#82. Backlash, part 1


Following “Brexit” (the British referendum decision to leave the European Union), the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States is another severe blow to the self-styled “liberal elites” that have governed the West since the early 1980s.

In both instances, voters defied the wishes of the vast majority of the political, corporate and financial elite, and made decisions that “experts”, and much of the mainstream media, regarded as dangerously misguided.

These outcomes can be baffling, until one point is noted – each establishment endorsement of Hillary Clinton delivered more votes for Mr Trump, just as each political, corporate or “expert” speech supporting “remain” won more votes for “leave”.

What is happening is a revolution, in the sense that society is engaged in the rolling repudiation of established elites. The significance of this is obvious, even though interpretation is made more difficult by an establishment mind-set of denial that is reflected, too, in much of the mainstream media.

Understanding the popular rejection of the elites is complicated, and this article has been through far more “rough drafts” than most. The best course of action is to set out a central point of view, and then discuss the reasoning behind that view. The focus here is on political change – part 2 will explore the economic implications.

The tide of events

We need to start by being clear that “Brexit”, and the election of Mr Trump, are not freak events, and that they were completely predictable. To those of us who have expected a popular backlash against the elite, the only real surprise is how long it has taken.

Just as these choices are not aberrational, neither are they reversible. Much of the British establishment hopes that someone – Parliament, the courts, the Scots, but even Batman and Robin would do – can either stop “Brexit” altogether, or water it down into meaninglessness. If this did happen, public anger would be likely to explode. Likewise, many in the United States hope that office will moderate Mr Trump. But, if the new president does not do most of what he has said he will do, voters will elect somebody else who will.

With hindsight, the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) was the high-water-mark of the “liberal elites”. Incumbent governments succeeded in preventing the collapse of the banking system, but, in the process, surrendered so much of their political capital – in other words, their credibility with the public – that their demise became inevitable.

Historical inevitability?

Are the “liberal elites” due for repudiation by the public? History suggests that three conditions are required for “regime change” of this nature.

First, an incumbent regime has to be seen as self-serving and exploitative.

Second, it needs to be regarded as arrogant, complacent and out of touch with the general population.

Third, it needs to be seen as having failed.

The public will tolerate self-enrichment, arrogance and incompetence, or even two of these in combination – but will not tolerate all three.

As a rider to this, regimes due for the chop are usually the last to know, and react to a popular challenge by retreating into denial. In deriding the population as misguided dupes, blaming “populist” agitators, and dismissing defeats as just “a little local difficulty”, today’s establishments are doing nothing that wasn’t done by Communist apparatchiks in 1989, Tsar Nicholas II in 1917 or the court of King Louis XVI in 1789. For this reason, we need to ignore the protestations of the elites, and disregard much of what is said in the mainstream media.

Two valid indictments

On two of the three “criteria of unfitness” listed above, incumbent regimes have already been convicted in the court of public opinion. The case against the elites on these issues does seem so self-evident as to need little comment.

Where being “self-serving” is concerned, the evidence is surely overwhelming. In terms both of income and of wealth, the gap between the rich and everyone else has widened dramatically. There is scant evidence that this is linked to merit, because “the system” has played far too big a role in the enrichment of a minority for this defence to be valid.

Big corporations are perceived by the public to have become too powerful, in that they stifle competition, interpret the tax regulations to suit themselves, treat both customers and employees with disdain, and exert undue influence over the political process.

The “revolving doors” between government and business have not been blocked, and the public is entitled to be more than suspicious of the generous remuneration of former politicians and administrators through consultancies and the “lecture circuit”. It defies popular credibility that the burblings of politicians in their dotage, or even their consultancy services, are remotely worth the huge sums paid to many of them. This being so, the suspicion is fostered that the enrichment of retired government figures is linked to influence. This inference may be unfair, of course – but appearances are often decisive.

The second pre-condition for repudiation, too – which is that the elite has become arrogant – also seems beyond dispute. This has been evident, first, in their imposition of their own values on the public through increasingly coercive enforcement of what is known as “political correctness”. Governments are entitled to take a moral lead on issues, but go too far when they start denying the right of free expression to those who disagree.

