Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Facebook Keeps Track Of A Terrifying Number Of Details About You: Here’s How To See That Data

By Mac Slavo And originally published at
Facebook is back in the hot seat, and it’s becoming ever apparent why so many seem to be abandoning the social media website. The number of details that Facebook is keeping track of is borderline terrifying, and here’s how to find out what it knows.
As if the censorship wasn’t bad enough on Facebook, they also use your own personal preferences against you. Recently, it became known that a company called Cambridge Analytica (CA) took data from a reported 50 million Facebook users and built personality profiles in order to serve people with political ads to “target their inner demons,” according Christopher Wylie, the former CA employee who blew the whistle on the situation, as reported by The Observer and The New York Times.
Facebook banned CA from its platform last week and announced it planned to audit the company to verify whether or not the Facebook data had truly been deleted, as CA had promised it had been years ago. And there’s now a slew of investigations being launched over the matter in the United States and the United Kingdom. But the real questions remain: How could Facebook know your “inner demons”? And what exactly does it know?
The truth is that Facebook knows a scary amount of stuff on you. Its whole business relies on watching what you do on Facebook, as well as tracking what you do on the internet via social media plug-ins (like the ability to “Like” a news post on a third-party website) and tracking the apps you install on your phone. –Business Insider
To find out exactly what the social media giant knows about you, log in to Facebook and head to a page called “Your ad preferences.” You can find the page through this URL, or by clicking on the small arrow on the top right of the blue bar and then clicking “settings” and then “ads.”
After scanning all this stuff you do online, Facebook builds a profile about you, which you can see by clicking on “your categories.” This is info Facebook shares with advertisers. Facebook uses this feature to determine things about your family life, where you live now and have lived in the past, and what kind of technology you use. There is a lot of information about everyone that Facebook keeps track of and then uses to allow advertisers to target ads to people who share similar interests
Facebook also tracks your location, meaning where you are and where you’ve been, using both Facebook and Instagram. You can tell Facebook not to share your information with some advertisers but the only way to have Facebook NOT track any of your activities is to stop using its services, including the other apps it owns like Instagram. It’s important to remember that Facebook is free because it makes its money by showing you ads.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It

By James Howard Kunstler and originally published at
Various readers, fans, blog commenters, Facebook trolls, and auditors twanged on me all last week about my continuing interest in the RussiaRussiaRussia hysteria, though there is no particular consensus of complaint among them — except for a general “shut up, already” motif. For the record, I’m far more interested in the hysteria itself than the Russia-meddled-in the-election case, which I consider to be hardly any case at all beyond 13 Russian Facebook trolls.
The hysteria, on the other hand, ought to be a matter of grave concern, because it appears more and more to have been engineered by America’s own intel community, its handmaidens in the Dept of Justice, and the twilight’s last gleamings of the Obama White House, and now it has shoved this country in the direction of war at a time when civilian authority over the US military looks sketchy at best. This country faces manifold other problems that are certain to reduce the national standard of living and disrupt the operations of an excessively complex and dishonest economy, and the last thing America needs is a national war-dance over trumped-up grievances with Russia.
The RussiaRussiaRussia narrative has unspooled since Christmas and is blowing back badly through the FBI, now with the firing (for cause) of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe hours short of his official retirement (and inches from the golden ring of his pension). He was axed on the recommendation of his own colleagues in the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, and they may have been influenced by the as-yet-unreleased report of the FBI Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, due out shortly.
The record of misbehavior and “collusion” between the highest ranks of the FBI, the Democratic Party, the Clinton campaign, several top political law firms, and a shady cast of international blackmail-peddlars is a six-lane Beltway-scale evidence trail compared to the muddy mule track of Trump “collusion” with Russia. 
It will be amazing if a big wad of criminal cases are not dealt out of it, even as The New York Times sticks its fingers in its ears and goes, “La-la-la-la-la….”
It now appears that Mr. McCabe’s statements post-firing tend to incriminate his former boss, FBI Director James Comey— who is about to embark, embarrassingly perhaps, on a tour for his self-exculpating book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.
A great aura of sanctimony surrounds the FBI these days. Even the news pundits seem to have forgotten the long, twisted reign of J. Edgar Hoover (1924 – 1972), a dangerous rogue who excelled at political blackmail. And why, these days, would any sane American take pronouncements from the CIA and NSA at face value? What seems to have gone on in the RussiaRussiaRussia matter is that various parts of the executive branch in the last months under Mr. Obama gave each other tacit permission, wink-wink, to do anything necessary to stuff HRC into the White House and, failing that, to derail her opponent, the Golden Golem of Greatness.
The obvious lesson in all this huggermugger is that the ends don’t justify the means.
I suspect there are basically two routes through this mess.
  • One is that the misdeeds of FBI officers, Department of Justice lawyers, and Intel agency executives get adjudicated by normal means, namely, grand juries and courts. That would have the salutary effect of cleansing government agencies and shoring up what’s left of their credibility at a time when faith in institutions hangs in the balance.
  • The second route would be for the authorities to ignore any formal response to an evermore self-evident trail of crimes, and to allow all that political energy to be funneled into manufactured hysteria and eventually a phony provocation of war with Russia.
Personally, I’d rather see the US government clean house than blow up the world over an engineered hallucination.

