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Hayek and Ceaușescu’s Last Speech

June 8th, 2014 - 6:28 pm

Frederich Hayek identified the primary reason why tyrants fall: they rely on the poisoned cup of centralized knowledge. In the essay The Use of Knowledge in Society, Hayek argued that in complex systems “the relevant facts are dispersed among many people”. The problem with the Narrative is that it suppresses the “dispersed information” by insisting on the centralized knowledge, on stories the elite make up themselves.

Central planning in economics leads to a mismatch in prices and a collapse in the economy while a Central Narrative in politics leads to an increased incidence of involuntary rebellion.  This occurs when the official line becomes so ridiculous that ordinary people don’t even realize they are falling out of step with the Party Line. For example, the administration recently issued a new list of prisoners to be released from Guantanamo, citing their practice of yoga as proof they had reformed.

Sooner or later an administration neuters itself from sheer implausibility. The Washington Times reports that a “top intelligence official” is accusing the “Obama admininistration” of  funding a “terror network ‘for the next ten years’”, alleging the administration paid a cash ransom to redeem Bowe Bergdahl.  No one can ask Bergdahl, since he is now reported as being unable to speak to anyone — including his family.

Some people will continue to believe the narrative, but even among the acolytes, the fatal smoke of doubt has entered the temple.  Robert Ford, the former US ambassador to Syria, has effectively accused the Obama administration of abandoning genuinely pro-American rebels in Syria thereby allowing the ascendance of al-Qaeda.  Ford said of his resignation, “I was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend the American policy.”  Sooner or later inability to credit yoga or videos produced in Los Angeles as actual factors becomes more and more widespread.

The collapse of the narrative doesn’t happen in a single big step, but through an accumulation of small, personal, often innocuous refusals. For example, George Ciampa, an 89-year old D-Day veteran refused an invitation to meet with President Obama at the White House.

George thought about it for awhile and concluded he just couldn’t. “I have so many issues with the president’s policies, including the most recent ones,” he told me ruefully. “I just couldn’t convince myself to do it.”

He is not alone. The recent Bergdahl prisoner swap in which five hardened Taliban terrorists were released from prison is rubbing a lot of the military veterans attending D-Day events the wrong way. “It’s not that we don’t want to respect the commander-in-chief,” one told me sadly. “It’s just that he makes it so hard to do so.”

Just a genteel, inoffensive refusal from an old gent. But rebellion begins involuntarily, at the Hayekian level. It doesn’t happen as one big wave. It is simply an accumulation of multitudes ignoring the official line bit by bit and thereby gradually placing themselves unwittingly in opposition to it. Perhaps the biggest example of this is a CBO report that while 30 million people will technically be liable to pay the Obamacare Individual Mandate fine but in practice all but 4 million will have their fines waived or exempted.

Almost none of the uninsured will end up paying the ObamaCare mandate penalty, according to an updated analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, which found that 87% will be able to claim an exemption. …

Whatever the reason, the result is that the penalty will raise $27 billion less over the next decade than the CBO had originally expected.

And that assumes more don’t simply dodge paying the penalty because of the ease with which they can claim a hardship exemption, or because the law places strict limits on the IRS’ ability to collect the money.

The hardship exemption rules, for example, let anyone who “experienced domestic violence” avoid the mandate, without providing any documentation of abuse. Getting a shut-off notice from a utility is also sufficient to claim a hardship exemption.

In addition, the law forbids the IRS from using its normal enforcement tools to collect unpaid penalties. Tax experts say the best it can do is withhold the penalty amount from any tax refund due.

The mighty Law of the Land is exposed as all bark and no bite; a fine they can’t enforce. The administration’s threats, so dire on paper, are toothless in practice because they actually can’t afford to carry out the threat. Any actual attempts to fine 30 million Americans would end in a political disaster.

The slippage that attracts the most attention of course, is discontent within the United States military. Diane Dimond writes in Real Clear Politics about the low level grumbling that risen to detectable levels since the Bergdahl affair.

