Part 3.

Autumn leaves start to fall.

Thought for the season by The Bard:

‘Ripeness is all.’ *

King Lear, Act 5, Scene 2.

* That’s all folks!

Claude_Monet._Haystack._End_of_the_Summer._Morning._1891._Oil_on_canvas._Louvre,_Paris,_France (3)

To Autumn. John Keats.

‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun,
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss-cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden-head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Aye, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day too,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.’

…Guess that just about covers it, but always room for nuance.

Herman Melville. ‘Moby Dick.’ Chapter 28, ‘Brit.’

‘Steering north-eastward from the Crozettes, we fell in with vast meadows of brit, the minute, yellow substance, upon which the Right whale largely feeds. For leagues and leagues it undulated round us, so that we seemed to be sailing through boundless fields of ripe and golden wheat.

On the second day, numbers of Right whales were seen, who, secure from the attack of a sperm whaler like the Pequod, with open jaws sluggishly swam through the brit, which adhering to the fringing fibres of that wondrous Venetian blind in their mouths, was in that manner separated from the water that escaped at the lip.

As morning mowers, who side by side slowly and seethingly advance their scythes through the long wet grass of marshy meads, even so these monsters swam, making a strange, grassy, cutting sound; and leaving behind them endless swathes of blue upon the yellow sea.’

Haiku by Masuo Basho

‘On a withered bough
A crow is perching :
Autumn evening now.’

秋雨叹三首 (二) Poem by Du Fu.

阑风长雨秋纷纷 Ceaseless wind and lengthy rain swirl together this autumn,
四海八荒同一云 The four seas and eight deserts are covered by one cloud.
去马来牛不复辨 A horse going, an ox coming, cannot be distinguished,
浊泾清渭何当分 How now can the muddy Jing and cleat Wei be told apart?
禾头生耳黍穗黑 The standing grain begins to sprout, the millets ears turn black,
农夫田妇无消息 Farmers and the farmers wives have no hopeful news.
城中斗米换衾绸 In the city, a bucket of rice can cost a silken quilt,
相许宁论两相直 And both the buyer and seller have to agree the bargain is fair.

qiū yǔ tàn sān shǒu (èr)

lán fēng cháng yǔ qiū fēn fēn
sì hǎi bā huāng tóng yī yún
qù mǎ lái niú bú fù biàn
zhuó jīng qīng wèi hé dāng fēn
hé tóu shēng ěr shǔ suì hēi
nóng fū tián fù wú xiāo xī
chéng zhōng dǒu mǐ huàn qīn chóu
xiāng xǔ nìng lùn liǎng xiāng zhí

Figures in a Landscape.

In Hokusai’s woodblock-print
Ejiri in Suruga Province,
Nature in playful mood
blows the leaves from trees,
sends scribes’ papers sailing
sky-wards, snatches hats
from the heads of peasants
who react with strange contortions,
clutching flailing clothing,
grimacing into the wind.


Past High Noon.

Autumn so autumnal,
so betwixt and between,
the last stage-coach-post to
No-Return; so seize the day,
take on board what goods you may
before High Noon’s forgotten,
do not forsake me, oh my …

That’s all folks …



Serfs love it!

Everything stops fer the Melbourne Cup, down south, in the great continent of Oz That’s right, down south, in the State of Victoria, everything stops, a public holiday, not in commemoration of a battle, not celebrating the birthday of some high dignitary, not in memoriam fer a religious event, but fer a horse race! … Lotsa’ history behind that.


Here’s a Story.

On Tuesday, 2nd of November, a day ter remember, this week as I write, Anno Domini 2015, in the 3200m long Melbourne Cup, before a stunned crowd of more than 100,000 spectators, a female jockey on a one hundred to one odds gelding beat the world’s crème de la crème horses ridden by the world’s top jockeys.

The Horse. Prince Of Penzance, bought for $50,000 in New Zealand, and trained in the Victorian coastal town of Warrnambool by local trainer, Darren Weir, had to over come serious illness and injuries, including two joint operations, before shaping up as an outsider to win the Melbourne Cup. Few believed that the six year old bay would win the prestigious event. Trainer Darren Weir hoped that he’d finish in the top ten, but jockey Michelle Payne and brother Stephen, the horse’s strapper, believed Prince Of Penzance could win.

Michelle Payne, first female rider to win the Melbourne Cup, felt that her win was pre-ordained: ‘I actually really had a strong feeling that I was going to win, but I thought, ’Ah, don’t be stupid, it’s the Melbourne Cup.’

When Stephen Payne, who has Down Syndrome, was given the honour of making the barrier draw and handed his team barrier one, the possibility of a win came that little bit closer.

The Jockey. The youngest of ten children born to Paddy and Mary Payne, a family steeped in racing history, Michelle was raised in rural Victoria near historic gold town Ballarat. When Mary Payne was killed in a car accident, the family looked after each other. Sixteen year old Brigid Payne helped raise Michelle, only six months old when her mother died. Under the guidance of their canny father, the girls, like their brothers, learned to ride race horses and eight of the children, including the girls, becoming licensed jockeys. At age seven Michelle announced her dream to become a successful jockey and win the Melbourne Cup.

