Seven Features Of Ancient Enterprise

Michael Hudson

05-15-2024 ~ The changing context for enterprise through the centuries reminds us that business activities are not universal but fluid and alter according to society’s practical priorities and ethics.

There are multiple differences between antiquity’s economic practices and those of the modern world, and these should be borne in mind when considering the changing context for enterprise through the centuries. Whereas modern business largely operates on credit, in archaic and classical times handicraft workshops were located on basically self-sufficient landed estates, including those of the large public institutions. Such industry was self-financed rather than operating on credit, which was extended mainly for long-distance and bulk trade.

Furthermore, entrepreneurs in antiquity either headed wealthy families or sought fortunes by managing other people’s money, which typically was provided subject to a stipulated return. Regardless of the source of their capital, they coordinated a complex set of relationships whose institutional structure evolved throughout the second and first millennia BC.

The Importance of Land
From Babylonian times down through late Republican Rome, commercial income tended to be invested in land. But there was no price speculation on credit until the late first century BC in Rome. Land was the major savings vehicle and sign of status. The largest estate owners shifted subsistence land to growing cash crops, headed by olive oil and wine in the Mediterranean, and dates in the Near East, harvested increasingly by slaves.

Lending Was Mainly for Commercial Trade Ventures
We do not find banking intermediaries lending out people’s savings to entrepreneurial borrowers. Throughout the Near East, what have been called “banking families” such as the Egibi are best thought of as general entrepreneurs. They did hold deposits and make loans, but they paid the same rate of interest to depositors as they charged for their loans (normally 20 percent annually). There was no margin for arbitrage, and no credit superstructure to magnify the supply of monetary metal on hand.[1] Promissory notes circulated only among closely knit groups of tamkaru, so a broad superstructure of credit was only incipient, and did not come to fruition until modern times with the development of fractional-reserve banking from the seventeenth century onward.[2] Most lending was for commercial trade ventures—in which the creditor shared in the risk as well as the gain—or took the form of predatory agrarian loans or claims for arrears on taxes or other fees owed to royal or imperial collectors. Down to modern times, small-scale personal debt was viewed as the first step toward forfeiting one’s property, a danger to be entered into only unwillingly. The dominant ethic was to keep assets free of debt, especially land.

Moneylending in classical Greece was mainly in the hands of outsiders, foreigners such as Pasion in Athens. In Rome the elite left banking to low-status individuals headed by slaves or freedmen, ex-slaves who “confine[d] their activities to bridging loans and the provision of working capital,” operating only “on the margins of trade and industry.”[3]

Ancient Entrepreneurs Were Not Independent SpecialistsThroughout antiquity entrepreneurs pursued a broad range of activities, organizing and managing voyages, fields, workshops, or other productive units. They rarely acted by themselves for just their own account but as part of a system. Traders and “merchants” tended to work via guilds, such as those organized by Assyrian traders early in the second millennium, and in the Syrian and “Phoenician” trade with Aegean and Mediterranean lands from the eighth century BC on. Wealthy “big men” such as Balmunamhe in Old Babylonian times, Assyrian traders in Asia Minor,[4] the Egibi and Marushu in Neo-Babylonia, Cato and other Romans spread their capital over numerous sectors—long-distance and local trade, provisioning the palace or temples with food and raw materials, leasing fields and workshops, moneylending and (often as an outgrowth) real estate.

As late as the second century BC when we begin to pick up reports of the Roman publicani, they had not yet begun to specialize. Despite the fact that collecting taxes and other public revenue must have required a different set of skills from furnishing supplies to the army and other public agencies, most publicani acted opportunistically on an ad hoc basis. “What the companies provided was capital and top management, based on general business experience,” observes Ernst Badian,[5] probably with a small permanent staff of assistants and subordinates. An entrepreneur might run a ceramic workshop, a metal workshop, or the like, as well as dealing in slaves or renting them out. Richard Duncan-Jones[6] concludes: “The term negotiator was widely interpreted, including not only merchants, shopkeepers and craftsmen but moneylenders and prostitutes.”

