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In praise of tax havens

Last month, President Obama declared war on Americans who shelter their money in low-tax jurisdictions overseas. Meanwhile, at the behest of politicians from high-tax nations, international bureaucracies are persecuting these tax havens. The OECD, or Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, blacklisted fourty-one such jurisdictions as part of its “harmful tax competition” project earlier this decade and is now trying to bully them into changing their attractive policies. The EU Commission has several anti-tax-competition schemes, such as a directive that seeks to coerce low-tax jurisdictions into helping Europe’s welfare states track - and tax - flight capital. And the UN has a Committee of Experts on International Tax Matters whose objective is to impose global rules to hinder the flow of jobs and capital from high-tax nations to low-tax nations. As though this weren’t enough, the G-20 communiqué last spring singled out tax havens for a crackdown.

The common theme of all these efforts is that politicians want to replace tax competition with tax harmonization. Tax competition exists when politicians feel pressure to improve tax policy so the geese that lay the golden eggs will not fly away. Ever since the Reagan and Thatcher tax-rate reductions began the process of tax competition, nations have been racing to lower rates in hopes of attracting—or retaining—jobs and investment. Since 1980 average top personal income tax rates in the developed world have dropped about 26 percentage points and corporate tax rates more than 21 points. And there are now 27 jurisdictions with flat taxes, an amazing development. No wonder the global economy — notwithstanding current turmoil — is so much stronger today than it was in the 1970s.

According to stereotypes, tax havens are little islands in the Caribbean, and indeed that’s true of some of the world’s premiere offshore centers. But to be more accurate, a tax haven is any jurisdiction that satisfies two criteria: First, its tax laws are attractive to global investors and entrepreneurs, and second, it protects its fiscal sovereignty by choosing not to enforce the bad tax laws of other nations, at least when they are trying to tax economic activity outside their borders. This means, of course, that individuals and businesses from high-tax nations have the option of using those jurisdictions as havens against excessive taxation.

So what are the tax havens? Places such as Liechtenstein and the Cayman Islands belong on the list, but so do many “onshore” nations. One of the world’s leading experts on offshore issues, Marshall Langer, wrote in Tax Notes International that “the most important tax haven in the world is Manhattan. The second most important tax haven in the world is London.” The United States and United Kingdom are havens because the law enables foreigners to invest money and not report the income to their tax police. That’s good for the U.S. and U.K. economies, and for foreign taxpayers.

By some counts there are more than 70 tax havens in the world, ranging from big nations like the United States to obscure, tiny jurisdictions such as Melilla, an autonomous part of Spain on the coast of Morocco, and Sark, a tiny British-controlled island off the coast of France. In some cases, such as the United States, the tax-haven policies are designed to attract global capital and are only available to foreigners. In other cases, such as the Bahamas, the beneficial tax rules are open to both residents and nonresidents.

Tax havens are good for the global economy primarily for four reasons. First, they promote good policy around the world by pressuring politicians in high-tax nations to lower tax rates. The pro-growth changes noted earlier have been happening mostly because of tax competition, and tax havens are valuable precisely because politicians are less likely to be greedy when they know taxpayers have escape options. Remarkably, even OECD economists understand that tax competition is a pro-growth force in the world economy. They have admitted that “the ability to choose the location of economic activity offsets shortcomings in government budgeting processes, limiting a tendency to spend and tax excessively.”

Tax havens have been especially helpful in convincing politicians to reduce the double taxation of income that is saved and invested. Many nations have lowered or eliminated death taxes and wealth taxes because the politicians have finally figured out that oppressive tax laws simply lead taxpayers to move their money to havens such as Luxembourg or Panama. Likewise, nations have reduced double taxation of dividends, interest, and capital gains. The politicians figure it’s better to have a low rate and collect some money rather than to have a high rate and drive investment to Switzerland or Singapore. From an economic perspective, these lower tax rates are critical because they reduce the tax bias against saving and investment. This encourages people to set aside more of today’s income to finance tomorrow’s growth —- and even socialist economists agree nowadays that capital formation is the key to long-run prosperity and rising living standards in the world.