If the story was all fairy-tale ending, Michelle’s oldest sister should have been at the race track on November 2nd urging her young sister on to victory. But Brigid, mother of a fourteen year old son, died of a heart attack in 2007 after a heavy fall from a young horse.

Michelle Payne too, like Prince Of Penzance, had to battle injuries, two horror falls, one in 2004 when she fractured her skull, another fall in 2012 that left her with four fractured vertebrae and broken ribs.

In the man’s world of horse racing female jockeys are light on the ground. Given the opportunity to show her worth by famous horse trainer Bart Cummings, winner of twelve Melbourne Cups, therein a story in itself, Michelle Payne won her first Group 1 race at Caulfield on Cumming’s horse Allez Wonder. In the same year she also rode Allez Wonder in the Melbourne Cup but was unplaced. Six years later, a different story.

The Race. Michelle describes her experience riding in the 2015 Melbourne Cup: ‘Once the Melbourne Cup starts it is hard to explain, it’s not like any other race. It sort of feels like an out of body experience – you’re in there, you’re doing it, horses are racing so close together. But I knew at the 600m that I would be very hard to beat and I hadn’t even asked Prince Of Penzance to go yet. He was just ambling.

Then at the 300 m I thought, ‘I don’t think anything can beat me now.’ I couldn’t believe we were about to win the Cup.’


Here’s a history.

The History of the Melbourne Cup is tied in with the discovery of gold in Victoria in the 1850’s. When rich sources of gold were discovered a few days ride from Melbourne, an influx of prospectors more than doubled the population of Victoria, between 1850 and 1858.

During these years Victoria mined more gold than King Solomon had ever seen and set in motion an economic and social revolution. ( ‘Shorter History of Australia.’ Geoffrey Blainey. Ch 6.) Boom town Melbourne outgrew rival city Sydney and embarked on an impressive building program including a remarkable public library, churches, theatres and a race track at Flemington near the road to Ballarat goldfields. The first Melbourne Cup race was run in 1861 in front of an estimated crowd of 4,000 spectators.

Says Geoffrey Blainey:

‘It is not hard to find reasons why, from the Gold Rushes until the eve of World War 1, sport pervaded Australian life more extensively than the life of perhaps any other land. Australia then had the ingredients of the sporting life which other nations would later foster, often artificially. Cheap or free land was plentiful for sports such as horse racing, football, and cricket that required large spaces lying not far from the heart of a city , and long arms of sheltered water – uninterrupted by steam vessels – were available for professional sculling in Sydney. In most Australian towns the climate favoured outdoor activities. An exceptionally high proportion of the population lived in two large cities, and so even before Australia’s population passed three million in 1891 it could muster large crowds for events in Melbourne and Sydney.

A high standard of living made it possible to set attractive prize money and fine facilities for sport. The rather masculine culture, with a high percentage of single men in the population, also favoured sport. Above all, spectator sports depended on public holidays and free Saturday afternoons, and it so happened that Australia was becoming the land of abundant leisure for city people, though not for those who worked the soil.’ (G.B. Ch 9.)

Australia was in the forefront of the movement by trade unions for the shorter working week, and Melbourne and Sydney were probably the first cities in the world where work stopped at two o’ clock on Saturday afternoon for the majority of wage earners. Cricket was a popular sport. The size of crowds watching cricket matches was a surprise to visiting English teams, the first of which arrived in 1861. ‘Australian Rules’ football also became a popular sport.The first Victorian football clubs, Melbourne, (1858) and Geelong, (1859) are older than any club in the four divisions of the English Football League.( G.B Ch 9.)

The Melbourne Cup.

‘In a land where grass was virtually free, horse racing was a natural sport for Victorians,’ says Geoffrey Blainey, ‘tens of thousands of people owned horses and often rode them.‘

Melbourne’s first Melbourne Cup was a local affair but the annual event soon attracted horses from distant towns and growing crowds of spectators. The Cup quickly became as popular as a carnival with picnic parties and sideshows. By 1865, government offices and banks in Melbourne gave their employees a half holiday so that they could attend the Thursday Cup event, the date changed to Tuesday in 1875. The 1883 Melbourne Cup was reportedly attended by one third of Melbourne’s population.

As in the 2015 Melbourne Cup, its history has stories of courage, controversy and tragedy. Probably the most popular horse to win the Melbourne Cup was the great Phar Lap, winner of the 1930 Cup. In Phar Lap’s racing career plenty of the above dramatic elements.

The great Phar Lap.

Like Prince of Penzance, Phar Lap was another New Zealand horse with an inauspicious beginning. Bought by trainer Harry Telford for an American client, Telford himself couldn’t afford the one hundred and sixty-five guineas the scrawny yearling cost, an unimpressed client allowed Telford a three year lease on the horse.