Monday, March 19, 2018

74% Of Americans Believe The "Deep State" Is Running The Country

Originally published at
For the past two years, the long-running narrative, at least that promulgated by the mainstream media which continues to "explain away" Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump, is that Americans had fallen for a massive, long-running fake news scam (in part aided and abetted by the likes of Facebook), which boosted Trump's popularity at the expense of Hillary's. But what if that entire narrative is dead wrong: what if Americans have become so skeptical in the government process and structure, they never needed a "fake news" boost to vote for an establishment outsider?
According to a new poll, that's precisely the case because a supermajority of Americans believes the faction of unelected officials, known as the deep state, is orchestrating policy in Washington, D.C. and effectively running the nation.
The Monmouth University Polling Institute found that no less than 74% of Americans believe in a "deep state" when it is described as a collection of unelected officials running policyOnly 21% do not believe this kind of group exists.
As a result of countless "conspiracy theories" being proven as facts in recent years, chief among which the Edwards Snowden revelations which exposed the NSA as nothing short of "big brother", and the Wikileaks disclosures which revealed how the Democratic Party colluded against Bernie Sanders to promote Clinton's candidacy and countless more such examples, fully 8-in-10 believe that the U.S. government currently monitors or spies on the activities of American citizens, including a majority (53%) who say this activity is widespread and another 29% who say such monitoring happens but is not widespread. Just 14% say this monitoring does not happen at all. Shockinly, there were no substantial partisan differences in these results.
What is even more surprising, is that the poll found than 7 out of 10 Americans polled in each political group, not just Republicans but Democrats and independents as well, believe in a deep state. 
31% of Republicans and 33% of independents say they believe a deep state “definitely exists,” while 19% of Democrats believe this.
"We usually expect opinions on the operation of government to shift depending on which party is in charge,” Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray said in a statement. “But there’s an ominous feeling by Democrats and Republicans alike that a ‘Deep State’ of unelected operatives are pulling the levers of power.”
While there is general partisan agreement on concerns about government overreach, there are some notable differences in the level of concern by two very different demographic metrics: race and membership in the National Rifle Association.
Americans of black, Latino and Asian backgrounds (35%) are more likely than non-Hispanic whites (23%) to say that the Deep State definitely exists. Non-whites (60%) are also somewhat more likely than whites (50%) to worry about the government monitoring them and similarly more likely to believe there is already widespread government monitoring of U.S. citizens (60% and 49%, respectively). More non-whites (35%) than whites (23%) say that such monitoring is rarely or never justified.
The Monmouth University Poll also found that NRA members (43%) are significantly more likely than other Americans (25%) to definitely believe in the existence of a Deep State operation in DC. In a Monmouth poll released earlier this month, NRA members voiced opposition to the establishment of a national gun registry database in part because of their fear it would be used to track other activities of gun owners. NRA members (63%) are somewhat more likely than other Americans (51%) to worry about the government monitoring them and similarly are more likely to believe there is already widespread government monitoring of U.S. citizens (61% and 51%, respectively).  However, there are no significant differences between NRA members (30%) and others (26%) on whether such monitoring is rarely or never justified when it does occur. The opinion of gun owners who are not NRA members are more similar to non-gun owners than they are to NRA members on these questions.
“Anxiety about a possible ‘Deep State’ is prevalent in both parties, but each has key constituent groups who express even greater concerns about the potential for government overreach. This includes racial and ethnic groups who still experience the effects of historical prejudice as well as gun owners who fear their constitutional rights are being threatened,” said Murray. “Can those fears be allayed or will they intensify and spread? Or is this just the new normal? This is something we will have to keep tracking.”
Ironically, the poll also found that a majority of those polled, 63%, said they were “not familiar” with the term "deep state," however. Thirteen percent said they were “very familiar,” while 24 percent said they were “somewhat familiar.” In other words, someone else is running the country, just not those who are supposed to be.
“This is a worrisome finding. The strength of our government relies on public faith in protecting our freedoms, which is not particularly robust. And it’s not a Democratic or Republican issue. These concerns span the political spectrum,” said Murray.
It also means that if it was indeed Russia that wanted to brainwash America (spoiler alert: America has been quite successful in doing so itself without Russian influence), it has already succeeded, and that if Putin plans to run for re-election in 2024 he may have to do so in the US.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Triangle or a Cross