Second, tax havens generate high living standards. According to World Bank data, nine of the world’s 13 richest jurisdictions are tax havens. Not surprisingly, academic researchers have confirmed that tax havens grow faster and create more prosperity for people than higher-tax areas. This is especially important in the developing world, where tax havens enjoy big reductions in poverty.

Third, tax havens promote better governance. One of the problems plaguing the developing world is the lack of sound institutions. Property rights, the rule of law, and sound money are the indispensable building blocks for wealth creation and economic growth. Two academics, James Hines and Dhammika Dharmapala, found that the desire to become a tax haven leads nations to improve their institutions for the simple reason that global investors don’t want to place their money in poorly governed jurisdictions. And the World Bank’s governance indicators find that tax havens rank very high. This is something that should be applauded not assaulted.

Fourth, tax havens promote economic activity in high-tax nations. This seems paradoxical, but most countries, even high-tax nations, generally have more favorable tax rules for inbound investment than for their citizens’ economic activities. Politicians figure their own citizens are captive customers who can be overtaxed, but they understand that they have to compete for global investment. Moreover, academic experts have found that citizens in high-tax nations often take advantage of this preference and use a neighboring tax haven as a platform to invest in their own country. This additional investment, which otherwise would not have taken place, increases the prosperity of the high-tax nation.

The case for tax competition also is bolstered by Nobel laureates who recognize that competition between nations is a critical force for better policy. To cite just three examples, James Buchanan wrote that “tax competition among separate units (...) is an objective to be sought in its own right,” and Milton Friedman noted that “Competition among national governments in the public services they provide and in the taxes they impose is every bit as productive as competition among individuals or enterprises in the goods and services they offer for sale and the prices at which they offer them.” Gary Becker, meanwhile, wrote that “competition among nations tends to produce a race to the top rather than to the bottom by limiting the ability of powerful and voracious groups and politicians in each nation to impose their will at the expense of the interests of the vast majority of their populations.”

Low-tax jurisdictions also offer a safe haven for people subject to persecution. The vast majority of the world’s population lives in nations where governments fail to provide the basic protections of civilized society. Indeed, in many cases governments are the problem since ruling elites use their power to exploit people. Corruption often is rampant, expropriation common, and crime endemic. There is also widespread persecution. Not surprisingly, people with money are common targets of oppression —- particularly if they are members of religious, political, ethnic, racial, or sexual minorities.

Tax havens protect people from venal and incompetent governments by providing a secure place to invest their assets. A Jewish entrepreneur, for instance, would be foolish to keep his money in a local bank when the government is controlled by anti-Semites. Indeed, Switzerland’s admirable, centuries-old human-rights policy of protecting financial privacy was strengthened in the 1930s to protect German Jews who wanted to guard their assets from the Nazis.

Many groups in the world face discrimination and hostility, often from government. The ethnic Chinese in nations such as Indonesia and the Philippines frequently are resented by the local population. The same is true for people of Indian descent in East Africa. When people belong to groups that are unpopular and susceptible to being targeted by the government, it makes sense for them to protect their families’ interests by putting money someplace like Hong Kong, where the politicians from their country have no feasible way to find out about it. The same financial-privacy laws that make tax havens so attractive to French families and Swedish entrepreneurs who want to escape oppressive taxation also protect others from persecution.

It is worth noting that even the international bureaucracies acknowledge the valuable role of tax havens and financial privacy. The UN, for instance, admitted in a 1998 report that “For much of the twentieth century, Governments around the world spied on their citizens to maintain political control. Political freedom can depend on the ability to hide purely personal information from a Government.” The leader of the OECD’s anti-tax-competition campaign, Jeffrey Owens, admitted that “tax havens are essential for individuals who live in unstable regimes.”

The campaign against tax havens interferes with the right of jurisdictions to pursue pro-growth policies, which is especially discriminatory against poor nations. Having “no or low taxes” is the main criterion for being listed as a tax haven by the OECD. Yet most OECD nations did not have income taxes during the 1700s and 1800s, when they climbed from agricultural poverty to middle-class prosperity. We should all be offended that such nations now want to deny that same opportunity to poor nations. It is rather unseemly for powerful white-governed nations in Europe, which control the OECD and European Commission, to target less powerful nonwhite jurisdictions in places such as the Caribbean or the Pacific islands.