Phar Lap began his racing career in 1929. He was unplaced in his first five starts but then began winning races, four on end in that same year. In 1930, ridden by new jockey Jim Pike, Phar Lap won every race he was entered in, often sprinting away from the other horses over the last five hundred metres. No horse could beat him. He became a hero to the Australian public. This was the era of The Great Depression and thousands of people were unemployed. People identified with battler Telford and his wonder horse. Everyone, except the bookmakers, wanted him to win the Melbourne Cup.

On the Saturday before the Cup, coming back from track work, Tommy Woodcock diverted an attempt made from a passing car to shoot Phar Lap. The whole nation was shocked and turned up in the thousands on the day of the Cup to cheer on their favorite. Over 40,000 people, who couldn’t afford the cost of a ticket into the racecourse gathered to watch the race from Scotchman’s Hill overlooking the race on the Ballarat road.

Carrying the unprecedented handicap weight of 68 kilograms in today’s measurement, ten kilograms more than the top weight in the 2015 Melbourne Cup, Phar Lap won by three lengths to the delight of the crowd.

Phar Lap continued his amazing career, winning races and breaking records. He was so good that the rules were changed to give other horses the chance of beating him. Prize money was low because of the Depression so in 1932 it was decided to send Phar Lap to the United States to race. The horse and his strapper set sail on 20th March, 1932. Phar Lap won his first event in Mexico, breaking the track record. Then went to Los Angeles where he succumbed to a mystery illness. A few days later Phar Lap died in the arms of Tommy Woodcock. The front page of every newspaper carried the news of the death of Phar Lap and a nation mourned the death of the champion.


Phar Lap was brought home to Australia. His skin was mounted and became the most visited exhibit at the National Museum in Melbourne. His mighty 6.3 kilogram heart, much larger than a normal horse’s, is kept at the Australian Institute of Anatomy in Canberra.

There’s an interesting postscript here regarding Phar Lap’s large heart. It has often been said that some horses have the X Factor – but what does this mean? Over the years it’s come to mean big – hearted, literally, the endurance to outrun other horses over long distances. Interest in the size of a horse’s heart goes back to the champion stallion Eclypse. In the 1700’s. The tradition of the time, was to bury just the head, heart and hooves of the horse. When Eclypse died, the surgeon was surprised at the size of the horse’s heart at 6.36 kilograms, double the weight of the normal racehorse.

Overtime the large heart X Factor has been traced back to Eclypse passed on through the female line to daughter Pocahontas. Many famous racehorses have been found to have this X Factor, passed on from Eclypse through the mare Pocahontas. They include record breaking Secretariat, in the 1970’s, an American champion racehorse that won the Belmont Handicap by 31 lengths, and in Australia, Phar Lap.

Lotsa’ stories involving the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s richest handicap race and one of the richest horse races in the world. Wonder what’ll win the next one?



Part 2.

Summer time and the livin’ is easy…

Thought for the season by The Bard:

‘Oh how shall Summer’s breaths hold one
Against the willful siege of battering days.’

Sonnet 65.

This is Just to Say. William Carlos Williams.

‘I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold’

Sydney Harbour on a Summer’s Day.

Light glancing off the water below
the bridge, overhead a sky of endless
blue – what is it about blue that merges
mind and eye in a hazy journey into
infinity? Here’s ‘sublime’ without fierceness
of storms, the peaceful heavenliness of
Sydney Harbour on a summer’s day.
Sublime combines with the familiar,
a colourful ferry with revelers churns
its way towards the north shore, white
wake furrowing irreverently the sea’s blue
opacity, yachts skittering like gulls, houses
crowding the harbour, eager for a glimpse of
heaven – Sydney Harbour on a summer’s day.


Moby Dick. Herman Melville

In ‘Moby Dick,’ in the chapter entitled ‘The Mast-Head,’ Herman Melville describes the experience of the young look-out at the mast-head, immersed in transcendentalist reveries occasioned by that ‘mystic ocean’ beneath him:

‘Lulled into such an opium-like listlessness of vacant, unconscious reverie is the absent-minded youth by the blending cadences of waves with thoughts, that at last he loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for the visible image of that deep blue bottomless soul pervading mankind and nature; and every half-seen beautiful thing that eludes him; every dimly discovered, uprising fin of some indiscernible form, seems to him the embodiment of those elusive thoughts that only people the soul by continually flitting through it …

There is no life in thee, now, except that rocking life imparted by a gently rolling ship, by her, borrowed from the sea; by the sea, from the inscrutable tides of God. But while this sleep, this dream is on ye, move your foot or hand an inch; slip your hand at all: and your identity comes back in horror. Over Descartian vortices you hover. And perhaps at mid-day in the fairest weather, with one half-throttled shriek you drop through the transparent air into the summer sea, no more to rise forever.’

From the sublime to … the holiday rituals of Monsieur Hulot..

To Robert Frost, the last word regarding seductive summer.

The Silken Tent. Robert Frost.

‘She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when a sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys’ it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound

By countless silken ties of love and though
To everything on Earth the compass round,
And only by one’s going slightly taught
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.’



Part 1.

It’s Spring!

