Thucydides Engendering Philosopher-Warriors is Saviour of Western Civilization

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The following is a comment of mine in a Seminar held at the Greek Community Centre in Melbourne, on the 16 of March, 2017, whose theme was, “Thucydides as Philosopher-Historian.” 

The teachings of the philosopher-historian Thucydides are taught assiduously and meticulously in the military academies of the Western world, especially in the United States and Russia.

Thus, these academies are churning out—like Plato’s academy generating philosopher-kings—philosopher-warriors. One such military savant is general Petraeus, the vanquisher of al-Qaeda in Iraq; another two, are generals McMaster and Mattis, the present occupiers respectively of the posts of National Security Adviser and of Defence, in the Trump administration. And it is not an aleatory action or chance event but a deliberate choice, on the part of Trump, that he has appointed high military personnel in key positions of his administration: In anticipatory awareness that America could be attacked with bio-chemical, and, indeed, with nuclear weapons, once the terrorists of Islam acquire them. Such an attack would overturn the USA in an instance from democracy into a military dictatorship, as only the latter could protect America and the rest of the West from this sinister existential threat that is posed by these fanatics.

Two Thucydidean fundamental principles in warfare were, “Know thy Enemy” and “Pre-emptive Attack.” Thus Thucydides in the twentieth-first century, will be the saviour of Western civilization.

Address to the Former Chief Justice of The High Court of Australia

By Con George-Kotzabasis

In view of the prevention of terrorists attacks targeting main public centres in Melbourne during Christmas, I’m publishing the following address that was delivered by me, at the private chambers of Sir Harry Gibbs (former Chief Justice of The High Court of Australia) on December 14, 2002, who as Chairman of The Samuel Griffith Society presided over its annual general meeting.

 Mr. President,

I’m aware that the issue I’m raising is not directly related to the charter of our society. But because our way of life, our values and the lives of our citizens are under threat by a deadly network of fanatic terrorists, and because these values are written and reflected in the Australian Constitution, our society as a defender of the latter, cannot avoid from being embroiled in this war against terrorism and its state sponsors.

As in all wars, beyond the human and material mobilization of a nation, the moral and spiritual mobilization of its people is just as important, if not more important. I strongly believe that in the latter mobilization, our society can play a significant and important role.

Recently, there has been a cravenly and ignominious attempt to disarm the country of its strength from effectively confronting this terrorist threat. A secular and sacred chorus have sung an ode in praise of disloyalty and pusillanimity, as the best means of defence against terrorism. Four former prime ministers (Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke and Keating) a Governor General (Bill Hayden) and a motley of religious prelates, disseminated their nihilistic wisdom to the people of this country, as to whether Australia should support the United States in a war against Iraq. Their pronounciamento of No to War, was remarkable for its poverty of thought, for its lack of historical insight, and for its richness in levity. In the latter case this was demonstrated bizarrely by Mr. Keating, who in a tongue-in-cheek interview on channel 10, stated that while we should keep our important alliance with the USA, we should not support the latter in its war against Iraq. In his own inimitable words, he remarked, that a “clever nation—read a clever government under his premiership—could have its-own-cake-and-it eat—too.” Such a proposition is of course based on the assumption that the other party, in this case the USA government, is so stupid, that it would be willing to fall victim to Mr. Keating’s con-man diplomacy and would gratify his penchant of having his cake-and-eating-too.

But despite the lack of seriousness and frivolity of these ideas, propagated by this prominent group of court-jesters, it would a mistake to underestimate the great damage these ideas would make on the moral fibre and on the fighting spirit of the country. It is for this reason that this sophistry of these intellectual usurpers, must be countered and exposed for its spiritual and moral bankruptcy. It would be a historical and political folly to allow these political and religious romantics, the nipple-fed intellectuals of academe, and the populist media, to monopolise, dominate, and debase the debate on the war against terrorism. I believe that our society can play a pivotal role in counter-balancing this monopoly and exposing the brittleness of the arguments of this caricature of statesmanship.

Mr. President, I’m aware of the paucity of the material resources of our society. But this should not be a reason why the wealth of its intellect, imagination, and moral mettle, should lay fallow in these critical times.                