Another issue is the OECD’s hypocritical treatment of capital compared to labor. The Paris-based bureaucracy is upset that investment funds are flowing to low-tax jurisdictions, many of which are in the developing world. But OECD nations are big beneficiaries of a “brain drain” from developing nations. This flow of talent is beneficial to “labor-inflow” nations, just as global financial flows are beneficial to “capital-inflow” nations. Yet the OECD is not suggesting that developing nations have the right to tax emigrant income earned in OECD nations. So why should OECD nations be allowed to tax flight capital in non-OECD nations?

Another example of hypocrisy is that the United States, United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg are all OECD members and yet were not on the original OECD blacklist even though they are tax havens for foreign investors. (The list was later revised.) Only smaller less-powerful nations were subject to this form of discrimination. And of course the ultimate hypocrisy of all is that the bureaucrats who work for the OECD all get tax-free salaries, yet they run around demanding that other nations raise taxes.

Politicians from high-tax nations and their agents at the international bureaucracies often admit that the moral issues are pertinent. But then they say that they are worried that havens enable some of their residents to avoid the tax net. But why is that the fault of jurisdictions with better tax policy? If high-tax nations want better compliance, shouldn’t they fix their tax systems instead of trying to bully other nations into surrendering their fiscal sovereignty and becoming vassal tax collectors? In any event, the notion that there are huge amounts of unpaid tax is just one of several myths disseminated by opponents of tax competition. Let’s have a closer look at these four myths.

Myth 1: Tax havens result in $100 billion of unpaid taxes. President Obama wants to dramatically increase the power of the Internal Revenue Service, claiming that this is the only way to collect the money that supposedly is hiding in low-tax jurisdictions. The number is phony. The IRS—which certainly cannot be considered a fan of tax havens—estimates that the overwhelming share of the so-called tax gap is the result of what happens in the United States. Part of the make-believe $100 billion apparently comes from a former John Kerry staffer, who concocted an estimate of $70 billion in unpaid individual income tax. But when the Congressional Research Service (CRS) asked for the method used to generate the number, the staffer confessed, for all intents and purposes, that he made it up. According to the CRS memo, he “was not able to send us a written discussion of his estimating procedure” and he “indicated that the estimate was an uncertain one.” That’s the understatement of the century.

Myth 2: Cracking down on tax havens is the best way to improve compliance. Politicians from high-tax nations and bureaucrats at the OECD claim that “offshore” jurisdictions deprive politicians of much-needed tax revenue. This assertion is rather strange since tax receipts were at record levels in OECD nations until the current downturn. But how best to improve tax compliance? Academic research strongly indicates that the biggest factor in tax compliance is tax rates. When tax rates are excessive, people are less likely to obey the law. And if they can’t protect their income using tax havens, they’ll use the domestic underground economy. Or they’ll be less productive. The world’s leading expert on the issue, Friedrich Schneider at the Johannes Kepler University in Austria, explains that income and payroll taxes are “the main causes for the existence of the shadow economy” and higher tax rates increase “the incentive . . . to work in the shadow economy.”

Myth 3: Tax Havens Lead to Higher Taxes for ordinary people. One of the worst myths is that low-tax jurisdictions reduce taxes on sneaky people and this causes politicians to raise taxes on others to make up the difference. But if this were true, increasing amounts of money flowing to tax havens should be accompanied by higher tax rates in the outflow countries. Yet, as noted, the opposite has occurred. Politicians are lowering tax rates because of the competition from tax havens. This means that all taxpayers benefit because of the risks taken by those who invest in low-tax jurisdictions.