By Jill Carattini and originally published at
Passing from the fourth grade to the fifth grade was not going to be as easy as I calculated. On the first day of fourth grade, our teacher stood at the board writing words most of us could not pronounce: castling, prophylaxis, solus rex, triangulation, and zugzwang, among others. When the board was full, he took a step toward us and pointed at his list. “By the end of the year,” he said resolutely, “you will know every one of these words because you will know the rules, the strategies, and the love of chess.” As if electricity and long division were not enough, learning the game of chess was a requirement for passing the fourth grade.
I don’t know that I learned to love the game, but I did learn how to play and the terminology that goes along with it. Triangulation, for instance, is a tactic used in chess endgames to put one’s opponent in zugzwang, a German word for “compulsion to move.” Triangulation occurs when one king can move between three adjoining squares (in the shape of a triangle) and maintain the position, while the opponent only has two squares on which to move. It is a strategic maneuver that forces one’s opponent to move.
Thomas Eakins, The Chess Player, oil on canvas, 1865.
Outside of the game of chess, triangulation still manages to be a maneuver meant to force a desired result. In social or family systems, the tactic is associated with people rather than pawns. In situations where two people are in conflict with one another, one or both often triangulate with a third person (or thing) in an attempt to curtail anxiety and garner support. So in the case of a feuding brother and sister, the sister might run to a sympathetic third sibling, while the brother might preoccupy his frustration with work. In each case, both triangles create a situation where two are on the inside and one is on the outside. But also in each case, while the anxiety may be reduced momentarily, the source of that anxiety is left unresolved.
Life is certainly more complicated than a game of chess, and yet tactical maneuvers are often learned and employed as if rules to the game of life and relationships. Savvy ways of handling conflict seem to come both instinctively (as in the case of avoidance or resentment) and with disturbing calculation (as in the case of talking behind someone’s back to gain support for your side). When someone has offended me, often the first thing I think to do is to go to a third party. In fact, I am probably more apt to talk to anyone except the person who has hurt me. The move is a strategic one. Feeling like an insider is far more comforting than facing the one who has made you the outsider. A triangle always seems more comforting than a straight line.
But triangulation is no more a comfort in life than it is in chess. It is not a move meant to console oneself, but to defeat an opponent. Speaking with his disciples, Jesus offered a rule more fitting with life and neighbors than opponents and a game. “If your brother sins against you,” he said, “go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.”(1) Jesus gave a rule suited for relationship. In line with his command for loving neighbors and praying for enemies, his anti-triangulation tactic for conflict is one that considers the weight of life and relationships. (Not to mention, it is a tactic therapists duplicate today.)
Making the straight line to the one who harmed you is not a move without difficulty, but it is a move with possibility. Jesus instructed his followers to forgive enemies, to love neighbors, and to confront each other privately and directly. He placed before them far more than stoic commands intended for the sake of the other party, but grace and life itself for the one holding on to the consequences as well. While avoiding the source of an offense may seem a consolation, we merely learn to live inside a system filled with grudge or hate or disappointment. Going to friends to rally support for our sides or sympathy for our frustrations, we really only rally more frustration. In fact, we form triangles around it and keep it safe. On the contrary, the direct path to the one who harmed you offers the chance for resolution and the possibility of release. It is a move that chooses to see neighbors rather than opponents and relationships rather than winning, a move that remembers even enemies are made in God’s image, a move that holds forgiveness as a possibility even when it isn’t fully sought. It is precisely the same move Christ went all the way to the Cross to make for you.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
(1) Matthew 18:15.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Tensions Explode With Russia, Trump Fires Problems, Economic Update