Thought for the season by The Bard:

‘When proud pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything.’

Sonnet 98.


Perverse Spring.

Perverse Spring, always changing
Like a moody teenager, by the hour,
Now maverick sunshine, now passing shower.

Full moon to crescent waning,
Last month’s blossom trees a cherry-pink riot,
This month’s are snow drifts of transient white.

Small epmty bird's nest made of twigs and dried foliage on a white studio background

The Nest.

A nest has fallen to the ground.
Though so cunningly made it could not withstand
The sudden Spring storm that brought it down
From its niche in a tall pine.

See how meticulously its maker has woven
Each separate blade of grass in and out, each
Blade brought in by air and stitched together
With cob-web by the small beak, the nest
Then shaped by the bird’s round breast and
Inlaid with its feathered down. Already
Ants are investigating the broken
Egg-shells scattered on the ground.

… and Spring is potent.

Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer.

‘Whan that April with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which virtu engendred is the flour;
When Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heath
The tender croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,
And smalle fowles maken melodye
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
So priketh hem nature in hir corages;
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seeken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondrey londes …’

… and pagan.



[In Just – ] e. e. cummings.

In Just –
spring when the world is mud –
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s spring
when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch snd jump-rope and

spring and



balloonMan whistles

Summer comes next …



Part 3.

Decline of Cities, decline of Liberties. The Enemy Within.

Serfs understand that reference ter aims and means requires having the wealth ter adapt ter what ever black swans come yer way. And acquiring that wealth in the first place, well, that don’t come via top-down planning but by human innovation and trial and error responses ter particular circumstances, kinda’ like in nay-chur.

Have ter say I’m a bit of a fan of Jane Jacob’s two books on cities and wealth creation, ‘The Economy of Cities,’ and ‘Cities and the Wealth of Nations.’ See my 21st and 23rd Editions of Serf Under_ ground Journal, regarding her theory and case studies of wealth production in cities. And the following:

Fergit Adam Smith’s macro assumptions that nations are the basis unit of analysis fer economic life, argues Jacobs, economic life develops by grace of import- replacing and chain reactions that take place in cities and nearby regions that are artifacts of opportunist cities:

‘The economic expansion, derived from import-replacing, consists specifically of these five forms of growth: abruptly enlarged city markets for new and different import; … abruptly increased numbers and kinds of jobs in the import-replacing city; increased transplants of city work into non-urban locations as older enterprises are crowded out; new uses for technology, particularly to increase rural production and productivity; and growth of capital.’ (Cities & Wealth of Nations. pp 42,43.)

Jane Jacobs explores this process of city-generated production from the time after the disintegration of the Roman Empire in the West, when Europe descended into the period of economic stagnation known as the Dark Ages. A bright future for Europe was probably touch and go, argues Jacobs, a new city requires one or more initial cities to begin its initial trading.

Luckily for Europe, there was a settlement in the marshes at the head of the Adriatic which discovered a market for salt and later timber with nearby Constantinople:

‘But Venice, the pioneer city of the European economy, did not remain a mere supply depot. By diversifying its own production, starting on the basis of salt and timber production, it proceeded to develop and thereby, to provide a Venetian city market for depot settlements of the north and west – which then built up city production of their own, each in its turn.’ (Cities & Wealth of Nations, p133.)

Hooray fer Venice, Venetian glass, lenses, telescopes!


Say, do as the Venetians do.

And some of them did. Even fragile little London, exporting salt fish, then using cheap British leather to imitate objects of much finer Cordovan Leather and selling them to nearby regions.

The development process in Europe was later duplicated in the northern parts of the United States during colonial times, and more rapidly after American Independence. Boston, which started by exporting timber, and Philadelphia, which exported grain, ‘were the first cities to start wriggling like Venice.’ Ibid p 145.)

In the 1870’s, when Japan began developing its modern economy using trade in silk as a springboard, Tokyo also behaved like Venice:

‘Instead of remaining content with what its silk exports could buy from more highly advanced economies, it copied such imports as it could and exported them to other Japanese cities, which in turn did not remain content with that trade, but replaced many of Tokyo’s new exports to them with their own production and cast up new exports to sell to Tokyo themselves.’ (p 148.)

To the south, Hong Kong:

‘Hong Kong, only two generations ago,’ says Jacobs,’ was an economically backward colonial depot city … It has played the role of Venice on the pacific rim, exporting its producers’ goods and services to Singapore.’ (p 147.)

Efficiency and industry transplants found wanting.

‘Only in stagnant economies does work stay docilely within given categories. And wherever it is forced to stay within prearranged categories – whether by zoning, by economic planning , or by guilds, associations or unions – the process of adding new work to old can occur little at all.’ (The Economy of Cities.’ P 61.)

For example, the electronic hand was not developed by the prosthetics industry but by technicians serving the Soviet Space Program. Development of masking tape and many innovative adhesive tape varieties were developed by a small sand mining, crushing and sales company.

