Normally I would have posted some sort of weekend link list, to promote the good works of other bloggers, but the fact is that last week was insanely busy, and I've spent the weekend basically resting and catching up on my HALO. Not exactly a productive weekend, it must be said... Regardless, it's time to do some writing.
I've said this before, in different ways and different forms, but you Americans just don't realise how good you have it. As bad as things are right now, most of you probably cannot imagine a world in which your government becomes an absolutist despotic tyranny, where your most basic freedoms are taken from you at gunpoint, and where foreign troops arrive on your soil to tell you how you may live by their leave. Most of you cannot comprehend how quickly your country- a country that I love, bumps warts and all- can be destroyed. Most of you have never seen a revolution up close; you've never seen real riots, you've never seen what happens when desperation and anger reach boiling point and people take to the streets with whatever weapons they can muster not to defend their freedoms, but to take from others.
Unlike most of you, I have seen a revolution up close, and it was not pretty. The recent troubles in Greece and the flatly absurd posturing over the so-called spending "cuts" in Congress these days have brought to mind old memories long repressed of a time that I had hoped I would never have to see again. I was there when the Asian Financial Crisis destroyed Asia's economies in 1997, and I saw an entire nation laid to waste as its people turned on each other and then themselves with the reckless abandon of wild beasts, their humanity forgotten during those days of insanity and reckless looting. I can only tell you what I have seen. I can only tell you that everything that you hold dear could be taken from you, faster than any of you realise. The downfall of your nation, when- not if, but when- it comes, will be shocking and brutal, and the pain it will bring will be immeasurable. And what follows will not necessarily be an improvement.
The Collapse of Indonesia
When the Asian Financial Crisis hit, it arrived with a suddenness and a savagery that we Asians were simply not expecting. We had spent 15 years liberalising our markets and pegging our currencies to the almighty greenback, assuming that the Federal Reserve had some idea of what it was doing and could be trusted to maintain a stable currency. We were, of course, horribly wrong. Many if not most Asian nations thus lacked an independent monetary policy and the ability to devalue their own currencies in response to massive economic losses caused by the classic Misean pattern of malinvestments due to artificially low interest rates. The Crisis started in Thailand, beginning with the Thai government's decision to float the Thai baht as it became clear that the existing fixed peg to the USD simply could not support the absurd spending levels that the government wanted. As usual, real estate caused by overly cheap credit- in this case, an unrealistically low currency peg that forced interest rates to be artificially low- was the root cause. (Sounds familiar, right?) The contagion spread at astonishing speed, proving yet again that the Laws of Supply and Demand are precisely that. Banks and financial companies went under very quickly, destroyed by leverage and easy credit, unable to withstand the remorseless discipline of the market. By the end of 1997, every single major Southeast Asian economy was drowning in debt, unable to finance its own spending, and forced to resort to IMF bailouts. The only exception was China, and that only because China had a largely closed economy even then.
Perhaps the worst affected nation out of the bunch- and there is considerable argument over who really got the short end of the stick during that time- was Indonesia. Indonesia at the time was a nation tightly controlled by one man and his cronies- President Suharto and his inner circle, including his own family. Hard to believe that one man could control a nation of some 230 million people scattered over some 17,000 islands, but somehow he did. Suharto was a dictator of the old school, an affable man in public who ruled with an iron fist and who imposed a secular autocracy over an often fractious and Islamised nation. His sons controlled national interests such as the Timor car company, which sought to build an entirely Indonesian car (and failed miserably, instead importing the Kia Sephia from Korea entirely and then just slapping a new badge on it), and his friends controlled various state-run oligarchies such as B.J. Habibie's attempts to build a national aerospace manufacturer to rival Bombardier and Airbus and Boeing. The very idea of democracy was a laughable sham, a facade presented to the people of Indonesia and to the world as a sign of Indonesia's modernisation program. And while the economy was growing at 7-10% per year, this facade was very easy to maintain; few men are willing to assert their basic freedoms when there is food aplenty on the table for their families and the times are good.
That all changed by late 1997. Men and women who had previously been bank clerks and real estate agents almost overnight became paupers, forced to become taxi drivers or street vendors. Children who had once attended prestigious private schools became street urchins. The poverty rate rose sharply in a nation accustomed for the better part of 30 years to seeing little other than growth and prosperity, and the iron grip of the government quickly began to erode. The Indonesian rupiah became almost worthless- the exchange rate went from 2,200 rupiah to the USD to over 14,000 in under a year. The suffering of the people became impossible to ignore, but as long as the government was able to maintain subsidies on basic goods and services, the grumbling stayed mostly subdued.