 

 

 

 

 

 

Democracy Being a Free Good Endangers its Existence

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Breathing democratic freedom is neither easy nor free; it entails both rights and obligations and most importantly knowledge of current fundamental issues. But in most democracies their constituents tend to uphold and demand more their rights than their obligations, and more deplorably, a sizable number of them exercise their rights in a state of ignorance. This imbalance, however, between rights and obligations, as well as lack of knowledge of the real issues, puts in jeopardy the functioning of a politically just and economically productive democracy, and indeed endangers its existence as a form of government.

Moreover, it makes its voters who are uninformed of the points at issue captive to populist slogans and to that everlasting traducer of democracy, identified by Aristotle, demagogy, that appeals to the hopes and fears of the electors and by propagandistic lies and false promises opens the doors of power to demagogues. This is exemplified by two recent political events in our times: Alexis Tsipras and his party of Syriza winning the elections in Greece on a wave of populism and unprecedented lies and false promises in the political history of the country, and of the plebiscite of the UK, whose two leaders of Brexit, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, with a farrago of lies and dire fictions were able to hoodwink a major part of the populace to vote for the exit of Britain from the European Union. On a smaller scale this also has happened in the Australian elections, when the Labor Party by its scare campaign that the Liberal Coalition would privatize Medicare, succeeded in convincing a large part of the electorate of this fictitious threat with the result of Liberals losing so many seats that brought the country on the edge of a hang parliament.

How can one remedy the weaknesses of democracy and protect its constituents from becoming victims to populism and to demagogy with catastrophic results to the well-being of society and to its continued economic prosperity? Some people believe that the answer lies in bringing cultural and ethical changes among the people that would make them immune to this toxic virus of populist-demagogy; and thus leading gradually to the cashiering and inexorable dismissal of all demagogic and populist leaders from the domain of politics. The difficulty and danger of such a solution however is that cultural change is a slow process and during its gestation and vicissitudes in a long run may in the meantime unhinge democracy from its door of freedom, by the actions of feckless, inept, and irresponsible politicians, and incarcerate it within the dungeon of dictatorship. A safer and faster solution would be to enact radical changes to the electoral voting system by suspending in certain circumstances temporarily parts of the electorate from voting.

On what principle could one suggest such an unequal voting system that would discriminate so deliberately between social groups in the ambience of democracy, and which group would be the unequal part in the democratic process? The guiding principle of the first part of the question must explicitly aim to the continued viability and stability of a democratic system, in the context of which, the economic well-being of society depends and guarantees the further expansion of wealth that renders to the people a wide choice where to employ their talents and skills that would push their living standard onto higher plateaus and make their lives congenial to their desires. The second part, i.e., the social group that would be unequally treated, would be identified as that part that depends on welfare for its living and as a ‘debtor’ client of the government easily succumbs to populist slogans and rabble rousing; also, due to its low educational level and lack of interest in important matters, it deprives it from having adequate knowledge of the issues involved and hence is completely unqualified to make a sober judgment on these issues. It is mainly this social group that brings to power demagogues and millenarian ideologues that imperil the stability of the polity and its economic system. And, indeed, ironically pits this same social group into absolute poverty, and in turn destabilizes democracy itself, as it has happened with the political rise of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela; where its people after a contrived false prosperity are presently hunting dogs and cats to feed themselves. The same has happened with the Marxist Alexis Tsipras in Greece, where the pauperization of many of its ordinary people is exacerbated every day and has reached unprecedented high levels under his totally inept, ideologically barren and irresponsible government.

The enactment of this radical legislation would specifically suspend from the right to vote any person who had been on social welfare or unemployed for more than a year, and only with his/her ceasing on being on welfare or unemployed his/her right to vote would be restored. Such legislation would not only strengthen and secure the viability of democracy and the prosperity of its economic system, but would also deprive populist demagogues and political parties of a constituency upon whose existence they depend. Moreover, it would substantially reduce the spending of the welfare state and make it less precarious to the fiscal policy of the state and hence to the well-being of the country. This radical enactment takes a leaf from the cradle of democracy in classical Greece, Athenian democracy. The latter disenfranchised and suspended from voting citizens who had failed to pay a debt to the polis. Likewise, in a modern democracy people who were in debt for their living to the government, that is on welfare, would be suspended from casting a vote.

