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Belmont Club

Postmortem

February 13th, 2014 - 8:39 pm

The suddenness of Venezuela’s collapse should have come as no surprise because downfalls are inherently abrupt. Collapse is a phase change. One moment something is sailing along fat, dumb and happy and the next moment it is sinking beneath the waves. The change from two to one is a loss of 50%; but the change from one to zero is binary.

So it was in Venezuela. Imagine waiting two years to buy a car and finding just when you thought you finally buy one that there are no cars for sale at all.

Leonardo Hernandez had hoped to buy a new car this year, ending nearly two years of waiting on various lists at different dealerships throughout the country.

Those hopes were dashed last week when Toyota Motor Co. said it would shut down its assembly operations in Venezuela due to the government’s foreign exchange controls that have crippled imports and made it impossible to bring in parts needed to build its vehicles.

The country’s other car manufacturers, including General Motors and Ford, haven’t even started operations this year, while waiting for needed parts to arrive.

Think of not being able to buy soap, rice or toilet paper or order a cup of coffee, where even the rich are feeling poor. “In the serene private clubs of Caracas, there is no milk, and the hiss of the cappuccino machine has fallen silent. In the slums, the lights go out every few days, or the water stops running. In the grocery stores, both state-run shops and expensive delicatessens, customers barter information: I saw soap here, that store has rice today. The oil engineers have emigrated to Calgary, the soap opera stars fled to Mexico and Colombia. And in the beauty parlours of this nation obsessed with elaborate grooming, women both rich and poor have cut back to just one blow-dry or manicure each week.”

Imagine there’s no money to keep up the sovereign bond payments, the only source of money to keep power plants going.

Welcome to Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, a country with the fifth largest oil reserves in the world and absolutely broke. It’s a remarkable achievement for Chavismo. A just-wow moment. Socialism is useless at everything except for smashing things in record time. There it excels. It’s hard to imagine that as late as the 1980s Venezuela had the highest standard of living in Latin America. But then in 1960 Detroit was the richest city in the world in per capita income. Now it’s well … Detroit.

James Eccleton remarked on how the mighty have fallen. “Brazil is becoming Argentina, Argentina is becoming Venezuela, and Venezuela is becoming Zimbabwe.” The question that always puzzles historians about the fall of great and rich countries is: ‘why didn’t they say it coming?’ How did they let disaster sneak up on them?

Adam Smith once remarked that “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation”. That is usually understood to mean that it takes a long time to break things.  And that’s probably what Leonard Hernandez thought: maybe next year things will get better and I’ll buy that car. But is more correct to say ‘a great deal of ruin’ means “it takes a long time to realize that things are breaking”.

The clue is the total finality of the crash when it comes. The victim when examined for postmortem is drained of blood; his organs are all twisted and perverted. The dead man was not ‘a little weaker than yesterday’ but in a far more fragile than was supposed. The damage was hidden as if the final day of reckoning was put off by eating the seed corn, pawning the family jewels and finally, selling the family members to buy the final meal — in a word as if everything was consumed to counterfeit the appearance of normalcy.

Thus, the collapse when it comes is unexpectedly complete. When National Intelligence Director James Clapper says Syria has become an ‘apocalyptic disaster’ it doesn’t simply mean that Syria is a little worse than in 2011, but far, far worse than we thought it was even in December 2013.  The husk of Syria has not only consumed its final supplies of food, but also its reserves of comity, good will, human capital and luck.

The real damage was internal. A society can survive the loss of things, but it cannot survive without institutions or the destruction of culture. Culture is to nations what an immune system is to people. Nations under siege fall back on some atavistic condition. Thus, occupied Poland becomes more Catholic, as does Ireland, and as Egypt perhaps becomes more Muslim. They fall back on the known and the comforting. City Hall might collapse and the factory temporarily closed but if culture and identity survive these things can be reopened again.

The apocalypse of Syria means that many people don’t even want to reopen things any more.  They hate their neighbors, individually and collectively.

The genius of the Left — Chavez’s for example — is that it destroys things from the inside out.  They pervert religion, collapse the mores, abolish the family, shred the constitution and gradually expropriate the property. The differences from one day to the next are apparently imperceptible, but it is harder and harder to go back until finally there is no reversal of ‘progressive gains’ possible at all.  The public is finally faced with the stark choice between chaos or authoritarianism.  And most people will chose the Boss over the Mob.