By Greg Hunter’s 
The U.S., UK, France and Germany are all blaming Russia for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain. Russia is denying the attack, but that is not stopping Prime Minister Theresa May from expelling Russian diplomats.  Russia is reportedly responding in kind.  President Trump is adding sanctions against Russia, and the whole thing may be a prelude to a global conflict or at least a trade war.
President Trump is using that old familiar phrase he made famous on the Apprentice TV show. He told his National Security Advisor and his Secretary of State “You’re Fired” this week and already has replacements lined up.
We have been told the economy is doing great, but the Atlanta Federal Reserve is saying otherwise. It is saying the first quarter of 2018 will come in with a sluggish 1.9% GDP.  That’s way down from the projected 5% GDP number being talked about a few weeks ago.  John Williams of is also warning of a slowing U.S. economy.  He says watch what the Fed will do and watch the dollar.
Join Greg Hunter of as he talks about these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Fed Has Its Finger On The Button Of A Nuclear Debt Bomb

By Brandon Smith and originally published at
I hear a lot of talk lately in the alternative media (and even the mainstream media) of the potential for World War III. The general assumption when one hears that term is that “nuclear conflict” is imminent. But a world war does not necessarily have to be fought with nukes. For example, we are perhaps already witnessing the first shots fired in a global economic war as the Trump administration gets ready to implement far-reaching trade tariffs. This action might provide cover (or justification) for destructive attacks on the U.S. fiscal system by China, Japan, Russia, the EU, OPEC nations, etc. The ultimate attack being a dumping of their U.S. debt holdings and the death of the dollar’s world reserve status.
Of course, an economic “world war” between nations would in itself be a smokescreen for and an even more insidious internal war being waged against the global economy by central banks.
There is a longstanding misconception that central banks always manipulate economic conditions to make them appear “healthy” and that the main concern of central bankers is to “defend the golden goose.” This is false. According to the evidence at hand as well as open admissions by central bankers, these private institutions have throughout history also deliberately created financial crises and collapses.
The question I always get from people new to the field of alternative economics is — “Why would central bankers crash a system they benefit from?” This question is drawn from a flawed understanding of the situation.
First, there is the assumption that economic systems are static rather than fluid. In reality, vast sums of wealth can be transferred into and out of any notion on a whim and at the speed of light. The collapse of one economy or multiple economies does not necessarily include the destruction of banker wealth. Even if wealth was their top goal (which it is not), global banks and central banks do not see any particular economy as a “cash cow” or a “golden goose.” From their behavior and tactics in the past, it is more likely that they see national economies as mere storage containers.
Banks can pour their wealth, which they create from thin air, into one or more of these many available containers. They can circulate that wealth within the container for a time and then pour all their wealth out at a moment’s notice. One container is no more valuable to them than any other container, and sometimes sacrificing a container can be beneficial.
The perceived destruction of a national economy can often be exploited as a means to a greater end. Usually this “greater end” means exploiting the crisis to justify centralization of power or the transfer of power from the public into the hands of an elitist class.
I have outlined the history of such transfers on numerous occasions, including the liquidity crisis of 1914 (just after the establishment of the Federal Reserve) leading into World War I and the subsequent hoarding of financial power by banks as well as the creation of the League of Nations.
Or how about the artificial bubble in multiple asset classes created by the Federal Reserve in the 1920s through low interest rates? A bubble which was then burst through the aggressive raising of interest rates at the onset of the Great Depression. This crash coincided with other fabricated economic disasters in Europe and Asia, leading to social despair, the rise of communism and fascism and World War II. This crisis benefited the banking establishment greatly as thousands of smaller independent banks were crushed and a handful of major banks devoured all assets. And, let’s not forget that WWII led to the creation of globalist edifices like the United Nations, the IMF, World Bank, the beginning roots of the European Union, etc.
Every new economic calamity seems to consolidate property and bureaucratic control into the hands of the same class of technocrats. And each calamity is linked to a very important economic factor — massive debt dependency.
So, let’s fast forward to today’s era of burgeoning crisis and how central banks like the Fed are feeding the fire of disaster. I would like to focus most of all on our debt situation to illustrate how the Fed can and will trigger an explosion, a controlled demolition of our financial system. What is our debt situation in the U.S. today?
The Consumer Debt Bomb
Total American household debt skyrocketed beyond $13 trillion at the end of 2017, well beyond historic highs. This is the fifth consecutive year of household debt increases, including credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, student loans, etc. This trend suggests that the “economic recovery” so far has not actually been based on any legitimate wealth creation or resurgence, but an even greater dependence on the same debt that helped cause the crash of 2008. The Fed’s money printing did NOT trickle down to consumers as was originally promised.
