Monday, June 04, 2007
Friday, June 01, 2007
This last week has been a roller coaster. Not really in my life cause my life is pretty boring right now. definitely in my head though. Then again, its always a roller coaster in there.
What set it off was a post by ibeebarbie. She was pondering the blogging community, and me being me, I had to ponder too :P.. But it wasn't only she. Ghazi, was also pondering the blogging community from another angle, so I found myself like ping pong ball between their thoughts, questions and the thoughts of their commentators.
and while I pondered.. I played around with the blog.. I didn't know what I was doing but I think it reflects the trend of change going on, in my thinking right now.. anyway I hope you like it.
I pondered on the train coming back to Brighton. I had to come back one last time to see my friends and get all the juicy files on their hard drives. 250 GBs of knowledge in so many shapes and forms; documentaries, Films, lectures, audio books, articles, music you name it. Since google video and youtube are not the most accessible sites in Libya , one has to cram as much wealth as they can before they miss the high speed internet here :P.
In the spirit of change, it was also wise to do some cleaning, especially on that cooker which disgusted so many of you. So as per Lee's advice here is the new reformed cooker :P
Yes.. it is clean under the foil.. dont let that little brown stain fool you !
Last week, I spent some time chilling with Wleed Essa7ra in his pad, and when he was at work, I had the chance to relax in peace, think and blog. Well, Wleed Essa7ra has a flatmate who lives with him. He is a 42 year old Portugese man called Nuno.
Now Nuno's english isn't very good. He works nights so we dont get to see each other a lot, and when we do, I'm there sitting silently on the computer reading or typing away while he's on the sofa watching TV. Apart from the quiet shuffles, the cheery hellos and invitaions to munch, not much is said..
I mean.. I feel really uncomfortable if I try to force myself to sit through anyone's aimless ramblings, let alone ramblings in broken English.
The last day I was with him, (incidentally the day ibeebarbie replied with her latest comment), Nuno treated me to his words, and blew me away with an experience I will never forget.
His broken words and animated attempts at explaining spoke more 'truths' on the thoughts at hand than my painstaking attempts and pondering. Here is what i remember of what he said:
"you know mani...some people..in my work.. very very very bad.. you understand?? all the time they talk about people.. and he is a bad.. and he is a bad... I say why???.. he is a different... not a bad...every people they want everyone think the same, do the same...why???
you know mani.. same is not good.. if every people is the same.. you dont see my problem.. I dont see your problem...you know??? .. you dont see my good .. I dont see your good..you know??
mani.. defect is quality my friend...
why is all the people ...you know...wa wa wa..every people not like everyone.... relax man...you know nothing...even a life is only a 2 minute...1 minute.. you grow up...second minute..you are dead...its nothing"
In a daze since that day. And he said more. He spoke to me for 20 minutes.. the only 20 minutes we spoke properly ever. I was mesmerized. I walked home 5 miles that day. 2 lessons in mind:
1) Language is not meaning.
2) Shut up mani!!
Think of the first one yourselves. The second is my predicament. It hit home, for every pondering thought in my head. The head that convinced itself it had loads of answers and all it needed was a way to convince others. Despite my attempts at avoiding a conversation at length with Nuno.. it came.. I naturally found myself silent at the start just to listen and make sense of the broken english... I was rewarded.
Who are the leaders ibee? are they the teachers?? and who are teachers? are they those those who give knowledge? or are they those who just ask the questions for others to answer??..
ibee.. I have no answers for you.. only questions :)
Bend and you will be whole,
Curl and you will be straight,
Keep empty and you will be filled,
Grow old and you will be renewed.
Have little and you will gain,
Have much and you will be confused,
Therefore the Sage embraces the One,
And becomes a pattern to all under Heaven.
He does not make a show of himself,
hence he shines.
Does not justify himself,
hence he becomes known,
Does not boast of his ability,
hence he gets his credit,
Does not brandish his success,
hence he endures.
Does not compete with anyone,
Hence no one can compete with him.
Indeed the ancient saying "Bend and you will remain whole" is no idle words.
Nay, if you have really attained the wholeness, everything will flock to you.
Changes.. Changes.. Has anything lately profundley changed you??