Jane Jacobs compares the histories of two cities of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester and Birmingham. Manchester, poster city for the Industrial Revolution, pouring its economic energy into efficient repetition of the same work, Birmingham a muddle of all sorts of hardware and tool work. When other import replacing cities challenged Manchester’s export dominance Manchester had no other industries to fall back on. Whereas Birmingham continued adapting to challenges. Jacobs argues a similar problem in the US for Detroit, an innovative success story in the 1920’s , failing to develop new goods and services, it’s status as a company town discouraging breakaway enterprises by its work force.

Regarding development by loans, grants and subsidies, some short term ‘relief’ but in the end you are just bleeding productive economies for no long term benefit to stagnant economies.

Jacobs presents a detailed account of the Shah of Iran’s attempt to buy development via US Company, Textron, using oil money to build a helicopter Industry in Isfahan. Costs sky rocketed, the government borrowed money from overseas, fell behind with payments and work stopped. Just before the Shah was deposed the Iranian Government cancelled the Textron contact.

Development benefits of city-based currencies.


Argues Jacobs, there’s a built in design advantage possessed by Italian cities of the Renaissance and by modern Singapore and Hong Kong, oddities today, in having the advantage of their own currencies instead of one-size-fits-all national currencies that as feed-back mechanism best serves the dominant export city:

‘The city with that edge probably gets cheaper foreign imports, and probably gets an automatic tariff and export subsidy (with respect to foreign trade only) just when it needs such help.’ ( p 172.) …

‘Individual city currencies indeed serve as elegant feedback controls because they trigger specifically appropriate corrections to specific responding mechanisms.’ ( p 168.)

‘with falling exports a city needs a declining currency working like an automatic tariff and automatic export subsidy – but only for as long as they are necessary. Once its exports are doing well it needs a rising currency to earn the maximum variety and quantity of imports it can.’ (p168.) [The grist a city needs for its vital process of import-replacing.]

Jane Jacobs points to the decline of city after city in America, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Seattle, Detroit, that she attributes to the structural flaw of poor feedback mechanisms by national currencies. Writing before the advent of European Economic Union she states:

‘’We must be grateful that world government and a world currency is only a dream … as far as I can see, there are no remedies at a city’s or nation’s command whatever, short of separation in the pattern of Singapore, for correcting the flaw. ‘( W of N p180.)

Problems of The European Union.

‘A machine from Hell,’ writes Andrew Stuttaford, in Quadrant Magazine, (July – August, 2015,) describing what the Euro has wrought to European nations’ economies. And if she were writing today, what would Jane Jacobs say about the transference of powers, some small, some large, from the nation state to an unaccountable supranational authority based on a fantasy that the nation state is not only dangerous but archaic?


Procrustean Logic and the EU.

The view that ‘one size fits all’ was the brain child of technocrats in Brussels who believed that fluctuating economies were untidy expressions of market mechanisms that needed to be fixed by government experts . The management tools these technocrats devised to achieve their goals were the top down control of exchange rates and creating a shared currency. Although the votes for shared currency were not there, the machinery of integration ground on. The experts had a plan. With targets:

‘Only those countries that had ‘converged’ could sign up for the single currency. Convergence would be proved by the ‘tests’ – the ‘Maestricht Criteria’ – demonstrating that these countries’ economies were so sufficiently in sync that they could share a currency without the safety net that political (or at least fiscal) union would have provided. These tests included low inflation, exchange rate stability, and (in principle) public debt and deficit ratios that would not alarm frugal Germans too much.’ (Stuttaford p 39.)

Hey, grandiose delusion, maintaining that a collection of very different economies converge on the basis of a series of snapshots. Germany is Greece?

But look, – answer the technocrats, – in the Maestricht we’ve set out strict criteria; no Eurozone member or the EU will be responsible for the debts of any other. The European Central Bank and the now subordinate national central banks are barred from financing any country’s budget deficit. No bail-outs to feckless nations. All good to go.

The illusion that convergence was real paved the way for a financially convenient delusion;

‘Interest rates across the currency union moved down to German levels … in the early 1990’s ten-year government bonds carried a coupon at least fifteen percentage points above their German equivalent. Ten years later the spread was close to zero. Germany was Greece.’

These low interest rates should have been used by the Eurozone’s weaker countries to reduce excessive borrowing and help develop their economies achieve international competitiveness. Instead they spent like there was no tomorrow, consumption booms in Greece and Portugal, asset bubbles in Ireland and Spain.

Hubris followed by Nemesis.

The European crisis was on. Greek Prime Minister Papandreo confessed that his country’s budget deficit was more than double the already bad enough 6% of GDP projected by his predecessors. Greek interest rates splurged. EU technocrats recognized that if Greece tumbled, there were plenty more dominoes to fall. Let the bail-outs begin. After Greece, a Portugal bail-out, then a second Greek bail-out followed by a partial Spanish bail-out and a Cypriot banking collapse complete with bail-out. And it appears that the European Central Bank was alsostretching its authority to allow local central banks to ‘print’ new Euros… Says Christine Lagarde in 2010, ‘We violated all the rules because we wanted to close ranks and really rescue the Eurozone.’ ( A.S.p 41.)