Second, there have been all too many instances of what looks like systemic unfairness. Bankers are rescued, but steelworkers, shop employees and pension savers are not. The vigour with which benefits cheats are pursued contrasts with very few prosecutions of wealthy tax-evaders. Behaviour treated as “fraud” when engaged in by individuals or small businesses seems to become “miss-selling” when practised by big companies. When corporations break the rules, it is always the shareholders, and seldom, if ever, the responsible executives, who are held to blame.

Policy has favoured the wealthy, both in inflating asset values and in failing to tax “unearned” capital gains more demandingly. Little is seen to be done to close tax loopholes from which only the wealthy benefit, whilst governments seem loathe to tackle “offshore financial centres” which are widely regarded as tax-havens. The latter would, in fact, be pretty easy to implement.

On the charges of being self-serving and arrogant, then, the case seems to be unarguable. What about the third, decisive charge – that of failure?

An exercise in failure?

Regimes which are both self-serving and arrogant can remain in power if they deliver economic success – the public may be prepared to accept a great deal of downside if this is seen as the price of growing prosperity. The public mood today, however, seems unconvinced by the elites’ claim that they are good at managing the economy to the collective benefit.

There are really two dimensions to this issue. First, has the validity of the economic principles and policies of the elites been proven by experience? Second, have ends justified means? In the current instance, this question re-frames as “has improvement in the general economic conditions vindicated the management of the incumbent regime?” The distinction here is that the public may be prepared to tolerate current hardship if they believe that this will result in longer-term improvement (an obvious example being public support for austerity during war). What they will not tolerate is unfairness that does not also serve the general well-being.

And this, essentially, brings us to one core issue – “globalisation”.

Globalisation – vision, or scam?

If “globalisation” simply meant spreading the benefits of development to emerging market economies (EMEs), few would have much reason to complain. The popular criticism of “globalisation” as it has been practised is that, far from seeking global development, it has been nothing more than a grubby exercise in profiteering through the reduction of wages.

Globalisation, its critics say, depresses wages at home, both by exporting well-paid jobs and by allowing immigrants to compete for less-skilled work. This accusation might not have been true had the aim of globalisation been to spread the benefits of development by boosting both production and consumption in the EMEs.

In fact, this was never the objective – the aim of globalisation, as it has been practised, was simply to reduce the cost of production, widening margins on goods and services still sold to Western consumers.

This has had two detrimental effects on the global economy. First, it has failed to grow demand in the EMEs, something which is necessary for balanced development. Second, it has driven debt levels sharply higher, initially in the West, but latterly in the rest of the world as well.

The linkage between globalisation and the escalation of debt is quite simple – with wages under downwards pressure, consumption could only be sustained by encouraging Western consumers to borrow the difference. A cynic would argue that this is why, over a period of decades, banking regulation has been relaxed, whilst credit has become ever cheaper.

On the facts

It would be hard to deny that the combined effect of regulatory and monetary policy has been to supply the debt needed to sustain consumption in the face of stagnant or declining wages.

This process of using borrowing to support consumption is evident in the data. Between 2000 and 2007, global debt (excluding the inter-bank or “financial” sector) rose by $38 trillion, or $2.20 for each $1 of nominal growth in GDP. Between 2007 and 2014, debt increased even more rapidly, growing by $49 trillion, or $2.90 for each growth dollar.

Even the “growth” denominator is suspect, of course, amounting to nothing more than the spending of borrowed money.

Closer analysis shows that the escalation in debt has taken place in distinct stages. Between 2001 and 2008, the brunt of new borrowing was borne by Western households, whose indebtedness increased from $16 trillion to $34 trillion. These households’ ability to borrow was maxed-out by 2008, despite the use of ever-riskier lending techniques (such as sub-prime, and the on-sale of packaged securities), which involved separating risk from return in ways that previous regulatory norms would not have facilitated.

Since 2008, the further increase in global debt has come from Western governments, and from the EMEs. The retreat from the borrowing-based “boom” of 2001-08 impaired tax revenues whilst increasing welfare demands. This, and the need to rescue an over-extended banking sector, forced Western governments to increase their debt from $26 trillion in 2007 to $46 trillion in 2014. Meanwhile, EME borrowing has surged, with China alone seeing its debt total rise from $7 trillion in 2007 (and just $2 trillion in 2000) to well over $30 trillion today.

Because, by 2008, servicing this global debt mountain – let alone ever repaying it – had become all but impossible, the authorities responded with ultra-low interest rates, pursuing ZIRP (zero interest rate policies), flirting with NIRP (negative rates), and even contemplating outlandish ideas such as “helicopter money” and the banning of cash.