Market Development and Patent Protection Were Alien Concepts
There was no such thing as patent protection or “intellectual property” rights, and little thought of what today would be called market development. Artistic styles and new techniques were copied freely. Moses Finley[7] cites the story, “repeated by a number of Roman writers, that a man—characteristically unnamed—invented unbreakable glass and demonstrated it to Tiberius in anticipation of a great reward. The emperor asked the inventor whether anyone shared his secret and was assured that there was no one else; whereupon his head was promptly removed, lest, said Tiberius, gold be reduced to the value of mud… neither the elder Pliny nor Petronius nor the historian Dio Cassius was troubled by the point that the inventor turned to the emperor for a reward, instead of turning to an investor for capital with which to put his invention into production.”

Entrepreneurs Worked in a War-Oriented Environment
Even when entrepreneurs played a nominally productive role, they worked in a war-oriented environment. A major source of fortunes was provisioning of the army, mainly with food but also with manufactured goods. Frank[8] notes that during 150-80 BC “we hear of only one man… who gained wealth by manufacturing, and that was in public contracts for weapons during the Social War (Cicero, in Pis. 87-89).” On the retail level, Polanyi’s paradigmatic example of free price-making markets was the small-scale food sellers who followed Greek armies. Provisioning armies with food was indeed the main commercial activity, with the most economically aggressive being the public contractors who supplied Roman armies on the wholesale level. Contracts were set at auctions that became notoriously “fixed” by the first century BC.

Enterprise Was Considered Déclassé
There was a basic conflict between social ambition for high status and the aristocratic antipathy to engaging directly in business ventures. “Although Aristotle asserted that ‘unnatural’ chrematistike (money-making) knew no bounds,” Humphreys concludes, “the general impression given by our sources is that the majority of Athenians were quite ready to give up the effort to make money as soon as they could afford a comfortable rentier existence, and that even the few who continued to expand their operations could not pass on the same spirit to their sons. The result was small-scale, disconnected business ventures, assessed by the security of their returns rather than their potentiality for expansion.”

The same was true in Ancient Rome. Reflecting the disdain in which active participation in money-seeking commerce was held by their aristocratic ethic, most of the shippers engaged in Rome’s maritime trade were foreigners or ex-slaves owning one or two small sailing vessels.

Enterprise Was Tied to Long-Distance Trade
The most typical form of enterprise was long-distance trade. Its organizational pattern changed little from the epoch when Mesopotamia’s temples and palaces provided merchants with commodities or money.

Opportunities for making money evolved as a by-product of this mercantile role. In Old-Sumerian documents, Leemans [9] notes, “damkara are only found as traders. But when private business began to flourish after the beginning of the Third Dynasty of Ur [2112-2004 BC], the tamkarum was the obvious person to assume the function of giver of credit.” By the time of Hammurabi’s Babylonian laws, in many cases “tamkarum cannot denote a traveling trader, but must be a money-lender.” Leemans concludes [10]: “The development from merchant into banker [that is, a moneylender or investor backing voyages and similar partnerships] is a natural one, and there is no essential difference between these two professions—surely not in Babylonia where in principle no distinction was made between silver (money in modern terms) and other marketable stuffs. In a society whose commerce is little developed, trade is only carried on by merchants, who buy and sell. But when commerce increases, the business of a merchant assumes larger proportions.”

[1] Debt and Economic Renewal in the Ancient Near East by Michael Hudson and Marc Van De Mieroop (eds.), 2002, pp. 345-347.
[2] Randall Wray, ed., 2004. Credit and State Theories of Money: The Contributions of A. Mitchell Innes by Randall Wray, 1995. See especially the articles by Ingham and Gardiner.
[3] David Jones. 2006. The Bankers of Puteoli: Finance, Trade, and Industry in the Roman World by David Jones, 2006, p. 245.
[4] Trade and Finance in Ancient Mesopotamia: Proceedings of the First MOS Symposium J. G. Dercksen, ed., 1999, p. 86.
[5] Publicans and Sinners: Private Enterprise in the Service of the Roman Republic by Ernst Badian, 1972, p. 37.
[6] The Economy of the Roman Empire: Quantitative Studies by Richard Duncan-Jones, 1974.
[7] The Ancient Economy by Moses Finlay, 1973, pp. 147: 871.
[8] An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome. Vol. 1, Rome and Italy of the Republic by Tenney Frank, ed., 1933, p. 291.
[9] The Old-Babylonian Merchant: His Business and His Social Position by W.F. Leemans, 1950, p. 11.
[10] The Old-Babylonian Merchant: His Business and His Social Position by W.F. Leemans, 1950, p. 22.

