In much of the public mind, there are only two organized political threats to freedom: Nazis and Communists. In the public mind, both those movements are over, save for a few Nazis that serve to validate Godwin’s Law on demand in Internet debates. In reality, the threat to freedom came from a variety of vectors. Just because America is not currently going down the road that Germany took in 1933 or Russia in 1917 does not mean that it’s not on a side street that runs parallel to what happened in Japan in 1932.
On 15 May 1932, 11 Japanese naval officers assassinated the Prime Minister and then took taxis to the police station, where they turned themselves in. Even though they had murdered the head of government, public sentiment was such that they received very light sentences. Four years later, on 26 February, army officers attempted the same thing. Although the 26 February 1936 plotters were dealt with harshly, their action resulted in a more complete takeover of the nation’s politics by the military. The time of “government by assassination” was over, but the assassins were now themselves the ones in charge.
As I read that in my World History class on Coursera, I reflected on how the USA has a similar situation, but with bankers. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial wipeout, none of the parties that caused it faced any sort of punishment, unless appearing before a Congressional committee is some sort of substitution for prison. No, instead of punishment, the bankers were rewarded with even deeper hooks into the government and the financial flows of the nation. Fear became a tool for the bankers and their supporters in Congress and the bureaucracy to extend their hold on government.
Now, there are rumblings about high-frequency trading. These aren’t just people crying about it in the wilderness: these are actual, official, rumblings. These HFT guys have gone too far, so say the rumblings, and they’re going to get punished. If 2008 was our banker’s own May 15 Incident, the HFT traders are going to be made to take the fall when the market crashes again – our own February 26 Incident. They’re expendable and their fall will make for more fear and chaos that the bankers will easily exploit. The criminals will end the exploits of the HFT gang, but the cost will be that they will have near-complete control of the government. Not just the current high degree of control, but they will be primary among the elites that vie for influence in government.
Whether or not the bankers stay in charge depends on whether or not Mao was right. Power does emerge from the barrel of the gun, but does it originate with the gun itself, or does the money control the gun? We shall find out, I believe.