All along, ordinary people have suffered, with wages falling behind even official inflation, let alone the cost of essentials. Though net household borrowing in the West effectively ceased in 2007, debt levels still remain far higher than in 2001. Some of the adverse side-effects of ultra-low rates are now becoming apparent, most conspicuously in the emergence of dangerous deficits in pension provision. The wealthy alone have prospered, most conspicuously from the inflation of asset values, and from generous tax treatment of capital gains created by monetary policy. Young people have particular reasons for feeling aggrieved at a system that has increased costs (such as housing) whilst exporting well-paid jobs.

Justified responses?

If it is obvious – to everyone except the elites themselves, of course – that what is happening is a global repudiation, not a series of isolated events, it is equally obvious that solid logic informs the popular backlash. Self-serving, arrogance and a failure to promote the general good are valid accusations against the “liberal elites”.

For those elites, denial is as pointless as it is predictable. What is needed now is thorough-going, self-denying reform, whilst the scope for implementing reform still exists.

This does not, of course, mean that the “populist” agenda is the right one. In particular, protectionism is the wrong answer to the right question. A switch from monetary to fiscal stimulus does make sense, but isn’t as easy as it may sound, whilst the likelihood of higher taxes on the wealthy is, in itself, nothing more than the swinging-back of a political pendulum that had gone a very long way in the opposite direction.

In part 2, we’ll look at how the populist revolution could improve the economy – but only if its leaders and supporters are clear about what works……..and what doesn’t.




35 thoughts on “#82. Backlash, part 1

  1. Tim, you have put into words thoughts I have been mulling for some years now. Ever since I retired I have been exploring the fakery in vested interest propaganda, first with health and then with economics. It’s actually evil. Society is poisoned and unhealthy in spite of the obvious gains we see in the march of a wealthy and easy lifestyle, just as long as one fails to see or avoids the underlying power reality.

    I would add to your contention that the aim of globalisation as a way to reduce wages misses the main point. That is the colonisation of developing nations in order to raid them for their natural capital. You probably know the “confessions of an economic hit man” by John Perkins and you will know of organisations like the Bilderberg Group among several all aimed at globalisation giving the corporate world primacy over national governments. This started way back in the days of Cecil Rhodes and was gaining ground rapidly, until now.

    There is no more need now for the Bilderberg group to exist. It should be disbanded forthwith. It has no future and continuation will only be a rearguard action by those who refuse to recognise that we the public are wise to them and the rentier parasite class they represent.

    It’s probably too late to save our civilization. The acceleration of consumption brought on by cheap credit is so advanced we soon will hit a resource wall. Our planet is finite and growth cannot continue. All we need is a date, but still no one is making plans to address the troubles ahead.
    We are a clever species, but not clever enough to forsee long term ahead.

    • Good points. FYI, part 2 will look at how to run the economy on a basis that is both more efficient and fairer to “ordinary” people. It can be done, if we stop un-learning the lessons of the past!

  2. When the price of a barrel of oil until 1973 circled around 20 USD both producers and consumers were content. Now with prices hovering around 50 USD per barrel neither producers or consumers can be satisfied. The producers need a much higher price, maybe in the vicinity of 80 dollars per barrel, and the consumer must still have a much lower price of oil well under 40 dollars to keep him happy AND consuming. If energy gets to expensive there is no room for that extra spending which lets the world economy thrive. With relatively high extractions cost of energy – in relation to the 1973 prices – the net energy shrinks and the world will never be able to pay back the outstanding global debt. Green energy is by no way the solution as it cannot be taxed like oil and gas. Instead green energy demands a steady flow of energy input in form of money. Money is the tokenization of energy which you have very clearly explained.

    • Growth based on cheap energy is over – I would suggest that, in this situation, the need to manage the economy effectively is more important than ever.

    • Dr Morgan, have you a view on what is likely to happen with the OPEC meeting coming up on the 30th. The Saudis seem to be onboard but Russia is only planning to freeze…. Is the end of cheap energy going to start in the short term ?

      It seems obvious that it is in they’re interests to minimise depletion of their resource and maintain maximum revenue ..so why the apparent reluctance ?.
      Even $50 a barrel seems undervalued when North sea reserves are facing exhaustion and shale oil is extremely investment hungry.