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Top Rated Comments   
Annoy mouse:
"Every thing good in the world is now irretrievably gone. "

With respect I call codswallop on that. Not true. There is plenty of good stuff that can be saved. Yes, America has been infiltrated and subverted by progressives, socialists and anti-capitalists. Yes, one of them happens to be President. Yes, America is up s**t creek. Yes millions of Americans have apparently lost that American feeling.

All of that can be changed and it will be changed. It's just gonna take a decade or two. It will change because these socialistic bozos can't stop themselves from driving down a path that must turn the majority of voters against them and against what they stand for.

I guarantee an enraged American citizenry will wake up to the socialist's giant swindle and fix things before their country, prospects and lives are ruined. Did I mention I would even put that guarantee in writing?

America has been distorted and weakened but I insist that it will not collapse. Canadians won't stand for it, I tell you and I'm pretty sure that Texans won't either. Come to think of it neither will people in Idaho, Nebraska, the Carolinas, Wyoming, Arizona, the Dakotas ......... see what I'm getting at?
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't know if the young recognize the facts yet. They may know that they don't like Obamacare's demands on their meager capital, for example, but I'm not sure that they realize that kids in America didn't routinely live in their parent's basement until they were 25 or 30 years old. I would suppose that only in the Great Depression, did such a generational imbalance exist in America, but maybe not even then. For certain, they have no concept of what "10,000,000 more jobs" would look like. There are no industry employee development programs of any consequence, because industry has more cheap, free labor that it can use. Foreign nationals, either legal or illegal, take up any resource slack with special skills. Kids have no idea that once in America, their hard earned education would actually field them multiple offers, and that not only better jobs, but better paying jobs could be expected within 4-5 years of starting work.

I think that Americans by and large, has adjusted to the "new normal" of the neo-Marxists running the country, and expect less opportunity, less personal fortune, less choice in careers and jobs, and less, less, less all the way around. If the theme for the Reagan 80's and Clinton 90's (benefits which were derived directly from Reagan's policies and the post cold war "peace dividend) was endless hope, opportunity, and optimism, the theme in Obama's America today is "how will I manage to survive 'til tomorrow".

The young for the most part really have no idea what's been stolen from them, the birthright they once had paid for in blood and toil by American's for over 200 years, trashed in the space of just five.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>>Culture is to nations what an immune system is to people. Nations under siege fall back on some atavistic condition. Thus, occupied Poland becomes more Catholic, as does Ireland, and as Egypt perhaps becomes more Muslim. They fall back on the known and the comforting.<<<

And there is the special case of when you have two hostile nations within one set of borders; i.e. ourselves and TWANLOC.

TWANLOC have been undermining our culture and institutions for decades, with no small measure of success. The fact that they can be viewed as NOT of our country as we know it speaks for their success.

>>>The genius of the Left — Chavez’s for example — is that it destroys things from the inside out. They pervert religion, collapse the mores, abolish the family, shred the constitution and gradually expropriate the property. The differences from one day to the next are apparently imperceptible, but it is harder and harder to go back until finally there is no reversal of ‘progressive gains’ possible at all.<<<

Replace Chavez' name with Obama in the quote above, and you have the plan of the Bipartisan Governing Party that constitutes TWANLOC.

We already have almost surely gone beyond the point of being able to recover Constitutional rule by Constitutional means. Between vote fraud by one side [Democrats] that is accepted by the public and enabled by the Institutional Republicans [more dead people voted last election than have signed up for Obamacare], the disappearance of the rule of law and acceptance of rule by decree, the superfluousness of Congress, and the suborning of the Courts; our political culture and institutions are gone. Our economic institutions are disappearing. And there is open warfare, waged by TWANLOC on all fronts, against any form of faith; religious and secular.

The government has openly armed against its own people. The Bleeding Heart is becoming The Iron Fist. It seems at times that all we can do is wait to see who our Calvo-Sotelo will be, perhaps who our Crispus Attucks will be, and if there is a Resistance will its leadership be worthy of our forebears.

There are two phrases that we rarely hear these days: "it's a free country" and "there ought to be a law against it". We do not hear these any more for the simple reason that we are no longer a free country, and more often than not there is a law about it.

Subotai Bahadur
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (155)
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Unfortunately I was away when this article was posted so this is a "just for the record" comment.