While these sectors of consumer debt did not necessarily enjoy the same near-zero rates as banks and corporations did after the crash and the bailout bonanza, their rates are now rising along with the Fed’s rate increases. This is affecting numerous asset classes including housing markets and auto loans.
The cold hard reality is that as the Fed raises interest rates all other areas of the economy come under pressure. The average citizen, with his/her record debt levels, is now subject to the machinations of the central bank through the arbitrary shifting of a single data point like "inflation".
The Corporate Debt Bomb
This debt bomb is possibly the most subversive and the least understood. I have been warning about how corporate debt and rising interest rates could cause a stock market crash for quite some time, but only recently have mainstream analysts caught up to this realization.
Today, institutions like S&P Global Ratings are showing that at least 37% of 13,000 corporations examined have a debt to earnings ratio of five times, making them “highly leveraged.” This debt level is also even higher than it was in 2007 just before the collapse of Lehman and the beginning of the credit crisis.
The concern goes beyond debt holdings, though. Consider the fact that corporations have been exploiting low interest rates to borrow incredible sums of cash for the sole purpose of purchasing their OWN stocks. Stock buybacks are basically a legal form of market manipulation in which companies buy stocks back from the public and greatly reduce the number of existing stocks circulating in the market, thereby artificially increasing the value of each stock overall and keeping the Dow in the green.
Stock buybacks have been the primary fuel for the longest bull market in history, a bull market so fake that even the mainstream media has been questioning its validity lately. Stock buybacks are completely dependent on cheap debt, and cheap debt is disappearing as the Fed continues raising interest rates. The natural reaction by stock markets will be a crash.
Some people may question whether or not the Fed is actually doing this “deliberately,” or if they are simply ignorant. I would refer them to the recently released Fed minutes from 2012, in which Jerome Powell, now the chairman of the Federal Reserve, talked repeatedly of the negative reaction that would occur within markets once the Fed began cutting its balance sheet holdings and raising interest rates after addicting equities markets to the drug of easy profits.
Jerome Powell himself is recorded as knowing exactly what will happen as interest rates rise, and he is continuing to raise them anyway, while also cutting the Fed balance sheet far faster than was originally telegraphed to the public. How can anyone in their right mind argue that the Fed is not bringing the U.S. economy down deliberately?
The National Debt Bomb
This debt bomb has a much longer fuse that the other two, but in the wake of a potential global trade war (World War III), the question arises as to how long it will take before major U.S. treasury bond holders like China dump their holdings in retaliation.
With Trump refusing to take a stand against the continued raising of the national debt ceiling, and the addition of his $1.5 Trillion infrastructure spending plan, there is little doubt that our national debt will continue to rise. Therefore, foreign investment is essential.
It is important to remember that the Federal Reserve used to be the largest purchaser of U.S. debt or the “buyer of last resort.” Now, the Fed has ended quantitative easing and is cutting its balance sheet swiftly. So, the only buyers left are foreign central banks and investors. My prediction is that the Fed will not step in if a trade war escalates to a treasury bond dump. Or, that they will not step in until it is far too late to stall the resulting crisis.
In Barack Obama’s eight years as president the national debt was essentially doubled. This is a unsustainable rate of debt issuance, even for a nation with the world reserve currency. If we lose foreign investment and the world reserve currency then that debt accumulation will come back to haunt us.
It is important to remember that whatever happens within our economy and the global economy, central banks like the Fed have fully facilitated the bubbles produced as well as the inversions that result. The Fed knows exactly what it is doing. And all other factors, from the Trump trade wars to foreign dumping of U.S. treasuries and the dollar, will be a distraction from the banking elites truly culpable.
Economic warfare can in some cases be just as devastating as nuclear warfare.  It can wipe out entire populations, give rise to tyrants and enslave the minds of individuals through the weaponization of resource scarcity.  Such wars, though less psychologically immediate as our cinematic fears of atomic doom, should be taken very seriously, and the culprits behind them have to be dealt with harshly.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Latin America vs. the United States: A Tale of Two Independence Movements

  • bolivar_1.PNG
By José Niño and originally published at
Independence movements in Latin America and the United States have generated interesting discussions in historical circles over the past two centuries. Both wars of independence featured colonists in the New World revolting against their European overlords, eventually leading to the creation of new nation-states. Yet since then, the results in these two region’s levels of economic prosperity and political stability have diverged considerably.