  3. Absolutely fantastic take on the “crony capitalist” elite’s reign and it’s failure, Tim, thank you. I will be circulating your article.

    Philip Hammond should be made to read this out aloud today at his budget statement!!

    • Thank you.

      I did find today’s Autumn Statement somewhat depressing, driven more by ideology than by common sense. It is surely obvious that Britain needs a huge increase in homes at affordable rents. This to me suggests building council houses, not going on about “right to buy”. I also missed any reference to the current account deficit, but didn’t miss shifting the blame to “Brexit”. Also, you cannot “fix” productivity in the way suggested – since productivity is output divided by hours worked, it measures a symptom, not a cause!

  4. The “elite” wonder and, in equal measure, deride the likes of Corbyn and Farage. One supposes that their reaction is one of fear that those outside their own bubble might start to take them seriously. The first step must be to get rid of the House of Lords lock stock and barrel. The House of Lords and the associated “honours system” has been the keystone of the system of patronage which has bedevilled this country for centuries. Bring on the democracy by the people for the people.

    • Farage has been proved right, to some extent at least, but 12% of votes got UKIP just 1 seat in Parliament under FPTP. Add to this a nominated Lords (a total anacronism), and an increasingly discredited “honours” system, and the system does begin to look less than democratic. I have been saying for a long time now that Corbyn could win – especially as, at the next election, the Conservatives are going to be asked why a decade of austerity has seen debt rise, not fall.

    • Paul, It is the Monarchy that we need to remove.
      The “Monarchy” is the head of the serpent, and all other forms of crony-ism are derived from it.

    • The monarch, in countries like Britain, is a symbolic head of state, with no real power. This is equivalent to the president in Germany and Italy.

      There are two reasons why most British would not want to get rid of their monarchy:

      – The current Queen is esteemed for a lifetime of public service

      – They would not like the alternatives – there would not be much support for the idea of “President Blair”!

    • Really – do you think anybody would vote for Tony Blair – this is a frequently trailed Red Herring. Eire has had a succession of very reputable Presidents (figure heads) why not the UK. The queen may be esteemed by some who not given it any thought. Perhaps we should have a referendum!!

    • I do not think that anyone would vote for “President Blair” – but would the voters be given a choice? It would be very British if the president was simply nominated by the government.

      After all, no one gets to choose the House of Lords. No one gets a vote on the Dishonours List. No one gets a vote on the head of, say, their local NHS trust. When Blair resigned, he was given a standing ovation in the Commons, including Tory MPs.

  5. “But, if the new president does not do most of what he has said he will do, voters will elect somebody else who will.”

    Trump is the second manifestation of the two finger salute in the US. The Tea Party movement was the predecessor, taken over and hollowed out by the Republican party establishment. Presumably they thought they had been quite clever and neutralised the threat.

    • Indeed so. Ultimately, the only way to deal with a really big public backlash is to see what the grievances are and, where justified, meet them.

  6. Hi Tim

    Thanks for yet another perceptive article.

    I agree with what you say but I have a doubt at the back of my mind about the progress (or regress) of things since 2008. As you say, the build up of debt is very large and, as most would now agree, unsustainable. There are an awful lot of people around now who are waiting for it all to collapse. But if it’s so obvious why does it go on? Is it simply because the alternative is so painful that it would simply not be accepted in a democracy, indeed has it already been so painful that someone like Trump gets elected; that there are just too many vested interests to overcome? After all even some in the MSM can see the debt burden as unsustainable now so it isn’t just a minority view anymore.

    Let’s face it: finance capitalism, by spreading debt peonage, is only sowing the seeds of its own self destruction so why press on regardless as the likely result will be the crashing of the system and a forced adjustment of creditor claims?

    If one were a conspiracy theorist one could say that the election of Trump was just what the doctor ordered. He will of course have feet of clay and will go back on a lot of what he’s said and, if there is a financial crash(more than likely) then he and his works will get the blame. The banks will be bailed out again under emergency provisions amid warnings of apocalyptic collapse and we will simply resume the onward march toward total control. It won’t work of course because of its self destructive logic but that hasn’t stopped people in the past.

    Fanciful? We’ll see.

    • Thanks Bob and, as ever, you pose some good questions.