Viable societies require a viable civil society. Civil society is that network of private social institutions that stand between the individual and the central authorities. The network of family, the church, private social organizations and moral codes that make up civil society have come under attack by Progressives and the people I have called faux Libertarians. Both groups have a vested interest in abolishing marriage and destroying the family. Both have scorn for religion and any moral code. While faux Libertarians claim to support markets they are destroying the social capital required to make markets function. Both Progressives and faux Libertarians make assumptions about human behavior based on an accumulation of human and social capital that is now being rapidly depleted. Once this capital is gone society collapses into anarchy. The ultimate destination of both Progressive and faux Libertarian visions is Detroit.

Progressives and faux Libertarians can both be traced back to 19th Century Russian Nilhism ... where do you disciples of Rand's Objectivism think it comes from?

35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The sole question that remains, after Wretchard's essay, is: Has our national political establishment (including the Media most of all) hollowed out America to such an extent that it cannot recover?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
If it goes Mad Max, do we have to wear assless chaps?
Please, not the assless chaps.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
My thoughts:
Postmortem, or Premortem?

While describing the situation that has ocurred, and is ongoing, in Venezuela;
is Hernandez also describing what is happening here?
"Nations under seige fall back on some atavistic condition...Poland becomes more Catholic, as does Ireland..."
Witness the rise of the TEA Party, and the swelling sense that a return to the balanced power of a system of checks and balances is vital to the continuance of the American Republic.
"The genius of the Left - Chavez's for example - is that it destroys things from the inside out..."
Witness the hollowing out of American institutions under a President who pledged to "fundamentally transform" the nation:
A bankruptcy code that was trashed in the UAW's takeover of GM and Chrysler;
The perversion of the IRS from an agency charged with collecting revenue to one who denies the political opponents of the regime the ability to engage in political discourse;
The attempt to takeover 1/6th of the economy with a healthcare insurance scheme that is less than dysfunctional, but a danger to the health of the citizenry it purports to serve;
Then, there's the use of Executive Orders to side-step the political process in the Legislative Branch.

Fernandez points to "...customers bartering information...":
This was a common occurrence in the Soviet Union as the glories of central-planning worked its will - or didn't work at all 99.9% of the time.

When describing the descent into economic hell that is Latin America, we need to add that "America is becoming Brazil, Brazil is becoming Argentina, Argentina is becoming Venezuela, and Venezuela is (becoming) Zimbabwe!"
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Excellent essay... except for one thing. Your comment about "union education" is mostly off the mark. While I have no doubt that Detroit has its share of union-inspired inefficiencies, etc., the collapse of Detroit's public schools is just one part of the collapse of the entire city. That is, the things that keep the teachers from teaching and the students from learning are exactly the things that cause abandoned houses to go up in flames nightly.

I'm no fan of teachers unions, either, but the urge among many conservatives to pin every bad thing that happens in school on the unions is both myopic and perverse, particularly in an essay such as this one which spends most of its time pointing to the real problem: The collapse of culture.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The obvious answer to the so called conservative arguments blaming "Unions" for Detroit's collapse, is Pittsburgh. As you point out, the "things" that keep teachers from teaching and keeps houses going up in flames, is something. And that something is pointed out in the constrast been the people of Detroit and the people of Pittsburgh.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
True. The teachers only carry out policy determined by the educational hierarchy of the state.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Which are largely controlled by, not the actual educators, but by the Teachers' Unions whose goals are far more political and fiscal than they are involved in education.

Subotai Bahadur
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Uhhh, the obvious fatality of your argument is in the fact that the Detroit educational department is carrying out the dictats of the state. So if Detroit is collapsed because of education policy, why doesn't the rest of Michigan not look like Detroit. Come on the answer is staring right at your bloody FACE!
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
In places like Detroit, yes. In the "failing schools" of Texas and Alabama, not so much. There have always been "bad schools" and "good schools" that were largely determined by the neighborhood where they were located (i.e., the class of kids who went to school there), and this was accepted as normal. But these days, we are demanding that our schools perform better than ever (more advanced classes, more advanced material taught at younger ages) and do so for EVERY child, despite the fact that lower-class kids now come not just from "poor" backgrounds, but chaotic, violent, utterly dysfunctional home and neighborhood situations where civil society is, at best, hanging by a thread. Pinning that on the teachers unions just doesn't cut it.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
It isn't just class Jack. Poor whites in poor white school districts aren't scenes of apocalyptic catastrophe like Detroit's poor black school districts or even southern poor black school districts. It isn't about money or class so much as it is about race.

Nonetheless, what we can do like you say, is stop expecting every child to perform equally or to levels getting them into the Ivy League. Every district and every class and every student is unique in comparison with the same group. They should all be treated differently.