Salam~ mani at 6/01/2007 09:32:00 AM
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Salam again sis ibee :)
I really appreciate your compliments although I seriously don’t think they apply as I am as confused, if not more, than most individuals.
Maybe its why I enquire and enquire so much.. you know.. a lot of people don’t think they need to these days and are content with just seeking their maximum welfare.. or having fun :P
Please let me say first that you will never unearth truth, like you will never be able to calculate the end of the digits that make up π nor the exact number of colors in a rainbow.
There is no truth in our short-lived existence for us to uncover. This of course is the basic reality of 3'eib, or (the unknown) that is the foundation for our free will and its subsequent judgment by Allah swt, and thus straight away invalidates the human's ego at attaining and prescribing any form of 'truth'.
This is the divine check on human godliness, the check that frees man from the worship of man when he begins to use of his reason.
Time is purely the illusion of light, in which we humans are trapped. This is also why the quest of the scientist must always go on, because we don’t get to know truth, but always seem to move towards closer approximations to the truth.
That said, let me take the four themes you brought up in your response; namely:
-"The similarities make us comfortable as well as understood"
-"Conformity in community"
-"Why do we treat strangers, acquaintances with less restrictions than say a friend or family member?"
Well, with regard to the first I wanna point out ibee that you may have slipped and taken effect for cause. Although I agree that the similarities sometimes make us comfortable (we are comfortable by the nature of sharing things; be it food, or even certain attributes, skills and modes of thinking) I don’t think they necessarily make us understood. What would you learn from someone very similar to you? Not much I think.
I would in fact switch it and say that its being understood that make us comfortable, which will slowly turn into 'similarities' as understanding develops into personal relationships between individuals.
Only understanding can result in what you called 'validation'. I suggest 'Acknowledgement'. A human should recognize themselves as 'validated' simply because they exist.
If 'similarities' were the basis of group cohesion, this group will naturally be a society of conformists and 'sheep', looking and acting in similar fashions, save for the few who's reason penetrates their barrier of ignorance.
If 'similarities' was the basis of a man-woman sexual relationship, neither will ever feel truly validated, until they validate themselves at the expense of the other (the battle of the ego).
Understanding is the function of reason. It is the root of our freedom, and the source of our knowledge. Indeed, you repeated what Allah swt said because it is a property of the heart. Taqua and wisdom = reason + loss of the ego.
Which brings me to your second point, and I wish to follow on from the 'similarities' as the basis of group cohesion, thus the society of sheep.
You have to be careful ibee you are describing an organicists' view of human societies here. This is of course, the totalitarian, authoritarian view. This long tradition invoked by Plato and Aristotle and is the basis for all 'commmunal' ideologies, like communism, zionism, fascism, etc, pernicious of the individual at the expense of the 'state' or group.
Institutionalized social science has long harmed our capacity for understanding by using a structuralist approach, and confining the individuals into positions of 'cogs in a machine' if you will.
They are naturally lead to this mode of enquiry simply because that of the reality of social science discipline.. it started as an imperialist tool to help better rule societies… and as such had to take a certain methodical, and conceptual tools to go about their 'understanding'..
Anyway I digress.. I just wanted to point out that when we consider understanding as the root, we find that understanding is the outcome of two:
Therefore, conformity becomes purely an outcome of the two opposite factors:
The failure to use reason is cowardice, as it is the capitulation to the ego, be it a person's own(kofr), or that of others (shirk). It is naturally rooted in fear of the unknown.and we know that the root of all evil is fear, and the root of all fear is ignorance.
We naturally fear what we do not know, and by our simple existence, we do not know.
The 'drive' to know, is what wise men across the ages have called the soul. This drive seeks to find comfort from fear of the unknown by Trust.
"Why do we treat strangers, acquaintances with less restrictions than say a friend or family member?"
This truly ambiguous tendency rooted in human fear…This continuous calling and spiritual pulse of our existence.
The ignorant are those who do not wish to explore their reason but instead believe themselves or others, How?
Because its our senses we trust first. What we see. What we hear. Who we know and what we touch and do.
The more we trust the more we are relaxed in discolsing 'truths' about ourselves, and the more relaxed we are in accepting 'truths' from others. But the more we trust, the more trust itself becomes a goal, and we start seeking trust by seeking what we associate with trust ('reputable' career, financial security, University qualifications and other known measured of trust in society). These associations all come with a lot of unspoken rules and paths of development, which naturally trust will force us to conform to like you said.