Myth 4: Tax havens are money-laundering centers. Contrary to this routine smear, all the objective evidence shows that they have the toughest rules against dirty money. Not a single tax haven is on the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force. A few tax havens are considered money-laundering centers by the CIA, but there are far more non-havens on its list. The State Department says the same thing. It’s also worth noting that every major tax haven has been cleared by the IRS for having good know-your-customer laws to hinder dirty money, and all of the major havens also are members of the Egmont Group, which is open only to jurisdictions that have effective financial intelligence units to fight dirty money. No wonder an Australian academic found it was much easier to launder money in onshore nations than in offshore jurisdictions.

When he was a senator Obama sponsored legislation designed to persecute tax havens, and his chairman of the National Economic Council, Larry Summers, is a harshly ideological opponent of low-tax jurisdictions. Now Obama has made good on his word. That places the U.S. on the side of countries like France and Germany, giving the OECD’s previously stymied tax-harmonization efforts new life. Advocates of economic liberty need to resist these efforts. The Center for Freedom and Prosperity, which aims to reserve tax competition, has done an excellent job. But preserving tax competition in the new political environment is going to be a major challenge.

Dit essay van Daniel Mitchell verscheen oorspronkelijk bij de Amerikaanse denktank "Cato Institute" en werd nadien verkort in "The Freeman" en de "Wall Street Journal" gepubliceerd.

Meer teksten van deze Amerikaanse academicus op www.cato.org.

11 Reacties:

At 15:35 Vincent De Roeck said...

Op In Flanders Fields plaatste ik enkele citaten van Oostenrijkse economen over verschillende crisisgerelateerde thema's onder de titel "Wijze citaten in tijden van economische waanzin".

"You’re gonna find a different system of regulation. The real problem when the financial world changed, the system of regulation didn’t. That will change. There will be a strong, quiet, hopefully more unified federal regulator. And he’s gonna be tough. But they’re gonna be quiet. So like when Bear Stearns began to run into trouble, they’re gonna call the heads of Bear Stearns in and say, “All right fellas, you’re getting rid of those two hedge funds; you’re gonna raise more capital. We’re not gonna tell anyone you’re doing this, but you do it or we’re gonna take sanctions against you.” You need a tough, strong regulator, unified, who sees the problem ahead of time, so they have complete transparency, they know exactly what’s going on."

Dit citaat vorige week komt van Democratisch senator Charles Schumer van New York in de MSNBC-talkshow "Morning Joe" en toont op exemplaire wijze de heersende Nirvana-fallacy bij de Amerikaanse politici aan. Zij geloven geheel onterecht dat de Staat beter geplaatst is dan bedrijven en individuen om de financiële wereld te controleren en de recente crisis te beletten. Schumer dwaalt, en zijn waanideeën zijn zelfs gevaarlijk, zoals Sheldon Richman in de nieuwsbrief van de "Future of Freedom Foundation" meesterlijk wist te omschrijven.

"Now ask yourself what Schumer apparently has not asked himself: How will the regulators “know exactly what’s going on”? Spotting Bear Stearns’ specific hedge-fund problems “ahead of time” (!) would have required insights and hunches that only entrepreneurs with money at risk could be expected to have — and even those might not have been enough. Fortune-telling is not a widely distributed skill. It’s not a matter of toughness or access to Bear’s books. At the very least, it’s a matter of entrepreneurship (not to mention luck), which is profit-driven. Bureaucratic regulators bring no such talent to their jobs. More likely, they’d enforcing formal (possibly outdated and irrelevant) rules, looking for a repeat of the last problem, while missing the next one entirely. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb might say, it’s the next black swan, not the last one, that bites you."

 
At 15:36 Vincent De Roeck said...

Een ander interessant artikel is van de hand van Jim Powell, senior fellow bij het "Cato Institute" en de auteur van het politiek-economische meesterwerk "FDR's Folly" over de Grote Depressie. Powell wijt het aureool van Franklin D. Roosevelt aan "lucky timing" en schetst op intrigerende wijze hoe FDR's New Deal van de depressie, niet bij zijn aantreden al over haar dieptepunt heen was, een "Grote Depressie" gemaakt heeft. Ook haalt Powell een feit aan dat mij niet bekend was, met name de confiscatie van al het goud in privé-handen!