The president of the United States is the commander in chief over all branches of the military. It is a historic time, given that no military member goes public to speak negatively about the ultimate commander. …

Now career military personnel are speaking out through gritted teeth, insisting they speak for active-duty personnel who cannot talk without being punished. They are speaking about injustice, ineptitude and impeachment. …

Forget what the politicians on Capitol Hill are saying about the prisoner swap. Forget the pontifications from the myriad talking heads on TV and radio. Now you know what members of our U.S. military are thinking and saying. They have lost all respect for their commander in chief.

It chills me to the bone.

And so should such reports chill one to the bone. Yet there is a big difference between grousing, which is endemic to the military, and actual rebellion.  Nobody is likely to rise up and become a Man on Horseback. What may happen of course, is that like a frog slowly being boiled in a pot, the process happens so slowly that people aren’t aware of it themselves. For example, there is a silent falling away among American allies.  

The Times of Israel quotes Israeli oppositionists as accusing Benjamin Netanyahu of “loathing” Barack Obama so intensely it has endangering the Jewish state’s security.  A little noticed article in the Sydney Morning Herald notes that Australia will support Japan’s effort to repeal its pacifist constitution.  A later article shows that Australia is moving toward purchasing Japanese submarines to replace its existing fleet. Lech Walesa has openly accused president Obama as unable to lead in world.

One day Obama may wake up and find the alliances just gone.

Like a jalopy falling apart on the road, dropping a screw here and a spring there, the Obama administration is gradually shaking itself to pieces.  It can go on for a long time shedding parts, but eventually the axle falls out. Centralized regimes may seem to collapse suddenly, yet in reality they have been coming apart for a long time.

The process usually follows this path. First their narratives become so infested with lies they go out of sync with their own administrators on the ground. In the second stage their edicts become unenforceable from sheer impracticability. Grandiose plans are announced, “pivots” are ordered, Red Lines are drawn, all manner of schemes are announced with a maximum of hoopla — but everybody ignores it — they know the latest fad will pass and the regime will Move On. At some point the entire structure of governance becomes a system of workarounds with all real power devolved to the man on the ground.

The Man at the Top increasingly pulls on disconnected controls, yet still imagines he is in charge. When the crisis comes the Leader Maximus discovers to his absolute surprise that all support has vanished.  The story of Ceaușescu’s final speech is a textbook example. One moment Ceaușescu  was in total control of Romania, determined to crush his enemies. The next he was a hunted man.

In the wake of growing tension over an uprising in Timișoara in which thousands were reportedly killed, Ceaușescu decided to give a nationally televised speech before a crowd in Palace Square …

Thousands of workers were bused into the square under threat of being fired. They were given red flags, banners and large pictures of Ceaușescu. The workers were augmented by bystanders who were rounded up on Calea Victoriei. The crowd, now totaling up to 80,000, were given orders on where to stand, when to applaud and what to sing. The front rows of the assembly were made up of low-level Communist Party officials and members who acted as cheer-leaders. Immediately before them were plainclothes Securitate agents and a row of police militia, who kept the mass of the crowd about thirty yards back from the front of the Central Committee building.

Ceaușescu appeared on the balcony of the Central Committee building and began as he had in years past, with a speech laden with the usual Marxist-Leninist “wooden language.” However, he had badly misread the crowd’s mood. Only the front rows supported Ceaușescu with cheers and applause, with most of the crowd remaining impassive. Eight minutes into the speech, some in the crowd actually began to jeer, boo and whistle at him—a reaction considered unthinkable for most of Ceaușescu’s 24 years in power. Workers from a Bucharest power plant started chanting “Ti-mi-șoa-ra! Ti-mi-șoa-ra!”—a chant that was soon picked up by others in the crowd. In response, Ceaușescu raised his right hand in hopes of silencing the crowd; his stunned expression remains one of the defining moments of the end of Communism in Eastern Europe. He then tried to placate the crowd by offering to raise workers’ salaries … He did not realize, however, that a real revolution was starting before his eyes.

