Honestly, does any of this sound important to you? Read carefully.

While the Western Press and the Venezuelans interpreted the conflict as questioning the Bolivarian government, we announced – a little early – the events that the Pentagon intended to apply to the Caribbean Basin, the same strategy that it applied earlier to the African Great Lakes, then to the Greater Middle East. After long internal discussions, the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs adopted the same position. In particular, Moscow declared : « The deliberate and clearly well-organised creation of a double power structure and an alternative centre of decisions in Venezuela opens the door to chaos and the erosion of the Venezuelan state ».

This is all blah, blah, blah. It fills space, but not much else.

Then he offers a summation. Since he hasn’t proven anything about Trump so far, this summation is utterly irrelevant.

Neo-conservatism is a form of Trotskyism, and therefore ideologically part of the extreme left wing, rallied to the US state structure under the Reagan administration. Its partisans have never stopped swinging from left to right and vice-versa with every political alternation. They opposed the election of Donald Trump, but are now joining with him.

Does any of this make sense to you?

There was indeed a re-organisation of Africom, CentCom and SouthCom which authorises all three to defend not the interests of the People of the United States, but those of transnational companies and Israël. Still associated with this policy, the neo-conservatives, or at least one of the most illustrious among them, are back.

So, there was a reorganization. Maybe. Or maybe not. He expects us to take his word on this. But what if there was? What difference does it make.

Why does anybody devote time and energy to following such arcane details? The major policies never change at the top. They have not changed since the Truman Administration. The CIA is the same. The CFR is the same.

Then he comes to his conclusion.

These elements tend to attest to the fact that the Republican Party and the Trump administration are radically changing their policy and returning – with the exception of the refusal to allow terrorist organisations to administer states – to the Democrat Party policies of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: military imperialism in the service of transnational giants.

This renunciation seems to be implemented by the main sponsors of the Republican Party. Thus, the Koch brothers have recently announced that they will not be supporting the reelection of Donald Trump.

That is the end of his article.


Why do I spend time refuting it? I am not really refuting it. There is no thesis here. There is no cause and effect. There are a lot of if’s and might be’s. It is just blah, blah, blah.

Here is my main point. Conservative readers are subjected to an endless stream of horror stories. “All will soon be lost!”

We have been told that all is lost for about 70 years. I grew up hearing this. Meanwhile, the world economy has grown. We have seen a fantastic increase of the range of resources to verify facts. We are awash in information. Digital communications cost practically nothing. We don’t have to pay for telephone calls. We have hundreds of options of TV shows to watch. The mainstream media have lost their market share. Liberal newspapers are going out of business. The three or four television networks are losing market share. Hillary Clinton was defeated by Trump.

Yes, the federal budget is out of control, but this means that there won’t be any new federal programs of significance. We are now insulated from the Left. The Left can’t get its hands on the money, so the Left doesn’t have a workable program. The Left is now permanently stymied. All it can do is shout and scream and be outraged. But outrage without funding is just noise.

The federal budget would not be not be significantly worse after 2020 if Trump loses. It will be huge either way.

Trump doesn’t have a political philosophy. His main historical legacy will be that he defeated Hillary Clinton, which was fun to watch. It ended the Clinton dynasty.

Here is an improvement since early 2017. The number of pages published by the Federal Register is down from over 80,000 at the end of Obama’s administration to about 66,000 today. This has received almost no publicity. That is a good thing. It is a marginal good thing, but it is good.

There has been another minor victory since early 2017. Trump has pulled some troops out of Afghanistan. Maybe he will continue to do so. But what does Afghanistan matter? Afghanistan has been an expensive albatross. But the Pentagon is still going to expand, no matter what. It will spend any spare Afghanistan money on something else. Trump is not going to cut the Pentagon’s budget. Neither is Congress. It’s just a matter of bookkeeping: less for Afghanistan, more for some other boondoggle.


The neocons are no different from the old boy network that has controlled the State Department ever since 1948. The only significant changes since 1933 were Truman’s recognition of the State of Israel in May 1948 and Nixon’s recognition of China in 1972.

From age 14 on, I have heard nothing from conservatives except the evils of the State Department. So, what does it matter what Trump does? It doesn’t matter.

What does matter is the growth of the economy. What also matters is social deterioration, but the government can’t do much about that anyway. To think that the government is going to cure that problem is to adopt the worldview of the Left: messianic politics, also known as salvation by law. In politics, this is expressed differently: salvation by legislation. But it’s the same outlook. It has been the dominant outlook politically in America ever since the Democrats took over Congress in 1931. Then Franklin Roosevelt’s Presidency confirmed this shift of opinion. It had been the outlook of the bipartisan Progressive movement, which took over the country in 1901 when Teddy Roosevelt became President because of McKinley’s assassination. In 1912, three Progressives ran for President: Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson. They got their funding in 1913: the income tax and the Federal Reserve. There was a brief respite in the 1920’s, but that was it.

We spend our lives hearing stories about the big bad Left, the big bad neocons, the big bad State Department, and the big bad media. Meanwhile, while all of this is going on, communications are decentralizing the whole world.

There has been no fundamental national political change in the United States since 1931. Yet there has been enormous economic change during this period. We live in a very different world.

This tells me that politics is marginal to our daily lives, and the economy is central. The economy is not centralized. The government is centralized. Centralization creates paralysis. Decentralization produces liberty. Free market economists have been saying this ever since 1776. They have been right ever since 1776.

Keep your eye on the long haul, not short-term politics.