Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cameron's downfall will be the price of bread

SCENE I. Rome. A street.

[Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons]

First Citizen: Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.

All: Speak, speak.

First Citizen: You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?

All. Resolved: resolved.

First Citizen: First, you know Caius Coriolanus is chief enemy to the people.

All: We know't, we know't.

First Citizen: Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is't a verdict?

All: No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!
There is much speculation in circulation about David Cameron's leadership: is he a man or a mouse? Jelly or steel? Following a raft of damaging U-turns, it appears there are more to come (though one hopes and prays they do not include anything as seismic as a third runway at Heathrow).

Policy indecision and a lack of political vision are undeniably damaging. But these are as nothing compared to the price of bread. Nadine Dorries made it known a few months ago that the Prime Minister and Chancellor are oblivious to the daily challenges posed by normal life: "There is a very tight, narrow clique of a certain group of people and what they do is they act as a barrier and prevent Cameron and Osborne and others from actually really understanding and knowing what's happening in the rest of the country," she said.

"Unfortunately I think that not only are Cameron and Osborne two posh boys who don't know the price of milk, but they are two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition and no passion to want to understand the lives of others and that is their real crime,"  she concluded.

His Grace does not cast David Cameron as Caius Marcius - 'a very dog to the commonalty'. And yet Nadine Dorries does echo something of the citizens' complaint in her criticism of the Prime Minister and his Chancellor:
Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and there's all the love they bear us.
Why has His Grace taken this theme today?

While the the politocos and Westminster obsessives mutter about coalition fudges and muse about Cabinet reshuffles, famine looms. Okay, not quite the biblical sort with plagues of locusts, but devastating droughts in the USA will surely impact the cost of bread, pasta and meat in the UK. And soaring food bills will be the last straw for many hard-pressed families. Indeed, as Coriolanus discovered, and we have seen throughout history - in France, Russia or Cambodia, for example - revolution is closely linked to the price of grain: when the people are starving, an out-of-touch elite who have no concept of the price of milk can expect to be beseiged and deposed. And the fear of hunger is far more potent than the hunger itself, for, as Shakespeare observed, the people 'are all resolved rather to die than to famish'.

So, His Grace offers a word of warning to the Prime Minister: fear not them which carp and criticise, but are not able to end one's premiership: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both premiership and party in an election.

49 Comments:

Blogger Jon said...

Very wise words, Your Grace.

There are those who also point out that the "Arab Spring" was begun over frustrations with bureaucracy and sustained by anger at food prices.

28 August 2012 at 10:53  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

Having been in the grain and animal feed trade, I have seen this all before. When we went into the EEC on 1 Jan 1973, many prices almost doubled behind the tariff wall of the Common Agriculture policy and we had to get used to a complicated system of subsidies and premiums with accompanying officialdom.

Then, later that year the wheat price doubled again! The Russians had conducted a highly effective secret buying raid on Chicago which cleared the market out. Their 1972 Autumn-sown wheat crop had failed totally because
a hard frosts.

Environmentalists seized gleefully on this as evidence for their then fashionable theory of man-made GLOBAL COOLING. The CIA was convinced that "the science was settled"; European Russia, Canada and Northern China would shortly be covered in permanent snow and ice. Thee were suggestions for "Geo-Engineering" to slow the advance of the glaciers - such as strewing the Arctic ice with soot.

When the dust eventually settled on the grain supply crisis, it was found that the overall shortfall had been only a few per cent and the giddy hikes of price were largely due to speculative trades. British government policy unintentionally encouraged this. We had a "Prices and Incomes Policy" which kept prices down until raw material costs went up. But it did not stop manufacturers selling their cheaply bought grain and taking the profit on that from the rising market. Then they could put their prices up within the rules, using more expensively bought replacement grain.

One thing we did not have then was the idiotic policy of diverting grain supplies into biofuels. Nor were artificial prices for "renewable" electricity encouraging farmers to change from grain to "biomass" production for power generation. You cannot both burn and eat the same crop and you cannot eat willow at all.

The one thing which rising carbon dioxide levels will certainly do is to boost the growth of crops. As one Russian Academician remarked CO2 is "bread for plants".

Mercifully in those days, nobody was putting up wind turbines to appease the angry sky god.

28 August 2012 at 10:58  
Blogger IanCad said...

Well said YG

As it was in Shakespeare's time so it is today.

While the subject of the thread mainly concerns us, it should be noted that a good loaf of bread costs at least twice as much in the US than it does here.
America is hurting, they own guns and they do not well endure hardship.