It wasn't until the Trisakti University shootings that things really began to spiral out of control. Basically, a bunch of students went on a protest march, and things got out of hand; students were shot, and riots began shortly afterwards. This dovetailed rather unfortunately with a decision by the government to cut fuel and food subsidies in order to qualify for the next round of IMF bailout money.
By May 1998, the situation was truly chaotic. The capital city of Jakarta was engulfed in flames as thousands of rioters went on an extended orgy of looting and destruction. Indonesians of Chinese descent in particular were targeted because of their disproportionate share of the nation's wealth, gained through means both fair and foul; Indonesian Chinese numbered perhaps 30% of the population but controlled some 70% of the nation's wealth, and as is usual in such situations, this made them prime targets for the wrath of the mob.
Eventually things got so bad that the Indonesian Army flatly refused to fire on its own people. The leader of the Indonesian military, General Wiranto, refused his Commander-in-Chief's orders to use whatever means were necessary to restore order and chose to retire instead. At that point, Suharto knew that his time was up. He stepped down in order to stop the spasms of violence wracking his nation from tearing Indonesia apart in a blood-tide of anger and retribution.
What came next was not the quick return to growth and prosperity that many had expected. Indonesia limped on with a crippled economy for years; it took nearly 7 years for Indonesia's massively inflated banking and financial sectors to recapitalise and stabilise, and political uncertainty and turmoil sidelined foreign investment for years after the fall of Suharto in 1998. While Indonesia has indeed returned to growth, it is still an open question as to whether that growth will survive the increasingly Islamised politics of the country.
The Lessons Forgotten
It's not hard to draw parallels between what happened 16 years ago in Asia and what is happening again right now here in the USA. Then, as now, we have a massive glut of real estate financed by cheap credit. Then, as now, the policy responses have all been one huge series of mistakes. Then, as now, the people largely kept quiet until their most cherished entitlements were threatened. Then, as now, violence was used as a last resort- but when it was unleashed, its speed and savagery were astonishing. Then, as now, the government tried to pretend that problems didn't really exist, and continued to deny reality for as long as possible until the final reckoning could no longer be avoided. Then, as now, foreign bailouts were debated endlessly and came with truly severe costs to those nations that chose to accept them, resulting in extreme austerity measures that caused massive public backlash and anger (even though austerity was exactly what was needed). Then, as now, the Federal Reserve responded just as it always does- by implementing the Greenspan/Bernanke/Bankster's Put and bailing out everyone who didn't deserve it and screwing everyone else.
The lessons of Asia for your own country are harsh and unpalatable. Your nation is long past the point of salvaging. There is no hope for these United States. Do not even bother pretending that your country can be saved, for it cannot. I am not the Oracle of Delphi, but my words will come to pass nonetheless. The country's economy will collapse under the accumulated weight of all of its debts, its imperial overstretch, its reckless financial insanity, and the colossal stupidity of its leaders and its people. Like every single empire before it, the seeds of its destruction were sown long before that collapse became obvious- but obvious it is, and the revolution, when it comes, will be sudden and terrifying.
I fully expect that this country will tear itself apart into three, possibly four separate and distinct entities, at least one of which I suspect will be a free-market economy with a gold standard and a relatively homogeneous white population surrounded on all sides by hostile entities. I imagine that when the insane entitlements that this country has promised its seniors finally become completely untenable, the people will themselves rise up and cast off their government, but I fully expect that the most liberal states- New England and California, basically- will attempt to force everyone else to follow their lead, and will attempt to impose that vision by force. The precedent was already set with the War Between the States, after all. I suspect that Texas and many of the more religious southern states will take some exception to this. And I have good reason to think that the Mexicans will basically annex large parts of the southwest for themselves, turning a de facto situation into a de jure one with the creation of their mythical and entirely ahistorical state of "Aztlan". I imagine that those most deeply dependent upon government "generosity" in the form of welfare- namely blacks, Hispanics, and Islamic immigrants- will riot first, and when they do they will target those with means and money and material possessions.
I have seen this story before. My family and I were forced to flee from it. I do not wish to see it repeated, but I know with absolute certainty that it will be. All that I do not know is when and where the first domino will start to fall. It is probably already falling. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you are willing to sit there and wait for that domino to crush you, or whether you wish to save yourself and those you love by taking action to protect and preserve your God-given freedoms. To hell with what your politicians tell you- they are lying, self-serving bastards and deserve neither your vote nor your respect. Take your future in your own hands, or be destroyed by it.