Continued from Part One.
Martin continued talking for a while, but mainly about his childhood and early career. Then, he moved back to the problem that America posed to elite rulers.
"In America, at least in the early days, people believed they were the primary factors; that they created rulership structures for their own sake… that the structures had no validity, except to serve them."
I bristled at his statement. I had written about this at some length, and while I very much support that concept (and a lot of colonials did too), there were people with power (Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists in particular) who pushed the opposite view. "Aren't you sounding like an idealist here, Martin?"
He stopped, thought for a moment, then said, "Yes, I suppose I am, but that's not the case. When you look at it from the perspective of my groups, it seemed that way. In every other country people felt like creatures of the state, but in America we kept running into roadblocks, because people believed the state to be a creature of their own making."
"Ah…" I said. "That would be a frustration on the other side."
Then he explained that he was the person who got the "We can't contaminate a culture" dogma into Star Trek, and into the Next Generation series in particular. He had lived in LA for a few years and pushed this idea to the money-men behind the venture.
"The purpose of the whole thing," he said, "was to reverse this American ideal. And we were terribly successful. Even the spin-off series maintain the illusion that people derive from cultures, rather than the other way around."
"It's funny," I told him, "that always rubbed me the wrong way, though for the longest time I wasn't sure why."
He smiled, pleased to have given me a gift. Then he motioned to the bartender and asked for another triple scotch. I demurred.
We sat in silence till his drink arrived and he took another two swigs. He was getting drunk by this point, but he was finally sitting comfortably… loosening up in his speech too.
"I'm glad to be back here," he said while making a wide gesture with his arm. I grew up with people like these (the half-full bar included pretty much everything from manual laborers to lawyers), and I still like them…"
Then he stopped and eyed two men and a woman in the corner who had to be politicians. "Except the little cluster of parasites," he spat out, which surprised me.
"Didn't you work with politicians?" I asked.
"Yeah!" he went on, a bit too loudly, "and do you know how eagerly and cheaply they sell themselves?"
"I have some idea."
"A fraction of one percent of a project," he said.
"So," I added with a smile, "you're like Rick in Casablanca. You don't mind a parasite, but you object to a cut-rate one."
At that he burst into laughter; it was the only time I'd ever seen him laugh like that. Then he composed himself, finally realizing that he was too loud.
"I guess that's true, but they really are cut-rate parasites. As long as they get enough money for publicity campaigns, they'll sell you anything you want…"
He paused, and looked like he might not finish the thought.
"What?" I half-demanded.
He looked at me hard, deciding about something, then went on. "The sickest part of it all," he said, "is that people respond to them, no matter how stupid they are. Every election they spout the same bullshit, which any sane adult knows is bullshit, and they vote for them just the same."
"Yeah, I know."
"No, Paul. You don't!"
"I made a living only because most people support their abusers… they respond to any and every fictional fear… their imaginations that are weaponized against themselves."
I paused a moment, then nodded my understanding, not just of his statement, but what he was implying. We sat in silence for what seemed a long time, until his phone rang. It was his wife, who would drive by and pick him up in twenty minutes.
I knew this would be my last time with Martin, and that he didn't want to speak any further of his failing health and impending death.
"And what of the near future?" I asked.
"2009 was a giant mistake," he said. "They could have survived a crash then. They had cooperative national leaders and willingness to believe was still riding its 9/11 surge. Plus, there was no alternative to the banking system. A crash would have hurt, but the game would have gone on.
"Now they've got people with fear fatigue, sex fatigue, ridiculous rulers and serious alternative currencies. On top of that, European banking is in uncharted waters, tied to a ridiculous system of bond-issuance. They're facing real trouble. They have amazing surveillance systems, but everything else is in question."
"The surveillance concerns me deeply," I said.
"Yes, I understand… None of us could believe our luck with Facebook and Google. The whole world fell for the oldest scam in the book, selling their souls for services they could have purchased for a few dollars per month. No one expected that.
"But during those same years, politicians became true believers. We have 20-somethings in the US congress, who know almost nothing and who actually believe in socialism, for God's sake! And we have an inveterate self-promoter in the White House who will do who-knows-what tomorrow morning. The politicians on the left actually believe the bullshit they sell, and many on the right see Trump as a demi-god. Who could have imagined that? It threw a wrench into the gears."
"So what's next?"
"At some point, something will go wrong and financial structures will break. Already Facebook and their friends are getting ready for the dollar to fail. Wal-Mart's in the game too. They talk nice, but they'd love to supplant the central banks. And if my group can fight them off, what of Bitcoin? They can't do everything at once, and they've already attacked Bitcoin a dozen times with no enduring effect."
I asked for an explanation of that statement, and he provided it.
"They got the Department of Justice to sell all the Bitcoin they had seized. They did it in coordinated dumps at critical times. They succeeded in beating the hell out of the Bitcoin price, but the thing refuses to die."
I couldn't help smiling, but remained silent.
"Incredibly, the commercial systems of the world may end up resting on your Bitcoin people… if they can bear the load. My groups had the greatest lucky streak in history, but it seems to be running out."
Then his phone beeped. It was a text from his wife. She was a couple of blocks away and would pull up in front. We started, slowly, to extract ourselves from the booth, pay the bill, and head to the front door.
"Do you think your Bitcoiners can survive that pressure, Paul? Can they be the adults in the room?"
"I know some of them can, Martin."
"I hope it's enough," he said.
His wife pulled over and we walked the five or ten steps to where she stopped. "I won't see you again," he said.
I hugged him, we both shed a few tears, and I helped him into the car. But before the door shut, he turned and said, "I hope your people can do it."
Then the door shut and he was gone.
And so I leave it with you. Can we rise to the occasion and be the adults? Because it might come down to us.
As I've noted repetitively, writings set in Jay's Bar are fictional, albeit based upon real people and events.
* * * * *
As it turns out, history was never too hard to understand; they just told you the wrong story.
Comments from readers:
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"It will change the way you look at nearly everything."
"I will flat out say that this is the best history book I have ever read… I am fairly well read, but I learned a tremendous amount that I hadn't known before or hadn't aligned so that it made sense."
"This is the best and clearest description of the history of Western civilization I have ever read."
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* * * * *