Needless to say, such a radical proposal, to occur in the ambit of the ‘spoils’ of the welfare state that has spoiled at least two generations of people by our carefree and stand at ease democracy, will not be easy to implement as it will rouse all the wrath and opposition of the ‘progressive’ bien pensants and the ‘good fellows’ of the dole. It will require extraordinarily strong and sagacious political leadership that will unite parliamentary opposition parties into a gigantic wave that relentlessly will sweep away this ‘progressivist’ praetorian guard of the human rights, without responsibilities, of the dole takers, and throw this defiance of the sanctimonious goody-goodies into the dust bin of history.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

turn now

 

 

 

 

 

What to Do with ISIS Challenge to International Law

By Con George-Kotzabasis July 28, 2016

The following was my short contribution to a Seminar held in the Law School of Melbourne University, on July 28, 2016, with the theme “The Jihadist Challenge to International Law…,” whose main speakers were two professors of International law of Harvard and Yale Universities respectively.

 The Jihadist challenge to the ‘mountain’ of International Law must not give birth to a ‘mouse’ that will be at the mercy of the cat’s paw, of humanitarian lawyers. It must be taken off their gentle hands and must be handled by judicious and realist legislators, who are fully aware that this is no mere challenge to International Law but an existential threat to Western civilization. Lawgivers therefore must enact the harsh laws that will protect this civilization.

If the Jihadists are prepared to fight with the laws of the jungle, then they must also be prepared to suffer the whole hog of these laws. They must not expect that they will be protected by the humane laws of the West.

Finally, it is a great fallacy to believe that non-intervention or non-resistance by the West will touch the souls of these fanatics. On the contrary, it will strengthen their belief that the West is weak and they will attack it more ferociously and murderously. And indeed, in their wild chase of the chimerical seventy-two virgins they will not hesitate to use weapons of mass destruction against the West.

 

 

How the Good Intentions of a Left-Wing Economist Lead to Bad Results

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 19, 2016

The following is an unconsummated reply to professor Andrew Leigh’s lecture with the title, “Markets Monopolies and Moguls…” held at Melbourne University, on May 19, 2016. This was due to the chairman’s instruction that only a sprinkle of questions would follow the end of the presentation and there would be no debate

I’m overly distrustful of people who use scarecrows, in this case the “mogul” Richard Pratt, to make their argument. Moreover, it is a term associated with sinister practices and easily tantalizes and incites the feelings of the crowd to purge the evildoers. But more dismally it is wrong in your case, as it is an exercise in a fallacy of composition: Just because there are few rotten apples in the cart it does not mean that all apples are rotten. The unprecedented prosperity of capitalism was not engendered by rottenness but by the creative, innovative, and dynamic spirit of entrepreneurship.

The great economic historian, Fernand Braudel, depicts the shifts of capitalist centres and their entrepreneurial moguls, from Venice, Genoa, Antwerp, Amsterdam, London, to New York, spreading boundless prosperity to these metropolises and their environs by means of the ceaseless division of labour, international trade and the capitalist dynamic ethos of entrepreneurial creation. It was the sun-king of entrepreneurial capitalism that had pulled millions of people out of the sunless caves of poverty into the sunlit vistas of capitalist plenitude, heightening their standard of living, for the first time in history, on ever-higher plateaus.

(The scientific writer, Arthur Koestler, contends that the great discoveries of science were motivated by ambition, competition, and vanity, which happen also to be the inherent characteristics of capitalist moguls.)

You have mentioned a lot of negatives about “bigness” and market concentration but not the fact that they rather have a short life since there is no blockage of entry in a competitive economy to other entrepreneurs into these concentrated areas. One example, the entry of the innovative entrepreneur ALDI into the food-chain services and its reduction of the prices of its products in comparison to other chains, not only attracted many consumers to its stores but also forced the other two major super markets of COLES and WOOLWORTH to reduce their prices at the feel of the competitive pinch of the newcomer. Competition does not discriminate between big and small but it equally affects both.

But to deal with your argument that inequality should be a major consideration in competition policy, and regulating mergers and prices would be beneficial to the consumer. The competitive market in itself, without the need of regulation, spreads its cheaper products to an ever-greater number of consumers and therefore decreases inequality. The competition of Telstra and Optus is an example. The same applies to iPods. Ride a train, a bus, or a tram and you will see even the lower classes fully equipped with these cheaper gadgets of a competitive technology and once again the line of inequality is lowered down for the less wealthy consumer.