On the other hand, to not have trust is to be suspicious, inquisitive and skeptical, hence less restricted in relationships between people.
We get so absorbed and suckered into life we start slowly recreating the same realities as others. In almost any situational context, a person of this mentality is very corruptible to the whims and temptations of the community or social/ professional context in which they belong.
To understand this in a modern perspective I advise looking over the prestigious psychologist Philip Zombardo's book; The Lucifer effect. Notice here, the devil is not some red scary creature, rather it is a description of a process that will make it enevitable for 'good' people to become 'evil' people. Maybe you are familiar with the Stanford Prison Experiments. In arabic we call this 'waswasa'.(remember the last Sura of the Quran)?.
Trust the devil and ye shall fall.
This is the one continuous lesson that forever any calling to God swt has asked to heed, and what the ignorant dismiss as a fantasy. Their ignorance and absolute belief in individual senses is as equally pernicious of human lives as the previous. They cannot see 'one' so they need not even consider the meaning!!
All groups are made up of aggregates of peoples.. but NOT equal aggregates. Rather aggregates of diverse personal qualities, skills, and abilities. A non-liniear spectrum of existence. An existence based on compliemntarity, not conflict.
So naturally a free society will allow leaders to rise in their respective fields, and be conducive to productive competition. But while the production of leaders is natural, the production of Hierarchy is cultural.
Hierarchy is anti to freedom. It is a vertical relationship of superiority and inferiority. Freedom = Equality + Justice.
If you think of the communal view, you will naturally have a hierarchical relationship between people and their leaders, because people will never be 'equal'.
In this story, it is the law of the shepherd and his sheep. 'Muslims' these days also have some form of shepherd sheep anology.. and it sounds contradictory if you really think about it.. but it is not!
There is a Hadith said to be narrated by the prophet and carried in Islamic tradition which says: you are all shepereds, and all of you shepherds have responsibility to your sheep;..
we are ALL shepherds???
This is said differently by an old Taoist proverb which I posted in my blog some time back, and which I am now happy to elaborate on as I promised the commentators I would.
What is the good man but a bad man's teacher.
What is a bad man but a good man's resource.
Not to value the teacher,
Not to love the resource,
Causes great confusion even for wisest.
And it causes great confusion for the wisest indeed.
How difficult is it for the 'good' man to refrain from the temptation of loving and therefore manipulating and using the resource for their own ego?
How difficult is it for the 'bad' man to refrain from the temptation to idolizing their 'teacher'.. whom they look to for guidance, and imitating them for their own ego?
Very difficult indeed.
The 'worst' men in society are usually the ones always regarded by their society as the 'wisest'. The institutionalized and well-beaten-into-conformity 'experts'. By 'worst', I'm not saying they smell.
I'm saying they are those whose hands are covered in the blood and injustices of the many, while being completely aware of it, yet dismiss it. Text book definition of cowardice.
If you really wanted to understand the logic of this in depth, Please go to the relevant Dialogue in Plato's republic, in which Socrates defeats the sophist Lesser Happias and shows him that best and wisest men in society are also the worst, most corrupt and evil men in society. This is simply because they are the 'best' at what they do. The logic is fascinating. The dialogue is called, helpfully, Lesser Happias :).
The result of this dynamic being that always the 'cowardice' of the few, in whom 'trust' is placed perpetuates the ignorance of the many. In one, conformity is voluntary, for the many, mostly its involuntary.
And this my dear sister is how I think it is.
And God knows best,
Saturday, May 26, 2007
By Rory Brown - Ri (Adopted Libyan)
Specifically, the paper initially explores the construction of Quiglian ‘Financial Capitalism’, also described by Minsky as ‘Banker Capitalism’, and how this particular regime collapsed, over the four year period of the title. It will be seen that private financial interests in the Anglophone world essentially directed its two central bank institutions, the Federal Reserve System in the
Furthermore, it will be seen that central banking acted independently of political authority within the pre-Depression regime, for the benefit of private finance. This is illustrated by Quigley’s history and the evident laissez-faire approach taken by the two central banks regarding the financial system. Two phenomena caused by this specific configuration, one that directly led to the Great Crash, the other to the Depression, are a) debt-driven expansion, with the tendency toward speculative booms, and b) debt-deflation: both very profitable for finance.