      The debt numbers are, of course, unprecedented. When you think about it, debt poses two problems – paying the interest, and repaying the capital. Repayment has long been managed using recycling, fine unless…(and of course there’s always an “unless…”). But the pressing issue, from 2008 on, has been paying interest. This more or less forced central banks into ZIRP, but that has bad side-effects. It keeps non-competitive businesses afloat (so preventing “creative destruction”), and it destroys returns on capital (and therefore on savings).

      ZIRP made the situation “manageable, but at long term cost” – and long term was the last thing on anyone’s mind in 2008. By 2010, we should have been back on the road to normalisation, gradually raising rates, but the financial sector opposed this and, having far too much influence, won the day.

      Now, the consequences are turning up. Pension (and broader saver) value is being destroyed. Keeping inefficient businesses afloat harms innovation, reduces competition and weakens growth. Cheap money inflates asset values, so the world is becoming “asset-rich, cash [income]-poor”.

      This feeds into the political situation. In Britain (a fairly typical, if somewhat doctrinaire, neoliberal failure), the respected IFS today predicted further weakening in real wages out to 2021, making 13 years of income decline for wage-earners – this is certainly unprecedented since the 1920s (my guess is you’d have to go back to the 1840s to match this). Govt debt by 2021 will be £1.9 trillion (more, I’d guess), up from £0.5 trillion in 2008 and £1.0 trillion in 2010. Hidden in the official figures is an assumed £0.4 trillion assumed increase in household debt between now and 2021.

      So the “ordinary” person has (a) high and rising debts, (b) 13 years of deteriorating real income, (c) even worse deterioration in “discretionary” spending choice (as cost of essentials out-grows both wages and inflation). He/she notices deterioration in public services, an “austerity sacrifice” with no apparent pay-off. His/her house is worth more, but what happens to this value with fewer and poorer first-time (young) buyers? His/her pension value has been slashed in value. He/she worries about the state of the economy, and is aware of public debt.

      In this context, seeing the rich get richer, or even just remain as rich as before, is not acceptable to voters. This is the dynamic that, I say in my article, is manifesting now in politics.

      Of course, the whole economic situation is unsustainable anyway. This alone dictates a need for radical change. Will the rich elite make that change? Will the public demand it? Or will economic crisis force change? One of these three will happen.

  7. Excellent essay Tim. Like others above I feel that this exposition of the true nature of the crony capitalism infection ought to be compulsory reading for the government, if only to stop them pretending that the exit from the EU is the cause of anything rather than, as you indicate, a red raw symptom. In fact, it is essential that the forces and scale of the ‘revolution’ are understood if they are to hope of avoiding some of the more catastrophic possibilities in front of us.

    Thank you for articulating so well what many of us have instinctively thought for so long. I remember many, many years ago listening to Gordon Brown wittering on about our wonderful growth (all as a result of his own brilliance of course) based on low inflation from imported Chinese consumer goods and erroneous and, in my opinion, criminally defective measurement. I thought at the time that this would all end horribly. I just didn’t think that it would unfurl with such widespread delusion and lack of critical understanding by the ‘experts’ and public alike. So few people see through the veil of their own self interest or even think to try. Michael Gove had it right about the value of the ‘experts’. The ordinary person’s gut feel is a far more accurate and intelligent assessment of the true state of society.

    • Thanks Philip, and apologies for my delay in replying. Agree entirely. Re “experts”, remember that the only ones who get much exposure are those who are on-side with the establishment. Some of those opposed to Brexit also wanted Britain to stay in the ERM, and join the euro!

      My next article may interest you – planned for later today….

  8. The future is uncertain. Let’s agree about that. Politics is closely related to the former power of fiat currencies. Politics feeds on currencies as we speak, with the decline of currencies as distributor of growth, or, with the decline of growth as the death panel for currencies, we should assume politics is a thing of the past.

  9. tomorrow in Italy we have costiutional referendum. i bet that the same that happen in US and UK happen here for the same reasons. But even if the yes win (yes to change costitution as Mr Renzi ask) i thinks that the damege to credibility of istutions in a “end of the world if NO win” campaign is so high that popular revolt when the economic situation became a little worst is here.

    • Again, apologies for delay. I see that Renzi lost (predictable), and resigned (honourable). Italians may now want to leave the euro currency? This gravely weakens the EU, following “Brexit”. Next to go may be France, and the Netherlands. Angela Merkel cannot carry the EU alone.