"On his New York Times blog page, Paul Krugman displayed a graph showing that the post-1929 U.S. economy began to expand before Franklin Roosevelt took office. Certainly the economy was recovering before any of FDR’s policies had time to play out through the large and complex U.S. economy. During 1933, Roosevelt’s first year in office, GDP increased about 17 percent. What would have accounted for that? Not FDR’s 1933 decision to seize privately owned gold and devalue the dollar from $20 per ounce of gold to $35. This increased the value of gold held by the U.S. Treasury and entitled it to print an additional $3 billion of greenbacks. The Thomas Amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) authorized the Treasury to print $3 billion more. Nonetheless, the total amount of currency held by the public didn’t increase until 1934. The Fed wasn’t very active during this period."

"The most sweeping pieces of legislation passed in 1933 — the climax of the Hundred Days — were the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and the Agricultural Adjustment Act, but both promoted contraction, not expansion. The NIRA authorized FDR to establish cartels fixing wages, prices, and output. The AAA aimed to reduce agricultural acreage."

"It’s not clear how any of FDR’s 1933 policies could have accounted for a 17 percent increase in GDP, even if they promoted expansion, because they wouldn’t have had time to ripple through the economy. It seems more likely that FDR had the good fortune to come into office near the bottom of the Depression, and enough adjustments in wages, prices, and other factors had occurred that the economy was ready to recover. The economy had recovered from previous panics, crashes, and depressions without a big-government program."

En tenslotte was het ook Larissa Price van de "Foundation for Economic Education" die Franklin Delano Roosevelt en zijn opvolger Barack Hussein Obama nogmaals hun saus gaf over hun economisch én historisch analfabetisme.

"Roosevelt is still celebrated for his job-creating measures because the people who gained employment were easily seen. However, what wasn’t (and isn’t) so easily recognized is that to pay for his public-works experiments, the government sucked up much of the available capital by selling bonds and collecting taxes, including a 5 percent withholding tax on corporate dividends and ever-rising income taxes. The top income tax rate hit a staggering 90 percent. Thus the New Deal had the unintended consequence of prolonging the Great Depression by diverting resources that could have been used to create wealth."

"Barack Obama and his advisers should take a lesson from history. The New Deal and its public-works projects were a disaster, and it would be remiss to think they should be given another try. As Bastiat explained, government doesn’t create wealth; it only diverts it. When government controls wealth it inevitably tends to serve political ends rather than consumers. FDR’s New Deal policies are a testament to that, and if they are repeated in response to our current economic crisis, it will only hinder the recovery."

 
At 15:37 Vincent De Roeck said...

Larry Reed, de erevoorzitter van het "Mackinac Center for Public Policy Research" en een nauw contact van ondergetekende, lanceerde dan weer een warme oproep op de blog "For Freedom's Sake" voor waakzaamheid en actie bij libertariërs om het totalitaire zwaard boven onze hoofden alsnog te kunnen afweren.

"Lovers of liberty need a little morale boost today in the face of all the pain around us. It seems at times that the world has gone mad. Companies that lose billions are being bailed out by a government that loses trillions. The same federal Leviathan that outlaws competition in first-class mail delivery but still can’t deliver letters at a profit now supposedly knows how to run auto companies, banks, and insurance firms. Debt, deficits, bureaucracy, regulation, government spending—the depressing stuff already in frightful superabundance pre-financial crisis—now threaten our diminishing liberties more than ever before. The cover of the March 15 issue of Newsweek proclaimed,We Are All Socialists Now."

Een andere interessante insteek komt van Robert Murphy, de auteur van "The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal" en een onderzoeker aan het "Mises Institute" in Auburn. Op zijn blog "Free Advice" reageerde hij op een editoriaal van Hernando De Soto in de "Wall Street Journal" van enkele weken geleden. De Soto stelde daarin dat de overheid de financiële derivaten beter had moeten reglementeren. Murphy is het daar natuurlijk niet met eens.

"But the market critics and de Soto go wrong in concluding that only governments can fix the problem. These advocates of increased regulation fail to realize that the case for the free market does not rely on omniscient entrepreneurs. Fans of the market should not be embarrassed to admit that sometimes even well-established companies screw up royally and lose billions of dollars."