The paper then moves on to examine the precise role that the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England played within the events of the Great Depression. It will be seen that central banking failed to fulfil its mandate, as lender of last resort, thus greatly deepening and extending the aftermath of the Crash. Finally, this paper explores the foundational alterations to capitalism that occurred as a result of these four years, in particular focusing upon the reconstructed role Anglo-Saxon central banking was to subsequently play in the international political economy.
The Construction of pre-Depression Capitalism
Carroll Quigley has written extensively on the history of capitalism, with a special focus upon the ‘Anglo-American Establishment’ and his insights inform the core of the essay. Quigley (1979) describes ‘Financial Capitalism’ as a form of capitalism dominated by the financial sector. The broader hypothesis proposed by Quigley is that each Civilisation goes through seven stages, 1) Mixture, 2) Gestation, 3) Age of Expansion, 4) Age of Conflict, 5) Universal Empire, 6) Decay, and 7) Invasion (Ibid: p. 146). It further states that when a Civilisation’s ‘Instrument of Expansion’ becomes institutionalised, gaining vested interests that have evolved to act against the prosperity-creating process, no longer for it, the Age of Expansion evolves into an Age of Conflict, unless the Instrument can be reformed or circumvented (Ibid: pp. 149-51).
Financial Capitalism is best understood within this framework. Quigley states that Financial Capitalism is the latter part of the third Age of Expansion of Western Civilisation, with its beginnings around 1850, and its demise during the period under question (Ibid: pp. 390-3). This epoch’s Instrument of Expansion – finance – originally was a revolutionary wealth-creation mechanism, but became institutionalised when financial interests began to smother production in order to keep high the price of money, seeking differential accumulation (Nitzan 1998). This was in a large part facilitated by the prevailing monetary regime existent during the 19th century up until 1931: that of the gold standard.
Quigley attributes the centre ground of this stage of capitalism to investment bankers, who supplied the enormous demands of the new corporations for finance (Ibid: p. 393). Minsky describes, in his conceptualisation of the development of capitalism, something very similar: a stage of capitalism dominated by investment banking he names ‘Banker Capitalism’. This period for Minsky lasts from roughly the 1870’s to 1929 (Whalen 1999: pp. 4-5). Whalen’s synopsis of the Minskyan concept justifies the idea thus:
Investment bankers acquired a controlling position in the economy not only by arranging mergers but also by securing large ownership shares and seats on the boards of directors of newly combined corporations.
(Whalen 1999: p. 5)
Quigley accords with this view:
Investment bankers…obtained representation on the boards of directors of corporations and sufficient influence to direct their companies’ financial services and purchases toward other corporations where the particular investment bankers concerned had interests. From this there grew up a network of interlocking directorships and banking influences and, finally, an elaborate system of holding companies and financial firms.
(Quigley 1979: p. 393)
The power that came to be wielded within the global system by investment banking is considerable. As Quigley describes,
The growth of financial capitalism made possible a centralization of world economic control and a use of this power for the direct benefit of financiers and the indirect injury of all other economic groups.
(Quigley 1966: p. 337)
In this description Quigley describes the Instrument of Expansion – finance – becoming institutionalised to the detriment of the system’s productivity, and to the benefit of the sector, the vested interests, it represents. Vickers (1939), a former Bank of
The Power of Finance within Financial Capitalism
It must be noted that financial capitalism was dominated by the US and UK: Siklos acknowledges this when he writes “Central banking in the first 30 or so years of the twentieth century was dominated by the activities of the Bank of England and the U.S. Federal Reserve” (Siklos: 2002 p. 82). In other words, up until the Great Depression, when Financial Capitalism collapsed. But how does this prove the Anglo-Saxon nature of Financial Capitalism?
This answer to this is found by posing another question: by what means did finance dominate capitalism? Firstly, regarding the monetary system, central banking crystallised as the solution to “the joint concern which all financiers had in keeping the value of money high”, and “held the gold reserves that became the central feature of the monetary system” (Quigley 1979: p. 393). Elaborating,
The international gold standard became the chief mechanism by which the supply of money could be kept low and its value, accordingly, kept high. A high value of money…was chiefly advantageous to creditors, to whom obligations were owed in money terms.
