The Potemkin Village in New Orleans

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Previously by Jeff Berwick: What’s Patriotism Got To Do With It?

With this year’s Super Bowl it looks like the Powers That Be realized they could stop pretending that the Super Bowl had become anything but a chance to unite their financially, ethically, and spiritually bankrupted subjects in worship of the militaristic imperial state and into acceptance of the state's push toward complete power over their lives. The whole show has become an embarrassing parallel of the circuses of the late Roman Empire. 

Where to begin? There was the fawning praise and worship of the military as the nation's "heroes", as if these people weren't the otherwise unemployable tools of foreign aggression and dominance.  Even going so far as to have an ad that stated, "Without the military, there'd be no Super Bowl"!  I nearly snorted my beer out my nose on that one.  

Then there was the shameless display of kids from Sandy Hook. I guess being put on such display before the nation at the Great Games was considered a suitable way to help heal the emotional wounds of the youngins who survived the tragedy. It looked suspiciously like callous propagandizing and tear-jerking to my jaded eyes, however. You'd think that a country that gobbled up The Hunger Games books and movies in the last year would find it at least a little revolting to see children offered up for viewing like that amidst all the state propaganda and just before a form of gladiatorial combat. 

The Sandy Hook choir was joined by Jennifer Hudson, of course.  Her mother, brother and nephew were killed in a shooting in 2008.  I was all but expecting them to lower the corpses of her family members from the rafters as the encore.

I'm not the only commentator in the liberty world who will make the observation that the Super Bowl is just one of the many circuses to go with the bread doled out by the collapsing USSA empire. But something else really struck me about the Super Bowl recently. It's not just about the entertaining distraction or even about propaganda. In its hype and glitz, it's like a Potemkin Village—an attempt to convince the hundred or so million people falling into possibly permanent poverty that everything is “Just Fine”. That the US is still a "rich" country on the verge of economic recovery after a temporary bad spell (caused by a few "greedy capitalists" and not central banking) and that the violent criminals running their lives have everything well in hand with the best interest of the people at heart. So sit back, relax and watch these millionaires tackle each other and the entire over-the-top spectacle!

I should point out here, however, that I enjoy sports.  And, there's nothing wrong with making millions for playing a sport. I want to make it clear that I have no problem with sports on the free market, or with athletes getting stupendously rich for using their talents in a free market. I'm not offended like those people who spurt nonsense about what a shame it is that men get millions of dollars from willing customers for carrying a ball around a field while teachers and soldiers, both of whom are subsidized by dollars taken from people under threat of violence, make so much less. I have no problem with athletes or actors and directors making millions if customers want to give them all that money to watch them practice their craft. As a peaceful person who hates the thievery and violence of the politicians and central banks, I hate when any talent is twisted to serve the state, as it is in the case of the Super Bowl (and Major League Baseball and Hollywood in general; it's also why I can't stand the inherently statist Olympics). I wish they would just play football. Instead there is all the flag-waving and state-speak of the state's killers as heroes returning home to their families, as if they were reluctantly blowing up civilians to defend their homes instead of acting as mass murderers and state enforcers in exchange for a government paycheck. 

So I do have a problem when what should be a free market pageant of the freakiest human athletes is instead used to help create a Potemkin Village. The term “Potemkin Village” comes from an apocryphal tale of Grigory Potemkin erecting fake settlements along the Dnieper River in order to make Russian Empress Catherine II (known as "Catherine the Great") believe that things were going much better with the Crimean campaign against the Turks than they really were. The story of these false settlements are said to be as accurate as the stories of Catherine's sexual appetite for horses. That is to say they were a deliberate twisting of real events, spread by enemies. (Catherine did have a. healthy sexual appetite, as Grigory Potemkin, one of her many lovers, would know.) The veracity of the story of the Potemkin Village is debated, with some experts claiming that the story is entirely a myth. Either way, Grigory Potemkin and his villages have slipped into our language as denoting something fake built up to impress and to hide the complete lack of anything underneath.

Which brings us back to the Super Bowl. Such a mighty effort to show wealth, unity, strength! And then the lights went out. Amidst this big, money-eating pageant, something as basic – and symbolic – as the lights staying on the whole time couldn't be managed.

That's what they get for holding the Super Bowl in a third world communist country, though.  

I was almost wishing the lights would stay out for a few more hours and we could watch in HD a remake of hurricane Katrina in the Superdome… but this time with rich people.

My more philosophical and poetic friends tell me that the gods are drawn to hubris because they like cutting prideful people down to size. So maybe they were watching this year's Super Bowl and decided it was time for a slight hiccup in the proceedings, maybe giving a small, easily dismissed warning that the whole facade is going to come down and reveal the moral and economic emptiness just beneath…

It may not be the wisest thing to shrug off a subtle message from the gods. If they are indeed suggesting that the jig is just about up, shouldn't you be making your plans accordingly? If getting out of Dodge – and getting ready to annul your marriage to the USSA – isn't on your immediate lists of things to do, at least make sure you can get the best economic and actionable advice possible to thrive as the economic reality in the US can no longer be covered up by bread and circuses. 

Jeff Berwick [send him mail] is an anarcho-capitalist freedom fighter and Chief Editor of the libertarian, Austrian economics grounded newsletter, The Dollar Vigilante. The Dollar Vigilante focuses on strategies, investments and expatriation opportunities to survive & prosper during and after the US dollar collapse.

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