The editors of The Daily Bell are pleased to present an exclusive follow-up interview with high-powered financial observer and Thatcher-confidante, John Browne.
Introduction: John Browne, a well-respected financial observer and free-market commentator, is the Senior Market Strategist for Euro Pacific Capital, Inc. He is also a distinguished former member of Britain’s Parliament and served on the Treasury Select Committee, as Chairman of the Conservative Small Business Committee, and as a close associate of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. A graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Britain’s version of West Point and retired British army major, he served as a pilot, parachutist, and communications specialist in the elite Grenadiers of the Royal Guard. In addition to careers in British politics and the military, he has a significant background, spanning some 37 years, in finance and business. During his career he has served on the boards of numerous banks and international corporations, with a special interest in venture capital. He is a frequent guest on CNBC’s Kudlow & Co. and a former contributing editor and columnist of NewsMax Media’s Financial Intelligence Report and Moneynews.com. John is a regular contributor to TheDailyBell.com.
Daily Bell: Thanks for sitting down with us again. You always seem to have provocative points to make – or at least insights that haven’t occurred to us. Not that such a thing is really so hard, of course.
John Browne: It’s a pleasure to discuss world issues with a publication that seeks the truth in a world of half-truths and downright lies. I don’t know how provocative my points are, but I am prepared to explain and to debate them
Daily Bell: Let’s jump right into the political fray where you have considerable expertise. We’ve noted an extreme libertarian trend among almost all conservatives and republicans these days. Why is it, do you think?
John Browne: It’s likely a reaction to what’s been going on, combined with the power of the new technology. Long ago, Aristotle referred to the dictatorship of the political parties. President Jefferson echoed his words many centuries later. From my own experience in the English Parliament, I was appalled to see how easily most Members of Parliament were converted quickly from being ‘representatives’ of their constituents into ‘delegates’ of their party, under an unhealthily, over-powerful whipping system. Sadly, those who refused to yield their ‘representative’ role were ‘removed’ from Parliament by one means or another. The pattern has proved an unmitigated disaster in the UK and is now threatening to do the same in America. Voters who are concerned about the trend, and the population in general begin to react. The Internet is a key in this regard, and it has forced a change within the rhetoric of conservative and republican parties in the US and is beginning to do the same in the UK.
Daily Bell: Are you convinced it is genuine?
John Browne: It is a harkening back to a genuine, and workable reality. At the beginning of the last century, both major parties accepted the limited Federal powers of small government, low taxation and free enterprise. After the First World War, politicians in the Anglo-Saxon world decided to become “progressive.” This entailed the concentration of power in government, increasing intrusion into domestic family affairs and manipulation of markets. It incurred massive costs and was financed by higher taxes and higher debt and at the cost of lower real growth. Like the Conservatives in England, the Republican Party initially was less ‘progressive’ than the Democrats. However, except in the cases of President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, they followed the Democrats increasingly.
Thanks to the Internet and competition within the fields of television and radio, Americans are being made aware of what is happening and are revolting. The “tea parties” are but one example.
Today politicians are held in very low esteem. Citizens feel “a curse on both your houses” and tend not to vote. However, in the past five years or so, governments have borrowed against the life qual ity of electors’ children, not to defend the country but to buy more votes with massive entitlements and wealth distribution. The situation has become so bad that apathy will only make it worse. Gradually, people are being persuaded that they must act by voting for independents, where they can be found.
The main libertarian trend is described as “extreme” only by those supporting the major parties, the “dictatorship parties,” as I call them. This trend is mainly within the Republican Party in America and within the Conservative party in the UK, where the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which came second in the June 2009 EU elections, is now labeled as “extremist” by the main, dictatorship parties.
In neither America, nor in the UK is voter discontent limited to one party. In both countries, it is nationally based and trans-party. Initially, it is more apparent in the conservative parties, whose grass roots supporters most acutely feel unrepresented.
Daily Bell: Can you give us some more details on how is it manifesting itself and why?
John Browne: It is a grass roots movement, energized by two of the most powerful of human political emotions: a threat to individual freedom and threat to a way of life. It could hardly be more genuine and threatens to become a revolution.
Daily Bell: Can you give us some additional details on you how you recognized it and when?
John Browne: I believe the feelings of disillusion are fast merging into discontent and are very deeply felt. However, in keeping with the relative disdain for street demonstrations by many conservatives, the feelings appear muted. For ever person attending a “tea party” there may have been ten, twenty or even fifty hard-working, law-abiding and freedom-loving Americans who merely urged on the demonstrators from their television sets. But they become more active and vote when offered a convincing candidate who represents a real alternative.