"Or at least, that’s what would happen in a true profit-and-loss system. The self-regulation of the market only works when profits and losses are allowed. When trying to make sense of why so many large firms were so careless with their investments, we can’t ignore the perverse incentives the government had created in a multitude of ways."

"Had the government minded its own business, the private financial sector would have learned from its mistakes during the housing boom. There is no reason to suppose that Geithner or anyone else employed by the government can come up with a solution that private analysts couldn’t discover. Quite the contrary. In fact, every move the government has taken during the crisis has expanded its power over the private sector and its ability to shower literally trillions of dollars on powerful beneficiaries. Doesn’t de Soto see the immense scope for corruption if the government gains more discretionary power over financial transactions?"

"Ironically, it is the government’s response to the initial crisis that has led to less transparency not more. Had the troubled firms been allowed to fail, bankruptcy proceedings would have ascertained which companies were holding which assets and how they should be valued. But at least since December 2007, the Federal Reserve has artificially propped up insolvent firms by accepting their “toxic” assets as collateral on short-term loans. In this environment, of course the most leveraged firms will string their investors along and carry derivatives on their books at inflated values."

"Regardless of what caused the crisis, government efforts to regulate derivatives will only lock in undesirable aspects of the current market and ensure that politically connected players reap artificial gains. It is absurd to ask politicians to promote financial integrity and sound accounting. They are the worst violators of these principles on the planet."

 
At 17:04 Vincent De Roeck said...

Op In Flanders Fields publiceerde ik een lijst van tien YouTube-clips die ik iedereen kan aanraden. Tien om te zien dus!

- Dark Secrets Inside The Bohemian Grove
- Meghan McCain
- This Could Happen To You Too
- Chris & Co
- Rowan Atkinson Live
- His Big White Self
- No White In The Rainbow
- Ron Paul's Speech At CPAC
- Telefacts Pattaya
- The Soviet Story

 
At 01:30 Anoniem said...

Bastiat has much to teach us. He deserves to be better known.

 
At 08:07 Luc Van Braekel (op IFF) said...

Ik heb de 6 Youtube-filmpjes over Bohemian Grove bekeken. Ik zag in deel 3 en 4 een slaapverwekkend Babylonisch ritueel, door samenzweringsadept Alex Jones "satanisch ritueel" genoemd. In deel 1 wordt de kijker eerst zes minuten lang door middel van "framing" geconditioneerd om toch maar te geloven dat het om iets "satanisch" zou gaan.

In elk Vlaams dorp worden dagelijks rituelen opgevoerd die in Jerusalem en Rome ontstonden, en in elke Vlaamse stad worden wekelijks rituelen opgevoerd die in Mekka ontstonden. Op een Babylonisch ritueeltje vol symbolen en pathetische zinsneden meer of minder zal het wel niet aankomen zeker?

De infiltratie en de clandestiene opname zijn knap gedaan en vallen toe te juichen. De innuendo, stemmingmakerij en op niets gesteunde verdachtmakingen in de "duiding" zijn er natuurlijk vér over.

 
At 15:32 Anoniem said...

Het kan natuurlijk ook allemaal fake zijn, maar laten we nu effe uitgaan van niet.

Gezien het lachwekkende en het protserige van heel dit ritueel, enk ik inderdaad dat dit een variant is van vrijmetselarij.

Vrijmetselarij is in hoofdzaak een bende minder dan middelmatige sukkelaars (veel onderwijzers & gepensioneerden), het grote intellect en wijsheid is er niet te rapen. Maar er zijn natuurlijk ook heel wat machtiger mensen: politici, rechters, rijke ondernemers, etc. Die groep is minder onschuldig en heeft dikwijls een ondermijnende, ondemocratische agenda. De reden daarvoor wordt goed geformuleerd in de inleiding: men ziet zichzelf als zo machtig, slim, rijk etc. dat men denkt zich te kunnen "verzetten tegen zelfs de menselijke natuur zelf". Vooral dat gevoel van boven alles verheven te zijn, vandaar ook het protserige van heel dit pseudo-heidens ritueel.