Within hours Ceaușescu was beseiged inside the Central Committee building by irate crowds. “By the morning of 22 December, the rebellion had already spread to all major cities across the country. … He, Elena and four others managed to get to the roof and escaped by helicopter, only seconds ahead of a group of demonstrators who had followed them there.”

But by then there was nowhere to hide. Ceaușescu was finally cornered in a small town, where he and his wife were subjected to a summary trial, taken out to the courtyard and shot. What happened? Only a few hours before the “Genius of the Carpathians” had been in apparently complete command. And the next moment he was lying in the dust.

What happened was that he was misled by Centralized Information. He had been falling for a long time, and proved the last to know. Sudden realizations are like a crash; it’s not the fact of deceleration that is fatal so much as the suddenness of it. Centralized Information as Hayek points out, eventually becomes the Official Lie. It is surpassingly perilous not only for the country, but also for the ruler who relies on it. Richard III of England rode into Bosworth Field relying on his ally Baron Stanely to come to his aid. Stanley double-crossed Richard at the crucial moment.

Surprise, surprise.

Shakespeare dramatized the turnabout in his famous scene. “Richard is soon unhorsed on the field at the climax of the battle, and cries out, “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” But wags through the ages have rewritten the lines perhaps less poetically, but more accurately as “a hearse, a hearse, my kingdom for a hearse.” That sad funereal vehicle is always drawn by teams of corrupt information. Tyrannies are buried by the shovel of self-deception. A horse or a hearse? A tyrant stops knowing the difference.

One of the fundamental defenses of a democracy is the truth. The truth shall set you free, even if it makes you miserable. No truth, no survival.

Recent items of interest by Belmont readers based on Amazon click-throughs.

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway
Queen Victoria and Her Prime Ministers
Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment
Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban
Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality
Storm Over The South China Sea
The Idiot Vote: The Democrats’ Core Constituency
Rebranding Christianity (The World of Information)
The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone vs. Disraeli
How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them: 11 Rules for Winning the Argument

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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American CH-47 shot down in Afghanistan using newer model Stinger MANPAD given to Libyan rebels during the "kinetic action" initiated by the Three Valkyries.

In his new book, “Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Ben­ghazi” (Broadside Books), writer Kenneth R. Timmerman explains how the US government’s efforts to arm the Libyan rebels backfired, flooding weapons into Syria, and as he ­reveals here, Afghanistan:

The Obama administration isn’t only giving the Taliban back its commanders — it’s giving them weapons.

Military records and sources reveal that on July 25, 2012, Taliban fighters in Kunar province successfully targeted a US Army CH-47 helicopter with a new generation Stinger missile.

They thought they had a surefire kill. But instead of bursting into flames, the Chinook just disappeared into the darkness as the American pilot recovered control of the aircraft and brought it to the ground in a hard landing.

The assault team jumped out the open doors and ran clear in case it exploded. Less than 30 seconds later, the Taliban gunner and his comrade erupted into flames as an American gunship overhead locked onto their position and opened fire.

The next day, an explosive ordnance disposal team arrived to pick through the wreckage and found unexploded pieces of a missile casing that could only belong to a Stinger missile. Lodged in the right nacelle, they found one fragment that contained an entire serial number.

The investigation took time. Arms were twisted, noses put out of joint. But when the results came back, they were stunning: The Stinger tracked back to a lot that had been signed out by the CIA recently, not during the anti-Soviet ­jihad....

My sources in the US Special Operations community believe the Stinger fired against the Chinook was part of the same lot the CIA turned over to the ­Qataris in early 2011, weapons Hillary Rodham Clinton’s State Department intended for anti-Khadafy forces in Libya. They believe the Qataris delivered between 50 and 60 of those same Stingers to the Taliban in early 2012, and an additional 200 SA-24 Igla-S surface-to-air missiles.

Qatar now is expected to hold five Taliban commanders released from Guantanamo for a year before allowing them to go to Afghanistan.

But if we can’t trust the Qataris not to give our weapons to the Taliban, how can we trust them with this?

