voltaire banking on the philosopher kings: wall street shuffle

“He taught us to be free.” Although he was an absolutist, not especially reasonable, and anything but a revolutionary, Voltaire fought absolutism, embodies the Age of Reason, and made the Revolution inevitable. He died at the dawn of the industrial age. We are at the dawn of a whole new era. Is a new revolution a foregone conclusion. …

Noam Chomsky:Noam Chomsky: Obama is a man of absolutely no principles. He has two constituencies. One of them is the popular constituency, the people who voted for him. For them he is doing essentially nothing. He has another constituency: the people who financed his campaign, the financial institutions. And they are getting rewarded. Obama came in the middle of the financial crisis so the first issue was what to do with the economic crisis? Well, he put together an economic team to deal with it but take a look at them. The business press went through the appointments and pointed out that these people should be getting subpoenas and should not be fixing the economy. They are the people who wrecked it. Nevertheless, they were picked by Obama to put bandages on it. I can go through the individuals if you like, for example Robert Rubin crew. They basically rescued the financial institutions, something that had to be done, but in fact they are now richer and more powerful than they were before. In the last weeks, Obama was attacking federal workers and imposed tax increase on them by freezing their salaries. There is also an attack on unions in the State of Wisconsin, but let’s stay at the federal level. In the middle of this, CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein awarded himself $12.5 million bonus and more than tripled his base salary. Read More:http://europeancourier.org/test/2011/03/13/noam-chomsky-on-obamas-presidency/

Cornel West:“But it became very clear when I looked at the neoliberal economic team. The first announcement of Summers and Geithner I went ballistic. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have really been misled at a very deep level.’ And the same is true for Dennis Ross and the other neo-imperial elites. I said, ‘I have been thoroughly misled, all this populist language is just a facade. I was under the impression that he might bring in the voices of brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman. I figured, OK, given the structure of constraints of the capitalist democratic procedure that’s probably the best he could do. But at least he would have some voices concerned about working people, dealing with issues of jobs and downsizing and banks, some semblance of democratic accountability for Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats who are just running amuck. I was completely wrong.” Read More:http://www.israeli-occupation.org/2011-05-17/chris-hedges-the-obama-deception-why-cornel-west-went-ballistic/

---“If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re likely to get into big trouble.” This bourgeois focus on actually achieving an outcome has, in some ways, oddly undermined his message. “The reason more people don’t know about Gene Sharp is because both the right and left have rejected him,” says Ruaridh Arrow, the Scottish journalist and filmmaker who spent two years making How to Start a Revolution. “On the left, there’s a suspicion of the emphasis on goals and strategies.” Mr. Arrow, keeping an eye on non-violent action around the world, says Dr. Sharp’s influence is quietly transmitted through protest movements from Lower Manhattan to the villages of Syria. There are many flavours of rebellion in the air this autumn, a nice change from decades of apathy. The Occupy Wall Street website insists that, at the moment, “there is NO official list of demands.” Obviously, there’s a difference in overthrowing a tyrannical regime and protesting against the inequalities of an economic system. There’s another difference – one has an endgame, and the other, so far, doesn’t.--- Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/elizabeth-renzetti/to-start-a-revolution-read-gene-sharps-primer-on-peaceful-protest/article2195375/ image:http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/banzai7-occupy-usa-monopoly-board-here

Voltaire taught three generations that superstition was ridiculous, sentiment absurd, fanaticism unintelligent and oppression infamous. Although his literary taste was questionable, Voltaire’s political and philosophic apothegms changed the thinking habits of the civilized world. He was the inventor of that critical habit of thought which sapped faith in the established system, which deprived the upper class of its self-confidence , and which became one of the causes of the French Revolution. The Bourbon’s had their revenge, pitching his and Rousseau’s bones after exhuming the bodies, into a pit outside Paris, where they were consumed by quicklime.

---The travellers have built roads and connections to electricity - all without permission from the council ‘And why, therefore, are they going to put themselves through a traumatic eviction when it can apparently be avoided?’ Illegal plots began appearing at Dale Farm, which is built on green belt land near Basildon, Essex, about 10 years ago. More than 400 people now occupy the site and the community has built roads and connections to electricity. Many of the residents admit they are originally from Southern Ireland but deny current connections. But new evidence gathered by the surrounding community has found one couple, who were recently married in London, own a plot of land in Rathkeale and recently won planning permission to build a property there. There are also examples of women who use their maiden names at Dale Farm but who appear on deeds of Irish properties with their husbands.--- Read More:http://aj-rromale.tumblr.com/post/10036343763/revealed-the-irish-houses-secretly-owned-by-dale


Voltaire was an expert in exposing shams. Much like today, the whole structure of society at the outset of the eighteenth-century was founded on make-believe, the blast of his irony, the flame of his sarcasm had a withering effect. He was one of the most potent destructive writers that ever lived, though he was not a constructive one. To a large extent, Voltaire today expresses the views of the entrenched establishment: he was hardly a revolutionary. If he had any ideal of human government it was the Platonic creed of the philosopher-king, assisted by an elite cadre of cultivated nobles. Voltaire held no belief that all men were created equal, nor did he possess any real conception of liberty as a balance of rights and duties guaranteed by an impartial and known system of laws.