By Michael Hudson

Author Bio: Michael Hudson is an American economist, a professor of economics at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, and a researcher at the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College. He is a former Wall Street analyst, political consultant, commentator, and journalist. You can read more of Hudson’s economic history on the Observatory.

Source: Human Bridges

Credit Line: This article was produced by Human Bridges.

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Parallels Between Archaic Entrepots And Modern Offshore Banking Centers

Michael Hudson

05-12-2024 ~ Offshore banking and tax-avoidance centers are nothing new; they’ve been with us for millennia.

A discussion of the origins of urbanization may provide some insight into the character of modern social problems by highlighting the long historical dynamic at work. It may not be out of place here to point out that anti‑states are well known in the modern world, above all in what the U.S. Federal Reserve Board classifies as eleven offshore banking centers. Five such enclaves are in the Caribbean: Panama, the Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao), Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the British West Indies (Cayman Islands). Three enclaves—Hong Kong, Macao, and Singapore—were founded to conduct the China trade. The remaining three are Liberia, Lebanon, and Bahrain at the mouth of the Persian Gulf—the island which Bronze Age Sumerians called Dilmun when they used it to trade with the Indus valley and the Iranian shore.

Nothing would seem more modern than these offshore banking and tax-avoidance centers. They are the brainchildren of lawyers and accountants in the 1960s seeking to weave loopholes into the social fabric—to provide curtains of secrecy (“privacy”) to avoid or evade taxes, and to serve as havens for ill‑gotten earnings as well as to facilitate legitimate commerce.

Whereas modern nation‑states enact laws and impose taxes, these enclaves help individuals evade such regulations. And whereas nation‑states have armies, these centers are the furthest thing from being military powers. They are antibodies to nationhood, yet more may be learned about Ice Age, Neolithic, and even Bronze Age gathering and meeting sites by looking at these modern enclaves than by examining classical city‑states such as Athens and Rome.

Timeless Features of Entrepots

1. They Lack Political Autonomy
Instead of being politically independent, the modern offshore banking centers and free trade zones are small former colonies, e.g., the Caribbean islands as well as the Chinese entrepots. The Grand Cayman Island was a Jamaican dependency until 1959, when it chose to revert to its former status as a British crown colony so as to benefit from what remained of imperial commercial preferences. Liberia and Panama are U.S. dependencies lacking even their own currency system (both use the U.S. dollar). Hong Kong did not gain title to its own land until Britain’s leases expired in 1997. Panama did not gain control of its canal until 1999.

In sum, whereas political theorists define the first characteristic of modern states (and implicitly their capital cities) as being their ability to enact and enforce laws, offshore banking centers are of no political significance. In the sense of being sanctuaries from national taxes and law authorities, such enclaves are in some ways akin to the biblical cities of refuge. If they are not sanctuaries for lawbreakers in person, they at least provide havens for their bank accounts and corporate shells.

2. They Occupy Convenient Points of Commercial Interface Between Regions
Typically, entrepots are on islands or key transport navels such as the Panamanian isthmus. They are separated as free ports politically, if not physically, from their surrounding political entities. They often are centers of travel and tourism (“business meetings”) and for gambling. In antiquity they typically were centers for sacred festivals or games such as were held at Delphi, Nemia, the Corinthian Isthmus, or Olympia (whence our modern Olympic games originated in a sacred context).

