What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.
- The Intellectual Yet Idiot, Nassim Nicholas Taleb
President Obama gave a speech at the United Nations yesterday. I could probably stop here….
But let’s press on. It is a speech overflowing with intelligent sounding words that reflect a total – and even corrupt – lack of wisdom; it is a speech that fools no one in the room (it isn’t really meant to, as they are more or less in on the game), and is fooling fewer and fewer people who will never be invited into the room – people like you and me:
From the depths of the greatest financial crisis of our time, we coordinated our response to avoid further catastrophe and return the global economy to growth.
A financial crisis created by the same “we” who coordinated the response that resulted in “growth” in every corner of the globe except for the corners occupied by, well, most of us.
We’ve taken away terrorist safe havens….
Except for where “we’ve” created them, like Syria, Iraq, Libya, France, Germany, Belgium, the United States….
…strengthened the nonproliferation regime…
Except for the trillion-dollar nuclear “modernization” program announced by you-know-who.
…resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy….
The single, reasonably positive, foreign policy action of the United States in the last several decades.
We opened relations with Cuba…
Is it appropriate to take credit for stopping your abuse of your wife? Does this deserve an atta-boy? Can you give yourself a pat on the back for this?
With these supposed positives come a few negatives:
Around the world, refugees flow across borders in flight from brutal conflict.
The conflict brought on by the “global force for good.”
Financial disruptions continue to weigh upon our workers and entire communities.
Wait a minute. I thought you took credit for…let me get the exact quote…“return[ing] the global economy to growth.” What happened? And in just a few short paragraphs?
Across vast swaths of the Middle East, basic security, basic order has broken down.
What do Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, and Afghanistan all have in common? Ah, yes. They are all being made safe for democracy by the world’s exceptional nation.
If Russia continues to interfere in the affairs of its neighbors, it may be popular at home, it may fuel nationalist fervor for a time, but over time it is also going to diminish its stature and make its borders less secure.
Russia’s interferes with neighbors are a few miles away, while America interferes with “neighbors” who are 5000 miles away.
In the South China Sea, a peaceful resolution of disputes offered by law will mean far greater stability than the militarization of a few rocks and reefs.
That would be the South China Sea that is adjacent to…China?
Powerful nations contest the constraints placed on them by international law.
I am speechless. Even I cannot come up with a sarcastic witticism for this.
Intelligent Solutions, Lacking in Wisdom
Obama offers his solutions to these tensions, conflicts, and wars. These solutions are to be found in doubling down on the same actions that brought the world to this point:
We can choose to press forward with a better model of cooperation and integration.
By “better model” he means more government force – forced cooperation, forced integration. No other possibility could exist to the intelligent that lack wisdom.
Or we can retreat into a world sharply divided, and ultimately in conflict, along age-old lines of nation and tribe and race and religion.
There is a reason that nation, tribe, race, and religion are “age-old.” That reason is human nature. To ignore or otherwise try to remove these from our humanness is…inhuman. Of course, if we do not have nation, tribe, race, and religion to fall back on, we are left only with government for governance (and for the libertarian utopians out there, it will always take more than the NAP to provide governance; take away culture, and you will always and only be left with government).
In any case, do you think that’s the plan? Remove all voluntary forms of governance such that government is all that is left?
Allow me a brief detour: I have written often about culture, immigration, and borders. It is clear that the only libertarian answer on these issues is for managed movement of goods and people; there is difficulty in today’s world regarding the issue of who does the managing, but this is a different subject (and one I have addressed enough in the past).
To present the problem, as Obama does, in this “either-or” form is a trick – presenting two possibilities as if these are the only possibilities. Either we continue to forcibly integrate or we will revert to walled fortresses.
Of course, there is another way – known for millennia and perfectly libertarian: naturally occurring integration and trade. People move to where they are welcome, to where they find opportunities, to where they have relatives, to where they are invited, to where they can homestead previously unowned land.
Obama recognizes this himself:
I believe that the acceleration of travel and technology and telecommunications — together with a global economy that depends on a global supply chain — makes it self-defeating ultimately for those who seek to reverse this progress.
Integration, migration, and trade – it can all happen naturally, without compulsion. These have occurred for all of recorded human history, with no help from government force or rule-writing. It is not an either-or as Obama presents it and as he would have us believe. And he keeps reverting to the dialectic – the either-or:
So the answer cannot be a simple rejection of global integration.
It isn’t either-or. Either you are with the intelligent on this one, or you are a simpleton. This is how it is presented; of course, these aren’t the only alternatives.
More from Obama: “we” must no longer ignore “inequality within and among nations” and no longer leave “international institutions ill-equipped, underfunded, under-resourced, in order to handle transnational challenges.” Labor unions, social safety nets, investing in people; working with all nations regarding banking and taxation; government-negotiated trade agreements; fighting climate change.
In other words, more socialism and more global government. Precisely that which the people are revolting against is offered as the solution to that which the people are revolting against.
Intelligent? Maybe. Wise? Not so much.
Intelligence without wisdom brings destruction.