The Ladykillers. 1995. Terry Gilliam. ---"I think this thing will continue to grow," said Robert Siegfried, a partner who works with financial clients at the communications firm Kekst & Co. "Wall Street is just a term here that represents the huge disparity in income levels and distribution of wealth in this country. For anyone to dismiss it, that's a terrible underestimation of the sentiment behind this phenomena." On Tuesday, protesters planned to demonstrate at the homes of big-money Wall Street types, including JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and hedge fund billionaire John Paulson, the latest salvo in a protest that has now entered its fourth week. Read More:http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/11/us-usa-wallstreet-bankers-idUSTRE79A4LF20111011 image:http://www.myreviewer.com/Screenshot_from_The_Ladykillers_Blu-ray_Blu-ray_JPEG/a126100

…Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein canceled a planned lecture this week at Barnard College, a liberal arts school in Manhattan, as students prepared to protest his appearance. Goldman has been painted by some lawmakers and activists as the epitome of Wall Street greed following investigations into its actions leading up to the financial crisis. Blankfein, who has headed the firm since 2006, has frequently been the target of populist rage. Last week, an Occupy Wall Street protester marched with a gory image of Blankfein’s head impaled on a stick, according to the financial blog Business Insider. In late-September, an anonymous hacker posted his address and other personal information onto the website pastebin….( Reuters )

Although Voltaire extolled freedom of thought and expression as in England, he felt the central government had every right to prosecute those who openly attacked it. He refused to recognize the distinction between despotism and constitutional monarchy and was an advocate of absolute power in government. All in all, an untenable paradox in his contradictory political thought which has come down to us today in preserved form of practical reforms with only the dim realization that true liberty meant the absolute equality of all citizens under the law. He would have agreed with Goethe that nationalism is the sign of a low standard of culture.

Maurice Sendak ill. Michael Lewis: We haven't put to rest the problems that were created during the subprime bubble. But Wall Street private enterprises — these big Wall Street firms where people were paid more than anyone in the society because they supposedly know what they are doing with money — orchestrates the biggest misallocation of capital, of money in the history of the world. And they pay themselves an awful lot of money while they're doing this. The result of this is this crisis, and the crisis leads to Wall Street being essentially bailed out of its own mistakes — that the government decides that these big Wall Street banks going down is unthinkable. And so, once the Bush and Obama administrations decided that you couldn't let these firms fail and they didn't want the mess of nationalizing them, there was really only one way forward — and that way was to gift money onto these banks until they&#


e back on their feet and can function at the center of the economy again. But that, to any normal person who is outside the system, just looks ridiculously unfair. It looks like socialism for capitalists and capitalism for everybody else. So it's no wonder people are marching in southern Manhattan." Read More:http://www.npr.org/2011/10/04/140948138/how-the-financial-crisis-created-a-new-third-world

Voltaire’s sense of entitlement and privilege is akin to the much pilloried captains of Wall Street as well: Voltaire would have described himself as a deist, and that the firmament moves and circles with intricate regularity, implying there must exist a supreme geometrician who ordains and orders such things. Certainly, he wrote, ” there exists a difference between the ideas of Newton and the droppings of a mule.” With regards to the supreme geometrician, “all I can do is worship him.. from an all perfect being, evil cannot result.” The Lisbon earthquake shook Voltaire out of his complacency and he drifted into vague agnosticism.

Read More:http://liratouva2.blogspot.com/2010/06/voltaire-et-son-chateau-de-ferney-par.html

Martin in Candide says, ” you should work and not waste time in speculation: this is the only way to render life endurable.” Candide sighs and accepts this doctrine. The story ends with the famous, ” mais il faut cultiver notre jardin.” of which Voltaire did, amassing a hefty personal fortune. He was reticent about his money making methods, and in Candide asserts that the art of making money consists in “having been born lucky.” It seems however that he speculated on army contracts and prospered as a moneylender, providing cash advances to impoverished nobles at high interest rates, and perhaps the source of his anti-semitic side with competition from Jewish merchants.

Until he purchased the estate of Ferney, he lived most of the time at the expense of other people, accumulating a fortune meanwhile which rendered him, by modern standards, a very rich man. No wonder Diderot in his attic and Rousseau in his hermitage looked on Voltaire as different than themselves.

ADDENDUM:

Matt Taibbi:They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.

Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial. Read More:http://www.zerohedge.com/article/people-vs-goldman-sachs-taibbis-magnum-opus
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John B. Judis:Another reason is the centuries-old tendency in American politics to allow moral condemnation to outweigh sober economic analysis. Picturing bankers and Wall Street as a “parasite class” or as “vampires” is an old tradition in American politics. It goes back to Andrew Jackson’s war against the Second Bank of the United States and to Populist Party polemics against “a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street.” And currently it is one of the few ideological bonds between the Tea Party and left-wing Democratic activists. But, just as free silver wasn’t the answer to the depression of the 1890s, smashing the banks isn’t the answer to the Great Recession of the 2000s. The answer ultimately lies in the ability of U.S. businesses to produce goods and services that can compete effectively at home and on the world market. Read More:http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Stop+blaming+wall+street/5134827/story.html

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