3. They Enjoy Sacred (or Legal) Protection Against Attack
Although Delphi and Olympus were landlocked (as was Çatal Hüyük), they were centrally located for their local regions. They served as religious and cultural centers, whose festivals and games could be conveniently attended by the Hellenic population at large. Even visitors who were citizens of mutually belligerent city‑states enjoyed sanctuary. Of course, today’s enclaves no longer claim sacred status, except for the Vatican and its Institute for Religious Works promoting money-laundering functions [1]. Their commercial focus has become divorced from the religious setting associated with international commerce down through medieval Europe with its great fairs. And indeed, their attraction is especially to wealthy individuals avoiding the tax laws and criminal codes of their own homeland.

4. They Are Militarily Safe
Although today’s enclaves rarely have armies of their own, they are militarily safe. Thanks to their unique apolitical status, and indeed to their ultimate dependence on larger powers, their neighbors have little motive to attack them and every reason to use them as business channels and even for government transactions such as arms dealing, money laundering, and related activities not deemed proper behavior at home. The resulting commerce thrives free of regulations and taxes, conducted in militarily safe environments without the cost of having to support standing armies, and hence less need to levy taxes for this purpose, or to monetize national war debts.

5. They Are Politically Neutral Sites
To create such enclaves has been an objective of mercantile capital through the ages. It patronizes the world’s politically weakest areas as long as they do not do what real governments do: regulate their economies. The search for “neutral territory” expressed itself already in the chalcolithic epoch, many millennia before private enterprise developed as we know it. The result of this impetus is that neolithic towns such as Çatal Hüyük, Mesopotamian temple cities such as Nippur, island entrepots such as Dilmun, the Egyptian Delta area, Ischia/Pithekoussai, and the biblical cities of refuge share the following important common denominator with today’s offshore banking centers: Instead of being centers of local governing, legal, and military power, they were politically neutral sites established outside the jurisdictions of local governments.

6. They Create Forums for Rituals of Social Cohesion
Whether the status of these urban sites was that of sanctified commercial entrepots or amphictyonic centers, they provided a forum for rituals of social cohesion to bolster their commerce. These rituals included the exchange of goods and women (intermarriage)—commerce and intercourse in their archaic sexual meaning as well as in the more modern sense of commodity exchange.

I have cited above the archaic practice of conducting trade via island entrepots. The sacred island of Dilmun/Bahrain in the Persian Gulf represents history’s longest lasting example of such an enclave. It served as an entrepôt linking Sumer and Babylonia (whose records refer prominently to the “merchants of Dilmun”) to the Indus civilization and the intervening Iranian shore. Its status as a sacred as well as commercial center may have been promoted by the fact that its waters were a source of pearls, prized as sacred symbols of the moon (being round, pale, and associated with deep water). It also seems to have served as a high‑status burial ground for prosperous individuals, or at least for parts of their bodies. Lamberg‑Karlovsky[2] reports that there are more fingers and other limbs than full skeletons, as the Sumerians partook piecemeal in the island’s sanctity (although some commentators believe that this may be simply the result of grave robberies through the centuries[3]). In any event, these social and commercial virtues helped make Dilmun one of the most expensive pieces of Bronze Age real estate, not unlike modern Bahrain.

7. They Facilitate Commercial Development
The sacred status of such entrepots facilitated commercial development in ways that did not abuse Bronze Age sensibilities, much like the sacred status of temples did when they became the major economic and textile production centers. While creating the economic conditions and organization of large‑scale enterprise within traditional social values and order, Bronze Age institutions provided leeway so as not to stifle commercial development with overcentralized control. This may be part of the reason why trade was conducted outside the city gates. The philosophy was to create “mixed economies” in which institutional and private sectors each had their proper role.

[1] David A. Yallop, In God’s Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I, 1984, pp. 92-94.
[2] C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky “Dilmun: Gateway to Immortality,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Jan 1982, 41(1), pp. 45-50.
[3] P.R.S. Moorey, “Where did they bury the Kings of the IIIrd Dynasty of Ur?” Iraq, 46, 1984, pp. 1‑18

By Michael Hudson

Author Bio: Michael Hudson is an American economist, a professor of economics at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, and a researcher at the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College. He is a former Wall Street analyst, political consultant, commentator, and journalist. You can read more of Hudson’s economic history on the Observatory.