In this way, central banking was the institutional preserver of private banking interests. Unsurprisingly then, the hand of private finance can be seen in creating and managing Anglo-Saxon central banking. The US Federal Reserve System was conceived of and agreed upon by seven financiers and private finance-friendly politicians meeting clandestinely in 1910 on
Secondly, the unregulated financial systems in the
Siklos (2002) notes the essential independence of Anglo-Saxon central banking from political control when he states
central bankers, notably Montagu Norman of the Bank of England and Benjamin Strong of the U.S. Federal Reserve (New York), buoyed by the growing influence of central banks over monetary policy, came to view interference by political authorities as a nuisance and sought, through central bank cooperation, to circumvent the decisions of the political authorities.
(Siklos: 2002 p. 82)
This perspective is confirmed by Vickers (1939):
The money supply and the management of the money system are almost entirely outside the control of the Government and are operated by an outside, individual, section of the community, working for profit and possessing a virtual monopoly of lending credit to the community at high interest.
(Vickers 1939: p. 42)
Minsky encompasses all these points when he aptly described the system as “a small government gold standard constrained laissez-faire capitalism” (Minsky 1993: pp.4-5).
Private Financial Control of Central Banking and its Implications
Quigley’s stark insights into the nature of the private influence go deeper than the aforementioned perspectives. As he describes;
It must not be felt that these heads of the world’s chief central banks were themselves substantive powers in world finance. They were not. Rather, they were the technicians and agents of the dominant investment bankers of their own countries, who had raised them up and were perfectly capable of throwing them down. The substantive financial powers of the world were in the hands of these investment bankers (also called “international” or “merchant” bankers) who remained largely behind the scenes in their own unincorporated private banks.
(Quigley 1966: pp. 326-7)
One would expect finance to benefit both from the unregulated nature of the industry and the underlying monetary configuration, in this case that of the finance-supported gold standard. Indeed, private banking did benefit from this system, in a way that justifies Quigley’s contention that the run up to, and events of, the Great Depression were those of a financial capitalism, an institutionalised instrument, fighting against the system which it had been developed to facilitate.
The Great Crash
We will first deal with the Wall St. Crash of October 1929 which sparked the Great Depression. The interrelated phenomena of debt-driven expansion and debt-deflation led to the Crash. Nesvetailova (2004) explains that credit-driven expansions fuelled the booms of the 1920’s through the unregulated market. She also notes that debt grew in all sectors (Ibid p. 73).
In October 1929, the stock-market bubble burst, and the ensuing debt-deflation that occurred as a result of the heavy debt that the speculators had been in caused widespread bankruptcy across the
In these deflationary periods, as low prices drove corporations to bankruptcy, bankers were able to assume control of them, to consolidate them into larger units of monopolized industry, and to reap the profits of reorganization and refloatation of securities.
(Quigley 1979: p. 393)
The boom-bust thus reaped great gains for finance.
In an examination of the actual cause of the Crash, the activities of the Fed and the Bank are important; the absence of regulation allowed for the stock-market boom to occur, while simultaneously the cracks in the security of the system began to show. Quigley states that there was a creeping realisation that the stock prices were heavily inflated, and that the trigger for the Crash came when another minor financial crisis in
British funds began to leave Wall Street, and the over-inflated market commenced to sag. By the middle of October, the fall had become a panic.
This was exacerbated by the Federal Reserve’s pre-Crash ’29 policy tightening; Cecchetti notes that the Fed had begun in early 1929 to see the cracks Quigley speaks of, and could have facilitated broker loans in order to softly deflate the bubble, avoiding a painful Crash. But, he writes, the Fed continued “to stifle the market by restricting the ability of member banks to make broker loans [i.e. to lend money unbacked by commodity to speculators]” (Cecchetti 1997: p. 6). Thus, when the Bank of England’s interest hike came, the American system suddenly found itself short on liquidity.
The Crash, quelling foreign investment in the American market, caused a massive rush to liquidity across the
The Great Depression
Many believe that the Fed’s policies caused the financial crisis in the
I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.
