February 22, 2011

Zeitgeisting Griffin

Ran across this article on Infowars.com and it's about the movie Zeitgeist Addendum. Most Zeitgeist supporters probably know what Alex Jones had to say about the second Zeitgeist movie but I found Edward Griffin's comments particularly interesting. Griffin has done remarkable work exposing the Federal Reserve System but to be honest I find his analysis of Addendum rather disappointing. It's strange that Griffin's analysis on the Fed and that of Addendum lie so close together yet could be in different galaxies for that matter. It's almost like there is a dimensional reality barrier. Lets bring out some of the commentary Griffin made.

"1. The information about the Federal Reserve is, for the most part, right on target. However, I practically fell out of my chair when the program repeated that old, silly argument about the Fed not creating enough money to cover the cost of interest on debt; and, therefore, the world must forever be in debt. I knew right there that the writer did not read The Creature from Jekyll Island or, if he did, he forgot my analysis of this common myth. For those who are interested in that topic, it is fund on pages 191-192 of The Creature."

While I don't mind self-promotion and advertising ones book it would have been nice if Mr. Griffin thoroughly explained the matter and busted the myth with solid arguments instead of hinting that people should buy the book. No real information is shared in this paragraph. Furthermore, Addendum doesn't state that there isn't enough money to cover the cost of interest on debt. The movie implicitly states that new money is continuously created, all be it through the Fed or fractional reserve banking. If I'm not mistaken this is the engine that drives inflation and looking back at economic history this seems to be a constant. I'm not sure where Mr. Griffin is getting at and from my perspective he missed the opportunity to clarify the matter.

"2. The next jolt came when the program praised Civil War Greenbacks, calling them debt-free. Actually, Greenbacks were contrary to the U.S. Constitution and, although they were not fiat money issued by the banks, they were fiat money issued by the government. That was better than paying interest on nothing to bankers, but they still wiped out the purchasing power of American money through massive inflation. They can not correctly be called debt-free, either, because they represented debt on the shoulders of the government, which means, of course, on the shoulders of the taxpayers. It never ceases to amaze me how people think that the solution to money created out of nothing by those big, bad bankers is to have money created out of nothing by those nice, trustworthy politicians. Yet, that is what this program supports."

My interpretation of this segment of Addendum is that the director, Peter Joseph, made a suggestion to look at alternative usury (like that with the Greenbacks) in order to get away from debt based currency. I don't recall Joseph giving the Greenback a firm approval - in fact 22 minutes into the film when the Greenback section comes up, there's nothing of the sort! To be frank, I'm somewhat amazed already at how Mr. Griffin viewed the movie Addendum because the bottom line is that all currency leads to a form of economic slavery and should therefore be abandoned. The Greenback is a minor side-issue in the grander scheme of the movie, so why get hung up on it in the first place? I'm not even sure that a debt-free currency is possible in the first place and judging Mr. Griffin's comments he leans to that conclusion likewise. Both banks and government issuing money will inevitably lead to inflation and the quest for even more money, something the movie points out on more than one occasion and what Mr. Griffin himself points out in his commentary. Realizing that there are highly similar notions, I have to wonder what Mr. Griffin's core disagreement with Addendum actually is since so far it's just window dressing.

"3. There is a lengthy segment in which the author of I Was an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins, tells the story of how propagandists in the U.S. manipulated public opinion to support military action against several Latin American countries. Then Perkins says that these propagandists scared Americans by telling them that the leaders of these countries were Marxists who were aligned with the Soviets. This, of course, is a half truth that is just as dangerous as a total lie. It is true about the propagandists and their strategy to scare the public into supporting military intervention in those countries, but it is false to portray those dictators as great humanitarians who cared only for the well being of their people. That is total bunk. They WERE aligned with the Soviet Union and they WERE part of a Marxist/Leninist strategy to dominate Latin America; a strategy that continues to this day."

Now we're getting somewhere. In Addendum John Perkins comments on a number of political figures, however, it is not as simple as Mr. Griffin here portrays it to be because not all of the people involved were communists allied to the Soviet Union and not all of them were dictators. Perkins starts with the C.I.A. sponsored ousting of Iranian prime-minister Mohammed Mossadegh who was in fact a social-democrat. Next is Jacob Arbenz Guzman of Guatemala who was in fact a communist! Jaime Roldos Aguilera of Ecuador, a human rights activist belonged to a populist political party who only leaned to the left when it was pressured by the U.S. Omar Torrijos of Panama was a leftist dictator who didn't answer to Moscow and opposed communism at the same time, and had the support of the United States. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is a socialist, but he came to power in 1992 after the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

There are many nuances here. With the exception of (true dictator) Omar Torrijos, all of them political figures above were democratically elected. Something Mr. Griffin also fails to mention. Instead there's the sweeping generalization that all of them were "commies" and nasty dictators which is simply not true. Mr. Griffin is right when he says that half a truth is just as dangerous as a total lie and obviously he's guilty of the same act. The Monroe Doctrine is seemingly still alive and kicking, seeing how interference in Latin America and the protection of U.S. national interests is more or less justified in Griffin's critique. That is something that continues to amaze because I was taught in school that the U.S. is the land of the free, home of the brave and a beacon of democracy. But it turns out the U.S. interferes in other countries, even toppling over democratically elected regimes, when it suits there own selfish national and business interests. And that's not spreading democracy, that's pure fascism.