Forgive me YG for diverting this thread but Edward Spalton claims expertise in the grain trading business.
Could he please explain to me, how, in the middle of the Nineteenth Century; Still in the age of sail, it was possible for wheat, grown in the Midwest and shipped up or down the Mississippi, loaded into ships bound for Bristol, then unloaded and distributed, to be competitive with the home grown product. Particularly noting that US yields are lower than European.

28 August 2012 at 11:43  
Blogger bluedog said...

You raise an interesting point, Mr IanCad. A corollary to your observation is that the price of prime farm land in the UK was almost static between say, 1875 and 1955. By 1965 the value had risen by 400%.

28 August 2012 at 11:57  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

As night follows day, we have had the circus (otherwise known as the Olympics), now we must have the bread. If it doesn't come, there will be trouble.

Panem et circenses.

28 August 2012 at 12:16  
Blogger Demetrius said...

Thou boy of tears. I have come to think that this applies to DC.

28 August 2012 at 12:31  
Blogger Elwin Daniels said...

...He turns a fertile land into a barren waste because of the wickedness of its inhabitants....


...a day's wages for a loaf of bread.......

tick tock time's running out

28 August 2012 at 12:57  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

To be leader, to inspire, to reassure, a fellow needs some grey hair, don’t you think. Otherwise we unconsciously see him as too young and inexperienced.

28 August 2012 at 13:25  
Blogger Sam Vega said...

"Nadine Dorries made it known a few months ago that the Prime Minister and Chancellor are oblivious to the daily challenges posed by normal life"

I take your point, but I think it is more accurate to say that she reminded us, rather than made it known.

28 August 2012 at 13:27  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

The Inspector notes that the gleeful plan to squeeze another 10 million into this overcrowded island is well under way. He is particularly impressed at way the young of Poland are encouraged to forget about regenerating their country, to take the jobs of our people over here. He salutes the way every Eastern European criminal who choses to live here is allowed to continue with their chosen trade. {...Hello Romania ! Always a delight to see you chaps playing your squeeze boxes on the high street, as you shiftily look around for, AHEM, opportunities that might befall...)

no, no, no – put those wallets, often with our benefit money in them, away. Have your corn, your children's education, your health, your accommodation on John Bull – gratis...



28 August 2012 at 13:43  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
An interesting observation of the perils of ignoring the needs of the people. I sense however underneath the tone of discontent with the Status Quo that your advice to those you have consistently decried, a support for a system of politics that has reached the end of its tiresome lack of ability to represent the people.
Politics as they now are, are driven by a select few who deem themselves to know what is best for the rest of us and we, being people of habit keep voting them in despite our recalcitrance with their methods and morals.
It is insufficient to just criticise without a willingness to motivate actions that will see a better, brighter future in politics that will maintain or restore traditional values as opposed to dragging society down to the gutter.
So Sir, speak not of helping Conservatives to maintain power but to change the very core of politics to allow sincere, intelligent and right thinking people in to office.

28 August 2012 at 14:26  
Blogger Shaun Clarkson said...

A colleague of mine told me last week he'd been speaking to a farmer in his parish who suspects this will be the worst harvest since the 1970s.

28 August 2012 at 14:42  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

I say Integrity you raise an interesting point about the demise of our political system. There is only one last chance - UKIP. The only mainstream party that has any principle left. Imagine that, a political party with aims and objectives, filled with people who want to something for the country rather than pursuing their own interests...

28 August 2012 at 14:51  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

What bollocks!
Bake and make your own.
I do.
Same as I haven't a clue as to the price of any vegetable, other than an onion - since I grow all the rest myself.
( I can't greo ENOUGH onions! )

Food prices ARE rising, though, the climate change(s) and excursions garuantee this.
Interesting (chinese interesting)

28 August 2012 at 15:05  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Inspector,
Indeed UKIP seem at present the only credible party but yet, why do I feel hesitant about them and why have they never been able to win a Westminster seat. Years ago there was no other party for me other than Conservatives. Now though, more than half can't be counted on to stand for what is right. What is to say that UKIP won't drift off into the wilderness of liberalism and do anything to retain power? We know and like Farange but of the others and their selection committees we know nothing.
It is at the bottom line and at the headquarters that new fundamentals need to addressed.

28 August 2012 at 15:42  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


Mr Integrity. There comes a time when one must throw caution to the wind, and put your hopes and desires into the hands of the gods. One is also intrigued by the apparent absence of left / right poles in UKIP. Perhaps they are there, but then again, maybe the futility of the present three party set up is not lost upon them. What really does appeal though is the underlying concept that the UK is not the inevitable constituent of international socialism and all that liberal rot...