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment


The tyrant, even a so called democratic one like Obama, cannot see beyond his own self-glittering, all-absorbing persona. Dazzled by his own brilliance, Obama sees no danger to himself or his acolytes. There is nothing he cannot dispose of with a smile, a cool remark, a wave of his mighty hand. Obama will not end up like Ceausescu or Mussolini, though the White House does have a balcony.

None are so blind as will not see
The restless waters, dark’ning sky
The jagged rocks just off his lee
The people stirring with each lie
He pays no heed to mounting threats
Until the day of stark collapse
When he, who never had regrets
Sees mobs descend, and then perhaps
He’ll understand that all is lost
And he, whose every word been hailed
Now sees that he must bear the cost
Now that illusion's light has failed

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
In these centralized narrative systems, everything improves until it collapses. Venezuela has run out of drinking water

The only problem with socialism is it hasn't been tried hard enough. Try harder guys, and pretty soon you'll run out of dirt.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (95)
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Related, and for comparison: This is quite a find -- the complete broadcast day of June 6th, 1944, from the Columbia Broadcasting System (aka "Columbia" back then; now CBS), starting with the first reports from the German radio, relayed via BBC to the Columbia shortwave system, that there was Something Afoot in France and the Invasion may have started.

Here it is. Turn it on, and go back in time.

(German radio was the "German Transocean Broadcast." The BBC was broadcasting "urgent warnings" that the people of France should evacuate the 22-mile coastal belt as soon as possible, on account of "air operations." They tried to get the civilians out of the way without tipping off the Jerries about the landings.)

Note the frank talk about "the enemy" and declarations that you can't trust German reports.

The announcer paints a vivid picture of Washington waking in the wee hours, "after 3:00, Eastern War Time," and lights beginning to come in in bits and bobs.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
"No one can ask Bergdahl, since he is now reported as being unable to speak to anyone — including his family."

Hmmmmm. Now, why would that be?

The paranoid among us might suspect it's because he's refusing to shut up. Can't have him spouting anti-American and pro-Taliban propaganda where the public can hear him, can we?

Why, those poor deluded souls might get the wrong idea about this whole exchange.

I'm wondering if his poor health is going to take a turn for the worst. Soon.

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment


The president’s “all is well” initiative will likely fade from the public consciousness, but the distractions should not be forgotten. They reveal a quiet crisis in Washington: the state of U.S. strategic intelligence.

For years, word has circulated in Washington that the president frequently refuses to take intelligence briefings or chooses to ignore the advice offered in those meetings by intelligence officers.

Throughout the debacle of the Snowden revelations, the administration has chased itself in circles in trying to respond. This has accomplished little other than to make themselves appear inept.

As for spycraft…

In April, the top two officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency announced they were throwing in the towel and calling it quits.
When, after brewing for many months, the crisis in the Ukraine finally broke, the DIA reportedly had exactly no one on the Ukraine desk —

(end snip)

a key phrase from the snip:

"This has accomplished little other than to make themselves appear inept."

If i were writing a textbook for how a president could maximize the depth and duration of a global coup de main by the nation's adversaries, that line would make a great subtitle.

Imagine that your history books say, 'General Benedict Arnold, after an illustrious military career marred only by the incompetent sense of personal security that once led to his temporary (he soon escaped) capture just before the British captured West Point, retired after the war to teach espionage at the Army War College.'

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
PS, as Schindler said in the film, "It's in the presentation".
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think comparing Obama to Ceaucescu is insulting to the great dictators of history. Obama is not great, nor is he a dictator. If he were, this website wouldn't exist. Neither, probably, would we. Nope, it's amateur hour at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Putin is not impressed.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is ordinarily thought that if Obama were a dictator, this website (and we) would not exist--a reasonable enough assumption derived from dictatorship operations of the past.

But this one, if it is a dictatorship, is a bit different. It has monitoring capabilities that the others, the ones in the past, have lacked. I have often thought that all this (and facebook too!) is allowed to exist in this current dictatorship because it provides unmatched monitoring capability.