"4. Perhaps the biggest insult to our intelligence is the main theme of the program. It is that profits are the root of all our problems today. That being the case, we must change mankind to reject profit and we must work together on some other basis. It is never quite clear what that basis is, but, whatever it is, it will be administered and directed by an elite group, at least in the beginning. I was stunned by the fact that this is pure Marxism. Marx theorized that people had to be re-educated (in labor camps, if necessary) to cleanse their minds of the profit motive. He and his disciples, such as Lenin and Stalin and Khruschev, said that, eventually, the character of man would be purged of greed, and then the state would wither away because it no longer would be needed. Sure! We saw that in the Soviet Union and China, right? Yet this Marxist nonsense is exactly what is offered in this video program. It is Communism without using the name."

Above is a fine display of fear projection by an apparent right-wing fanatic. I thought the movie was altruistic in nature but seemingly Mr. Griffin sees Marxism in everything remotely free of charge. Bringing up the examples of the Soviet Union and China is also somewhat simplistic and I sincerely doubt anyone watching the movie with an open mind wants to repeat that part of socioeconomic history. When you look at China right now, is it really communist? Or are they very much involved with capitalism? It's the latter I'm afraid. While there's still a lot of state interference in China, business reigns. They caught on to that and right now they are the second largest economy of the world. The Soviet Union was a brutal regime, nobody disputes that but does that automatically imply anything remotely like it will follow the same path? I don't think so, and to do so would be a classic example of fear mongering in my book.

This is what the movie also pointed out on this matter. Communism, socialism, fascism and capitalism are subservient to something else and that is monetary-ism. Even though the Soviet Union was a communist state, they had to deal with a global monetary system. They used money and banks themselves and had to trade with other countries. Hypothetically, what would have happened if they didn't spend a dime on defense but all their efforts went to transportation, housing and feeding everyone using the latest technology? Regardless of the Soviet Union not being a democracy, at no point in time did it ever truly care about the wellbeing of its citizens.
How free are you really in a highly capitalistic society like the U.S? I'm not arguing that the Soviet Union was a better society in any way, but looking at the political system in the states I don't see that much diversity either. Basically there are 2 parties, Republicans and Democrats, and both primarily serve financial/business interests and secondary the needs of the people. While you can walk freely around, you're only as free as your purchasing power will allow. Seeing how corporations can have so much influence on the political process (by lobbying) I would postulate that the U.S. is not a true democracy either. For over a century there has been a tremendous influence of the most dominant institutions (banks and other large corporations) in that country. How free are you really?

"Zeitgeist Addendum ignores this reality. At one point the narrator even says that the greatest evil in the world today is "the free enterprise system." That’s an incredible statement, especially inasmuch as the free enterprise system has been dead for several decades. It lives in name only. The whole world now is in the grips of non-competitive monopolies and cartels that have forged partnerships with governments. All of the evils to which this program alludes are the result, not of the free enterprise system, but of the abandonment of free enterprise and the adoption of collectivism. This program creates a mythological boogeyman and then advocates more of the very thing that has brought us to the mess we are in today."

Now we are getting to the bottom line. The profit motive is a good thing according to Griffin provided it is implemented in a free system where government does not intervene in the market place. The age old marketing phrase; 'the best quality products and services for the lowest possible prices,' is thrown in for good measure. To top it off Griffin seems to think that present day free enterprise has fallen victim to collectivism. The underlying belief here is that a free market system, without the interference of any type of government, will produce a stable economy and thus society.
I'm sorry Mr. Griffin, I couldn't disagree with you more. No matter how you twist and turn it, the free market system is a type of economic survival of the fittest. In essence it is social darwinism. The competition itself weeds out the weak and lets the strong and dominate prevail. Small local businesses will compete, some will fail and go bankrupt while others will simply transform into big businesses. Those big businesses will have tremendous influence and what do you know? That's precisely what you have right now in American society. That didn't happen by mistake, it's a direct consequence of the free market system.

Often I see American people protest on television, they want lower taxes and smaller government but they do want to make money. These people want to protect their own interests. Well, guess what? Those big corporations are basically made up of people with the same mindset and just like a blue-collar worker they will protect their interests as well. The difference is that they are wealthy and probably millionaires. This is not collectivism, this is selfism on multiple capitalistic levels. That's why you'll hear the Republican Party advocate "we wont distribute the wealth." That kind of selfism appeals to people and that's why they get many votes but people are ignorant to how far this goes on the social ladder.
It is clear to me that Edward Griffin is locked in this paradigm. He loves the American Dream yet is unhappy with the result that some are more successful and have influence over the rest. If I can make an analogy here, people like Mr. Griffin love the game of poker (capitalism) but when they are dealt a hand that wont secure the game they insist on a reshuffle so that they can have another shot.

For me, Zeitgeist Addendum was an eye-opener and a confirmation of what I already experienced and learned in the world. It offers a viable alternative to the economic turmoil that's going on right now. It's the quest of acquiring money itself, the need to survive that brings out the worst in people. Edward Griffin, like many Americans, is seemingly oblivious to this notion and will blame everything else as a "disease" before looking at himself and the root causes of problems in our society. When the bottom line is that every single person on the planet will do whatever it takes to survive, do you really advocate a system that's based on selfism and competition? Or do you advocate a system that brings out the best in people?

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