28 August 2012 at 16:49  
Blogger Naomi King said...

I strongly suspected that the attack on Boris (see YG a few days ago) followed by Lord Ashcroft's rather doubtful statistics (also from ConservativeHome) trying to persuade us that the Tory party did not really need those who held to Conservative and Godly values, but rather needed the votes of the left wing sexually challenged, was a last ditch attempt to shore up Mr Cameron failure as a Conservative leader rather than as serious politics. One fears Mr Cameron's friends do protest too much.

28 August 2012 at 16:50  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

Ian Cad,

With the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, the food of the world could come here, generally without customs duty. It was simply a matter of climate, acreage, bulk handling techniques and relative costs. Also, Canada and America produced "hard" high protein wheats which produced a superior consistency of dough.

This continued until we joined the EEC with British farmers supported by "deficiency payments" from the taxpayer under the 1947 Agriculture Act to assure a reasonable security of home grown supply. Rationing only finished in 1953 and the UK had repeated balance of payments problems as well keen memories of the submarine blockade - and that was quite a close-run thing.

I have just read a biography of Joseph Rank, the flour miller who went from one unprofitable windmill to a huge milling concern from the latter part of the 19th century onwards. Not only was wheat flooding in from the USA and Canada but they started to send large quantities of flour as well. This did not suit old Joe at all! I was also surprised to learn that, at one point, the market was flooded with large flour imports from Hungary too where more rapid adoption of roller milling techniques produced a very high quality flour.

28 August 2012 at 17:50  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Millstones also make good axe grinders

28 August 2012 at 17:50  
Blogger IanCad said...

Thank you Edward for your response.
I can only conclude that British farmers were very inefficient in those days.

Bluedog, I was not aware that farmland prices had remained so low for so long.
They're out of sight now!

28 August 2012 at 20:31  
Blogger bluedog said...

Indeed, Mr IanCad @ 20.31. Mr Spalton's post explains why the land price remained unchanged for almost 100 years, the returns were too low for any gain. Now of course the price of farmland is beyond any relationship to its agricultural potential and reflects different economic criteria.

Separately, the virtual demise of the Royal Navy poses inherent risks to the United Kingdom should food imports ever again be restricted by a hostile power, or by economic competition from a hostile power (China?).

28 August 2012 at 21:30  
Blogger non mouse said...

Not so much a man, Your Grace, as Dave the Boneless. Floating on the ooze, even.

29 August 2012 at 03:59  
Blogger Naomi King said...

"David Cameron has been Tory leader for seven years now and those of us who wish he'd be different should probably give up. My ideal Tory leader [Tim Montgomery writing in Conservative Home yesterday] would be more of a swashbuckler. We picture a Prime Minister surrounded by pollsters and spinners, carefully choosing which way is safest to jump ... a PR man, at the mercy of events.

He can’t cure our economic ills because everything Britain does is overshadowed by the eurozone. He can’t deliver the crime and deregulatory policies that he promised because the Liberal Democrats won’t let him. He can’t deliver Lords reform because of mutinous Tory backbenches. He hoped for a golden moment in the Olympic sun but was completely eclipsed by Boris Johnson. On issues such as gay marriage we picture a Prime Minister surrounded by pollsters and spinners, carefully choosing which way is safest to jump, a PR man, at the mercy of events."

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2012/08/will-the-real-david-cameron-please-stand-up.html#more

29 August 2012 at 05:37  
Blogger Naomi King said...

And at public relations he is not very good at it, his homosexual "marriage" desire has been public relations disaster.

It is tragic really, I am sure he quite a nice chap but he is labouring under a spirit of error 1 John 4 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

29 August 2012 at 05:57  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

Ian Cad,

I think it is more a question of climatic conditions, scale and on-costs than inefficiency by British farmers. The excellent livestock products of New Zealand were competitive because grass grows all the year round there. When the incentives provided by the Corn Production Act of the First World War were withdrawn, much of the Britain reverted to near wasteland with very low cost, low output "dog and stick" farming in the slump when world commodity prices were way below the cost of production here.

The UK was (I think) the only country which operated a cheap food policy without import controls. Home production was encouraged again in wartime when actual starvation came pretty close. Additionally foreign governments sometimes subsidised the dumping of surplus produce here at below their own costs of production.


The EU's Common Agricultural Policy which we joined in 1973 was the antithesis of this. I discovered that its rationale and principles had been laid down in 1942 by Reichsminister Walther Funk in the lead paper of a series entitled "European Economic Community. I translated the introduction and his paper which are available on www.freenations.freeuk.com under the title "The EU's Evil Pedigree"

For a really super read on the history of English land ownership and farming for the last 1000 years, I heartily recommend "Green Gold" by Peter Clery.
ISBN 978-1-86077-730-1 , publishers www.phillimore.co.uk .