Says Andrew Stuttaford:

‘Regardless of what the continent’s repeatedly snubbed voters might actually want, the EU’s ruling class will push integration forward. As ever the process will be step by step. Beyond the bailout funds and the ECB’s manoeuvrings, various debt mutualisation schemes have been floated… But the pace will be slow enough to ensure that the pain in much of the Eurozone’s periphery will persist, sometimes acute, sometimes merely chronic. One size will not fit all. The vampire currencywill linger on, draining democracy and prosperity as it does so, but no one will put a stake through it.’ (p p 42, 43.)

Well dear reader(s) here endeth me tri-partite post on the debauch of free society, on- going argument from me first SU_g Edition on the open society and its enemies, authoritarian attempts ter impose homogeneity on us serfs. It – jest – don’t – werk.

Thank you and good-night. Beth – the – serf.



Part 2.

More on Opportunism.

Continuing the theme of opportunism as a significant factor in outbreaks of hostility between nations, Geoffrey Blainey, in ‘Causes of War’ emphasizes, for those making the decision whether to fight or not, a crucial connection between aims and means. For historians and political theorists, focusing on aims does not explain why nations fight. A serious rift between nations does not necessarily lead to war. Nations may take other options, such as breaking off diplomatic relations, setting up an economic blockade, or even reducing tension by means of a successful conference.

In Chapter 10 of his book, Professor Blainey argues that any explanations of aims in why nations wage war are inadequate if they neglect the means of carrying them out:

‘A government’s aims are strongly influenced by its assessment of whether it has sufficient strength to achieve those aims. Indeed the two factors interact quietly and swiftly. When Hitler won power in 1933 and had long term hopes of reviving German greatness, his ambitions could not alone produce a forceful foreign policy. Hitler’s foreign policy in 1933 was no more forceful than his means, in his judgement, permitted. His military and diplomatic weapons, in his opinion, did not at first permit a bold foreign policy. A.J.P. Taylor’s ‘The Origins of the Second World War,’ one of the most masterly books on a particular war, reveals Hitler as an alert opportunist who tempered his objectives to the available means of achieving them. When Hitler began to rearm Germany, he was guided not only by ambitions but by his sense of Germany’s bargaining position in Europe. He would not have rearmed if he had believed that France or Russia would forcefully prevent him from building aircraft, submarines or tanks.’


Non-Aggression Pact 1939. 

So what’s going down in 2015 regarding international hot spots? How are the United States decision makers managing the pressures of the Middle East? Mmm, seems not so well, well, not well at all. President Obama’s historic deal with Iran this month is likely to make the Middle East more unstable, a deal that enables Iran, a country hostile to the West, to carry out its aims of developing nuclear arms capability.

Here’s the Deal.

Barack Obama’s deal involves a fundamental shift in the international community’s relationship with Iran. The deal lifts all U.N. Security Council sanctions as well as multilateral and national sanctions relating to Iran’s nuclear program and provisions imposed under the previous regulations.

‘The deal explicitly acknowledges that Iran is gaining benefits no other state would gain under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Instead of dismantling Iran’s nuclear development, the program is now protected.’( www.breibart.com-national \security/2015/07/14/ ‘Everything You Need to Know about Obama’s Iran Deal.)

Some details:

The International Atomic Energy Agency will monitor and verify Iran’s nuclear program, but not comprehensively. The IAEA will only have restricted access. Military sites are not included and the process for access is extraordinarily regulated.

Requests for access pursuant to provisions will be monitored by the joint commission of signatories ‘with due observation of the sovereign rights of Iran.’ The IAEA will notify Iran in writing with reasons for requesting access. Iran may propose to the IAEA an alternative.

If Iran cheats, the US and EU must take the matter to dispute resolution rather than imposing sanctions. (Cited, briebart, ibid.)

Hmm. plenty of carrots, not much stick.


Regarding Iran’s aims, Obama et al would seem to have presented Iran with the means to facilitate them. In an article by Greg Sheridan, ‘Barack Obama’s Road to Disaster with a Rotten Iran Nuclear Deal.’ ‘The Australian’ Newspaper, 08/08/2015.) Sheridan cites ways in which the deal will make the prospect of nuclear weapons more likely through out the Middle East:

‘At the most basic level, one of the main ways the world has prevented the spread of Nuclear weapons has been to prevent the spread of the most sensitive elements of nuclear technology.

Thus most nations that have peaceful nuclear programs do not enrich their own uranium. They buy enriched uranium to use as nuclear fuel.

The Obama agreement with Iran grants complete legitimacy to Iran’s possession of every part of the nuclear cycle, including nuclear enrichment.’

‘There is not a serious strategic analyst in the world,’ says Greg Sheridan,’ who does not believe that Iran’s nuclear program is bent towards ultimate nuclear weapons capability.’

Say, for a stable Middle East, the deal doesn’t bode well.

Consider, if Barack Obama were President of the US in 1941, how might things have panned out? Below, a cartoon by Dennis Skelton, ‘What If …?’