Source: Human Bridges

Credit Line: This article was produced by Human Bridges.

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Trump Loyalists Preview Strategies To Upend 2024 Election

05-10-2024 ~ Not just challenging voters’ credentials in battleground states. But attacking every step in running elections.

As the 2020 presidential election entered its final stretch, Christina Bobb was not just covering it as a TV newswoman for the pro-Donald Trump One America News Network (OANN). The tall, dark-haired, clear-speaking ex-marine and lawyer was working to overturn it.

Bobb believed that Democrats and election officials colluded to fabricate thousands of voter registrations, illegal voters, forged ballots, and finessed the vote count until Joe Biden was the victor in 2020’s battleground states.

Yet it was Bobb and Trump loyalists who were feverishly plotting and pushing to alter the presidential election’s outcome, as she detailed in her 2023 book, Stealing Your Vote: The Inside Story of the 2020 Election and What it Means for 2024.

Publicly, Bobb kept reporting for OANN. Under the radar, she “joined” Rudy Giuliani and others in Trump’s orbit who pursued ways to nullify the results. She wrote that she was on the call with Trump when he urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes.” Bobb said that she coordinated “the litigation efforts in Arizona, Michigan, and New Mexico,” including, apparently, a slate of fake Electoral College members who forged and sent paperwork to Congress certifying that Trump had won Arizona.

In April, Bobb and 17 others were indicted on multiple felonies in that electoral hijacking scheme by Arizona Attorney General Kristin Mayes, a Democrat. Only weeks before, on the same day Trump secured the 2024 Republican nomination, Bobb was named the Republican National Committee’s senior counsel for election integrity. Beyond the surreal twist that a politico indicted for attempting to overturn a swing state’s presidential vote will now lead a national party’s efforts to police elections, Bobb’s book previews the lawfare and conspiratorial mindset that is already shadowing 2024’s presidential election.

In her book, Bobb complained about “inflated” voter rolls, “ballot trafficking,” and “ballot harvesting,” which are conspiratorial pejoratives that imply fabricating voters, forging ballots, and stuffing ballot boxes. As States Newsroom reported in April 2024, the RNC and its allies have already sued in five states—including Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Nevada—to challenge their voter rolls’ accuracy, and, in turn, voters’ credentials. In Georgia, a Republican bill empowering mass challenges of voter registrations was signed into law on May 7. (The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to sue to block last-minute voter purges.)

Bobb’s book also targeted the way that elections are run. She disparaged “centralized” counting operations (“makes cheating easier”) and complained of local election officials “removing” Republican workers and restricting GOP’s observers (“so that they could cheat”). She said that Democrats will spread “misinformation” (“an information war against the American people”), run “out the clock” after Election Day, and collude with the media to change “the Narrative.”

“The media and the Left insist that there were no crimes committed, and they love to point to the courts, claiming that all charges of criminal activity have been proven wrong,” she wrote of 2020. “The real story, however, is quite different.”

The real story of 2020’s finale, contrary to Bobb’s assertions, was that Trump loyalists would not accept his defeat and were running blind. They presented their “evidence” to courts overseen by Democratic and Republican judges and lost every substantive legal challenge. Their evidence—sworn statements by individuals who claimed they had witnessed misdeeds and voter fraud—was not deemed credible and was rebutted by factual evidence provided by experienced and informed experts.

Nonetheless, Bobb’s belief that hidden hands are again plotting to steal votes is not just taken as an article of faith in Trump circles. It is emblematic of a new development in the GOP’s “election integrity” circles, which Mimi Marziani, a political science and election law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, recently characterized as “throwing the kitchen sink” at elections officials, the courts, and the public.

In recent years, these self-taught grassroots Trump activists—who distrust almost everyone who has run an election, including Republicans—have discovered the details of election administration. These are the often-repetitive steps, procedures, and technologies used in elections. The activists assume the worst will happen at any point. They distrust almost everything about every stage in the process.

As Marziani recently told Votebeat’s Texas reporter, “They’re not actually trying to have a different person elected… They’re trying to set some sort of precedent to destabilize free and fair elections.”

