Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hidden royalty?

I have to confess that I have one conspiracy theory of my own (see my last post on Conspiracy Theories). I think of it not so much a conspiracy theory as a hypothesis - but then, so do all conspiracy theorists.

My conspiracy theory is this: there is always a royalty. In the West, we believe royalty ended with monarchy. Of course, there are still the museum-pieces of the English and European royal families, but they have real power, so they say.

But let us suppose that all power derives, ultimately, from money. Since, in my view, no money but gold is a store of value, then it would follow that all power ultimately derives from gold. Gold is a physical measure of power.

Now, controlling the gold itself can be achieved by many means. If you are a bank, you might simply refuse to honor any future withdrawal requests and steal the depositors' gold that way. If you have control of a military, you might invade a neighboring region with a lot of gold. If you are the Nazi SS, you might steal the gold dental fillings and other gold of Holocaust victims. Beg, borrow or steal, to get power, you need to get gold.

Mao said, "Power comes out of the barrel of a gun," but without money to buy bullets and guns, there can be no power. So, armed force is just a means to power. To make that means effective requires money, gold.

The monarch is someone who has all the powers of modern government vested into a single individual. The monarch owns and, therefore, taxes all property. The monarch is the ultimate decision-maker, even in cases involving himself. The monarch has a monopoly on force and, usually, on the issuance of currency. And, frequently, the monarch has a monopoly on religious authority and may even command popularity.

With all these monopolies and other advantages, the king is king because no one can beat him, not just militarily. If being king were merely a question of military control, a chief general could easily topple the king at any time. While this has happened in the past, as a rule, most kings have not been overthrown by one of their chief generals.

Ultimately, it is the king's money which makes him more powerful than anyone else. Now, the king is rarely wealthy from his own endeavors. He is wealthy by virtue of his power to tax and inflate and generate public debt. These powers are his true secret. Because he can levy taxes, inflate the currency and incur public debt, the king can always generate unmatched wealth. This money can be used to defeat any challengers, whether political, religious or military or even rebellious. The king can use the public's money to put down the public's unrest, though this strategy has often failed.

So, if my conspiratorial reframing of power is correct, then the royalty are whoever today control - whether directly or indirectly - the powers of taxation, inflation and public debt. In the Middle East, this is still controlled by a literal monarchy in several nations. In the West, however, these powers are ultimately controlled by a largely anonymous elite. This makes their powers actually far greater than the powers wielded by kings in the past, which accounts for why taxation, inflation and public debt are at historical highs. Never have governments taxed their citizens so heavily, inflated the currency so rapidly or incurred such astronomical public debts as in modern times.

A burdensome king quickly became unpopular with his subjects if he imposed heavy taxation. The united kingdom of Israel divided under Rehoboam for this reason. Similarly, the American Revolution was ultimately motivated by insufferable taxes. But the object of hatred was well-known. In the modern system, it is difficult to know who exactly controls the taxation, inflation and public debt. While the wealthiest international bankers and industrialists are all involved one way or another, it is not always clear just who controls what. While elected officials must, obviously, sign off on the levels of taxation, inflation and public debt that come into existence, it is not clear who motivates the ever-increasing levels of these. It is the "movers and shakers" with an interest in seeing taxes raised (because they will be enriched), inflation increased and the public debt increased who will motivate changes in their levels. While government officials account for some of this, they do not and never have accounted for all of it, even in more nationalized systems like Europe.

The most powerful people can afford their own anonymity. Everyone knows who George W. Bush is, so his power is circumscribed by his own popularity. He is a fixed target. But I have no idea who all the nameless beneficiaries of increased government inflation are. These people are who I term the hidden royalty. They command the same powers as a king, that is, they have access to increase the levels of taxation, inflation and public debt when it will enrich them, but we have no idea what their names are.

Now, this doesn't mean that they operate conspiratorially. I'm sure that there are a sufficient number of conflicting interest to prevent the hidden royalty from acting with a univocal purpose. Think of classical European monarchs. They inter-married, visited one another and so on, but if it came right down to it, they'd just as soon slit each other's throats.

The most significant indication, to me, that there is a hidden royalty is the centralization of gold ownership. The vast majority of physical gold is controlled by a relatively small number of individuals. Both Europe and the United States engaged in unilateral gold confiscation - Europe in the run-up to WWI and the United States during the Great Depression. I believe that the massively skewed distribution of wealth is the exact consequence of this centralization of gold ownership. But, even more importantly, it is indicative that we live in a world that is much more similar to the Old World than we like to imagine. There are a relatively small number of rich, powerful elite that control most political power. And there's the rest of us trying to get by.

The solution, of course, is the eradication of the powers of taxation, inflation and public debt because it is these instruments which are the fountain of royal power. Without them, the royalty are naked, no different than anyone else. Without the power to openly (taxation) and surreptitiously (inflation) steal money from the public and enmire the public in debt, the royalty are just another Joe trying to make a buck. By eradicating these instruments of power, we would be forcing all men to play on a level playing field. The market is the great equalizer of men. No matter how many bazillions of dollars you have, if you cannot use them efficiently, they will soon be in the hands of those who can. By tolerating the existence of the instruments of power, we continue to subsidize this hidden royalty who, no different than the royalty of times past, are mostly fools and cowards (just read any quote from your average Rockefeller or Rothschild, these people are really, truly nincompoops.)

We don't need a revolution. We just need to stop tolerating the violation of private property rights by anyone, even the government. As a first step, we need to stop calling for the violation of property rights to fund our favorite programs. This is exactly what the Republican/Democrat system is all about: fighting to capture the flag for your team, so your team can decide how to spend the tax plunder for the next four years. We need to get back to a commitment to respecting property rights. Private property is the death sentence for the parasitic royal elite.

No comments: