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Haven’t Heard of Chesterton?

September 22, 2009 2 comments
Gilbert Keith Chesterton - 1874-1936

Gilbert Keith Chesterton - 1874-1936

The problems of the modern world do not merely revolve around whether money is based on faith, or gold, or seashells, nor whether the US has the weapons, or Russia, or China. All the problems persist, while wrong ideas persist. So it is our pleasure to add a link to our site in promotion of Chesterton.org. As the name suggests, it contains the collected works of what was arguably the greatest author of the 20th century. To that end, we quote from the website, with our emphasis in bold:

Chesterton is the most unjustly neglected writer of our time. Perhaps it is proof that education is too important to be left to educators and that publishing is too important to be left to publishers, but there is no excuse why Chesterton is no longer taught in our schools and why his writing is not more widely reprinted and especially included in college anthologies. Well, there is an excuse. It seems that Chesterton is tough to pigeonhole, and if a writer cannot be quickly consigned to a category, or to one-word description, he risks falling through the cracks. Even if he weighs three hundred pounds.

But there is another problem. Modern thinkers and commentators and critics have found it much more convenient to ignore Chesterton rather than to engage him in an argument, because to argue with Chesterton is to lose.

Chesterton argued eloquently against all the trends that eventually took over the 20th century: materialism, scientific determinism, moral relativism, and spineless agnosticism. He also argued against both socialism and capitalism and showed why they have both been the enemies of freedom and justice in modern society.

And what did he argue for? What was it he defended? He defended “the common man” and common sense. He defended the poor. He defended the family. He defended beauty. And he defended Christianity and the Catholic Faith. These don’t play well in the classroom, in the media, or in the public arena. And that is probably why he is neglected. The modern world prefers writers who are snobs, who have exotic and bizarre ideas, who glorify decadence, who scoff at Christianity, who deny the dignity of the poor, and who think freedom means no responsibility.

We think it ought to be part of every educated person’s task to be familiar with Gilbert Keith Chesterton, his writings, his thinking and his witty humour. It is becoming ever more important to promote clear, critical thinking in the face of our increasingly murky world of vague ideas adrift in a sea of insanity.

Australia’s Economic Calm Before the Storm

March 31, 2009 Leave a comment
A Perfect Storm

A Perfect Storm

The RBA now admits that Australia will enter an economic recession this year, whereas there has been evidence that the Government’s bailouts have worked in reducing mortgage stress. This was probably not the intended effect of Kevin Rudd’s stimulus packages, but certainly a win for working Australians who, in their wisdom, put the cash in the bank instead of splurging it. However it is still remarkable that the RBA thinks Australia will sail through the global recession without many scratches and bruises. How do they think this will happen?

The Rudd “stimulus” money many received was arguably an unconstitutional act and is being challenged as such in the courts (a challenge which has since failed). It also appears that the money arises from foreign borrowings, such as from China. Although Australia is not engaged in a Cold War with China, genuine questions arise as to how this all impacts on the national interest, on security financially and militarily. More and more parallels with Gough Whitlam’s era are being used to place pressure on the current Government, but few of these relate to the probable real reasons for The Dismissal. It’s not likely that Kevin Rudd will be toppled any time soon, as far as any public information indicates. Time can only tell.

What could be expected, however, is a curtailing of “freebies” this year, followed by rising inflation over the next year or two. The shear enormity of money being thrown about in North America (expansion of the money supply from $850 billion to $4 trillion) cannot go unnoticed. It is inconceivable that this kind of desperate money-printing won’t result in hyperinflation in the US, with knock-on effects abroad. It could even spell the end of the US Dollar altogether, with louder and more direct statements supporting the abandonment of fiat currencies. This in turn should raise alarm bells with regard to the likely geopolitical fall out of America’s demise as an economic and political power. It won’t take long for America’s military to follow suit. Chess pieces will start moving all over the place, with potentially horrific effect.

How will all of this affect Australia?

It is quite possible that what is coming will surprise even the pessimists. Nobody in the Australian media is considering the ramifications of war breaking out. It already has in some ways. The rise of Internet based espionage should be taken as an important signal. The lines are being drawn as to who is becoming whose enemy on the international level. Other attacks have been so broad that the culprit will probably never be identified, nor the damage caused known. It’s a cluster of events whose timing is interesting, but there is likely to be much more activity in this regard than the public can ever be aware of. I guess one can only hope that so much information has been leaked to so many that nobody will have the confidence to attack anyone else, resulting in accidental peace.

The effect on Australia of North American and European financial turmoil has so far been quite mild. There are no major demonstrations, no big shifts in unemployment figures, no mass-defaults on mortgages. What has to be understood, however, is that the international economic crisis cannot end overnight. It will play itself out over years and will likely spill over into social and military conflict. The Australian Government cannot prop up businesses, households and banks for that long. It will have to flinch and let things go the way they are destined to. Soon, what we read in the newspapers about far away lands will become realities at home.

China and the Crisis

March 12, 2009 Leave a comment

ChinaThe sea incident involving the USNS Impeccable was suspicious from the start. It has now become a little clearer, in that the US has admitted that its vessel was sub-hunting and was intercepted, probably because China was fully aware of what the Impeccable was up to. This raises anew the question of what exactly is China’s military capability at the present time and just how worried is the United States about this. Being no expert in these matters, I had a dig around and tried to summarize what knowledge is readily available in the public arena. The question has become more important now, as trade based friendship between China and the United States appears to be coming to an end:

Chinese exports slumped 25.7 per cent in February as the collapse in global demand caught up with the country’s exporters and overshadowed a sharp rise in domestic investment.

Will China look for a military solution to its internal social problems? Will it put its unemployed to work in a new military industrial push, in order to avoid revolution?

China’s military capability was previously assessed from the point of view of a possible invasion of Taiwan in addition to otherwise defensive or deterrent capabilities against more distant foes. As such, it has been known for quite some time that China has land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads to targets 13,000km away, plus hundreds of mobile weapons mounted on aircraft, ships, submarines and so on.

China’s submarine fleet had previously been assessed as limited, due to technical problems with its existing nuclear powered subs. However, over the past decade, China’s spending on military projects has risen sharply and it is quite possible that China now has what could be termed “full submarine capability”, meaning that it may have enough submarines in continuous operation and armed sufficiently to take out any of the major military powers worldwide, although I could not find confirmation of this. The point being that submerged craft are, most of the time, not targets and can be relied upon to deliver an unstoppable volley of missiles to annihilate any nation, including the United States. Once China enters the club of nations capable of promising “mutually assured destruction”, things are set to change substantially with regards to political and military posturing.

As for China’s invasive capability, it has over 2 million active personnel in its formal military forces, with roughly half that number in reserve, plus an unknown number of paramilitary personnel. It’s a very large force, which has been criticized in the past for being unwieldy and armed with low technology weaponry, but should a Chinese invasion (of Taiwan) occur, the massive numbers of available troops makes the probability of success very real. Modernization of China’s military continues, but in comparison it is thought to be far behind Western forces in technological prowess. The current trend is towards automation of weaponry and vehicles, especially with unmanned aircraft (which can eliminate the dead leg of a bombing mission) and tanks, but it is unlikely if human fighters will ever become obsolete, especially in urban combat and the “regime change” phase of invasion. One can even envisage a role for displaced, unemployed or otherwise condemned civilians used to colonize cities which have been cleared of inhabitants by military forces.

However, in assessments made roughly five years ago, a sea-based invasion of Taiwan by China did not appear to be a real threat in the medium term (until around 2015), especially since Taiwan would probably receive defensive assistance from the United States. However, in 2007, it was reported that China has been advancing more rapidly than expected in sea-based invasive capability and could be ready for a Taiwanese invasion by 2010. Other, more sensational reports, suggest that China will soon be second only to the United States in overall military capability.

Is it a coincidence that the plug would be pulled on the world economy at the end of 2008, just a year or two before the estimated time that China would be ready to take on its neighbors militarily? Could there have been a method to the economic madness? It’s difficult to say, but given that, in American circles, there is increasing talk of China’s threat both economically and militarily, one cannot discount such a possibility. The fear of war with Iran has been placed at forefront of the paid news media’s attention over the past year or two, however Iran’s economic significance, or its ability and likelihood to invade its neighbors, is probably much less than that of China’s.

As suggested previously, the world economic crisis cannot have merely monetary consequences. No nation wants to be poor, yet the game appears to be up for the United States as an economic superpower. The United States still has the world’s most advanced military outfit, but it has still shown an inability to overcome even the comparatively low-tech resistance mounted against it in Afghanistan. It is therefore vulnerable to being bogged down in other regional conflicts which could prompt China to carry out some of its long term strategic aims in Asia.

With its main export base vanishing, China may also be tempted to pump its excess productive capacity into its own military, which could see an extremely rapid and unpredictable build-up of its military capability. This would be a logical approach to managing its massive working population which has suddenly been rendered idle (a dangerous scenario if left unchecked). The alternative is to wait for the world to consume again, which could take a decade, or to face massive civil unrest and, potentially, the fall of the Chinese Government.