De vraag is natuurlijk, in welke mate nemen die mensen dit serieus. Het is moelijk te weten, vooral ook omdat veel in codetaal gebeurt. (In de Belgische loges worden veel bouwstukken ook in van die absurde codetaal gemaakt, eerder een bewijs van intellectuele impotentie van leden die ook ne keer iet willen zeggen)

De duiding is er 'over', idd, maar ze is er niet naast, vrees ik.

 
At 21:05 Anoniem said...

Misschien kan ik toch het een en ander verduidelijken over dit amusante filmpje:

Alex Jones verwees in het begin van het filmpje naar pseudo-Keltische rituelen. Hij gaat er losjes over maar eigenlijk is dit cruciaal om de Bohemian Groove te begrijpen. In de 19e eeuw was er immers een wijdverspreide mode (volledig in de geest van de Romantiek) om terug te keren naar de vroegste bronnen van de Europese cultuur.

In de Angelsaksische wereld zorgde ondermeer de Schotse dichter Mac Pherson met zijn legendarische vervalsing over 'Ossian' voor een heuse Keltenrevival. De adel en hogere burgerij kleedde zich in een kilt, leerde doedelzak spelen en gaf zich enthousiast over aan de nieuw-heidense rituelen van ontelbare druïdegenootschappen (sommigen bestaan nog steeds). Zo bestaat er zelfs een foto van Winston Churchil in druïdenoutfit op het terrein van Blenheimpalace.

Een van de opvallendste rituelen van deze genootschappen bestond uit het verbranden van enorme poppen (cfr. wickerman) zoals dat ook te lezen is in 'De Bello Gallico' van J. Caesar.

Samen met de emigratie naar Noord-Amerika belanden deze genootschappen in de VS, waar er onder de miljoenen Ierse, Schotse en Welshe Amerikanen een dankbaar publiek was voor dergelijke bijeenkomsten. Zo was de Welshe vader van de beroemde architect Frank Lloyd Wright een bekende nieuwe druïde. Of de architect in de voetsporen van zijn vader is getreden, is mij niet bekend.

Om het plaatje te vervolledigen wijs ik er ook graag op dat deze revivalbeweging uitlopers had tot de arts-and-crafts-beweging in Groot-Brittannië en opera's zoals Lucia di Lammermoor van Donizetti.

In de Germaanse taalgebieden gebeurde overigens iets gelijkaardigs. Zo baseerde Wagner zijn oeuvre op de herontdekte Edda en geraakte de jonge Scandinavische burgerij in de ban van de Vikingen. Men was er dol op verkleedfeestjes met vikingthema's en het drinken van liters bier uit horens. En misschien zijn dergelijke drinkgelagen wel de essentie van wat er in Bohemian Groove gebeurt...

Ales Jones had zijn huiswerk dus iets beter mogen maken, maar het neemt niet weg dat je vraagtekens kan plaatsen bij het bestaan van dit soort serviceclubs omwille van de ongezonde mogelijkheden tot belangenvermenging.

 
At 20:04 Anoniem said...

Boeiende uitleg, dankje

 
At 14:04 Anoniem said...

Kijk hier wordt tenminste met een nuchter verstand gekeken naar de Bohemian club. Interessante bijdrage over de druiden (& Churchill) trouwens. Alex Jones is een schreeuwlelijkerd. Er is goede research te doen naar de club. Te beginnen bij de club annals en natuurlijk boeken als "the greatest men's party on earth" en "The bohemian grove and other retreats". Overigens stammen de laatste twee boeken al weer uit de jaren '70. Verder, maar die zijn veel lastiger te verkrijgen, kunnen proberen om the ledenbladen 'the bohemian club library notes' te pakken te krijgen. Die zijn echter zeer moeilijk te verkrijgen. Af en toe komen ze wel op de markt (lees ebay) als een van de leden van de club komt te overlijden en zijn bezittingen geveild worden.

 
At 14:05 Anoniem said...

Wat private individuen in hun private tijd in een private club doen, is enkel hun zaak, niet die van ons!

 

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