What could explain such differences in overall economic and political outcomes?
A closer look at the underlying principles behind the independence movements and the political circumstances surrounding them reveals a nuanced picture that history texts tend to gloss over.

Philosophical Underpinnings

Juan Baustista Alberdi, one of Latin America’s most renowned classical liberal thinkers, highlighted an interesting point in the distinct philosophical motivations behind the Latin American and American wars of independence in the Omnipotence of the State:
Washington and his contemporaries were more interested in fighting for individual rights and liberties than just fighting for independence of their country. Once they attained the former, they were able to achieve the latter, as opposed to South American countries, who won their political independence but did not obtain individual freedoms.
Additionally, in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the signers referred to a brotherhood of sorts with the inhabitants of Britain and mostly directed their grievances towards the British Crown as opposed to British people as a whole.
In contrast, the call to arms in the Mexican theatre of the Latin American wars of independence was “Death to the Gachupines (Spaniards),” while the legendary liberator Simón Bolívar declared a War to the Death on all Spaniards and Canarians; introducing a racial dimension to these independence campaigns.
Rather than trying to build a stable political order based on sound principles of governance, Latin American revolutionaries were more concerned with committing arbitrary killing sprees against a group of people they perceived as a universal threat.

Spaniards: Epitome of Evil or Unsung Heroes?

Contrary to popular historical narratives, it was the Spanish that were gravitating towards a more classical liberal style of governance at the time. On the other hand, Latin American elites wanted to maintain the colonial status quo.
While the Spanish imperial government was no paragon of liberty, prior to the outbreak of the Latin American wars of independence it implemented numerous reforms, better known as the Bourbon Reforms. The implementation of the Bourbon reforms streamlined colonial governance by stripping criollos (creoles) — colonial elites of Spanish descent — of their political privileges and loosening protectionist measures that favored local elites. Consequently, many of the creoles felt that the Spanish crown was usurping political positions that they believed they were entitled too.
The straw that ultimately broke the camel’s back was the Napoleonic invasion of Spain. The Napoleonic Wars created a significant power vacuum in Spain, with the deposition of the Spanish King Ferdinand VII and the installation of Joseph Bonaparte as the new ruler.
Hugo Faria highlights the initial confusion that the Napoleonic Invasion caused among the colonists in the New World:
Between 1808 and 1810, revolutionaries swore allegiance to King Fernando VII of Spain. Their grievance with the local authorities, who were Spaniards appointed by the crown, was the allegation that these crown representatives were ‘usurping’ political positions to which wealthy locals of European descent felt entitled (Uslar 1962; Fronjosa 2012). Once the Spanish Crown did not hear—or else misunderstood—the underlying plea, the early patriots switched their efforts to the objective of obtaining independence from Spain.
Local rulers back in the New World took advantage of this tumultuous scenario and began to concoct schemes to rid themselves of their Spanish overlords.
As the French occupation of Spain continued, a small segment of Spanish classical liberals fought back by putting forward the Constitution of Cadiz in 1812. This constitution called for unprecedented reforms such as a separation of powers, reform of the church, a weakened monarchy, and a representative parliament. Naturally, such a far-reaching set of reforms motivated creole elites already on the fence to join the independence cause.
After the smoke settled in the mid-1820s, Latin America was filled with fledgling nations. But this honeymoon ended rather abruptly, as many of these countries immediately became mired with internal strife, civil wars, despotism, and coups. This legacy of instability would continue throughout Latin America for the next century and still reverberates to this very day in countries like Venezuela.
The major lesson that can be gleaned from comparing the Latin American and United States independence experiences is that Latin American elites were more fixated with gaining independence at whatever cost than actually securing freedoms. On the other hand, the American revolutions fought to establish and re-assert freedoms that the English crown usurped. Performance wise, the results between the two regions have been nothing short of stark.
Historians will ultimately have to come to grips with a cold, hard, and unbearable truth — Bolívar and his colleagues unleashed a Frankensteinian political project that many of them, including Bolívar himself, would later lament.
Shortly after gaining independence, it became abundantly clear that Latin American countries were not ready to embark on the path of self-governance and create a stable foundation for posterity.
To solve Latin America’s many problems, policymakers and scholars should take a trip down memory lane and understand how the Latin American independence experience initiated the genesis of the region’s on-going state of underdevelopment.
Jose Nino is a Venezuelan-American political activist based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Contact: twitter or email him here.