Peter Clery's career has been in farming,agricultural banking and institutional land ownership. He set up the NatWest Agricultural Department.

29 August 2012 at 06:43  
Blogger TigerO said...

Are we not heading towards the perfect storm; financial collapse and global food shortages towards years end?

Feeble leaders and over population by 3rd Worlders, financial instability and food shortages are the perfect combination for revolution; see Russia, France and many other nations gone before.

29 August 2012 at 10:06  
Blogger IanCad said...

Edward,

Economies of scale, certainly are relevant today.
A few years ago when driving in the boonies near Ritzville in Washington State, I stopped and talked to a farmer who was greasing up, by the side of the road, the most gigantic set of discs I have ever seen.
He and his brother, with no other help, tend 5,600 acres of dryland wheat and he said the average yield was 50 bushels per acre. That two men (and, presumably, their wives) could be so productive is astonishing. I should add that I didn't see one inscect, bird, or anything wild in the whole area.
However, I still have trouble understanding how, regardless of economies of scale, free land and motivated labor, that in the days of sail, this could have offset the enormous and expensive task of shipping the grain to Europe.

29 August 2012 at 13:31  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

Sea transport is relatively cheap, especially for bulk cargoes. This even holds good over relatively short distances.

I recently read Richard North's "The Many Not the Few" about the whole scene around the Battle of Britain. A huge amount of domestic goods went by Masefield's "Dirty British Coaster" rather than road or rail. For coal and grain etc it was hugely cheaper. London's and the South Coast power stations were fed by East Coast convoys which took tremendous casualties and there just wasn't the capacity to make a rapid transfer to rail.

Relative to wages, grain was a much higher value cargo years ago. The Corn Laws (repealed 1846) enforced a minimum import price of 80 shillings a quarter , just over £17 -15-0 per ton. In my early days in the trade in the early Sixties, the harvest time price could get down nearly as low as this in much inflated pounds but was more normally in the range of £22 -£28 per ton. Yet even allowing for the inflation between 1846 and 1960, the ratio of wheat price to wages was still high. A farm labourer's basic wage then was around £10 per week. So it took (say) 2 1/2 weeks' work to pay for a ton of wheat.
Even with wheat touching today's levels of over £200 (regarded as high even in today's more inflated pounds), it takes less than a week's work at the basic wage to buy a tonne.

So in the 19th century we are talking about a relatively much higher value cargo than today, of which the ocean freight would have been a relatively small proportion.

29 August 2012 at 19:44  
Blogger IanCad said...

Edward


Thanks again for your courtesy and patience while enlightening me on the subject.


Ian

29 August 2012 at 20:01  
Blogger Naomi King said...

Jon @ 28 August 2012 10:53

"There are those who also point out that the "Arab Spring" was begun over frustrations with bureaucracy and sustained by anger at food prices."

Here are some very pertinent observations made last year on International Food Prices and the failing Arab World from David Goldman aka Spengler of the Asia Times online

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MC29Ak02.html Food and Syria's failure
By Spengler of the Asia Times Online ~ Feb2011

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MB02Ak01.html Food and failed Arab states
By Spengler of the Asia Times Online ~ Mar 2011

Asian demand has priced food staples out of the Arab budget. As prosperous Asians consume more protein, global demand for grain increases sharply (seven pounds of grain produce one pound of beef). Asians are rich enough, moreover, to pay a much higher price for food whenever prices spike due to temporary supply disruptions, as at the moment. Egyptians, Jordanians, Tunisians and Yemenis are not. Episodes of privation and even hunger will become more common. The miserable economic performance of all the Arab states, chronicled in the United Nations' Arab Development Reports, has left a large number of Arabs so far behind that they cannot buffer their budget against food price fluctuations.

Earlier this year [2010/11], after drought prompted Russia to ban wheat exports, Egypt's agriculture minister pledged to raise food production over the next ten years to 75% of consumption, against only 56% in 2009. Local yields are only 18 bushels per acre, compared to 30 to 60 for non-irrigated wheat in the United States, and up 100 bushels for irrigated land. The trouble isn't long-term food price inflation: wheat has long been one of the world's bargains. The International Monetary Fund's global consumer price index quadrupled in between 1980 and 2010, while the price of wheat, even after the price spike of 2010, only doubled in price. What hurts the poorest countries, though, isn't the long-term price trend, though, but the volatility.