“If someone really wants to interfere with our elections, they will find a way to accomplish that,” wrote Erica in April, the curator of the Election Education channel on Telegram, a platform favored by Trumpers. “The security measures the election officials repeat over and over are a false sense of security when we can’t verify any of them for ourselves.” Read more

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Will the Golden Age For Corporate Shareholders Ever End?

John P. Ruehl – Source: Independent Media Institute

05-05-2024 ~ Shareholders have assumed enormous influence over U.S. corporations over the last few decades. Despite their firm hold, shifts are underway that could alter the domestic corporate landscape.

On April 3, 2024, Disney CEO Bob Iger officially fended off the attempt by institutional investor Nelson Peltz and his hedge fund Trian Partners to secure two board seats. During the affair, Disney faced pressure from proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services to support Peltz’s initiative. While Iger prevailed, the costliest board fight in history underscores the significant influence of shareholders in shaping the fates of corporations.

Historically, U.S. corporate power was concentrated among executives, though with varying degrees of influence held by workers and other stakeholders. However, over the last century, U.S. corporations increasingly oriented themselves around their stock price and the imperative to maximize shareholder value. This mindset has now firmly entrenched itself within U.S. corporate culture and continues to shape their decisions and priorities.

Until the early 20th century, shareholders wielded minimal influence over U.S. corporations, with notable changes instigated by industries such as railroad conglomerates. To sidestep antitrust accusations and manipulate competition, for example, railroad companies created “communities of interest” by buying shares in one another, frequently installing their financiers and bankers on targeted companies’ boards. However, increased antitrust enforcement from the Supreme Court discouraged these practices by 1912.

Investors remained undeterred. Throughout the 1920s Merger Wave, shareholders amassed large stakes in various companies, eroding the traditional influence of company founders, executives, families, as well as other stakeholders like employees, trade unions, suppliers, customers, and local communities. The momentum of the shareholder rights movement surged following the stock market crash in 1929, which prompted legislation aimed at increasing transparency granting shareholders increased authority and information access.

During World War II, U.S. industrial power was centralized under government control. This trend, however, waned after the conflict concluded, leading to a resurgence of privatization that benefited shareholders as control shifted away from government oversight. Despite initially dominating the post-WWII economic landscape, U.S. companies began encountering tougher competition from global rivals by the 1960s, hindering their growth.

During the 1970s, prioritizing stock price growth for shareholders gained traction. However, it was the 1980s when this mindset became institutionalized, with legal rulings such as Smith v. Van Gorkom, (1985) and Revlon, Inc. v. MacAndrews and Forbes Holding, Inc. (1986) affirming corporations’ duties to shareholders.

Amendments to corporate laws aimed to enhance shareholder rights, enabling actions like director nominations, and voting on executive pay. Executive stock rewards thus began to increase, incentivizing risk-taking for short-term gains. Additionally, the 1986 Tax Reform Law cut the individual top tax rate and fueled heightened interest in short-term stock trading.

The evolution of institutional investors also played a pivotal part in reshaping the financial landscape. The growing role of hedge funds, 401(k) pension plans managed through mutual funds, and the introduction of other major asset management firms like Vanguard and BlackRock began to herald a new era in the stock market and corporate governance.

In the decades up to the 1980s, corporate raiding had become increasingly common. However, regulatory changes during the 1980s lifted restrictions on mergers and acquisitions, leading to the peak of the U.S. corporate raiding era. During this time, riskier, higher-return bonds called “junk bonds” and leveraged buyouts involving a large amount of borrowed money to purchase a company evolved into crucial financial tools for funding corporate takeovers. Companies often targeted struggling companies or undervalued firms, acquiring them with the intention of privatizing operations, slashing costs, divesting assets, and eventually reintroducing them to the public market. Read more

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Seeing Red: Our Ancient Relationship With Ocher And The Color of Cognition

05-03-2024 ~ Extensive ocher use reflects the culture and cognitive abilities of early humans, who inherited an affinity for red from primate ancestors.