The better to see us with, my dear. Heh heh.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
The more magical the ascent, the more precipitous the fall.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
That was certainly one of the better articles I've read lately. Obama and Ceausescu....what a pair!
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
People don't necessarily realize the importance of a pivotal event until later – the Battle of Actium is one example. The Battle of Sadowa is another.

What on earth possessed Napoleon III to stay out of the Austro-Prussian War? French hegemony in Europe was long dependent upon Bavarian independence. So long as France could have Baden, Wuerttemberg, and Bavaria as allies, Prussia was going to have difficulty defeating France. What on earth possessed Napoleon III to declare war on Prussia in such a manner that let Prussia to call upon its defense alliance with Bavaria to send Bavarian troops against France? During the Franco-Prussian War, Bavarian troops loathed Prussia and were actually pro-France, but they fought on Germany's side because they followed orders.

The irony of the Beerhall Putsch is that if Adolf Hitler had succeeded, Bavaria would have become independent – and that may have been in the interests of France. Yet, time and time again, France was unable to see the danger of Bavarian subservience toward Berlin.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
What on earth possessed Napoleon III to declare war on Prussia ...?

Ha. He was played by Bismarck, like a puppet by the puppeteer.

The Germans have had two great statesmen in the modern era: Bismarck was one, Adenauer the other.

Adenauer, "Der Alte," was in his way--and, considering the circumstances--the greater of the two: a match even for the mighty De Gaulle. And far more attractive than Bismarck, in terms of personality and looks.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
The natural dividing line within Germany isn't east versus west, but rather north versus south, roughly corresponding to sectarian loyalty. When Germany was partitioned into occupation zones, France's long preoccupation with the Rhineland meant that the United States occupied Bavaria. So long as West Germany's capital was in Bonn, West Germany would be preoccupied with maintaining good relations with France. However, Germany's psychological center of gravity since 1870 has been Berlin, so when Germany reunified, Berlin became the capital.

It's probably too late for France. Although Bavaria remains important, there is almost no chance of it asserting independence from Berlin. Bavaria has no independence movement, and any outside meddling to promote one would create a powerful backlash within Germany (including Bavaria). Bavarian independence was France's best hope for maintaining French hegemony over Europe – and France blew it.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Bavaria ... there is almost no chance of it asserting independence from Berlin."

You've got that backwards ... :>)

As they say, Prussia's national colors are (light) blue and white. Bayern's (Bavaria) national colors are white and (light) blue. Don't ever forget that.

Additionally, but quite important, the word for Prussia in German is Preußen, pronounced 'Proy - zen' in high German. In Bayern, it's pronounced Preißen 'Pry-zen' (rhymes with Scheisse).

'Scheiß Preiß' can be used to denote any disreputable person outside of Bayern's borders ... world wide.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
--i think France is happy enough whenever Germany hasn't decided on Paris as its new capital.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Turns out the "Light Bringer" is a compact florescent bulb.

Expensive, flickers and induces headaches, dims and dies long before advertised. And by all evidence, once broken, he'll leave behind a toxic mess.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just another campaign lie: "Yes We Incandescent!"
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
LED from behind.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Har --well that about covers it --except for phosphorescent, and i ain't about to glow there
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
His LightWattedness brings a dim Bulb to a sunrise and the MSM proclaim themselves BlindeD by his Radiance_i_ty.

Shessh & I thought you guys punned badly. No Mas!!
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
--for THAT, i charge you with battery!
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
We've now got illegal aliens streaming across our borders and a guy in the WH who is crazy enough to declare them all citizens with the immediate right to vote. Anyone here think that's not within the realm of possibility after all we've seen lately?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ref our host's comment of no man on horse back, listen carefully you just might hear something that could be mistaken for hoofbeats.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
--hoofbeats, or the long sobs of autumn's violins wounding my
heart with a monotonous languor
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Buddy L., check out my post of the D-Day radio broadcast on this thread.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I just saw it --and saved to savor this evening --great find --an authentic treasure!
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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