People have drowned in rivers with an average depth of two feet. It turns out that China, not the United States or Israel, presents an existential threat to the Arab world, and through no fault of its own: rising incomes have gentrified the Asian diet, and - more importantly - insulated Asian budgets from food price fluctuations. Economists call this "price elasticity." Americans, for example, will buy the same amount of milk even if the price doubles, although they will stop buying fast food if hamburger prices double. Asians now are wealthy enough to buy all the grain they want. If wheat output falls, for example, due to drought in Russia and Argentina, prices rise until demand falls. The difference today is that Asian demand for grain will not fall, because Asians are richer than they used to be. Someone has to consume less, and it will be the people at the bottom of the economic ladder, in this case the poorer Arabs.


29 August 2012 at 21:27  
Blogger Naomi King said...

Famine causes revolutions.

29 August 2012 at 21:32  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Mr Spalton, thanks for the link to your excellent translation. An eye-opening read. I find it interesting that yours appears to be the only translation and possibly the first. I woul've imagined such a doc to be standard reading in European History departments. The description of the future EU is uncanny.

Of course, we are being told that National Socialism is a form of extreme nationalism as opposed to international socialism, but your document and a slew of others seem to point to a much grander goal; European Union. I found the following, from another busy bee, Werner Daitz, a chemist, businessman, accountant and economist for the Nazi Party and the state (Ökonom der NSDAP und Reichstagsabgeordneter). The Wiki article on him appears only in German, with which you should have far less trouble than I.

You've probably come across this gem, but in case you haven't...

Once the new principle announced by the Führer, that race (Volkstum) and Lebensraum are supreme and inalienable values, is accepted by the whole European family of nations and finds expression in a new conception of law and a new legislation, states will be able to waive the exercise of many rights of sovereignty, as civil wars within the European family for the defense of Lebensräume will be largely unnecessary and consequently outlawed. This again will for the first time provide a foundation for disarmament within Europe, though naturally the whole European Lebensraum will still have to be defended against outside attack.

(…)

National Socialism proclaims as a basic moral principle that the general good is more important than selfish interest, and it is likewise true as a basic maxim in the life of the European family of nations that the common interests of Europe are more important than the selfish interests of nations. This means that in the new Europe we must continue to eschew selfish nationalism and instead think of the common weal, as true National Socialists.
*

*Werner Daitz, "Genuine and Spurious Continental Spheres: Laws of Lebensraum, 1942. Accessed at www4.dr-rath-foundation.org/brussels_eu/roots/27_daitz_lebensraum.html. A link to the original in German is provided. A list of related documents in translation and in original German and Italian can be found at www4.dr-rath-foundation.org/brussels_eu/roots/index.html

29 August 2012 at 22:20  
Blogger bluedog said...

Excellent work, Avi @ 22.20.

The last paragraph has a particularly fine resonance and the words, suitably amended to reflect modern reality, would look most appropriate on the EU Ministerium building in Brussels.

29 August 2012 at 23:13  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Mr Spalton, further to the above, now that you got me dusting off old notes from my ivory tower days a century ago. I once came across several publications which I listed on a card, but didn't take notes on. They were on the Mitteleuropaescher Wirtschaftsverein which I (probably semi-correctly) translate as the Central European Business/Economic Union. The docs I saw and noted down ...in fountain pen, no less... range from 1907 to 1910, one of them dealing with a conference in Budapest.

Again, no info on the Web appears in English about this proposed union either or the conferences, although there is material in German. I wonder if you know what relation this earlier idea had to the Nazi economic union plan or the current one. And here most of us thought that the EU was a grand idea, inspired perhaps by Charlemagne, developed from scratch by nice and brainy folks after WWII as a new and progressive plan for a peaceful and prosperous European future.

29 August 2012 at 23:32  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Thanks, bluedog but not my translation; I've lost most of my German from disuse. But in browsing around, I found there seems to be a slew of documents from the Nazi era and before, as with this Central European Economic Union idea, but they are all scanned material in German. A veritable gold mne for a translator wishing to introduce the English speaking world to the story of the EU.

If you read through the docs in the www4.dr-rath-foundation.org/brussels_eu/roots/index.html link, you'll find that England was specifically despised, especially by Goebbels (see his "The Europe of the Future," September 11, 1940). Elsewhere I came upon some obligatory nuggets about Jews by the Werner Deitz I quoted above. In a nutshell, he blamed Jews, especially the economic theorist Ricardo) for the "un-European" British capitalism and imperialism. Jews, he also felt do not belong in Europe, as they are not interested in landed property and a fixed abode. For this reason Goebbels and others wrote that England would have to be totally conquered and Jews "dealt with" before a European Economic Union could succeed. Interesting, yes?

29 August 2012 at 23:47  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

Avi Barzel,

Thank you for your kind remarks. You are quite right about earlier German plans for a Customs Union/sphere of influence in Central Europe which long predated the Nazis.