This is in response to Friedman and Schwarz’s hypothesis that “The failure of the Federal Reserve System to prevent the collapse reflected…the particular policies followed by the monetary authorities” (Friedman and Schwarz 1963: p. 300). Cecchetti likewise argues that
The Fed played a key role in nearly every policy failure during this period [1929-1933]…the collapse of the finance system could have been stopped if the central bank had properly understood its function as the lender of last resort.
(Cecchetti 1997: p. 1)
Nesvetailova has noted the same:
An inadequate passive monetary stance of the Federal Reserve aggravated the immediate consequences of the stock market crash and effectively transformed the recession into Great Depression.”
(Nesvetailova 2004: p. 70)
The Federal Reserve did not avoid contracting the money supply; if it had acted prudently, it would have supplied liquidity to the banking system to offset the obvious post-slump speculator panic for cash. Acting as lender of last resort, the Fed should have substantially increased the number of discount loans to stimulate production and offset deflation. But, in fact it did not, and “without an ultimate source of short-run cash, banks were forced to suspend operation” (Cecchetti 1997: p. 13).
The process is logical: a) very high real interest rates and relative illiquidity led to b) banks collapsing due to an inability to source loans, c) production levels sharply falling as input costs become more expensive than future sales revenue, and d) a shrinking monetary base, which is negatively impacted upon by b) and in turn negatively impacts c). This causal chain is agreed with by Friedman and Schwarz, who “build the case that the causality can be interpreted as running (mostly) from money to output and prices” (Bernanke 2002). And as output slumped, so did welfare.
The Effects of the Period
While Financial Capitalism had benefited from the boom-bust scenario, this time the bust was so large that governments in the
Thus died Financial Capitalism. Quigley notes that the Depression marked the suicide of the traditional financial elites in the
The domination of economic life by financial figures, such as Rothschild, Morgan, Mirabaud, Baring, Montagu Norman…was ended and replaced by great figures of monopoly capitalism like DuPont...Rockefeller, Ford, Nuffield and others.
(Quigley 1979: p. 396)
With the destruction of Financial Capitalism also came the end of the gold standard; as Walter (1991: p. 146) argued, “the outcome of the crisis of 1929-33 was the disintegration of the international monetary, financial and trading systems, but in a broader sense it ensured for a long time that externally imposed deflation would not be allowed.”
The role of central banking within the system in the period 1929-33 was one of failure to provide the cover that was its mandate; the two central banks had allowed themselves to be dominated by the interests of private finance, and this lack of regulation caused the largest dislocation in economic history. The lessons of the paper are clear; monetary policy should not favour finance, and central banking must prudently regulate the financial system, which, while of vital importance, is also susceptible to injurious profit-seeking through the boom-bust cycle.
Bernanke, B., 2002, ‘Remarks by Governor Ben S. Bernanke on Milton Friedman’s Ninetieth Birthday’, available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/BOARDDOCS/SPEECHES/2002/20021108/default.htm
Bordo, M., Lane, J., Redish, A., 2004, Good versus Bad Deflation: Lessons from the Gold Standard Era, (NBER Working Paper 10329)
Cecchetti, S.G., 1997. Understanding the Great Depression: Lessons for Current Policy (NBER Working Paper No. 6015), available from www.nber.org
Clavin, P., 2000, The Great Depression in Europe, 1929-1939, (
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Nesvetailova, A., 2004, ‘The Logic of Neoliberal Finance and Global Financial Fragility: Towards Another Great Depression’, in Research in Political Economy, vol. 21
Quigley, C., 1979, The Evolution of Civilizations, (
Quigley, C., 1966, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, (New York, Macmillan Company)
Siklos, P., 2002, The Changing Face of Central Banking: Evolutionary Trends Since World War II, (
Strange, S., 1988, States and Markets, (
Vickers, V., 1939, Economic Tribulation, available from The Economic Research
Walter, A., 1991, World Power and World Money, (
Whalen, C.J., 1999, Hyman Minsky’s Theory of Capitalist Development, Levy Economics Institute Working Paper No. 277, available from www.levy.org
 While Anglo-Saxon can be more strictly understood to include
 Quigley was an eminent historian at Harvard and
 This is the title of one of his books.
 The activities of the men at this meeting were described by the financier Frank A. Vanderlip, who was present, as being “as furtive as any conspirator”: see Griffin 2005: p. 11.