We shouldn't expect to put computers, AP classes, SAT study guides, tutors, and soft touchy feely teacher disciplinary policy in savage hell hole like most of Detroit's public school districts. On the other hand, those kind of programs might work well in a nice all white Kansas rural school district.

If anything is to be done with Detroits black student population aside from essentially letting them entirely self destruct into shooting eachother, shooting up eachother, incaceration, and eventual total oblivion after a few generations is a full scale program to make the black students subservient.

Thus, what is needed there in contrast to our fictitious Kansas rural school district, is some kind of full throated paramilitary take over of the children, the arrest of probably half of the adult male population and a quarter of the female adult population, the separation of probably 80-90 percent of the children from their "Families", and their institutionalization of the these kids into 24 hour military style boot camps staffed entirely by white males at a ratio of 3-1. In contrast, school districts in Kansas rural schools don't need this.

The reasons are obvious. Accept to many people on this board and no amount of tax policy, tough love, anti-unionization etc will change it, unless of course it leads to the slow and non publicized replacement of the black population. Which most likely is what is being planned.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Again, Detroit is a worst-case example. The same rot is taking over in many places, even if the cancer isn't as advanced. Go to formerly stable rural, white areas, and you find rampant out-of-wedlock births, meth kitchens, the works. Pretty soon, the country will be overrun with Detroits.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Meth kitchins in the rural areas are primarily driven by organized crime activities brought in by.....Mexican and Third World cheap labor racketeers working the packing factories.

I guarantee the white rural classes will never sink to the barbarity and absolutist destruction of Detroit...or Atlanta....or Baltimore...or take you pick of black and/or minority dominated cities.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
A quick word about “economic collapse” disaster porn:

The collapse is baked in. Nothing can stop it now. Just as you could still go out to eat and catch a show in Berlin with the Red Army in East Prussia, so too can we pretend - but the die is cast.

What bugs me to no end is the “it’s the end of everything” rhetoric. Go watch “Downfall” and then grab a Google Earth view of the Potsdamer Platz in 2014.

It’s the end of a lot of things, for certain - but most of them are bad. What will be left are 1) Americans, and 2) A continent composed of arable land and abundant natural resources.

Cheer up. The best is yet to come.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
A fairly simple way to see the destruction is to consider what would happen if the ME went up in flames.

Meanwhile, every major American institution has been weakened by leftists, including the citizenry.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree, but as your statement suggests, their won't be many of us on this board left. And thats the good end. The bad end is we are all left but living in Blade Runner.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The best is yet to come.

That could be construed as Dark Humor.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
But also left with 3) a huge number of people who feel entitled to other people's resources.

Makes more sense to arm yourself now than ever before.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, I strongly suspect that there will not be a huge number of whiny freeloading loafers left. As a result of that "arming" thing to which you refer.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Hernandez.

Thank you.

Your focus on "first things" is nice to see; your observation is why I am optimistic for America.

We have 2 cultures on our shores--one American, the other Ruling Class.

The American culture is alive and well. It was born in faith in God, hardship and hard work. It is creative, alive and happy.

It is mad as hell right now at the other culture in our midst--in fact, it is preparing for a civil war with them--but it knows that what has happened to Venezuela will happen to the Ruling Class; and then, Detroit will gleam in the sun again; our people will be happy and good; fun will be the norm again.



35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Despite what looks like the coalition of forces against us, I tend to agree with you. But to get there will require work and war which will make the War of Independence and the War Between the States and the French Revolution look like childs play. There is nothing scarier than when Anglo-Saxons, drop the Anglo and go Saxon, especially when they happen to be Americans.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The American culture you speak of is, unfortunately, dying. We are on the road to Caracas.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
We have a catch-22 in America where the more the race and gender-based generic Marxism known as political correctness exerts its powers of failure, the more generic Marxism and identity-based solutions are needed to try and restore our imbalanced institutions. Failure is therefore a mathematical certainty.

During a period of unemployment, PC continues to advocate for the illegal import of useless Third World culture as a solution. The idea is that the reason America is failing according to PC is because of racism, not because of advocating cultures of failure. The more failure is afoot, the more it is falsely ascribed to racism, so the solution in real terms is more failure, less racism, more diveristy.

Success is a racist patriarchy. Failure is the noble Third World. We have exchanged reality for an illusion and for failure, largely at the behest of failed cultures which cannot for the life of them understand their own failure - therefore it must be my failure, not theirs.