Ter be continued on a different front.:( … Or yer might prefer ter watch the cricket.

Beth the serf.


Concernin’ Australia’s Defence Policy and the saga of the submarines in Part 1.

There has been a leadership spill, Malcolm Turnbull replacing Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. There’ll be a change of Defence Minister also. Whither Defence Policy now?



Jottings and Quotes, Otherwise a Tome.

(Dear reader, a serial in a few parts.)


The Enemy Without.

In me last edition of Serf Under–ground, I referred ter the fortunate victory in the time of Elizabeth the First of a makeshift British naval fleet over the powerful Spanish Armada. It was a near thing for Britain. But the English victory was less due ter the ingenuity of its British sea-dogs than the Spaniards’ poor tactics and violent storms that destroyed the Spanish Armada. More from Robert Hutchinson author of ‘The Spanish Armada,’ regarding how the Spanish Armada was really defeated:

‘Because of Elizabeth’s parsimony, driven by an embarrassingly empty exchequer, the English ships were starved of gunpowder and ammunition and so failed to land a killer blow on the ‘Great and Most Fortunate Navy’ during the nine days of skirmishing up the English Channel in July-August 1588.

Only six Spanish ships that sailed against England were destroyed as a direct result of naval combat. A minimum of fifty Armada ships, probably as many as sixty-four, were lost through accident or during the Atlantic storms that scattered the fleet en route to England and as it limped, badly battered, back to northern Spain.’

The outcome of this battle at sea had a larger significance:

“The Spanish Armada campaign of 1588 changed the course of European History. If the Duke of Parma’s 27,000 strong invasion force had safely crossed the narrow seas from Flanders, the survival of Elizabeth I’s government and Protestant England would have looked doubtful indeed. If those battle-hardened Spanish troops had landed as planned, near Margate on the Kent coast, it is likely that they would have been in the poorly defended streets of London within a week and the queen and her ministers killed. England would have reverted to the Catholic faith and there may not have been a British Empire to come.’ (R. H.‘The Spanish Armada.’ 2014.)

War and Peace.

Fer Britain a near miss and there have been quite a few others. Heh, doesn’t do ter be too complacent regarding ‘war and peace,’ even regarding long periods of peace. Read what historian Professor Geoffrey Blainey has to say in his book, ‘The Causes of War.’

If you think it’s only ‘war’ and not ‘peace’ that have ter be explained, think again. War as aberration, hmm, here’s Blainey in Chapter One, ‘The Peace that Passeth Understanding’, with some stats. He cites a study by American Sociologist, Pitirim Sorokin who once busied himself by counting the number of years countries spent at war. His birthplace, Russia, since AD 901 had been at war forty-six out of every hundred years. England, since the time of William the Conqueror was fighting somewhere, fifty-six years in every century and Spain experienced even more years at war.

Blainey surveys all the international wars fought since 1700 up to the book’s publication. He examines and refutes some well known theories of why wars occur and offers his own explanations of factors determining a nation’s decision to fight or not to fight. Knowledge of leaders, gleaned through their private communication, the perceptions and aims that have influenced those who make decisions for war or peace, are vital in explaining the outbreak of both events.

In chapters entitled ‘While Waterbirds Fight’ and ‘Death Watch and Scapegoat Wars,’ Blainey catalogues a long list of hostile acts of opportunism by nations when they see a rival nation otherwise engaged, busy on another front, or under pressure. The death of a king, internal revolution etc can be a herald for war. In 1700 the rulers of Saxony, Denmark and Russia went to war against Sweden, whose boy ruler, Charles X11, had not been long on the throne. In all, eight wars of the eighteenth century were heralded and influenced by the death of a monarch. On the eve of the Crimean War, the Russian Emperor confided to the English Ambassador, that Turkey, ‘the sick man of Europe’ was about to collapse. Blainey argues that opportunism is a major factor in bringing nations to fight:

‘Opportunism, and the veiled or open use of force, pervade every phase of the sequence of war and peace. They pervade the start of a war, the continuation of war and the end of war. They pervade the start of peace, the continuation of peace and the end of peace. War and peace are fluctuating phases of a relationship between nations, and the opportunism pervades the entire relationship.’ (G.B. Ch 11.)

Say, given the above, yer’d likely say that preparedness and alertness to defence of the nation is a must. So how about down under in Oz, the homeland of a serf?

Politics and Defence in Oz … The Saga of the Submarines.

When a former Labor Party Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, declared in a 2009 white paper on defence, that Australia would acquire twelve new submarines with capabilities far beyond the existing fleet, (the Collins Class Submarine, not Oz’ finest achievement,) in best naval tradition Rudd declared there was no time to lose.

Unfortunately, between then and losing office, Labor did almost nothing about the subs. Greg Sheridan, in ‘The Australian’ newspaper, 11/09/2014. reports:

‘Labor savagely cut the defence budget and introduced such instability into defence finance that any rational planning was impossible. Labor’s defence minister, Stephen Smith, constantly promised to deliver a defence capability but never did.’