Like many grass-roots revolutions, a seriously disenchanted populace is dangerous. It can be fired into dramatic action by simple slogans put forward by unscrupulous leaders. Lenin’s message offered only three words: peace, food and land. Today’s dictatorship parties have complex programs, which offer great detail, but no solutions. Both major parties are losing support. In a similar situation, Lenin overturned a powerful monarchy and won out over the far more numerous socialists in the post revolutionary battle in a country some three times the geographic size of the United States — and without television!
Daily Bell: As Daily Bell viewers continue to observe socio-political change as a result of the Internet, what should they be on the lookout for?
John Browne: The up-coming special elections [Note: held after this interview was conducted] offer interesting examples. Tomorrow they may offer spectacular results. In each case they represent an independent challenging the dictatorship parties.
The out-of touch power elite of her local dictatorship party nominated Dede Scorzzfava as the Republican candidate. As a moderate, she was felt to appeal to Democrats. It turned out that, as pro-stimulus, pro-gay marriage and pro-special interests, she was a closet Democrat. Finding herself unable to raise funds and that her messages were gaining no traction with a thoroughly disenchanted electorate, she eventually came clean-as a Democrat!
This was just the most recent example of how out of touch the managers of the main dictatorship parties are with their democratic power base.
If he is elected, it will be interesting to see how long Doug Hoffman [Note: he lost a close race] retains the integrity of his political independence as a representative before becoming a party delegate. If he succeeds, he could become a rallying point in the revolution that now threatens.
Daily Bell: We remember how Republican/Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul was pilloried by other candidates, yet his thoughts and ideas seem to be leading the American conservative and republican elements of the GOP. Do you agree?
John Browne: Ron Paul will continue to be alternately pilloried and ignored, just like all those libertarians that threaten the status quo of the dictatorship parties have been throughout history. However, the tide appears to be moving his way. The election results of this week could prove most interesting, even pivotal.
Daily Bell: Sarah Palin and others who espouse her views sound like word-for-word Ron Paul libertarians these days. Agree?
John Browne: I agree, they are tapped into the same grass roots feelings and have the courage to express them. They should be careful as to their physical well being.
Daily Bell: The only place where Sarah Palin and other Conservatives and Republicans seem to differ is on the military and defending the US. However, since the military-industrial complex is a trillion dollar industry, libertarianism and “America’s defense” seem to be working at cross-purposes. Is this so, in your opinion?
John Browne: This is an important but extremely complex question demanding an answer that is an essay subject of its own, involving the EU, Russia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Pakistan, China and Taiwan et al. Defense of America is about to become so much more dramatic, multifaceted and expensive that it need not threaten the military-industrial machine, upon which it will depend for much of its integrity.
Daily Bell: We detect the same schizophrenia overseas. Likely, Germany’s Merkel and France’s Sarkozy are part of a libertarian trend within their constituencies, yet Merkel and Sarkozy are heads of states that helped found the EU. Isn’t the EU, an increasingly dictatorial overseer of all of Europe with ambitions for a military and a true “United States of Europe” somewhat incompatible with a libertarian vision?
John Browne: Starting with Kaiser Wilhelm in 1914, Germany failed to see that the two great empires of Rome and England grew not out of international ambition but over time, from the clever strategic defense of national interests. But now the European Union will end up under German control-the empire for which she always yearned.
Three devastating defeats in fewer than 100 years have most likely taught Germany that initially it cannot create its empire by force of arms. Instead, Germany must be patient and use money and diplomacy.
The Germans tolerate the stage strutting of the French to off-set the British threat, until it is neutered by splitting the UK into nine regions, each reporting directly to the EU. When she feels more secure, Germany will discard France and rule in a decidedly Prussian manner. It could lift Europe into a top superpower. It could be great for Europe. However, all Europeans who do not speak German as their mother tongue will be second-class citizens. It is unlikely to be libertarian, which is an Anglo -Saxon idea and decidedly foreign to the elites of central Europe.
Europe is likely to make a futile attempt at becoming a “United States of Europe.” Germany will pick up the pieces, and the EU will become the New German Empire.
Daily Bell: Is it possible that conservative and republican elements within the West generally have detected a major amount of discontent within various electorates and are thus rhetorically supporting free-market ideas “at the margin” while trying to ensure the core elements of authoritarianism remain in place?
John Browne: Yes, spot on, the major dictatorship parties all mouth the libertarian policies of small government, low taxes and free enterprise. All the time, their actions increasingly are manifest in big government, high taxes, massive debt and economic decay. The question is, with the increasingly invasive and draconian powers of big government under the Patriot Act and its equivalent in the UK, will any peaceful grass roots voting revolution or even change be possible? Indeed, the European Union has already suggested making our growing British free-market party, the UKIP, illegal by proscribing it as “extremist” and against the “European ideal.”