I was surprised to discover that, well before unification, the delegates of the German revolutionary parliament of 1848 found time to discuss the Balkans (then emerging from the long,dark night of Muslim Turkish rule). They resolved that the area was part of Germany's "natural economic hinterland" and that no Slavic state of any consequence should be allowed to arise there. Reichsminister Funk devotes a considerable amount of his speech to this area. The Western attack on Yugoslavia in 1999 followed a long period of softening up and destabilisation, fostered by the Bundesnachrichtendienst.

Like you, my German is somewhat "verjaehrt" . I was recently interviewed by two very pleasant young men from Norddeutscher Rundfunk. Whilst I made some introductory remarks in German, I had to ask for the question and answer part to be in English. It's a different matter with a text in front of me and my trusty Duden by my side!

Incidentally there is quite a bit of my stuff kicking around on the net. (I was surprised to find out how much when I Goggled myself), including an in-depth video interview by American journalists, entitled "Germany, the EU, the Disunited Kingdom and the Democratic Deficit".

30 August 2012 at 08:12  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Avi and Mr Spalton, the link below is relevant to your posts above.

http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/fulltext/58323?PHPSESSID=h7v7s9d7h77siu9tq4alqv8875

Without wishing to appear too excitable, it does seem that some individuals within Germany have reverted to an earlier pattern of thinking. For instance there seems to be a degree of planning to establish an EU dominated (and German led?) gemeinschaft over a truly staggering area of western Eurasia.

30 August 2012 at 12:06  
Blogger IanCad said...

Avi, Edward, Bluedog.


You guys have turned this minor thread into something very thought-provoking.
If only there were enough hours in the day--.

30 August 2012 at 14:26  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Your Grace

You state; Cameron's downfall will be the price of bread

Old Ernst truly hopes it's to do with how this coalition views the genuine poor, vulnerable and disabled and the utter disgust they will be held in that cannot discern the scroungers from those in society that only need a little help to bring a little compassion and love into their lives...and that ATOS has the bleed'n nerve to sponsor the paralympics sticks in the gullet.

They called Maggie hard hearted..bah!


Neil Coyle, Disability Alliance Director of Policy, says:

“Margaret Thatcher paved the way for DLA in 1990. She recognised that DLA could help disabled people pay for everyday things like heating or specialist equipment. But the coalition Government wants to cut 20% of this essential support and risk leaving our most disadvantaged citizens facing deeper poverty and exclusion.”..20% is a gross understatement!!

E S Blofeld

30 August 2012 at 17:08  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Perhaps, Mr Spalton, we need to engage His Grace, who let on a while ago that he is quite comfortable in German. Not unusual for his generation, although a language more typically studied by Cambridge types, historians, foreign desk careerists...and the cream of the British secret services. And I look forward to reading up on your material on the Net, that's for sure. As a young, impressionable punk, I was influenced by two professors, Dr Haberman and Dr Schatzmiller, the former in European intellectual history, the latter in mediaeval Jewish history both of whom, independently, insisted on seeing history as a continuum of trends, behaviours and policies. So, when you unravel such interesting bits and pieces, my bells begin to ring loudly.

Bluedog, what a fascinating revelation. Funny what the MSM "misses" all the time. My suspicion is that the Grand Area policy has been an ongoing and active project without a formal definition or structure for quite some time and that this pro-German European think tank merely gave it a name and floated the idea at what it considered the right time; a comically incompetent Obama administration reeling from disaster to disaster on the international stage and a UK preoccupied with pressing domestic issues. So far, the MSM and the Ivory Towers appear to be quite indifferent or perhaps even receptive to the notion.

Edward brought up the German secret service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and its messing around in the Balkans. However things unravelled, the end result is that the old German worry about a Slav super-state emerging in the self-declared German sphere of influence has been disposed of. A Southern Slav (Yugoslav) federated state with its own sphere of influence in the region is now an impossibility.

Bluedog, there seem to be no "minor threads" on this blog. Begin with the price of milk in Britain and end up with musing about the Third Reich version 3.1.

Let's not forget too Miss Naomi King's excellent observation on how blips in the price of food are affecting the Islamic regimes. That's a story to follow. This ties into His Grace's article in that it foreshadows upcoming events in the UK, should the price of energy (which I think is the driver) resume its rise. Nothing like keeping British ambitions in the Baltic and Central Asia and the Royal Navy tied up like and economic crisis with its predictable domestic disturbances. I note that the price of corn, which went up because of subsidies for corn-based ethanol and the price of energy which has been hitting the ceiling are both products of UN-led and EU-supported "global warming" and "sustainability" schemes made possible with the "Crusader" armies of government-sponsored "non-governmental" organizations and government-paid and controlled cadre of "climatologists" to hold the fort on "scientific consensus." Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice.