It is not the business of government to regulate mergers and pricing. This is the bailiwick of entrepreneurs who decide if such a merger will be profitable, whether it will be able to compete with an already established corporation producing the same product, and setting its price on such a level that it will attract consumers to buy its product en masse. Furthermore, as far as the regulation is close to the estimates and interests of the entrepreneurs it is superfluous; and as far as it is distanced from these estimates and interests, it is destructive. No businessman will invest his money in a venture where profit is unattainable. Hence, your regulation, that aborts the setting-up of a merger that would produce cheaper products for the consumer, by depriving the latter from having these goods, increases the inequality of the mass consumer. Not surprisingly, as often happens, good intentions lead to bad results.

Therefore, your proposal of government dirigisme as a panacea in regards to competition and regulation is inutile, fanciful, and fallacious, and more perniciously may turn out to be a destructive force.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now

 

 

 

Marx and his Modern Reincarnation Continue to be Hotbed of Gross Errata

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The following is a very brief reply to professor of economics Kostas Lapavitsas, and former member of Parliament with the Party of Syriza, to his thesis, that Greece can achieve its national sovereignty only by going back to its own currency, i.e., the drachma, delivered at the Ithacan House, Melbourne, on April 15, 2016. The three first paragraphs were omitted from my response as I assumed regrettably wrongly, that the time allotted to the questioners at the meeting would be too short and hence I did not include them.

Professor Lapavitsas, allow me to make a short comment before I come to my question, as at the start I want to point out what I believe to be the roots of your erroneous proposition.  

Dialectical materialism even in its modern reincarnation of neo-Marxism, which you espouse, is a hotbed of gross errata, not to say terata (monsters), and hence a fallacious doctrine.

Yet the ghost in the machine of Marxism, despite its irreparable breakdown, continues to churn-out apparitional panaceas for the ills of global capitalism. One such quack panacea is your own proposition.

My question is: Show us one country in the world hit by absolute poverty, which, your implied return to the drachma entails, that by adopting your proposal has achieved national sovereignty and kept it; If you cannot show us such a country, then your proposal is a mirage, a will-o’-the-wisp, an occult fancy.

But what is more worrisome is that you are asking the Greek people, after the botched Tsipras-Varoufakis experiment, to be also the guineapigs to your own theoretical experiment which has hardly better odds of success than the Varoufakian one.

National sovereignty is the result of prosperity not of poverty.

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Defeat not Degrade ISIS Correct Strategy

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Brief reply to: An Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) First Strategy

By Robert Bunker Small Wars Journal August 30, 2014

One has to make a clear distinction between real existent hostility (ISIS) and potential hostility (by other uncertainly defined actors), so one has to be decisive in one’s choice which hostility to confront first. Robert Bunker is correct in stating, “an Islamist state has to be considered more dangerous than a secular autocratic state.” The latter is “ideologically bankrupt” whereas the former because of its “spiritual ideological component” has “a very real expansionist potential” and therefore is “more dangerous.” According to this logic therefore, one has primarily to confront and eliminate this danger emanating from ISIS and not merely weaken the latter for the purpose of maintaining it as a force that would prevent other forces inimical to the United States from filling the “political and institutional vacuum” left by the decimation and total defeat of ISIS. First, ISIS in its short reign, other than verbally and ceremonially as true believers of the Koran, have hardly established a “political and institutional” framework that with its ousting would be occupied by other belligerent and hostile forces. The area upon which its so called Caliphate was established, from which thousands of people fled to save their lives, will once again, with the total defeat of ISIS, revert back to its original occupiers, Syrians, Kurds, and Iraqis, who with the exception of Syrian supporters of Assad, the latter two groups are hardly enemies of the USA.

The defeat of ISIS by American airpower and by forays of its Special Forces and its allies of Kurds and Iraqis on the ground will be a decisive blow to all Islamist terrorists, including those of al Qaeda. And it will put an end to the flow of its recruits from internal and external sources. I would suggest therefore that to achieve this great victory one must adopt the strategy that will defeat and eliminate ISIS and not the strategy that will degrade and weaken it.

Con George-Kotzabasis http://kotzabasis3.wordpress.com