Daily Bell: Is it possible that these rhetorical moves – back and forth – are an acknowledgement that authoritarianism and even socialism are not defensible platforms?
John Browne: Clearly, the Internet is giving knowledge and therefore increasingly effective power to voters. The main dictatorship parties see this and are making covert attempts to monitor and control the Internet under the camouflage of anti-terror, national security and the protection of moral standards. In these circumstances, the word hypocrisy is not strong enough.
Daily Bell: Thanks for another insightful interview – and especially the insights on the EU and Germany. Most provocative.
John Browne: Glad to provoke. And thank you for having me.
After Thoughts with Scott Smith
It is rare that an interview, especially a short one, yields insights that make your head spin around. But John Browne manages the trick, which is of course exactly the reason we’ve interviewed him twice now and named him to our list of regular site contributors.
What was the point that turned our collective heads? It had to do with Germany’s eventual takeover of the EU, turning it into the empire for which Germans (which ones, we’d like to know) have apparently always yearned.
Now we are not saying we entirely agree with our esteemed interviewee on this point, but it certainly made us think! And what is it we would like to provide as a counterpoint, dear reader? Well, several things …
First, we are not sure Germans yearn for and empire. That is if you ask the average German whether he or she wants to take another stab at a Reich, the chances are that Germany’s borders are not the primary consideration of this person who is more worried about his or her job, kids, mortgage, etc.
No, empires have always been an elite game. And even there, elites in our opinion don’t yearn for empires. It is forced upon them because they need outside enemies to justify internal aggression. Without the galvanizing call for additional German territory, Adolph Hitler would have been hard pressed to re-militarize Germany. And of course the remilitarization enhanced his control over the country.
John Browne’s point about the EU therefore set us thinking – but along somewhat different lines. We’d never really contemplated the German angle before – though we are sure it is there in the literature if we look. But it certainly isn’t topmost on the list of Anglo-American issues.
In fact, from our point of view, the EU is almost an entirely Anglo-American affair, an extension of the Anglo Saxon empire. We find it hard to believe, for instance, that France is not militarily and politically speaking at the beck and call of the West – and the West is currently run by Britain and the United States (with Israel wedged in there somewhere as well).
If one looks at the antecedents of the EU, it is fairly obvious that it was an Anglo-American invention. And the Brit’s protests aside, it will stay one so long as it endures (though readers of the Bell will know we are dubious of the entire enterprise). The Brits who are protesting, by the way, are based within the general populace and the lower elite that still believe in British sovereignty, etc. The British power elite (its super-monied class) is firmly behind the EU because it sees its interests in a much broader, global context.
Thus it occurs to us that while John Browne may well be correct about Germany’s ascendency in the EU (he is certainly an astute observer of the international scene), we have a slightly different theory about how it gets there, assuming the EU manages to survive the current economic crisis.
We wonder if this scenario does occur, whether it would mark plan B in the Anglo-American elite’s quest for a satisfying world enemy. Without Russia to kick around – and absent Mao in China – the West has lacked a satisfying enemy for decades now.
As we have observed before in these pages, the attempts at turning “radical Islam” into a proto-USSR simply aren’t working. Islam, on the whole, is an elegant peaceful religion, quite laissez-faire in its own way and it makes a horrible enemy. There are no massed tanks, no scowling Russian leaders banging shoes on the table. Only a succession of sad young men, radicalized perhaps by incessant Western attacks, foolish enough to pick up a rifle, and then even more foolish to get caught and then tortured by the CIA.
In any event, Germany would make a heckuva adversary. In fact, throw in the entire EU, and you’ve got a splendid face off between the Americas and Europe. It would give the Anglo-American elite an excuse to force through its nascent policies of US regionalization – the long yearned-for annexing of Canada, Mexico, etc.
In fact, the threat of a German dominated EU arrayed against the US – with Russia and China playing the spoiler in between – would create a perfect atmosphere for continued repression of civil liberties. It would doubtless provide an ongoing justification for continuing to build up the power of the American Department of Homeland Security while expanding the general militarization of Western countries generally. If you think traveling in a plane is bad now, wait until it’s the EU versus the United States.
This may of course seem fanciful to you, dear reader, but did you ever dream that the CIA would be torturing fundamentalists around the world, or fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan much as Russia did 30 years ago? Nations have no permanent allies, only permanent interests. And, really, it is not nations so much as monetary elites – the wealthiest among us who need continual conflict to perpetuate their wealth and power. Perhaps the EU is their backup plan?
You can find more of John Browne’s interviews and editorial contributions listed, along with his bio, in the Contributors section of this website. To do so now, simply click the tab marked CONTRIBUTORS in the main navigation bar at the top of this page.
Interviews and after-thoughts may include the contributions of several Daily Bell editors and writers