30 August 2012 at 17:17  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Ah, there you are, Mr Blofeld, you've returned to your post as a good soldier always will after a leave or an AWOL binge. I for one missed your refreshing "thought bombs" with their unpredictable blast patterns and airborne masonry bits and glass shards.

Regarding your observation, rest assured that the 20% reduction will only affect the unfortunate recipients and will make no difference to the expansion or benefits packages of the valiant social services "workers." In fact, you might even see a rise in administrative personnel as they devise excellent self-help schemes which will need an army of new MAs and PhDs tutoring their charges in essay writing, coping with depression and application of imaginary "transferable skills." Don't be surprised too if this leads to ideas about cutting costs by warehousing "clients" in government administered warehouses, which will undoubtedly spur new private sector / government coalition industries to the great delight of crony entrepreneurs. It's the same pattern to be seen here, in the New World, as well.

30 August 2012 at 17:40  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Avi, my boy. Shalom.

The disgraceful scenes being played out by the DWP and ATOS and not a peep from the papers to mention in despatches, remind old Ernsty of the movie Rain Maker where a seedy corrupt organisation set about cheating poor ill people out of their benefit to health..sound familiar? except there ain't no Rudy Baylor out there to fight against them.

Life reflecting art..or is it the other way around *Chuckles*

Blofeld

30 August 2012 at 18:59  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Shalom, Mr Blofeld. Far be it from me to attempt to unravel art from life; squinting at a 2005 Road Carrier's Atlas on my knees, thanks to the unexpected demise of my quirky on-board trucker's GPS is a challenge enough.

And we mustn't despair or hang our hopes on a few Hollywood knights of civil justice. Let us instead look forward and utilize the idle capacity of our formidable blogosphere, which grows in size and influence by the hour. A coffee-fueled brotherhood of electronic watch-dogs and viral pests we must be, with our motto: "And Miles to go before I sleep."

30 August 2012 at 19:56  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

I have what I believe to be highly reliable information and testimony that the Franco - German Coal and Steel Community agreement (from which the EEC/EU emerged) contained secret codicils in which France & Germany agreed to subsidise their heavy industry in order to "pastoralise" Great Britain and punish us for opposing European unification. This was the effective implementation of a previous agreement between German financial interests and Marshal Petain, reached in 1944.
(As an aside, one of Petain's memorable phrases was "France has not lost a war. She has joined a united Europe". A young spin doctor, called Francois Mitterand was working for him at the time & received Vichy France's highest decoration for his work. Mitterand took French leave of the Marshal in 1943 and joined De Gaulle)

It may take weeks or months to collate all the details for publication.

30 August 2012 at 21:14  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Spalton @ 21.14, you will need to verify your assertion with care. In his dealings with Margaret Thatcher, Francois Mitterand was always at pains to try and avoid a re-unified Germany if at all possible. Both Mitterand and Thatcher fully understood the potential risks.

Mr Avi @ 17.17 states, 'A Southern Slav (Yugoslav) federated state with its own sphere of influence in the region is now an impossibility.' True, but given the centrifugal tendencies of any state combining Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Islam the former Yugoslav Republic seems destined to remain just that.

Meanwhile the US strategist George Friedman of Stratfor is among those who have fostered Plan B, the Visegrad Group: http://www.visegradgroup.eu/

This entity could be described as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth v2 (but without Lithuania at present). In any event it creates an eastern blocking bloc that prevents Germany from forming a seamless union with Russia. A recurrent nightmare is the potential fusion of German capital and technical expertise with Russian manpower and resources. British troops have been based in the Czech Republic for some years now...

30 August 2012 at 22:12  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Ah, it's that continuum of European history again, Mr Spalton. With this teaser you suggested two thoughts to me.

The first is that the War apparently did little to derail long term historical trends, making it look like an ugly, but ultimately shallow blemish on the perennial theme of "the unity of Eropean history." Nineteenth century plots and schemes chugging along, come rain or shine, like The Little Engine that Could.

The second may answer a question that has been puzling me for decades. Treason involves not only narrow, monetary gains, but good justifications and even ideology. Only in novels and movies does a traitor see himself as a traitor. So, from time to time I wondered what could motivate the collaborators to hand the keys to a foreign power in an age of nationalism. But now that you mention Petain's rationalization, it makes sense that an even grater dream involving the scepter of Charlemagne, the lofty idea of a European union in the form of a Holy Roman Empire / Third Reich chimera would've done the job. Until the US stepped in and clever rats like Mitterand began abandoning the leaky ship. The unity of European silliness.