  10. I’m curious how you measure consumer demand in EMEs. My (naive?) impression is that China’s demand has grown massively. Of course China isn’t the only EME, but it’s certainly big enough to move the needle. Am I wrong to think that their consumer demand has grown though?

    I guess I’m generally skeptical that a supply/demand mismatch resulting from globalization is truly to blame here. The US trade deficit is a measly 1% of its GDP. Why aren’t we looking at classical domestic wealth distribution issues? The problem isn’t that the US doesn’t make anything anymore (US manufacturing output is literally at an all-time high as I write this). It’s that it doesn’t take nearly as many employees to do that work. How is that not a purely domestic issue? We are entering an era in which our traditional mechanisms for determining how wealth is distributed are badly broken. That is not something that a change to foreign policy can solve.

    • David

      You make some good points here. The best way to measure demand in, say, China, is household consumption as % GDP or GVA. They have been trying to grow demand, to avert the problems of economies based on export and investment. The big problem is debt. In 2000 it was $2 trn. In 2007 it was $7 trn. By 2014 it was $28 trn. Now it is probably $32+ trn. So circa $25 trn added since 2007, nominal GDP growth about $7trn, which is a horrible ratio.

      On US trade, point taken. You really need to look at trade in goods only, excluding commodities – BEA has these numbers. Then you need to look at competitive pressures – TVs (say), made in the EMEs, do not need a big market share to be price-setters, forcing domestic producers to reduce prices, and probably wages too.

      On automation, you raise a point that has not escaped me, though I’ve not written about it yet. If machinery does most of the work, what happens to employees, therefore wages, therefore demand? And do most profits go to the owners of the equipment, plus a marzipan layer of professionals, leaving most people depending on menial/precarious work, or welfare? That seems possible – but is surely a recipe for major social unrest.

    • Re China’s debt, it depends on how much of it is internal. I’m no expert on trade but China has a trade surplus and that is the window China shows to the world. China’s Communist Party is acutely aware they have to deliver affluence etc to their citizens and if their debt is the result, then China will not blink. IMHO China would /could pull down all those empty cities and rebuild them as often as needed, just to make work for the nation. Debts are numbers in accounts, not trivial, but can be written off in a debt jubilee event. As soon as the realization hits home that the debts cannot be repaid, they will not be repaid, as Michael Hudson says. The bottom line in all this is what it does to resources. It cannot go on indefinitely.

  11. Hi Tim

    An interesting article that views the economy generally as a dissipative system:


    The article contends that economies are in a cycle which dissipates, collapses and then renews. It appears to differ from your approach in that the dissipation is an endogenous factor of the economy itself whereas your approach identifies energy as the particular driving force.

    • Thank you for a very interesting link. Economists once thought that increased labour accounted for growth – then they thought increased capital accounted for it. Studies then showed that capital plus labour explained only 40% of growth, so GFP – general factor productivity – was devised to embrace the rest. (See Dambisa Moyo, “How the West was Lost”, on this). The Davos competitiveness report lists countries on weighted GFP components, like infrastructure, education, law, ease of company formation and so on. But is this a full explanation?

      My view is in two parts. First, energy sets the parameters or “envelope” for growth capability. But, second, how sensibly we react within that “envelope” determines how much of that potential is realised.

      For me – and see my next article for this – the critical factors are ingenuity and incentives. For this, we need competition. Competition did not operate in the former USSR – hence economic underperformance. But competition cannot operate if markets are controlled by a handful of players – which helps to explain why our “corporatist” (not “capitalist”) economy is failing too.

    • We also need to understand how the lies we are assailed with every day, as evidenced by the rush today to Fake news reports, leads us to making poor decisions as a nation, about what to do to run it. Fake news is a fact of life of ancient lineage, nothing new there!
      The lies that make up mainstream economics is a particularly devastating influence on political behaviour, leading the “losers” to very poor prospects, which governments don’t address.

    • Yes, false information is hardly new – and the Tudors were good at it! Everyone in Britain knows about the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 – hardly anyone knows of the comparable defeat of the English Armada of 1589 – and much of Shakespeare (n.b. Richard III) was propoganda.

      This is why I view with such concern the limitation of free speech. When people (including children) are punished for posting, e.g. on twitter, views deemed “unacceptable” by the state, things have gone too far.

      The good news is that the internet can be an enabler – just as Tudor-style propaganda was undermined by the invention of the printing press.

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