Saturday, October 08, 2022

A long now deleted comment at Zachary Carter's review of DeLong's book (mentioned previously)  We had a back and forth, and at the end of my last comment I said I was going to close my paid account because I didn't want to troll him. And then he deleted everything.

From your review in Dissent 

"For India, one price of expanded trade with the British Isles was the deliberate deindustrialization of the Indian economy. India ceased to manufacture its own textiles, and instead provided raw materials to Britain, which handled the factory work. Under the traditional free trade theory of comparative advantage, this process should have maximized the wealth of both countries."

The last sentence shouldn't have made it past the editor. There is no free trade between masters and subjects.  Everything Delong celebrates is founded of mountains of the dead among Europe's subject peoples. You could have at least mentioned the famines.

"DeLong’s story of hegemony as a driver of stability and growth is extremely compelling—but it’s also a nice way of saying that imperialism isn’t so bad when it works. The neoliberalization of the world that began in the late 1970s not only undermined U.S. fiscal policy management, it decimated America’s effectiveness as an international economic hegemon—a fact that is obscured by the expansion of American military operations over the same period."

Any historian of the of the violence of the post war era is left to shrug.

Korea. It's been called genocide. [the links are repeats]

The bombing was long, leisurely and merciless, even by the assessment of America’s own leaders. “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 percent of the population,” Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, told the Office of Air Force History in 1984. Dean Rusk, a supporter of the war and later secretary of state, said the United States bombed “everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another.” After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops.


The still-incomplete database (it has several “dark” periods) reveals that from October 4, 1965, to August 15, 1973, the United States dropped far more ordnance on Cambodia than was previously believed: 2,756,941 tons’ worth, dropped in 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites. Just over 10 percent of this bombing was indiscriminate, with 3,580 of the sites listed as having “unknown” targets and another 8,238 sites having no target listed at all. The database also shows that the bombing began four years earlier than is widely believed — not under Nixon, but under Lyndon Johnson.

The impact of this bombing, the subject of much debate for the past three decades, is now clearer than ever. Civilian casualties in Cambodia drove an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency that had enjoyed relatively little support until the bombing began, setting in motion the expansion of the Vietnam War deeper into Cambodia, a coup d’état in 1970, the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge, and ultimately the Cambodian genocide.

...To put the revised total of 2,756,941 tons into perspective, the Allies dropped just over 2 million tons of bombs during all of World War II, including the bombs that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 15,000 and 20,000 tons, respectively. Cambodia may well be the most heavily bombed country in history. 

Tooze in the FT is at least somewhat better

DeLong’s version of the 20th century is more parochial than either of those. [books by Hobsbawm and Milanovic] It is centred on the political battles that raged around the growth regime of modern American capitalism and continue to shape policy debate in governments and central banks today. This is, you might say, the in-house, post-Clintonian history of the 20th century....

Slouching Towards Utopia reads less like a history than a richly decked out time capsule, a nostalgic throwback... 

The so called serious American intellectual left—the class that used to scorn the NYT-has become more provincial than it was 40 years ago.  DeLong is an arch nationalist "A rising not a setting sun" was his tagline. He was famous for his attacks on the left, his fondness for Gregory Clark's racial Darwinism, and encomiums for war criminals  

"R.I.P. Jeane J. Kirkpatrick

...She was a good friend to my grandfather Earl. She was an American and a world patriot: her counsel--even at its most boneheaded--was always devoted to advancing the security of the United States and the cause of liberty and prosperity around the world."

Jeane Kirkpatrick was not interested in liberty and prosperity around the world. She defended American power.

He replied. Substack forwards comments. I have the email.

You have based this comment on a 180 degree misunderstanding of that line. The entire point is that the traditional theory is wrong. 

He's referring to the line about comparative advantage, as if I were defending it.

I replied saying that most people still assume it's a bad idea to keep all your eggs in one basket, and that systems engineers—of mechanical systems not intellectual ones (the existence of "financial engineers" builds on the same fantasy)—know that efficiency and stability operate in inverse proportion, and that redundancy is key to long term survival, but that even if the logic of comparative advantage made sense it was irrelevant here, because there is no free trade between masters and subjects.

His reply, again from the email

If you'd prefer to say "specialization" rather than "free trade," fine. And you're right, I could have mentioned the famines. There were a lot of them with different causes, and I decided to stick to a simple critique of de-industrialization for brevity's sake, assuming that my audience was familiar with the general outline of British imperial history.

At this point I lost it. Again this is approximate.

I don't know what to say about discussions of the inequality that results from you breaking into my home, killing my father, raping my mother, taking everything we own and putting me and my siblings to work in your factory.  The history of European modernity is founded on European barbarism, mostly but not entirely elsewhere. The inequality that exists now is merely the result. And here we are today.

I added the transcript of Javier Blas, with Joe Weisenthal

Well, clearly the ability of Europe to tap the LNG market has really saved the day for Europe. If this had happened only 10, 15 years ago where the global LNG market was not nearly as developed as it is today. And the ability to reroute cargos was much lower, particularly on the spot market Europe would have had a big problem. And the dependency on Russia was much, much higher.

So the LNG market is offering a relief to Europe in so many ways. One of the things that we are seeing that to me is very interesting is Europe at the moment is outbidding everyone else on the market, taking the LNG. That's one of the reasons we have these very high prices in the market. I mean, on fundamentals as Alex was pointing out, we should not probably have 200 euros per megahour of gas because the inventories are building in the right direction and we should have enough gas if Putin was to keep the flows. But obviously we need to continue outbidding the whole market for LNG supplies.

And for that, we need to sustain very high prices in Europe for that to happen. What's happening there is that a number of countries that were starting to rely on the global LNG market for supplies, middle income and poor countries thinking the likes of Pakistan or Bangladesh, or even India... they're seen now that European nations and European utilities can pay much higher prices.

So they're not getting the cargos that they were expecting. Some of the cargos that would be going into Asia at the moment are rerouted into Europe. And we are seeing power supply problems in Bangladesh or Pakistan, which is affecting the textile industry. So in a way it may be a case where Europe avoids the blackouts that many of us have been talking, but only because the blackouts move somewhere else, where they cannot

really pay the price that Europe is paying for the LNG. And then the blackouts are happening in Pakistan or Bangladesh. And that global LNG market is allowing that arbitrage to happen. Without it, well, it will not be happening. And the blackouts would be happening in Europe because we will not be able to get enough gas

I added another comment that I didn't want to hang out just to troll him so I'd close my account in a day or two. I guess the snark was a bit much. 

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