30 August 2012 at 23:28  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Bluedog, having switched sides once already, Mitterand could hardly look forward to the uncertainty of a united and a potentially very pissed-off Germany, one even more resentful of the slippery French than after WW I. A Germany reurgent, now buzzing with former Nazis, a growing and violent Left, Stalinists and out-of-work Stasi goons. Rather than forcing Germany back to its pre-unification collection of loosely allied states, principalities and whatevers, the Powers that Be decided that, oh no, everything's different now, and we need to unite Germany again! A living display of Einstein's dictum that idiocy is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time.

As for the centrifugal tendencies of the three religions, yes, they are real. Now. Consider, though, that it took a good deal of energy and no small amount of resources to bring this largely secular, once comparatively prosperous and religiously indifferent population to where it wound up after Tito's death. Germany focussed on the most likely candidate, Catholic and ultra-nationalist Croatia. European negligence and interference opened the window for an influx of Salafi Islamists and millions in baksheesh to stoke up the largely secular, if not barely nominal Yugoslav Muslims and watched as the thick-headed, savage dullards and nationalist drunks in the Serbian regime not only shot themselves in the foot, but machine-gunned themselves down from the waist.

The Vishehrad Group is a little ray of light indeed. It also involves Central Europe, particularly the Czechs, who have a solid reputation as genuine democrats and a nation with brains and class. And again, as before, the UK seems to be throwing a wrench in the plans of mice and German , which explains the current desperation to fragment, tame and Europeanize your troublesome Isle.

Incidentally, with all this Euro-Germanic plotting and scheming about expanded zones of influence which appear to be grabbing right for the ample bosom of Great Mother Russia, it seems that that we've forgotten about the sullen muzhik, Ivan, with his growing paranoia and increasing dementia. A few re-runs of Eisenstadt's flicks, a diet of stirring tunes by the Soviet Army Choir on the radio, weepy sermons from the KGB Patriarch, a reduction of the price of vodka and bread and we're back at where the dog-eared Cold War spy novels and techno-thrillers left off...not that long ago either. And the Fulda Gap, from what I understand, is still there,

30 August 2012 at 23:51  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

I often find that when discussing the EU, it is a bit like the blind men feeling the elephant and getting different views as to what the elephant actually is, chiefly because we have the ego of the states of Europe all clashing (as discussed above, chiefly France and Germany) as well as the Brussels commissars, although perhaps this is why it is structured in such a way-trying to keep us all guessing as to where real power lies.

Although recently, it is becoming more clear that Germany, as Avi notes, now reunited is the 'powerhouse' of Europe once again and is using that power to crush the club med states with 1930s style austerity, without the offset of devaluation, or use of the ECB to cap bond yields, a strategy which the French and meekly agreeing with- ironic given that Mitterand wanted to use the single currency to tie the Germans in silken cords.

In fact it has given them the power to dictate to the Eurozone on their terms alone, which is austerity without central bank intervention. This is how Merkel has been able to stick two fingers up to the international community when it comes to bond purchases.

Although perhaps Germany doesn't care because as already mentioned Germany has been heavily investing and trading with Russia for decades, especially since the end of the cold war and indeed China.

As for Britain, it is quite clear that we are not liked in Europe and we are constantly at odds with the French and Germans (the others, I think, are scared stiff of these two). It is time to get out of the madhouse whilst we still can.

31 August 2012 at 08:12  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

Avi,Paul

For an independent German view on its relations with Russia and much else, please look in the "European Voices" section on www.freenations.freeuk.com
for a paper by Horst Teubert (delivered in the House of Commons), entitled "Germany's Bid for Great Power Status through the EU".. Horst is editor of www.german-foreign-policy.com .

The Balkans, I think, is a place where the rough edges of Western policy show.
One of my articles "Kosovo - The Balkans today, the West Tomorrow" is amongst the papers which scroll up on the right hand side of the title page on free nations. It also appeared in Quarterly Review.

I began to get interested in the area in the early Nineties, as the MSM reports did not ring quite true. My father was alive at the time and, seeing my son in his school Cadet Corps uniform said, "O dear, I hope this isn't going to involve my grandson". He was recalling place names he had seen and heard in the run up to the Great War.

One other thing had fixed it in his mind. In 1912/1913 there were no currants to be had for the Christmas pudding. As small boys do, he asked why and was told "Because the Turks are fighting the Montenegrins in the mountains" . He remembered it although he had no idea at the time who they were. Enough of anecdotage!

Nonetheless, Turkey is now following a very "forward" diplomatic policy in the Balkans, characterising itself as the "motherland" of all the Balkan Muslims.
And so it goes on...........

31 August 2012 at 09:20  

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