Twenty-three million years ago, our distant ancestors gained trichromatic color vision through means of a random genetic mutation. Trichromatic color vision and trichromacy refer to the ability to perceive color through three receptors in the eye, known as cones, which are sensitive to different wavelengths of visible light. It has been assumed that primates ancestral to humans had two cones at the start of their lineage; the duplication and modification of genes coding for one of the two created another distinct, separate cone. Gaining a third cone allowed for the perception of red and other colors with long wavelengths in addition to the two preexisting receptors for blues and greens with shorter wavelengths—red was entirely unknown to primate species before this mutation, and the ability to see red remains rare among other mammals. Exceptions to mammalian dichromacy, the state of having two cones, are uncommon. Some primates lost one of their cone receptors, becoming monochromats. Having a single cone, monochromats like the nocturnal owl monkeys (genus Aotus) perceive light intensity in shades of gray without the ability to differentiate color values. Others, including the ancestors of modern apes, monkeys, and humans, happened to gain a third cone.

Michael H. Rowe, professor emeritus of neuroscience at Ohio University, confirms that random processes were involved in the evolution of primate trichromacy in his study of the underlying neurophysiological mechanisms, and outlines the two dominant theories for the maintenance of a third cone among primates. One longstanding theory is that of enhanced fruit detection among diurnal primates, who are most active during the daytime. According to this theory, improved discernment of red fruits against green foliage led to a direct increase in efficiency when foraging for nutritious food. The second theory, however, suggests it was the consumption of leaves rather than fruit that more strongly influenced routine trichromacy. This alternate “young leaf” hypothesis emphasizes the importance of enhanced color vision when selecting nutritious leaves over their less beneficial counterparts, especially at times when fruit is scarce and surviving off of leaf consumption becomes critical. Rowe’s findings and the newer “young leaf” theory also align with the later evolution of trichromatic vision in the howler monkey, a New World primate.

New World primates like the howler monkey and Old World primates, which include humans and apes, are two major groups within the order Primates that differ in anatomical features and geographic distribution. Since their last common ancestor did not have trichromatic vision, the trait evolved in both Old and certain New World species through convergent evolution. This occurs when similar traits evolve among distantly related species, usually due to similar environmental pressures and advantages to the trait.

Further down the evolutionary timeline, rocks and minerals became the cornerstones of technological advancement among hominins. Within the range of widely accessible raw materials, one pigment stands out with its broad spectrum of color: ocher. Ocher varies in shade depending on its chemical and structural composition, appearing from light yellows and rusty browns to deep red-purple hues. Red ocher, for example, gains its color from an abundance of an iron oxide called hematite. Read more

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PVV Blog 7 ~ Remembrance Day 2024

05-03-2024 ~The Netherlands commemorates the victims of the Second World War annually on May 4th. This remembrance takes place through a ceremony held at the central square ‘de Dam’ in Amsterdam.

During the yearly Remembrance Day event, wreaths are laid at the monument by the chairpersons of the Senate and House of Representatives. This year, Martin Bosma, a member of the Party for Freedom, will lay the wreath on behalf of the House of Representatives. In 2023, Bosma was democratically elected as the chairman of the House of Representatives, representing the ideological stance of the Party for Freedom. Throughout this series, I heavily draw upon his book ‘De schijn-élite van de valse munters. Drees, extreem rechts, de sixties, nuttige idioten, Groep Wilders en ik’ published in 2010. Below, I provide an analysis of several quotes from Bosma’s book, followed by commentary on these quotes.

Quotes about Christianity
‘There are few things the Dutch can be happier with than the Christian background of their country. Almost all of our crucial achievements have a relationship with Christianity. Democracy, separation of church and state, tolerance, but also values such as diligence and efficiency’ (p. 94).

‘Monoculturalism, supplemented with Christian-Western values such as diligence, discipline, honesty and efficiency, created an unparalleled high point in human history’ (p. 188).

Quotes about Islam
‘Islam brings us mutual distrust, certainly not multicultural enrichment’ (p. 321).

‘Maybe individual Muslims adapt here and there, but Islam cannot do that’ (p. 304).