Unfortunately that non-existent racist patriarchy is success, unless you really think slaves and colonialism designed Rolls Royce engines and invented time-keeping at sea, and a zillion other effortless things as rare in the Third World as they are common in the West.

Only 7 years ago, the post offices of upscale Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil had messy paste pots with popsicle sticks to seal envelopes, and Brazil is the most modern country in our hemisphere south of the Rio Grande.

It's pretty obvious Brazil and Venezuela are Victorian constructs of failure with a thin coat of Western innovation smeared over them. In America, pride in where success actually has and does come from is considered a foul taboo of racism. Pride in failure is considered social justice and wisdom, and an emergence from oppression and colonialism.

America and its institutions celebrate the very things that have never expressed success in 5,000 years of civilization, unless you think the products of childless gay black lesbians is what surrounds your daily life in America.

And yet our institutions - gov't, university, media - have quietly accepted the fact that the straight white male is the brute of history and the social scene. His provisional opposite - the non-whte, gay, female - is considered the height of fashion, morality, wisdom and success.

This is how America is slowly fashioning a Detroit. Diversity will slowly strangle us as it quickly strangled Tenochtitlan. Some day our ancestors will find lap tops in the ground like they find Aztec artifacts under Mexico City.

But it won't be construction workers using a technology and methods that is indistinguishable from magic to them who find those lap tops. It will be the children of a failed nation digging under collapsed five-story buildings for e-waste to burn away the plastic and dross to get to the elements we no longer dig out of the ground.

Making even a pen or safety pin requires a very broad industrial base sustained by those who created that base. Destroy and shame that culture and bleat about the equality of Somalians and Hindus all you want, it is what it is. Failure will result, not success. The success of race-based PC and its generic Marxism is a bait-and-switch. As they say, you get what you pay for, and in this case, what you get is a whole lot of nothing.

The problem is that, unless you've seen the cat-sized rats in Jakarta and Guatemala City, the pot holes, pollution and fearful crowding of Kathmandu, Delhi and Mumbai, the antique set of Blade Runner on display in downtown Cairo, the shanty towns of Rio de Janeiro (where they have garbage avalanches), the cliff dirt roads of Peru, the stinking open canals of toilet water in Belize City, then it's easy to sustain the PC illusion that all men are created equal. They're not.

We once took pride in not being like the Third World, would laugh about it openly after vacations there. Now to notice and acknowledge that reality is heresy and racism.

We live in Jack Vance's Eyes of the Overworld, where magic gems set over our eyes transform Detroit, Guatemala City and shanty towns into Jefferson, Washington and shining sky scrapers on hills full of erudite Third Worlders talking about string theory amidst stacks of books.

The great intellectual failure of the Left is that they see the culture that gave them all the things they love as one of racial supremacy, as if white people are white on purpose, and made Europe and America in order to laugh at the rest of the world. People who sit on a Twitter all day they couldn't possibly invent and whine about settler culture and postcolonialism are the shamans of a cult who believe unfair evil luck builds space stations and that their hand-wringing Twitter mantras will solve all the problems of the world, just as it solved Detroit's.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very much true. Slight disagreement though on your reliance of culture solely to represent the threat. It isn't just the shamming of White culture, it is the shaming of WASP culture, and more specifically American culture.

Even more importantly, it isn't merely the shaming of that culture it is replacement of the people represented by that culture. The replacement is not just Hundu, Mexican, Arabic, Chinese, or whatever culture, it is the replacement with those very same races and nationalities. It is in sum, nothing less than G-E-N-O-C-I-D-E.

This genocide of America isn't being done simply for economic purposes of cheap labor it is being done for racist genocidal purposes by those who hate Whites in general and especially White Anglo-Saxon-Protestants.

Until the majority of so called conservatives and indeed whites in general recognize this state of affairs, any dialectical discussion on cultural success or educational policy or tax policy, etc etc as promoted by people like Norquist, Kristol, Bush, and Co is a waste of time.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
‘why didn’t they say it coming?’ → ‘why didn’t they see it coming?’
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The money you advance to the functionary in anticipation of getting a car many years later will be worth almost nothing by then due to inflation, or it will be made nonconvertible and worthless. To an apologist stooge that means the car is "free" and the delay can be called a benefit.

By Leftist logic the effort of walking when there is no functioning transit and the bracing effects of cold water can be part of your Health Care plan. A small fee will be found deducted on your next paycheck to show this. We should thank Comrade Obama for sending us blizzards and Comrade de Blasio for presiding over the collapse of city services.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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