As Sheridan concludes:

‘The fiasco of the subs replacement program was perhaps the single greatest security failure of Labor’s time in office. It did immense harm literally atrophying the sinews of our national defence capability.’

A problem for the Labor Party was its relationship with workplace unions.

‘Whichever way you look at it,’ observes Greg Sheridan, ‘the Collins Subs have been a disaster for Australia operationally, financially and, in a sense, politically. They have shown that we can’t build orphan-class submarines submarines – which is not surprising, nor can any nation our size – but neither can we abandon the political idea that we can create jobs by building subs.

So we can’t do it, and we won’t do it. The result is paralysis, which is exactly what we had for six years of Labor on the subs.’

But Australia needs submarines :

‘Submarines are an almost unique defence weapon. Their chief role is to kill ships and other subs. They are so dangerous in this role that they impose enormous costs on any adversary attempting to do something seriously against the will of a nation with a capable submarine fleet. They do other things too. Like the joint strike fighter, a modern sub is a mass of sensors. It gathers electronic information of every kind. It can land special forces. It can sneak up next to a key installation and blow it to bits. It is a capability that is powerful and unpredictable.’ (G.S. 11/09/2015.)

So how are we doing now that a Liberal Government has come to power in Oz? Prime Minister Abbot would like to buy Japanese subs, probably between eight and twelve, fitted with US combat systems and modified for our geographic requirements. Trouble is,
politics again. Election campaign promises for starters. In opposition, Abbott’s then defence spokesman, David Johnston, promised a Coalition government would build twelve subs in Adelaide.

In February this year, Sheridan again commenting:

‘To get the best sub at best price, having them constructed completely in a country that is used to building subs, such as Japan or Germany, makes the most sense. They fit into an established production line, in established production line, in established facilities, with the supportive infrastructures and economies of scale.’

Politics ‘n déjà vu all over again, he says, they say…

News, ABC. 20/05/2015. South Australia might not build make the first of the nation’s next submarines but remains optimistic about Australia’s prospects down the track.’

‘The Government wants both oversees and local firms to compete for the submarine work and Mr Macfarlane indicated it could initially be built off shore.’

‘The industry Minister says that at some of Australia’s current defence building efforts had been a ‘shocker…. Three times the cost to build an Air Warfare Destroyer here in Australia as to build it in Spain.’

‘The Federal Government has detailed its plans to build to build $40 billion worth of new surface ships for the navy in South Australia but the Prime Minister would not be drawn on where the service’s next generation of subs will be built. … the Government will build a fleet of frigates at the ASC ship building yard from 2020, and a further fleet of Off shore Combatant Vessels from 2018, with the start dates for both projects brought forward. ’ (ABC News Update, 04/08/2015.)

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherell welcomes the announcement but says that the ASC has a proven record in building submarines .

Opposition leader Bill Shorten accuses the Prime Minister of using the Adelaide ship building contract to save his own job… and so on…

Say, we’re talking about defence of the realm here. Seems some confusion as to which realm.

Pending the publication of the Abbott government white paper on defence, Alan Dupont of tha Lowy Institute for International Policy argues a new approach to national defence strategy:

‘The forthcoming defence white paper provides the first opportunity for the Abbott government to carry out a much-needed reset of Australia’s defence and military strategies. In place of a maritime strategy, Australia needs to adopt a ‘full spectrum’ approach to defence that can provide protection against military threats from outer space and cyber space, as well as the conventional domains of land, sea and air. Full spectrum defence must be underpinned by deeper and broader regional defence partnerships and by a risk assessment process that encourages critical thinking about strategy and the future capabilities of the Australian Defence Force.’ (AD ‘Full Spectrum Defence: Re-thinking the Fundamentals of the Australian Defence Strategy. 13/13/2015.)

Points elaborated by Alan Dupont are:

# While maritime policy remains vital in an island nation heavily reliant on international trade, the distance from conflicts, we once enjoyed is a less protective barrier today.

# Present defence policy fails to reflect the crucial role that space and cyber place now play in military operations. There has been little attempt to draw out defence implications of direction from which attack may come.

# Centuries of armed conflict suggest that armies do not always get to choose where they will fight. The spread of irregular conflicts suggest more urban conflicts likely.

# Protection under the US nuclear deterrent umbrella will not provide us with an effective protection against non-state and cyber attacks on our own territory.

# As deterrence against powerful states, the US Alliance remains central to Australia’s security but given changes to US policy for budge and doctrinal reasons, we need to face higher defence premiums compared to a somewhat free-loading past . We need to broaden our regional defence partnerships within and beyond the ANZUS alliance.

‘Australia needs a smarter, [short term] defence policy that is global as well as regional, and that identifies what the ADF needs to do ‘eliminating the gap between dogma and practice.’ In this process,’ says Alan Dupont, ‘our politicians must play their role too. Greater engagement and leadership on defence issues would be a good start. But they must also resist the temptation to play politics with defence policy by interfering with good process, remembering that the next generation of Australians may have to pay a price for today’s poor decisions.’

Ter be continued …