‘The dominant factor that determines whether Sharia is introduced in the Netherlands is not so much the ummah (the international Islamic community) but it is the powerful left-wing church with its crucial positions of power’ (p. 148).

‘The limits of what you say in the Netherlands are no longer determined by democratically established laws, but by the assessment of whether by saying it you run the risk of being ritually slaughtered on a public road’ (p. 130).

‘In the long term, there is a huge possibility of the introduction of Sharia in (parts of) the Netherlands. In the medium term, the subject of Islamization will have a paralyzing effect on the political system’ (p. 119)

Quotes about left-wing parties and multiculturalism
‘As a result of the Sixties revolution, multiculturalism has become our national state ideology’ (p. 320).

‘The multicultural society is the result of an erosion of democracy’ (p. 119).

‘Somewhere an immigration flow reaches a tipping point. Then it is not the immigrants who are adapted to the host country, but the host country is adapted to the immigrant (p. 141).

‘The war is a war about who is in charge on the left’ (p. 251), (i.e. Hitler’s National Socialists or Stalin’s Communists, JJdR).

‘Almost all multicultural states have disintegrated after a lot of misery’ (p. 188).

Bosma also quotes Adolf Hitler: ‘How can you be a socialist without being an anti-Semite?’ (p. 256).

‘Genocide as a policy instrument already appears at the origins of socialism’ (p. 258).

Quotes about Jews and Israel

‘Israel has become the symbol of our freedom and the desire to continue that freedom.’

‘The flag of Israel is therefore the flag of all free people.’

‘The country is a barometer of our future’ (p.275).

‘If the armies of Hamas and Hezbollah march through the streets of Tel Aviv, Amsterdam and Paris will be hopelessly lost’ (p. 275).

Other quotes
“Democracies rarely go to war, and certainly not with other democracies” (p. 188).

‘A hundred years from now, people will remember Geert Wilders (leader Party for Freedom) as someone who had the moral clarity to tell the truth that needed to be told’

Remembrance Day 2024
As a representative of the Dutch state, Martin Bosma stands on May 4th at Dam Square in Amsterdam, espousing the views expressed above. He contends that Christianity has played a significant role in shaping our democratic accomplishments.
He advocates for a monocultural society as a path to salvation, asserting that Islam only leads to suffering and distrust. He attributes the blame for the Second World War to leftist ideologies, associating them with anti-Semitism and genocide, while regarding Israel as a bastion of freedom.
However, Bosma’s perspective overlooks the contributions of the French Revolution to our democratic ideals, which emerged independently of Christianity. It also disregards the existence of successful multicultural societies that remain resilient.

Additionally, he fails to recognize that diversity can foster empathy and mutual support. Furthermore, Bosma neglects to acknowledge the persecution endured by social democrats in Nazi Germany.
Looking at the present moment, it’s evident that some of Bosma’s quotes have become outdated. The surge of anti-Islam rhetoric in the Netherlands and Western Europe, largely fueled by populist parties like the Party for Freedom, has effectively discredited the notion of ‘multiculturalism’ as a state-endorsed ideology, assuming it ever held such a status. Additionally, the once formidable left-wing influence has significantly waned.

In the context of international affairs, accusations abound regarding the current Israeli government’s alleged genocidal actions in Gaza. Prior to October 7th, attempts to stifle the Israeli Supreme Court added to the mounting concerns. The perception of the Israeli flag as a symbol of freedom has undergone a transformation, evident in the stark divide between perspectives within Israel itself and those in Gaza and the West Bank.

Furthermore, it’s worth pondering the assertion that democracies seldom engage in warfare. The historical trajectory of post-World War II America, marked by military interventions in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, challenges this notion.

Reflecting on the relevance of Martin Bosma’s statements from a book published thirteen years ago, one might question the validity of using them as a cudgel.
However, the absence of any retractions from Bosma over the intervening years raises concerns. Coupled with the recent impassioned rhetoric of his party leader, Geert Wilders, at the Hungarian CPAC event, it seems prudent to remind the public that the individual solemnly laying wreaths at Dam Square on May 4th represents an ideology with potential implications for inciting conflict.

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